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Buzz Knight

Finding the Next Steve Jobs by Nolan Bushnell with Gene Stone

12-4-2013

A few years back I was fortunate to get to hear Nolan Bushnell (@nolanbushnell) speak at Radio Ink’s Convergence gathering and I found him a compelling and unique character.

Nolan founded Atari and the Chuck E. Cheese company among other ventures, and along the way he launched the career of Steve Jobs -- so he knows a lot about building a creative cast of characters.

In his great new book, Mr. Bushnell lays out some specific actions that he has used over the years, along with emulating what some others have done successfully in finding, keeping, and nurturing great talent.

His ideas are simple but brilliant, and the thought process translates to any business, including radio.

Nolan starts with the following two sentences, which makes a great opening to his thought process: “Atari didn’t find Steve Jobs. We made it easy for him to find us. A good company is a 24/7 advertisement for itself.”

Throughout the book, Nolan relies on the notion of creative environment and quirky flexibility to let creative be themselves. Rules become a barrier to creative types and, according to Nolan, must be re-evaluated depending on the organization.

From Steve Jobs being allowed to sleep overnight at the office, to work  places encouraging writing on whiteboards, easels, or even the wall itself, Nolan encourages us to think dramatically different to foster creative  types.

Mr. Bushnell also acknowledges that “every single day throughout the world of business truly creative ideas are being mercilessly killed. Each one deserves a moment of mourning.”

His remedy is an action worth considering in whatever facet of the  business you are in: make people write down objections. His belief is that when people write critiques with their name attached, it forces them to take responsibility for their negative opinions.

The book also gives some great focus on how to dig deeper when interviewing prospective talent.

He likes the notion of mixing up the typical line of interview questions with odd questions, weird or random questions just to see how  prospective employees think on their feet.

Some examples from Nolan:

-- What is the most annoying thing in your life? (His favorite answer: “This question.”)

-- Why do track events run counterclockwise?

-- If a baseball player hits a homerun over the fence but then dies before running the bases does the home run count? (Yes -- if a pinch runner takes his place)

Nolan Bushnell’s book Finding the Next Steve Jobs gives you a delightfully spirited road map to mixing it up and coming out with successful talent.

Buzz Knight is the Vice President of Program Development for Greater Media and he can be reached at bknight@greatermediaboston.com. Knight was named among “Best Programmers” by Radio Ink Magazine in 2007 and 2010. He has served on the programming subcommittee of the National Association of Broadcasters(NAB) and is currently a member of the Arbitron Radio Advisory Council and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) COLRAM Committee.




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