When you do what you love everything falls in place, says Google Search Chief Amit Singhal
The Indian man who leads Google Search is in love with what he does. He fell in love with search twenty five years ago and never looked back. Not thinking about success, consequences and what next, he simply did what he unequivocally loved. Today the world is witnessing how that love is transforming the way we search online. Meet Amit Singhal, a senior vice president, a Google Fellow and yes, the man who oversees Google Search. I had a chance to meet Amit in his den at the Google headquarters. We spoke about his journey from Jhansi to his undergraduate days at IIT Roorkee to achieving global success. Read on for his meditations on how to do work that’s fulfilling and meaningful and the things that make a life well lived.
Loving What You Do
You don't set out doing things that will give you big title, big money, or whatever else people call success. You do what you love and only then success comes. Even if it doesn't come as people tend to define it, at least you did what you loved. Isn’t that what actually matters?
Happiness is about doing what you love, and if you are not happy you will not succeed. I have pursued my love all my life. Everything else came on the side, not something I worked for and not something I still work for. I am still the same guy who loved search 25 years back and still does it. You don't do it for success, you don't do it for money. You do it for love and everything falls in place.
And this is one thing very different in the eastern society I was raised in and the western society I came to, people here actually thought about what they loved doing, rather than what will get them a good job. When I was being raised, you became an engineer, a doctor, and if you were good you became an IAS. No one paused and stopped their child with the question, what is it you love doing? Some of the most wonderful, amazing people that I have met are people who have basically pursued what they have loved.
I have a good friend Shantanu Moitra who is a Bollywood music director. He just loves music. And that love is so evident in the music he creates.
Success or no success, you will spend your evening happy because you did in the day what you loved.
Looking at Challenges
Everyone has decisions to make in life. People perceive those as challenges because they feel those are challenging decisions. There are few things I have learnt, that whenever you are standing at a fork, do what your heart says and never look back.
Because, if you do what your heart says and at the end of the day you are standing at a fork, there are clearly no clear choices of fork. And then you do what your heart says and you take a path that your heart says and never look back, because looking back will force you to second guess your decision, and you repeatedly think whether you made the right decision or the wrong decision, when the truth is, that there are no right decisions, you only make decisions right. So, decide and stick by it and make it right. Whenever I am forced by any fork in my life I decide what my heart says is right. I am pretty driven by what I feel rather than what is the logical thing to do. I am in a logical business, and even in logical businesses you do well if you follow your heart.
Parents and Independence to learn and make mistakes
Parents play a tremendous role in the person we become. I got a lot of independence and responsibility early on, which allowed me to make my mistakes. If you make mistakes during that time it matters less. You may get an A, B or C or you may fail the course. In your 6th grade it does not matter, but it teaches you the value of mistakes and failures.
Everyone will fall, stumble and have adversity here or there. What matters is you are resilient. You get up, dust it off and go at it again. Getting a poor grade in 6th grade is not a big deal but what the child needs to learn is how to deal with it. Those lessons of resilience is what matters later in life. Early in home and school, you have a safe enough environment to stumble so that when you grow up and get out, then when it really matters, you have those learnings that you take with you. My parents gave me enough space from the beginning. They allowed us the independence to deal with our things ourselves and that was very helpful.
Keep asking yourself what value you bring to the world. And while you are asking yourself that, you need to introspect truthfully and answer, “Did you love your work and were you happy at the end of the day?” Success will come. If not in this trial then in the next one. Resilience is important. Keep it with you at all times.
[Update: Amit has shared that after fifteen years of his work at Google, as the man responsible for Google Search, he will be leaving the company for philanthropic purposes.]