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Steve Jobs' First Boss: 'Very Few Companies Would Hire Steve, Even Today'

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the hire-different dept.

Businesses 420

Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Mercury News reports that Nolan Bushnell, who ran video game pioneer Atari in the early 1970s, says he always saw something special in Steve Jobs, and that Atari's refusal to be corralled by the status quo was one of the reasons Jobs went to work there in 1974 as an unkempt, contemptuous 19-year-old. 'The truth is that very few companies would hire Steve, even today,' says Bushnell. 'Why? Because he was an outlier. To most potential employers, he'd just seem like a jerk in bad clothing.' While at Atari, Bushnell broke the corporate mold, creating a template that is now common through much of Silicon Valley. He allowed employees to turn Atari's lobby into a cross between a video game arcade and the Amazon jungle. He started holding keg parties and hiring live bands to play for his employees after work. He encouraged workers to nap during their shifts, reasoning that a short rest would stimulate more creativity when they were awake. He also promised a summer sabbatical every seven years. Bushnell's newly released book, Finding The Next Steve Jobs: How to Find, Hire, Keep and Nurture Creative Talent, serves as a primer on how to ensure a company doesn't turn into a mind-numbing bureaucracy that smothers existing employees and scares off rule-bending innovators such as Jobs. The basics: Make work fun; weed out the naysayers; celebrate failure, and then learn from it; allow employees to take short naps during the day; and don't shy away from hiring talented people just because they look sloppy or lack college credentials. Bushnell is convinced that there are all sorts of creative and unconventional people out there working at companies today. The problem is that corporate managers don't recognize them. Or when they do, they push them to conform rather than create. 'Some of the best projects to ever come out of Atari or Chuck E. Cheese's were from high school dropouts, college dropouts,' says Bushnell, 'One guy had been in jail.'"

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In all fairness with this economy. (5, Insightful)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about a year ago | (#43327517)

Few companies are willing to hire anyone today.

Re:In all fairness with this economy. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327615)

In all seriousness, other than during the bubble, has it ever been easy to get a job?

Sometimes it feels like I've been hearing 'in this economy' for my whole life. Admittedly, I haven't been around as long as many, but that's what it honestly feels like.

Re:In all fairness with this economy. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327669)

I'm an iOS developer and I get two or three headhunter calls a week. I know people who took an iOS course and got consulting gigs for over $100/hour within a month. It's easy to get a job if you pay attention to what the market demands.

Re:In all fairness with this economy. (4, Insightful)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year ago | (#43327833)

Sub 1% unemployment in my section of the computer industry. I was getting bombarded with job requests for the past few years, but they've let up as I kept telling them that I enjoy my current job.

Re:In all fairness with this economy. (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#43328019)

In all seriousness, other than during the bubble, has it ever been easy to get a job?

Sometimes it feels like I've been hearing 'in this economy' for my whole life. Admittedly, I haven't been around as long as many, but that's what it honestly feels like.

Me, too. It never gets to the point where it's "reasonably possible" to find a job. It's felt the same even before the recent years of bad economy.

Re:In all fairness with this economy. (4, Informative)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about a year ago | (#43328103)

I can only tell you about what it was like since 1986 when I went to work in Silicon Valley. First, if you love engineering or computer science and are really good at it, there's always a job. All that changes is the pay. In 1982, as a senior in high school, I was trilled to make minimum wage, $4/hour, programming a PDP-11 in Fortran IV. With a BS from Berkeley in EECS, and a never-ending hard-on for cool tech, I got $29K/year in 1986 at National Semi. Inflation adjusted, it's about the same as what we offer grads today. The 90's were freaking awesome. I had two startups I worked at go IPO, and had my pay increased to $140K by 1998, plus awesome stock options. Those were the good old days... 2002 sucked hugely. The number of resumes I got for a job posting was unbelievable. It was not humanly possible to read them all. Things got almost normal again a couple of years later, and then in 2008 the Great Recession hit. I suspect the resumes would have been an inhuman pile, except we couldn't hire anyone.

So, yeah, there are times when it's hard to get a job even if you are a certified genius willing to work for free, and times when anyone with a pulse can get a job in tech. These last few years were about the worst anyone who was born after WWII can remember. Fortunately, it seems to be turning around. If you're friends are still complaining that there's no work, maybe they aren't all that good, or maybe they aren't looking hard enough. They will make less than what we paid in the best times in the 90's, but they'll do as well as good engineers have traditionally done in this country. It's all fine for now... thank God. That recession sucked hugely.

Re:In all fairness with this economy. (1, Troll)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year ago | (#43327635)

Well, we'll just have to pass a few thousand more pages of legislation, so that companies need to take on compliance staff just to figure out how to stay out of jail.
Wash, rinse, repeat. Call it "the homo bureaucratus full employment plan".
Al Gore [] :

"From the standpoint of governance, what is at stake is our ability to use the rule of law as an instrument of human redemption."

