Advice on pursuing a "side-hustle" from a Google People Operations Director who also teaches a range of courses in his spare time:

"When you're thinking about changing careers, my proposal is that building a parallel career is a really good way to learn and reduce risk.  You can try it out and see if you like it and you can fine-tune it to find out what parts you like and what parts you don't.  It's often a fun, interesting change from your day job and, on the market side, the fact that you have been doing this other thing in some capacity for two, four or six years makes you more marketable.

For example, if I did decide that I wanted to teach full-time, I can now say that I've had teaching experience at Stanford, Google, and Tesla.  

In general, it's a great way for you to experiment a little bit and maybe control your risk."


I tripped across this brief older article containing "advice for aspiring managers".  The advice is simple, powerful and, in my view, spot on.  Key points:

"1. Try to act like a mature adult. The best managers are those rare individuals who actually behave like mature adults. What does that mean? It means being as honest, comfortable, and empathetic with your own issues and shortcomings as you are with your strengths and skills. Only then can you do the same for others, and that's what good managers do.

2. Do the work - hands on. Work your tail off learning the basics of your trade and industry, whatever that is, while you still can - before you get promoted and lose the opportunity. Why? No matter how smart you are, that's the only way to get hands-on experience that will engender respect from employees and help you to make effective management decisions down the road.

3. Become adept at 5 things: finance, selling, presenting, negotiating, and business communications."

That's all easier said than done, but the end-result is really rewarding when it all comes together.


A Google SVP of Product Mgmt shared with me the career planning advice he often gives to people on his staff: "Think of the ideal job that you would like to be in five years.  Honestly, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses as you would articulate them to the manager who is hiring for that position. Then develop a plan to build on the strengths and address the weaknesses."

And Eric Schmidt, Alphabet's Chairman, has been quoted as saying: “Almost everyone, including me, makes the mistake of making a short-term decision without thinking of a strategy for five years...For anything important, put it in a five-year context."

Let's discuss career planning this week.  What are your views on this advice?  Are you a planner?  Does planning make sense?  If you are a planner, how do you develop that vision for the future?  

It's interesting to me that we demand planning from our managers, our companies, and our government but many of us don't demand it of ourselves - despite the tremendous impact our careers have on our lives.  Why do you think that is?


This article does a pretty good job of describing how to manage up but leaves some things out in my view.  From my perspective, the following are key elements of managing up effectively:

(1) We illustrate that we can see the world through our manager's eyes, i.e. that not only do we understand our own responsibilities but also that we understand their responsibilities, concerns, and priorities.  We then demonstrate that we are keeping those items top of mind as we perform our own jobs.   This builds trust from the manager that the actions we take/decisions we make will be consistent with his/her mindset.
(2) We help our manager see the world through our eyes.  We help them understand our working and communications styles and we share with them our own goals for learning and growing and ask for their support.
(3) We deliver!
(4) Advanced managing up: We are a partner to our manager and an advocate for them.  We understand where they need support/where they are challenged/where they would appreciate help and, ideally, we proactively lend it.  

In my view, this combination of activities results in a relationship of trust and appreciation and, sometimes, a desire on the part of the manager to give back in some way.  Win-win for everybody!


Driving periodic changes in our careers is important for lots of reasons. But change is hard and often, even when we’re ready, we can’t quite figure out how to make it happen. In my own career, I certainly could have - and should have - introduced more change. In reflecting back now, I realize that I wasn’t simply passively staying in my “lane”.  Rather, often I just didn’t know how to get out of it.

I wish I had met Greg Green earlier. Greg, a former Google colleague, has made 2 big changes in his career direction. He's now Chief Data Officer at Valassis and a lecturer at Northwestern U. Greg summarized his approach as follows:

"1. Trust yourself and your capabilities – especially the capacity to learn and adapt beyond experience and knowledge already obtained.

2. Reach beyond what you are currently able to understand and grasp (your reach has to exceed your grasp).

3. Find a story that you believe, envisioning yourself succeeding with the change or reinvention.

4. Practice the story, tell the story, and begin to execute and adapt as you make it happen step by step."

Greg shares his experiences and wisdom on gaining the courage and creating a process for making significant personal change in this article: It's really inspirational.


John Gianandrea, SVP of Search and AI at Google, says that "Change is the new normal."

Ben Jones, Creative Director at Google, suggests that "the capacity for change as a professional development skill is something we all need to learn."

The image below from the "Wait But Why" website shows us why.  Human progress has been on a fairly gentle slope for the past few thousand years.  It's set to change fast.  The related article is fascinating.


Maitreyee KarmarkarRadio Show Host at KZSU Stanford Radio 90.1FM



Career Coach and Executive Coach @Tracy Wilk, shares what he learnt from successful and experienced Google professionals about career management, on KZSU Stanford Radio 90.1FM

The show is Soft-Biz. You can find the entire interview here:


Some thoughtful comments in response to this post on deciding when it is time to make a change in one's career.  The comments focus on the most difficult change, i.e., changing yourself and how you appear in the world. They are worth a read.

