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Video: Eric Schmidt: Engineering after Princeton


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Google CEO Eric Schmidt discusses the need to embrace change, styles of leadership and why he chose to study at Princeton. View more alumni videos.


Video Closed Captions

(music)

Eric Schmidt:
I'm Eric Schmidt, Class of 1976.

Eric Schmidt:
I was an electrical engineering major because there was no

Eric Schmidt:
computer science, now there is, and I am now the CEO of Google.

Eric Schmidt:
It seems to me that people go to college, and then they join

Eric Schmidt:
their firms, and between the ages of 25 and 35 they learn a lot.

Eric Schmidt:
And then, all of a sudden, they want everything not to change.

Eric Schmidt:
And inevitably something new comes along: a new idea, a new fashion, a new country,

Eric Schmidt:
a new war, whatever, that upsets everything.

Eric Schmidt:
So the lesson to be learned after years of watching this is

Eric Schmidt:
that the norm must change.

Eric Schmidt:
What we want to do is we want to constantly reinvent

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ourselves. Now it's easy to say that.

Eric Schmidt:
How do you do it? In our case, we encourage our

Eric Schmidt:
employees to spend 20 percent of their time working on whatever

Eric Schmidt:
they are interested in, not what their boss wants them

Eric Schmidt:
to work on. Out of that, most of our great new products have come.

Eric Schmidt:
Many different leadership styles work.

Eric Schmidt:
There's not one leadership style that is the way in which

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corporations, institutions succeed.

Eric Schmidt:
You'll have passionate, charismatic and disorganized leaders.

Eric Schmidt:
You'll have boring and rational and precise leaders.

Eric Schmidt:
What really matters about a leader is their commitment to

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getting to the right answer and to doing it in the right way.

Eric Schmidt:
And however they get there, if they get to the right

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answer, people respect them.

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Along the way, you'll have conflict and you

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can resolve it in many different ways. If you don't seek out the

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conflict, you won't excel.

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Because without the conflict, at least the ideas in conflict,

Eric Schmidt:
you won't hear the best ideas.

Eric Schmidt:
When I thought about where to go to college,

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everyone assumed I would go to a technical school,

Eric Schmidt:
someplace where people with my interests would go.

Eric Schmidt:
But I was attracted to Princeton precisely because

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engineering was not its primary focus.

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And I believe that the value of a liberal arts education just in

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general, just learning about the world

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and learning about other people, would serve me in some inchoate

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way, some way in which I really didn't know.

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And that's proven true --

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that the skills and in particular the social

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experiences and exposure to the non-technical part of the

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world as a young person, made a huge difference for me.

Eric Schmidt:
In my case, I met a brilliant professor who got me interested

Eric Schmidt:
in computing and got me interested in the foundations of

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the kinds of things I did after I left Princeton.

Eric Schmidt:
So it was the combination of critical thinking and the fact

Eric Schmidt:
that you had such good access to professors who you could really

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talk to, that as a very, very young

Eric Schmidt:
person had a huge impact on me.

Eric Schmidt:
My name is Eric Schmidt, and I'm a Princeton Engineer.

(music)

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