Updated: Mar 26, 2019
I wrote this post on October 2nd, 2017, my last day of employment at Google. I had just returned from a 3 month sabbatical in Asia, and was preparing to move from London to NYC.
Leaving Google can be quite an emotional event: I worked there for 6 years, and not only did I love the company, I loved what it stood for. Being a Googler was part of my identity (yeah, kool-aid) and my fellow Googlers were my family. Google gave me a sense of home and purpose, and took care of so many of my needs (the perks weren't just free food, they were emotional, too; a real sense of belonging.)
The Googler response to this farewell note also overwehelmed me. 78 Googlers I had never met reached out to me, saying my words struck a nerve with them, or that they wanted to follow my journey. Googlers are good like that. And it felt amazing to make such an authentic connection, to speak to a group of people who think like I think, value what I value, all whilst simply sharing my truth.
It's amazing looking back now, 15 months later (post date Jan 2019), and rereading what I set out to do, how I explained it to my fellow Googlers, and how things have evolved. I hit a bullseye in my desire to serve women, stressed out professionals, and seekers, but not in the realm of romantic love; and I've certainly enjoyed working with founders much more than I anticipated!
One of my favorite lessons in yoga is this: how we move into a pose is just as important as how we move out of it, and how this applies to relationships. It was important for me to transition out of Google at my own pace (it took a full year!), and with grace and purpose. Don't rush. Leave well. It will serve you. Last, I incidentally made Google my first investor in my new adventure -- I left with an incredible set of resources (connections, learnings, experiences) and capital (stock, education investment I used in my journey, as well as things like healthcare) that set me up for my cliff dive. If you're looking to make a move, start viewing your current provider / employer as the first investor in your new business, and I promise that will change your daily mood and sense of feeling stuck. You will instead feel empowered, maybe even grateful for the funding and support.
Get clear. Then leave well.
Q: What am I leaving Google for?
It’s ironic that I’m leaving Google to champion and facilitate universal access to information, and to make such information useful. The type of information I’m interested in, however, is how to live a happy, fulfilled life. None of us is born with a user’s manual. So how do we best operate this body, mind, heart, and spirit? How does this whole human thing work? What’s the purpose of our lives?
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, I do believe there is an answer for each of us. And given the billions of human beings that have come before us, and the vast sum of all of human knowledge, my guess is that the answer exists already. Yet many of us have yet to find our answer. That’s why mere organization of information is not enough. Access is necessary, but not sufficient.
I’ve been curiously, voraciously seeking answers like this my entire life. In particular, the big “What is the purpose of my life?” has dominated my Self Enquiry in the last 3 years. And the fulcrum to this question is the tricky yet critical Know Thyself. (If you’re curious about the process I went through to uncover my answers, ping me! I will also be sharing my writings on Medium.) I always loved sharing whatever I found along the way, and this is when I realised that:
All of this knowledge and wisdom, and the means and tools by which to obtain it, already exists.
Being happy and living a fulfilled life full of purpose is not a matter of luck. It is a choice and a skill that can be learned and developed.
Everyone should have access to this; we should minimise human suffering as much as possible.
Tools and skills. For ease of reference, I’m going to go ahead and label this combination of psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, insight, intuition, awareness, dogma, teachings, Mindfulness. It’s easier to describe that way =) In this digital age, with all of our access, we get to pick and choose what works for us, so why limit ourselves?
That’s the What. It’s broad. We tune our focus with the Who. Who needs this, and Why?
There are three groups of people I know intimately (I am each of these) and care deeply about:
I want to give every woman access to Mindfulness so that she can:
Develop self love and awareness
Have meaningful relationships, romantic and platonic
Why: so that she can fulfill her potential
I especially want to help women who have been through heartbreak. This is a suffering I personally know a lot about. Mindfulness can help us:
Develop compassion and empathy, which is key to forgiving and letting go
Develop resilience and reconnect with our own identities (sense of self worth)
Why: so that we can re-open our hearts, be vulnerable, and live wholehearted lives
2. Stressed Out Professionals
We all have stress, fear, and thoughts & emotions that keep us up at night. I personally had a total emotional and physical burn out last year, but made a full recovery. Mindfulness can help us:
Change our relationship to stress, like Neo!
React and deal with stress as it’s happening in-the-moment (not limited to de-stressing after-the-fact, i.e. taking time off, Netflix, puppies.)
