Finding the Next Steve Jobs

The speed of the business world is being altered at an alarmingly quick rate. Therefore, your only way of being on top is to always keep going forward. Today, it is more crucial than ever to be creative if you want to work in a successful workplace. You’ll have to understand how to hire the most talented and creative workers as well as how to help and be there for them when they are part of your team. That’s how to make your business successful.

This development is synonymous to looking for the next Steve Jobs. This text will help you learn how to look for those creative people. Occasionally, it’ll be in strange locations. You’ll become aware the kind of environment you should make that would cater to their imaginations as well as help lead the way towards making their best ideas actually come true. Additionally, you’ll learn:

  • that employing high school dropouts for just a month can positively impact your business;
  • the reason behind Atari’s decision to put couches and showers in their office space;
  • why it’s actually beneficial to employ either arrogant or annoying workers;
  • why the writer employed the person who invented the joystick for the sole reason of his love for model trains;
  • why you should, contrary to popular belief, actually reward those who fail;
  • how the Atari team managed to come up with their best game idea during a party; as well as
  • how never saying no will make a manager the most effective.

Create a work environment that attracts creative people.

A solid work environment is crucial for cultivating creativity. A rigid, boring workspace won’t motivate workers in comparison to a fun and interactive one.

There are a number of ways that a business can encourage a creative environment. For starters, the space has to be exciting and fascinating for its team. One way you can jazz up an office is by taking advantage of positive and interesting secrets. Creative people tend to have a yearning for secrets.

The team at Apple, for instance, can’t talk about the next Apple item with their friends that aren’t part of the company. That generates anticipation which ultimately, brings the team closer together. It’s no secret that being part of a team that has secrets is exciting.

Additionally, a work environment can’t have any constricting rules. On the contrary, the rules need to be flexible and considerate.

Atari altered their procedures in order to help their staff members when both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak had worked for them. At first, they didn’t allow staff to sleep at work because of security reasons, but Jobs and Wozniak demanded it. They enjoyed staying late at the office, sleeping a bit, and then waking up to continue the grind.

As a result, Atari altered the rules. Afterward, other members chose to remain late, too, so Atari ended up getting showers and couches to make the environment more suitable for their needs. Businesses can catch the attention of the best of the best by being exciting, flexible, and appealing.

It’s also important to push business’s creativity when putting up offers for employment. Make sure to mention the most appealing parts of the position. For instance, the writer offered the Atari team to get an entire summer off every 7 years with a full pay.

Additionally, you can utilize daring strategies to get to those that work at competing businesses. The computer game developer, Red 5 studios, stole staff members from their rivals by giving them iPods with personalized letters motivating them to join their team. Different or interesting strategies such as these ones are likely to interest creative people.

Invest time and resources into searching for talent

Do you think that you’ve met the perfect waitress before? Well, the writer has at a pizza restaurant. He was so taken aback with her communication skills that he ended up hiring her right on the spot to work on making new marketing programs. She transferred all of her positive energy into her new position and the outcome was amazing.

There are occasions when you can come across creative and enthusiastic people right in front of you, like the example detailed above. However, usually, you actually have to go out in search of them. Fortunately, though, there are a number of good strategies for searching.

The annual Hackers Conference, which is a creative community, gathers some of the brightest people in the technology industry. The writer goes to that event yearly as well. He also invites a few of his staff members so that they can get some new ideas, to promote Atari, as well to search for new staff potentials.

Additionally, you can take advantage of Twitter in search of those that are really enthusiastic about specific subjects. For instance, suppose you are in need of a new public relations member that is good at relaying technical information. You can just search for a person that matches that profile, look through their tweets and make the decision to either contact them or not.

Lastly, utilize your current staff members as a point for referrals. Creative people usually network with other creative people, therefore both current and previous staff members can be useful when you are in search of new talent. The writer ended up employing three of its top staff, including the inventor of Pong, from Ampex, his previous employer. Steve Jobs had also employed staff from Atari when he had left.

Don’t be afraid to hire unusual people

Employers tend to look for nice people to employ since they think that they are the ones that make the best employees. Although that tends to be true, occasionally, those who aren’t as nice are potentially better.

For instance, arrogant people are often very annoying, particularly when they act as if they’re brighter than the rest of the team. However, if that is actually the case, they have the potential to do amazing things.

Steve Jobs was the epitome of such a worker. He always thought that he was right. Although his coworkers found it annoying, his mentality gave him the strength to fight for his ideas and actually realize them.

Therefore, if you want to hire the top employees, you can’t discriminate against any personalities. Don’t hesitate to employ some people that you consider strange.

