I walked away from a dream job. Each year, 2 million people apply to work at Google. My spouse always told me, “you’ll never leave, they give you free pancakes.” Yes, the pancakes there are amazing, but what made it really hard to leave were the amazing people, the incredible opportunity to make a difference in the world, and the golden handcuffs. So, why did I do it? And, how?
I started at Google in 2007 when the Seattle office was just 100 people and Google was just 17,400 people (now, it’s over 100K people). It was before Chrome, Android, Hangouts, Cloud, or Alphabet. We carried Blackberries. The whole Seattle/Kirkland office went on an annual ski trip. There were bean bags, lava lamps, and free t-shirts galore. It felt like the wild-west and anything was possible. I loved it!
Over the next decade, I had the privilege to help teams work better together—to improve things like team cohesion, strategy, clarity, team culture, and processes. I built a scalable platform called TeamDev, which enabled all teams to gain insight and take action to improve team dynamics along with a global community of 100+ internal volunteers to consult and facilitate customized team interventions. This effort operationalized the team effectiveness research known as Project Aristotle. During this time, I had a ton of meaning, purpose, and autonomy.
It was around 2018 when I started getting an itch to leave—to take my show on the road and apply my experience outside of Google. But, Google was part of my identity and I was scared to go out on my own. So, I stayed. I took on a couple of different internal roles—working in the core g2g team (Google’s peer-to-peer learning network), and finally, something completely different, an HRBP in the Cloud organization. The more I changed roles, the more I found myself drifting from my calling and giving up the autonomy and purpose that made work worth doing. That’s when I really had to ask myself—what am I doing?
So, I did some soul-searching. I reflected on my own strengths and interests and journaled about what I wanted in the next 5 years. I met with a career coach about what it would mean for me to leave Google—the loss of identity and relationships. I met other founders and consultants to see what my life might be like after venturing out and talked with others I respected who had left Google. I realized it was time to strike out on my own.
When I gave my two weeks notice, I felt so strange. I had worked at Google for 11 years! I felt a huge sense of pride and identity with Google. It felt like saying goodbye to family. What was going to be on the other side of those two weeks? If not a Googler, what would my new identity be?
My intention was to build a solo consulting practice to help managers improve team dynamics. However, I didn’t feel motivated to build that business. I would find anything else to do around the house—I spent two weeks with my mother-in-law Mari-Kondo-ing my house. Don't get me wrong, I love consulting to leaders and helping them address their team effectiveness challenges, but I was dreaming bigger. Then, after 6 months, I got an idea to build help managers improve team effectiveness, at scale. This idea kept me up at night and just would not go away.
I love helping leaders and facilitating customized team development sessions, but most team managers can't afford a team coach or consultant. I want to democratize this work so every team can become a high-performing team.
Teams are where we get work done -- especially work that is complex and innovative. Most work today is done within teams, and chances are you're probably part of many different teams. The team landscape is also getting more complex with matrix and distributed teams; as well as ongoing re-orgs, growth, and change. Most teams think about the work that needs to get done and the individuals that need to do it. They miss out on the untapped possibility of what the team can achieve by focusing on their norms, culture, processes, values, and relationships.
So, team leader: what if you could awaken that possibility by empowering your team to co-create a thriving team culture? What if you could strengthen the ties between team members with trust, reliability, and shared ownership, so team members share the role of leadership and you don't have to do so much heavy lifting? What if you could improve how your team communicates, makes decisions, and collaborates? What if you could foster more cohesiveness and connection?
I'm here to help you on that journey.
I founded Regroup to help all team leaders improve team dynamics and team health. Our mission is to make every team a great place to work.
Looking back, I wish I had left Google earlier. However, it takes time to be ready. I’m so happy with my decision to leave. I’m feeling more motivated and energized by the opportunity to make all teams a great place to work and to build a team and a company to support that mission. Once again, I have meaning, purpose, and autonomy. Sure, I miss the comforts of Google (I’m making my own lunches and I miss the security of my paycheck), but it feels so good to be uncomfortably excited in this new journey.
Curious to learn more about Regroup? Meet with me to learn how we help teams improve things like psychological safety and clarity.