How Google Works

The rules for success in the Internet Century

by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg, with Alan Eagle

HOW GOOGLE WORKS is an entertaining, page-turning primer containing lessons that Google Executive Chairman and ex-CEO Eric Schmidt and former SVP of Products Jonathan Rosenberg learned as they helped build the company.

 

The authors explain how technology has shifted the balance of power from companies to consumers, and that the only way to succeed in this ever-changing landscape is to create superior products and attract a new breed of multifaceted employees whom Eric and Jonathan dub "smart creatives."

 

Covering topics including corporate culture, strategy, talent, decision-making, communication, innovation, and dealing with disruption, the authors illustrate management maxims with numerous insider anecdotes from Google’s history.

 

In an era when everything is speeding up, the best way for businesses to succeed is to attract smart-creative people and give them an environment where they can thrive at scale. HOW GOOGLE WORKS explains how to do just that.

 

The Authors

 

Eric SchmidtEric Schmidt

Eric served as Google’s CEO from 2001 to 2011. During that time he shepherded the company’s growth from a Silicon Valley start-up to a global technology leader that today has over $55 billion in annual revenues and offices in more than 40 countries. Eric is now Google’s executive chairman.

 

Jonathan RosenbergJonathan Rosenberg

Jonathan joined Google in 2002 and managed the design and development of the company’s consumer, advertiser, and partner products, including Search, Ads, Gmail, Android, Apps, and Chrome. He is currently an advisor to Google CEO Larry Page.

 

Alan EagleAlan Eagle

Alan Eagle has been a Director of Executive Communications at Google since joining the company in 2007. In that role, he led speechwriting and other communication activities for several Google executives, including Eric and Jonathan.

What's happening now

@ericschmidt
16 Sep 2014
RT @jjrosenberg: A few highlights from some of my favorite (actually fun) offsites. #howgoogleworks http://t.co/KHLyqC1MAq http://t.co/8…

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Jonathan Rosenberg
16 Sep 2014


A few highlights from some of my favorite (actually fun) offsites. What made them work? Great people, a trip to an interesting place folks might not otherwise visit, and the opportunity for people to pour a bucket of water over my head. 

#howgoogleworks #fun #culture #google

www.HowGoogleWorks.net

Clockwise from top: squirt gun fight in Santa Cruz, trekking up to Pinnacles National Monument, giving +Marissa Mayer  an extra push down the hill in the Santa Cruz mountains, getting a well-deserved bucket of water poured over my head, heading out to see the elephant seals in Año Nuevo State Park, and getting a stern talking to from the police about bicycle safety. 

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+24 | 0 comments | 2 shares
Jonathan Rosenberg
15 Sep 2014


You know what isn’t fun? Attending most “Fun!” corporate events.

You know what really is fun? Losing a bet to the Google Marketing team and having to wash a mud-splattered, white stretch Hummer with a garden hose while they pelt you with water balloons.  Cindy McCaffrey, still not sure where you found so much mud!

In a company, fun is like innovation: it should come from everywhere.  So set the boundaries of what is permissible as broadly as possible.

What’s your favorite moment of actual fun (not Fun) at work?

#HowGoogleWorks #culture #fun #google

www.HowGoogleWorks.net

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+44 | 1 comments | 12 shares
@ericschmidt
12 Sep 2014


The case of the smiley killer - or why we kept @jjrosenberg very far away from #ProjectLoon: https://t.co/4SY5Y25YxC #HowGoogleWorks

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38 favourites | 38 retweets
Jonathan Rosenberg
12 Sep 2014


Thanks +Wesley Chan   for helping me see the error in my ways. I can attest that no more smiley balloons have been harmed since I first saw this video.

Great to see how well things have gone for the Googlers in the video, +Ninette Wong +Brian Rakowski +Susan Wojcicki +Salar Kamangar  since my orientation into Google culture! And of course, it's wonderful to see former Google super star and now Yahoo CEO +Marissa Mayer  doing splendidly too!

