This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Trillion Dollar Coach" by Bill Campbell. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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What did Bill Campbell do at Google? How did Campbell help CEO Eric Schmidt?
Bill Campbell at Google was integral to the entire Google leadership team. He started by coaching people from companies involved in the startup process, which included Google.
Read on for more about Bill Campbell, Google, and his coaching experiences.
Bill Campbell at Google After Apple
In 1987, Apple spun off a separate software company, Claris. Campbell was named the CEO, but a few years later, Claris was pulled back into the parent company. Campbell left and became the CEO of another startup, GO Corporation, which failed within a few years. In 1994, he was hired as CEO of Intuit, a position he held until 2000.
Campbell’s next career move was his most defining. Kleiner Perkins, a prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firm managed by tech genius John Doerr, invited him to work as a mentor and coach for the startup companies it funded. Campbell’s job was to help the new CEOs navigate their way through the startup process.
Kleiner Perkins was funding Google, a small company run by a couple of Stanford University grads. In 2001, Google had just hired its first “real” CEO, Eric Schmidt, who had previously worked at software companies Sun Microsystems and Novell. John Doerr informed Schmidt that he needed to meet with Campbell for a coaching session.
Schmidt was insulted—he didn’t think he needed help from anybody, let alone an ex-football coach. But within a few months of working with Campbell, Schmidt was a convert. Campbell wound up coaching not just him but also Google’s entire senior team.
Campbell’s Reign as Silicon Valley Coach
For the next 15 years until his death, Campbell met almost weekly with Google’s principal players while simultaneously coaching executives at dozens of other Silicon Valley companies—even some that were competing with Google. For Bill Campbell, Google was just the beginning of his illustrious coaching career.
His coaching sessions did not involve complex profit-and-loss equations. Instead, he relied on home-spun wisdom founded on basic human decency. His overarching message: The top priority of any team leader is the well-being and success of his or her people.
Campbell repeatedly declined compensation for his coaching work, saying that he had a different way of measuring his impact. Payment was unimportant; his glory came from seeing others flourish. At one point, he did accept some Google stock, which he then donated to charity. One of his famous lines was, “I don’t take cash, I don’t take stock, and I don’t take shit.” He was practicing service leadership before the term existed.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Trillion Dollar Coach summary :
- How Bill Campbell went from football coach to tech coach
- The 4 pillars of Campbell's leadership philosophy
- How the King Arthur Round Table model for making decisions empowers employees