Atari founder on ‘Finding the Next Steve Jobs’

The book is less about Jobs, and more about what Bushnell thinks companies need to do to rethink their hiring practices.

“One of the big concerns I have is that most of the HR departments in a lot of companies are hiring away from creativity and they don’t know it,” Bushnell said in an interview. “For instance, they are requiring everybody to have a college degree. The most creative people I know couldn’t deal with college.”

  • ‘The most creative people I know couldn’t deal with college.’

    I wholeheartedly agree with that. It’s most definitely my personal experience with university and I’ve seen many people I know struggle too. They’re not lazy, certainly not stupid but increasingly business-like higher education facilities don’t satiate the creative need in the most creative of people.

    You could write a list as long as your arm of incredible people that wouldn’t have been hired by the average HR suit because he/she couldn’t put what makes him/her special in a qualifications column.

  • I think the college angle is way too simplistic Ana analysis of the creative problem. I think Steve Jobs nailed it in an interview when he said the problems most companies have is they let salesmen (marketing people fit that too) run companies. HP, Microsoft, and a who panoply of companies have proved that.

    It’s not whether someone can deal with college or not. In fact, I suspect that it takes a genius level person to do what Jobs, Gates, or Zuckerberg has done without a good, strong academic grounding.

    The bias here is the assumption that college turns someone into a drone. But as in most aspects of life, it’s what people do with what they have handed to them that makes the difference. No simplistic proposition is going to describe this complex world.

    • Well said, but I disagree with your middle paragraph.

      Jobs dropped out of college after six months. Gates began what would become his career in his sophomore year and dropped out of Harvard. Zuckerberg dropped out of college in his sophomore year to focus on Facebook. Granted, they might be geniuses and your point may still be valid, but I don’t believe that Gates and Zuckerberg are geniuses; they just had something college can’t teach – enterprise.

      That was ultimately the point of the article though wasn’t it? Would the average HR department recognise whatever it is Jobs, Gates and Zuckerberg had (genius or whatever it may be)? I think they’d look at their lack of qualifications and probably hire the other guy – the guy that didn’t start his own multinational but got a First.

      • lucascott

        Yes but part of why they did it was because the collegiate experience is often to restricted and controlled. Genius level minds often feel anxiety in that kind of world because they are naturally a to ADD. It’s part of what makes them so creative.

        These days the tech we have actually puts such folks in a better position because it is way easier to learn about an insane variety of things. And without leaving home. I, myself, am currently taking (or shall we say auditing) five university classes A iOS coding class from Stanford A world cinema class from the United Arab Emirates University A philosophy class from La Trobe An art history class from Penn State And Shakespearean theatre from Oxford

        With that kind of knowledge at our fingertips, literally, do we really need the colleges and universities of old and should they carry as much weight in society as they do. Particularly when we are basically forcing kids to attend college and rack huge student loan debt.

      • Yes, Jobs dropped out after a short time, because he didn’t want to burden his parents with the expense. But remember, he stayed for quite a while afterwards and audited classes as long as he could. And he credits a calligraphy class for helping him develop his sense of design. (See his Stanford commencement speech.)

        College played a contributing role in his growth and his sense of design. Of course, he also didn’t stay for the complete education. And you’re right about the cluelessness of HR departments to sort out real talent, so they use the shorthand of degrees and resumes to figure out their best chances of getting good employees. Often that leads to bad choices. But I suspect they make more bad choices in the sense they go for the cheap labor out of school, when innovation and creativity probably is at its best when someone’s in their 40s and 50s.

        I suspect most people aren’t self-directed enough to pull off what Jobs, Zuckerberg and others did. But to state that college can’t teach enterprise is simply making an overly large generalization that on the face of it is not correct. More like: It doesn’t take college to change the world, but it helps if you’re not Steve Jobs.

        Technology is probably one of those fields where self-directed study is likely to allow a lot of people to succeed. But I will look carefully at the credentials of the brain surgeon who works on my brain, thank you very much.

  • Slurpy2k12

    College teaches a certain level of discipline, but can also encourage the blunting of creative, independent thought, and encourages sheep mentality. It forces you to spend a shitload of time doing a shitload of work for the heck of it, work you know has little to no practical value outside of the course itself, and which does nothing to stimulate the intellectual process besides regurgitating material or bullshitting. I say this as a graduate, as I can honestly say that in terms of practical skill or insight, I’ve gained zero from university, and feel like I would have grown infinitely more as a person if i spent that time and money travelling the world or something.

    1. A lot of HR departments aren’t capable of assessing qualifications for specialized skills. They simply screen resumes for buzzwords without understanding their context.

    2. College prepared me for a bunch of things, and warned me off a bunch of others. I was able to get a good grounding in the culture of my species and cultivate an awareness of the world outside my then-chosen focus. The variety of my college experience gave me the tools I needed to become a creative, long before there were such things as formal programs in, say, graphic design.