UnitedLife 05

Wizard Woz. An interview with Steve Wozniak


Vladimír Orth
United Group, s.r.o. ׀ founder & CEO
Bratislava, Slovakia

An inventor, a visionary and a true philanthropist. The co-founder of Apple, who once changed the world with his creation. Years later, he is still tapping into the source of his creativity, navigating through life with integrity and joy and actively contributes back to the community. A man of true wisdom who still believes in honesty and a peaceful world. He spoke to us with an open mind and heart about life as he experiences it.


I imagine you had a lot of fun developing gadgets together with Steve before Apple was founded, such as using pre-recorded jokes for answering machines. Have you done that ever since?

The way to get jokes to the public is nearly free and easy now – just set up a web page. I haven’t tried the phone recording again. Heck, you can even get free or low cost answering machines now. The world has switched to things like YouTube for that creativity.


Your name is a synonym of the Apple brand. Did your relationship towards Apple remain personal or does it belong to a distant past?

My closeness to the brand and company are deeply personal and I’m very loyal. But they don’t need me in any capacity. That part is in the distant past. It’s always been what I wanted though.


Many young people look up to you. What is your advice to them in order to be successful?

Strive to do good things but not as a goal to get wealthy. Our goal should be our contribution to the world. Even trivial small things keep you motivated from praise. Try to make every project a little better than almost any human. That may not be your goal at first. At first you may be trying to figure out good ways to do things. But for each of your projects, try to think of one way to make it even better. Few other humans do that. Each step will be a learning experience that stays in your head forever. You’ll be prepared when the big one hits.


Which are the values you follow in life?

First and foremost, be honest. Any falsehood will likely come back and hurt you. Be nice and be liked by others. It’s hard to alter your personality much after age 22 or around, so I hope you are young still. Always remain young at heart.

Think out, over and over, as you walk or drive or sleep or shower, how you should be and what you should do to be a good person.

Truly like that person and don’t lose your core values for anything. Power and money can easily corrupt you so swear early that you won’t let them. Find lots of ways to enjoy life. That’s easy if you want to. It includes movies, songs, TV shows, books, etc. But more important, avoid frowns. Don’t get dragged by others into thinking things are hopelessly bad or that if something happens – someone wins an election maybe – then it will be horrible. Those thoughts bring frowns. Just accept everything and tell yourself that you are lucky to have this life of fun. You only have to win an argument with one person, yourself. Don’t fight and get angry. Keep a low-stress life and you’ll die happy.

When someone disagrees or lives differently, don’t judge them as bad. They are only different. They are good in their way of thinking. You are good in yours.

If you don’t forcefully argue and judge them they will still like you. As Dave Mason sang, ”there ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy, there’s only you and me, and we just disagree“. Be thoughtful and have reasons related to truth that you use for your own choices. Be skeptical and ask questions to find what’s really true. And don’t force your values on anyone else, even a child of yours.


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What do you consider your greatest success?

The Apple II computer. WAY ahead of its time or what anyone could have expected. I’m even amazed looking back on it. It was the machine that would make personal computers acceptable.


What drives you to keep inventing and designing?

Mostly, it’s a love of discovery and learning. I love seeing how life changes and I love using technology. I don’t really invent and design like the old days. Now it’s mostly thinking, due to lack of time. But I do it all the time. I buy most important gadgets that come out and I experiment with them all, so as not to be hung up on my own things.


If we may ask – what is the brand of the laptop, mobile phone or tablet you currently use? What were your reasons for this choice?

I’m using an Apple MacBookPro as my laptop right now. Of course my iPad and iPhones are close. I have used many Windows machines when only they could do the job, but I don’t like the feel. It feels awkward and inhuman to me. I could be using an Android phone though and it would be pretty close to the iPhone as an experience.


If you had a crystal ball that shows you the future of technology in one or two decades, what do you see? Is there anything radical to be expected?

Almost everything will operate by talking to them. Many self driving cars will be changing our living style greatly. Many household jobs, like washing dishes and clothes and cars, will become fully automated with robots. Computers will be talking with each other. Machine consciousness and feelings may be the norm. Reaching other stars will still be impossible.


Would you like to share something about some of your latest projects that excite you?

Some are in stealth mode. Basically I’m travelling constantly and speaking publicly about things like creativity and entrepreneurship.


Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak


You are known for being a philanthropist at heart. What is the common key message of projects you support? What is your motivation to support without strings attached?

I felt that big money was not where I wanted to be in life. I never started Apple to make big money. When I had it, I dispensed it very quickly. I started many important museums and arts groups in San Jose and Los Gatos. I gave to almost anyone in need. I gave much to schools and then gave myself, teaching full time for 8 years, to 5th-9th graders and to teachers. Press was not allowed. Plus, I had 3 divorces. I am not super wealthy and work hard to support my family these days.


If you had a magic wand that grants any wish, what would you wish for?

World peace. It is possible. Not 100% possible, but largely. Too many things in the way though. Mostly it’s bigotry…not accepting those who have different values or are different in some way, like speaking a different language or using a different computer.





Vladimír Orth


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