Preach it, #ManBearPig!

Re:In all fairness with this economy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43328043)

Yes, the real problem with our society today is the overabundance of oppressive bureaucratic legislation preventing us from freely polluting the air and breaking down unions. It's not, say, the channeling of all wealth and prosperity into the hands of a tiny fraction of the population at the expense of all others.

Really, it was that quote from a failed politician whose last campaign was 12 years ago that won me over to your cause. Because heaven knows how lucky we are that Al Gore wasn't president - we might have not had the Iraq war and the biggest economic collapse of the last hundred years!

Re:In all fairness with this economy. (1)

XaXXon (202882) | about a year ago | (#43327767) is looking to hire thousands of people, right now. Not saying that that makes a dent, but there are companies with very strong growth right now.

Re:In all fairness with this economy. (4, Interesting)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | about a year ago | (#43328105) is looking to hire thousands of people, right now. Not saying that that makes a dent, but there are companies with very strong growth right now.

I interviewed with Amazon. After the second in-person interview I had nailed technical questions, but was not offered a job. No matter, I was offered a job for 20k more in Portland where cost of living is lower and the culture better. Honestly Amazon didn't look like a great place to work, particularly given the location, starting salary, and amount of hours you're expected to put in. Might be okay right out of school before you have a life, but not a great place if you have a family to take care of.

Re:In all fairness with this economy. (2, Informative)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about a year ago | (#43328035)

If you're an analog wizard who lives for implementing analog IP in silicon, and can relocate to Winston-Salem, ping me, because we've got openings. If you are a web design wizard, and JSON, Javascript, SQL (barf!), C#, Knockout and Bootstrap seem natural and easy to work with, and if you can live anywhere from Winston-Salem to Raleigh, ping me. I could use your help building EDA web stuff. If you can design digital, that's a bonus. If you can do digital and analog, and are a web wizard, then you must be God.

He's right. (5, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | about a year ago | (#43327521)

Steve Jobs would have made a lousy employee.

Re:He's right. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327689)

...Which is why it's important to encourage diversity in the workplace so a fool doesn't hire only like-minded fools. Kind of a failsafe. And every catagory and culture has something to bring to the table. For example:

  1. Asians have the uncanny ability to stink up the break room like rotten fish, and are very collaborative by being meddling schemers.
  2. Blacks are good at intimidation, gaming of the system, and sleeping on the job. They make good "enforcers."
  3. Armenians are gaudy, stinky, and have big butts and noses
  4. When you need to clear a room fast, get an Indian.
  5. Jews are good at pinching pennies, which is good for the bottom line, and nepotism which ensures that only more Jews will be hired -- leaving to more savings.
  6. Women are good at being overanalyzing, moody, backstabbing creatures who can take out any enemy of their choice with only two words: "sexual harassment." Plus they're good bosses because they're out pregnant all the time.

In summa, diversity is important for the workplace. Q.E.D. Bar None. You don't want too many privileged white men bringing sanity to your organization.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:He's right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43328053)

I think we work for the same company!

Take a chance? No thanks. (4, Insightful)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about a year ago | (#43327547)

Why take a chance on hiring an outsider if your management isn't supportive?

It's a quick way to turn into an outsider yourself.

Re:Take a chance? No thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327917)

When this book makes the rounds, all the middle to upper management will ape and parrot it. It's like that every time when someone whose successful spouts what they think was their key to success - the whole self-attribution fallacy.

Then they will settle back into their old ways again.

Least of all Apple or Steve Jobs (4, Insightful)

gelfling (6534) | about a year ago | (#43327549)

He'd laugh himself out of the door if he showed up for a job today.

Re:Least of all Apple or Steve Jobs (5, Funny)

Plumpaquatsch (2701653) | about a year ago | (#43327989)

He'd laugh himself out of the door if he showed up for a job today.

Well, I guess Apple has a policy not to hire dead people, so yes.

Re:Least of all Apple or Steve Jobs (2)

gelfling (6534) | about a year ago | (#43328061)

No, it's a company run by lawyers and accountants now.

Especially now that he's dead! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327553)

I wouldn't hire him.
I'd let him vote for me though.

Re:Especially now that he's dead! (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#43327841)

I wouldn't hire him.

I don't like to make blanket statements, but - he'd have to have one hell of an interview.

Re:Especially now that he's dead! (5, Funny)

Bieeanda (961632) | about a year ago | (#43327961)

Anyone with the gumption to claw their way out of an unmarked grave deserves an interview at the very least.

Steve Jobs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327557)

was a remnant of the blue sky investment days when credit was abundant and people had relevance. His vision doesn't fit well with the master slave aristocratic paradigm we have today. Increasingly stifled by the death of the garage start-up and freedom in general, his last gasp attempt at empowering productivity for the masses was to get a phone, string a bunch of sensors onto it and let the people make of it what they could - the app store.

