In 10 days I'm quitting Google. There's this startup that no one knows exists, and I'm jumping on board. It has no investors and no staff of any kind, but I figure it's time for a change. The thing about starting over is, well, starting over. Everything is new. You're back to square one. When you begin at the bottom there's no place to go but up, and I've sat pretty high. Google is as good as it gets, and that's why I got to go.
Never did I dream of working for the world's best company. It's kind of like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: everyone is vying for a golden ticket. Yet if you're lucky enough to get inside, you realize there's nothing but children running the show. They do an absurdly good job, but then again, everything about Google is absurd. The free food, masseuses, gyms and guest speakers (Conan O'Brien, Lady Gaga, Senator Hillary Clinton and Arianna Huffington to name a few) are meant to invoke the imagination.
Come with me
And you'll be
In a world of pure imagination
Take a look
And you'll see
Into your imagination
But it wasn't my imagination. I don't remember when, but at some point I stopped believing in all things, including myself. It took me a few years to admit that the common denominator in thankless jobs, empty pockets, and failed relationships was me, but once you realize you're the problem, you also realize you're the solution.
What I wrestled with was "What if?" It's amazing how easily dreams turn into despair, wonder into woe, and faith into fear when questions go unanswered. It's the reason why Google's so successful. We're all searching for something about ourselves, and too often we come up empty-handed. Or we're holding onto the wrong things. Maybe worst of all, we grab whatever we can get, instead of setting our sights on the one thing we were put on this earth to accomplish.
That's why as good as Google is, it isn't good enough for me. My imagination extends beyond one googol reasons to wait. For more money, a perfect plan, it doesn't matter. What I've learned lately is that now will never be the right time to lose the weight, start that business or find a new job. Neither will tomorrow. Rather than reaching for new heights, we wait. And wait. Delays turn into doubt, and convenience creates complacency.
What I'm trying to say is I'm too comfortable, and I don't mean in the material sense. Yes, free food is filling but I've had my fair share. I've lost my hustle, and I'm too ambitious, too capable, and too stubborn to let it go completely. That, and I've got too much pride.
If I'm being honest, everything changed when my little sister left Google. We were competitive growing up, and as the older brother, I naturally led the way. When I went to work on Wall Street, Camille considered it, but she knew better. By the time I joined a small Silicon Valley startup, she was already interning at Google. She's brilliant, but it goes beyond brains. She has balls! My sister has the courage to question convention.
When I sat down and really thought about the moves my sister was making, I felt betrayed. Not by her, but by myself. What did I not see? When I was riding high, thinking I had just arrived, she walked away like it was nothing. Here was our big break, and she was over it. Upon further reflection, I realized that my sister wasn't leaving Google. She was going to her next big thing, and her unwillingness to settle for good is what makes her great.
The tricky truth is that greatness is not guaranteed. Who wins? When will success arrive? Will it all be worth it? Your guess is as good as mine. No one knows the answer. Not even almighty Google. If you believe that, you'll stop searching and start doing. There is no right and wrong: just trials and triumphs. The only risk is not taking one, and there's freedom in knowing that anything goes. So get moving!
Start up! You may not have much to go on, but you do have a mission. Spend more than 10 minutes in Silicon Valley and you'll inevitably hear the buzzword of the moment: disrupt. More formally, "disrupt" refers to innovation, out with the old and in with the new. Think of Airbnb or Uber. Really, all you're doing is breaking with the status quo and building something better. On October 3, I disrupt myself.
You are the CEO of your life, and the decisions you make today will set the course of things to come. Invest your time wisely. It's been my dream to build my blog full-time, and in 10 days I begin. What about you? Do something today that will pay dividends down the road. I read once that you should do one thing every day that scares you. I can't remember the last time I pushed past my limits.
What I know now is that you'll never reach your potential until you assume some level of risk. It doesn't have to be your job, but leave something behind starting today. Stop holding on to what's good enough and make room for what's great.