Book Review: I'm Feeling Lucky – Confessions of Google Employee Number 59
Google, as a company, intrigues me and so does marketing Why? No idea. Maybe it’s the power both hold in the world? Whatever it is, I wanted to hear it all from the man responsible for building the most valuable brand to ever roam the web.
Google does in fact run the web whether you’d like to admit it or not. Author, Douglas Edwards rips the curtains off the stage and shows you the world of Google as it grew.
Edwards was the 59th employee hired by Google. His title: Brand Manager. Only problem was that Google wasn’t really a brand yet… nor a verb. The reason I love this book is because it takes your through constant dilemmas one would find when trying to create a global and well sought out product- or even if you’re just trying to find your way in your career.
Edwards offers the first inside view of Google, giving readers a chance to fully experience the bizarre mix of camaraderie and competition at this phenomenal company. Edwards, Google’s first director of marketing and brand management, describes it as it happened. We see the first, pioneering steps of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the company’s young, idiosyncratic partners; the evolution of the company’s famously nonhierarchical structure (where every employee finds a problem to tackle or a feature to create and works independently); the development of brand identity; the races to develop and implement each new feature; and the many ideas that never came to pass. Above all, Edwards—a former journalist who knows how to write—captures the “Google Experience,” the rollercoaster ride of being part of a company creating itself in a whole new universe.
I’m Feeling Lucky captures for the first time the unique, self-invented, yet profoundly important culture of the world’s most transformative corporation.
The book provides great insights to problem solving, innovating, marketing, brand building, hiring, creativity and startup motivation- all using real life examples from within the walls of the Google Plex.
The one thing I like most explained by Edwards was Google’s “20 Percent Time” rule that is well documented and has been embedded into their culture for almost a decade. Engineers are more than encouraged to spend one day per week working on projects that aren’t necessarily in their job descriptions. According to Edwards, the concept sprung from Google engineer Paul Bucheit’s tendency to let his mind wander to other engineering conundrums while working on projects.
Bucheit’s wandering led to the development of Google’s second billion-dollar idea: the ad-serving application AdSense. The project was just something he took on himself, and in fact had even been told by project managers to drop it on several occasions.
While most business can’t afford this type of luxury, managers shouldn’t be so quick to discourage employee’s creative thinking, and even tolerate a bit of tinkering that may not immediately impact the bottom line but could ultimately have a cumulative effect on the business.
Do yourself a favor and buy this book. It’s also available on audio book for your mobile device at audible.com.