One call-out is John Paul Engel's comment about having friends and mentors in his life who have encouraged him to "do more and be more".  John is lucky (and so am I as John is one of those people for me).  

Change is hard.  Who can you call on for support?  Go ahead and ask.  And who can you help?  Go ahead and offer it.  

Driving change in our careers - in our circumstances and in ourselves - can be key to success and happiness.  And yet driving change is hard.  It's hard to know when the time is right; it's hard to know where we want to go next; it's hard to overcome fear of failure; and it can be hard to actually bring about meaningful change.

This week, I'd like to explore change together with you, i.e., to poke into the different barriers to change and to ask for your thoughts/experiences/suggestions. I hope you'll weigh in.

So let's start at the beginning.  In your experience, how have you determined that it is time for a change - either in yourself or in your circumstances?   Did you have an "aha" moment?  Do you have any criteria that you normally use?  Please weigh in!

A Google Director shared with me a time when she realized she needed to change herself.  She explained that she was an introvert and a "terrible upward networker".  She was not comfortable building relationships with sr. staff and she was comfortable living with the consequences for herself.  Then one day..."I realized I was doing my team a disservice.  I wasn't clearing the roads.  I wasn't providing a strong escalation path.  I realized I needed to change because I wanted to make things better for them."

How about you?


Fun to share some thoughts on career management with DJ Maitreyee Raykar - Karmarkar on her weekly Soft-Biz program on Stanford's KZSU radio station.  Thanks so much Maitreyee!


I'd like to explore some topics more deeply, encourage more discussion and allow people to learn from each other.  Accordingly, I'm going to focus on a theme a week for the next couple of weeks.  Each day, I'll put a thought/comment out there on the theme.  I really encourage your engagement and feedback.  The topic for next week: career planning - worth attempting or not?  If it is, how much is enough and how much is too much?  I look forward to the discussion!


From a Google Director on one of the best pieces of management advice she has received (Note: This will be familiar to most "Googlers"):

"My first manager here said 'You should always hire people smarter than yourself.  Never be scared to do that.'  That was a crazy different mental model than any other company that I had worked for.  Those companies had much more hierarchical structures and belief systems about where knowledge and expertise lay in the business.  I've found that the Google hiring model is one of the keys to incredibly powerful teamwork and generation of ideas and products.  Everyone on your team are, more or less, intellectual equals and contributors to a project rather than the manager being positioned as having some superiority over the team.  I've experienced that hiring model both as a team member and as a manager and it is incredibly powerful and generative."


Excited/honored to be interviewed yesterday by DJ Maitreyee Raykar - Karmarkar for her weekly radio program "Soft-Biz" on KZSU Stanford radio, 90.1 FM.  Topics ranged from managing a career through rapid technological change to stories about career risk and reward and more.  The show will play Weds 10/11 at 11 am PST and will also be available online.  I'll share a link when the edited program is available.  Thank you Maitreyee for the great discussion.


Our careers are often dictated by entrenched habits and random events. "I'll take this new job because it's a lot like my old job."; "My friend went there and I'm ready for a change so I guess I'll go there too."; "I'm tired of this job and this nice recruiter just called me and offered something different.  That's flattering!". Over the long term, that could work out. Or it could lead to boredom, a random assortment of skills, and/or a career dead-end. Beware the path of least resistance! It's a long working life. Be intentional. Think about what you want and like and where you want to be. Then make plans and execute. Know that you can carve your own path.


The two key pieces of career navigation advice that a very senior Google leader routinely shares:

"I tell people to evaluate all of their career next steps by considering two future paths: '1. Where does this path lead me in the company I am in now?  2. How does this role position me externally?' I don't think people project forward as much as they should.

The other thing I tell people is 'Know your elevator pitch. Always be ready to give an elevator pitch on something that you are excited about to senior management or someone of importance who you may run into. Always have three things that you are excited to talk about regarding the status of your projects or about your career.'"


Thanks so much to Yvette Bohanan and her Google Finance team for inviting me to walk the group through a whirlwind discussion covering career planning, passion, risk-taking, navigating change and more. Great to see the smart, happy group. And great to see Yvette's commitment to providing her team with the time, tools and information to help them manage their careers!


From a Google Vice President on how his thinking about how to navigate his career evolved over time: "I made initial career decisions based on title, money, self-importance, competition. But I learned that you are chasing your tail with that sort of stuff...In my view, what you're going to do and who you're going to do it with are the most important criteria to think about, evaluate, feel comfortable with, make a decision upon. Because guess what? Those are going to ultimately be the big difference-makers in whether you succeed or not."