#HowGoogleWorks #google #culture #fun



Eric Schmidt originally shared:

In the early days of Google, every new employee got a smiley helium balloon to put in their office. This was fun, and made it easy to spot the Nooglers. Then a certain head of products (+Jonathan Rosenberg ), decided that he could accelerate the Nooglers' entry into the company by popping the balloons.  

As you can see from this video, made by a concerned Googler (Wesley Chan) back in 2003, we tried many tactics to stop the carnage and even considered starting a new company (balloogle?) to develop Jonathan-proof smiley balloons. In the end, it was the video itself that did the trick. Humor can be a very effective way to get Hippos to correct a wayward course.

This video has never been published outside the company. Enjoy!

#HowGoogleWorks #culture #fun #google

www.HowGoogleWorks.net

How Google Works: Jonathan Rosenberg Rampages the Smilies

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+57 | 3 comments | 9 shares
@ericschmidt
10 Sep 2014
Good words from @JJRosenberg: create opportunities for people to express the things they love. http://t.co/HD6zihbiCQ #HowGoogleWorks

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33 favourites | 45 retweets
@ericschmidt
10 Sep 2014
RT @jjrosenberg: Passionate people don’t wear their passion on their sleeves. #HowGoogleWorks http://t.co/KHLyqC1MAq http://t.co/iXnmmGOmL2

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Jonathan Rosenberg
10 Sep 2014


Last week +Eric Schmidt  and I had the fun opportunity to chat with Christopher Tkaczyk from +Fortune Magazine  about our new book How Google Works. We talked a lot about culture and hiring, but the book covers plenty more. 

What other questions about running a business in today’s climate would you have asked if you'd been able to join the interview? Let me know, and I'll try and answer a few!

#HowGoogleWorks #interview #culture #hiring #google

http://fortune.com/2014/09/04/how-google-works/

www.HowGoogleWorks.net

VIEW ON GOOGLE+
+53 | 6 comments | 27 shares
@ericschmidt
09 Sep 2014
For @Google, success in a new area means we grow the pie. #HowGoogleWorks http://t.co/5b6Rf6OYmR

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161 favourites | 225 retweets
Jonathan Rosenberg
09 Sep 2014


When +Google  takes on a new venture, we aim for success by making great products and working hard to expand people’s access to them.

Take +Android  for example. When we launched the first Android release in 2008, only a few million people had access to smartphones (essentially iPhone owners). Fast forward six years and more than 1 billion people now have the power of a supercomputer in their pockets, thanks to Android. A glance around most major cities will tell you that the iPhone and iPad aren’t doing too badly either. In my book, that’s a win for everyone.

#HowGoogleWorks #android #google #apple #iphone

www.HowGoogleWorks.net

VIEW ON GOOGLE+
+42 | 2 comments | 12 shares
Jonathan Rosenberg
09 Sep 2014


Every company wants to hire passionate people. They tend to be persistent in the face of hardship, serious about completing projects, and able to channel the kind of all-encompassing absorption necessary for tackling big goals.

But asking someone what they’re passionate about or trying to glean it from their resume will usually only tell you what they think you want to hear.

Passionate people don’t wear their passion on their sleeves, they have it in their hearts. So create opportunities for people to express the things they love. The truly passionate ones will gladly talk your ear off if given the chance. Don’t believe me? Just try to get +Andy Rubin  to stop talking about robots, or +Eric Schmidt  to stop rambling about aviation or +Wayne Rosing to stop wishing for 'clear skies' and talking about telescopes and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

#HowGoogleWorks #passion #hiring #culture #google

www.HowGoogleWorks.net

VIEW ON GOOGLE+
+105 | 18 comments | 85 shares
@ericschmidt
05 Sep 2014
RT @jjrosenberg: Culture is difficult thing to get right. A friend found his old Lehman Brother's Mission. Awful. #HowGoogleWorks http://t…

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Jonathan Rosenberg
04 Sep 2014


When I became CEO of Novell in 1997, I got some great advice from Bill Gates on how to manage the company.  He said, “spend 80 percent of your time on 80 percent of your revenue.”  Not only was this great advice about focusing on the most important parts of your current business, it also spoke to the paramount importance of revenue as a business metric.

