Being A Leader at Apple

How does Craig get to the top?

Sezai Burak Kantarcı
5 min readMay 28, 2022
(Source: )
(Source: Apple)

One thing that always fascinates me about the internet is that, you can find anything you are looking for.

I was curious about what would it take to be at Apple’s upper management.

And I met Craig, the infamous “Hair Force One”.

At 21th of November, 2019, Berkeley University had a very special guest. Craig Federighi, from Apple, the Senior Vice President for Software Engineering.

He named the talk “Questionable Advice From One Very Lucky Berkeley Engineer”. And he explained why he was there at the first place:

Recently, in the cafeteria at work, a new college grad who just joined the company came up to me and he asked:

“How can I become you?”

Now, needless to say, that’s a pretty disturbing question (people laughing). I thought my wife might have some issues with it.I wasn’t exactly sure what it would mean to me personally when that occurred.

But I think what he really meant was, “how can I get your job?”.

And I’d be happy working for this young fellow, he seemed pretty nice.

So he’s really looking for career advice, he’s looking for insights. I guess he was looking for wisdom. In truth, despite my years of going through this journey, I have none of these things to offer you today.

I can offer my story, and let you derive whatever wisdom from it you can.

When he was a kid, Craig first thought, computers were a fad.

“Come on.” mom he said, “Only posers are into computers. Just people who want to seem cool, they go and they do the computer thing.”

But he gave this afterschool program a shot anyway. Turns out, it was one of the best decisions of his life.

(Source: Berkeley Engineering)

52 year old engineer, decided that there are 7 things he seemed valuable for him; if he transitioned the question “How can I become you?” to “How can I get your job?”.

How can I get your job? Well, in truth, the key part is, first, we’ll go with seven easy steps, first step is don’t want my job. (people laughing) I didn’t want my job. You know, maybe you shouldn’t either.

1. Do what you love

He emphasizes that the most important thing we can do is to focus on what we love.

This is pretty much cheating, because all of our recreational time actually becomes time that assists us in our career development.

2. Work with people whose work you admire.

Leaving Oracle and joining NeXT was not a smart move — seemingly.

However, In 1998, when Craig first saw the NeXT computer, he thought he had to go see what it’s like to be among the people who can do that kind of thing. Because that provides an incredible opportunity to learn.

So we need to be extremely careful about our teams; the social circle we are in so to speak.

Impressive things around us =) (Source: Giphy)

Our friends, our colleagues, people we interact with.

If they are inspiring to you in a area of life, that’s basically free education.

3. Pay attention

If you decide to look for something, the world becomes your library.

Through the working life & educational life, there are many opportunities to learn. Craig explained that, his behavior was unusual for his coworkers.

People thought I was like a wandering reporter, or spy, or something, because I was just constantly jotting things down.

Because there’s just so many interesting things.

And if you’re making use of the time to suck ’em all in, if you’re curious, it really helps.

Cat’s are maybe the most consistent livings about curiosity. (Source: giphy)

4. Never stop acting like the New one on the team

When we first join a team, or trying to acquire a new skill, no one expects us to know anything. We get to ask the stupid questions.

Questions like: “I don’t know anything about that, can you tell me about it? Why did we do that? How is this working, behind the scenes?”

I’ve never stopped being that person.

It’s okay if I don’t know everything. I can have questions.

Newest Member, Always. (Source: Giphy)

Also, when we are asking, we might get some answers that everybody needs to hear. It’s the permission (for ourselves by ourselves) to just be learning, and learning, and learning.

Because, it’s not just about being narrow and wanting to be secure in one little area; every adjacency is an place to explore. And the way to broaden ourselves and learn, is to just feel the permission to ask the questions all along the way.

5. Team > Self

Another thing is, team are more important than self.

Craig pointed out that he was always dedicated to accomplish the team’s mission, whatever they are trying to achieve. If we can become part of the collective power that is moving forward, we can find out so many different ways that we can help.

However, if we ever look at it like “What’s in it for me?” we can miss a lot of opportunities.

Just Mind blowing. (Source: DHL)

6. Commit, Focus, Reassess

We gotta have specific focus. And be able to commit for a while.

(Source: Author)

Because all of are the choices are imperfect.

With a deadline in the mind, just focusing on the craft then evaluating the results and reassessing where your focus should be is one of the best methods, growing.

Craig says this has been important for him, as it gives the freedom to really commit without the feeling of analysis paralysis.

7. Follow your heart

Lastly, follow your heart.

When Craig decided to join NeXT, he took a big pay cut to join a failing company.

It didn’t seem like too smart a move.

However, this turned out to be the right decision for him, after all.

(Source: giphy)

The ability to listen to ourselves in those moments, and make those decisions seemed crucial for him.

Basically extreme ownership & accountability.

This was the story of Craig Federighi.

What is the most important rule in your opinion?

Also, would love to learn what you would like to be covered next?

Take care.