Re:Steve Jobs (5, Insightful)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year ago | (#43327703)

Why does everyone forget that he was pushed out when Scully cam on board? Jobs had to rebuild from square one at NeXt (or NeXT, or some other camely spelling) where he built the underpinnings for OSX and for applescript in building the NeXT machine and the NeXT cube while keeping his cool artistic and "beautiful box" ideas and still providing:
- a hardware base with a programmable DSP that could be used as a modem, or a fax, or as in the basis for real time audio processing
- the first commercially usable mexapixel display with 24-bit color
- UNIX based underneath with a pretty interface on top, NeXT-Step, also the precursor of OSX
- the first optical drive on consumer hardware (it was magneto-optical however)
- a NeXT machine was the workbench upon which Tim Berners Lee was able to program the beginning of the WWW=world wide web and HTML language and HTTP protocol

Jobs also started up Pixar which gave him his entree into hollywood connections. Jobs was flung down quite a few times and built his own way back up. Good luck finding someone with that level of arrogance and that level of actual capability and that level of chutzpah.

Re:Steve Jobs (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327731)

> Why does everyone forget that he was pushed out when Scully cam on board?

Actually, he was pushed out of the Lisa project first, then took over Macintosh from Jef Raskin. He had a definite plan for where Macintosh should go, and if sales had kept up, he might have had a shot at staying in control. Instead, because he was in denial about sales performance, Scully came up with his own plan to salvage the situation. Jobs disagreed and bad-mouthed Scully around Apple. They fought for control and Jobs basically made an ultimatum to the board: him or me. The board said "him."

Technically Jobs wasn't fired, he was just stripped of all managerial duties, but effectively they gave him no choice but to leave.

Re:Steve Jobs (1)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year ago | (#43327959)

Thanks for the info. You are probably correct on all the details.

Re:Steve Jobs (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327743)

To be completely fair to history, he didn't start Pixar he acquired them. And, their management said that they succeeded in spite of him, because they ignored everything that he told them to do. The only time he ever really shined was at Apple. And, the only time Apple ever shined was when he was there.

Re:Steve Jobs (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43328071)

Apple share price rose 50% after he left in the 80s because his nuttiness (64K is enough among others) was causing the company to not shine.

Re:Steve Jobs (2, Insightful)

puto (533470) | about a year ago | (#43327875)

Let me address a few comments in your post. 1. Pixar was founded Lucas Group, and then later spun off as sep corp with an investment from Steve Jobs. 2. Canon invented that drive, and the Next was hardly consumer hardware and was not marketed with consumers in mind. 3. Next would have tanked without Ross Perots money. So maybe we owe Ross Perot for OSX. Jobs was a great driving force behind Apple an Next, but he wrote no code, nor did he invent Unix, he was just an excellent overseer. He is was a great salesman and marker. But an asshole.

You didn't address my points. You misread me. (3, Insightful)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year ago | (#43327951)

Dude, Steve Jobs tooks Pixar where it went, from an in-house digital effects firm for ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) into what it became: a Hollywood powerhouse that took in Lasseter and made Toy Story and other blockbusters.
Sure Canon invented the m.o. drive in the NeXT machine; I made no claim that Jobs invented it. Jobs didn't invent USB even though he put it into the iMac fruit-colored all-in-one '040 machines that ran system 7 or 8. Jobs didn't invent firewire but he put those into Powerbooks and Powermacs. Jobs didn't invent ethernet but he created ethernet dongles for 68040-based Mac IIci machines. He may not have invented those things, and he didn't invent the macintosh, but he was the prime mover behind the creation and marketing and success of those things on consumer-grade hardware.
3. F.U.! Read what I wrote. I never said he wrote unix. He incorporated Mach and Posix into NeXT, designed the use of the NeXT-step GUI interface, and pushed for the integration of the dsp chip into easy to use software APIs and allowed for programmers to access the hardware in a useful way.
He was an excellent overseer, and a slave-driver, and an ego-maniac, and an asshole. That's how he got things done. My point was that selecting for the same traits in someone else will more likely get you 50-70% of those traits: the external expresed phenotypes, like jack-assery. Selecting for those external traits will most likely not get you an employee that will star-ship rocket your company into the world of success.

Re:Steve Jobs (1)

Plumpaquatsch (2701653) | about a year ago | (#43328091)

3. Next would have tanked without Ross Perots money. So maybe we owe Ross Perot for OSX.

Your other points were dumb enough, but this takes the crown. He was an angel investor and made a lot of money on his investment, nothing less and nothing more. If it hadn't been him, it would have been one or more others like him.

Re:Steve Jobs (2, Interesting)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43328095)

Yeah, and his cool box was built out of a whole bunch of technologies (Objective-C, Smalltalk, MVC, DisplayPostscript, WYSIWYG) and open source software (Mach, BSD, GNU compiler) created by others, which he then promptly attempted to make proprietary and whose licenses he attempted to violate. I can't actually think of a single major technical contribution of NeXT. Steve Jobs was a talented product designers, but he had no scruples.

