"Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.
For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.
How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him."
Here's a quote I ran across: http://musicthoughts.com/t/415
"The best chance you have, if you want to rise, is to give yourself up to loneliness, fear nothing, and work hard."
TLDR: Leadership requires depth of understanding, intospection, and capacity for creativity, all of which require solitude to cultivate.
On a serious note I have seen couple of interviews but to me Woz never appeared to be bragging. He simply likes explaining technology.
1) The starting point is always the observation of anomalies in an existing system or pattern.
2) You reason on those anomalies in your head, alone.
3) You come up with a possible response, alone.
4) You visualize in your head how this response would actually works. This should be practiced until you see it working smoothly from beginning to end. You do this alone.
5) Finally you set to work in order to bring this response into our physical world. Either alone or in a group-work
(The above needs some further explanation but this will bring me out of track now. If anyone wants me to elaborate more on those 5 points I will do it opening a new thread.)
Now, doesn't this process sounds familiar ? Mr Paul Graham & co. have set up YC on those 5 points. In his article "How to apply to YC" he writes:"...what we look for in ideas is not the type of idea but the level of insight you have about it...". So if steps 1 to 4 are well executed, step 5 would be to apply to YC (or any other start up incubator that has the same framework process for selection.)
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/about-the-book/
For what it's worth I'm finding it hard to put my reaction to iWoz in words. I recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it. I'm pretty sure you will also come away with an interesting new perspective on the person that Steve is.
Try looking for specific moments in the book that embody what you feel, and examine at how those specific moments—they'll usually be sentences—are constructed and what they're trying to express. This won't automatically solve the problem of putting your reaction into words, but it should help.
(. . . says the English grad student who has heard similar comments from many, many students.)
Plus, there's nobody to tell you what to do (in all kind of meanings, eg, "maybe if you did xx that would be better!"). So you find your own solution.
On top of that, you'll sometimes reach walls that you have to destroy, again, on your own.
Basically, on your own, you gain more experience. It doesn't mean you shouldn't share it back of course. But you need to get some stuff done from A to Z if you want to be able to think by yourself (aka innovate, etc.)
Today, I made a point to avoid email and discussions with coworkers and just crank through as many JIRA tickets as possible. I was shocked how much I accomplished.
Wasn't necessarily the most creative work, but still seems related to what Woz is saying.
Joking aside, I absolutely agree with you. I enjoy working with other smart people I can bounce ideas off of.
Finding time to be truly alone to work is becoming increasingly difficult. Silence is a luxury few get these days.
The Internet would seem to be an obvious counter-example to this claim.
Conception and implementation are, in my mind, both necessary for invention.
Alone Woz couldn't have had the sense to sell blue boxes, the gumption to complete Breakout in a crunch, or build a computer that worked with a color TV, or design the elegant Apple II. He would have stayed at HP and been a great mid-level manager. He now lives the life he wants, without having to worry about about money, all because he worked with a team.
Every engineer already goes through a lot of struggle designing the initial prototype of the thing being designed, analyses the constraints involved, tries out different alternatives attempting to find the sweet spot that will satisfy them all etc. Then, exhausted and in love with the product of his effort, he shows it to people at some company or institution and they all have something to say or add to something the engineer perceives as already perfect or almost perfect, some might have valuable criticism, but some might just have no idea about the constraints involved because they didn't put in that much time into analysis, some just want to have their share in the potential success, some have to think about how to actually sell it etc. That surely is overwhelming, but it is part of the engineers work and I don't think "Work alone" is advice of much value. You simply have to accept this is just as an important part of your work as the design itself - I think most people never do. Then, you can starting learning how to best deal with it. Also, find a team or/and organization that you actually like, or at least can tolerate.
It was actually a common misconception. Nearly all the engineering work for Apple 1,2 was done by Woz alone (as per his book). And Apple 1 was completely done in isolation in his apartment. His book is such an awesome read.