Standing in front of a room full of students, the co-founder of Apple Inc. offered some career advice to his audience: “Follow your heart,” he said.
From the time he was in Grade 5, when he was first introduced to the language of binary, Steve Wozniak knew he wanted to spend his life as an inventor and an engineer.
During a brief introduction before diving into a “Q and A” with the sold-out crowd at Concordia, Thursday, Wozniak said he believes the people who experience the most happiness and success in life are those who define their lives at an early age.
Explaining why so many end up in seemingly menial jobs, Wozniak said people tend to get side-tracked in adolescence and early-adulthood.
“You get distracted. You take a job because you need money to pay for your apartment,” he said. “But you’re not doing what you love.”
“While working that job, though, you might get a raise or a promotion, he said. “So you keep that job. And then you become a different person than you would have been without that success.”
When Apple Inc. began, Wozniak had already created the technology for the Apple II computer – the computer that is now widely credited with revolutionizing the personal computer.
Wozniak said he didn’t start Apple Inc. to make money. But he admitted a promise of “making lots of it” did help sway his decision to leave Hewlett Packard, where he’d been happily working as a computer engineer for four years.
The promise of riches was only an aside, he assured. “When I found out I could create my computer and still be an engineer for the rest of my life and make lots of money, that’s when I decided to leave HP.”
Steve Wozniak has been a prominent figure in the technology scene since his development of the first personal computer, the Apple-1, in 1976. “The Woz” was in Montreal Thursday, delivering the keynote speech at the 2009 eConcordia Summit. He was more than willing to sit down with a few members of the press at the end of the day to talk about all things technological. Here is an excerpt from the press conference. For the full transcript, visit theconcordian.com
Press: Throughout the years, Apple has created a niche for itself. What are your thoughts on Apple’s cultural impact?
Steve Wozniak: We’ve always had a very strong group of followers. There was a point in time when Macintoshes cost a lot more than PCs. PCs had a very small amount of memory to operate them while Macintosh required a large amount of memory and memory was very expensive. As a result of having the more amount of memory you needed, we could handle such things as photography with Photoshop and videography with programs like Adobe Premiere. So we could do video and we could do photography work and graphics much earlier because we had enough memory to do it. It’s that simple an explanation. It’s sort of an axiom of history. So all the artists and the video people and the producers, all got into Macintoshes and once you’re into it, you love it so much, it’s very difficult to try a new way.
P: Can you talk about the sacrifices that you’ve had to make in order to achieve the success we see in you today?
SW: Actually, I’m the rare exception. There were basically no sacrifices at all. The only things I did all the way to Apple’s success were the things that I enjoyed in life that I would have done anyway if no one was paying me. I was just lucky. Every job I did was an A-plus job. Two reasons for that were one, I didn’t have money and when you work on low resources and you’re trying to do it yourself with very few parts, you try to be very clever and you try to sync out the whole solution in the shortest number of steps, pieces or parts. Everything has to be so perfect. So I had no resources and two, I hadn’t done the jobs before. Everything that I’ve done so far today, I’ve never done before in my life or taken classes on how to do them. That kept me from doing it the way it had been done in the past. It kept me from following the long, complicated formulas.
P: What kind of advice would you give to students today?
SW: Accomplish was you set out to do and then freeze. Try to find the time to look at it and say “how could I have done it better?” Go back and do it a second time, or even a third time, each time being better in some way.
P:Are you still involved with Apple?
SW: I’m not very involved, no. I do keep a small $100 weekly paycheck though, because I want to be the person who is on the payroll of the computer from day one!