As a counterpoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327565)

Make sure to hire a few grumpy old men to keep things in balance. Or increase our social benefits so we can stop looking for a job. That, or expect more age discrimination lawsuits. If you're going to make us work longer, you damn well better have a decent job for us.

Re:As a counterpoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327671)

Self entitlement, why am I not surprised that somebody in the me first generation would be demanding more rights at the expense of younger workers.

At lest you have protection from age discrimination, younger workers don't get any.

Re:As a counterpoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43328117)

Self entitlement

Earned benefits, punk! We paid into the system, and we want our money back!

And another thing! Youth already gets preferential treatment. An end to age discrimination would cost you opportunity.

Now get offa my lawn if you don't want rock salt in your buttocks!

What happened to APK? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327569)

I haven't seen one of his lunatic rantings all day. Did he overdose or something? I hope he's okay!

Why not? (5, Funny)

puddingebola (2036796) | about a year ago | (#43327573)

A liberal arts major from a small liberal arts school who dropped acid and traveled to India to meditate and ate a diet of nothing but fruit... Why wouldn't they hire him?

Re:Why not? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327693)

You say liberal arts like it's a bad thing. If you want somebody that knows how to think, you hire a liberal arts major, if you want somebody that can do the same thing everybody has already done, then you get somebody that majored in something more specific.

Only a liberal arts major could have accomplished what Jobs did.

Re:Why not? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327819)

If you want somebody that knows how to think, you hire a liberal arts major

Uh... no. You hire someone who knows how to think; whether or not they're a liberal arts major is entirely irrelevant. Not to mention that there are tons of idiotic liberal arts majors; you know, like with anything else...

Only a liberal arts major could have accomplished what Jobs did.

I highly doubt that.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43328125)

You do realize that specialization is the exact opposite of what you want if you need creativity, right?

And yeah, for the reason I just said, specialization is not something that you're likely to ever see in a visionary because it tends towards tunnel vision to solving things with their area of specialty. So, it's probably possible, but highly unlikely that somebody more specialized would have been able to do it.

Jobs was a pill... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327611)

The corporate mindset is all about conformity. That's a bad reason they wouldn't hire Jobs today. But here's a good reason... When one guy makes the entire rest of the staff's life a living hell. Nobody could do it all an a stinker like Jobs is no exception... A poison pill is a poison pill... And Jobs was a pill.

yes, true for me (4, Informative)

broward (416376) | about a year ago | (#43327617)

Ive done quite innovative stuff (datamining/meme manipulation) for the past fifteen years but few companies want to hire me, so Ive done contracting for the past eight years. Most companies pay lip service to innovation but few truly recognize it or desire it.

Managers advance by minimizing risk, not by innovating.
Thats just the nature of business and people.

Re:yes, true for me (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#43327675)

Managers advance by minimizing risk, not by innovating.

This is not always true. A manager who innovates successfully can advance very quickly, in a company that hasn't yet reached organizational senescence (as Dr. Peter describes in The Peter Principle.)


Re:yes, true for me (2)

Bigby (659157) | about a year ago | (#43328079)

The generalization by the GP is right on. You are talking about outliers that actually see value in risk. Those are few and far between. Those ideas are usually only espoused by those people without bosses.

Re:yes, true for me (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327681)

I never knew that I could add this stuff to my resume! Thank you!

Data mining= Facebook stalking. Lots of google searches.

Meme manipulation = made cat picture caption funnier than the last guy. IMHO

Re:yes, true for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327727)

When managers do take a risk, even if it pays off they normally receive nothing more than a scooby snack. The CEO or Sole Proprietor or whatever isn't oblivious to the fact that the manager was gambling with their money in the first place, so the cost benefit analysis is based on the risk of losing status in the company, demotion, or firing vs. getting a big bonus for a "bold" move paying off. BFD. Who is gonna kill the golden goose trying to get a one time temporary boost in output?

Up against that, I don't really blame my supervisors for being afraid to fly too close to the sun. I think of risk aversion as a graveyard spiral. The death clock starts ticking the second an organization is too paralyzed by fear to invest in making innovations. The market moves too quickly anymore to count on riding a wave for very long. Not my neck on the line though...

Re:yes, true for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327811)

Ive done quite innovative stuff (datamining/meme manipulation)

Doxing people on /b/ isn't a career

Re:yes, true for me (2)

dcherryholmes (1322535) | about a year ago | (#43327823)

I can see a few cracks below my usual viewing threshold, but I'd like to just ask: what is "meme manipulation?"

