Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet
[MUSIC] [APPLAUSE] >> So now >> All right >> Welcome back to Stanford. >> It's great to be here and it's nice to be back physically with people in the room so it's terrific >> Yeah and as you can tell my classmates and I are so excited that you're here with us today. And this conversation is extra special for me because your story hit so close to home.
Like you, my dad is from South India, he is an alumnus of IIT and immigrated here about 30 years ago, with grit and determination, he's right here in the audience. >> [APPLAUSE] >> He's a role model for me and so are you, so truly thank you for being here. >> The real pleasure is mine, it's very nostalgic. I was just telling John, I saw a volleyball court outside Stanford was the end of my fledgling volleyball career coming here and seeing >> [LAUGH] >> How good people were, but it's really nice to be back. >> Lots of talent around here.
And when you first became the CEO of Google, it created quite a buzz. Your Wikipedia page had over 350 edits just in the week that you became the leader, have you seen some of these edits? >> [LAUGH] >> Advice I would have for all of you is don't read about yourself online. >> [LAUGH] >> Well, we thought it'd be a good way to start the conversation >> [LAUGH] >> By visiting some of these Wikipedia edits, some of our favorite ones with fact versus fake news your Wikipedia page edition. >> [LAUGH] >> First of all someone claimed. >> [LAUGH] >> That you decided to join IIT at a young age at 8 years old, fact or fake? >> I think that was fake, my parents were tired of me they sent me to school, I think when I was about two and a half to kindergarten I was pretty young when I came to Stanford but that is not true. >> [LAUGH] >> At the same time everyone wanted to claim you from their hometown in high school.
So there are quite a few edits to your page on which high school you came from. >> [LAUGH] >> Where did you go? >> [LAUGH] >> There are two schools which are right, but the final school is VanaVani which is inside the campus where your dad went to college, so that's where I went to school. >> Wow, okay, so the person that said you were homeschooled was definitely wrong. >> [LAUGH] >> I don't think I was homeschooled, unless it involved playing cricket. >> [LAUGH] >> I wasn't homeschooled.
>> Well, on that note, [LAUGH] >> [LAUGH] >> Were you the captain of your high school cricket team? >> I would have loved to be >> [LAUGH] >> But I was quite far from it, yeah. >> [LAUGH] >> In another life [LAUGH]. So now that we have >> In the Metaverses, yeah. >> [LAUGH] >.
You're speaking my language [LAUGH]. >> So now that we have the fiction out of the way, we can turn to some of the facts. You grew up in Indian with limited access to technology and when you discovered technologies it had a profound impact on you. How did you go from an initial delay in technology to devoting your career to access to technology for all? >> Growing up for me every technology transition was very vivid even as a kid because I had to wait a long time for it. We were on a waitlist for rotary telephone it took five years to be on the waitlist and get the form.
I would go to get my grandparents blood test results and it would be an hour round trip each way. And he would go all the way to the hospital and they would say, it's not ready today come back tomorrow. And then this phone came and I could call and they would tell me whether the results were ready or not and so to me, that was like, super profound. And people who would come to our house to make calls, I saw how it created a sense of community.
So I've always had this vivid sense of how technology can make a profound difference and so a lot of what I've tried to do is bring that access to technology. What I got, I got a lot more of it when I came to Stanford. Walking to Sweet Hall at the time and seeing rows of computers was life changing for me. And I was very inspired by Negroponte is one laptop per child project. And even today, a lot of what I'm able to do at Google, be it make cheaper phones through Android, bring the next billion people online or Chromebooks and try to make affordable laptops, all hit close to that mission so, definitely.
>> Yeah, and I can tell, the way that you speak about technology, it had this impact on you and it manifested in your studies as well. You got your engineering degree from IIT, and then a master's here at Stanford in Engineering. And we're about to pursue a career in academia and get your PhD. Clearly that's not the path you ended up taking. What changed your mind, why did you decide to leave academia at the time? >> I still want to know I'll have a conversation with my dad. I think I disappointed him a little bit >> [LAUGH] >> Not getting that PhD, but I literally came to Silicon Valley for me it was asked literal, for me this was the place where semiconductors are built, I came here for the silicon in Silicon Valley.
And, I did my PhD student in material science, I was studying semiconductor physics and definitely that's what I thought I would do. A few things one is I was surrounded by other grad students who had worked on at the time what was the rage, it was a superconductors, what was called high TC superconductors. And I realized many of them had spent their life and it didn't happen and so that gave me pause. And I think something you all probably deal with being in the Valley, there's so much happening outside. There's a lot that beckons outside and so I was definitely interested in that.
