Tag Archives: Working at Google

A Googler’s illustrated guide to teamwork

Ah, team projects. They spark dread in the hearts of middle schoolers and business professionals alike. But Googler Stephen Gay, a manager on the Ads User Experience team, says teamwork doesn’t have to be so hard. 

Stephen recently published “Why Always Wins: A Graphic Resource About Leading Teams,” a graphic novel focused on effective leadership. In the conversation below, Stephen talks about writing the book and reveals a few tips for leading high-performing teams.

Where did the idea to create a graphic novel about leadership come from? 

I’ve been so fortunate over the past 20-plus years of my design career to have great coaches and mentors who shared guidance along the way, and I wanted to pay it forward. But, a classic business leadership book is, like, 300 pages of text. In my day job, I’m a user experience (UX) designer, which is all about guiding the user through a journey. I realized that a long book might not be the most engaging format, so I had the idea to put the advice into a more consumable, fun format.

Stephen Gay

Stephen with his graphic novel “Why Always Wins."

How did your day job at Google influence the book? 

For the past two years, I’ve led a team that helps design the UX for Google Ads. Our work allows businesses to create and place ads all over the web, which helps millions of advertisers and publishers. It’s high-impact, high-visibility work, so there’s tremendous pressure to move quickly. 

To do that well, we need to focus on both what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. Research at Google has shown teams with established trust and strong working relationships produce higher-quality work...and at faster speeds.

Screenshot 2019-12-30 at 8.25.14 AM.png

What’s your best advice for leading a high-performing team? 

It’s actually where the title of the book comes from: “Why always wins.” Difficult situations at work inevitably occur, but instead of immediately reacting, it’s important to stop and really assess what’s happening. That starts with self awareness and awareness of the team and the situation.

As a leader, we might come into a situation and want to advocate for our own position right away. Try leading with inquiry, instead of advocacy. Ask why. 

How does asking “why” help? 

Let’s say you notice someone texting on their phone while you’re presenting. Your natural inclination might be to assume they’re not paying attention. By asking why, you might learn that they’re actually dealing with a family emergency or texting a coworker to come check out the presentation because they’re so impressed.

So, if “why always wins,” what always loses? 

“Lose” might be a harsh word, but I see friction and unhealthy tension start to build up in teams when leaders don’t solicit a variety of perspectives. There’s a technique we call the “boomerang” that can help. 

You can bring in the boomerang when a group conversation starts to get heated, typically between two people. To boomerang it, you throw the question back out to the rest of the group to collect everyone’s opinions and then formulate a next step. At Google, we talk a lot about creating a culture of inclusivity, and the boomerang is an easy technique to open the conversation back up to more perspectives, and especially allow quieter voices to be heard. 

Why Always Wins

Besides “why,” what’s a key phrase leaders should get comfortable with? 

Not speaking at all. There’s a lot of power in a pause. One of my early mentors used to say, “Sometimes you have to go slow to go fast.” When you’re in a heightened state of confusion or frustration and speak rashly, you can make bad decisions. Sometimes you need a moment for the water to clear, and then you can guide your team forward in a more mindful way.

2019 in review: Stories from Google this year

This is (probably) our last Keyword post of 2019 (and the decade). It’s cliche to talk about the passage of time, but as a new parent—my son was just a few weeks old at the time of this wrap-up post last December—I have an especially keen sense of how much can happen in a year. I also know it’s important to savor the individual moments. In that spirit, let’s look back at the stories that we shared from Google in 2019.  

1. We invested in the communities around us, with a new Grow with Google Learning Center in New York and an expansion to libraries. We made investments in housing in the Bay Area and in data centers and offices across the U.S. In places like Chile, India, Mexico and Nigeria, our products and initiatives are helping connect more people to the opportunities afforded by the internet. And we officially reached 10 million people across Europe and the Middle East with digital skills training.

2. We continued our work to connect young people with digital skills and computer science education. Code with Google brings together CS resources for educators and coding programs for students. Our fourth annual Tech Day brought hundreds of students to Google to learn about CS, and partnerships with 4-H and The Boys and Girls Club encourage young people to learn about digital skills.


