Welcome to Google
Google makes you question what you’re doing with your life, right now. It’s shiny, it’s colorful, there are men on bicycles serving almond milk vodka Krispy cream ice cream, Legos abound, there are nap pods and an envious library with portraits of Star Wars heros, and what’s more, it seems as if everything in that city block of an office is pushing towards better. Better of course, including one hell of a good time.
This past week I had the opportunity to visit the Google NYC office with the New York Innovation fellows. From the stand out points, you can tell that Google has an amazing culture. We were shown around by Mackenzie and Abby, recent UNC alum while Mackenzie and I lived together for a year- the year of Sprout, no sleep, and being in between Singapore and Senegal part two. Though they were just starting and figuring out the matrix of the building themselves, it was no matter. Details carry weight on the base level I think. You don’t get hired to work at Google unless you’re smart, you excel in your field, and you express yourself in a certain way. Once you’ve passed the threshold the dial moves past labels and onto the culture of the organization. You can see how you’re directly connected to the CEO, and are given weight in decision making. The most visible aspect of Google once you are inside it is how much culture matters. That you must pointedly pay attention to it, you decide what you want, and your results as an organization, or person, reflect those decisions based in culture.
In part, the original idea for this post started by critiquing, synthesizing, and debating what the culture of my own company, VerbalizeIt, is. Almost a month in, I’m still figuring that out. There are good, less good, and great things. It’s a spectrum that’s thrown off by the nature of being in a startup, from having come in when 7million other people were introduced to my company. More than the details, I wonder how you strike the balance when creating a startup. I struggled myself when starting Sprout, between running myself into the ground with gratifying and exhausting work, while trying to help others care and have as much giddy fun as possible. How do you make time to decide and enact culture when time is as mythical as North Korea’s Unicorn Lair? I suppose like anything, you make time for what matters.
To quote one of my Professors, Dr.Lowry Caudill: Culture is a lens. It can either shrink the impact and quality of what you do as a company, or it can expand it beyond what was in your original vision. There is so much in business that you will never have control of. Culture is the one thing you own 100%.