Ten leadership lessons from Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak

14th Aug 2018
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Steve Wozniak

Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak, the man behind the computer revolution and who helped propel Apple Inc to great heights with Co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, never had 'becoming rich' on his agenda. An engineer and geek, he found true joy in just creating 'cool stuff'.

If you're someone who loves nothing more than building new ideas, cracking problems, learning and developing new tactics, you're definitely a Wozniak. Here are 10 quotes from the man to help you to become a stronger leader.

1) Success is not measured by money

“All the best things that I did come from not having money and not having done it before.”

Steve’s goal was not to make a ton of money, but to build good computers. You can be rich, yet unsatisfied. Or you can be successful, but not wealthy. While profit is a critical element for any business, the happiness and excitement from trying something you’ve never done before is unimaginable.

2) Weed out unwanted opinions

“Even if you do something that others might consider wrong, you should at least be willing to talk about it and tell your parents what you're doing because you believe it's right.”

Every business leader should have a strong sense of self-belief. If you don’t trust yourself, your team won’t either, which ultimately translates to negative performance. There will always be people telling you your ideas are easier said than done, but as a leader, only you know what you and your team are capable of. Having faith in yourself is what counts.

3) Keep yourself updated

“I read Google News and use NetNewsWire to keep up with general and tech news.”

Wozniak always had a high regard for education, which is why he went back secretly and taught in a school for eight years. In this day and age of technological advancements, leaders need to turn into persistent learners to stay ahead. Staying informed on current global events will give you the competitive edge and help your business grow.

4) Relationships matter

“The human is more important than the technology. Make things more human.”

Although Artificial Intelligence (AI) and chatbots are taking over the world, it’s safe to say that a human touch is far better than any smart machine. While technology disrupts the industry, don’t forget to take care of the people you lead and work with. Instead, train your team to work with the latest technology, because how your employees respond to change will make or break your business.

5) Don’t forget to have fun

“I just believe in whatever you're going to do, even if it's work, have a little bit of fun attitude about it. You can be happy.”

It’s important to work hard, but you need to play harder. It’s a misguided notion that fun and work don’t go hand in hand. Enabling a fun work culture makes your team come together and get the best out of each other. As long as this spirit of fun doesn’t get in the way of efficiency and profits, it’s all good.

6) Always put your best foot forward

“The way I did it, every job was A+.”

Whether you’re in known or unknown waters, learn to do your best. A leader leads by example. You shouldn’t worry about the outcome of your actions but try to do it as perfectly as you can. Your team members who watch your every move will advertently be prepared to become leaders one day.

7) Live life with no regrets

“I think everything I have done in my life, my reasons at the time were right no matter how things worked out.”

One of the virtues of a leader is trusting your gut, even if others think you’re crazy. Your gut instinct, somehow, lets you see what your business could turn into tomorrow. While there is no guarantee that you will succeed, leadership is all about pushing yourself to grow and anticipating the unexpected. Even if things go wrong, never let regret creep in. When you look back someday, everything will fall into place.

8) Failures are inevitable

“Not everything in life can go perfectly according to plan. I mean I didn't keep every girlfriend I ever had.”

Not every story in the professional world has a happy ending. You try and fail, and fail again, and again, and again. There is no such thing as a perfect life or a perfect leader, but when the storm hits, you need to accept it and combat it. Failures are bound to happen, but how you deal with the crisis defines your character as a leader.

9) Follow your dreams

“If you love what you do and are willing to do what it takes, it’s within your reach.”

Great leaders dream big, have a vision, and work towards it. Invest time, money and hard work to make that dream a reality. If it’s what you love, you should be willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, even if it takes years. When the going gets tough, take a minute to ask yourself why you ventured into this path in the first place.

10) Innovation has no age limit

“You can make something big when young that will carry you through life. Look at all the big startups ...They were all started by very young people who stumbled upon something of unseen value. You'll know it when you hit a home run.”

This is Steve’s top piece of advice for young professionals who are just starting out their careers. You don’t need to be of a certain age to be creative. You can be as young as five years to as old as 80 years to come up with a life-changing idea. People of all ages are capable of being successful innovators. You only need to give yourself the chance to let your thoughts run wild.

A decade ago, at an event hosted by Stanford Graduate School of Business, Steve addressed the audience and said, "You are not going to be too successful unless it's in your heart and it is your passion. To get startups through their often-lean early years, leaders also need to be multi-skilled and have complementary strengths."

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