Youth development professional Basha Terry helps the teens in Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Delta get the most out of Applied Digital Skills.

3. With our sustainability efforts, we’re also investing in the future of our planet. This year, we made the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history. We broke down exactly what goes into keeping our data centers green, and how we’re making sustainability the centerpiece of our hardware products. Beyond Google, we saw people use our products to find bike-sharing options, map climate change with Google Earth Engine, and track air quality across the globe

4. What do a pharmacy-turned-local landmark in Chicago, a greeting card shop in Colorado, and a Hawaiian food spot in Oahu have in common? They’re all using Google products to promote and grow their businesses. Meanwhile, developers are building on our open-source platforms to address problems like youth unemployment in Capetown and crop-destroying pests in Uganda.

5. We continue to be amazed by the various applications of AI. AI was put to work to improve recycling, discover planets, add color to black-and-white photos, help conservationists monitor wildlife, write a song, create a Doodle and improve road safety in Iowa. Organizations around the world submitted ideas for how they’d use AI to address societal challenges. And our quantum computing breakthrough shows the potential of the technology to solve problems ranging from climate change to disease.

Parisian coder Emil Wallner built a program that uses machine learning to learn how to add color to black-and-white photos.

6. Stadia, our new video game platform, launched to provide instant streaming access to games on any type of screen, without a console. With BERT, we made one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search, while Android 10 brought a new look, and a new way of naming releases, to our mobile operating system. 

7. We shared tips to help you master your email, add mindfulness to your everyday routine, set up your home Wi-Fi networkget more out of Chromecast, get things done at home with Nest Hub Max, and even soothe your dog’s anxiety with Nest Cam. For help finding more balance with technology, we tapped a Googler to show us how she puts our digital wellbeing tools to work.

Using Android’s Digital Wellbeing tools to spend less time on the phone

Using Android’s Digital Wellbeing tools to spend less time on the phone

8. Action Blocks, Live Caption, Project Euphonia and Live Transcribe are just a few of this year’s many updates to make technology more helpful for people with disabilities. We also heard from people both inside and outside of Google about why accessible technology matters—including a member of the Google Maps team, a business analyst who helped create a new Maps feature, a developer in the U.K. and a Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Ambassador

9. We celebrated the 15th anniversary of Gmail and reflected on how 1GB of email storage seemed like SO MUCH back in 2004. We turned the page on the newest design for Google Books, and asked Google’s own Vint Cerf, one of the original architects of the internet, for his take on the 50th anniversary of the “first packet sent.” While we’re on the subject of technological achievements, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with an out-of-this-world tribute to Margaret Hamilton.
Margaret Hamilton portrait

Margaret Hamilton led the team that developed the onboard flight software for Apollo 11’s historic moon landing. This 1.4-square-mile portrait—bigger than New York's Central Park—was created by positioning over 107,000 mirrors at the Ivanpah Solar Facility in the Mojave Desert to reflect the light of the moon.

10. John Legend and Issa Rae lent their voices to the Google Assistant, while Google Nest gave us a glimpse into Martha Stewart’s smart home and a taste of a new recipe from Ayesha Curry. Google Arts & Culture worked with Lin-Manuel Miranda to bring artifacts from the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña online. And just last week we heard from Chance the Rapper about the opportunities kids have when they learn to code. 

11. We met so many Googlers, including Academy Award winners, a concert pianist and the world record holder for calculating the most accurate value of pi. We heard from one of Google’s first interns—now the SVP of Google Maps—about our 20th intern class (the most representative ever), and followed along with Take Your Kids to Work Day and Take Your Parents to Work Day. Googlers shared their stories of coming out at work, writing a book about racial stereotypes, and keeping the hackers out of Google.

12. We welcomed new emoji to our Android phones and took a look at the year in GIFs. We discovered the right way to peel a sticky note—and learned more about how Wi-Fi, spreadsheets and spam calls work. And as ever, we turned to Search to answer important questions, about BBQ sauce and why cats like boxes.

