What does it mean to be a human in a world of computing?

If you’re interested in learning about the history of the computer industry or if you just want to figure out how to lead an enterprise technology company, then you should take a look at the Computer History Museum.

I expect millions of computer users will have heard of the museum, a world-class institution in Mountain View, Calif. It’s a place where you can learn everything about the history of the technologies that continue to transform the way humans interact with each other and with the world.

Being human in a computer world

“What does it mean to be a human in a world of computing?” Dan’l Lewin, president and CEO of the Computer History Museum asks in the latest StoriesHere podcast.

Lewin worked with Steve Jobs at Apple after spending time running Sony’s Silicon Valley distribution; became a NeXT co-founder; joined upper management at Microsoft and more. Now, he’s working to make the museum a more interactive experience, “a programmable institution,” as he puts it.

Jobs was motivated to use the 3.5-in. floppy disk having seen it at Sony, at which point Lewin was part of Apple’s 10-strong workforce. Later, Jobs asked him to help launch NeXT. “I spent a day with him and then quit my job the following week,” he said.

“At Apple, I got to work with the engineers who invented everything that we live with today.”

3 Silicon Valley tips for enterprise leaders

I’ve listened to the podcast to pull out just a handful of ideas that should interest Apple and other technology users and anyone involved in management or enterprise IT.

You can (and should) listen to the entire 45-minute episode. It’s available here.

Tip #1: Find the story

A senior Silicon Valley executive, Lewin led numerous negotiations as the tech industry grew. (He even managed to beat Jobs in at least one deal.)

He tells a story in which he claims one of the reasons Jobs eventually got fired was because he wanted to “blow up” the distribution deals (typically 15/85% in favor of the distributor) that existed at the time.

Jobs still felt the same at NeXT, where Lewin had to figure out how to make a mutually good deal that gave Jobs the 50% revenue share he wanted without bankrupting Heidi Roizen, who was to be the distributor.

He looked at the royalties and how the revenue actually worked to find that in terms of profit after costs both parties could end up with a 50% share. He suggests that in this business deal, as in others, a little negotiation was all it took – once the costs were properly analyzed.

Sometimes both sides can win.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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