I’ll admit it, I don’t have a great attention span. I get bored on page 5 of a newspaper. I prefer kids films because they’re shorter and don’t require much thinking. And TV shows should be capped at 30mins, unless you’re Game of Thrones because that’s just awesome.
One thing that I wish that I was better at was being able to sit down and read a book. Fiction or non-fiction, it takes me a long time to get through one and I only get to the end of exceptionally gripping books. Since I’ve been commuting to work on a train daily for the past couple of years (and I own a Kindle) you’d think I’d take the opportunity to read more… and I’ve tried. I go through spells where I use my Kindle every day on my commute, morning and evening. Then I have a few months off before going back to it. I have no idea why. It must be due to my poor attention span.
Anyway I digress… the important bit of that ramble above was “exceptionally gripping books”. I’ve just finished reading How Google Works by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s not a boring technical discussion about the inner workings of the world’s favourite search engine, filled with mathematical formulae and theory that would make your head spin (well OK, make MY head spin)… instead it’s about how the company works. What makes Google tick? Why is it so unique?
I enjoyed the input from Eric on how he adjusted to life at Google, and insight into Larry Page and how he has a very different perspective to many other leaders in other companies. The book explains that the effort that Google puts into recruitment is phenomenal… not through a particular department scouring profiles or advertising positions, but through the entire company - everyone helps recruit. And they are determined that the most important thing is to recruit the right people (smart creatives, as they’re known)… their roles will sort themselves out naturally. A very different philosophy to most recruitment drives. I found that to be an interesting parallel with their approach to products… if they feel a product is the right thing to do, they’ll do it. The question of how the product delivers money can be answered further down the line.
If you get the chance, read the book. It’s a refreshing insight into a large, multinational, unique organisation. And if you ever meet Eric, Jonathan, Larry or Sergey, please thank them from me for offering us this fascinating peek into how they made Google into the success story it is.