Why revenue? I like to say, “revenue solves all known problems,” because it’s the one metric that project managers and company executives can’t game. Earnings (basically revenue minus costs) on the other hand, is subject to all kinds of accounting and management antics.  Is top-line revenue growth looking a little meager?  Just boost those earnings by hiring fewer new software engineers, putting off that important R&D project, or switching from LIFO inventory accounting to FIFO.  See why managing to your quarterly earnings is a problem?


#HowGoogleWorks #google #accounting #business #management

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+73 | 4 comments | 10 shares
Jonathan Rosenberg
04 Sep 2014


Culture is an incredibly difficult thing for companies to change once it’s been established, so it’s important to define yours early. Your mission statement should capture the founding team’s vision, setting the tone for what the company will focus on and how it will behave.

Too many companies’ missions read like a group of marketing and communications people got together one night with a six-pack and a thesaurus!

+Alan Eagle  and I gave our high school buddy, David Staley (formerly of Lehman Brothers) an early draft of our book. That weekend after reading the section on culture, he surprised us with this photo of the Lehman Brothers mission statement, which he dug out of a box in his garage.  It’s one of my favorite useless mission statements. What are some of yours? 

#HowGoogleWorks #culture #lehmanbrothers

www.HowGoogleWorks.net

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+121 | 16 comments | 64 shares
@ericschmidt
03 Sep 2014
I like to say “revenue solves all known problems" it’s the one metric that PMs and execs can’t game. #HowGoogleWorks http://t.co/JubnIbY9H5

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100 favourites | 152 retweets
@ericschmidt
03 Sep 2014
RT @jjrosenberg: Difficult people can be the ones you need. I call them divas. So exile knaves, but fight for divas! #HowGoogleWorks http:/…

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0 favourites | 51 retweets
@ericschmidt
02 Sep 2014
Company character is the sum of its employees, which is why you root out people with low integrity. #HowGoogleWorks http://t.co/l7Qn7BF3oI

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199 favourites | 282 retweets
Jonathan Rosenberg
02 Sep 2014


Not all difficult employees are knaves. In fact, some of most difficult are exactly the people you should fight to keep. I call them the divas. So exile knaves, but fight for divas!

Whereas knaves act the way they do because of low integrity, divas do it because of high exceptionalism. They’re extraordinarily talented and think they’re better than the team (and they usually are!), but they still want the team to win. What’s important is that their contributions match or exceed their egos.

Who qualifies as a diva? Here are a few of my favorites. Who are yours?

Clockwise from center right: Steve Jobs, founder and former chairman and CEO of Apple; Serena Williams, tennis pro; Kobe Bryant, NBA superstar; Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue magazine; and James Cameron, director of Titanic and Avatar.

#HowGoogleWorks #culture #divas

www.HowGoogleWorks.net

VIEW ON GOOGLE+
+49 | 8 comments | 36 shares
Jonathan Rosenberg
29 Aug 2014


h/t to +Canva  and my long time friend and Google supporter +Guy Kawasaki  for showing us the cool Canva tool to make the images below.



Eric Schmidt originally shared:

The character of a company is the sum total of the characters of its people, which is why it’s so important to root out the people with low integrity.  (We call them knaves.)

In the movies, it’s easy to spot a knave, but how do you spot a knave at work? Look for the guy who spills coffee and doesn't clean up. Or the manager who takes the credit for her team’s work. And especially the gossip who spends lunch tearing down his coworkers behind their backs.

How have you spotted a knave at work?  Reply with the telltale signs you've seen around the office.

#howgoogleworks #culture #integrity

VIEW ON GOOGLE+
+29 | 2 comments | 8 shares
Jonathan Rosenberg
27 Aug 2014


In an age where information, reach and computing power have become abundant and inexpensive, the talent for using these resources effectively has itself become the scarce resource.  Smart creatives -- not traditional business managers -- excel at building things using information and computing power, so they’re the kind of people you need on your team.

