“Most people believe that they will wake up one day and find themselves rich. They have it half right...

Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) American Inventor

Posted on
December 29, 2021
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One might surmise, given these two quotes, that Edison did not like people.  Frankly, you would be right.  Edison had little regard for people and, in fact, locked himself away in his laboratory just to avoid them – and that included his own family.  In addition to his reclusiveness, Edison also had a nasty side.  To that point, he had developed DC (direct current) at the same time Westinghouse was focusing on bringing AC (alternating current) to the market.  And the two got into a battle over which method would become commercially accepted.  Westinghouse took the “high road” in their marketing but the same cannot be said for Edison. In fact, in an attempt to prove his DC solution was best, Edison started publicly electrocuting hundreds of animals using AC power – including Topsy the elephant.  He even went so far as to use the marketing line “Do you want the electrocutioner’s current in your child’s bedroom wall?”  Edison knew he was wrong about his DC power (he later admitted such) but electrocuted the animals anyways.

Despite his rather ruthless side, Edison did contribute to society in significant ways.  He developed and held over 1,000patents and established the world’s first corporate research and development laboratory (in Menlo Park near Newark, NJ).

And he also did one more thing that people might not know. Exactly 100 years ago this year, in 1921, he developed an interviewing system that asked multiple questions which were not directly related to a specific job.  This approach, which focused on quizzing candidates with questions that could not be rehearsed in advance, was so effective that he was able to hire some very bright engineers and scientists who were pivotal to Edison’s success.  It might be somewhat ironic that the apparently unique interview methods Simpson Associates uses, which form part of its methodology in achieving its first-class results (without incorporating Edison’s vile side!), were actually being applied100 years ago.

Born 174 years ago, Edison (who did not invent the light bulb) was a maladjusted genius who, somewhat ironically, used his intellect for the benefit of the very people he despised!  

Perform better!

Posted on
December 29, 2021
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