Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak shares formula for life and happiness at Lied Center

Steve Wozniak has two simple formulas for how he lives his life:

Happiness equals smiles minus frowns, and happiness equals friends times food times fun.

Really, what it’s all about, the Apple co-founder said, is minimizing your frowns and tackling adversity in the most productive manner when it inevitably comes your way.

Neeli Bendapudi, Kansas University School of Business dean, left, laughs at a story told by Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, during a Friday lecture at the Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive.

Friday afternoon at the 2015 Chandler Lecture, Wozniak and his wife, Janet (an area native and KU graduate), shared their formulas for happiness and more with the dean of Kansas University’s School of Business, Neeli Bendapudi, and a full crowd at the Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive.

During their conversation in front of about 2,000 people, the Wozniaks and Bendapudi spoke of teachers, mentors, education, technology, movies and — of course — Steve Jobs.

Early in his life, Steve Wozniak said, he had an insatiable appetite for knowledge, particularly within the areas of engineering and mathematics. That appetite and willingness to excel was quickly fostered by a number of teachers and mentors who encouraged him to think creatively and to work hard.

“The teachers knew more than me and taught me a lot of important things in my life,” he said. “It’s less important what you learn; it’s more important that you want to learn.”

Working with computers began as a hobby, Wozniak said. In his youth, he enjoyed pranking his friends with his creations. One device scrambled television screens with the touch of a button; another was an electronic metronome he hid inside a high school locker to make noise. Soon enough, however, that passion for technology and having fun turned into products that changed the face of the world.

“I loved computers so much,” he said. “I never thought it was going to be a career. I never thought it was going to be worth any money.”

Money didn’t enter the equation until a bit later in his life, Wozniak said. Instead, he was focused on creating and sharing his works to make the world a better place.

Janet Wozniak echoed her husband’s points, sharing a few of her own experiences as a teacher and Apple employee working with schools around the world. An important focus for schools, she said, should be to seek out teachers who will mentor their students and allow them to do what they do best.

“A lot of it comes down to building leadership,” she said when asked how best to prompt creativity in schools.

As a way of encouraging that leadership, creativity and ingenuity, the Wozniaks awarded scholarships to six KU students during the conversation. Students were selected in pairs from the university’s schools of business, engineering and education.

The conversation briefly turned to Jobs and the most recent movie depicting his life.

“What a farce that is,” Steve Wozniak said about one scene in particular.

“These stories don’t get told right in the movies,” he said. “But I love it when they get cool people to play me, like Seth Rogen.”

Despite any historical inaccuracies, the Wozniaks said they enjoyed the most recent movie for its cinematography and creativity.

Alex Juenemann, a junior at KU studying supply chain management, said he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to hear Wozniak speak.

While he came to the meeting with an open mind, Juenemann said he most appreciated hearing Wozniak speak about giving back to the world and trying to enjoy the simple things.

“He has a different outlook on life. Like putting things into mathematic formulas,” he said. “It makes it easier to manage, so long as you know what you’re looking for.”