Animated GIF of pulling a sticky note off a pad

That was quite the year. And my kid is quite literally trying to take my keyboard away from me, so I’ll take that as a sign to wrap things up. Catch you in 2020! 

Our annual pay equity review

Compensation should be based on what you do, not who you are. We design compensation to be fair and equitable from the outset—but because these are human processes, it’s important to double-check them. 

Each year we run a rigorous statistical analysis to make sure all new salaries, bonuses and equity awards are fair. We take into account things that should impact pay, such as role, level, location and performance. If we find any differences in proposed pay between men and women globally or by race and ethnicity or age in the U.S., we make upward adjustments.

Each year, we continue to improve our analytical approach. This year we included a higher percentage of Googlers in our analysis than before (now 93 percent worldwide), and for the first time we analyzed Googlers age 40 and over in the U.S. After thorough review, we increased compensation for 2 percent of employees to ensure that there were no inconsistencies for any demographic group. Increases totalled $5.1 million, and Googlers that received adjustments fell into every demographic category.

Ensuring fairness is a never-ending process, and our pay equity analysis is just one part of a larger effort to improve our practices. We know that employees’ level, performance ratings, and promotion history also impact pay, which is why we’re continuing to focus on all of our people processes to ensure that Google is a great place to work for everyone. 

You can read more about our pay equity analysis methodology on our re:Work site.

Sharing knowledge this Native American Heritage Month

I am a proud tribal member of Doyon, one of the 12 Alaska Native regional corporations. Unlike the “lower 48” states, Alaskan Native tribes are organized as incorporated entities. My family has lived and fished in Alaska for generations; we have a fish camp on the Yukon River where we come together every summer to live off the land, with no running water, no electricity and no access except by boat. Growing up each summer on the Yukon has taught me the importance of knowledge sharing—passing traditions and customs from one generation to the next. 

As a Googler, I’ve never lost sight of this, and continue sharing knowledge with those around me. This October, I partnered with my tribe to create a robotics workshop with the Google American Indian Network, an employee resource group made up of Googlers from across the company who are passionate about making an impact for indigenous communities. Software engineers from Google traveled all the way from California to Fairbanks, Alaska to facilitate robotics lessons for a group of Alaskan Native high school students from villages across the Interior. Using robotics kits, these students coded and competed in four back-to-back competitions over the course of three days.

This is just one of the several ways Google, and the people who work here, are honoring Indigenous communities, especially now during Native American Heritage Month. The Doodle team kicked off the month with a Doodle honoring Will Rogers, a Cherokee Nation member and champion of positive political commentary and aviation. The Google Arts and Culture team shared a story about Rogers’ legacy, and held a special interview with currently elected Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. at Google’s offices in Mountain View. 

Will Rogers Google Doodle

Just last month, we celebrated a partnership between the Google American Indian Network and Celilo Village, a Native American community on the Columbia River, where we were able to bring Wi-Fi to its residents. This project is a positive step forward to improve the digital divide between urban and rural communities, which is especially apparent for Native communities across the country.

Earlier this year, Google Earth launched a project enabling people to meet—and hear—more than 50 Indigenous speakers from around the globe, including a Cherokee speaker from Oklahoma and a Karuk speaker and Central Pomo speaker both from California. Yesterday, the Global Oneness Project and Google Earth released a lesson plan and activities to help teachers explore Indigenous languages vitality with their students. For Indigenous speakers interested in submitting their language to the collection, the Google Earth team is taking submissions through the end of this year.

I feel proud to be a part of two corporations: my heritage as a tribal shareholder of Doyon, an Alaska Native regional corporation, and my role as a Googler, where our mission is to make the world’s information accessible to all, extending knowledge beyond regions and customs. I’m excited to be a part of a new generation of knowledge sharing in the interior of Alaska, one that ignites a passion for education and helps build the next great generation of Alaskan Natives who like their ancestors, use the resources available to them to make an impact in their communities.

Ana Baasee’(thank you)!

