Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, stepped out from the shadow of Steve Jobs in his first major public interview, saying that working at the tech giant is his "oxygen" and that the company's late founder told him to be his own man.
The dying Mr Jobs told his chosen successor never to approach strategic decisions by trying to second-guess what he would have done, Mr Cook told an audience of media and technology industry grandees.
"He looked at me with those intense eyes that only he had, and said, 'Just do what's right.'"
Mr Cook's on-stage interview at the D10 conference was his widest ranging since he took over the helm of the iPhone manufacturer last August, six weeks before Mr Jobs's death. "It was absolutely the saddest day of my life when he passed away," he said. "Steve was a genius and a visionary. He's an irreplaceable person. Steve was an original, and I don't think there is another one of those being made.
"I've never felt the weight of trying to be Steve. It's not who I am, and it's not my goal in life."
Mr Cook, 51, had been Mr Jobs's right-hand man at Apple for over a decade, but it was the company's founder who fronted the launches of revolutionary products such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad tablet computer.
Mr Cook's appearance on Tuesday night was a rare opportunity to compare how he is likely to lead Apple – as well as to judge some of the ways in which the company is not going to change at all. Chief among these is the way it builds excitement over future product launches, and the new man proved as adept at hints and teases as his predecessor. "The juices are flowing," he said. "We have some incredible things coming out."
Television is "an area of intense interest for us," he added, sidestepping the question that has the technology industry buzzing, namely, is Apple developing a TV set. The company currently only produces a set-top box called Apple TV which acts as an interface for video content. "We are going to keep pulling this string and see where it takes us."
And he hinted that a Facebook partnership could also be in the works.
Mr Cook spoke emotionally about what he had learnt at Mr Jobs's side, including a personal revelation that "the joy is in the journey", but he added that he did not have the luxury of a long grieving process. "At some point late last year, somebody kind of shook me and said, 'It's time to get on.'"