TIME People

How Apple CEO Tim Cook Succeeded When Everyone Told Him He’d Fail

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Bloomberg via Getty Images In this combination photo, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, left, unveils the iCloud storage system at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2011 in San Francisco, Calif., on June 6, 2011, while Apple CEO Tim Cook, right, speaks during an event at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., on Oct. 4, 2011.

"You pick up certain skills when the truck is running across your back"

Apple CEO Tim Cook says his journey to success hasn’t been an easy one.

In an exclusive interview with Fortune, Cook recounts how he dealt with the negative comments after he succeeded the legendary Steve Jobs in 2011. Though Cook eventually proved skeptics wrong — just check out iPhone 6 sales and Apple’s record-breaking $700 billion valuation last month — it wasn’t a smooth ride, including a public meltdown of the buggy Apple Maps app in 2012.

But as Tim Cook told Fortune, there’s no solution other than to ignore the haters — and then get your act together:

I thought I was reasonable at [blocking out negative comments] 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 also described just how intimidating it was at first to be Jobs’ successor:

I have thick skin, but it got thicker. What I learned after Steve passed away, 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 … 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 was named No. 1 on Fortune‘s “World’s Greatest Leaders” Thursday. Read the rest of Fortune’s profile of Tim Cook here.

 

TIME Food & Drink

New Line of Sriracha Snacks Will Be the ‘Real Deal’

Sriracha hot sauce
Scott Olson—Getty Images Bottles of Sriracha hot chili sauce

Hummus, croutons, and chips to be flavored with the original Huy Fong Sriracha

In the coming months, lovers of the red rooster will be able to buy Huy Fong Foods Sriracha hummus, croutons, tortilla chips, potato chips, and actual Sriracha spice to season your own food with, Yahoo reports.

Thought some of these items already existed? Not quite.

While companies like Lays have created snacks with Sriracha flavoring, any true hot sauce connoisseur knows that there is only one true Huy Fong Sriracha — which recently partnered up with Pop! Gourmet Foods.

“McCormick does a Sriracha seasoning, but it’s not Huy Fong,” Pop! founder and CEO David Israel told Yahoo. “With us, you’re getting the real deal.”

The official Sriracha seasoning will be available April 20.

The two companies already rolled out Sriracha popcorn earlier this year.

[Yahoo]

TIME Careers & Workplace

This Surprising Trait Can Get You Fired at Apple

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Stephen Lam—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook waves from stage after an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco.

CEO Tim Cook explains why he lets some people go

There’s one thing that will make or break you at Apple: cultural fit.

In an exclusive interview with Fortune published Thursday, Apple CEO Tim Cook says that it took him some time to learn the importance of cultural fit after he fired John Browett in 2013 just one month after the European electronics exec had been appointed Apple’s head of retail.

Browett, according to Apple execs, didn’t fit in at Apple, and frequently angered store employees by changing their schedules. After being fired from Apple, Browett said in a speech that he was shocked that he was let go due to not fitting in with company culture, even though he was qualified for the position.

As Cook explained to Fortune, it’s all about people skills:

That was a reminder to me of the critical importance of cultural fit, and that it takes some time to learn that. [As CEO], you’re engaged in so many things that each particular thing gets a little less attention. You need to be able to operate on shorter cycles, less data points, less knowledge, less facts. When you’re an engineer, you want to analyze things a lot. But if you believe that the most important data points are people, then you have to make conclusions in relatively short order. Because you want to push the people who are doing great. And you want to either develop the people who are not or, in a worst case, they need to be somewhere else.

Of course, that isn’t the only way to get fired at Apple. Tim Cook hasn’t been afraid to toss even high-ranking employees if they make mistakes. When Apple Maps flopped, for example, Cook fired Scott Forstall, the head of mobile software.

Read the rest of Fortune’s profile of Tim Cook here.

Read next: Apple CEO Tim Cook Lashed Out Against Google and Facebook

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TIME Management

6 Charts Showing Tech’s Gender Gap Is More Complicated Than You Think

See why it's so hard to break the glass ceiling in Silicon Valley

 

Several of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies have released a series of diversity reports revealing how few women hold their companies’ top jobs — or jobs in general. Now a recent string of lawsuits is suggesting that the fix isn’t simply to recruit more women — what about the women who are already employed? Are they being held back from rising up?

That’s the key question in investing partner-turned-Reddit CEO Ellen Pao’s ongoing lawsuit against her former employer, Kleiner Perkins, a highly-established venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, California. The jury in Pao’s case began hearing closing arguments this week, and will soon decide whether it was gender bias that prevented Pao from being promoted to a higher-ranking partner, or, as Kleiner Perkins’ lawyer argued, whether Pao is simply “[blaming] others for her own failures.”

