The Blog

Five Things We Can Learn From Google

There are five things that Google does well that you too can implement to help you to build a successful life/business:

1. Patience and persistence

2. Strong integrity

3. Always be flexible

4. Create a winning culture and environment

5. Fail your way forward

In 1996, just 20 years ago a young student named Larry Page had an idea, a moment of genius (genius comes from Latin, meaning a genie is guiding the spirit). In that moment he decided that he could bring all of the information on the entire internet onto one computer. In itself this was no big deal, as are the many ideas and moments of genius that flash before us each day. The difference that made the difference was that Page actually did something about it. Working alongside Sergey Brin they created the internet giant Google that exists today.

I think the challenge when hearing these stories is that it is easy to put these entrepreneurs on a pedestal and dismiss the prospect of being able to produce equivalent feats of greatness in our own lives. The fact is that Larry Page wasn't perfect, he originally anticipated it would take a couple of weeks, it actually took a couple of years. In credit to him, in spite of this drastic oversight he continued to develop his idea. The first message then is persistence; in this fast paced age we expect everything fast. I see this trait especially in many novice entrepreneurs, they don't make money in their first year so they fold a business and either repeat this process or return to their 9-5. It wasn't until 2000 that google actually properly monetised the site by placing advertising on the site, so perhaps the coupling of persistence with patience too.

What they did well with advertising was not ram those down the user's throat, in fact they made a clearly differentiated format for ads so that users could still browse comfortably. The second principle I would like to pick up on there is integrity. Creating a successful business stems not from fleecing and annoying your clientele but instead from looking after them and giving them more than anyone else.

Other companies of course were attempting to replicate what Google had created, other search engines emerged but none ever gained the traction to notably compete with Google. Why? Because although Google is a very big company they have always moved and adapted very quickly, they pride themselves on always innovating and are constantly updating. A trap many businesses fall in to as they grow larger is they become inflexible and any change that does ensue has what is known as a 'lag time' - the amount of time between the idea and the execution of the idea.

According to Robert Kiyosaki the automotive industry is reported to have a lag time of around 25 years, this is why a new and innovative company such as Tesla can come in and blow the technology of today's vehicles out of the water. Malcolm Gladwell writes about the effect of most larger businesses becoming slow to adapt in his book 'David and Goliath', I strongly recommend this read as it gives hope to the small start-ups hoping to take on the larger businesses. Flexibility then is the third principle I would like to point out, as I often write 'flexibility is true strength'.

I recently sat in a breakfast talk with Charles Duhigg, author of New York Times bestseller 'Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business'. Duhigg speaks about a study embarked upon by data scientists at Google over the course of four years where they found that it was actually much more important how a group interacted with one another than who was actually in the group. This highlights the fourth principle of successful business that Google demonstrate well and that is culture. Most people know about the quirky culture of Google, in fact it has won 'best company to work for' by Fortune 100 more than once. It is more than just colourful walls and casual seating, it is about creating an environment that allows people to be happy and creative.

The final principle that I would like to draw from Google co-founder Larry Page is not being afraid to fail or perhaps more accurately being afraid but doing it anyway. By his own admission he did 'many things that didn't work but that doesn't matter because this one did'. In one of his many inspiring speeches Page speaks of a course that he went on called 'healthy disregard for the impossible', he said this helped him develop the courage to pursue his idea. Larry and Sergey are often very candid when discussing how vulnerable they had felt at the beginning of their venture, how they feared failing but believed in failing their way forward. As Larry Page says you should 'have the goal to fail a lot, quickly, and then eventually you will succeed'.