How to Hire—and Keep—the Next Steve Jobs

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 10-08-2013 Email Print this article Print

Steve Jobs preached "Think different" during his celebrated reign at Apple. But you may not realize that he cultivated this quality under a mentor who launched the restaurant chain, Chuck E. Cheese. Yes, that's right. Nolan Bushnell started the noisy, kid-friendly pizza joint, along with two dozen other companies. Among them is Atari where, as Bushnell recounts, an "unkempt, contemptuous 19-year-old" Jobs got his first real job. In the recent book, Finding the Next Steve Jobs: How to Find, Keep and Nurture Talent (Simon and Schuster), Bushnell provides the following recruiting and retention tips among the dozens he recounts in the book. His overall philosophy discourages managers to seek "safe" employees who won't ruffle any feathers yet, then again, seldom make meaningful impact. Instead, Bushnell looks past various personality quirks and seeks out employees who convey a unique sense of passion and creative spark. Jobs, for example, ticked off certain Atari employees so much that Bushnell eventually told him to work nights when no one was around. Clearly, he went on to accomplish great things. Bushnell's other innovations include Catalyst Technologies, the first technology incubator; Etak, the first car navigation system; and Androbot, a robotics company. He also has consulted for IBM and Cisco. For more about the book, click here.

  • Recruiting Tip: "Advertise" Your True Workplace Culture

    Let your Web and social-media presence reflect how dynamic your organization is. At Atari, recruitment spiked with the ad "Play games, make money."
    1-Recruiting Tip:
  • Recruiting Tip: Don't Limit Your Interviewing Focus to a Candidate's Accomplishments

    It is often more telling to find out how he accomplished something.
    2-Recruiting Tip: Don't Limit Your Interviewing Focus to a Candidate's Accomplishments
  • Recruiting Tip: Tap Upon Your Employees' Connections

    Encourage teams to suggest and champion a recruit, like someone they've worked with. These candidates must be good—or your teams wouldn't want to work with them again.
    3-Recruiting Tip: Tap Upon Your Employees' Connections
  • Recruiting Tip: Ask Interviewees About their Hobbies

    That's where you'll get a sense of their passions, as well as the intellectual challenges they pursue "just for fun."
    4-Recruiting Tip: Ask Interviewees About their Hobbies
  • Recruiting Tip: Ask Weird Questions

    Because when you catch them totally off-guard, you see how they tackle real-time thinking challenges.
    5-Recruiting Tip: Ask Weird Questions
  • Retention Tip: Dispense With Hierarchy

    After all, the value of a networking event, or even a great party, is rooted in the concept that anyone at any level can interact with anybody.
    6-Retention Tip: Dispense With Hierarchy
  • Retention Tip: Foster ADHD

    If you pigeon-hole IT staffers to one big project, they'll find unproductive ways to incorporate variety into their routines. With eclectic duties, they won't need distractions.
    7-Retention Tip: Foster ADHD
  • Retention Tip: Encourage Pranks

    Peer-accepted "rule breaking" energizes IT departments with creative irreverence.
    8-Retention Tip: Encourage Pranks
  • Retention Tip: Don't Allow Anyone to "Just Say No"

    Make them propose something better instead.
    9-Retention Tip: Don't Allow Anyone to
  • Recruiting Tip: Embrace Failure

    Fear of failure shouldn't inhibit your teams. Examine failures for "success clues." Apple's Lisa computer flopped, but its "lessons learned" led to the Mac.
    10-Recruiting Tip: Embrace Failure
Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.


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