Nolan Bushnell at a glance

Nolan Bushnell is a technology pioneer, entrepreneur and engineer. Often cited as the father of the video game industry, he is best known as the founder of Atari Corporation and Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theater. Atari Over the past four decades he has founded numerous companies, including Catalyst Technologies, the first technology incubator; Etak, the first digital navigation system; ByVideo, the first online ordering system; and uWink, the first touchscreen menu ordering and entertainment system, among others. Currently, with his new company, Brainrush, he is devoting his talents to enhancing and improving the educational process by integrating the latest in brain science. Additionally, he enjoys motivating and inspiring others in his speeches on entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation and education.



For many years I have been ask to be part of a creative session for some of the major corporations. It turns out that many companies think of themselves as not being particularly creative. Often it is the corporate culture that kills off the natural creativity that exists in any group. The more political the corporate environment the less creativity issues forth and why government is so bad at innovating. Creativity is about risk. The higher the risk there are more reasons to say no to innovation. Often the companies whose markets are going away and customers defecting are the ones that need new solutions but because of fear they cannot make changes. I call these frozen stick crashes. When the plane is heading for the ground the last thing a pilot should do is nothing.

I have taken a room full of “non creative” business people and by the time we leave (sometimes late into the night) we have a totally new business direction that promises to create a new direction and product line that in some cases has saved a company. Some of the tricks that I use is the following:

  • Get rid of the politics. (very hard in some companies) but one way is to ask everyone to think of the craziest idea for their business. With a prize to the one with the most far out idea.

  • List them on a white board or PowerPonint slide (I usually have an interactive slideshow) and go through each one asking everyone how they would implement these nutty ideas if they were forced. Often the very solution comes from one of the nutty ideas taken seriously.

  • Who will be your competition in 5 years. What will the competitions business look like in 5 years.

  • What are the core capabilities of your company and how far can it reach keeping either market, technology, or resources constant.

For individuals that want to start their own company the creative idea can often come from your team. (Get your team before you start and use them as part of the early brain trust)

Go to trade shows other than the the target business. It is amazing how many good ideas that are common practice in one industry are totally absent in another.

Look at two businesses and ask what a mashup of the two businesses would be. This can be very surprising.

My favorite statement is that “Anyone that has had a shower has had a good idea, it is the one that does something when they get out that make the difference.

Take a Shower.

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Meet Nolan

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