Google’s Mission Statement and What It Means To You

Laszlo Bock, Head of People Operations at Google, explores the power and benefits of a Google’s mission statement in chapter two of his best-selling book, “Work Rules: Insights From Google That Will Transform How You Live And Leads”.

Google’s mission statement is simple and straightforward: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

How does this simple declaration inspire employees to find the deeper meaning in their work and create more value?

When your mission matters, it reframes how you think, prioritize and execute. Your work becomes a daily calling.

Here’s the thing. You don’t have to work at Google or even a Fortune 500 company to harness the benefits of a great mission statement.

You can make your own.

Crafting your own personal mission statement can put the full force of intrinsic motivation behind your goals.

Here’s how.


We’ve all seen corporate mission, purpose, values and vision statements frankensteined together by well-meaning committees. Done poorly, they’re unintentionally hilarious blobs of corporate speak.

Bad mission statements try to say everything and be everything to everyone.

Instead, they say nothing at all to an audience of zero.

Conversely, Google’s mission provides a clear, concise touchstone for every employee.

A good personal mission statement does the same thing. It’s a benchmark you can point to each day to filter what truly matters.

“Does [fill-in-your-own-blank] honor your mission?” is an excellent way to rapidly test key decisions. If the answer is “no”, you’ve just saved a lot of wasted time.

A personal mission statement gives you long term focus and helps prevent you from spending your life on things that don’t matter.

Beyond long term focus, it also expands your personal and professional freedom.


Consider any athlete preparing for this summer’s Olympics in Rio. Each high-performance competitor is committed to a specific daily workout regimen.

What if a coach or trainer presents a new workout wrinkle or nutritional approach that may give the athlete an edge?

The smart competitor has freedom to tinker, adjust and improve his or her training protocol.

Because they have a personal mission statement guiding their choices, they can edit their routine for maximum results. Similarly, if a new approach honors your mission, you’re free to try it out and add it to your arsenal or leave it behind.

Thus, a personal mission statement gives you the freedom to do this:

Find out what works; do more of it. Pinpoint what doesn’t work; do less of it.

Over time, this simple construct will bless you with extreme clarity.


Finally, a personal mission statement helps you define success. No one else gets to define it for you. It’s yours alone to determine.

Bock describes Google’s mission as letting it “move forward by steering with a compass rather than a speedometer.”

That’s a nice way to put it.

Compass > Speedometer.

Face it. Graveyards are full of people who spent their whole life chasing unimportant stuff for all the wrong reasons. Maybe you’re on that road right now. Then again, maybe you’re not. (Hope not!)

Part of the fun of executive coaching is helping people pause from the tyranny of distraction and assess what they truly want to achieve. Uncovering these “aha” moments is incredibly edifying and energizing—not just for the client, but for myself as well.

So, spend a few quiet minutes alone to unpack how you’re investing your time and talent. Reflect on where you are and where you want to go.

Create your own personal mission statement. Commit to it in writing.

Then, ask yourself:

  1. Are you currently serving your mission right now in your work and life?
  2. If not, why?
  3. What changes can you make today to correct this?
  4. How will you measure whether you’re fulfilling your mission?
  5. Who will keep you accountable?

Personal Mission Statement Summary


A great personal mission statement gives your work meaning. There’s a moral element to it, not a profit element.

A great personal mission statement taps into the power of intrinsic motivation.

A great personal mission statement helps you act like a founder since every day you—and you alone— decide whether to honor it.

To help you kick-start your own personal mission statement:

Personal Mission Statements of 5 Famous CEOs

Your Personal Roadmap

Helping Your People Find Purpose In their Work.

For more on the power of intrinsic motivation:

The Problem Wth Financial Incentives and What to Do About It – Knowledge@Wharton

For an excellent examination on living a meaningful life:

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen

If you enjoyed this post, please sign up for future updates at StrengthsLauncher or drop me line at I’d love to hear from you.

Best of the World of Work — Q1 2016

Here are five of my favorite articles on talent, work and leadership from Q1 2016.

Each essay illuminates the world of modern work, highlights important trends and enhances our perspective. Enjoy.

Management — Knowledge at Wharton: Love Me Do – Lessons From The Fifth Beatle

Love Me Do: Management Lessons from the Fifth Beatle

Innovation — HBR: Create The Future, Manage The Present and Selectively Forget The Past

Future of Work — Rooting Digital: Strategic Technology Trends 2016

Leadership — HBR: The Most Important Leadership Competencies

Teamwork — Forbes: Why Focusing On Teams Is Key To Success


Just land a new job, promotion or business opportunity and want to keep up the momentum? Please say

Turning natural talents into strengths is my specialty, and I’d love to help you focus your strengths on your goals.

How To Win A Work/Life Academy Award

One of my favorite lines in the Oscar-nominated “The Martian” is when astronaut Mark Watney realizes his best chance for survival is through his own unique, natural talent.

“I don’t want to come off as arrogant, but I’m the greatest botanist on this planet.”

[Spoiler Alert]
As viewers know, Watney (Matt Damon) is the only person on Mars…However, he reveals two things to the audience here.

First, we get a laugh and some character exposition into our protagonist’s dry winsomeness. Second, he shows us his insightful (and, potentially life-saving) self-awareness.

