Imagination Precedes Ambition

Source: Fortune, Nov 2014

The Google CEO is the kind of guy who thinks the improbable is a given and the seemingly impossible is likely. He’s not one or two steps ahead of his engineers and research scientists; he often seems to inhabit an alternate universe, where the future has already happened. … “He wanted to make sure there was a moon shot after the moon shot,” says Astro Teller, who heads Google X. “Reminding us that his ambitions are this high,” Teller says, raising his hand well above his head, “helps people aspire to more.”

Page says his vision for Google is different: “We’d like to have a bigger impact on the world by doing more things.”

Page wants Google to keep attracting the world’s best talent so that he can build an entirely new kind of company—one that can stay at the top of its game not for a decade or two, but perhaps for generations. “It’s what’s continuing to drive me,” he says.

In an hourlong conversation he volunteers that he is “super-excited” about this and “really excited” about that and “very excited” about something else nearly two dozen times.

Page says it’s also part of how he manages the company’s armies of alpha scientists. “Deep knowledge from your manager goes a long way toward motivating you,” Page says. “And I have a pretty good capability for that.”

Page looks at Google’s projects as a portfolio, a “bucket of investments.” Some are short-term, others are medium or long-term bets. He says he is fairly certain some will pay off. And while the investments are sizable, they are also gradual. “By the time you know you want to put a significant amount of money into something, you’re pretty sure you’re going to make money from it,” says Page. “It’s not that the risk is so high.” To the most ambitious CEO on the planet, clearly the bigger risk is in not trying to conjure the future.

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