Adding to the scrutiny of Silicon Valley’s treatment of women are two other high-profile gender discrimination lawsuits against Twitter and Facebook, both recently filed by female former employees.

A gender gap in the workplace, particularly in Silicon Valley, is old news. But Kleiner Perkins isn’t the kind of Silicon Valley company we’re used to hearing about. By suing a venture capital firm, Pao raises a important point — the gender gap could be a problem at the firms that are often funding Valley companies, too. (In addressing this claim, Kleiner Perkins said in a trial brief last month it has “long been a supporter of women entrepreneurs.”)

According to a report by Babson College in 2013, gender bias reveals itself in the patterns of venture capital investments. (The study was sponsored by Ernst & Young and the Diana Project, both of which prioritize workforce diversity.) Upon analyzing these patterns, the study found that businesses with all-male leadership teams are four times as likely to receive venture capital funding as teams with even one woman.

That apparent gender bias might explain why only 3% of venture-funded businesses are led by women, according to Babson College’s report, which surveyed 6,517 of these businesses. About one-third of all U.S. businesses are led by women, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration:

 

Curiously, the percentage of female venture capital investors (11%) is almost equal to the percentage of female executives among Silicon Valley’s Top 150 companies (10.8%) — though this is merely a correlation. (These data points come respectively from the latest Venture Census and a 2014 report by Fenwick & West LLP, a global law firm with clients including Facebook and Google.)

Even if these two gender gaps are wholly unrelated, it’s still worth noting that Silicon Valley appears to have an especially pronounced gender diversity problem when compared to the S&P 100. The S&P 100 is a non-industry specific stock index comprised of companies with the 100 leading U.S. stocks, many of which are outside Silicon Valley:

 

So it’s an undeniable truth that Silicon Valley has a gender diversity problem. But the question of whether the gap has started to close is a bit trickier.

Take, for example, the following chart from Fenwick’s report. It shows the percentage of women in the highest-ranking positions in Valley’s top 150 companies (“SV 150″) between 1996 and 2014. By looking at the upward trends, you could say that gender diversity in Silicon Valley has improved:

But don’t jump to any conclusions. Once again, when you compare the SV 150 to the S&P 100 benchmark, gender diversity in the Valley appears to be problematic. Take a look at the following chart, which shows the top Valley companies had lower percentages of women than the S&P 100 in every single leadership position except President/COO and General Counsel in 2014:

There’s yet another caveat: If you examine only the very top Valley companies, the gender diversity problem is cast in a much better light. After all, Google just named a female CFO this week, while Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman are proof of change among tech titans.

The chart below shows gender diversity in the Valley’s top 15 companies (“SV15″), like Google and HP, has rapidly improved. Female representation was remarkably strong in a several positions in 2014, including President/COO and CFO. But other positions, like Chair, were still entirely male in 2014 — just like in 1996:

These mixed messages regarding the depth of Silicon Valley’s gender problem are surfacing on both sides of Pao’s trial. Kleiner Perkins’ lawyers, for example, argued that 20% of its partners are women. That’s much higher than the average of 6%, according to Babson College’s report, which surveyed 139 venture capital firms’ partners in 2013. Kleiner Perkins’ top ranking female partner, Mary Meeker, even testified against Pao, arguing the company promoted women based on their merits.

But Pao, too, had an arsenal of numbers at the ready. In addition to qualitative evidence of gender bias — like claims of all-male dinner parties — Pao’s legal team also cited the superior performance of investments made by the company’s female investors, including Pao. A female partner at Kleiner Perkins once reportedly even constructed a matrix comparing women’s and men’s investments to drive this point home.

The jury in Pao’s trial will soon put an end to these arguments — but the gender gap debate will surely continue outside the courtroom. Even if the jury sides with Kleiner Perkins, Pao’s closely watched trial remains a warning for the larger, male-dominated business industry to reevaluate the treatment of women in their companies. There’s a business incentive at play here, too: Companies with female leaders appear to be performing unusually well, according to a recent study of women-led companies by Karen Rubin, director of product management at the algorithm development site Quantopian. In her study, Rubin showed how the women-led Fortune 1000 companies — there are only 27 currently — posted greater cumulative returns than those of SPY, a tracker of the S&P 500 stock index, which Rubin used as a benchmark:

Women Leader Fortune 1000

In fact, it seems that these female-run companies have outperformed the male-dominated benchmark even more often since the financial crisis of 2008-09. That’s a gender gap to be proud of — and one that can’t be ignored.

