What Steve Wozniak Taught Me

Apple is the dream company we always wished for when we were children. The future come back in time to bridge the gap between old age routine and new age technology.

The first laptop I ever owned was an original Macbook, which is still going as good as day one and although he didn’t directly work on it you can still feel the true craftsmanship and care that was injected into the company from the start.

1. Wozniak didn’t just have an interest in technology he used it to change the world.

He still discussed the early days of the home brew computer club, where there was a vision of creating a revolution in the way that people do everything!

What may seem like 20/20 vision now started out by those largely pushed to the sides of society. I recently had dinner with a guy who was one of the first at Netscape, sharing how he used to pitch Fortune 500 CEO’s on the use of ‘email’ and how it was going to be the future power behind business communication, with standard replies being ‘it’s ok, I think we’re going to stick with this fax thing’.

Wozniak knew that he had to set the standard for the technology that they were developing first, before it would become a naturally ingrained piece of someone’s life.

2. Have Deep Domain Expertise

The domain expertise that Steve had was comparable to that of nobody I have ever met. Still to this day he is sharp as a tack integrating all of the latest technologies in to his life.

In the modern world it seems we are all surrounded by generalists. In Bounce by Mathew Syed he talks about the myth of inborn talent. The quality and quantity of practise Steve had on computers from such a young age allowed him to connect all the pieces in order to truly innovate. This was something he knew that was not inbuilt, and multiple times referenced Jobs not being the gifted genius the media portrays him as. He knew that winners weren’t born they were made and that you will get better and better as you go along.

3. Be a Hacker at Heart

Wozniak told an anecdote of hacking the telecoms lines around the world in his youth and prank calling world leaders.

I was lucky to meet Ken Segall who was the Apple and NEXT creative director during its founding years this summer in Berlin, where he shared the story of how they made apples famous ‘Here’s to the crazy ones commercial’ in one take after a Jobs profusely refused to do it. This commercial was radically different from most robotically scripted ones at the time.

On both accounts they repeated the rhetoric that thinking differently and changing the social narrative of how people think things should be done is a key belief to getting anything done.

4. Intrinsic rewards are the ones that matter most

If you didn’t know who Wozniak was, you would probably never know that he co founded the most successful company on earth, you would defiantly recognise his personality is grounded in what Martin Seligman calls the meaningful life though. He was bursting at the seams with eudaimonic happiness not from external measures of gratification, but pure contentment in the work and contribution that he is doing and has done.

5. You need good methods and approaches.

In Pensees by Mathematician Blaise Pascal he says “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

To Wozniak it didn’t seem like there was any magic to his success, he convinced me that the magic lay in how you think about the problem at hand and the solutions that could come from it.

‘Apple was always founded on thinking different, to come up with solutions that until seen made people think, why haven’t we been doing it that way all along’ that comes from putting the time in and knowing how things could be connected to make powerful solutions, and those solutions come from sitting in a room thinking.

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