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Thursday, October 20, 2011, 08:03 pm PT (11:03 pm ET)

Apple director says Steve Jobs told team not to ask "What would Steve do?"

Apple board member Al Gore said in an interview on Friday that the late Steve Jobs had specifically told CEO Tim Cook and others to avoid asking themselves what he would have done while attempting to carry on his legacy.

Gore, a former U.S. Vice President, noted in an interview with Walt Mossberg at AllThingsD's AsiaD conference in Hong Kong that Jobs and Apple's Board of Directors had held discussions at "every single meeting, for several years" about cultivating the team that would replace Jobs.

Among Job's inventions, "I actually I think his greatest work was Apple itself,” Gore said, echoing sentiments that have been voiced by numerous analysts and industry watchers. “He created an organization, and inspired it, that literally creates technology that people love.. and that’s going to continue."

According to Gore, Jobs cited company struggles at Disney after founder Walt Disney's death as an example of the dangers of that thinking.

"[Jobs] used to talk about initially about how after Walt Disney died, the company always got in trouble about asking “what would Walt do in this situation.” And he made it very clear “I don’t want that,”" said Gore. "He made it clear to Tim Cook and everyone else “Don’t ask what Steve would have done. Follow your own voice.”"

Al Gore


Gore did note that Apple has "so many things in the pipeline" and that "the team that [Jobs] built is hitting on all cylinders," while also asserting that the executive team will still take risks and be a game-changing force.

"Everyone on that management team could be CEO of a world class corporation," he added. Asked if that was a problem because other companies would try to poach Apple execs, Gore agreed, but noted that, as a member of the compensation committee, they "pay real close attention to that."

Mossberg went on to question Gore as to whether he had any conflicts of interest in serving as a Google advisor in addition to his role at Apple.

"After [then Google CEO] Eric Schmidt left the Apple board because of conflicts, I pulled back as well," Gore said. Schmidt stepped down in August 2009 because the search giant had begun to enter competition with more of Apple's core businesses.

"I still talk to [Google co-founders] Larry and Sergey, but never about about anything where there’s competition. It’s not really a problem, but I don’t have as many conversations with them now. And I miss that. I’ve known them since they were 27 years old," he said, adding that he thinks Larry Page is doing a "great job" as CEO.

When asked about Jobs' memorial servicee, Gore called it "a beautiful and moving event," and added, "We'll all miss Steve."

"He’s the kind of guy that comes along once every 250 years. He was totally unique," he said.

The Apple Board of Directors has been described as being at a "crossroads" after the Jobs' death. Some industry watchers suggested Apple should appoint an independent chairman from outside the company to take charge.

When Jobs stepped down as CEO in August, he recommended that the Board follow its succession plan and appoint Cook as the new chief. The directors readily agreed, appointing Cook to the position.

"I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it," Jobs said in an open resignation letter.