Are You Googley?
What does it mean to be googley? It’s the state of having googliness, of course, and the majority of Google employees worldwide possess its qualities. But since only Google knows for sure, here’s the rundown from former employee Jens O. Meiert.*
1. Doing the right thing.
Includes not doing anything to harm someone else or that puts another at a disadvantage.
2. Striving for excellence.
Mediocrity is not googley. At Google, unsurprisingly, you find the desire for excellence right at the core, reflected by the goal to “do one thing really, really well.”
3. Keeping an eye on the goals.
Googliness means being focused, and striking a balance between short-term and long-term objectives.
4. Being proactive.
Google’s Code of Conduct says “if something is broken, fix it.” Being proactive means anticipating moves ahead of time so as to take action preemptively. Being proactive also applies to the business itself—how can we go further, what can we do to get there? What being proactive doesn’t mean is waiting for others to make something happen.
5. Going the extra mile.
Jens’s favorite googley skill. Take the following example: Someone emails you for a project change. Such updates may normally be filed through a request management system. One response: asking the requester to file the request through said system. More googley response: filing the request oneself, and sending the requester a status update at the earliest convenience. The difference this makes is huge, yet easily overlooked.
6. Doing something nice for others, with no strings attached.
Being googley means thinking about and doing something for others, not necessarily expecting something in return.
7. Being friendly and approachable.
Google is famous for being friendly and open. Jens notes that “Googlers were at some point explicitly encouraged to just join co-workers they didn’t know for lunch, to talk to and get to know them. That certainly rings googley.” Similarly, the most successful managers at Google maintain “open door” policies; it’s googley to be friendly, open and approachable.
8. Valuing users and colleagues.
It’s googley (and something Google “knows to be true”) to put the user first, and similarly to help a co-worker. It’s not googley to let either down.
9. Being humble, and letting go of the ego.
It’s okay to talk about achievements, but it’s not googley to boast (which can be a fine line). Being googley means thinking of the users, the company, the team and then oneself. That’s accompanied by the belief that everything else, including rewards and promotions, will follow.
10. Being transparent, honest, and fair.
Non-transparency, dishonesty, unfairness and secrecy are inherently ungoogley.
11. Having a sense of humor.
It’s googley to play. (Notice the number of and great efforts behind Google’s hoaxes, jokes, and Easter eggs in this regard.)
Now, you may be asking, can googliness be taught?
Waldorf schools don’t specifically teach googliness, but execs at Google, Yahoo and Facebook recognize that what their children learn through Waldorf education boils down to the same thing: highly desirable qualities such as creativity, collaboration, innovation, internal drive and motivation, the ability to visualize problems and solutions in three dimensions and in real time, comfort with risk-taking and failure, entrepreneurship and a sense of fun and adventure. Many parents who work at Google send their children to Waldorf school since rigorous academics + arts + character education + collaborative learning = googley culture right from the start.
I spoke with Steiner School alum of the month for December 2017, Rupert Young, senior director of software engineering for data compilation and identity at Neustar, Inc., and asked him how attending a school that delays the use of technology influenced his career in Silicon Valley.
Q: Clearly you are in a high tech industry, in a high tech world. Did you find any challenge coming from the Steiner School, where children learn without digital technology?
Rupert Young: I never found any challenge. We had done a lot of math, and my Dad, in the mid-‘70s, took this correspondence course on electronics repair, and he was always fixing VCRs and TVs. There were these Heath kits that you could order by mail.
Did you build a TV?
Rupert Young: Yes, we made a TV.
That’s what they do in the Waldorf High School now, they take a computer apart and put it back together. They de-mystify it. They see that it’s actually a tool, and not magic.
Rupert Young: So even though I wasn’t learning that kind of science in school, we did observational biology, going out and drawing the different types of grains and stuff like that – I remember that particular exercise. But the math was quite strong. We finished algebra successfully enough that I was able to pass out of it when I got to Berkshire [School]…. I was always more balanced, and that is a more unique skill in my career. I have both the technical understanding as well as the business and the people understanding, which is why I’ve done quite a few different types of things. I spent most of my career not on the engineering side, despite having a master’s degree in computer science.
The honest truth is, no school can predict exactly what skills, characteristics and talents employers of the future will seek, since many of those jobs may not have been invented yet, but googliness is a good start for going just about anywhere. In fact, NPR’s Marketplace recently reported that the most “robotproof” job is entrepreneur. – Robyn Perry Coe
*Jens O. Meiert is a professional web designer, developer, and author who has until recently worked for Google. The concept of “googliness” is excerpted of Jens’ article originally published on his site and republished on Business Insider.