How do you find the next Steve Jobs? You make it easy for that person to find you, according to Nolan Bushnell, author of the new book Finding the Next Steve Jobs. Bushnell should know — Steve Jobs came to work for him at Atari in 1974.
There isn't really a "Steve Jobs-type." Creativity, by its nature, is rare, and a company of disruptive people would be chaos. "The reality is you only need a few," Bushnell says in the attached video. "The true outliers... you don't want more than half a dozen." Once you find one of the rare few there's always a place to put them.
The gift of these standouts is that they aren't satisfied with the way things are. Intolerance toward the status quo is what forces them to change the world. Bushnell says, "Too many people want to get risks out of the system. That's the wrong way to go. You want to do things that are risky because that's where you get the innovation."
Bushnell says the public company getting it right today is Google (GOOG). Not content to stick with their search engine advertising cash cow, Google is looking for its next act in unlikely places. There's nothing intuitive about Google developing glasses that are connected to the Internet, operating systems for mobile phones or self-driving cars, yet the company is trying them all. The fact that many such initiatives will fail isn't just OK, it's actually the whole point.
"You want to let them do their thing," Bushnell says with just a hint of Old School verbiage. "If you treat them like adults, wonderful things happen."
In terms of getting these folks on board in the first place, Bushnell goes off the beaten path. He's not concerned with college pedigrees or canned interview answers. "I have a whole section in the book about finding passionate people. Enthusiasts. That was Jobs: one speed, full-on," he says. "You can train for all the rest of it."