It was a pleasure to meet Apple co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak and hear about his work, life and travels.
I tried to convince my boyfriend Dave (who I usually refer to as Won’t Run on this blog) to write this post. After all, Dave’s been a MacHead and a Woz fan and supporter since the beginning of time! He thanked Woz on his most recent CD! He knows the name of each IOS operating system like my friends know airplane models and actually thinks it’s fun to disassemble Apple Computer motherboards and reassemble them like a teenager rebuilds a jalopy.
So, when Dave told me we were meeting Woz Sunday night, I knew I was in for a special treat. I owe thanks to Dave for bringing me along and introducing me to this legend.
Woz, the Man, the Legend.
We met up with Woz at the lounge of the W hotel, New York East. We were joining another couple, Valerie and Dylan, and they’d arrived a few minutes earlier. Dave and Woz greeted and man-hugged one another. Don’t let the stone face fool you – Dave was really beaming under his rockstar facade.
I was introduced and received a warm hello from the Woz.
Before moving next door to 525Lex, a bar/restaurant at the Marriott East Side Hotel, Woz gave Dave and I each a sheet of his famous Two-Dollar bills as well as a very cool engraved metal business card.
In addition to the stack of legal (?) tender, Woz had a stack of US Customs Declaration forms in front of him. What was he doing with these? He travels around the world constantly giving speeches – – does he not have Global Entry? He responded that, yes, he does have Global Entry, but sometimes (especially at his home airport, SFO) the regular lines are shorter than the Global Entry lines. Therefore, he has the declaration forms pre-printed and ready to go, so he can decide after he sees the line whether he wants to go to Global Entry or not.
Over dinner, we talked about a wide range of topics. I wasn’t at all surprised that he is a genius, but I was surprised how down-to-earth, easy-to-talk-to and also how frugal he is. I asked a lot of travel-related questions. In no particular order, I will share some vignettes of our discussions.
Woz really loves to travel. First and foremost, Woz loves to travel around the world and he loves meeting and interacting with people. (I could certainly relate to that!) Did I say he loves to travel? He is happy spending 10 months of the year criss-crossing the globe on speaking engagements. His wife works for Apple’s education division and she travels a great deal too. In August and December, when speaking engagements slow down, he prefers staycations and local trips with his wife.
Surprising fact. Woz prefers to use Google calendar over Apple calendar, because the Google model is better for sharing information between two users.
On flying. Although Woz is a member of United Airlines’ highest loyalty level, Global Services, he said that he doesn’t really have an airline preference. He had some bad experiences with Air Canada and prefers not to fly that airline. He was once offered an Emirates Suite with a shower and turned it down (Why would I want to take a shower on a plane?). Most often, he flies in business class – he will only fly first class if the conference he’s attending pays for it. He never eats meals on planes (In fact, he only eats one meal per day). I forgot to ask Woz if he checks luggage, and what method of transportation he takes to and from the airport (note to self for next time!).
Woz has two US passports. Woz explained to me that, by having two valid passports, if he has to leave one with a consulate to get a travel visa, he is never without a passport. He also has a passport card. I had never heard of this before – apparently the passport card can be used when going to Mexico or Canada. He also traditionally uses this when asked for photo ID instead of his driver’s license. He enjoys being a bit quirky in this way.
On credit cards. Woz really didn’t have much to say about credit cards, although he did take a Coin Digital Wallet Card out of his wallet to show me that there’s a card that stores credit card information from many cards in one place. In response, I showed him a blog post by Frequent Miler about the Coin card that I still had in my email! This time I surprised him!
On hotels. What’s important to Woz: power outlets, high-speed internet/broadband, a good workspace and late night room service (since he doesn’t eat on planes and often arrives at destinations late at night). Not much else matters. He said that, in the days when the cheap hotels offered free wi-fi and the expensive hotels made you pay for wi-fi, he preferred Super 8 over the Four Seasons. Overall, it seemed he prefers Hilton Hotels over other hotels, but it is not a strong preference.
On technology. Woz wears an Apple Watch on one wrist, and an iPod Nano on the other wrist. He said that he paid full price for all of his iPhones and that waited all night on line just like everyone else. I asked him if I should change-up from the iPhone 6 to the iPhone 7. He said that I should wait for the iPhone 8. Woz also said that a lot of the inexpensive laptops offer just as much or more than expensive Apple laptops.
quote: I’m not a businessman I’m a technologist.
On Apple history. We only touched briefly on this topic, as I’m sure it is very personal to Woz and there has already been a lot written on it. All he said about this was that many books and stories written about Apple history are wrong. The most accurate account, in his opinion, is the book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution – 25th Anniversary Edition, by Steven Levy.
And then like magic, the evening was over. We had such a nice time, even Dave broke a smile! Thanks Woz. Until next time.
Last but not least.
On Running: Woz said he once drove in the lead car of the NYC Marathon. I mentioned that I have run the NYC Marathon 17 times (and completed 112 marathons in total). He then told me that when he was younger and thinner, he used to run 5 miles every day and that he enjoyed it. His running was casual and without any formal training. He said he once explored the idea of running a marathon but was turned off by the uptight mentality of people training for marathons.