It's Not What He Says But the Way He Says It

CNN has the bullet-point version of Walt Mossberg’s and Kara Swisher’s D11 interview with Tim Cook. It’s handy if you’re having a day like mine and can’t find the time to watch all 81-minutes of it. I was hoping this last bit would be more than corporate boilerplate, but here’s all we got out of Cook on how he differs from Steve Jobs:


In a ton of different ways. But in the most important ways, we’re the same. Keeping the culture of Apple. That’s the most important.

That’s the kind of thing Apple execs say, because the corporate image is so polished and so controlled. Those aren’t bad things, but they’re not necessarily very revealing, either. Jobs & Cook are both fascinating men and amazing CEOs, so pulling back the curtain there, even just a little, would have been a real pleasure.

But I can tell you one way they’re both very alike, and (I suspect) much like a third person from way back in Jobs’s youth.

Cook sounds almost exactly like Jobs. Not his voice — Cook’s is gentler and much more Suthun. But listen to his cadences, especially when he’s on stage and giving a product demonstration. His speech patterns match Steve’s almost perfectly. There’s a rhythm, a method of emphasis they both share. If you don’t believe me, wait until Cook gives his WWDC keynote on June 10, then pull up any one of Jobs’s famous keynotes on YouTube. It’s uncanny.

Now what follows is pure speculation.


In his late teens, Jobs fell in with Robert Friedland, a charismatic LSD free-love guru-type figure. Friedland was a big influence on young Jobs, according to Walter Isaacson’s bio, and has been credited with helping him create his Reality Distortion Field.

I’ve never been able to find any video of Friedland giving any sort of product demo. But I’d wager the rent money that Friedland used those same cadences, those same rhythms, that Jobs used on stage. And that Tim Cook, probably with a big assist from Jobs, very purposely learned to use them, too.

Again, this is speculation. But I’ve been watching Apple for 30 years (really???) and Jobs for just as long. So call it informed speculation.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member