Read next: 5 Best Ways Men Can #LeanInTogether to Help Women Get Ahead

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TIME Careers & Workplace

The 10 Commandments of Leadership

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Thou shalt remain optimistic

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

A group of archeologists digging through ancient corporate archives recently uncovered two mysterious tablets (aka “wall plaques”) engraved with the following laws:

I. Thou shalt remain optimistic.

Since thy employees look to thee for leadership, thou must not let thy worries and concerns cast a black cloud over everyone else, for that way lies certain failure.

II. Thou shalt set a clear direction.

If thou wouldst be a leader, thou must create a vision in the minds of your followers whence and whither thou art leading them. Fail at this, and thy organization will wander into the wilderness.

III. Thou shalt create a workable plan.

While no plan should be engraved in stone and plans should be amended when conditions change, if thou hast failed to plan, then verily thou hast also planned to fail.

IV. Thou shalt secure sufficient resources.

While it is written truly that faith can move mountains, that faith must be accompanied by bulldozers, dump trucks, and paid employees who know how to use them.

V. Thou shalt listen more than talk.

Leadership doth not consist of giving lectures and then issuing orders. Leadership consists of understand what others desire and harnessing that desire to serve the common good.

VI. Thou shalt not hold meetings without agendas.

Before each meeting send out a decree defining what will be discussed and for how long. Then adhere to thy own decree as if the productivity of the entire team depended on it. For verily it doth.

VII. Thou shalt not criticize in public.

Though thy staff and colleagues consist of fools and rogues, public shaming creates resentment. Should a follower deserve a reprimand, provide it in the privacy of thy office.

VIII. Thou shalt not ask an employee to do something that thou wouldst not do thyself.

Truly great leaders, should they perceive a scrap of litter on the floor of a hallway, will bend down, pick it up and throw it into the trash.

IX. Thou shalt not make of thyself a bottleneck.

If thou insist upon making every final decision, the progress of thy organization will grind to a halt. If thou canst not delegate, thou hast no business pretending to be a leader.

X. Thou shalt give thy team the credit.

True leaders accept the blame when things go awry and take no credit when things go right. Thy rightful reward will the love and commitment of those who continue to work for thee.

TIME Careers & Workplace

11 Ways to Generate Valuable Ideas for Your Blog

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Look at the questions your audience is asking

startupcollective

Question: What’s one way I can generate valuable ideas for my company blog or social media?

Follow the Energy

“We do not assign content creation, and yet, we create pages every day. It all begins with where the energy flows. We send out a daily email to our staff with inspiring quotes our clients have shared that day. If one resonates with a staff member, they get to claim it and create something around it. I won’t let them write until the fire in the belly is there, so I inspire them.” — Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

Look at the Questions Your Audience Is Asking

“Look at the questions your audience is asking. There are a number of resources that your audience is already using to find out more about services like yours (e.g., Q&A sites, your social media pages, industry-related FAQ pages, etc.). Scanning through these will give you a wealth of information about what topics your potential customers want to know more about.” — Phil Laboon, Eyeflow Internet Marketing

Listen to Your Clients

“Client feedback is a great tool for improving your business. It’s also a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of what matters to your clients, what they are interested in and what they want to know more about. By listening to your clients’ concerns and responding, you can generate a whole host of valuable topics to explore via your company blog or social media.” — David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

Survey Your Email List

“If you want to produce valuable content for your audience, surveys can help you discover what information would be valuable to them. For example, we host webinars every month. A couple weeks before the webinar, we survey our email database asking what specific topics people would like us to cover and what questions they have. This helps us provide content that our audience will value.” — Pete Kennedy, Main Street ROI

Find the Best Sources and Disconnect

“Ironically, blogging and social media inspiration doesn’t happen behind a computer, phone, tablet or any other device. Get out there, talk to the smartest people you know in your industry, have face-to-face conversations, create space to think critically (away from your daily routine) and find time to disconnect. Reading is also invaluable — but pick only the best 10 sources.” — Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, AirPR

Don’t Just Write About Yourself

“All too often, a company’s blog and its social media accounts are devoted to pushing products and services. It’s fine to share successes, but nobody is going to become a regular reader if that’s all you do. It’s good to read widely about the topics you’re interested in, and then re-pot and riff off of these. This approach provides value rather than making readers feel like they’re reading ads.” — Grant Gordon, Solomon Consulting Group

Visit Google Trends

Google Trends is an amazing tool that allows you to create relevant content. Simply go to Google Trends, look at what the world is talking about and see how your company could potentially contribute to the conversation. Not only will your content be relevant on social media channels, but you may be able to capture search traffic to your site as well.” — Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Read Trade Publications

