Note: I don’t review substandard books. I make time to read a lot, but I don’t have a lot of time to review books, so what I do share, I’m sharing because the book has been very influential and helpful to me in my life, and I believe it will also help others. If you are a marketer or entrepreneur, these are must reads.

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Quick links/info:

How to know if this book can help you:

  • You have employees.
  • You work in HR.
  • You manage a company, department, or team.
  • You plan on doing any of the above in the future.

Review:

If you are working on or planning on scaling a startup, you can’t tell me you wouldn’t like to know the hiring and management secrets of arguably the most successful and influential startup of all time. Fine, you can tell me that all you want, but I won’t believe you.

Bock not only spills all the secrets on how Google manages tens of thousands of super smart, creative types, but makes it entertaining. Although he gives some biographical information on himself it never feels self promotional or boring–it adds to the narrative. All the other stories add to the quality of the book, I never once found myself thinking “Just get on to a list of things I need to do!”

I became aware of Bock and his book when I stumbled onto his NYT interview while doing research for a presentation on homeschooling. Here’s what caught my attention:

Q.Other insights from the data you’ve gathered about Google employees?

A. One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation. Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore, unless you’re just a few years out of school. We found that they don’t predict anything.

What’s interesting is the proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time as well. So we have teams where you have 14 percent of the team made up of people who’ve never gone to college.

Q.Can you elaborate a bit more on the lack of correlation?

A. After two or three years, your ability to perform at Google is completely unrelated to how you performed when you were in school, because the skills you required in college are very different. You’re also fundamentally a different person. You learn and grow, you think about things differently.

Another reason is that I think academic environments are artificial environments. People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they’re conditioned to succeed in that environment. One of my own frustrations when I was in college and grad school is that you knew the professor was looking for a specific answer. You could figure that out, but it’s much more interesting to solve problems where there isn’t an obvious answer. You want people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer.

At MWI we’ve never asked for someone’s grades. Granted, we have the luxury of working with people whose skills are pretty easy to verify (designers, programmers, writers) or people whose skills can only be learned in the real world because they aren’t yet taught well in any school (SEO, SEM, social media management, content marketing, etc.). It’s nice to now have some data to go along with what we felt was natural. The book is chock full of more interesting bits just like this. If you’re into HR, or even if you aren’t, I think you’ll find it an engaging, helpful read.

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