Watney knows he has the talent within himself to achieve his goal.

Will building a makeshift greenhouse on Mars be easy? No. Has NASA ever even grown food on the Red Planet (or any other planet)? Nope.

If Watney harnesses his innate, natural talents does he have a chance? Yes.

While you may not be the greatest botanist on Mars, you are uniquely wired for greatness at something here on Earth. You just have to find out what your talents are and how they work together.

Moreover, the difference between knowing and not knowing can dramatically influence your health, productivity and wellbeing…

Ground Control to Major Watney

My second favorite line from “The Martian”:

[after trying to make water by burning hydrogen] “So…I blew myself up.”

How’s your failure rate these days?

Hopefully, you don’t have to create your own water by isolating hydrogen from left over rocket fuel. However, what have you tried, failed at and learned from in the past seven days?

If you can’t think of anything, you’re not failing fast enough.

For example, if you’ve spent any time learning guitar, swinging a tennis racquet or preparing a new recipe, you’re familiar with the pain of short-term failure—calloused fingers, sore elbows and learning to quickly remove the batteries from your smoke alarm…

Eventually, after hours of mindful practice (and failure), you learn a few chords, consistently get your backhand over the net, and serve an edible apple-glazed lamb chop.

In smart work circles, quality failure is an activity that’s honored. Consider Google. Few companies are more dedicated to fostering a culture of innovation. (Check out Laszlo Bock’s “Work Rules!” for excellent insight into growing smart organizations.)

The benefits Google receives from allowing its employees to mindfully fail is staggering in terms of new products, new services and the creation of entire new markets for the company.

Fear-based cultures, on the other hand, shun and silence workers who dare suggest unfamiliar—but potentially superior—ideas and initiatives.

Why do lesser organizations, and people, for that matter, avoid failure with such determination?

People like the idea of improvement, but they hate change.

Someone at Kodak must have suggested paying closer attention to the growth of digital photography in the late 1990’s. Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975, for goodness sake. Alas, that potentially golden opportunity was not to be.

In 1908, a well-run saddlery probably made a decent profit. Then, this happened.

As we see, sometimes you gotta make water from hydrogen. You have to put your natural talents to work and take risks. When you do, you may get “blown up” a few times in the process. You’ll face uncertainty, challenges and your fair share of disappointment.

However, it’s the only way to survive past Sol 300 on Mars–much less thrive on earth.

It’s Time To Leave The Capsule…If You Dare

In the final scene, we see Watney in a lecture hall coaching a young group of explorers. Here’s the closing dialogue of the film:

“At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you…everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, ‘This is it. This is how I end.’ Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home. All right, questions?”

In work and life “everything going south” is a “when” not an “if” proposition. When it does, will you be prepared?

One of the best ways to discover your natural talents and begin turning them into strengths is through the best-selling StrengthsFinder 2.0 book and talent assessment.

Check it out and remember the mindset of Mars’ greatest botanist. Own your natural talents, and keep failing until you’ve achieve your goal.

You may never be the greatest botanist on another planet, but you can become the best you on this planet.

If you enjoyed this post, please sign up for future updates at StrengthsLauncher or drop me line at I’d love to help you discover, grow and focus your natural talents.

Talent And The Art Of The Comeback – TCU’s Stunning Alamo Bowl Victory

Elvis in ’68. Sinatra in ’74. Bills v. Oilers in ’93. In their own ways, all worthy comebacks.

However, there’s a new contender for best comeback of all time. TCU’s triple overtime win over Oregon in the 2016 Valero Alamo Bowl.

“The Kolhausen Comeback.”

From the agony of defeat to the thrill of victory, “greatest comebacks of all time” don’t just happen by accident.

How can you prepare to win more, live smarter and maybe even pull off your own comeback in 2016?

Read More

Leadership Lessons from Jerry Seinfeld

Last year Jerry Seinfeld, co-creator of what TV Guide called “the greatest television show of all time”, hosted a hilarious and nostalgic Reddit AMA.

Not only is it an entertaining read, but we learn a lot about how he thinks, works and treats people.

What does Seinfeld know about leadership you might be missing?

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TCU Legend LaDainian Tomlinson: Success Secrets in Work and Life

What are the secret ingredients to a successful personal and professional life? How do we cut through the noise and the naysayers to stay focused on our goals?

LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU Hall of Famer and the NFL’s 5th all-time leading rusher, spoke to the TCU Alumni Association in Dallas on Friday.

Here are just a few key insights from LT’s Q&A:

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How to Discover the Hidden Talents That Will Make You a Business Star

When is the last time you did something and completely lost track of time?
Managing Partner, Build Your Influence

Finding our natural talents can be quite difficult to do. For me, it took me decades to find out that I was good at writing.

It was never a skill that I knew I had, especially since all I ever received in High School English were C’s. But here I am today, with millions of views on my content.

Much like many other people, discovering what your talents are can be extremely hard to figure out. Because of that, I sought out expert advice on how to not only identify, but embrace and hone in on your natural talents. I reached out to Doug Wilks, a talent investigator who founded StrengthsLauncher.

Doug Wilks provided these 3 key insights to discover what your natural talents are:

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