I’m Feeling Lucky

posted on 21 Nov 2020

Next Monday will be my last day at Google. It feels strange to write another, ‘Why I am leaving Google’ post. Plenty of those exist and there is little unique I have to add to them. Neither am I the first engineer to leave Google nor is it the first time I am leaving a company. Yet, here we are because this is one of the most unique experiences I have had. I would be remiss to not share a few parting words.

Google web page

Many such posts dedicate themselves to chronicling one’s experiences at Google, excruciating details for leaving, or what Google should do differently. This post is not that. I want to focus on just one thing - appreciating the impeccable work ethic of those I was lucky to work with over the last six and a half years.

It is remarkable, how in the last many years, I cannot recall a single instance where I could question the dedication or motivation of a colleague’s actions. Every single person I have worked with has been dedicated, hard-working, and doing the best job they can. I am not sure if this can be said of every company or organization. And yet, one seldom hears these stories outside Google.

This has left a profound impact on what I look for in teams and people I hope to work with - an honest and humble commitment to the craft. This dedication is not visible in how many lines of code someone writes. Or how beautifully designed a user interface is. Nor does it come through in a well thought out feature or product strategy.

No, this is visible in a person’s ability to do every single thing, from the mundane to the profound, with the same attention to detail and care. Every line of code written or reviewed, every design document or comment, every tech support ticket, or every email with a request gets a level of attention I am yet to observe elsewhere.

It is easier to work hard on an interesting and challenging problem. There is an inherent joy in building something new and exciting that has never been done before. However, it is probably 10x harder to bring the same enthusiasm, when working on the inevitable toilsome chores, the less shiny parts, the grunge work - a necessary but less desirable outcome of successful projects.

Now, I am in no way advocating for more toil. The less, the better. Yet, it is in doing such work that provides the best measure of a person’s work ethos. I have had my fair share of building shiny new systems and dealing with grunge galore. The former is great for learning new technologies and building deep technical expertise. However, it is the latter that gives one true appreciation for good processes, systems, and most importantly, great people.

This is a seldom celebrated part of the craft that buttresses those many nines in SLAs we take for granted. And it starts with a pristine work ethic. “I’m feeling lucky” perhaps best describes my experience working with such people.

For now, I am off to my next adventure, hoping to contribute to this unique culture by taking a part of it with me.

Categories:  #google