Steve Wozniak is an entrepreneur and inventor who likely needs no introduction. For anybody who doesn’t recognize his name, he co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs and is known as the developer of the 1976 Apple I—the computer that launched the now-ubiquitous brand.
While his engineering prowess is groundbreaking in the realm of technology, Woz has managed to maintain his innate curiosity, positivity and desire to solve problems—not merely make products—making him unique in today’s Silicon Valley scene.
“My dream was actually just to have a computer some day. If I’d imagined that it meant starting a company to sell them, I probably would have avoided the whole thing.” He continues, “My goal wasn’t to make a ton of money. It was to build good computers.”
He’s kept it old-school in a time when financial gain has become a primary goal for many tech startups. “What Steve Jobs and I did—and at the same time Bill Gates and Paul Allen did—we had no savings accounts, no friends that could loan us money, but we had ideas, and I wanted all my life to be part of a revolution.”
Smiles minus frowns
Consider what he terms “his original formula,” which dates back to his 20s: Happiness = smiles – frowns.
Doing things in your life and your work that make you happy is how he defines the smiles factor. Creating humor, he says, is an important part of his life’s work. Avoiding frowns, he explains, is equally important. It means being constructive, not frustrated, when things don’t go your way. “This kind of resilience is one of the most critical skills for success,” Woz once said.
“I think about resilience as the speed and strength of your response to adversity. When you encounter a difficulty or challenge, how quickly and how effectively are you able to marshal strength and either overcome that challenge or persevere in the face of it?”
Giving without strings
Creating happiness and providing opportunities go hand in hand for Wozniak. He generously gives without restrictions or conditions. His philanthropic efforts include supplying computers to schools, providing funds for people to go to college and developing ways to make technology more accessible.
Making significant investments of both his time and resources in education, he adopted the Los Gatos School District where he provided hands-on teaching and state-of-the-art equipment. He founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and was the founding sponsor of the Tech Museum, Silicon Valley Ballet and Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose.