Friday, May 18, 2012

Google's "Search Inside Yourself"

From the NYTimes -

Step onto Google’s campus here — with its indoor treehouse, volleyball court, apiaries, heated toilet seats and, yes, Oz-style road — and you might think you’ve just sailed over the rainbow.
But all the toys and perks belie the frenetic pace here, and many employees acknowledge that life at Google can be hard on fragile egos.
Sure, the amenities are seductive, says Blaise Pabon, an enterprise sales engineer, but “when you get to a place like this, it can tear you apart” if you don’t find a way to handle the hard-driving culture.
Employees coming from fast-paced fields, already accustomed to demanding bosses and long hours, say Google pushes them to produce at a pace even faster than they could have imagined. Google’s co-founder and chief executive, Larry Page, recently promised on the company Web site to maintain “a healthy disregard for the impossible.”
Little wonder, then, that among the hundreds of free classes that Google offers to employees here, one of the most popular is called S.I.Y., for “Search Inside Yourself.” It is the brainchild of Chade-Meng Tan, 41, a tall, thin, soft-spoken engineer who arrived at Google in 2000 as Employee No. 107.
Think of S.I.Y. as the Zen of Google. Mr. Tan dreamed up the course and refined it with the help of nine experts in the use of mindfulness at work.
But what is Mr. Tan’s ultimate goal? A Buddhist for many years, he says without irony that he wants to create world peace. “I was always very different from the other kids,” he says. “I have an I.Q. of 156. I didn’t play sports. I thought big. I thought I could achieve great things. I don’t want to sound megalomaniac, but my whole life is about doing something for the world, from as far back as I can remember.”...

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