‘Why Are You Still Here?’

Adam Lashinsky profiled Tim Cook for Fortune in 2008, and a few months later, when Steve Jobs began an extended medical leave for his liver transplant, I pulled the following quote from Lashinsky’s profile:

One day back then, he convened a meeting with his team, and the discussion turned to a particular problem in Asia. “This is really bad,” Cook told the group. “Someone should be in China driving this.” Thirty minutes into that meeting Cook looked at Sabih Khan, a key operations executive, and abruptly asked, without a trace of emotion, “Why are you still here?”

Khan, who remains one of Cook’s top lieutenants to this day, immediately stood up, drove to San Francisco International Airport, and, without a change of clothes, booked a flight to China with no return date, according to people familiar with the episode. The story is vintage Cook: demanding and unemotional.

Boring” does not seem the right word.

[Sabih Khan], by the way, is now on Apple’s senior leadership team as SVP of operations — the title Jeff Williams held before becoming COO, and the title Cook himself held when he joined Apple in 1998.

Thursday, 11 February 2021