Re:yes, true for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327921)

Contracting is the trick. I spent most of my career contracting. Full-time jobs are for people who want to go slow and steady on a path to management, and at the same time companies don't want to make a habit of firing their wage-slaves, so they tend to be conservative on the hiring side. But contractors are another ball game, you can fire them the day after you hire them and nobody bats an eye. So if you're creative and not the type to make it past the HR interview learn to be financially responsible and look for contracting jobs.

Post Hoc Advice (4, Insightful)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year ago | (#43327629)

It's a false idea that Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. In other words, saying "because it happened after XYZ, it must have been because of XYZ" is wrong. I think Nolan Bushnell is probably right about a bunch of his ideas, but ultimately Atari did not rise to the top like the cream that was Macintosh/Apple did, or that IBM's PC architecture did because of all of that "complimentary copying", or that Unix or POSIX did in being used everywhere including in GNU/Linux.
Look at past successes to see that one die roll that won in the corporate world of selecting employees who turn out to be diamonds in the rough
is as crazy as

looking at the past performance of 65536 (~sixty-five thousand = 2^16) brokers each of whom makes one of the binary bets of heads/tails on 16 binary events and then being surprised that one of them got all 16 bets rights, and 120 got 15 out of the 16 bets right.
Sometimes it's pretty random, and looking for reason in fluke choices won't get you far. As for that betting example, go look at the Binomial distribution [] . Also see [] where they use an example of 100 letters, whereas they would be better off having a power of 2.
The best explanation of the "stock market prediction scam" is at [] .

Re:Post Hoc Advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43328101)

Don't mean to be nit picky, but in regards to your binary example, I don't know where you got 120 from...I believe you meant 16.

Re:Post Hoc Advice (1)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year ago | (#43328107)

You are correct, sir, or ma'am, as the case may be! I meant 16 get 15 right, 120 get 14 right, binomial (16, n) get n right. Thanks for picking that nit, especially since you're right!

Wow! (4, Funny)

Davo Batty (2855025) | about a year ago | (#43327667)

I'm going to show this to my boss. Maybe she will provide a keg, strippers and an occasional boong.

Re:Wow! (1)

bcjanes (469676) | about a year ago | (#43327765)

Hope you have better luck than I have. Every team meeting I hit my boss up for a dispensation for beers with lunch. Hasn't worked for me yet.

Re:Wow! (2)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about a year ago | (#43327773)

...and an occasional boong.

(That's in the fish in a barrel zone, but I seem to have mislaid my gun at this late hour... Ah, well--Pass.)

Hell, he is dead, after all (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327677)

I make it a policy not to hire dead guys.

Re:Hell, he is dead, after all (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327797)

That's just anti-deadist discrimination. It should be illegal. You livies hate us deadies.

Death isn't the handicap it used to be.

Re:Hell, he is dead, after all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327907)

but he has met his DEADLINE and always will! ;)

"weed out the naysayers" (4, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#43327687)

"Weeding out naysayers" is a advice that should be applied very carefully IMHO. Anybody who's worked around engineers and been on slashdot a while can get the point - there are plenty of guys who never heard an idea they didn't hate, who only ever see problems and never opportunities. On the other hand, I imagine a few level-headed and empowered naysayers could have done a lot of good at Enron and Bear Stearns. I am not sure if there is really a principled way to tell the difference defeatists and prophets though. I spent a good part of this morning reading Sundown in America [] , and the reader replies to it, and trying to decide whether the guy is loony, or America is doomed.

As a naysayer myself... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327769)

...I've learned to shut my fucking mouth and let science projects explode spectacularly.

Nobody seems to want to hear about potential risks and dangers that teams must take into account. And yet, they're of course completely shocked when shit goes up in flames.

Well, everybody wins. I get a sense of smug self-satisfaction, and non-term thinkers get to keep failing. Damned if I know why it brings them such joy, but whatever floats their boats. (Caveat: Your hull should be intact if you have a boat. This is not something that can be fixed "after going public". Your boat will FUCKING SINK.)

Re:"weed out the naysayers" (1)

russotto (537200) | about a year ago | (#43327775)

A "defeatist" is simply a prophet who hasn't been proved right yet.

Signed, Cassandra.

Re:"weed out the naysayers" (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | about a year ago | (#43327843)

I think the intention of "naysayers" was to describe the type of person who refuses to take a risk and is always against off-the-wall ideas.

While there are plenty of bad ideas, you'll never know if it will work or not without at least doing some research behind it. That is pretty basic Deming Circle philosophy.

The key is not coming up with the ideas but finding out how to implement as a good business decision.

Re:"weed out the naysayers" (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327901)

... On the other hand, I imagine a few level-headed and empowered naysayers could have done a lot of good at Enron and Bear Stearns. ...

This point is actually brought up quite directly in Susan Cain's book titled "Quiet" [] . It's not so much about "naysayers" (because both introverts and extroverts can be such), but is about the fact that introverted folks tend to put more effort into thinking about the (both positive and negative) effects of something, compared to extroverts who tend to dive in head-first and hope for the best. There were a good number of introverted folks giving Enron (and others) level-headed advice, with all the warning signs provided -- all of which was ignored (by extroverts who controlled things); both Enron and Bear Stearns were both mentioned.