I had financial reasons to go get a job and so the combination of all that made me go out and be in industry and in a great learning moment. The semiconductor industry is extraordinarily cyclical. In my first year of the company at work, we hired 3000 people and the next year we laid off 1700 people.
And so you get out and you go through that life learning. But that was the early days of the internet too, and definitely seeing what the promise the internet had and connecting it back to what I wanted to do was what led me find my way back to Google. And I went to business school along the way, not here, but another great school and eventually made it back to the Valley. >> Yeah, it seems like you saw the rapid change of technology outside of academia. >> Yeah, Boat Stanford itself is a special place I think there are in most faculty here it's a very symbiotic relationship which I've always thought is unique amongst many places in the world.
And so definitely both being in the campus you get a good sense for what's happening outside. And going to industry here you really get a sense for the dynamism. We take it for granted but as I travel around the world, most people outside are trying to understand how the Valley works and how to do better. So it's an extraordinary place. >> Yeah and many of us here are in a transitory period of our lives. Figuring out which industry we want to go and impact.
You've been at Google for now quite a while, 20 years. And faced several crossroads during your time. Sometimes choosing to leave an industry is as difficult as choosing to stay. What drew you to stay at Google over the past 20 years >> It's been very busy partly that [LAUGH] and you know I mean, it's an extraordinary place.
I think the breadth of talent you see, the kinds of projects you get exposed to, you're on the cutting edge of everything. It's like, I'm not a surfer, but I use this analogy. I don't know why, but it's like I've tried a couple of times and it failed. But it feels like, surfing and being on the edge of something all the time. So definitely I enjoy that.
And a big part of it is, if you look at our products, search works everywhere around the world. We take pride in providing it and it's accessible to everyone as long as they have computing and connectivity whether you're here at Stanford or kid in rural Indonesia, Google works for you. And that's the philosophy we bring across our products.
The chi meI will be perhaps with YouTube. So we think about scale, being able to reach people and make technology more accessible and it's what I wanted to do in my life. And so it's a privilege to do it. >> Yeah. And there's no shortage of products to work on. >> There's no shortage, sometimes too many at Google.
But that's kind of the story. >> Yeah. One of the early products that you worked on was Chrome. You led the team and initially there was some pushback. High development costs competitors in the space. But you had conviction that the browser was the way to go.
Where did the conviction come from? And how did you convince skeptics that Chrome was the future? >> Now that time Eric was our CEO, Eric Schmidt. And I remember him being angry once he said it because he realized we were trying to build a browser and he was like, do you know what it takes to build a browser? It takes because he had gone through the browser battles. He definitely didn't, [LAUGH].
You know, was hesitant for us to do it. Partly how did I do it? I didn't tell tell people [LAUGH]. For a while I just had a small team and worked on it.
And only when we had something to show, we had a chance to show the product and that got people excited and so but it's a good lesson. I think if you have a set of committed people, passionate people you can achieve even I couldn't have foreseen what it would eventually become. But shows the power of a small group of committed people and actually not knowing the odds of what you're working on. So I think both helps. >> Yeah, and you can obviously see the direction that Chrome grew into as one of the most popular browsers today.
And you really have seen Google transition from pre IPO to the trillion dollar company it is today. It's challenging to scale an organization of that size. Over the years, what do you think Google has done well as it scaled, >> I mean, the it is a complex thing scaling a company, I would say thinks we have gotten right. The first thing that struck me about Google when I joined the company, it was very different in the sense that it was a very optimistic place. So there are places in which if you walked the hallways and you spoke to people in the UN ideas. People expanded on them.
Most of the times people try to tell you why things won't work I felt the spirit was different people will tell you view That's a great idea. You could do it this way and it would be better. So that struck me that optimism, the fact that you can innovate, make things better solve problems, I think is the spirit of tried to create now and it takes a lot of hard work. You have to encourage innovation. One of the counterintuitive things is, companies become more conservative as they grow.
They have a lot more cash, they have a lot more resources. But companies tend to become more conservative in their decision making. And so encouraging the company to take risks and innovate and be okay with failure and reward effort, not outcomes.
And that's very hard to do in an organization people tend to reward outcomes. And which means over time, the organization becomes more conservative, they take safer bets, and so on. So a lot of scaling is about making sure you preserve the good things you had in the early days and that gets harder as the company becomes bigger, you're to work harder at it. But I think a big part of what we try hard to do is keep that culture of innovating with technology, building products, shipping things, and so that's one of the many things but yeah.
>> Yeah, and maintaining that culture as the company grows. Is not easy it's a difficult endeavor. What were some of the other kind of growing pains that you've seen Google have over the last couple of years >> Yeah I mean definitely a lot I mean when you're a small company, think about the size of the business schools all of you have shared context.
