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Meet Jack St. Clair Kilby
the rabbit as they stood at the base
of the Hoover Dam: ‘No, I didn’t
build it myself, but it’s based on an
idea of mine.’”
As smart as he was, as innovative
as he was, as creative as he was, Kilby
wasn’t about to accept more credit
than he deserved. Just as thousands
of people were involved in the design
and construction of the Hoover Dam,
Kilby knew that thousands of people
contributed to the digital age—with
many more yet to come.
The same principle holds true for the
business innovations and practices that
have your name on them.
It may have been your idea to carry
a certain product your customers now
can’t get enough of. You may have
decided to launch a new branch that
today generates a huge part of your
company’s total volume. You may
have been the one who started an
innovative training program, created
a winning marketing strategy or
developed a dynamite dispatching
system for your business.
But before you pat yourself on
the back, be willing—even eager—
to share the credit with others. The
General Manager, PEI
Editor in Chief, PEI Journal
WHO IS THE smartest person
you’ve ever heard of?
For me, one
be Jack St. Clair
Kilby. Ever heard of him? I hadn’t either
until I recently read about him in The
Innovators, a book by Walter Isaacson
about the dawn of the digital age.
For years, Kilby was an electrical
engineer at Texas Instruments. He was
the guy who invented the handheld
calculator and the thermal printer. A
couple of pretty big accomplishments,
by any standard. But those were just the
preliminaries. Kilby also is widely credited
as the co-inventor of the microchip, an
accomplishment for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2000.
He was, as I said, a really smart guy.
But what really impresses me about
Kilby is the speech he gave at his Nobel
Prize award ceremony. Upon hearing
the introducer proclaim that his work
had “launched the digital revolution,”
“When I hear that kind of thing, it
reminds me of what the beaver told
THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
FROM THE GENERAL MANAGER
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Associate General Counsel
And, of course, the service techs, ware-
house specialists, operators and other
employees who make it all happen.
Innovation is not a solitary pursuit.
It’s a collaborative effort. Jack St.
Clair Kilby—a very, very smart
guy—understood and embraced this
principle instinctively. And I’m betting
that’s one of the reasons he was so
You may never win the Nobel
Prize in physics. But the next time
you are commended for your work,
remember Jack St. Clair Kilby. Share
the credit with others who have paved
your way or are helping turn your
ideas into reality.