Google’s CEO on Coaching … and Self-Perception

What you can learn in 40 seconds from Google’s CEO

A billion-dollar tip (or 2) in under a minute

My friend and colleague, Myron Radio, must feel as strongly about this 40-second video as I do — He has a link to it, at the bottom of every e-mail he sends out.

There are two related — yet very distinct — messages in this short clip from an interview with Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt. I was so inspired by both topics and really wanted to share an observation, especially since I’m wondering if most viewers will only see the obvious one. I’d love to know what you think…

The Obvious:

Eric Schmidt’s tip on hiring a coach may already be a familiar one to you. The most recent observation and parallel you could draw from coaching has to do with our Olympics. For the last 16 days, we’ve watched in awe as the world’s top athletes have endured what most of us would consider unfathomable.


These Olympians achieve such greatness in their area of expertise that there is only enough room (in the world) for a select few to even compete on their level.

So, what can a business owner, CXO, manager or salesperson learn from these elite few? You guessed it: coaching is what helped get them there and coaching is what helps keep them there. A coach can help you navigate your path to success and a coach can help you maintain your existing success. Every Olympian has reached great success and every one of them has a coach. Every single one. Shouldn’t you?

“The one thing people are never good at … is seeing themselves as others see them.” ~Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google

The Not-So Obvious:

Okay, this is the part of the video (below) that really got me excited. It’s related to the Driven To Excel tag line, “Aligning Behavior … with Mission.” At the end of this video clip, Eric Schmidt says, “The one thing people are never good at … is seeing themselves as others see them.” So true, right? If you’ve ever taken a personality test, you know exactly what he’s talking about. At a recent leadership meeting, our facilitator took us through an interactive exercise involving the four personality types. What was most fascinating to me was that the group’s perception of each individual was usually completely different from that of the individual. In other words, you could think (perceive) that your dominant personality trait is influence while everyone around you sees (perceives) it as dominance — two distinctly different personality types. And perception is reality…

The same holds true for your organization. How are you (your organization; team) showing up for others? If you saw this ad (left) in the paper, what would you “make true” about the “county?” They’re spending $250k! … to advertise … A LACK OF FUNDS?!?

Just today, I was visiting the web site of a marketing company … a marketing company. The site consists of one single page of (boring, me-centric) text (not one single picture) and the founder’s personal email address at the bottom. What would you “make true” about this company? Obviously, the founder doesn’t see herself (her company) the way others might. She’s simply unaware of how she’s showing up in the world. Maslow might classify this as unconscious incompetence. She doesn’t know … what she doesn’t know. I’m sure I’m guilty of this from time to time … aren’t we all?

I see it every day; everywhere I turn. A self-proclaimed “seafood restaurant” serving frozen fish, an Architect’s flimsy-thin business card, an Editor with misspellings and grammar faux pas on his brochures, a financial planner driving a Yugo, a depressed-looking comedian, a real estate agent … well, you get the idea.

While these might be the examples of obvious and blatant misalignment, the more subtle ones are all around us too. And all of these things are gathered as evidence, both consciously and unconsciously, by onlookers. QUESTION: Based on the “evidence,” what are your potential clients “making true” about you?

Maybe it’s time for an assessment. Maybe it’s time to consult with the CIO (Chief Impeccability Officer)

Embedded video from CNN Video

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  1. A promotional message that hit my inbox this morning:
    “Before the invention of the ____bus, travelers were forced to move in unprotected herds, each man hooking a finger through the belt loop of the one in front of him. With today’s [promotion], experience inter-city travel the way nature intended-on .

  2. Definitely a powerful testimonial from Schmidt! I sure hope his coach is using it to get lots of new business. 🙂 The power of leadership or executive coaching extends much deeper than revealing how you show up…at its best, coaching shows you how to get out of your own way in aligning your actions, commitments, passions, and results. Most CEO and C-suite executives have coaches, and it would be wonderful for the profession if folks would speak out more about it like Mr. Schmidt!

  3. A great post and clear message, Steve. I got a great LOL from the promo message you received as well.

    It amazes me how often I find this sort of example of perception mis-alignment (if you will) where individuals or companies project a different image/message than they are truly striving for. It takes an outsiders view to actually make someone aware of their missteps and no one is an exception to that rule. Regardless, its refreshing to hear a CEO of one of the most powerful and innovative companies in the world recognize that concept and embrace the humility that may come with asking for a coach.

  4. Suzi: I’ll bet Eric Schmidt’s coach is having trouble finding enough hours in the day (unless Eric is his only client and that happens to be “enough” income for him 😉 )

    Kyle: The humility around asking for a coach — what a great point … and reminder.


  1. […] one thing people [and companies] are never good at, is seeing themselves as others see them” -Eric Schmidt, Former CEO of […]

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