Lesson 1: Don’t sell out. While other search engines were sneaking paid ads into their listings, Google’s founders decided that the only things they would ever sell were separate “sponsored links.” They also refused banner ads and pop-ups.
Lesson 2: Defy convention. Google resists the groupthink that dogs even the young Internet. Example: It keeps its pages bare-naked: no news, no ads, nothing but search. What’s more, Google encourages its engineers to spend 20% of their time working on personal projects that may or may not benefit the company. The point is to keep them thinking creatively. The bigger point is that you don’t have to run with the herd.
Lesson 3: Love your product. Everybody says this, but practically nobody does it. When everybody else in search stopped focusing on research to chase deals, Google poured cash into engineering.
Lesson 4: Watch your greed. The company will suggest that customers quit advertising on its site if click-through doesn’t justify it. Jim Cancil, who owns a car accessory business in Maryland, actually got a letter from Google suggesting that he stop wasting his money.
Lesson 5: Keep your campers happy. Remember those resident chefs, masseuses and doctors of the dot-com bubble? Well, Google never sent them away. They cost relatively little, and the payoff is turnover in the low single digits and a better-than- 90% job acceptance rate.
—Adapted from “What Your Company Can Learn From Google,” Melanie Warner, Business 2.0.