The reason I mention her book is because it sheds an enormous amount of light on the exact attitude, thought process, personality type, and even lifestyle, that the United States (and to some degree Canada as well) has come to expect from its citizens ("workers") -- it's expected that everyone be extroverted and that nobody ever question anything. All our systems (social, economical, educational, governmental, you name it) are designed solely to support the extroverted attitude and thought process -- especially from the moment we enter kindergarten. Introversion isn't awarded in any way, it's shunned. Once this evidence is presented to you (with hundreds and hundreds of facts to back it up), it really changes how you view American life/society/etc.. It's actually amazingly depressing, because it proves that everything, right dow to our very core, is money-driven rather than neutral/balanced or even improvement-driven.

Captcha: remorse.

Oh, the world of data-driven risk-abatement (1)

dalutong (260603) | about a year ago | (#43327695)

I'm not sure he used the term "outlier" purposefully, but it is telling in our era of data-driven everything. We will always have middle-of-the-curve people if we live only by data-driven metrics. It will allow us to make safe decisions, but it sure seems to be a waste of human resources.

Re:Oh, the world of data-driven risk-abatement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327805)

It's the other way around: Today's standards are low, non-data driven, or just driven on the wrong data. It makes sense to invest in gathering more relevant data for decision-making, but that will kill the mututal benefits of comradery in the upper echelons.

So we're stuck with bad decisions based on corruption, greed and fear, until we DEMAND data to be measured (starting from company vision, business cases, organization (people), processes and technology). ITIL CSI explains all that is required in great detail and provides alot of tools to help the process.

Re:Oh, the world of data-driven risk-abatement (2)

RougeFemme (2871421) | about a year ago | (#43327993)

And for publicly-traded companies who answer to Wall Street, their primary concern is with hittin the analysts' magic quarterly numbers. So they can't take a chance on someone like Steve Jobs. He may represent the remote possibility of a big bonanza down the road but the manager may not be there to see it if he misses the next couple of quarterly "numbers".

really, not that unreasonable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327697)

you don't need very much creative thinking relative to the amount of painstakingly boring work that needs
to be done to make a product.

the creative people often:
    are not very good at the boring work
    fight with each other about stupid shit
    have unrealistically high standards
    are just a pain in the ass in general

given that the market doesn't want me to stray very far from the status quo, tell me why I need more than zero or one creative

fuck a sh1t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327715)

reasons why anyone Is dying. Fact: butts are exposed have somebody just paranoid conspiracy I'll have offended encountered while Niiger Association Usenet. In 1995,

Some of the best projects ... (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#43327721)

Yes, there are a few documented cases of college drop outs making outstanding projects and products. It is just anecdotal evidence. It means nothing and it does not help you hire the next Steve Jobs. Millions of college drop outs have joined companies, thousands of them in tech companies just when they were budding out. Very few of them made the cut.

If your plan for success is to find the next Steve Jobs and con him into a deal where he does the work and you get the profits, wake up and smell the coffee. It would be easier for you to become a Steve Jobs than to hire one.

Re:Some of the best projects ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327945)

Or you could actually encourage and reward actual innovation and efficiency improvements?

A jerk in a suit (3, Interesting)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | about a year ago | (#43327739)

A jerk in a suit, especially with an 'old-boys' network, however, would get hired instantly

Nothing for/against Jobs per se (I didn't know him), but it seems like the jerk part doesn't seem to be a problem with many managers and top level executives. A jerk who would drive employees to the brink of exhaustion would be welcome.

And to be fair the manager/executive is not hired to improve moral - short term gains outweigh employee happiness nowadays. It is easier to motivate employees to work hard by being a scary control freak, than by being a kind and caring person who looks out for you. Especially when times are tough and it isn't easy to get a job. And this mentality filters down - if my boss's boss screams at him, he vents at me.

The problem is cultural. 2 weeks of vacation is the norm in certain parts of the world - money is seen by many (especially the younger crowd) to be the deciding factor in taking any job. A consumerist mentality only compounds the problem.

Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327753)

The man hasn't worked a day in his life.

No surprise here (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327791)

Abraham Lincoln would never be elected president were he alive today, or Eisenhower for that matter (leaving aside the current troubles in the Republican party). Einstein would have been laughed out of establishment science.

We don't do outliers anymore, and that's why we're losing our edge.

Re:No surprise here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327825)

Did you just compare Steve Jobs to Abraham Lincoln, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Albert Einstein?
I see The Church of Apple is still going strong.