“A simple way to stay on top of your industry is to read as many relevant trade publications as possible. Identify industry trends, and relate them to your business and your products. Educate yourself first, then educate and engage your readers.” — Elliot Fabri, EcoCraft Homes

Borrow Ideas From Other Sites

“The great thing about being a small business is that there are a lot of bigger businesses in the world that you can emulate. Look for companies that are doing a great job with their company blogs or social media, and figure out how to replicate those ideas on your own properties. Make sure your search is broad enough to include industries other than your own.” — Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

Use Google

“One of the easiest ways to find new content is to Google around and see what your competitors are writing about. I’m not suggesting you copy their content, but usually what’s relevant to them is relevant to you too — just put your own unique spin on it.” — Emerson Spartz, Spartz

Ask the People Around You

“Look to your friends, mentors and people in your industry, and ask what content they are looking for. Take those ideas to help create great content that people can read and share.” — Amanda L., shatterbox

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

This article was originally published on StartupCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

4 Steps for Answering ‘Tell Me About a Time You Failed’

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First frame the way you evaluate failure and finish with your key takeaways from the experience

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

While not the most common interview question, the failure question—should you get it—is rather perplexing. How do you answer this honestly while also not scaring away your potential future employer by bringing up that time you fat-fingered a trade and lost the company a lot of money?

It’s a tricky situation to be in. You want to impress, but you’re explicitly being asked to talk about something you failed at. So, what do you do?

First things first, stay calm. Take a deep breath and say something like, “Wow, that’s a great question. I’m going to have to think about that for a second.” Then, think about it for a second and follow these four steps.

1. Pick a Real Failure

Step one is to pick a failure. Don’t try to weasel your way out of this by talking about that one time you got a B in a college class. You’re not fooling anyone. At the same time, you probably also want to shy away from any colossal failures related to the kind of work you’re applying for. If the interviewer specifically asks for something related to work, try to at least pull the story from something that happened a long time ago. Choose a story in which something fairly important didn’t go right due to your personal actions (or lack of actions).

Note that I said “something” and not “everything”—the reason people so frequently trip up on this question is because they’re looking for a situation in which everything went wrong. You only need one thing to go wrong for your answer to work.

2. Define Failure in Your Own Words

The reason why you don’t need to talk about some immense failure in which everything goes catastrophically and comically wrong is because you’re going to spell out why you felt this situation was a failure.

After you’ve picked your story, define failure in a way that works for it. Once failure is defined, your story no longer needs to be an obvious failure; it just has to be whatever you define failure to be. Here are a few examples:

To me, failure is about not meeting expectations—others’ as well as my own.

As a manager, I consider it a failure whenever I’m caught by surprise. I strive to know what’s going on with my team and their work.

I think failure is more than just not meeting a goal, it’s about not meeting a goal with the resources you’re given. If I end up taking more time or supplies than I was originally allotted, that feels like a failure to me.

3. Tell Your Story

Now that you’ve established how you evaluate failure, tell the story that you chose. Try not to spend too much time setting the stage, and get to the punch line quickly. Interviewers don’t ask this question to see you squirm, they want to know how you handle setbacks—so get to the part where you’re dealing with the failure as quickly as possible.

Start with the situation, and explain why it was challenging. Then go into what you specifically did to try and rectify it. Presumably, since this is about failure, you will not be successful or will only be partially successful. That’s fine. Do not try to cover up the fact that things didn’t all go as planned. It’s impossible to do well in an interview if the interviewer doesn’t believe what you’re saying, so don’t try to sugar coat things.

4. Share What You Learned

Finally, at the end of your response, after you relay the awful outcome of your story, you get to the good stuff. You want to wrap up with your lessons learned.

Talk about why you think things went badly, maybe what you would have done in hindsight, and, of course, what you’ll be doing going forward. It might sound something like this:

Our big problem was assuming that we would be able to get clean data from users. It’s one of my biggest takeaways from the experience: Never make assumptions about the data. I haven’t made that mistake again.

If I had just communicated the first few bumps in the road, we could have managed our client’s expectations, but because we didn’t, we damaged the relationship. Now, I never let an uncomfortable conversation prevent me from communicating the status of a project transparently.

The failure question frequently takes people by surprise. Even if you’re prepared for it, talking about failure is difficult. The key to answering this question well is first framing the way you evaluate failure and then finishing with your key takeaways from the experience. If you sandwich your story with these two components, you’ll definitely have a strong answer.

