The Time I Was Chased by a Badger
And how that applies to getting a job at Google…or any great company for that matter.
(disclosure: adapted from a previous article and aligned to Veteran transition)
“It’s two a.m., the fear is gone. I’m sittin’ here waitin’, the gun still warm.” (Thank you Golden Earring for such wonderful lyrics).
But really, its two a.m. May 7th, 1990. My team and I had just completed our scout swim and were well on our way through the farmland of a country our government would prefer I don’t mention. The illumination from the moon was so bright that morning, it felt like day. Then from behind the distant brush, it charged.
We expected to encounter local farmers and planned accordingly. We expected to encounter harsh conditions and trained accordingly. We trained until it was second nature. But no one ever trains for a badger…no one. I won’t share what happened to the badger, only to say the mission must go on.
Google want people with high “cognitive ability.”
Being comfortable with the complex is critical to success. Although we never trained for the possibility we would be chased by a hungry, ferocious badger, we did train to overcome. We trained to deal with the unexpected. We trained to be secure with the unknown. In the Marine Corps we call this “Adapt and Overcome”. In business we call it CQ: the Curiosity Quotient.
Consider the candidate attributes Google seeks out while interviewing. They don’t necessarily look for a 4.0 GPA. They don’t look for a single expert skill-set. They search out those who have “comfort with ambiguity” and “ evidence that you’ve taken some courageous or interesting paths in your life.” I think as Veterans we encompass most that is Googleyness.
To successfully navigate complexity you must be comfortable with your curious side. All great entrepreneurs share a common trait: curiosity. Not just about their particular passions or industry, but about everything. It’s in their nature and it’s what makes them comfortable with chaos.
The same goes for Veterans. Most have worked in environments of uncertainty, requiring a global perspective and a mindset to perform under adverse conditions. To say that leadership is an attribute of most Veterans is an understatement.
According to a 2014 Harvard Business Review article (Read Here), people with a higher CQ are more inquisitive and open to new experiences. They find novelty exciting and are quickly bored with routine. They tend to generate many original ideas and are counter-conformist. It has not been as deeply studied as EQ and IQ, but there’s some evidence to suggest it is just as important when it comes to managing complexity in two major ways.
- Individuals with higher CQ are generally more tolerant of ambiguity. This nuanced, sophisticated, subtle thinking style defines the very essence of complexity.
- CQ leads to higher levels of intellectual investment and knowledge acquisition over time, especially in formal domains of education, such as science and art. Knowledge and expertise, much like experience, translate complex situations into familiar ones, so CQ is the ultimate tool to produce simple solutions for complex problems.
During the Veteran transition process, think about the attributes Google demands and apply them to your LinkedIn profile, resume, networking strategy and job search.