How my time in the Air Force prepared me for life at Google

In 1996, I was a young senior airman at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. We were controlling an air training mission, and had just safely led fighter jets to the training airspace. But in a split second, we got a radio call from a pilot telling us one of his engines went out. Just like that, we had to snap into action and help the plane land safely. I still get goosebumps thinking about that night of the engine outage, but taking action in that scary moment prepared me for life outside of the military. 

Carla McIntosh's training certificate

When I first left the Air Force, I initially struggled to explain how my military experience mattered outside the aerospace field. But I realized a lot of employers value the skills I had quickly coordinating and processing information under intense pressure. In my role as a staffing leader at Google, though the stakes are certainly much different, I can collaborate with people, quickly share critical information and pivot to different tasks. 

This Veterans Day, it’s so exciting to see Google sharing stories about veterans who’ve transitioned into tech, gained civilian skills and even started their own businesses. To bring more visibility to their experiences, we partnered with U.S. Army veteran guest artist Pete Damon on today’s Google Doodle and are sharing profiles of veterans (myself included) who are finding new opportunities by combining their military experience with new tech skills. And teams across the company are celebrating their veteran colleagues' contributions to the products that people use every day around the world. Telling our stories helps future employers see our value, and honors the sacrifices so many have made for this country. If just one service member is inspired or finds the courage to dream of a life beyond the uniform, then I’ve done my job.

Pete Damon poses with his Google Doodle artwork

Retired U.S. Army Sergeant Pete Damon, alongside the Veterans Day 2019 Doodle he created.

Since joining Google in 2015, I’ve been a part of our VetNet employee resource group, which is a community of veterans, spouses, and our allies. VetNet members provide ongoing support for just about everything. For example, many VetNetters refer other veterans to Google, serve as buddies to those newly hired and help support those who are currently transitioning to corporate civilian life.   

I’m really proud of Google’s commitment to helping veterans through VetNet, Grow with Google, Google for Startups and Search tools to help veterans find jobs or start businesses. It’s an exciting time to see veterans entering the civilian workforce, and we’re working hard to help to make that transition much smoother. 

When I look back at the final months of my Air Force career, I remember how nervous I was, and how I didn’t know where to start. Hopefully, today’s veterans won’t have to go through that fear. They now have key resources and allies who are working hard every day to help them.

Can mindfulness actually help you work smarter?

Mindfulness isn’t just sitting on the floor, legs crossed, and chanting mantras. It’s a tool that, when used wisely, can boost your experience at work, your relationships with others and even your overall well-being. Mindfulness is maintaining a moment-to-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings and emotions, while having an attitude of kindness and curiosity.

That's the idea behind Google's mindfulness programs, which include seminars called Search Inside Yourself and Fundamentals of Mindfulness, and an internal program called gPause that promotes meditation and mindfulness practices. These initiatives have been created over the last 10 years in 64 offices around the world with more than 350 volunteers that host guided meditation practices, events and workshops. Through these programs Googlers have an opportunity to develop emotional intelligence, enhance well-being, improve team effectiveness and support a culture of respect and inclusion. 

So how can this practice actually have an impact in our jobs? To answer this question we sat with Ruchika Sikri, Well-Being Learning Strategy Lead at Google, who shared some tips we can start using in our everyday routine.

Let your thoughts settle.

Ruchika shares the analogy that our mind is like a snowglobe. We’re constantly shaking it with information overload, distractions and task switching. This results in reduced clarity of our priorities and a lack of focus. By practicing a brief meditation (as short as five minutes!)—we can let the “snow'' settle and see things more clearly and vividly. Clarity of mind can help us prioritize what’s important, solve problems better, figure out new strategies or uncover issues we may have ignored.

Be mindful of what you say. 

Mindfulness has a direct impact on our work culture and team effectiveness, Ruchika says. It helps you stay aware of what you say and what impact your words might have. It can help when you’re having difficult conversations, because you’re more present and therefore able to take your own and another party’s perspective more actively, and respond instead of react to external or internal stimuli. She cites a study done at Google, which found that most high functioning teams have psychological safety as a key element of their work environments, which means that team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other. Being mindful of that sense of safety can help boost everyone around you at work. “The teams that feel safe and trust each other actually feel more accomplished and do more,” she says.