More from The Muse:

TIME Music

This Is Apple’s Plan to Kill Spotify

Apple Spotify Beats Dre Iovine Reznor
Michael Buckner—WireImage Producer Dr. Dre (L) and Chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records Jimmy Iovine attend the iHeartRadio Music Festival VIP After Party held at Gold Lounge on Sept. 23, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Apple is planning a new music service following the Beats acquisition

Spotify’s biggest battle is no longer with Taylor Swift.

Apple is working with headphone maker Beats to launch a new subscription-based music service to rival the highly popular Spotify, the New York Times reported Thursday, citing people briefed on the company’s plans. Apple acquired Beats for $3 billion last May,

The new streaming service will overhaul Apple’s iTunes Radio, which failed to achieve mainstream success, and Beats Music, Beats’ streaming service that has challenged Spotify in service quality, but not in subscription numbers. Heavily involved in the project are Trent Reznor, the Nine Inch Nails frontman and former Beats exec, in addition to Beats’ cofounders, hip hop producer Dr. Dre and record label exec Jimmy Iovine.

Unlike Spotify, Apple will not offer a free tier in its streaming service. The paid-only nature will likely ease music executives’ concerns that free music discourages users from purchasing subscriptions. The decision may also appeal to artists who have voiced their opposition to free streaming, including Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks and The Black Keys, all of whom are not on Spotify.

Sources also told the Times that Apple, once considered the undisputed leader in music sales with iTunes, had recently failed to convince record labels to agree to a subscription cost of $8 per month, which would be $2 less than the price of Spotify’s paid tier.

Apple has kept its plans for Beats secret since the acquisition, though music industry experts have long speculated that CEO Tim Cook planned to use Beats’ talent to revamp Apple’s music platform offerings. Though TechCrunch reported in September that Beats would be discontinued and folded into Apple, Apple soon denied the claims, but provided no further information.

[NYT]

Read next: Streaming Music Showdown: Spotify vs. Beats

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TIME Amazon

Why Amazon Is Hosting a $25,000 Robot Showdown

Amazon Opens Fulfillment Center In DuPont, Washington
Stephen Brashear—Getty Images Amazon Kiva robots, which help fill orders by bringing shelves of merchandise to Amazon Associates, navigate an Amazon Fulfillment Center on February 13, 2015 in DuPont, Washington.

One small step for robots, one giant leap for warehouse automation

Some 25 teams will compete in Amazon’s upcoming robot throwdown, a competition that will test the outer limits of what a robot can see, grasp and pack into a cardboard box.

The e-commerce giant recently awarded travel grants to 25 robot team finalists who will be flown to Seattle this May to compete in Amazon’s Picking Challenge. Each team’s robot will be confronted with a shelf of 25 common household items. It will have to accurately identify, grasp and package the items with care.

Points will be awarded for computer vision — the ability to tell apart a box of Oreo cookies, for instance, from a box of Cheez-It crackers — as well as dexterity. Dropping or damaging an item will result in points deducted, MIT Technology Review reports. The winner will receive $25,000 in prize money.

Robots already play an instrumental role in Amazon’s packaging centers, ferrying 700-pound inventory shelves in and out of storage, but the challenges of handling individual objects with care has posed a persistent challenge for researchers. Amazon says it hopes the contest will “strengthen the ties between the industrial and academic robotic communities and promote shared and open solutions.”

TIME Food & Drink

You Only Have 5 Days to Try Starbucks’ Birthday Cake Frappuccino

The first Frappuccinos debuted in 1995

It’s a scientific fact—at least when it comes to dessert—that the only thing better than chocolate is birthday cake.

Luckily, Starbucks seems to be on top of this important life-truth.

The coffee chain is celebrating the 20th birthday of its signature frozen drink with a new Birthday Cake Frappuccino. The limited-edition drink will only be available in stores for five days, from March 26-30.

So how do you make a birthday-cake-flavored Frap? (No, not with Funfetti.) Starbucks’ vanilla bean and hazelnut flavors are blended together and then topped with a raspberry-infused (read: pink!) whipped cream.

The first Frappuccinos debuted in 1995 and were available only in coffee and mocha flavors. Now, the company boasts a history of fancy Fraps: a blue Seattle Seahawks flavor for the 2015 Super Bowl; a bright green Franken Frappuccino for Halloween; and a frozen version of its newest holiday flavor, the tastes-like-a-cup-of-Christmas-carols Chestnut Praline.

Fingers crossed for a happy-hour-appropriate, boozy birthday cake flavor when the Frappuccino turns 21 next year.

This article originally appeared on People.com

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