Second, attend a top tier "name" university like MIT, Stanford or Carnegie Mellon and major in a related discipline.
Third, do some side work in your chosen field that can be shown off to prospective employers.
Fourth, learn how to present yourself well (for interviews and such).
That's generally speaking, of course. Exceptions exist.
I think every engineer should at least do some mock interviews on data structures, algos, and system design (there are TONS) of free study resources and then do a round of interviews. You only need one yes.
Sounds like this is not possible without years of exposure to events that force you to this situation. How else would you learn to act like that?
Regarding being "smart": How do you define this? For example, I got a CS degree from a second tier Engineering school. But I was a B-/C+ student. Do I meet the criteria for being "smart" or just lazy?
>Second, attend a top tier "name" university like MIT, Stanford or Carnegie Mellon and major in a related discipline.
Is this a hard requirement? What do these schools do that others don't? Is the exposure to other top tier people a necessary requirement from a skills perspective?
>Third, do some side work in your chosen field that can be shown off to prospective employers.
How do you choose a field that leads to the original goal: "the very good engineers, the ones who could truly help build a tech company from the ground up from day 1, were getting offers so exorbitant they could not possibly fathom to turn them down."
Tech is such a diverse field. There are so many paths to take, none of which guarantee I will reach this outcome. I could become a rock star developer having developed tons of apps, but is that the right path? Or will it lead me to a cubicle job?
>Fourth, learn how to present yourself well (for interviews and such).
This seems like just a lot of practice. Maybe even requiring growing up in a very socially active lifestyle. The opposite for people who sacrifice everything to become great at something eg. programming.
Its looking as if you need to be in a narrowly defined path that needs to either be decided when you are born or you adopt very quickly at a young age in order to accomplish all your steps.