6 Success lessons from Eric Schmidt – “ex-CEO Google and Billionaire” for entrepreneurs
Eric Schmidt is one of the most important figures when it comes to Google and Alphabet’s history. He served as CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011, and is now the executive chairman at Alphabet, Google’s newly formed parent company.
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin recruited Eric Schmidt from Novell, where he led that company’s strategic planning, management and technology development as chairman and CEO.
Here are 6 success lessons from Eric Schmidt – “Alphabet’s Executive Chairman and Billionaire” for entrepreneurs,
1. Remember that even at scale, great products come from small teams
Eric Schmidt mentions that he has seen the same cycle again and again — great products are created through small teams: with great leaders, who eliminate all non-critical features, while working under extreme pressure, and who produce a product that just barely works.
He sights example that Windows was started by one person, UNIX was 2 people, Java was started by 1 person, Gmail was started by 2 people, Android was small team, Linux was started by 1 person.
2. Leaders aren’t always picked first
As it turns out, Eric wasn’t the first choice to be the turnaround CEO at Novell (sources say it was Robert Frankenberg). He wasn’t the first choice to be the “grown up” CEO at Google (some say it was Steve Jobs).
But you wouldn’t know that if you met him. It didn’t deter him. Being the second choice didn’t shake his confidence, or lessen what he was able to accomplish.
3. Ideal candidates are the ones who prefer roller coasters
According to Schmidt, ideal candidates are the ones who keep learning. These “learning animals” have the smarts to handle massive change and the character to love it. Most people, when they are hiring for a role, look for people who have excelled in that role before. This is not how you find a learning animal. Favoring specialization over intelligence is exactly wrong, especially in high tech.
The world is changing so fast across every industry and endeavor that it’s a given the role for which you’re hiring is going to change.
4. Leaders make mistakes
History has a way of dwelling on mistakes. Of finding fault for what went wrong. Of placing blame for why things didn’t work.
Some would say the demise of Eric at Novell started with a single business decision. A single decision that many said toppled a billion-dollar enterprise.
Likely not the case, but the point is that leaders are human. They don’t have a magical crystal ball to give them perfect clarity of the future. They make mistakes like the rest of us, but that doesn’t make them any less of a leader.
5. You can start over and win again
Eric’s success as a leader at Google is far greater than any of his reported failures at Novell.
And that’s the point. The defeatist in all of us would say you failed, and you’ll always be a failure. You’ll never rise again to your highest performance.
But that’s not what real leaders believe. They don’t let past successes or failures define their future. They approach every new opportunity with new eyes and ambition.
6. You don’t always win
Eric didn’t turn the ship around at Novell. He didn’t hit every number. He didn’t meet every analyst’s expectation. He didn’t solve every problem.
But not winning in every area didn’t make him a bad leader. It didn’t doom him to failure for the rest of his life. It didn’t prevent bigger and better opportunities from coming along. It didn’t define or confine him.