A few months ago, I quit my job at Google 10 years later and joined 40 startups (Replit).
I knew it at the time, but I had a hard time expressing why it needed to be changed. Writing this helped me organize it.
I left because I needed to balance my work and life.
I joined Google in early 2011. Larry Page has begun his second mission as CEO. Everyone was talking about a secret project called Emerald Sea. TGIF was Friday and we attended directly.
It was my dream job at the time. Google was incredibly good for me. I had great teammates and role models. The financial situation of my family will change forever. I was pretty steadily promoted and well prepared to keep moving forward.
So why was I unhappy?
Someone once described the balance to me as three buckets filled with water. One is for careers, the second is for physical health, and the third is for social and family life. At any given time, one bucket may be missing. But as long as the overall water level is high enough, things should work.
The important thing is that water represents your satisfaction, not the time you spend.
And this explains how I got involved in the so-called mass resignation.
In 2020, the pandemic destroyed bucket # 3 for most people. There was no difference. A friend from my hometown in Canada couldn’t visit us. It was hard to meet local friends. In January 2021, I tore the Achilles tendon playing pickup basketball. I have bucket # 2.
Only then did I notice that bucket # 1 was missing for some time.
By mid-2021, I was always tired. I know I wasn’t alone because it was an ongoing meme in Google. Only now I understand what went wrong. I missed the satisfaction of making things and completing projects.
Getting things done with Google can be difficult. Successful projects require the cooperation of multiple teams, so a lot of work needs to be done in advance to bring everyone together. But it makes the project vulnerable. If any of these teams change direction or exaggerate their original commitment, the project will slow down or fail.
This incidence continued to rise. There were many reasons for that. The team fights for scope. Executives disagree with the direction, but middle management is smart enough to express OKR in a way that makes them think they’re all getting what they want. Also, the combination of reorganization and turnover in middle management meant that most people change parts of the management chain multiple times a year. Mass layoffs are like a flywheel like that.
For most of 2021, I spent energy to protect my team from the turmoil. We wanted them to finish an exciting project. My day was spent divert potential reorganizations and project cancellations from new leaders joining the team around me.
September brought another wave of organizational change. Even though I worked less than before, I had burnout. I have decided that the best solution is to work in a place where the entire problem of this class cannot exist.
In mid-2021, I found Replit by combining a Hacker News post with Paul Graham’s tweet. I quickly realized the potential of the product. Some of the first ideas I had for them started to come out as a real feature. The CEO shared his opinion fairly openly on Twitter and found that I agreed with most of them.
I contacted them as soon as I realized I was going to leave Google.
I haven’t coded regularly for about 5 years. But thankfully, their interview was practical. I spent the nights and weekends refreshing enough skills to pass.
When negotiating an offer, I really only care about three things:
The role I’m excited about. Sufficient salary to pay my bills. If Im is correct about what happens to Replit, it’s fair enough for Ill to come out before staying at Google.
When I said “yes” to the offer, a wave of relief and excitement struck me. I usually advise others to follow their internal organs about difficult decisions. It was nice to hear me speak very clearly.
So: Am I happy? Definitely so.
I work a lot more time. It’s likely that you’re working in the evening or weekend now. But what I do makes a difference that I can see. Progress feels 10 times faster.
The most amazing thing is that I have more energy. Finding a motive to return to the gym is easy. I have more energy in a social situation.
Overflow can occur when one bucket is full.
A few months later, Emerald Sea became a public name: with Google+ internal social networks, Im became very tired and a dark joke. Alex Komoroske explains very well what happens when a project is delayed, like slime mold. The role for me is different from the title. I forgot to confirm the official title of the job and couldn’t answer when I was first asked (engineer). This sounds simple, but the cost of a family of three having a home in the Bay Area is not a joke. In the end, it was 85% of my Google salary.
This article was originally posted on Scott Kennedy’s blog. Search for Scotton Twitter.
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