Apple is riding high these days. The company is coming off a blockbuster [calendar] Q4 in which it sold a record 74.5 million iPhones. Apple’s stellar performance was enough to put it ahead of Samsung in global smartphone sales for the quarter. Likewise, Apple made a record $18 billion in profit for fiscal Q1 on sales of $74.6 billion.
With this in mind, Fortune sat down with CEO Tim Cook in a wide-ranging interview that gives more than a bit of insight into the man behind the seemingly unstoppable Apple freight train. Apple is definitely a different company under the leadership of Cook; just look to the company’s philanthropic efforts, a focus on environmental and social issues, and even making high-level executives more available to the media for in-depth interviews (look no further than The New Yorker profile of Jony Ive).
Cook explains that he’s not trying to be a copy of Steve Jobs; he’s his own person. Jobs didn’t want Cook to question, “What would Steve do?” and that is readily apparent in how Apple operates today. “He never tried to be Steve,” says Eddy Cue, Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services. “He tried to always be himself. He has been very good at letting us do our thing. He’s aware and involved at the high end, and he gets involved as needed. Steve got involved at the pixel level.”
Instead of hogging the spotlight all too himself, Cook is giving his lieutenants the opportunity to shine. “My objective is to raise the public profile of several of the folks on the executive team, and others as well,” says Cook. “Because I think that’s good for Apple at the end of the day.”
And with Cook doing his best to shake things up at Apple, he has encountered his fair share of critics that have given him an earful. But according to Cook, ain’t nobody got time for that! “I’m not running for office,” Cook explains. “I don’t need your vote. I have to feel myself doing what’s right. If I’m the arbiter of that instead of letting the guy on TV be that or someone who doesn’t know me at all, then I think that’s a much better way to live.”
As for the vast fortune that Cook has amassed during his tenure at Apple (he has an estimated net worth of $120 million and another $665 million in restricted stock that has not yet fully vested), Cook plans to “give it away give it away give it away now.” He is, however, reserving just enough cash to help put his 10-year-old nephew through college once that time comes.
The interview covers a number of other topics including Apple’s spaceship campus, his efforts to become less “wooden” on stage, and his philosophy regarding dealing with high-profile boondoggles (Apple Maps, GT Advanced, John Browett). If you want some further insight into the cogs that help keep Apple turning, it’s an interesting read.