Being an academic superstar is great, but the unemployment line is full of straight A students who couldn’t hack it on the job. The skills that served them well in school -- following directions, writing papers, sitting still -- were not enough for the new game being played around them.
After years of paying attention to things that don’t predict extraordinary performance, Google has finally identified what does. Not coincidentally, they are the same entrepreneurial traits students develop by taking a self-taught, exam-based path to graduation.
What companies like Google are really looking for is the kind of person who takes ownership of a project and knocks it out of the park. Too often, meetings go nowhere because employees tiptoe around problems, hiding behind deflective statements like “let’s ask the boss” or “someone needs to figure this out.” (“Someone”, of course, meaning “anyone but me.”) These employees would rather be stagnant than risk embarrassment. The best employees think of solutions and move forward even if they might be wrong later on.