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An Engineer’s Engineer

On the lighter side of things, ESC opened yesterday with a “fireside chat” with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, introduced as an engineer’s engineer (and if you don’t know who he is, “you’ve got issues.”)

What got spontaneous applause from the audience were simple populist pronouncements on:

  • Education. He’s clearly not a fan of our factory classrooms where “different” thinkers are herded back onto the duly designated path of “right” thinking.
  • Patent trolls. He specifically took a swipe at Paul Allen for making his money by amassing other people’s patents and then suing rather than using his energy actually to make something new.
  • Highly differentiated pay schemes. In Apple’s early days, he actually shared some of his own personal stock with a number of lower-level employees because he acknowledged that he couldn’t have been successful without them.

His repeated focus was clear: he’s passionate about figuring out how to do cool new things, and doing them better than anyone else.

Oh, and one other note, which actually serves as a cautionary tale. Unlike other high-end business personalities that might extol the virtues of their favorite wine or scotch or port or grappa or whatever the tipple of the month is, he lavished praise on Marie Callendar’s pea soup. While acknowledging that Anderson’s is good, he said Marie’s is better – but not at the Cupertino store, where it’s too watery. He makes a regular trip to a further-away edition because it’s nice and thick.

I just happened to pass by the Cupertino one the other day. It’s closed. Woe be to any of ye that dilute your soups…

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