Re:No surprise here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327837)

Hiring practice went from trying to find someone that can come in, learn the job, and be a employee that can in the future build and run the company to companies expect you to know exactly what they need from your experience. Sorry, each company is different. The culture is different, getting people to work productively and happily together isn't the same at every company. Knowing how to do something is only part of the employee. Knowing how the company wants it done, how that fits into the strategy and growth, how to work with the company culture that has developed over time with the employees you will be working with, and becoming invested in that company is the other part. Businesses anymore think work X at company Y is the same as work X at company Z. It's not. Sometimes the right employee is one that can learn the job, fit in, and do the work. Just because someone knows how to do something doesn't mean they'll work in your company. People are not cogs. For examples, see NFL football and Pontiac.

Re:No surprise here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327941)

you may be on to something

Re:No surprise here (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about a year ago | (#43328075)

Einstein did his work the same way everyone else did. Also got published in papers and built on ideas other people had.

Laughed out of establishment science? Hardly.

Taken with a grain of salt the size of a sedan? Sure.

now days college credentials are a joke and the ol (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43327801)

now days college credentials are a joke and the old college system has become to much of on one size fit's all as well to many people are going to it.

Now days there is to much theory and way to much filler and full classes. also lot's of BS required classes jobs dropped out due to the required classes and took classes as a drop in.

required classes like PE should not be the college price level or time frame.

Re: now days college credentials are a joke and th (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43328017)

Too. Not to. You should have spent more time in college. Or in your case, attended highschool.

Not hard to get an engineering job (1)

asm2750 (1124425) | about a year ago | (#43327851)

Only issue is 90% of what is out there are contract/temp jobs. Pretty much slavery with no benefits. Then again you do get paid more than normal workers, and it can be a foot into the door for full time employment with benefits.

Re:Not hard to get an engineering job (0)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#43327903)

Pretty much slavery with no benefits.

Oh, please. Do you know what health insurance costs? For most health people under 40, it's less than $200/month. I have never seen a contract job that doesn't pay more than $200/month more than the equivalent "full time" position. In my opinion, rubes work "full time", and smart people work as contractors.

Re:Not hard to get an engineering job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327967)

The problem with that is that you need to put up with being jerked around by a rube.

Weed out naysayers (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year ago | (#43327859)

Is the same as groupthink. You need naysayers.

Sabbatical after 7 years? (1)

MarioMax (907837) | about a year ago | (#43327885)

Atari is only the second company I know of that offers a sabbatical after 7 years, the first being Intel.

Bushnell's douchebaggery or other? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year ago | (#43327943)

Was it Bushnell or someone else who essentially forced the creation of Activision by being a douche? The way I heard it (or remember that I heard it) is that Atari wouldn't give a cut of sales, wouldn't promote the identity of programmers, etc. So a few guys from Atari left and formed Activision (sad me. I used to know their names without looking up in wikipedia). So did this happen while Bushnell was at the helm or after they were sold to WB?

Re:Bushnell's douchebaggery or other? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43328039)


Atari interview question (2)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#43327949)

An interview question at Atari, from TFA: "What is the order of these numbers: 8, 5, 4, 9, 1, 7, 6, 3, 2?"

Any idea, anyone?

Re:Atari interview question (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327965)

The first 9 numbers, listed in alphabetical order.

Re:Atari interview question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327987)

Answer: 8, 5, 4, 9, 1, 7, 6, 3, 2

Yep, and founding Apple wouldve violated the DMCA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43327999)

What with those hacked motorola cpu's.

Grrr.... (0)

AndyKron (937105) | about a year ago | (#43328025)

I've been beaten down at work for so many years I just wish every night that I don't wake up in the morning.

Re:Grrr.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43328049)

Yeah, that's the spirit! If work sucks, just give up and die! Or you could do something about it, like quit. Get another job somewhere else. Do something on your own. You don't have to put up with it, you know.

No one would hire Alberrt Einstein either......... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43328041)

It's almost comical. But Albert Einstein couldn't get a job when he graduated with his physics degree. His dad died thinking Albert was a total failure.
Can you imagine Einstein going through countless interviews and still being unemployed.

Einstein ended up getting the most boring job ever at that time: a patent clerk. His job was easy and gave him infinite time to sit at his office and think.
That infinite boredom turned out to be a perfect platform for conceptualizing and testing his theories.

Yup. This. (3, Insightful)

aussersterne (212916) | about a year ago | (#43328047)

I've written multiple books, done award-winning work, and have sterling recommendations/references from people that can say all kinds of fabulous stuff about me. But all of my best work in life has been done in the contracting/consulting space, where I was basically a lone wolf.

Virtually every time a company has hired me, they have immediately put me in a box.

Step 1: Refuse to allow him to use his own tech tools/toolchains crafted over years and with which he is fabulous and familiar.

Step 2: Make sure that there's no allowance for him to do intense/creative work on his own daytime schedule; meetings are mandatory and if that means that the only time left for actual work is during hours when his brain isn't at its best, oh well.