Although creative people and their ideas seem strange on occasion, some of the best business ideas in the previous couple of decades were thought of as crazy before hand. For instance, when Sara Blakely had come up with Spanx, the pantyhose with the bottom part removed, people thought that she was out of her mind. Now, she is a billionaire.

A few of the writer’s top employees were workers that wouldn’t have been able to work for more traditional businesses such as IBM. Harold Lee, for instance, who ended up developing the chip for Pong, drove a Harley Davidson and hardly ever washed his long hair or his beard.

Therefore, don’t forget to search for diversity when you’re employing staff members and make sure that the diversity comes from the inside rather than from the outside, such as the appearance, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Search for diversity in creative skills instead.

One different way to do that is by getting the HR department to only employ high school dropouts for a month. They’ll have to look at other qualities that make them a good worker.

Conduct interviews that help you identify creativity and passion in the candidates

Do you remember much from what you learned in high school or university? Most likely, not a lot. There is actually a study from 2008 that shows that university graduates forget a lot of what they learned for their majors within two years after graduating, so you can’t really assess a person based on their previous education. You have to go deeper.

Analyzing a candidate’s passions and curiosities gives you a better idea of their creative capabilities. Hobbies, especially the ones that are complicated and take up a lot of time, can actually tell you a lot about a person. For instance, the person that developed the Atari joystick was first employed since he impressed the writer with his fascination about model trains.

Creative people typically really enjoy to read, so those who are hiring should ask the potential employees what their favorite book is. The fact that a person reads, though, is a lot more crucial than what it is that they actually read.

Additionally, a good interview has weird or complicated questions. That lets the interviewers get a better understanding of their thought process. The answer that they give you isn’t the most important part. The most important part is how exactly the candidate thinks.

The writer enjoys asking the candidates how many pieces of gum they think is stuck under the table. This kind of problem allows him to see how they solve strange problems.

Additionally, don’t be content with their first answer. Keep searching for more when asking questions. For example, people typically use the word “we” when they are detailing some successes from the previous position. However, don’t just stop there. Try to figure out what and how they exactly helped with that success. Were they the leader or did they have a smaller position in it?

Create an atmosphere that’s conducive to innovation

When Steve Wozniak was younger, he was a big fan of pranks. One time, he rewired the phone numbers of both airport hotel and taxi services with his friends’ numbers. Can you even imagine their shock when they started getting phone calls about wanting to get a room or a taxi.

Funny pranks such as the one above play a big part on a team. Pranks tend to cheer up the environment and allows people to take themselves a little less seriously. This is crucial since those who feel more at ease, feel better about taking risks. This is very important for creativity.

There are a lot of ways to cultivate this type of environment. One nice way is to throw parties. They are perfect for promoting creativity. Don’t forget that innovation doesn’t constantly come from the head. There’s just as much of a chance for it to come from the chairman of the board as it can come from the janitor. During parties, people talk to one another about their ideas without any boundaries and the outcome can be something spectacular.

For instance, one time at an Atari party, staff members started to think about how fun it would be to have a competition against one another. This caused them to create Indy 8, which is an eight person racing simulator. Indy 8 was once reported to have been making one million dollars each year.

Parties also help eliminate some tensions at the office. If your staff have a lot of anxiety or are feeling really stressed, they won’t be capable of creating good ideas. Therefore, make sure to offer them a decent amount of holidays. It would be even better to give them random days off every so often. Only notify them a couple of days before hand so that it’s more of a surprise, which will bring them more excitement.

Additionally, you should encourage fairness within the workplace. This is critical for any type of workplace. For example, the writer constantly attempts to give Atari staff as much credit as possible for their ideas. Giving people credit where they deserve it gives them the validation that they need which helps them continue to keep contributing in the long run. They’ll want to keep doing so if they know that their hard work will be paid off and acknowledged.

Use a management structure that promotes creativity instead of stifling it

Have you ever had a manager that looked after their staff as if they were kids? How did that make you feel? That kind of management is never actually beneficial, though. In fact, it shatters the creativity of your team.

Managers have to treat those that are under them just like adults and also assist them with making their ideas come true. In fact, they need to get rid of the hurdles toward creativity instead of keep them or add onto them.

One productive way that managers can eliminate the number of hurdles that there are is by introducing the team to future projects a lot earlier. Creative people are constantly thinking about so many issues simultaneously and most of the time it happens subconsciously. If they have a lot of time to think about a new project, then they’ll have awesome ideas right when the wheels actually start turning.

For example, the writer let his staff know six weeks prior to when they had to begin to alter their games for the European market. When the time actually came, they had already researched the European market standards and brainstormed a few methods to get into it.

