5 things I have learned from Sergey Brin, Co-founder of Google

The child remains wide-eyed throughout life. He sees the world as a series of challenges waiting to be accepted and conquered. Optimism is his weapon of choice and his belief in himself, in the world push him past the limitations others see. Where some see an ocean, he sees a big lake waiting to be crossed. Where some see giants, he sees people to grow past. When people tell him that something’s impossible, he only nods and thinks, Not for me. This wide-eyed boy becomes a wide-eyed man who builds past what everyone thought possible.

This wide-eyed man is Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, the most popular search engine. Google has been so successful, it’s difficult to remember the internet before Google. It’s difficult to imagine what the internet would be like now had Google never existed. From its humble beginnings in his dorm room to a few servers in a garage and eventually into the massive technology giant it is now, it’s hard to measure that transformation. Brin has been compared to Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press. While certainly different, Brin’s accomplishments are certainly nearing as great. Google has changed the internet, which, in turn, has changed the world. While Brin has a lot of advice for small businesses, these are just a handful of quotes from his brilliant mind.

1. “Technology is an inherent democratizer.”

The way hardware and software evolve and change, anyone and everyone has the ability to scale up anything. This gives everyone a massive amount of power and all the tools necessary to succeed. Technology has caused an equalising effect on the future. Your education and pedigree will no longer give you an inherent advantage or disadvantage. A poor urban kid with a computer can do anything a rich suburban kid can do with a computer, even start their own business or discover new ways to design and make products.

2. “They see enormous mountains, where I only saw one little hill to climb.”

Brin’s optimism gave him an advantage over his peers. He never let the seeming impossibility of a task hold him back. Rather, he pushed through them. Everything that discouraged 9,999 people became a challenge for him to move past. When people said he couldn’t, he proved them wrong. He didn’t see the future or his limited resource as a crippling limitation. He saw them as opportunities to keep progressing forward.

3. “Once you go from 10 people to 100, you already don’t know who everyone is. So at that stage you might as well keep growing, to get the advantages of scale.”

Google started very small, but when it began rising, it never stopped. Brin wasn’t afraid to lose his small business feel or to venture from small business into international corporation. Rather, he used this growth to his advantage and built upon prior success, and allowed the growth to make Google the most important search engine on the internet. Brin wasn’t afraid, and he trusted his vision and his employees to keep improving it.

4. “Solving big problems is easier than solving little problems.”

This sounds counter-intuitive but that doesn’t make it any less true. The big problems can be handled, but the little ones can take a lot of time and energy to work out. This is where the importance of your employees and team come in. Trust them to get the details, to figure out how the product or service works. The big problems, like getting the service to people, is much easier to do than making sure the product or service does exactly what it’s supposed to do. Ensure you can work out the details, and be flexible with them.

5. “We just want to have great people working for us.”

Always stress how important your employees are. The best business plan, service, and products can’t save you if your staff doesn’t work. When hiring, don’t only go for the most qualified. Go for those who think outside the box, those who can collaborate and thrive in that environment. Find people excited about what you’re doing. Let them help you get to where you want to go. You’re going to be trusting your employees with your company, so make sure you believe in them and trust them. If you don’t, then keep looking for the right people, even if it takes a thousand interviews.

Sergey Brin is a man who knows success and Google is arguably one of the most important companies in the world right now. That alone should make Brin’s advice carry some serious weight.