Edison Could Work at Google!

Yeah baby, Thomas Edison could certainly work at Google. The notoriously imaginative and cutting edge company would welcome him with open arms, even though he never got past third grade before being educated at home by his mother.

In a bold interview with the New York Times, Google talked about what traits it looks for when hiring talent; and if colleges and high schools are listening, it might give them cause to re-consider how they teach tomorrow’s talent. Laszlo Bock, their senior VP of people operations lists five attributes – in this order – they look for in new hires; regardless of whether a candidate has a formal college degree or not:

  1. Learning ability-to process on the fly; to synthesize data/information from many sources [it’s not simply IQ]
  2. Emergent leadership-not traditional leadership; knowing when to lead and when to step back and follow others
  3. Working together to solve problems-owning the problem and dynamic teamwork
  4. Intellectual humility and knowing how to learn from failure
  5. Expertise is OK, but people with drive and desire can easily overcome this.

In the Google world, one’s college degree is not a guarantee of performing well on-the-job. It is not about what you know, but what you can do with what you know, i.e. the ability to find utility for great ideas and create wealth for the company; to help strategically position it to compete in a globally competitive world. If you can perform this kind of magic with what you know, Google does not care if your earned that ability behind a desk in college or working in the real world and never got a college degree.

Edison Could Work at Google!Thomas Edison thought this way about the talent he hired as well. Many a college educated man applying for a job at the legendary Edison West Orange Labs left disappointed when a non-college man, or technician, walked away with the job they had hoped to attain. Old Tom even had a controversial test he administered to whoever came seeking employment.

Tom’s mom, Nancy Elliot Edison, encouraged Tom to practice some simple rules, which he felt greatly aided his long life of uncommon success. She always impressed upon him:

  • Read, read, read … everything not just what you like. Appreciate all literature.
  • Do not be afraid to fail-learn from it. Keep trying.
  • Not everything that is valuable comes from books-experience the world.
  • Never stop learning!

We think Google would agree.

Tom’s experiments in his basement lab of the modest Milan, Ohio home he grew-up in was a source of trepidation for his father Samuel. There was plenty of noise, strange equipment, “pops and bangs”, and ever-present odors; but his normal-school-trained mother knew well the young man’s sense of curiosity and drive would soon find true direction … with some gentle encouragement. She certainly was right.

So Mr. Bock, when should Tom report for work? Might we suggest his mother may be available as well…maybe a kind of consultant role?

Check out Google’s doodle in celebration of Thomas Edison’s 164th birthday in 2011.

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine“Our schools are not teaching students to think. It is astonishing how many young people have difficulty in putting their brains definitely and systematically to work …”

Time® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.


Edison Invention Challenge – 2014 Awards

Thirty-six teams of students came to compete in the fourth annual Thomas Edison Invention Challenge. Students ranging from 5th grade to high school, participated in this popular invention competition. Last year twenty-seven teams were involved.

Held on the campus of New Jersey Institute of Technology [NJIT] on Saturday, March 29th, 2014, this energy technology themed competition capped 4 months of work by the student teams. Teams from all over northern and central New Jersey and Staten Island got up bright and early to bring their inventions and excitement to NJIT. Judges examined each team entry and interviewed them to learn the specifics of their creations. Here below are photos and explanations of the winning entries and teams. In addition to the three top-ranking awards highlighted below, each judge gave out an honorable mention award to a deserving team in a special category.

1st Place Team from Northern Highlands Regional High School -Invented a Solar Survival Kit

1st Place Team from Northern Highlands Regional High School – Invented a Solar Survival Kit

2nd Place Team from High Point Regional High School aka “The Green Team” - Invented the Eye in the Sky, a fuel cell/battery powered quad-copter for surveillance

2nd Place Team from High Point Regional High School aka “The Green Team” – Invented the Eye in the Sky, a fuel cell/battery powered quad-copter for surveillance

3rd Place Team from Waldwick High School aka “Team Warriors” - Invented a Solar Cooler

3rd Place Team from Waldwick High School aka “Team Warriors” – Invented a Solar Cooler

Great work student teams! Thomas Edison would be proud. To see more pictures from this event, visit and ‘like’ our Facebook page.

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine“Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.


Thomas Edison – Humanitarian

In 1996, Life Magazine proclaimed Thomas Edison the “Man of the Millennium’ … not the decade or century, but the millennium-1,000 years! That is a very bold statement, not spoken lightly. Recently, Time magazine has also lavishly spoken of the relevance and importance of Thomas Edison.

Thomas Edison - HumanitarianHis exploits and value to the American economy and society are legendary-the man who gave us motion pictures, phonograph, the light bulb and electric power industry, vastly improved telephones, and commercial R&D labs that Fortune 500 companies use to give birth to an endless march of new products. He is the man most associated with technology based progress. Many years after the creation of these products his accomplishments are still responsible for one-tenth of our gross national product today, as well as about one-fourth of all the jobs on the planet.

Digging a bit deeper into Edison the man, there is much to learn about his humanity, starting with this quote:

“My desire is to do everything within my power to free people from drudgery and create the largest measure of happiness and prosperity.”

This is a powerful message for peace through prosperity, linking technological progress and society’s well-being, something Edison felt viscerally.

“The world owes nothing to any man, but every man owes something to the world.”

How many realize his other humanitarian efforts like:

  • Philanthropic activities engaged in by he and his dear wife Mina, spanning the gamut from civic to national causes, especially education
  • Work during WWI with the US Navy to reduce the impacts of the German U-boat scourge
  • Loaning free of charge his patents to Marconi to begin the development of radio telegraphy/wireless and later radio
  • Allowing the free use of his fluoroscope patent(s) for medical use
  • Promoting the use of solar energy [as early as 1910] as a new energy resource

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.”

  • Biomass farming to develop plant species for making artificial rubber
  • Use of natural materials in his inventions as much as possible
  • Development of low cost concrete houses to address housing shortages.

And these humanitarian aspects of Edison kept on in the family:

  • Son Charles, governor of NJ, Secretary of the Navy, patron of the arts
  • Son Theodore, ardent environmentalist- like his mother Mina, protector of riparian lands in Fl and GA, and anti-war advocate
  • The Edison family gave freely and generously of themselves to the country.

And after Thomas Edison’s death, his family gave his invention factory and their Glenmont home to the American people, to celebrate Dad’s work and as a classroom for future entrepreneurs. Humanitarian principles ran deep in the Edison family.

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said … “My main purpose in life is to make enough money to create ever more inventions … The dove is my emblem … I want to save and advance human life, not destroy it … I am proud of the fact that I have never invented weapons to kill …“

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.