You understand better what others are going through and so you have better context around everything that's going on a larger company definitely gets harder. Right. And Google was built on everyone. It's a very open culture. Even today. One of the most common things people tell me when they come from other companies is.
They're shocked at how transparent the company is, you've literally access to what's happening across the company. But it can be overwhelming and just because you have transparency doesn't mean you have context. It's very different from when organizations are smaller. So, that's been a big part of trying to figure out how to scale up the company. And how do you organize more independently coordinate only when needed, but can have more parts of the company move smaller units. And that's a hard balance to get right.
>> And now you're at the helm of Google and you see all of these teams working in different directions. But one thing that you've been vocal about and enthusiastic about is AI. You've said AI is the most important thing humanity has ever worked on and many of us will go on to work with AI or advanced computing in some form. How should we be thinking about AI to help humanity versus harm humanity? >> No, it's a great question. When I became CEO, one of the biggest directional changes we made, as we said, we're going to approach everything as AI first and we're applying it across everything we do in the company.
It's a big part of the r&d we spend. And the progress is palpable every year, it's exciting there's a lot of progress. I think we concretely see the evidence of just when you look at the scale at which translation works.
Or in search how we use AI or in Gmail when you type and we give suggestions. It's applied across all our products. And so it definitely, we can see the path by which we're making things better. I think will profoundly transform pretty much every sector. You see the potential in areas like healthcare I think it'll still take a decade for it to fully play out but we definitely see the potential question of how do you make sure we develop it in a way.
I think that the essential struggle of humanity with every technology Is harnessing it so that it benefits society. You can see the same debates about the internet, even before you think about AI, has the internet been a force of good? Obviously, has it had effects, which we didn't fully anticipate? Yes, and that's the debate and we are working about how best to address it. With AI I think we need to think about it earlier.
So, part of how we are approaching, we have clearly articulated publicly a set of AI principles, and publicly stated it and we publish a lot of research, we open source technology, but that's only part of the problem. I think academic institutions need to play a big role. We were a founding member for Stanford's AI Institute Hai and proud to be a supporter there. I think they're doing terrific work.
But in academic institutions, nonprofits and the public private partnership government will end up having a roll. There has to be thoughtful regulation about AI. You have to get the balance right so that there is innovation, but I think it's important to think it through earlier than other technologies. So I think and so doing it an engaging all the stakeholders is the only way I can think of approaching it. >> So it seems like it's a living breathing framework that evolves as AI also evolves.
>> That's right. And it needs to involve many people from many different institutions to make it work. >> Yeah. I want to touch on your point on technology being forward about technology and thinking about the benefits and harms as we're building it.
In a post COVID world, many of us have realized the importance of human connection, and we crave human connection yet sometimes technology can breed disconnection. How are you thinking about the future of quality connections with each other, as technology becomes a larger part of our lives? >> I mean, look technology is an enabler. Ultimately it's people in society, we have to organise around how we use technology. I think you're raising a very important point and, thinking through about how technology is not isolating, or immersive in a way in which it prevents you from engaging, I think genuinely is a good topic. I think all of us who have kids,worry about it and struggle about it. I did like when our sons were playing in the middle school band, it's what you want to see them do more of.
But every generation always is very worried about technology of the future. It's always been true when you look back at it. And so I think that's part of the process. Technology done correctly, can enable interactions in the real world. One of the companies we spun out of Google which was Niantic I did that precisely that with Pokeyman and got people to move about and do stuff in the real world which I found inspiring. But I think over time, part of even if we get augmented reality, right, today when you see people on their phones walking on the streets immersed.
You see that in some ways technology forces you they engage with it. It hasn't adapted enough to how humans live life. And so part of solving, more natural ways by which you can interact with computing be it voice be computing, understanding what you're looking at, may actually help us do this better, than wrongly can be even more isolating, but done correctly with the right attributes. I think it can help bridge that gap. And so I think that's a potential for AR if done correctly.
>> Yeah, so it's thinking in advance about the implications and then being there as the technology develops. >> That's right? >> Yeah. I want to take a step back and look at Google more as a whole. Some of the biases we've talked about with AI but more more broadly, what goes on with Google's culture. In 2018 employees staged a walkout for women's rights.
In 2020 Google was accused of mishandling the treatment of minorities on the ethical AI team. To start us off as these events were happening, what was going through your head? What was your reaction? >> No, one of the fortunate things have felt as most companies from day one Google has had a strong employee voice. And for me as a CEO running a large company, always found it helpful. Because you trust your employees to get it right at scale. So I viewed it as a strength of the company, when employees speak up.
