How to raise the next Steve Wozniak, according to Steve Wozniak

Here's how to raise the next Steve Wozniak, according to Steve Wozniak

If you want to raise your child to be a billionaire tech genius, you need to give your child a whole lot of freedom to explore.

So says Steve Wozniak, co-founder of tech behemoth Apple. It worked on him.

Of course, no two children are alike, but when asked to reflect on what about his childhood helped him grow into a titan of technology, Wozniak pointed to the lack of restrictions that characterized his youth.

"Don't force your values on your children," says Wozniak, speaking at the Nordic Business Forum in Stockholm on January 24.

The Apple co-founder, 67, remembers dinners at home during which his father Jerry talked about the role of government and the constitution, but did not indicate how young Wozniak should feel about politics. His father presented both sides of the argument and then let Wozniak decide what he he believed.

Steve Wozniak
Michael Newberg | CNBC

"Let them explore. Let them be a part of the whole world, and things that they like and the directions they want to go in," says Wozniak. "But don't say, 'Here's what you should study. Here's the school you should go to because it will make more money in your life.' No, no, no, no. Let them do what they enjoy."

When a child picks an area to pursue, encourage that interest, says Wozniak.

"Help them go in that direction. Give them support, give them education, give them materials, things they don't have," says Wozniak, who has three grown kids: Jesse, 35; Sara, 33; and Gary, 29.

Wozniak's father was an engineer at Lockheed Martin, and he admits that likely helped him develop his own passion for engineering. Wozniak remembers his dad exposing him to developing technologies and helping him solve engineering problems on a blackboard.

"I saw diagrams of the first chip that would have six transistors — now we have got 20 billion transistors on a chip for the same price," said Wozniak. "I grew up very young not realizing I was seeing the path that was leading to the path of the future of technology and electronics."

But passion can't be assigned by a parent, says Wozniak, so children should be allowed to follow their curiosity and instincts.

"Don't put really forced structure," says Wozniak. "Be a little lose, let them explore and try their own things, a little bit like a hacker does. ... So, have less restriction."

Ultimately, that will help them develop self esteem, says Wozniak.

"What you want to do is more important than all the knowledge you have and education you have been trained, because you have the same knowledge as millions of other people out of the same books. So you are just on equal footing with them," says Wozniak.

"I did project after project after project in my life that wasn't worth a company or big money but, oh my gosh, I love doing them and showing them off and it motivated me to keep going and going on to learn better and better techniques at learning things tiny and small."

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