Last October, I made a 2-week exploratory visit to the place where all of the world’s information is being gathered, stored and organized.
With an unprecedented access to the highly secretive “Googleplex”, acclaimed New York Times columnist Randall Stross, in his book Planet Google took me and other readers deep inside Google, the most important, most innovative and most ambitious company of the Internet Age.
But perhaps we can only know and learn much about this place that has been described as “one of the world’s best places to work” from someone who has actually worked as a Google intern. His name is Oduntan Odunbanjo, a Nigerian mobile applications developer.
With three previous internships prior to joining Google and one more right after, Oduntan is convinced that Google is in a world of its own. In a recent article originally published at Jobberman.com, Oduntan shares 9 lessons he learned as a Google intern.
I’ve re-published the 9 lessons here with permission. Enjoy!
Lesson 1 – Build a Unique Culture
If I were to describe the company in one word it would be – UNCONVENTIONAL. It is definitely one of the few places where you can truly be yourself.
No dress code, no fixed working hours, no unnecessary monitoring of how you carry out your work. Even Interns like me are treated like full timers.
Though not the highest paying tech company, it’s arguably the most sought after. This is because of the knowledge of the unique way the company is run.
Just like a recent study shows what truly motivates people, the Google culture allows for independent thinking, mastery of work and provides a sense of purpose.
You can take time to read about how they undertook their IPO. Never had such been approach been taken by a company to the US stock market.
Lesson 2 – Innovate or Die
At Google, a great deal of emphasis is placed on innovation so there’s just no time for competition. For me, innovation really never has to be from scratch.
Its more about having a different approach to solving a problem or improving an existing solution. Google was not the first search engine but it has taken that idea and made it the best in the world.
Google Goggles (an app for Android phones) and the recent Pacman game embedded in the Google Home Page are a few example of the company’s knack for creative solutions.
Lesson 3 – Be more value oriented than revenue oriented
Google never really seeks out immediate ways to monetize their products and services.
Instead emphasis is placed on making the product the best possible, getting people to use it and then later figuring out how to generate revenue.
They understand the simple law that when you create value, money will follow.
Lesson 4 – Focus on the customer (User)
One of the popular phrases by Google is – Focus on the user and all else will follow. This is so true.
Many people and firms choose instead to focus on the revenue or profit.
I’m not sure if some business managers and owners have ever heard about customer service let alone know what it means. Another issue is developing products without involving the end-user in the development process.
I once asked someone who had 2 similar mobile apps on his phone which he preferred.
He answered: “the one that allows me search through easily”. User experience is a big deal at Google and we should learn to provide solutions and services that will satisfy the customer or end-user.
People aren’t stupid. They know what they want and will flock to where they can get it.
Lesson 5 – Hire the best
Its essential to hire people with great minds and the right attitude. Googlers are usually exceptionally talented and experienced people with a knack for solving problems.
The Google hiring process isnt perfect and has been crticized for taking too long. The process has however paid off for the company. The secret is to “hire people who are smarter than you”.
The company’s employs on merit-based system and the goal is to hire the brightest minds possible. This is the sole reason why they are far ahead in terms of technological innovation compared with their peers.
A company that hires based on “connections” is doomed to suffer the consequences in time. Its important to give jobs to those who are most qualified.
Lesson 6 – Take care of Welfare
Well, the whole world knows that there is free food and drinks at Google. The fact that extra care is taken to ensure employees are well taken care is really cool.
This is something that is missing in this part of the world. Employers and management level folks usually feel they do people a favour by employing them forgetting that without their collective contributions they wont be where they are.
One more thing on food. From my experience, I have observed that companies that provide food or at least lunch to staff get more productive returns from their employees. This is no joke.
I remember a firm I once worked for where we’ld spend several minutes in the morning and afternoon contemplating what to order to eat. Meanwhile, if you don’t get something to eat early or at all it becomes difficult to focus on the task at hand.
Several man-hours are wasted yearly around the world as a result of this. Meanwhile, at Google, provisions are made for nutrition and relaxation so people can focus 100% on their work!
Lesson 7 – Keep working out your model
We all know the Google advertising model that serves as a cash machine. I love this idea of making money while you sleep. But it actually didn’t start out that way.
They started by solving a simple problem of helping people find information and later resorted to monetize it with ads.
Today the company is an ubiquitous name in the internet service business having diversified into other areas.
Even though they wanted to stick to search, they realized that providing quality search services required other products which they decided to develop.
So dont be too rigid with those ideas you have. Start somewhere but be ready to move with the times.
Have one thing you’re number one at but keep up with the trends.
Lesson 8 – Create useful & relevant Products
It’s important that we solve problems around us with the skills and knowledge that we acquire from various institutions.
The only reason why the Google founders aren’t unknown lecturers somewhere is they made effort to apply what they knew to solve a problem around them.
With my experience, I believe that with the right blend of requirements we can create products and services which will be used globally and will also create massive wealth. Companies like Jobberman are a local example of this.
Lesson 9 – Be Charitable
In my opinion, Google will always prosper because it’s a giving company. Google gives out lots of scholarships, donations, not-for-profit investments, internships. Please, visit www.google.org to learn more.
Lets have firms like the telecoms operators and banks with huge revenue give something back to the society. They can provide scholarships, internships and facilities to deserving students and institutions instead of the Campus raves that add no lasting value.
Oduntan Odubanjo is Product Manager at Extracens and creator of buukWorm Mobile. As a former Google Intern, he currently serves as Google Campus Ambassador at OAU. He also co-founder of Tech Titans Nigeria and taught and spoken at several Campus events.
Photo via: OduntanOdunbanjo.blogspot.com
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