NFI again

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May 2012 and once again I am not invited to Google Zeitgeist conference.  How on earth am I to stay on top of what the zeitgeist actually is without 3 days in May rubbing shoulders with world leaders and media CEOs?  Oh I know, its OK, I can ask an iphone 4S Siri.  

Me: “What is the Zeitgeist ?”

Siri: “An album by the Smashing Pumpkins” 

Alternatively I can Google the question of course.  Luckily this week Google Search became 1000 times smarter – which is just as well because, just like you, I was beginning to think “This search business is a bit dumb, I wish it would keep up“. 

Mind you, does it have to be 1000 times smarter? It was pretty smart already. Twice as smart would have been impressive. 1000 time smarter  might be overkill – like a torch with the power of a million candles.

Still, it’s just more evidence of how ahead of the game Google really is.

And a feature in the Times by Chris Ayres this week showed how lovely their management approach is too. 

It profiled Chade-Meng Tan, one of Google’s earliest engineers who is now their head of personal growth and “Jolly Good Fellow” at the organisation

As such he gets to go and speak at TED and to meet all the most important visitors to Google’s HQ (ie world leaders).  He may be speaking at Zeitgeist this year, I actually don’t know because I am not invited (again, did I mention that before), but if he is please do make a point of meeting him if you are going.

In the Times Chade-Meng Tan talked about a friend of his who had broken with the traditional treadmill of career promotion and moved to working a 4 day week because he wanted to prioritise his personal health : “to look after himself first”.  As a result he was able to master his temper which had hampered his professional prospects and therefore achieved a promotion that had escaped him previously. 

This really does strike a refreshing note.  Too much leadership training out there seems to be very focussed on the Jack Welch school of management which focuses on pressurising employees to outperform each other.  Indeed he was nicknamed Neutron Jack in the early 80s for his propensity to eliminate employees while leaving buildings intact.  

Whilst clearly efficiency is crucial to business success humanity, putting people first, makes the real difference to getting the best out of employees.

When asked what made service in Pret a Manger so brilliant Julian Metcalfe claimed that he simply employed happy people.  Entrepreneur Tony Hsieh  places huge priority too on company culture.  This culture includes the mandate to “do more with less” ie efficiency, but also to “be humble”.  After candidates for a job at Zappos are delivered from the airport to HQ to be interviewed the management ask the shuttle bus driver about how they behaved on the bus as part of the selection process.

So what will I be doing when not at Zeitgeist?  I hope to spend time instead humbly spreading some happiness and inspiration at 124 Theobalds Road.  (Actually in the interest of telling the truth I don’t always spread happiness all the time).   Speaking of telling the truth – have you seen my book on the subject ?

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