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Apple's Tim Cook tells GW grads: Ignore the cynics, change the world like Steve Jobs did

Bob Brown | May 19, 2015
Transcript of Apple CEO Tim Cook's commencement address at George Washington University.

Our commitment goes beyond the products themselves to how they're made. To our impact on the environment. To the role we play in demanding and promoting equality. And in improving education. We believe that a company that has values and acts on them can really change the world. And an individual can too. That can be you. That must be you. Graduates, your values matter. They are your North Star. And work takes on new meaning when you feel you are pointed in the right direction. Otherwise, it's just a job, and life is too short for that. We need the best and brightest of your generation to lead in government and in business. In the science and in the arts. In journalism and in academia. There is honor in all of these pursuits. And there is opportunity to do work that is infused with moral purpose. You don't have to choose between doing good and doing well. It's a false choice, today more than ever.

Your challenge is to find work that pays the rent, puts food on the table, and lets you do what is right and good and just.

So find your North Star. Let it guide you in life, and work, and in your life's work. Now, I suspect some of you aren't buying this. I won't take it personally. It's no surprise that people are skeptical, especially here in Washington. Where these days you've got plenty of reason to be. And a healthy amount of skepticism is fine. Though too often in this town, it turns to cynicism. To the idea that no matter who's talking or what they're saying, that their motives are questionable, their character is suspect, and if you search hard enough, you can prove that they are lying. Maybe that's just the world we live in. But graduates, this is your world to change.

As I said, I am a proud son of the South. It's my home, and I will always love it. But for the last 17 years I've built a life in Silicon Valley; it's a special place. The kind of place where there's no problem that can't be solved. No matter how difficult or complex, that's part of its essential quality. A very sincere sort of optimism. Back in the 90s, Apple ran an advertising campaign we called "Think Different." It was pretty simple. Every ad was a photograph of one of our heroes. People who had the audacity to challenge and change the way we all live. People like Gandhi and Jackie Robinson, Martha Graham and Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart and Miles Davis. These people still inspire us. They remind us to live by our deepest values and reach for our highest aspirations. They make us believe that anything is possible. A friend of mine at Apple likes to say the best way to solve a problem is to walk into a room full of Apple engineers and proclaim, "this is impossible."

 

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