Super U Podcast | 7 Super Tips with Susan Wojcicki
On this episode of the Super U Podcast, Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO and first Google Marketing Manager gives us insights on creativity and work-life harmony in tech.
5x #1 Bestselling Author and Motivational Speaker Erik Qualman has performed in over 55 countries and reached over 50 million people this past decade. He was voted the 2nd Most Likable Author in the World behind Harry Potter’s J.K. Rowling.
Need a sneak peek? Below are the main takeaways from the episode.
Super U Podcast | 7 Super Tips with Susan Wojcicki:
[4:37] Leaders Find A Way
“Well, I’ve worked in advertising for almost 12 years, and so when the opportunity came up to work at YouTube, and work with creators and think about the next generation of TV, I was really excited. And when I first got to YouTube, it reminded me a lot of Google in 2003, or 2004, when we were a much smaller company when we had all the different cross-functional groups in the same area. And we had all these big plans. But we didn’t have enough people to get them done. And so a lot of times in my head, I was thinking, like, what did I do in 2003, or 2004, when we didn’t have all the people to help us? And we didn’t have all these different people who were experts in the area. How did we get through it? And so I’ve been thinking a lot about that and thinking about what did I learn from that? Going through it once. How can I do it better the second time?”
[6:01] Trust Your Instincts
“I actually started working with digital video from the very, very beginning. So before YouTube got started at Google, we decided that we were going to let people just upload video, and we didn’t tell them what we were going to do with it. We just did this experiment, send us your video, and we’ll see what happens. And all these people uploaded videos. And I remember getting together with a bunch of friends at Google and we said, let’s watch this video that people uploaded, we had no idea what people would have uploaded. And we watched the first video. And I’ll always remember that one because it was something I’d never seen before, which was just a bunch of puppets, singing, and a language I didn’t understand. And they were purple and furry. And at the end of the video, we all just looked at that, we said that was really strange. And I wasn’t sure how to process it. My kids thought it was the funniest thing they had ever seen and started laughing and just wanted us to play it again. And that was my introduction to just seeing all this video that people had uploaded. And it was different than what we had seen on traditional media. So we start developing much more product at Google for digital media. And I think what we discovered that was really insightful was that people first of all want to tell their stories. But also, the average audience wanted to see other people’s stories and I couldn’t have predicted that. And what I think about is it’s very human that people wanted to connect with each other on a human basis. And that’s what led me to have the conviction that this was going to be a really important medium. And I was a big advocate of Google buying YouTube. And that was almost 15 years ago. And so I’m really pleased to have been able to be here as CEO for the last five years. I’ve always believed in digital video and online video and online video communities. And so it’s been an honor to be here and to be leading YouTube.”
[8:31] We Are History In The Making
“I think it’s been incredible. When we’re gonna look back on in time, I think we’re gonna see how influential these years were in changing our culture or changing how we communicate. And if you look back over time, there’s not a lot of moments in time that have been this historical in terms of changing the way we communicate and the way we receive information. So it’s an incredibly important period of time. And that’s also why I want to make sure we get it right, I want to make sure that YouTube enables everyone to be able to access that information. We have such an incredible global library of information and videos that you can laugh and learn and the fact that no matter who you are in the world, you can access that library is a pretty incredible fact.”
[10:39] Foster Your Creativity
“Maybe I’m showing my age by saying this, but we didn’t have the internet when I was young. So I couldn’t even imagine that. And, I mean, I think as a young kid, what was I like, first of all, I was really into doing arts and crafts, I was really into being creative and making things like I would make paper and potholders. My first business was making spice ropes and selling them to my neighbors. So I just like to make a spice group, I would braid yarn, and then tie cinnamon sticks to it and take colored fabric and put spices in there. And I just would make stuff. And for me I had this realization, that technology was about creation, it was about making things and creating things. And that’s what a lot of people didn’t seem to see, especially not then. But I totally got it, I was like, wow, I can make all kinds of really interesting software. And it can be distributed. And so so many people can see it, and they can use it, and I can interact with them. And once I got that idea, it was I just said like, “Oh, I have to be in tech, this is the best field for me,” based on all my interests with the creativity and making things and seeing how I could have an impact that way, I didn’t know where it was going to lead. But as long as I was making things, I was happy. And that’s what got me started in tech.”
[13:15] Keep Grinding
“If I look back at my career, there were a few key things that really helped me. One of them was, first of all, I was not looking, I was just looking to do something interesting. I was just thinking, “How can I use my skills to help create something that will be used by people and that will be useful and make the world a better place?” And when I joined Google, I was in play 16 of Google. When I joined Google, nobody thought that Google was that interesting a company. But I saw that it was enabling people to find information in new ways. And so being able to just focus on what was important, what I saw was adding value whether or not other people agreed or not was part of what helped me. I think it was the same thing for YouTube. When I first started working on YouTube, nobody thought it was that big a deal. They thought it was a small little company with a lot of cats on skateboards that wasn’t really going anywhere. But I saw that people could use it for creating and sharing ideas and information and new musicians and artists and creators. So seeing ideas early and believing in them has definitely helped me, but then I would say there’s a part two which was maybe less inspiration and more perspiration which is just sticking with it and working hard and not giving up and getting through all the hard times and just sticking with it, keep working on it. Keep waking up every day thinking about how you can make the company better and add value and get through the tough times. So I’d say that those are the two key parts.”
[15:21] Be Open to Opportunities
“So I studied history literature at Harvard, I had no idea that I was going to go into technology at all. Like, if you had told me that when I was a student I would have thought you were completely crazy. I used to come home. And I used to do these temp jobs. When I would come home from college, I’d have like a week free and I would just call a temp service and say, “Just place me anywhere.” And one time I was at a lawyer [office] another time I actually got placed at the garbage company to answer the phone. And the third time I got placed at a startup. And I realized, like, wow, they can use technology. And they have these big ambitions. And I thought, “That’s really cool. I want to be part of it.” So when I went back, and I was a senior, I decided to take a computer science class at Harvard, which was crazy, because there was no other humanity senior taking a computer science class, but it was, it was really good, I got a good basis. And then when I can’t move back home, I came to Silicon Valley, and I was able to get a job, and I’ve been there ever since.”
[17:09] Find Your Work-Life Harmony
“Having kids and working, it’s hard for both sides. So how do you do it? How do you run YouTube with five kids? The main thing for me has been to focus and prioritize. And so I’m really, really good about saying this is my work time. And when I’m in the office, I am really, really focused on what I’m doing. And I’m prioritizing and I’ve always kind of thought about, “Well, how do I get from point A to point B as quickly as possible?” Because I don’t have forever, like, I can’t stay there till midnight, I can’t work weekends. And so in some ways that actually caused me to see some of the shortcuts some of the new opportunities, because I was thinking about like, “Well, how do I grow this faster? How do I grow really quickly?” Like, let’s just forget about all those other things that are growing slowly, they’re not going anywhere. I’m like, I don’t have time for that, I have to focus on the big ideas. And we’re going to get them done now. And so that actually is really good in tech, right? Because tech is about growing big ideas quickly. And so I use my work time to focus on that and then when I get home, I really tried to focus on my family and my kids. My husband’s very helpful. You know, and realistically, to be fair, as I’ve risen in my career, I’ve been able to have more help at home. I think the hard part, and when I really struggled was when I had my first baby, you know, I didn’t know what I was doing at work, you don’t know what you’re doing at home. And you don’t really have any support at either home or work. That’s when it’s the hardest.”
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The Super U Podcast is hosted by #1 bestselling author and Motivational Speaker Erik Qualman.