During one of my happiest Google times – a three month assignment in New York
And Thank You.
‘But, dad,’ I said. ‘You always told me that I should work for myself when I was growing up. And, remember how happy you were when you left your company to work for yourself 40 years ago?’
‘Caterina,’ my dad said, ‘I left a factory where I was working 15-hour shifts. Not the best company in the world.’
Six months forward and I am in the Google bathroom, crying. I have just left my laptop and my phone in a locker. My eyes fell on the ‘Only Googlers beyond this point’ sign. My colleague is waiting for me downstairs to walk me out and take my badge. He wants to make it ceremonial and maybe snap a few selfies.
I did not expect I would cry. I have been thinking about my resignation for ages. And there is no doubt in my mind it is the right decision. The day has come that as Anais Nin said ‘the risk to remain tight in a bud is more painful than the risk it takes to blossom.’
Yet…it is the end of an era. For more than eight years I have been a Googler. I took pride in being part of something really cool.
All this time, I was looking forward to people asking me what I do for a living at dinner parties. I would passionately talk about Google’s products to friends or anyone who would listen. A client once excitedly tweeted that he was meeting Google before I arrived at his office! I had the second most loved brand in the world on my business card.
I am about to change this brand for one that almost nobody knows. That of my own executive coaching business. It is the right thing to do. But, I am like a snake shedding my old skin. It hurts a little.
I swipe my badge and go to the micro-kitchen one last time. Maybe some food will make me feel better. A couple of hours ago I left a heartfelt thank-you card to my Google massage therapist. It was the last goodbye I needed to say.
As appreciative as I am, the perks are not what I will miss the most. I will miss my colleagues. People selected out of the two million who apply for a job at Google every year. Some of the most inspiring and kind people I know.
One of them asked me for the highlights of my Google time. There have been a lot. I got to lead some of Google’s largest global partnerships, and I loved it. I traveled the world. I built relationships with some of the advertising industry’s most influential leaders. I always felt at the edge of innovation. I kept creating and learning.
My mind drifts to the highlights outside work during the last eight years. I tried my hand in several hobbies from painting to stand up comedy. I started a family and had two children. I spent the first year of their lives with them, off work. I lived on a tropical island for half a year. I studied an Executive Coaching Masters. I wrote a personal development blog and got published on Fast Company, HuffPost and Thrive Global.
All of it was possible thanks to Google’s philosophy about work. Giving people big audacious goals and the autonomy to go after them. Caring about results rather than the time spent in front of a screen. Building a strong culture and community. Google’s annual earnings prove that these ideas did not only create the most desirable employer in the world but are good for the business as well.
Google is not perfect. Systems and organizations often make mistakes and fail as we all do. In the past eight years, I had highs and lows. I thought to myself that I should take the good things with me and leave the bad behind. But, actually, the difficult moments were the ones that most helped me know myself better and grow. So, I take everything with me with gratitude.
I am excited about my new journey. I will be coaching leaders to have the life and impact they want. I leave the best employer in the world to work for myself.
I just need to take a moment to experience the loss and the ending. And also a moment to say goodbye.
OK Google, goodbye. And, thank you.