Google's Eric Schmidt Shares Lessons From Guru of Silicon Valley

Photo Credit: ABIR SULTAN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
April 17, 2019
Updated 1mo ago

By Carlo Versano

The bosses running Silicon Valley can learn a lot from one of the tech industry's earliest mentors as they face roiling controversies over privacy, data, and the very role of tech in modern life, Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, said Wednesday in an interview with Cheddar.

Schmidt is the co-author of "Trillion Dollar Coach," a new book he wrote with two other top Google executives that is based on the teachings and advice of Bill Campbell, the former executive and business coach who mentored some of the biggest names in tech until his death three years ago.

Schmidt and his co-authors, Jonathan Rosenberg, a former Google senior vice president, and Alan Eagle, Google's director of executive communications, said Campbell's lessons can be boiled down to a simple mantra: "Your title makes you a manager, but it's your people who make you a leader."

A constant, relentless focus on nurturing the best employees "sounds obvious," Schmidt said, yet that sort of care and commitment to core values it's too often neglected in the pressure-cooker environment of modern business.

That inattention is one reason tech giants Facebook, Amazon, and Google have been entangled in controversy as they sought to balance their stated missions to make life better and easier with the sometimes deleterious effects of their business practices on modern society ー and their own employees.

If Campbell were alive today to see witness the spread of misinformation and hate speech, the poor working conditions for many modern employees, and the out-of-control algorithms, he'd be asking, "who are the decision makers and what are our values?" Schmidt said.

"Great companies have principles and they adhere to them."

Using the lexicon of the industry, Schmidt called "Trillion Dollar Coach" an "open-source playbook" for managers and executives, not just in tech but in businesses everywhere. "All of the leaders need a coach like Bill Campbell," he said.

Eagle, Google's communications chief, added that Campbell was well known for the little things he would do to support employees, even the youngest members of the team who weren't the profit drivers of the company.

"Take a few minutes and cheer for people," Eagle said, noting that Campbell was famous for clapping for and hugging his staff when they had a success.

"Bill was bringing humanity into the workplace," he said.

For full interview click here.