It's not everyday you get to sit in conversation with an innovator, icon, and cofounder of Apple.

For the students at High Point University in High Point, North Carolina, that lucky day occurred last month, as they sat with computer engineer and philanthropist Steve Wozniak.

As High Point University's Innovator in Residence, Wozniak participated in High Point's Innovation Summit with Dr. Michael Oudshoorn, HPU's founding dean of the Webb School of Engineering. In one particular question-and-answer session, Wozniak talked about his time at Apple, and the most crucial lessons he gleaned from his experience as an inventor.

Make time for what's important to you.

"Yes, I worked as an engineer at Hewlett Packard, the top engineering company in the world that only made things other engineers use," said Wozniak. "But I designed Apple I and Apple II computers all on my own time." If something is really important to you, you will find a way to fit it into your life. Doing so may be challenging with an already busy work schedule, but if you reorganize your priorities, you can find ways to dedicate time to passion projects.

Do work you're passionate about.

At the beginning of his career, Wozniak's goal was not to gain incredible success or build extreme wealth. Instead, his focus was to do work that motivated him and gave him purpose. "Every day, my work motivated me, and so did the social change that was possible because of these computers. I showed the design off and passed it around to others for free."

Practice is fundamental to building skill.

"The only way you're going to be skillful at something is if you do it over and over again and put in a lot of hours," Wozniak told students. "The harder and longer you work at it, the more skilled you get. You teach yourself on the fly. It's the way that inventors do their work." Practice might not always make perfect, but it certainly will make progress.

Have fun.

There's every reason to have fun along the way. As Wozniak explained, "Happiness equals smiles, minus frowns. Who is it that makes you smile? Hang around those people who make you happy. How can you get rid of frowns? One great way is to not argue. You have a logical line of reasoning and someone else can have a logical line of thinking, so you're both right in your heads. You don't have to worry that other people think like you."

Published on: May 10, 2019
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