Commit to a routine.  

Ruchika says a mindfulness practice starts with making a mental commitment to it. It’s certainly helpful to take a workshop, but you can simply start the practice with an app like Headspace. The app provides bite-sized guided meditations for busy schedules. You can start the practice at home or during your commute if you use public transportation.

Have the right expectations. 

Mindfulness is not a panacea, though. Instead, it’s an important tool that can raise self-awareness and help you identify personal needs more clearly. Ruchika recommends building an intention for your practice before jumping in. What is it that you want to improve? It could be better focus and clarity at work, healthier relationships, managing stress more effectively or adopting a healthier lifestyle. Then, practice makes it perfect. To actually feel the benefits of mindfulness, you have to make it a regular practice.

Step away from your screen. 

Every 90 minutes, our mind and body need a break to rest and recover, Ruchika says. To remain alert and attentive towards what you’re doing, step away from your screen and go for a nice walk, have a glass of water or simply do something different, and really savor the moment. You may notice that you have fresh perspectives and ideas when you get back to your desk. You can also install the Mindful Break Chrome extension to go through a one-minute breathing exercise.

How Google made me proud to be out at work

Until I started working at Google in 2014, I had never been out at work.  

Now, less than five years later, everything is different: I’m an active volunteer leader in Google’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group—a Googler-run, company-supported organization that works to provide an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees, and partners closely with our Trans Employee Resource Group, which represents our transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary colleagues. As part of my role, I’ve had the chance to engage LGBTQ+ Googlers across our global offices, speak publicly about being LGBTQ+ in the workplace and have even been able to share my perspectives and experiences directly with Google leadership. 

At this point, I can barely remember what it felt like to not be a visible, openly LGBTQ+ person at work. So it’s hard to imagine that before joining Google, I felt I couldn’t come out at the office at all. 

As we celebrate National Coming Out Day and reflect on all of the progress we’ve made as a community, I am determined to remember this simple but crucial reality: Openness matters. Community matters. Being able to be out at work matters. 

LGBTQ+ Pride sign at Google

Googlers create signs supporting the LGBTQ+ community for the 2017 New York City Pride March.

Prior to joining Google, I’d spent time in a variety of industries, always under the careful, polite policy of evasion when it came to questions about my personal life. Perhaps I didn’t need to be so secretive. I worked with wonderful, kind people, and though there were no explicit shows of support for LGBTQ+ issues from my workplace, I’m sure most of my colleagues and managers wouldn’t have taken issue with my identity. 

Still, for many LGBTQ+ folks, the fear of prejudice can nag at you, and cause you to hesitate even around the most well-meaning of coworkers. Some assume that with the ushering in of marriage equality here in the U.S., other kinds of inequality have disappeared and the movement is complete. But as many LGBTQ+-identifying people will tell you, critical challenges still remain, and it takes a conscious and dedicated effort to counteract their effects. 

Growing up in New Mexico, I got an early introduction to some of the challenges that LGBTQ+ people still so often face: harassment, discrimination, violence. The understanding that being LGBTQ+ was unsafe was imprinted on me almost immediately, and that fear left a lasting mark.  

In each new city, from college to a job to graduate school to another job, I was reminded (often in not-so-subtle ways) that no matter what might change in the law or in popular culture, I should always be wary, always be careful.  

So I never took the chance.  

In so many important ways, restraining from bringing my full self to work hurt my ability to be a good employee. Constantly worrying about slipping up and revealing that I had a girlfriend rather than a boyfriend prevented me from feeling fully integrated. It became an obstacle to forming the kinds of professional relationships that help company culture feel cohesive and supportive.  

Now, I realize how much I was missing.  Today, I’m part of a workplace with visible LGBTQ+ leaders, explicit shows of support for LGBTQ+ cultural moments and celebrations and broad encouragement to use what makes me different to create an environment of inclusion for my fellow Googlers. This journey has made me realize how much all workplaces can benefit from supporting their employees’ differences, just as much as they celebrate their collective unity.  

I’m proud. I hope you are, too. 