Step 3: Lock him into a narrow chain of hierarchy/command so that he can't ever talk directly to the role players that he needs in order to directly get things done; instead, ensure that he's always stuck playing telephone through many organizational layers and that his immediate contact has an MBA and doesn't ever understand what he's saying.

Step 4: Evaluate him immediately (always too early) and on a linear progress model with synthetic "benchmarks," whether or not any of this matches the natural trajectory of the task at hand or not, so that instead of doing great things in the best way, he's working to "hit benchmarks" in ways that often interfere with the actual work, either slowing it tremendously or significantly reducing the potential of the final outcome.

Step 5: Take away any physical and psychological comfort and idiosyncrasy that enables him to act naturally and think clearly; dictate dress, office layout and organization, hours, speech and communications channels, venues, and characteristics, so that he's not even himself most of the time when he's working for you (you know, the self that did the great work that you want to have).

Step 6: Toss assorted new tasks and underlings into his lap that have no relationship to what he was actually hired to do and/or his actual area of expertise, ensuring that he'll spend more and more time doing stuff for which he is not the optimal laborer, again taking away from the work that you actually hired him to do.

Step 7: Undervalue or refuse to value at all any research work, preliminary design/development work, or anything that isn't clearly "making product" and "hitting benchmarks" and be sure to stop by the desk every ten minutes and remind him that he wasn't hired "to do that" but instead to "produce."

Under conditions of "employment" this has happened to me so many times that I hesitate to accept "employment" now and prefer to consult instead. I'm tired of seeing excitement turn into bewilderment of the "He came so highly recommended!" sort after just about every last thing that makes the best work that I've done possible (the work that they wanted to see done again, on their time) was methodically written out of my work life.

Too many MBAs and HR drones out there in the corporate world that are really only comfortable seeing other MBAs and HR drones buzzing about the office, wondering why nobody outside of management and HR seems to be "getting anything done."

Re:Yup. This. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43328067)

I other words, the "team" member shouldn't be part of a team, or use tools and methods that others in the organization are familiar with, or even show up to work when the rest of the "team" needs him to be there.

In other words, I'm going to bitch and complain and end up doing dead-end contract work because under normal circumstances I wouldn't be able to hold a job for longer than 6 months anyway.

Yes, we real professionals know your type. You're the entitled, self-righteous college kid who thinks he deserves a corner office and a company Porsche on his first day of work, and a pat on the back and a promotion every time he accomplishes even a meager task. But, in reality, that you think you need to work at a specific time of day and under your own terms to be creative is not a demonstration of your genius, but rather of your mediocrity.

The company situation you describe does not exist outside of Hollywood and the Dilbert strip. That's how I know your post is complete and utter whining bullshit.

I make far more as a consultant (1)

aussersterne (212916) | about a year ago | (#43328089)

than many at the corporations with whom I work imagine to be fair.

I lose the stability and benefits that come with employment—but I gain productivity, the satisfaction of a job well done, and control over my own work life.

Call it whatever you want. But two of my current relationships have asked to put me on the books, with a raise, benefits, a great title, and a nice office. I've told them no in both cases—much to the surprise of one CEO. Instead, I continue to teach at the local university and offer my services on a contract, remote-work, you-pay-me-and-stay-out-of-my-way basis.

Again, call it what you want. Works for me, and for my clients—despite their desire to bring me in-house.

I could end our employment problem in america with (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43328081)

One new law. You may not ask to see anyones TRW unless you are providing at least 2000.00 in credit. no other purpose is permited. You may not ask for a resume unless the salary is over 65k a year. and oyu employment application can only ask 5 questions including name address last place employed social security number

And if it pays under 30k a year all you cans ask is address, social security and name..

This is pretty much how I was hired 40 years ago.

Wrong assumptions (5, Insightful)

khchung (462899) | about a year ago | (#43328127)

Finding The Next Steve Jobs: How to Find, Hire, Keep and Nurture Creative Talent

Bushnell is convinced that there are all sorts of creative and unconventional people out there working at companies today. The problem is that corporate managers don't recognize them. Or when they do, they push them to conform rather than create.

The underlying assumptions are WRONG. Most companies are NOT interested in finding any creative talent, nor are they interested in any unconventional people.

In my experience, most companies just want cheaper worker who do not make waves and will just bend down and work. Their managers like to TALK ABOUT finding talent, or finding creative/unconventional people, mainly because it is what their stockholders expect to hear, and partly to make it sound like they are working hard, and also partly to make their cheap workers think that their managers actually care when they work hard.

The fact is, most companies managers just want to keep the status quo and rake in their bonuses. Any creative or unconventional worker is threat to their status quo, and that's why even if those people were hired, they would be pushed to "conform rather than create".

ACTION speak louder than words. See what companies really DO, rather than what they TALK about, to infer what they really want.

If you are the next Steve, go ahead and start your own company, no existing company will want you.

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