Who are these smart creatives? They’re the product-minded people who combine technical knowledge, business expertise, and creativity. Armed with abundant data, access to customers, and powerful analytical tools, they have everything they need to design, build and improve products rapidly.

#howgoogleworks

www.HowGoogleWorks.net

VIEW ON GOOGLE+
+278 | 10 comments | 185 shares
@ericschmidt
27 Aug 2014
RT @jjrosenberg: Smart creatives build things using information and computing power. You need them on your team. #HowGoogleWorks http://t.c…

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0 favourites | 95 retweets
Jonathan Rosenberg
26 Aug 2014


Playing catch-up with the competition can only ever help you make incremental gains. It will never help you create something new.

It’s important to understand what’s going on around you, but the best way to stay ahead is a laser focus on building great products that people need.

#howgoogleworks #innovation

www.HowGoogleWorks.net

VIEW ON GOOGLE+
+65 | 7 comments | 18 shares
@ericschmidt
26 Aug 2014
Playing catch-up with the competition will never help you get ahead by creating something new. #HowGoogleWorks http://t.co/AFfVKQ9m80

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266 favourites | 454 retweets
Jonathan Rosenberg
25 Aug 2014


I have spent time working with leaders at Motorola over the past couple of years, and got to work with +Regina Dugan first-hand. We have some interesting insights from her in our book, so I was happy to see her and the ATAP team getting some coverage in Fortune.

The article mentions Windy Day, an immersive video short made uniquely for mobile and available on Moto phones. Regina’s team had the technical insight that the graphic capabilities of our phones were substantial, but mostly underutilized. How could we use those capabilities to do something great?

There were a lot of barriers, technical and political, but the small team fought through them and the result is a new way to show rich animations on a small screen. Small team + technical insight + perseverance in the face of failures = a compelling product, with more to come.  Keep it up, Regina!  

#howgoogleworks #motorola #technology

http://fortune.com/2014/08/14/google-goes-darpa/

Motorola Spotlight Stories presents: Windy Day

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+80 | 2 comments | 20 shares
@ericschmidt
25 Aug 2014


RT @jjrosenberg: Fortune article includes Windy Day from Regina Dugan's ATAP team. #howgoogleworks http://t.co/1ymtnhCI4O https://t.co/n…

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Jonathan Rosenberg
23 Aug 2014


When Google went public ten years ago this month, our founders wanted to include a "letter to" in the prospectus, a sort of “owner’s manual” for people considering investing in the company. The SEC wasn’t crazy about the idea, mostly because it was so unorthodox, but after a bit of back and forth they decided it was ok.

In our book, How Google Works, we talk about how critical it is for companies to think about their culture. To this day, Larry and Sergey’s IPO letter is the single best explanation of Google’s. While some of its details are dated, and we haven’t always been perfect in living up to its high standards, the letter and its values (ex. "Serving end users"; "Long term focus"; "Our employees...are everything") still guide us today. #HowGoogleWorks

https://investor.google.com/corporate/2004/ipo-founders-letter.html

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+45 | 1 comments | 11 shares
@ericschmidt
23 Aug 2014
RT @jjrosenberg: What are some of your favorite "Technical Insights" I posted some of my thoughts here. https://t.co/FKvvHRF2nk #howgooglew…

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0 favourites | 16 retweets
"The only way for businesses to consistently succeed is to attract the best smart creatives and create an environment where they can thrive at scale."
"Businesses should be built on a strong set of strategic principles, not an MBA-style plan that’s bound to fail."
"When considering candidates for a role, favor the ones with a track record of learning new things over the ones with a track record in that particular role."
"Think 10X, not 10%. Global scale is available to just about everyone. But too many people are stuck in the old, limited mindset."
"It’s very hard to completely fail when you think big, since you can always salvage something of value from a project with big goals."
 
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