Constant Dissatisfaction: Jonathan Lister, Country Manager, Google Canada

Last Wednesday, September 30, I had the opportunity to hear Jonathan Lister, who graduated from Rotman in 2000, speak about being the Country Manager of Google Canada.

This was part of the the Innovation in Business Speaker Series @ Rotman.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with this speaker as it lacked the excitement, innovation and inspiration that one would normally expect from any Google presentation. It read more like a typical marketing presentation about Google Canada. However, I did enjoy hearing Jonathan speak and my notes from his session are included below. He also had to take some tough questions at the end, mostly on Google’s products & policies and how they impact slightly controversial topics such as privacy and net neutrality.

Jonathan handled them all very well and I even got to speak with him briefly one-on-one after the session. I was interested in how Google Canada maintains it’s employment culture outside of their famous Googleplex headquarters in Mountain View, California. I figured that it must be difficult to maintain the culture without all their perks that are related to the facilities at Googleplex. Jonathan told me that the majority of their culture has been codified and embedded in a lot of their collaborative software. And, employees who work outside of Googleplex still get free food although they might not have access to five different cafeterias/restaurants. He even said that they’re two employees in Ottawa are able to expense all their meals!

Sound bites:

  • 2 million emails are sent every second
  • kids have on average 5 friends they’ve never met
  • over 100 million daily feed subscriptions
  • forecast 20% of all online entertainment to be user-generated in the future
  • average of of Googlers (Google employees) is 31. This is the same average age of those who worked on Apollo 11.
  • Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”
  • Google’s strategy is Search. Ads. Apps.

Google’s DNA: What make us tick?

  1. Innovation, not instant perfection. Launch early and often.
  2. Focus on the user and all else will follow. For example, have a strong feedback look. Blurring human faces in streetview was implemented based on user feedback.
  3. You don’t have to be at your desk to need an answer. Information must be flexible, portable and mobile.
  4. A license to pursue your dreams. 20% projects are key for Googlers. Google News was created after 9/11 b/c one of the employees wanted a better way to compile all the news about the incident.
  5. Data is apolitical. Data is unbiased.
  6. Morph projects. Don’t kill them.
  7. Share as much info as you can.
  8. Make money without being evil.
  9. Creativity loves constraints.

{I particularly enjoyed these principles that make up Google’s DNA. I think that I can apply them closely in my work life and hope that I can pass them on to those that I work with.}

Five Myths/Truths About Marketing

  1. Myth: Big Beats Small. Truth: Fast Beats Slow. You don’t need to be a big company/team to success. Speed is more important.
  2. Myth: You Need All 4 Ps (product, price, place/distribution, and promotion). Truth: For many brands, there are just 3 Ps (price has fallen to zero). Free will become the inevitable destination.
  3. Myth: Marketing is Impersonal. Truth: Today, it’s possible to engage 1:1 on a mass scale e.g., Amazon recommendations.
  4. Myth: Marketing Can’t be Accountable. Truth: Marketing is the New Finance.
  5. Myth: Management Comes from the Top. Truth: Wisdoms of Crowds is Creating the New Bottom-up Style of Management.
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