From Idea to End Product

Are you willing to undertake “the long project?”


Steve Wozniak, an icon in the technology world and, along with Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, explains one of the keys to his success: undertaking the long projects. Working diligently from conceptualizing an idea to implementing every detail gave Steve the understanding and experience in each discipline required to see the project to completion.

He believes it is the length of the projects he worked on that taught him how to overcome challenges and to positively handle difficult conversations with other members of his product teams. “I was constantly doing things I had never done before in my life,” says Steve. “It's forcing yourself through a lot of difficult things … but you know what? I knew what the end product had to be, and I think that was a very big part of my success.”

What’s the longest project you have ever worked on? Share in the comments section below! Watch Steve’s complete Leadercast Live interview at or by selecting the Leadercast Live 2016 category on Leadercast Now.

From when I was very young in elementary school I built projects that took weeks of work with hundreds of parts, not small ones. I was willing to take on long projects when it was for myself, for my own fun. It wasn't like in a prescribed course in school. Then you just read the chapter in the book and do it. When it came later on with Apple, sitting down, getting an idea in your head, "Oh, I now see the method to get there," it's still a little bit of an impossibility until you do it.

Sitting down, you design on paper for a long time, and then I was the technician. I would put chips on a board, I would solder every wire, hundreds of wires in, and then I would hook it up to test equipment that engineers use and I would find out what was wrong and get it working and write the software. Do the hardware, software, did every single discipline I could to make computers.

But it was the length of a project. When I decided I wanted to write a computer language because you didn't have a useful computer unless you had the language basic so people could write games, a simple programming language. I sat down and worked on that for maybe six man-months, constantly doing things I had never done before in my life. It's forcing yourself through a lot of difficult things. It was very important in successes, but you know what? I knew what the end product had to be, and I think that was a very big part of my success; the diligence and learning early that projects aren't over real simple and quick like a school test.

Steve Wozniak

A Silicon Valley icon and philanthropist for the past three decades, Steve Wozniak helped shape the computing industry with his design of Apple’s first line of products, the Apple I and II, and influenced the popular Macintosh. In 197...

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