Truth Is Just Perception

The Ludicrous Management Lesson Of A Google Executive

The management tips offered by Marissa Mayer, one of Google’s historical leaders, are not always that clever.

A few days ago, Mayer explained that she did not believe in burnout. In so saying, she sounded more like a spoiled little girl – at 36, Google’s employee No. 20 is worth several hundred million dollars in her company’s shares – than a member of the executive leadership of one of America’s most successful companies.

But Marissa is returned to Earth. During an interview with BuzzFeed, she gave five tips to those who want to stay happy in their work:

  1. Work with smart people.
  2. Push yourself to do something you’re not quite ready for.
  3. Find a place where you’re comfortable enough to share your true opinions.
  4. Work for somebody who invests in your success by giving you responsibility, sending you to seminars, and so on.
  5. Take time to do other things you love.

Marissa Mayer – (CC) Jolie O’Dell

I will focus on Mayer’s second and fifth recommendations.

For every employee and every manager, risk taking is an exercise as necessary as delicate. Endangerment is the sine qua non condition of progress. If your résumé recounts a career of fifteen years but your experience is fifteen reproductions of the same year, you will present little interest in the eyes of recruiters.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said in one of my favorite quotes, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” But that’s no reason to go from failure to failure because you are taking excessive risks. It is your manager’s role to push you beyond your comfort zone (another one of my favorite expressions) while ensuring that you are not entering the danger zone. Repeated failures are bad for both your reputation and your self-confidence.

Coming to Mayer’s fifth recommendation, let’s first state that work-life balance is essential. Marissa Mayer believes that achieving a balance between one’s professional and personal activities is the absolute antidote to burnout. This is already an improvement over her statement of last week – she finally rediscovers that burnout does exist – but it still is wishful thinking. We can be passionate about our job, be happy to dedicate long hours of work to something we love, not be frustrated that we have little time for any other activity, and yet still suffer a burnout as a result of physical exhaustion and/or stress.

I knew that Google products were developed using artificial intelligence. I didn’t know that the company’s employees were robots.

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