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  • Writer's pictureRobert P. Fitton

The Wonderful Land of WOZ

(I live there too)

Steve Wozniak

Creativity, innovation, persistence… Steve Wozniak is one of my favorites. Did he have the pizzazz of Steve Jobs, that uncanny ability to sell a product, an idea, a concept? In his own way he did. That’s not why I’m writing today’s blog. I’m actually being a bit sneaky in this blog.

I’m talking on the phone last week with one of my old friends and the subject of Steve Jobs and______. Steve Jobs and______. Oh come on, Fitton! One of your favorite people and you can’t remember his last name? Bad show. I’m picturing WOZ’s fully bearded face and his smile. Him working constructing the guts of the early personal computers. My friend is hesitating also and then begins Wozniak ‘s name. I quickly mangle WOZ’s name and we both finish at the same time. No denigration intended, WOZ.

Smith Corona portable with Samantha my proof reader..

This does and does not have anything to do with my books. I remember what it was like to pound away at the typewriter. Make a mistake you get the white out. And then wait for it to dry. Maybe with a hair dryer. And later on, a white ribbon to hide the mistake and not have to type the entire page again. Although I’ve done that too. And what if there’s a huge problem with the novel-You’re screwed. Without the computer revolution I would be typing this and a few locals might read it. Now I can correct and insert and paste and revise and delete. What would have happened if a typewriter key fell off?

Steve Wozniak is an introvert. So am I. What exactly does that mean? Is he anti-social or a recluse? No way. Wrong to all of the above. Well, let’s hear what Wozniak actually says:

I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has ever been invented by committee… I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone… Not on a committee. Not on a team.” ~ Steve Wozniak

I hear you WOZ. I was in outside sales most of my career and wrote during off hours. Some people are ambiverts-in the middle of extroversion and introversion. It can be complicated. I worked well with extraverts but found sales meetings with extraverted party-goers, to be sometimes overwhelming. Although I developed an outgoing sales approach, and thoroughly enjoyed the good and the bad customers, I needed to recharge! I still think most people have no idea of what I’m talking about.

Time out: People are complex with a variety of different aptitudes. The introvert/extrovert is one part of that complexity. A big part. If I looked at a circuit board in 1975, I would have said. ” Hey that’s really cool.” Steve Wozniak looked at the board and changed the world.

“You’re a hermit… A recluse… What’s the matter, don’t you like people? Let’s party! Now wait a minute partying and being out are fine- when I want to. Introverts can be very social and some not as much. Introverts can have fun-when we want to. (lol) I think understanding this basic general difference between people, helps to see their perspective. Thank you, Dr. Jung. I learned to talk left-right- up-down and occasionally be funny.. . A tremendous asset for the recharging introvert. I also knew what was going on in my head although I may not have had the terminology.

A slice of a sales meeting

For instance. In a long drawn-out sales call, being my sprucy best, explaining with enthusiasm just what I can offer. I feel my brain calling out to me. ” Time to come home and rest for a while.” I quite often would shoot photos between calls.

I have a library of books. Thomas Jefferson said:I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage, with my books, my family, and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post which any human power can give.”

Three more cases out of sight to my right

If you’re an extrovert you might say- Yeah, right. (turning to his left) Who gives a Shebang!

At sales conferences I would go jogging or biking between meetings. I guess it was like re charging the cell phone. Biking? Too much time to think, Fitton! When I return from exercise I am, recharged. It seems to simple but it isn’t.

Carl Jung: “Each person seems to be energized more by either the external world (extraversion) or the internal world (introversion).”

1/3 to 1/2 of all Americans are introverts. Say what?

And now back to our story:

Early on WOZ and Bill Fernandez use punch cards and chips to build a computer until a reporter blew it up by stepping on the power cord! Fernandez introduces WOZ to Jobs. (the extravert)

Steve Wozniak in the 70’s

The Little Blue Box

“Secrets of the Little Blue Box” – October 1971 issue of Esquire. The industrious WOZ builds blue boxes and Jobs sells them. You can see where this is going. In 1973, Jobs worked for Atari, Inc. in Los Gatos, California. He is assigned to create a circuit board for the arcade video game Breakout. . Atari offers$100 for each chip that was eliminated in the machine. Jobs makes a deal with Wozniak to split the fee if Wozniak could minimize the number of chips, which he does by fifty.

