Book suggestion: How Google Works

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The author of this book, Eric Schmidt was the CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011 and is now the chairman of Alphabet, the parent company that owns Google. Alphabet was the biggest donor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the author helped with her PR. He’s also a software engineer who graduated from Princeton and he has a net worth of $11.1 billion. With all this and Google’s success, you’d think that the book would just be telling you how amazing the accomplishments were and what they did. Yes, it does tell you what Google did but it focuses just as much on what they learned from Google’s failures as well as successes. It also looks into why others companies succeeded and failed. Interesting anecdotal stories are inserted throughout the book which makes it easy reading. What really blew me away was the humble tone. He gives multiple examples where he and the founders got stuff wrong and succeeded because they had hired the right people. The key theme is that people should engineer an environment that enables anyone to contribute and then communicate these contributions to as many people in the company as possible. The book isn’t dogmatic. It acknowledges that Apple has pushed for a closed system whereas Google Android is open. Instead of saying one was better than the other he acknowledges that Apple is very successful that if they had someone as good as Steve Jobs they might have done the same thing. It’s a good balance of open-mindedness, practical advice, and well-defined concepts. Workflow, how to manage with competition, how to innovate, expanding your product, and team dynamics are all addressed in the book. A must read if you’re working in a group on a project.

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