Google Exec Jonathan Rosenberg Shares Rules To Lead By

Jonathan Rosenberg: Rules For Leaders
Written by Aric Mitchell

The journey of an entrepreneur is often filled with failures, false starts, and tough breaks. Google’s Jonathan Rosenberg, one of the founding fathers of the Chrome and Android products, knows a lot about that. He recently confessed that his road to success was filled with more than a few of each. In a lecture to freshly minted grads at Claremont McKenna College, he shared some lessons that those challenges taught him. 

First Round has condensed his thoughts into the post, “42 Rules To Lead By From The Man Who Defined Google’s Product Strategy.” We’ve picked five of our favorites to share with you.


Share Everything, Hide Nothing.

“At Google, our default mode was to share all information,” he says. “We strived to empower everyone equally from an information standpoint. In the internet age, power comes from sharing information not hoarding it.”

Ditch The Pecking Order.

“You shouldn’t be able to figure out a company’s org chart by looking at their product. You can’t see the Apple org chart when you look at the iPod or the Amazon chart when you look at the Kindle.” Rosenberg has a favorite Eric Schmidt story to go along with this learning. While working at Sun Microsystems, Schmidt took a server out of a box, and when he opened it up, he saw eight documents labeled “Read me first.” It turned out that eight different people on the project thought they had the most important opinion. “And the poor product manager at the bottom of the totem pole just threw them all in,” Rosenberg says. “That’s not the right decision for the end user.” A good leader cuts through the ego and picks the best opinion.

Think Small When It Comes To Teams.

“At Google, we learned that the size of a small team is about the size of a small family. In software development, the worst thing you can do is put more people on a project.” Empower small teams, and they can often do more than a big one. Rosenberg quotes famed anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”

The 80 Percent Rule (Not 80-20).

“It’s simple: spend 80% of your time on 80% of your revenue.” More revenue generally solves all problems. “It’s obvious, but actually hard to do, because that other 20% of your revenue will end up taking up an inordinate amount of your time if you let it.”

Passion Is.

“The guys who invented Google Sky are software engineers, not astronomers,” Rosenberg says. “They didn’t build this super cool product because they’re great engineers. They did it because they love astronomy.” When enthusiasm is real, everyone can feel it — it’s a tangible energy that lights people up. When hiring, it’s important to spot passion, even in other areas of a candidate’s life. “How can you expect people to be passionate at work if they’re never passionate about anything?”

If you have any interest in being an entrepreneur or improving your leadership skills, we implore you to watch the video above or read the rest of what Jonathan Rosenberg has to say over at the First Round roundup. 

[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]

About the author

Aric Mitchell

Aric Mitchell has work featured on both the web and in print. His crash time is spent writing short stories, novels, and articles with a horror edge, and helping brands manage their social media presence.