It’s also crucial for managers to have their own input into the creative process. They have to do a lot more than just shoot down ideas. Managers that constantly only dismiss the ideas of their staff is not beneficial in any way.

The writer had a policy at Attari that did not let manager’s say the word “no” to any ideas. On the contrary, they were supposed to suggest ways to make them better or find the best parts to the idea. This initially made the managers nervous but in the end, they had to become more creative.

If the managers disapproved anything, then they could write down their opinions and then they’d have to take full accountability for them. The disapprovals are a lot more thought out and accurate, so then they would be more effective.

Encourage your employees to take risks, and reward their bad ideas and failures

Do you remember the last time that you had taken a risk. Did it scare you? A lot of people steer clear from risks since they’re too cautious about all that can happen.

People have this same feeling when they are are at work. That doesn’t seem right, though, since the only way that a business can succeed or thrive is by taking risks. Fortunately, you can encourage a productive environment of risk-taking and you won’t harm the business whatsoever as long as you do it the right way.

Taking risks are crucial if you want to succeed. The founder of Dyson, James Dyson, took a giant risk when they went four million dollars in debt when they were making his revolutionary vacuum cleaner. It turned out for the better since his company is now worth two billion dollars.

Businesses also have to praise their failures so that teams won’t be scared to take risks. The restaurant chain, Chuck E. Cheese, was actually started by the author. Here, the regional managers would get an unordinary award for the biggest fail of the last quarter. They would get a tin of turkey. Therefore, if you laugh at a failure, it’s not as painful.

Additionally, failures are a nice way to learn. Lisa, which was the first Apple computer, was a fail since it was slow and pricey. No one wanted to buy it. Apple learned from that fail, though, and ended up making the better version, Mac. It was a wild success.

There are a number of things that you can do to make sure that the risks don’t endanger the life of your business. Attempt to make many small risks, on the contrary to a couple of large ones. Analyze your risks to see how much you can actually lose.

In 1984, Bushnell figured this out when he had put all of his fortune into creating a robot that was meant to be both a pet and a helper. The project did not succeed due to technical difficulties. He almost endured a complete loss. Since that time, he has never chosen to risk any more than 10% of his budget on new ideas. Therefore, if something doesn’t succeed, don’t give up. Just use that experience to learn from it and implement what you learnt in the future.

Promote strategies and habits that induce creativity

Did you ever having that feeling where you felt as if you didn’t have any more ideas or imagination? A lot of people definitely have. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to boost or bring back, so to speak, your creativity. Businesses and people alike can bring them into the work environment.

When you no longer have that creative flow within you, alter something within your everyday life. When you change things up, you activate your mind, which could potentially help you lead the way for new ideas.

When Frank Zappa felt that he was running low on ideas, he forced himself to wake up an hour earlier each day. Fast forward 12 days later, he woke up at 8pm. He stated that the change in his schedule was exactly what he needed to get his creativity flowing once more.

Occasionally, adjusting your environment will do the job. For example, Bushnell got the idea for his initial automotive navigation system when he was on a boat on the Pacific Ocean.

Additionally, you can jumpstart your imagination by attempting to try something new out. Try rolling a dice to figure out what you will do next. This occasionally leads you to giving awesome things a try that you wouldn’t have tried out on your own.

Once, Bushnell wrote down a list of things that you could possibly accomplish. Then, he rolled a dice to choose one. The list had some crazy tasks such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and skydiving. However, the dice landed on writing a book, so that’s exactly what he did.

Lastly, when you are trying to come up with fresh, new item ideas, don’t be afraid of the ones that are expensive for consumers because you can just market the first models for wealthy consumers.

People with money can afford close to anything, so first create your items for them. As soon as the item is successful, you can start to lower the price so that others can buy it as well.

In Paris during the 1860s, this is exactly what happened when the bicycle was invented. It was initially very expensive and only the upper-class bought them. It stayed a luxury product until the beginning of the 20th century. The bike had to go through that period prior to turning into its basic design that we know it as today.

Final Summary

The most crucial part of any company is creativity. If you want to be successful, you should go out and find creative people. Don’t be bothered about whether they seem weird on the outside. Make an office space that will make your team feel comfortable expressing themselves and trying out their ideas. Also, make it a fun place to be. As long as you cultivate talented people correctly, the outcome could possibly be life changing for both parties.

Practical advice:

Give your employees a reward when they fail.

Don’t punish anyone for trying to take a risk because only by taking risks, will your business succeed. On the contrary, promote risk taking. Should it not work out, treat it as a learning experience. If you reward your staff for their failures, they won’t be as afraid to try out new ideas in the long run. Also, cope with failure by laughing it off.

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