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  • 4 work lessons from Google we can ALL learn

    19 Oct 2016
    Tallulah Fontaine

    Want to boost your work life? Former Googler Sarah Cooper can help with that...

    Let's face it, Google is one of the world's best firms to work for. From free meals and laundry to massage credits and access to groundbreaking lectures, this is a fun and super-productive workplace. During my four years there as a user experience designer, I learnt loads - above all, how to be myself and get ahead. I left last year and those lessons have stuck with me - and you don't have to work at the Googleplex for them to help you, too.

    1. Show people who you are

    <p class="p9">The Google recruitment process is intense. Think

    phone screens, a take-home project, two days of interviews and a

    presentation. At one stage, I sat in a conference room with five

    equally nervous strangers. So, I announced I'd be presenting my

    design portfolio as an interpretive dance. It was a silly joke but

    it broke the tension and, more importantly, I was being myself.

    Being comfortable in your own skin shows confidence and leadership


    2. Schedule me-time during the day

    <p class="p9">We could block off between 30 minutes and two hours

    in our work calendars for personal time as needed. Google trusts

    employees to do this whenever it feels best for them. The aim was

    to prevent back-to-back meetings - and this made a big impression

    on me. I still schedule time for a walk or meditation, knowing it

    will make me more productive.

    3. Go at your own pace

    A few weeks in, I was working one-on-one with a product manager. He asked me to look something up on my laptop but I clearly wasn't fast enough, as he took my laptop and did it himself. I quickly realised Google moves at a mile a minute and I felt pressure to share an instant opinion on design or strategic direction. However, my knee-jerk reaction often differed from the (better) opinion I later had. Taking time to consider options gives you a greater chance of making the right decision from the start. In short: don't be afraid to say, "I need time to think about that."

    4. The best leaders are the best listeners

    <p class="p7">I worked with incredible leaders, but there was one

    in particular who I really admired. When he was in a meeting,

    decisions were made faster and, best of all, we had fun. But it

    wasn't that he had the best ideas - he just did an amazing job of

    listening to what everyone was saying, and making connections to

    bring us closer to our goal. Being a great leader is not always

    about wowing with your creativity - sometimes it's about exposing

    the creativity in your team.

    Sarah's book 100 TRICKS TO APPEAR SMART IN MEETINGS is out now (£10, Square Peg)