Voice guidance in Maps, built for people with impaired vision

Think about the last time you walked to a new place. How many streets did you cross to get there? Which intersections were the most complex? How did you prepare before making a turn? And how did you know you weren’t lost?

Now think about making that same trip if you were one of the 36 million people who are blind worldwide, or one of the 217 million people more who have moderate-to-severe vision impairments.

As a legally blind woman living in Tokyo, I know that getting around unfamiliar environments can be a challenge. I can easily commute from my front door to my desk at work; it’s a trip I take regularly and know well. But going some place new and unfamiliar can be an intimidating experience without sight to guide you. In some cases, I’ll have a friend to join me on a trip, but in others I may decide not to take the journey at all.

Detailed voice guidance in Google Maps helps people with visual impairments

Starting today, World Sight Day, Google Maps is rolling out a new feature that gives people the ability to receive more detailed voice guidance and new types of verbal announcements for walking trips. This feature is the first in Google Maps to be built from the ground up by, and for, people with vision impairments. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work closely with the Maps team on this project as an early advisor and tester—outside of my day job as a business analyst in the Tokyo office.

With this feature, I can navigate the streets of Tokyo with more comfort and confidence. As I take my journey, Google Maps proactively lets me know that I’m on the correct route, the distance until my next turn and the direction I’m walking in. As I approach large intersections, I get a heads-up to cross with added caution. And if I accidentally leave my route, I’ll get a spoken notification that I'm being re-routed. 

Frequent updates like these not only help a visually impaired person get from A to B, they can also give us more confidence and reassurance when we travel alone. With detailed voice guidance in Google Maps, my journey fades into the background and I can focus more on what I’ll do at my final destination. This may not sound extraordinary to those with sight, but for people who are blind or have low vision, this can help us explore new and unfamiliar places.

Googler Wakana Sugiyama talks about how detailed voice guidance in Google Maps helps everyone navigate with ease.

(Versions of this video with full audio descriptions for people with vision impairments are also available in English and Japanese.)

Building a more helpful Google Maps for everyone

I hope this new technology will give more people added confidence when navigating unfamiliar routes--after all, building for everyone is core to our work at Google. 

While this new feature can be enormously helpful to people with visual impairments, it can also help someone who wants a more screen-free experience on their next walking trip. Similar to the announcements you might hear at crosswalks or on a bus, everyone can benefit from it. Not everyone will need this level of assistance, but it’s great to know it’s available and only a tap away.

Detailed voice guidance for walking navigation starts rolling out today on Android and iOS. Right now, it’s available in English in the United States and Japanese in Japan, with support for additional languages and countries on the way.

To turn the feature on, go to your Google Maps settings and select “Navigation.” At the bottom of the list you'll find the option to enable "Detailed voice guidance," beneath the “Walking options” heading.

Source: Google LatLong

First-ever summit connects hundreds of Latina Googlers

At the end of a two-day summit in Sunnyvale, California, keynote speaker Dolores Huerta led a chant with the audience. She asked the crowd, “Who’s got the power?” And we responded, “We’ve got the power!” She continued: “What kind of power?” We responded: “Latina power!” 

We were at the first-ever Latinas at Google Summit, which took place earlier this month. The summit, called “Building for the Future,” aimed to create community and discuss the unique U.S. experience of being a Latina at Google. Five hundred Googlers attended the summit, which featured guest speakers Huerta and “Orange Is the New Black” actress Jackie Cruz, as well as conversations with senior leaders at Google. 

A group of Google volunteers, myself included, took seven months to carefully plan workshops, music, art exhibits and food inspired by our heritage. The size of the group was awe-inspiring, and so was their response after the event. When they gave us feedback, they told us they found community in the personal stories they shared and left the summit feeling more connected. At the event, they said, they learned new ways to amplify the work they do at Google—and in turn, reach people beyond our walls.

One of the most inspirational moments involved Huerta, who is widely known for her advocacy, especially around farmworker rights, and her foundation, which focuses on civic engagement for young people and families. She delivered a keynote speech and later sat down for an interview with Laura Marquez, Google’s head of Latino community engagement. 

