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.

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Google Buys Waze – for Traffic Control

A not so happy end to a long day at the office!

A not so happy end to a long day at the office!

There are about 250 million cars on the road, and if they behaved differently, that would mean some significant environmental benefits.

Waze, an Israeli start-up, recently acquired by Google for an estimated $1 billion, is an app that helps drivers avoid traffic jams-thereby saving time and fuel costs; and probably avoiding driver stress and anxiety.

A camera adjustment on a smart traffic signal

A camera adjustment on a smart traffic signal

At the University of Toronto, research is showing how artificial intelligence techniques can make traffic lights smart, self-learning from traffic pattern, and thereby allow traffic to move more smoothly on the streets. The work thus far has shown such intelligence has reduced travel times by 25%; and lowered carbon-dioxide emissions by 30%-and all that with only 59 traffic signals equipped for intelligent processing.

We can think of this as the emergence of the “smart road”, how we maximize the efficiency of moving along the roadways. This is analogous to what we know as the “smart grid”, the ability to move electricity cleanly, reliably, and efficiently along the pathways of electric utility systems.

A road train; a double truck and three cars

A road train; a double truck and three cars

How about the possibility of road trains…cars, trucks, and other vehicles linked together to travel a major arterial roadway? Maybe a professional driver is the “engineer” of this train while the other drivers simply sit there in their vehicle and enjoy the ride, read, or maybe conference call en route. Such trains have been tested in Europe at speeds of 55 mph, with measurable environmental benefits- better fuel economy because of better aerodynamics (i.e. reduced drag on individual vehicles).

What about car-sharing programs where drivers can locate unused cars in their area and rent them to move around? Whip out that smart phone, locate a dormant vehicle, sign-up to use it, unlock it via a special code, and off you go. Drop it off when done at a car-share station and you are done. Why own cars when you can rent one as needed. Keep this in mind, you only occupy your car a mere 4% of the day-if that. Think what it costs to own, maintain, and insure a car. This might be a very viable option for urban dwellers.

What you ask may be coming next? Researchers are working on driverless cars, electric vehicles that feed excess battery power back into the grid during utility emergencies, swap-out batteries for electric vehicles so battery charging time-outs are bypassed for long-distance travelers, and much more!

Editor’s Deep Dive

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said … “Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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