Having grown up in Silicon Valley and worked in the semiconductor industry during the 1980 boom years, it’s always enjoyable to read personal stories about the valley. (FYI, I’m polishing my e-book of my personal Silicon Valley stories, entitled “In the Valley of Digital Dreams”. You can read a chapter online called “Saving Intel”, http://www.lifestylentrepreneur.org/2010/10/23/saving-intel/).
I just read Steve Wozniak’s autobiography, “iWoz”, about growing up in the valley and building Apple Computer, a must-read for all inventors and entrepreneurs. Woz is very low-key, modest, mischievous and brilliant — the epitome of the informal, no-BS style of Silicon Valley. Unlike other places, his child-like curiosity, exploration, pranks and “foolishness” are accepted among the most creative people here. It’s a way for creative souls to transcend the daily rat race of blind conformity and suburban blandness to create something great.
Woz’ detailed descriptions of creating circuit boards, TV jammers, and the Blue Box phone “phreaking” provides a tangible feel for the mood of the technical fascination and playfulness that I love about Silicon Valley engineers and programmers, who are as creative as the indie filmmakers I work with in San Francisco. Both groups love to create from scratch, ignore conventional thinking, and have fun. What I enjoyed most was Woz’ “Rules to Live By” in the last chapter:
– “You need to believe in yourself. Don’t waver….Don’t let these (black/white thinking) people bring you down…As an invenstor, you have to see things in gray scale…The only way to come up with something new — something world-changing — is to think outside of the constraints everyone else has.”
– “Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me — they’re shy and they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists….And artists work best alone — best outside of corporate environments….Work alone…You’re going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you’re working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team.”
The irony is that even in crowded Silicon Valley, where people meet constantly, Woz advocates working alone to create breakthroughs.
See the wonderful video interview with Woz by my friend Jenny Gleave:
I hope you enjoy the video and are inspired to create awesome stuff like Woz!