Steve Wozniak was the brains behind Apple Computer. In the mid-seventies, he designed personal computers and peripherals while his friend and business partner, Steve Jobs, acted as salesman and marketing genius. Thirty years later, Jobs still inspires many of us with his convention keynote speeches (at which he announces new products). But whatever happened to Woz?
This clip is a little painful to watch. Wozniak comes off as King of the Geeks. An AskMetafilter user was so baffled that he asked:
What’s the appeal of Steve Wozniak? He’s everywhere these days and many nerds love him. To me, he seems like a manboy who has managed to ride his Segway Polo-playing well beyond his 15 minutes of fame. [...] What’s the deal?
The responses contain a lot of information about Wozniak, and include good arguments for not judging a person too quickly. But my favorite part of the thread was this link to an interview with Wozniak from the forthcoming book Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days. The interview covers the genesis of Apple Computer, Wozniak’s work at Hewlett-Packard and for Atari, and his experience as an entrepreneur.
Q: What advice would you give to hackers who are thinking about starting a company or making something on their own?
A: [...] find a way to do it. If you say, “I have to have a tool,” and you are a prima donna, “I have to have a certain development system” — if you can’t figure out a way to test something and get it working, I don’t think you’re the right type of person to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs have to keep adjusting to… everything’s changing, everything’s dynamic, and you get this idea and you get another idea and this doesn’t work out and you have to replace it with something else. Time is always critical because somebody might beat you to the punch. It’s better to be young because you can spend a lot more nights, very very late. Because you have to get things done, and there’s almost no other way to get around that.
This is a l-o-n-g interview, but it’s excellent. I read it in one sitting, staring at my monitor for nearly an hour. I loved the insight into this guy’s head.
After reading this interview — and other pieces since — I’m struck by one thing: Steve Wozniak has found success by doggedly pursuing his passions. This is a key element to entrepreneurial success: find something you know, something you love, something you’re passionate about, and turn it into a business. Woz did this. He’s now one of my entrepreneurial heroes.
For more on Steve Wozniak:
- Guy Kawasaki, himself a former Mac evangelist, shared a brief review of iWoz earlier in the year.
- The official Steve Wozniak site is woz.org.
- AskMetafilter: What’s the appeal of Steve Wozniak? (and a follow-up post)
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