Why: so that we can operate at peak performance, invoke our creativity, all with a healthy & balanced mind & body
I’ve also found, in teaching g2g courses, that the skills of Mindfulness are a backbone for developing other business skills such as:
Presentations & pitching
Sales & negotiation
Why: so that we can be bad asses, duh!
What is the purpose of your life? What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? Mindfulness can help us:
Discover these answers authentically for ourselves
See the truth
Why: So that we can live fulfilling lives and give what we are here to give
My heart bleeds for each of these groups of people. And while I care deeply about men, non-professionals, and non-seekers alike, it is the above groups that I believe I can be most useful to.
Mindfulness is often explained with this quote from Victor Frankl, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” I want women, you, all of us, to be free, free to choose.
Q: How will I do this?
I don’t know =) but I have some ideas (and would love your feedback, insights, help!):
1. Continued self education & development
Learning is a critical and lifelong journey for me. I will be continuing to educate myself, so that I may become more useful to others. It inspires and humbles me to no end to have realised that my life is one of service. Associations / schools I may explore are:
Center for Compassion & Altruism Research & Education @ Stanford
MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Theory)
If you know of any others, please send them my way!
2. Workshops, retreats, & live events for women
Weekend retreats to heal from heartbreak
Workshop: What is true love?
Mindfulness for dating: How to know what you want, vs need
Mindfulness for romantic love
3. Teaching modules for kids grades 6-12
Collaborate with a school / classroom, pilot something.
For example, we spend time and resources teaching children subjects such as history and math (invaluable knowledge, to be sure), but very little in helping them understand what an emotion is. I find this bizarre. When we learn our ABCs, we should just as soon be learning a vocabulary for our emotions, i.e. A is for Anger, B is for Boredom, C is for Calm. How does each emotion feel in our bodies? What language can we use to express these emotions? How do we allow for each emotion to be felt, and choose our reaction to them? How do we relate to others when they are feeling such emotions?
4. Workshops for startups & bigger companies
Mindfulness for Negotiation
Mindfulness for Sales
Mindfulness for Presentation Skills & Pitching
5. 1:1 Coaching
6. Other ideas
Lecturing at a university (eventually? That would be my dream, to work with young people like this!)
Speaking / conferences
My intention is not to build a business per se, but simply to do the work. (I will start my own business if and only if it satisfies the goal of doing the work.) I don’t see myself as an entrepreneur (tried that), so much as a facilitator of content. My skill lies in my ability to connect and communicate with others, make vague & complex subject matter inspiring and fun, and hold space for others in their pain and in their joy. I am also more than happy to work for an organisation that is already doing this work, I don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
Q: How can you help / be involved?
Your feedback, suggestions, ideas, or simply encouragement are all super welcome, and valued! Please let me know what you think and feel free to comment directly in this doc. I’ll be based in NYC (but traveling to wherever and whoever wants my help) and always reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much for reading!!
Resources I love and recommend:
On Mindfulness (esp. Loving Kindness)
Happiness, Matthieu Ricard
Loving Kindness, Sharon Salzberg
The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
Search Inside Yourself, Chade-Meng Tan
Be Here Now, Ram Dass
The Wisdom of Yoga, Stephen Cope
Daring Greatly and Rising Strong, Brene Brown
Ted Talks: Vulnerability, Shame (YT videos)
How to Make Stress Your Friend, Kelly McGonigal (YT video)
How to Have a Good Day, Caroline Webb
Mindset, Carol Dweck
Vipassana (silent meditation retreat; powerful, not for everyone)
Insight Yoga, Sarah Powers
On Purpose & Finding Your Path
The Crossroads of Should and Must, Elle Luna (Medium post)
The Art of Possibility, Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins (try the audiobook, which he narrates. His live events are here.)
Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert
Originals, Adam Grant
The Desire Map, Danielle Laporte
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
You Are a Badass, Jen Sincero
What Really Matters, Tony Schwartz
Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
The End of Eternity, Isaac Asimov (couldn’t resist adding some sci fi!)
16 Personalities (i.e. Myers-Briggs)
October 8th 2018 update: A few other Googlers have responded and made the following book recommendations to me, which I am delighted to share with everyone:
Living in the Light, Shakti Gawain
Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman
Thank you for Being Late, Thomas Friedman
Are You Ready to Succeed?, Srikumar S. Rao
The 5 Second Rule, Mel Robbins