It’s not often you feel star-struck at a technology conference. But when Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple rocked into town for Business Rocks last week it felt like the entire business community of Manchester had turned out to see him.
From politics to corporation tax, Brexit to robots, there’s not much that Steve Wozniak won’t wax lyrical about. But what’s really fascinating about him is his normalcy. Despite the journey he’s been on, and the part he played in revolutionising home computing, there’s nothing flashy about him. He spoke eloquently about the early days of Apple, his relationship with Steve Jobs and the profound effect Jobs’ death had on him.
There were also some inspirational insights into his journey – arguing the point to his dad that he wasn’t crazy to believe every home would house a computer. But it was his depiction of how his philosophy on life has framed his attitude to business that I hope tech entrepreneurs will find most inspiring.
Here’s three key things I picked up on about how to behave in business that have nothing to do with how clever you are and how rich you become:
1) World according to Woz – Wozniak’s aim has always been to have a nice life rather
than to chase wealth. This might sound glib as there’s no doubt that he’s a wealthy man – but he claims it has never been the primary driver.
2) The formula for happiness – his self-created formula for happiness (happiness = smiles – frowns) has been the philosophy that he’s tried to live and work by. He has revised this formula over the years and it has evolved to become – Food + fun + friends = happiness. (Food being metaphorical for the fundamentals in life). But the message is consistent – work alone will not make you happy.
3) The Woz Way – With that in mind Wozniak has donated money and invested in projects close to his heart but not necessarily to his business life. This includes a huge contribution to music and the arts. In fact, the city of San Jose named a street after him – Woz Way – in honour of his services to the community.
I’m not denying that only through his drive, ambition and talent does Steve Wozniak have the luxury of being able to live his life according to these principles. Still a token employee of Apple and still heavily involved in the tech industry, it’s not all ballet and comedy festivals for him. But if I was a young tech entrepreneur wanting to change the world I’d think about changing all aspects of the world that matter to me, never forgetting the impact my actions will have on those around me.
A huge well done to the team behind Business Rocks for shining a huge spotlight on Manchester – look forward to seeing it return next year!
Nikki is a director and co-founder of Fourth Day