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10 Things Every Employee Can Learn From Google

10 Things Every Employee Can Learn From Google

In the corporate world, Google is almost as famous for the innovative way it manages its employees as it is for its groundbreaking technology. Completely turning common convention on its head, Google has a lot of ideas about what makes for a good employee that a lot of other businesses disagreed with at first. Over time, though, they have been coming around, which is why you should be an expert in the qualifications Google has for an ideal employee. Here are 10 of them:

1. Be skilled, not just educated

Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations at Google, opened up about the company’s strategies in a big way in a 2013 interview for The New York Times. One thing he mentioned was that Google placed a value on abilities rather than an impressive education. Bock said that, unless it’s someone only recently out of college, Google doesn’t judge applicants based on their G.P.A. To be the kind of employee Google wants, make sure you have practicable skills in addition to decent test scores.

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2. Your ability to learn is more important than your current IQ

Bock also said that learning ability is a major factor for Google when deciding who to hire. It might be good to test higher on the charts in an IQ test right away, but that potential for growth makes all the difference. After all, who would you rather hire in the long term: the ninth-grader with a college education or someone who graduated from an Ivy League school in his twenties?

3. Expertise can be a hindrance

Experts are all too often stuck in their ways. They learned the exact right way to do things. A company like Google needs results that aren’t just accurate but innovative. Bock and other Google executives think that someone new to the technology field will likely have more original ideas than a veteran of the industry. Don’t be dissuaded if you’re not an expert in your particular field, because that could actually end up being a benefit.

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4. Know when to lead and when to follow

According to Bock, Google wants “emergent leaders who are able to mix confidence and adaptability.” Emergent leaders know how to take the lead when that is what’s best for the project, but just as importantly they know when to step back and let someone more qualified take center stage. Bock has said that “what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.” Too many promising talents shoot themselves in the foot by stepping up every time, when once in a while they really need to sit down. Don’t make the same mistake.

5. Feel a sense of ownership over your work

You may be working on company time for the company dime, but Google wants you to be as committed to your work as if you have the only stakes in it. Treat every project you take on at your job like it is your reputation on the line, not just the company’s. Present your best self at all times.

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6. Go big or go home

Google Glass. Self-driving cars. Do these sound like small ideas to you? Google seems bored by small ideas, and would much rather see you take on something daring and innovative. Current chairman and former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, once said, “I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” Google comes up with ideas that guide a whole population’s future. Similarly, your boss at work is really going to take notice if you’re the one teaching him.

7. Look for the unexpected

A lot of technology Google created, starting from the search engine and going all the way to the self-driving cars, was unheard of or inconceivable when Google introduced it. Schmidt said, “Our business strategy is not to compete.” The company, instead of fighting for a slice of a pie, decides to make whole new pies. You should also be coming up with new ways to find success as an employee.

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8. Don’t focus on making money right away

Google believes that the priority of a product should at first be that it creates value. A lot of Google’s projects had no way of making money when they were first introducted, but that changed after Google made the products indispensable for consumers and slowly introduced a way to profit off of them. Google entrepreneur Astro Teller points this out in an interview for the BBC, saying, “Things like search or translate, things like maps, have been in the public domain free to the users but often without advertising or any form of compensation–sometimes for many years–when Google didn’t make money on it or even have a plan to make money on it and Google was just ‘Let’s make value for the users. We’ll figure out how to make money later’.” This is a hard tip to do in a more traditional business environment, but try to focus on value first and figure out how to make money off your creation later.

9. Devote time to other projects

Every Friday Google employees come into the office to work on something other than what they devoted the other days of the week to. This led to a lot of innovations that would go on to define Google, like Gmail. Astro Teller, the overseer of the audacious Google[x], said that to succeed at those projects, “there has to be a problem that we can identify, and sometimes that’s harder than you would think.” But, once you figure out a problem that can be solved, Google employees tackle it head on. Like Google, set aside some of your time to do work that’s a little off from center.

10. Failure is a necessary step towards success

For every Gmail, there are a dozen other projects that didn’t go anywhere and were forgotten. Even the highly-publicized Google Glass hardware has been far from a smashing success. Google understands that those missteps are crucial to getting to the place where you can make a big leap. Don’t be afraid to fail because it shows that you are trying, and can be a step towards your next success.

Featured photo credit: At the Google HQ in Reston/Will Morlow via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 18, 2018

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

Things go wrong when you run your own business.

Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

  • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
  • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
  • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

The Bottom Line

Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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