These 7 Lessons From Sundar Pichai Will Help You Plan Your Life

Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

Once in a while, comes along a visionary in the business world whose journey is nothing short of remarkable.

We’re talking about Google CEO Sundar Pichai today.

From a humble, middle-class upbringing in Chennai to shaking things up at Google, Sundar Pichai’s work ethic and outlook toward success have been iconic. In fact, Pichai is the epitome of a leader who “knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

What can you learn when you look closely at his life?

Honestly, a whole lot.

And, these 7 lessons from the Google CEO will go a long way to help you plan your life in a way that’s both wholesome and successful.

Lessons from Sundar Pichai that will give you serious life goals

1. First things first: Be ambitious

When you’re picking life goals, don’t forget to bump “be ambitious” to the top of that list — it’s no secret that big results call for big ambition.

And, don’t you think Google’s mission is undeniably ambitious at its core?

“We want to organize the world’s information, and make it universally accessible.”

That’s a lot of information, to be honest, and Sundar Pichai has been pursuing this doggedly at Google: from spearheading the launch of Android One to integrating user-friendly AI in Google devices and search functions.

Plus, look at how he turned it around for Google Chrome.

When Microsoft made Bing the default browser in PCs, Pichai convinced manufacturers to pre-install the Google toolbar in Internet Explorer. After the IE debacle, Chrome has now paved way to be the most preferred cross-platform browser.

2. Following your passion is not overrated

In a speech at his alma mater (IIT KGP), Sundar Pichai recounts how he waited hours in a queue till his family’s request for a phone was finally approved.

It was a rotary phone, but Pichai fondly recalls how the device sparked his love for technology. That small spark led him to chart his way to the apex at Google.

3. Wear your failures like a badge of honor

Aspiring entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are fighting the good fight every day to make sure their tech ventures take off — but not everyone is successful from get go.

In fact, set backs are inevitable when you’re scrambling your way to the top.

Pichai insists that there is merit in failing if you try to extract valuable lessons from those perceived failures. According to the Google CEO, if you learn from a setback, it’s not really a setback but a learning experience.

Feel free to embrace his unique perspective that failure and ambition are two sides of the same coin: If you don’t fail sometimes, you are not being ambitious enough.

4. Be open to reinventing yourself

Now, failing is great unless it becomes a habit.

Sure, it’s hard to pull the plug on a project, venture, or process you put your heart and soul into.

But it’s super important to recognize when certain things just don’t work.

For instance, when Pichai took over Android, it was functioning as an independent division. But Pichai realized that for both Google and Android to grow unfettered, there needed to be a seamless integration.

So here’s another lesson from the Google CEO you need to adopt to plan your life: be open to the idea of a Plan B and reinvent yourself constantly.

5. Stay curious and focus on “hands-on” experiences

Pichai reckons the emphasis on education in India is a great foundation for orienting young folks for success.

But he does believe there is a single-minded focus on academics rather than “hands-on” experiences, unlike schools in the U.S. which largely advocate experiential learning.

The takeaway?

Don’t be afraid to ask “why” and “how” to understand what makes things tick.

And yes, this does translate to being open to taking risks and pushing the boundaries of your creativity.

6. Build others up as well

The journey to the top is lonely, so make sure you build others up as you go along.

For instance, Sundar Pichai is known for building strong teams that build off of each others’ innovative ideas rather than tearing each other down. This positive outlook motivates Pichai and his teams to align their own success with that of the team and the project they work on.

So, whether you’re working on something for school, work, or networking as a budding entrepreneur, focus on building bridges rather than walls.

7. Patience and humility never go out of style

Whether in life or work, it’s natural to want to operate from a position of strength.

But strength doesn’t have to manifest in unwarranted flexes and cutting comebacks.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has been known to be notoriously drama free and has strived to be patient and humble in all aspects of his life.

For instance, in his early days at Google, he spent hours outside Marissa Mayer’s office to make sure his team members got stellar work performance scores.

And recently, he handled his testimony at Capitol Hill with enviable calm and poise, in spite of the curve balls from the House Judiciary Committee.

In short, Sundar Pichai is a “definitive case of nice guys finish first.” (Kara Swisher, tech business journalist and founder of Recode).

Bottom Line

More than anything else, Pichai banked on perseverance and grit rather than growth hacks to be where he is now.

Essentially, there’s no short cut to success, and anybody who tells you otherwise, isn’t, well, Sundar Pichai.

So, the next time you’re making an atrociously early start to your day, take comfort in knowing Google’s CEO is doing the same thing.



Politics and finance enthusiast.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store