A conversation with Woz
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak had a lot to say when he talked with President Ronald K. Machtley at Bryant University last week. The self-described “shy engineer” was generous with his stories, insights, and wisdom for the enthusastic crowd of 1,300 Bryant students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
President Machtley guided the lively conversation that spanned from Woz’s early days as as a curious kid who tinkered with transistors and microprocessors to his headier days as the engineer and innovator who co-founded of Apple Computer. Woz’s inventions, the Apple I and Apple II computers, triggered a seismic change in the world of computing, and forged one of the most successful technology brands in history.
“Knowledge is less important than motivation.”
Three principles for success
Wozniak didn’t set out to build a computer empire; he just wanted to have fun creating something he loved. Now that he’s accomplished both, he has identified three key principles for success: product, marketing, and engineering.
Product and marketing success come from creating something that you love, he noted. “I built the…computer I would love. ... Steve Jobs and the iPhone … Elon Musk and the Tesla … good products come from a marketing person who wants it for themselves.” He emphasized the importance of engineering when creating just about anything. “Engineers are good at solving problems and finding fixes and the shortcuts,” he said. “You should always start your company aligned with some engineering group.”
Woz believes that being a successful innovator is about curiosity and motivation. "Knowledge is less important than motivation,” he said. “You do need some skills, but it’s still more important to be motivated.” Reminiscing about his early days working at Hewlett Packard, he said he would “come home at night, have dinner, watch Star Trek, and get to work” building and testing his own ideas.
"Know as many disciplines as possible"
Wozniak encouraged the students and aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs of all ages to diversify their learning. “Know as many disciplines as possible, not just one tiny, tiny, specific one, because it’s much more rewarding to you in the end.”
The brilliant engineer, successful international business executive, and reluctant celebrity was down-to-earth and energized to be talking with the crowd. He even let the audience in on his two formulas for happiness: Happiness equals smiles minus frowns (H = S – F) and Happiness = food, fun, friends, and family (H = F4). He also shared his philosophy for life and success: play jokes and pranks, explore interesting things, and be happy with what you do.