When Tim Cook took over as the CEO of Apple in 2011, he had big shoes to fill. In a recent interview with Fortune, Cook talks about how it felt to succeed the legendary Steve Jobs.
What he learned, as Fortune reports, is that there’s no way to prepare for such an undertaking. Here’s exactly what he said to Fortune:
I have thick skin, but it got thicker. What I learned after Steve passed, what I had known only at a theoretical level, an academic level maybe, was that he was an incredible heat shield for us, his executive team. None of us probably appreciated that enough because it’s not something we were fixated on. We were fixated on our products and running the business. But he really took any kind of spears that were thrown. He took the praise as well. But to be honest, the intensity was more than I would ever have expected.
Cook said he’s learned to ignore all of the Apple naysayers that say he won’t be able to innovate the same way Jobs did:
I thought I was reasonable at that before, but I’ve had to become great at it. You pick up certain skills when the truck is running across your back. Maybe this will be something great that I’ll use in other aspects of my life over time.
Cook is on the verge of launching Apple’s first new product category without Jobs: the Apple Watch. It’s the company’s first smartwatch, and it launches on April 24.