🎱 8 Years at Google, 8 Pieces of My Favorite Career Advice

🎱 8 Years at Google, 8 Pieces of My Favorite Career Advice

I’ve received a lot good career advice over the years at Google. I wrote a lot of them down.

But here are eight pieces of advice that I didn’t write down – because they’re etched in my head already:


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1️⃣ On Culture and Leadership:

“Culture is the stories we tell, and incentives we create.”

2️⃣ On Thriving:

People aren’t categorically good or bad at their jobs. That’s an overly simplistic view.

A VP once told a story of a (senior) leader who was mediocre in one role, but fantastic in another.

People thrive in different settings. People can also be coached.

I try to keep this in mind whenever I feel like beating myself up. And I keep this in mind when I work with others too.

3️⃣ On Realizing Potential:

This one is personal. It was not even meant as career advice.

Instead, someone told me years ago over a casual lunch:

“I see so much potential in you. Unrealized potential.”

Very few comments have haunted me as much as they have inspired me in my life.

This was one of them.

4️⃣ On Extreme Ownership:

A VP once shared this story that happened early on in his career.

At the time, he had identified an important problem with a partner, and he flagged it to his manager at the time.

So he finished his spiel, expecting to get brownie points for his acumen.

But his manager simply asked: “…So why haven’t you tried to solve it?”

The message was clear: it’s good to proactively identify challenges, but it’s not great.

Extreme ownership requires more.


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5️⃣ On How to Get Promoted:

This came from a leader who spent a lot of time working with Product Managers.

When asked for career advice, he said:

“This is my secret formula: I try to get others promoted.”

Here's why. If you can bring good people together to solve a problem, give them all the credit in the world, and even help them get promoted —they will want to keep working with you.

Fine, plain and simple.

But when other good people see that good people want to work with you, they will want to work with you themselves .

Thus you get even more done and demonstrate even bigger impact.

And this is when the secret formula kicks in. Success begets success. 

And this is what the VP meant by the secret formula.

“Identify the hardest problems, bring the best people together, enable them to succeed, and repeat.”

6️⃣ On Your Next Job:

"Your next role is likely going to be determined without you in the room.”

And this is why getting sponsors and champions matter.

7️⃣ On Stretching Yourself:

A few years ago, I shared my career plans with a mentor.

I talked about roles I was looking at, and why I believed I was qualified for them. I then waited for advice.

Instead of giving advice, she simply asked:

“Why are you only looking at roles where you check most of the boxes?”

Then it clicked for me.

She didn't have to say anything else from that point on.

8️⃣ On Asking for a Promotion:

“If promotion matters to you – have you told your manager?”

Simple advice, but I needed to hear it to realize how straightforward it was.

There's no shame in wanting a promotion. And there's no point in scheming secretly, hoping that your manager can mind-read.

Just bring it up honestly. It will always lead to a good outcome, even if not what you were initially looking for.

The worst that can happen is that you gain more information.

And more information is always better.


👇 If this was useful, you might also be interested in my take on how to ask for a promotion...

The Selfish Stuff: Asking for a Promotion
Asking for performance-related feedback is hard. Deciding what to do with that feedback is even harder. Trying to figure out if any of it will get you promoted is the hardest. 👇 So in this section, I’ll be sharing my playbook for how to conduct effective performance-related conversations with your manager.

...as well as how to shine the spotlight on yourself 👇

The Selfish Stuff: Increase Visibility
We talked a lot about how to be strategic about your work. Now let’s talk about how to be strategic about your own career – and practical tips you can leverage right away.

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