Opt In To Your Work

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It’s hard not to be inspired after spending some time at the Googleplex.

It’s a sprawling campus in Mountain View, California that houses Google. It’s more like a city than a campus. Even the famed campus, doesn’t hold all of the Googlers (Google employees). There’s the quad, buildings surrounding the main campus and more. Like Apple in Cupertino, when you pull off of the highway, you start seeing the signs on the buildings and it feels like everybody there works for the company. It feels like the city is there for Google. It was strange to watch the movie, The Internship, on the flight over and then be walking around the Google campus. This morning, right before my early breakfast meeting, I grabbed one of the multi-colored bikes and took a spin in the brisk morning air. I love it there. It feels right. It feels like everyone there is on a mission and that they’re happy – no, honored – to be on the team. As a business owner, it’s that kind of culture that you want to bottle, knowing full well that nothing’s ever perfect and sometimes another company’s culture is not that replicable. Sadly. Still, you have to find your own path.

Why are you doing the work that you’re doing?

I spoke at a Google event called, Think Performance 2013, at the Googleplex. Close to two hundred attendees from various brands were invited to start thinking differently about their marketing and communications. It was a great event. At night, I was invited to a private dinner with some senior Googlers and key brands. Beyond the great food and conversation, I was lamenting that my one regret in life (and I don’t have many) was that I didn’t make the move out to Silicon Valley back during the nascent days of the Web’s commercialization. I was recounting to the people at our table, the palpable energy and excitement that you feel whether you’re on the Google campus, in a meeting room, in one of the many cafeterias, at the Google store (when you can stock up on t-shirts and stickers) or even in the surrounding cafes. Some of the Googlers challenged my Pollyanna perspectives and I backed down, knowing full well that as amazing as it is to visit, it still has the same challenges, politics and hierarchies as any business. It’s probably just more muted because of the amazing amenities that come with the very hard work and the gorgeous, sunny weather. Still, after one of the Googlers attempted to dampen my enthusiasm, they turned around and said…

"It is true, however, that everyone here has opted-in to the Google experience." 

Opted in. Wow. Love that. You don’t just take a job and try to find everything that’s wrong with it or different from your expectations. You have opted in to a holistic experience. One that will have massive challenges along with massive opportunities depending on how well you can play with others. That phrase, "opting in," has been rolling around in my noggin since last night. Self-reflecting on my personal life, my community work and professional development, I decided to make a list of things and people that I have a relationship with and I’ve started to ask myself: "have I truly opted in for this experience?" 

Go ahead, opt in.

I have a chapter in the second part of my latest business book, CTRL ALT Delete, about rebooting your life for this very different work environment titled, Embrace The Squiggle. My hopes were that I could get people to understand that their professional career will no longer be linear and arched at a forty-five degree angle. There will not only be different jobs, but different careers. That our professional lives are very squiggly. The thing that I forgot to mention is the part about opting in. I speak to a lot of people – day in and day out. The vast majority have opted out. They’re one foot out of the door. They’re not committed. They’re not committed to their work, but more importantly, they’re not committed to the full experience and the team that they are a part of. It’s sad to see, but we all know it to be a reality. It’s not everyone, but it’s not the minority either. What the Googleplex (and this Googler) reminded me is of, is just how important it is to opt in to your work… and the life that you’re meant to lead.

Thanks for the reminder, Google.


  1. I love the spirit of this. I’m not completely sure it’s the reality of most digital workers though. Everyone wants the cushion of a large corporation; benefits, colleagues that push you to your best, good pay, a sense of belonging, job security, and above all a sense of value and worth going to work every day, etc.
    I’m a proud Google AdX member. I’m Google all the way–and I use Google every day, just like everyone else. My man JR in NYC (by way of Europe) provided the absolute best intro and client services that I’ve seen bar none from any 3rd party ad network that we’ve ever dealt with. As a result, the dollars are flowing. Great revenues share too!
    The flip side for me, as an entrepreneur in the ad space, is that we’re keen on being part of the global ecosystem, particularly where we don’t have reach, but simultaneously we’re weary of the cannibalized nature of the ad business, and that we may in fact be shooting ourselves in the foot by working with Google’s et Al.
    Nothing personal mind you. I understand that Google et Al can’t completely tailor their business to us, but I can say in certainty that we can’t allow for the level of personalization that we offer as an ad company and therefore eliminate my job as an indie. Point finale!
    But this is all par for the course. At the end of the day, Google will never have an automated monopoly–it’s going to take people that are hustling for the system and building on their algorithms. I think anyway.
    And that gets back to the Googleplex. Love it. But in this day and age where employees are disposable?! Not referencing Google employees, but the general workforce? There likely shall never exist the long-term job security that our parents grew up with. Imagine that, a college drop or high school grad loyal to a corporation and now that world doesn’t exist. That explains the hustle and distrust for most workers today–especially of the digiterati varietal. It’s going to be harder and harder to get in on the ground floor because that ground floor doesn’t exist anymore. They’re already there: at the Googleplex.

  2. Great post. Most people opt out – it’s the path of least resistance. Thinking “I can’t achieve this” is giving up before you begin. Opting in makes you vulnerable and is difficult. Hence the reward.

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