Steve Wozniak, affectionately known as Woz, is best known as Apple’s cofounder.
He left Apple in 1987 and continued to be a star in the tech scene. In 2009 he took a job as chief scientist at Fusion-io, a company that changed the enterprise storage market. It builds big storage systems using flash memory, the same tech used in thumb drives and smartphones.
In other words, when it comes to career advice, Woz is a man worth listening to. Woz recently talked to Forbes blogger and NetApp product guy Cesar Orosco and offered these great tips:
Listen to and support your entry-level workers. Often it is the most junior engineer that has a vision for the Next Big Thing.
“Engineers at the bottom are sometimes very important. They’re the heads that have the ideas that might drive your company,” Woz said.
Woz was an engineer at HP working on calculators when he invented the Apple 1. He begged his bosses at HP to build the PC as product. Five times he asked, and five times they said no. So he started Apple with Steve Jobs. And the rest is history
Talk to your CEO. “Don’t make it a rule that you can only talk to your boss, who will talk to his boss.”
The people at the top should be open to talking to you, no matter where you are on the org chart, so open your mouth and share your thoughts.
It’s still better to be first to market with a new product than not. Although it’s harder to talk about and convince people to try something that’s never been done before, push them. The rewards are huge if you succeed.
“In the early days of Apple we had almost no risk. It’s a growing market, growing out of absolutely nothing. So when you’re starting out in a brand new field and you have a first mover advantage, everything you touch is gold,” he said.
A “no” doesn’t mean your idea is bad. Management might not understand your solution or think it will cost them too much money.
“Management will often hold back and take very few risks because they aren’t really sure that [a technical problem] can be solved or it might be too expensive,” he said.
Convince them otherwise.