1975: Wozniak tests his first working computer prototype and a character was displayed on a TV screen from a home computer. Woz brings the computer to the Homebrew Computer Club, a Palo-Alto collection of electronics hobbyists enthralled by computers. Here’s their newsletter:

April 1, 1976: Jobs and Wozniak form the Apple Computer Company (now called Apple Inc.) Then just “Apple” after Jobs returns from an apple orchard in Oregon and tells Wozniak about his time spent in an apple orchard. The personal computer revolution begins. Word processors were just coming out when I wrote the freebee-The Ramdama’s Kingdom. So, for some lunkheaded, moronic reason I wanted to stick with the typewriter. And today I still have that typewritten manuscript. I didn’t get a computer until my friend SHIPPED me an IBM-XT in the 1990’s. It was like dying and walking into heaven where God says to you: “Where ya been?”

Fitton at the IBM XT-1999

Steve Wozniak didn’t personally design the IBM XT but he did start the whole thing rolling. My output soared with the computer. Errors were so easily corrected. Stories could be readjusted. Wozniak did hook up with IMB in 2009 for some targeted work. Well, Dang!

Here’s a good line from the band AJR where Ryan is bemoaning his dating life and speaking to his not yet born child. He says in the song Dear Winter, lyrics by Ryan Met:

Dear Winter, I’m looking for your mom I gotta find a girl that doesn’t mind that I’m inside my head a lot Winter, it won’t be too long First, I just gotta find your mom

I get it. He’s inside his head a lot. So, I salute the joining of introverts and extraverts. And the need for introverts to retreat back into their head. Yeah, I was sneaky by bringing in WOZ but it all makes sense to me. How about you?


Post Script: For all introverts:

Carl Jung

Carl Jung used the terms introvert and extrovert a hundred years ago. There are two personality types and they get or spend their energy in different ways. Introverts, Jung said, turn to their own minds to recharge, while extroverts seek out other people for their energy needs. Jung-him smart guy.

Can sales pressure get a little too much for introverts? Sometimes…

Susan Cain, author of Quiet:


25 inspirational quotes from Susan Cain.

1. There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.

2. Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.

3. Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.

4. The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk.

5. We have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionally.

6. Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.

7. Introverts need to trust their gut and share their ideas as powerfully as they can. This does not mean aping extroverts; ideas can be shared quietly, they can be communicated in writing, they can be packaged into highly produced lectures, they can be advanced by allies. The trick for introverts is to honor their own styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.

8. Introverts think before they act, digest information thoroughly, stay on task longer, give up less easily, and work more accurately.

9. Or you’re told that you’re “in your head too much,” a phrase that’s often deployed against the quiet and cerebral. Of course, there’s another word for such people: thinkers.

10. If you’re an introvert, find your flow by using your gifts. You have the power of persistence, the tenacity to solve complex problems, and the clear-sightedness to avoid pitfalls that trip others up.

11. So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multitasking, stick to your guns.

12. …introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation.

13. Use your natural powers—of persistence, concentration, insight, and sensitivity—to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply.

14. The trick for introverts is to honor their styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.

15. Introverts need to trust their gut and share their ideas as powerfully as they can.

16. …we can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point. Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead.

17. By the time I was old enough to figure out that I was simply introverted, it was a part of my being, the assumption that there is something inherently wrong with me. I wish I could find that little vestige of doubt and remove it.

18. The authors whose books get published – once accepted as a reclusive breed – are now vetted by publicists to make sure they’re talk-show ready.

19. Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas.

20. Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are.

21. Why shouldn’t quiet be strong?

22. Some of the world’s most talented people are introverts. Without them we wouldn’t have the Apple computer, the theory of relativity or Van Gogh’s sunflowers.

23. A few things introverts are not: The word introvert is not a synonym for hermit or misanthrope. Introverts can be these things, but most are perfectly friendly.

24. If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is the highest priority.

25. Introversion – along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness – is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.

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