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DBC - "How Google Works" by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg

Druid’s Book Club

Quick Take: Business management lessons on how the tech giant Google has continued its dominance. I loved it.

Longer Take:

I read “How Google Works” a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that I decided to read it again.

“How Google Works” is written by a former Google CEO (Eric Schmidt) and former Google Head of Products (Jonathan Rosenberg). The book contains lessons from a decade at one of the most successful companies in history. They touch on an array of topics that they believe have contributed to Google’s success – Culture, strategy, innovation, talent management, etc. The book revolves around the idea that a business’s success in the information age hinges on its ability to attract and motivate the best and brightest (what they call “smart creatives” – Smart people who work hard and are willing to question the status quo).

“How Google Works” is filled with invaluable wisdom for running any company (even if you are not a behemoth like Google). To illustrate these lessons, Eric & Jonathan share numerous stories from the inner workings of Google.

If you’re into business management/strategy books, I cannot recommend this one highly enough. I’ll probably read it again a few years from now.

Some of My Favourite Quotes:

“We understood … that the way to fend off Microsoft was continuous product excellence, yet we also understood that the best way to achieve that excellence was not via a prescribed business plan, but rather by hiring the very best engineers we could and then getting out of the way.”

“Messiness … is a frequent by-product of self-expression and innovation, it’s usually a good sign. And squashing it, which we’ve seen in so many companies, can have a surprisingly powerful negative effect. It’s OK to let your office be one hot mess.”

“…it is the quality of the idea that matters, not who suggests it.”

“The best cultures invite and enable people to be overworked in a good way, with too many interesting things to do both at work and at home. So if you are a manager, it’s your responsibility to keep the work part lively and full; it’s not a key component of your job to ensure that employees consistently until forty-hour workweek.”

“When Israeli tank commanders head into combat, they don’t yell “Charge!” Rather, they rally their troops by shouting “Ah’cha’rye,” which translates from Hebrew as “Follow me.” Anyone who aspires to lead smart creatives needs to adopt this attitude.”

“Giving the customer what he wants is less important then giving him what he doesn’t yet know he wants.”

“If you focus on your competition, you will never deliver anything truly innovative. … Be proud of your competition. Just don’t follow them.”

“For a manager, the right answer to the question “What is the single most important thing you do at work?” is hiring. … The higher up you go in most organizations, the more detached the executives get from the hiring process. The inverse should be true. … hiring well takes a lot of work and time. But it is the best investment you can make.”

“Favoring specialization over intelligence is exactly wrong…”

“Pay outrageously good people outrageously well, regardless of their title or tenure. What counts is their impact.”

“The best way to retain smart creatives is to not let them get too comfortable, to always come up with ways to make their jobs interesting.”

“Because people seldom leave over compensation, the first step to keeping them is to listen. They want to be heard, to be relevant and valued.”

“…the best way to avoid having to fire underperformers is not to hire them.”

“If you’re not sure if a course of action is right, the best thing you can do is try it out and then correct course.”

“One of the most important decisions any business leader makes is how to spend his or her time.”

“Innovative people do not need to be told to do it, they need to be allowed to do it.”

Druid’s Top Entrepreneurship Lesson: Hire the right people (Smart, hardworking, creative) and then give them the freedom to help make your business great.



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