Steve "The Woz" Wozniak: Still Having Fun After All These Years
Yesterday afternoon at the University of South Florida (USF) Muma College of Business, Moez Limayem learned that interviewing Steve "The Woz" Wozniak is a lot like interviewing Robin Williams: ask a question and then prepare yourself for the entertaining show that follows.
The Co-Founder of Apple Inc. and Chief Scientist of Primary Data, Wozniak packed the USF Sun Dome Arena like rock stars pack sold-out music venues at the Amelia arena. It was a sold-out event with many ticket holders struggling to find a parking space in lots surrounding the Sun Dome.
As an elementary school student, I spent an inordinate amount of time tinkering with CB radios and old WWII surplus radio communications gear. As a middle-schooler, I was thrilled to receive an analog computer kit as a gift from the friend of the family, an electrical engineer. This event set me on my course upon graduating high school to pursue my electrical engineering degree.
Growing up as one of the fixtures at the local neighborhood Radio Shack store, I would often be found purchasing do-it-yourself electronics project kits and discrete electronic components to build my numerous electronics experiments. I dreamed of the day when I would have enough money saved to purchase a more expensive Heathkit.
What drew me and hundreds of other life-long technologists to the USF Sun Dome to hear Woz speak was the same thing that has kept many of us engaged in both technology and learning for much of our lives: Having Fun.
Woz's key message to the soon to be graduates, entrepreneurs, and technology enthusiasts was simple: the key to happiness is focusing on how you feel and focusing your resources on your passions, without concern for what others think of you or your ideas.
During his talk, Woz stated that early in his life he knew what he wanted, to be an engineer, and set out with a passion to make his engineering career as success without regard to the possibility of failures or what he regards as "frowns".
Woz spoke of the importance of 'getting a life' after graduating school; landing a job with a salary to cover the necessities of life: food, shelter and clothing. Making friends is key to success, as evidenced by his early friendship with Apple Inc technology legend Steve Jobs.
This passion and focus lead to his designing the Apple I Computer, meeting Steve Jobs, and forming an entrepreneurial venture named Apple Computer that soon sold Wozniak's and Job's flagship product: The Apple II Personal Computer.
Knowing what it is that we really, really want and staying focused on achieving what we want throughout our life is key to living a life filled with fun and happiness. When focused on our passion and how we feel about what we are presently doing, will help ensure we find the ways to earn the money that we need to maintain the lifestyle that we desire.
Woz's cites his Happiness Formula as another key to success. Not concerning oneself with failures, but rather focused on problem solving and continuous hands-on learning with ideas that are perceived as fun and interesting.
Taking on what appears to be impossible, and not frowning when the results of long efforts prove less than successful, as the experience is the hidden gem gained for time and efforts expended, Woz explained. There will be times when the impossible is made possible by way of knowledge and experience gained from previous ventures.
Build lots of prototypes of your ideas and concepts. The time you invest as an entrepreneur will build a foundation of lifelong memories of the fun you had, especially when launching and growing startups.
Become clear in your mind on the way you intend to solve a problem or improve on a design, then set out to make it so. Woz's focus on always improving on his existing designs was the key to his success with the Apple II computer along with his current ventures.
A committed lifelong learner, Woz believes that STEM education should mimic art more than science. Creativity and hands-on experiential learning is key to success in today's world. It's OK to take time off from school to gain clarity and experience applying what you've learned. Continuing your education is always an option that should be a lifelong consideration.
Though I never particularly followed Steve Wozniak's work during the course of my life, he has certainly been an inspiration in my odd long thirty year career as a systems and software enginering technologist and entrepreneur.
As I complete writing this blog on my Apple Mac, I'm sure that Steve Wozniak's words of wisdom and inspiration at USF will help reinforce the coming wave of technological wonders that we will soon be experiencing.
Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Speaks At USF Sun Dome (Steve Newborn, 2/20/2018, WUSF Public Media)
Steve Wozniak charms USF crowd: ‘The human or the technology — what’s more important?’ (Richard Danielson, Tampa Bay Times, 2/19/2018