MTN And A Tale Of Two Steves

MTN And A Tale Of Two Steves

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“I wanted to build things, Steve Jobs always found ways to sell them,” so said Steve Wozniak, the man who co-founded Apple alongside the better known Steve Jobs.

Wozniak was Guest Speaker at this year’s edition of the annual MTN Leadership Seminar which held last night at the Oriental Hotels Lagos under the theme “Exploring New Technology for Life and Business.”

In his welcome and opening remarks, Kola Oyeyemi, General Manager at MTN said “MTN is a pioneer and we will continue to chart the path for growth and innovation,” two themes that resonated in Steve Wozniak’s speech.

Dressed all in black with a jacket over a black tee shirt, Steve Wozniak emerged on stage just a little past 8pm. He made a joke about having never made an entrance on stage like that.

The bearded engineer who chose obscurity over fame in order to pursue his real passion of making things would speak for close to an hour and it was an emotional roller coaster as he spoke about what sparked his love for engineering. “I asked my dad what engineers did? And he said engineers make things… like washing machines. So, I thought, our grandparents washed clothes with their hands. What a terrible life they had.”

Steve Wozniak at the MTN Leadership Summit, March 4, 2014 at Oriental Hotel, Lagos
Steve Wozniak at the MTN Leadership Seminar, March 4, 2014 at Oriental Hotel, Lagos

It was a need to make things. To make life easier, more comfortable that drove the young Steve Wozniak to engineering and it was in the world of computing and tele-computing, what we would later on come to know as Information Communication Technology that he would make his mark.

His meeting with Steve Jobs has become the stuff of legend and their complicated relationships have been analysed and psycho-analysed to death but hearing him speak about their meeting, their love for electronics and creating new things, how they revolutionized computing, how they built Apple and changed the way we use computers, watch tv and play music, you get a sense that no matter what you have heard, this aging man with a brain that took him to Berkeley misses his old friend.

Listening to Steve Wozniak is a master class in science, passion, perseverance and patience. “Steve Jobs had no patience,” he said of his friend of whom he had earlier said “Steve wanted all his life to be an important person and being an important person meant running a company.”

But taken in context, it is clear that had Steve Jobs never met Steve Wozniak, there would have been no Apple and maybe no Ipod nor Ipad. Their story is a lesson in synergy, the power of what can happen when two great minds collide.

“Steve Jobs was not an engineer. He never wrote codes,” Steve Wozniak said but it was not meant as a put down it was more a statement of fact one he qualifies easily when he says “Steve and I came from nothing but ideas” and it was their ideas that changed the world.

Left alone, Steve Wozniak would have been that mad scientist who created and invented things just because it was fun and he wanted to. Period! It was Steve, straddling the world of design and technology who brought his marketing sagacity and savoir faire to the proceedings and turned their ideas into products.

Steve Wozniak acknowledged as much last night when he said “I was about the final product that could be made; Steve Jobs was about the final product that could be sold.”

Apple wouldn’t be Apple if it was all about the finished product that could be made. That is the legacy of Steve Jobs the other Steve in this amazing story of science and innovation.

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