This week’s conversation is with inventor and entrepreneur Nolan Bushnell.

In 1972 Nolan created an industry when he founded Atari and gave the world Pong, the first blockbuster video game.

Today his design credo—that games should be “easy to learn and difficult to master”—is inspiring a new generation of developers.

A prolific entrepreneur, Nolan has started more than 20 companies, including Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theater, Catalyst Technologies, the first Silicon Valley incubator, and Etak, the first in-car navigation system.

In the process, he pioneered many of the workplace innovations that have made Silicon Valley a long-standing magnet for creative talent.

Nolan was the first and only person ever to hire Steve Jobs, which he details in his 2013 book, Finding the Next Steve Jobs.

His latest startups are ModalVR, which offers wireless, multiplayer VR entertainment systems for turn-key commercial use, and X2 Games, an independent game publisher focused on Blockchain Technology.

A true icon of the digital revolution, Nolan was named one of “50 People Who Changed America” by Newsweek.

Currently a biopic about Nolan, tentatively titled “Atari”, was acquired by Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company and is in pre- production.

Nolan is an absolute legend and I can’t wait for you to learn from him.

“I try very hard to not live life in the rear view mirror. I look at that as something nice, but what’s much more interesting to me is what I’m working on now.”

In This Episode:

  • Growing up with an entrepreneurial spirit and knowing he was different from an early age
  • Mom introduced him to science fiction and that got him excited about the future
  • How developing an early sense of cleverness helped with entrepreneurship later on
  • Mrs. Cook’s third grade class changed him
  • Learning to play chess and how it taught him to plan into the future
  • Why he’s an avid supporter of traveling like a peasant and attending trade shows
  • The key to being married for 40+ years
  • When it comes to business, what are the qualities that set him apart from the rest?
  • The marination pile
  • Why he cares more about passion than experience
  • His strategy for avoiding burnout
  • His experience working with Steve Jobs
  • What determines a successful business in his eyes
  • The game “Go” – why it’s his favorite
  • BrainRush…how it’s changing the way we learn
  • Why he’s not a fan of the American education system
  • How to better understand who you are


Listen via: Apple Podcasts | Android | SpotifyStitcher | Pocket Casts |  RSS



“One of the things about innovation is that experience doesn’t help that much, because we’re figuring new stuff out.”

“If you’re a surgeon, you need a lot of experience, but when you’re doing a brand new company in a marketplace that previously hasn’t existed, anybody with passion is probably at the same starting light.”

“It all comes down to getting off your ass and doing something.”

“Wisdom is knowing yourself.”


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Nolan Bushnell is an American businessman and electrical engineer. He established Atari, Inc. and the Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre chain.