Bullet book review: How Google Works

Just finished listening to this book on Audible (pro tip: Listen at 150% speed). Below are some bullets that really stood out to me.

  • Business plan – Google initially created a business plan that didn’t actually tie the engineers to anything. In hindsight this worked quite well in allowing them the freedom to be creative.
  • Obligated to dissent – By default every team member should be required to share their dissent on a subject.
  • Idea: Try art gallery Google, their open gallery project. Sounds pretty amazing!
  • If you want something done, give it to a busy person.
  • Knights and knaves – (Assholes and divas), keep your divas around, as long as their output is more beneficial then the cost to the company ,but get rid of assholes.
  • Say yes, that should be your default to a new idea.
  • Default to open, except when legally required to keep something closed
  • Don’t follow your competition. Don’t get into a siege mentally. However, don’t completely ignore your competition or you may get complacent.
  • Be proud of your enemy. Just don’t follow them
  • Focus on your product and platform
  • Slides kill discussion. Get input from everyone room. Then, iterate very very fast.
  • Be a learning animal, hire learning animals.
  • Hire brilliant generalists, if they’re learning animals they’ll catch on quick and they won’t be biased by preconceived notions of how something SHOULD work
  • When looking to hire, consider awards and patents, that shows a lot of effort and interest
  • Beware the opinion of the HiPPO, might stifle discussion
  • Big rewards should be given to people who are closest to the biggest products, the people building the thing. What counts is impact.
  • Learn big numbers, learn how data works, even if  you’re not a numbers guy, at least understand what to ask for so someone can help you
  • Know everything about the field you want to get into by reading, think like a CEO and read
  • Everyone’s voice should be heard in a meeting – throw out stupid softballs (I think we should all pour hydrochloric acid on ourselves, thoughts?)
  • Big decision and no agreement? Meet daily to rehash and set deadline
  • Every meeting needs hands on decision maker
  • No more than 8-10 people in a meeting
  • Attendance at meetings is not a badge of importance. Fewer people are almost always better
  • Start and end on time or early
  • Don’t multitask in meetings. If you’re doing something else you shouldn’t be there. Too many meetings? Rethink priorities.
  • Spend 80% of your time on 80% of your revenue
  • Find a coach
  • Be a router. Move info fast
  • Have company wide OKRs. Everyone’s should be shared.
  • Default to open
  • Repetition doesn’t spoil the prayer
  • Over communicate well: 20x. You’ll be ignored the first few times.
  • Email: clean out the parts people will skip when writing an email
  • Tip for a quick email response: got it, proceed
  • Processes shouldn’t be able to catchup with innovation.
  • When praise is deserved, don’t hold back
  • Ship and iterate
  • Release products, see if they gain momentum, and only then do a marketing push



There’s some task managers out there, as well as information on productivity and task management systems, whether digital or something analog. I started thinking about what a task manager that works how I think, taking inspiration from all the things I’ve used over the years.

This conglomerate system I use helps me focus and get through my day, week, month, etc. The challenge is that I’m always fighting against the todo list, regardless of what software or system I’m using.

What if my system had built in constraints? This sketch proposes 4 basic sections to make up each day.

  • Daily habits – working to keep the chain going on the habits I do every day.
  • Deep work focusing on doing one thing – In any given day I should be trying to make a decent amount of effort against one project or goal.
  • Calendar and todos – Displaying any items in my calendar and any items I’ve added today or previously into today’s todo list, with built in constraints that call out when I’ve reached my max.

So how could I build in constraints? Using the idea of pomodoros, the one big thing deep work task takes up most of the mental energy of my day. The goal is to spend 5 pomodoros on it each day (25 minutes each).

Then, working off of an 8 hour day, I’d only have a certain amount of time left, so the app would subtract meeting time, along with time allotted to my one big thing, and only let me have remaining todos equivalent to the time left.

In theory this would help keep me from overcommitting and focusing on the things that are important. I’ll share updates as the idea progresses.

Download Tabor, a WordPress Theme for Growing your Audience

Over the last few weeks I have had quite a lot of requests to release the WordPress theme that runs this website. I’m happy to announce that my WordPress theme, appropriately named “Tabor“, is available on ThemeBeans.