Huerta urged the crowd to use their voice to reach out to their own families and communities to educate and get involved in issues that affect our everyday lives. With one of her 11 children in the audience, Huerta shared her experience and insights that continue to guide her through her 90th birthday, and the work she’ll continue doing in the future. 

Here are a few key lessons Huerta shared with the crowd:

Own your power. 

“As women, sometimes we’re afraid of that word, power. We see it in a negative connotation. A lot of times, we as women kind of hold ourselves back a little bit from the positions we aspire to. And we think, well, maybe I’m not experienced enough, not qualified enough. And I just say: Do it like the guys do. Pretend! Think of yourselves as being the decision makers.  It takes courage to do the things we need to do. And the biggest courage of all is to stand up for ourselves.”

Don’t discount people without formal education. 

“In our organization, many of our women never had a chance to go to high school or college. But does that mean they’re not educated? You know, in Spanish, the word educado has a whole different meaning than it does in English. It means if you’re educated, you’re civil, you have a conscience, you have compassion for other people, you have good manners. That means what educado means in Spanish. It doesn’t mean you have to have a formal education. So that means that many of our parents or our grandparents who never had a chance to go to school, that doesn’t mean they’re not educated. They are educated!”

Research your history. 

“My family has been here for many generations. My great-grandfather was in the Civil War on the Union side. But when I went to Mexico, it was such a revelation to me, even though both of my parents were born in the United States of America. When I saw how many people there were who were so proud of being Mexicans, that really saved me. Because in high school, there was so much racial discrimination, I thought I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. That really saved me in terms of my identity. I want to make sure that [Latino history] is introduced into our school books so people are proud of who they are and can stand up to racial discrimination. If we don’t know our own history, we don’t know our own identity.”

Sharing stories and snacks at Take Your Parents to Work Day

When I was a kid, I loved when my dad took me to work at his office in downtown Milwaukee. He had good views for parades on the streets below, and had one of those handheld games with water and, like, little marbles that you’d try to move down chutes. He had a set of office keys that had this one super-cool blue key on it that, as far as I knew, was for some top-secret treasure closet, maybe? (Or the bathroom, probably.) I’d sit and play the game and watch some TV and hang out, while my dad did what I only assumed was Important Adult Stuff, and then we’d go home. Man, what good times!

Back in those days, I’d think about the times I’d be able to take my parents to my job someday. I didn’t think I’d be taking them to a tech company, but instead to the NBA games I’d certainly be playing in. But things change! People stop getting any taller! Dreams get … deferred! And though it wasn’t on the basketball court, last week, at Google, I finally got to return the favor and show my parents what I do all day.

Matt Teper with his parents

Showing my parents the Googleplex in Mountain View.

Trying out virtual reality

My parents tested out virtual reality at Take Your Parents to Work Day.

One of the many absurdly fun things this company does is offer a full-day event for Take Your Parents to Work Day. Thousands of Googler parents and parental figures come to Mountain View and sit in meetings, roam the campus, eat the food, see product demos and hear from our CEO. In the office, as you can see in the video above, they answer questions from colleagues about what we were like as a kid and tell their own stories of how they ended up here, on this day, proud parents of a Googler.

I have had the privilege in the last few months of taking my kid to work, and now, taking my parents. The sense of pride you feel in giving those you love a glimpse of this place—this company doing impossible things to help billions of people all over the world—that sense of pride radiates around you, everywhere you turn. Pride felt for our kids, pride felt by our parents and pride in ourselves for making all of them proud. It’s not the NBA, but it’s still very cool.

I have two daughters, and when they come visit me, they hang out and play around and investigate the Google-verse around them. They stock up on free candy bars and examine the famous T-Rex and slide down the famous slide. I don’t know exactly what their version of the blue key is, but I am sure they have one in their minds: an emblem, years down the road, they’ll look back on as they remember being “taken to work.” Someday, they’ll take me to work, at some place that doesn’t exist now (or to a National Women’s Soccer League game), and I will walk around beaming the way my parents did last week, along with the thousands more who joined them on campus, filled with love and joy and wonder, thinking: Man, what good times!