Being weird in Slovenia

I recently interviewed at Google for a product manager position and three out of five interviewers labeled me a “serial entrepreneur”. This is usually a very positive thing (for a product track, at least), but it made me feel weird.

Deep down. It made me feel weird deep down.

I don’t want to be a serial entrepreneur. For starters, this is the exact opposite of how I was raised. Deep down it doesn’t make me feel like my life is on the right track.

I’m from Slovenia, you see. We have zero tolerance for failure. We don’t see it as part of a learning process, we see it in binary.

You failed? You’re out! And you’re a loser now, are you happy with that? We told you not to do it in the first place and you didn’t listen! Why can’t you just find a normal 9–5 job? We’re very disappointed in you, this isn’t how we raised you. We raised you not to take risks, because you could fail. Then what?

Then I pick myself up and try again, what else?

Why it made me feel weird? Because at Google it’s OK to be “weird”. And I’m not really used to that. What I’m used to is to be perceived as a bit weird, while being “weird” is generally something one should avoid at all costs.

That’s the main difference between Google and Slovenia. The “appreciation of weirdness”. The weirdest ideas, that just might work, are called Moonshots at Google … and there’s even a guy whose official title is “Captain of Moonshots”.

Because progress only comes from doing things differently in an unpredictable fashion.

People, who interviewed me, are (or have been) working on YouTube, Google Maps and Android. These are probably some of the biggest challenges both from an engineering as well as product management perspective. And I can honestly say that this was both the most difficult and the most interesting day in my career so far.

I’ve also been contacted by Facebook a few days ago, which is a little bit ironic, because I don’t have a (personal) Facebook account.

Which again upsets people around me much more than it upsets Facebook itself.

Or so it seems.