Why I Quit Google

My mouth still waters when I think about the Google cafeteria.  The catering team was five-stars – our chef was in charge of meals for the US Olympic Team one year.  And we didn’t just have free lunch – it was hot breakfast too, and ‘microkitchens’ everywhere you turned, with unlimited snacks, of the stupidly expensive variety.  I never had to pay a cent for medical costs.  And I was making enough money to pay off $20,000 in student loans and save up another $20,000 in a year and a half.  I could write a love song about the benefits that came from working with Google, and the incredible people I worked with.

Why in God’s name would I leave all that behind?

In a previous post I wrote about How I quit Google.  Now I’d like to write about Why.

Meaning vs. Comfort

My life during Google was incredibly comfortable.  Too comfortable.  There’s a concept called the ‘golden handcuffs’ – it refers to the incentives a company gives out to ensure employees don’t leave.  I was terrified of those handcuffs – I saw them as chaining me to comfort and away from meaning.  I knew the longer I stayed, the tighter those handcuffs would grip me.

I quit because the I found the majority of my work there unfulfilling.  Working as a stuntman and now as a coach has been incredibly uncomfortable.  In China, I once lived in a place with no toilet to save on rent.  But the meaning I derived from that work made it clearly worth it.

Freedom vs. Security

I generally don’t like the idea of working for the man.  Admittedly it’s a bit silly or even infantile, but I’d much rather be doing my own thing.  Even if that means not knowing how I’m going to pay my rent for the next year or what my retirement plans are.

Ever since leaving I’ve felt much more freedom – I choose my own schedule, I leave the country for a month and work remotely, and I can always be there for a friend in need (even if all they need is to party).  I take days off whenever I want.  But there’s no paid time off.  And I don’t get a fat paycheck every two weeks.  This can be incredibly stressful.

Courage vs. Certainty

“I’d much rather regret something I’d done rather than something I was too afraid to do.”  – Some shitty Jason Statham movie

I was afraid of leaving.  Staying at Google, my future was certain.  But I was surrounded by coworkers who had been there longer than me, and I wasn’t attracted to their lifestyles.  I wanted more adventure, more fun, more absurdity. It was terrifying to quit, but it was more important to me to buck up and take a risk than it was to be certain of my future.

I want to be courageous.  And staying at Google did not feel courageous enough for me.  I’m able to face my fears much more often since leaving, and am learning to be OK with uncertainty.  It hasn’t gotten much easier.


I don’t want to glamorize the life I live now.  It has its challenges too.  But they are challenges I’m more willing to overcome.


  • Working at Google was pretty tight
  • I quit because:
    • I value meaning over comfort
    • I value freedom over security
    • I value courage over certainty

PS – I’ve got nothing but love for the big G.  I still believe in Google’s vision, and I did a lot of work there that was meaningful for me.  I do not mean to imply that you can’t find meaning, freedom, and courage with a job at Google or any corporate job.  I simply was not finding enough of those things during my time there – which is more of a reflection of me than the company.  If you work at Google, please invite me back for lunch.  I really miss that cafeteria.

PPS – Do you share similar values and want help breaking your own golden handcuffs?  I would love to help you with that.  Click here to learn more.

Owning My Shit

Lately I’ve been working on what I call ‘owning my shit.’ Ideally, this would look like me being totally unapologetic about who I am and how I show up – even when I do things that parts of me don’t like.

I’ve studied how to do this from some masters. Nannan, one of my best friends, went on his first date with his current girlfriend wearing no pants – just boxers and a tank top. “What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you wearing pants?” she asked him. “It’s too hot for pants,” was his response. Zero fucks given.

His girlfriend, Xiaodan (also one of my best friends), is similarly a master of owning her shit. For example, I have never seen anyone take more selfies in my life. When I try to tease her about it, she flips it on me every time. “Don’t you have anything better to do than bother me? Mind your own damn business!” she yells, and without skipping a beat, goes back to making a cute face for her phone. No shame.

Xiaodan, Nannan, and me, all owning our shit in 2014

For me, owning my shit just means not buying into the idea that there is something wrong with me. Here’s an example of what it looks like to NOT own my shit:

I was at a conference with some very successful people, and I couldn’t help comparing myself to them. “Why does he look so much cooler than me? Why isn’t my business making as much money as theirs? Why is she so much funnier than me?” I started to beat myself up, feel ashamed, and then beat myself up for feeling shame. It wasn’t fun.

And here’s how I attempted to turn that situation around:

I realized I was beating myself up, and decided I didn’t want to do that. I thought, “You know what, who cares if I compared myself with others? At the time it seemed reasonable, and now I know better.” As soon as I stopped labeling myself as being wrong, I felt better. The temptation to compare myself with others naturally subsided – for a little while, anyways. When it came back, I accepted it again, which helped it go away again.

Instead of getting sucked into beating myself up, I want to move on, and take corrective action if need be. Instead of thinking I’m wrong, I want to recognize that there was some wisdom to my actions. I took them to meet some need of mine, and although the action may have failed at meeting that need, it had a positive intent. Right and wrong got nothing to do with it.

Actual image of someone owning their shit, big time

I’ve found that acceptance is the key to getting out of the vortex of beating myself up. No matter how deep down that rabbit hole I am, if I can accept that, all the layers of self-loathing collapse.  Acceptance is NOT enabling or acquiescing.  For me, it means empathizing with the need behind the action, and seeing that need as a beautiful thing.

It’s simple, but not easy. So next time I find myself not owning my shit, I want to take a deep breath, think of Xiaodan and Nannan, and accept.


How NOT to own my shit:

  1. Beat myself up about something I did
  2. Beat myself up about beating myself up
  3. Beat myself up about beating myself up for beating myself up

How to own my shit

  1. Don’t beat myself up.
  2. But if I do – first, become aware that I’m beating myself up
  3. Accept what’s happening – but don’t enable it
  4. If necessary, take corrective action