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Confessions of an engineer who left Google to start a startup

The fatigue and imbalance in life made Scott Kennedy, a former Google engineer, give up a high-paying job to switch to a small startup.

Sharing on his personal blog, Kennedy said he had resigned from Google after 10 years to join the startup Replit with only 40 members.

Inside Google's California office.  Photo: Glassdoor

Inside Google’s California office. Image: Glassdoor

“Work-life balance is the answer I’ve been looking for for a long time.

I joined Google in early 2011, when Larry Page started his second term as CEO. At that time, people were talking about a secret project called Emerald Sea (later known as Google+ social network).

I used to think that joining Google was my dream job because of the company’s excellent treatment, as well as the opportunity to cooperate with experienced teammates and seniors. My family’s financial situation changed and I had many opportunities for career advancement.

But why am I still not happy?

Someone likened that the balance between career, health and family and social life is like three buckets filled with water. As long as the total water level of the three buckets is high enough, everything is fine even if one of them is about to run out.

But it is worth mentioning that that water level only shows your level of satisfaction, not the balance of time you spend on those three factors.

And that’s why I’m resigning.

In 2020, the pandemic has drained everyone’s third bucket and we are no exception. Friends back home in Canada couldn’t come visit us. Even meeting people here has become difficult. In January 2021, my second bucket of water was impacted when I sprained it from playing basketball.

Then I realized the first bucket was also exhausted in a short amount of time. Mid-2021, I’m always tired. I know it’s not just me because my colleagues in the company are in the same situation. That’s when I realized the mistake: I was not satisfied when building, developing and completing the project.

Getting work done at Google can be tough because projects need collaboration across teams to work, so it takes a lot of work to get everyone involved. But it is this that makes those projects difficult to succeed. The reason is that when any of those teams change course, or violate the original agreement, the project slows down or even fails.

The reason this ratio continues to increase is that the teams are only doing their part well, while the executives are not unified on the direction. On the other hand, middle managers talk about OKRs – governance by goals and key results – making all teams think they are getting what they want. In a company, each employee takes on a certain job position, so the large number of resignations makes the company like a mechanical device that loses momentum and slows down.

For most of 2021, I try to keep my team stable so they can complete the projects we take on. My daily job is to limit as much as possible the reorganization or the admission of new staff.

Last September, however, another wave of reorganization took place that exhausted me, even though I worked fewer hours than before, when I had to fix the problem by handling the problem from small parts to large parts. larger part.

Mid 2021, passed Hacker News and Paul Graham’s tweets, I found Replit. Company executives have shared their views quite openly on Twitter, and I agree with most of them. Since then, I have gradually become interested in the company.

Just as I was about to leave Google, I contacted them. During the interview, I was really only interested in three things: the position I took, the salary enough to cover my living expenses, and the balance Replit could offer.

I felt relieved and excited as soon as I accepted the offer. I often advise others to sometimes rely on emotions when making difficult decisions.

Am I happier? Certainly yes.

My working hours are now longer, sometimes even overtime, but I have noticed a noticeable difference, as progress has been 10 times faster. Surprisingly, I have more energy, have more motivation to go back to the gym, and have more energy in social situations.”

Yen Hong – Khanh Ly (according to TNW)

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