I think it's important for us to take it seriously. The walkout was a moment when the company hadn't gotten something right and that's what the walkout was about. So internalizing it, acknowledging it, owning up to it, committing and making the company better is how you approach those moments. And even today, I think employee input is something as a company, we value deeply, and I would argue, they push the company to be better across all the things we do It is complex, as I said earlier. The context around some of these decisions are always hard. And at scale, not everyone has the full context.
But for what it's worth, I've personally always felt one of the strengths of the company. And when it comes to getting AI right or doing things at scale, and getting it right. We do it in many countries around the world. And I still today take great comfort in knowing that our employees deeply are guardians of our values and we'll do everything to get it right. >> Yeah, and I guess these past events help inform the future decision making of Google. How are you thinking about promoting DE&I Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Google moving forward? >> One of the most important moments as a company we went through and I think many companies around the world was the racial equity moment around the murder of George Floyd, as a company for us.
It was a profound moment internally. I've never seen anything affect the company that much in the 16 years. We publicly committed to, I consulted and work with our black leadership advisory group in the company. And understanding most of the company, he wanted to do the right thing, tapping on the moment and converting it into lasting commitment. So we publicly committed to a set of initiatives and we're holding ourselves accountable.
We give transparency reports on how we're making progress on that. And be it committing to improving our leadership representation from underrepresented groups committing to driving improvements in our products. Last year in pixel in our camera technology we launched real tone in a more inclusive way to capture pictures to cover all skin tones. I mean, these are all examples of how you can use technology to make progress here scaling and giving more people access to technology, particularly in underrepresented groups. These are all commitments we have made.
And that's one part of how we work through moments like those. >> Yeah, so it seems like you're taking a technological approach as well as an empathetic approach, listening to your employees, hearing what they have to say. What's top of mind for employees right now is the future of work. You recently released your future of work plan for Google employees. And I can imagine you're balancing a lot of perspectives that are competing.
How did you integrate competing preferences when crafting your future of plan work? For me, for what it's worth, I am incredibly excited about this next face of how the future of work. And I think 20 years ago, Google was kind of, it's now done so much around the valley, people take it for granted. But Google did rethink what workspaces could be. They thought workspaces could be fun. We had slides in our offices, we bridged we changed workplaces pretty radically.
We gave people a lot of agency our employees had a lot of agency. It felt fun to be in the offices. And we didn't think that was at odds of being productive, right. So the sense of creating community fostering creativity in the workplace, collaboration all makes you a better company. I view giving flexibility to people the same way.
To be very clear I do think we strongly believe in person connections. But I think we can achieve that in a more purposeful way and give employees again more agency and flexibility. So I think hybrid work is great. We're going to leverage the scale of the company. We have many locations around the world so people can move to other places and work. We are starting with a three two hybrid option.
But we have encouraged employees to apply to be fully remote as well. And we've supported 85% of those applications. So I'm excited, you earlier asked about diversity. One of the best ways we can now approach diversity is actually showing up in places where diverse talent is. But more importantly, when we get that talent then being in communities which have the supporting structure for them. And so we are now in Atlanta, in Chicago, in DC, recruiting employees.
I think being able to support the participation of women in the workforce. I think the flexibility is going to be huge asset. So I'm excited by it and I think I find when people come back. And people are very excited to come back to the office, by the way. As they opened up, we are easily at over 70% already back to our pre pandemic, presence in the offices and it's growing.
But giving people that choice. It always bothered me that the stress around commutes. Or when people at parent-teacher conferences or doctor appointments balancing all that, there's a lot of stress which people who are carrying.
So, I think it gives us a chance to rethink. Also say technology, since we build products like Gmail, Docs and so on. It gives us a chance to rethink products too, and make it all work better. So, I think it's one of the most exciting things that's happening in the workforce and I think you'll see the benefits of it over time.
>> Yeah, absolutely. It seems like you're emphasizing intentionality and flexibility when it comes to hybrid work. And your plans really do set the stage for other companies in Silicon Valley and beyond. So we're all looking to you and your leadership for guidance on things like this.
So you also recently just got back from Warsaw, you were helping out with the Ukraine refugee crisis. How do you, when is it appropriate for corporations to step in on public issues like Ukraine and Russia? >> Well, first of all, for us we are directly involved because both we have employees in Ukraine and Russia. Our products work in these regions, being an information company at moments like this, it's really critical for us to get these moments, right. So we approach it a few ways.
Foremost, the safety of our employees like every other organization, making sure employees are safe. The second very critical for us is getting access to information, right? Tackling misinformation, removing, what we felt were propaganda information. And raising what we do in search and YouTube at moments like that is raising higher quality information, including providing information within Russia at moments like this. It's been a large part of the work we do, launching important things like air raid alerts on Google maps in Ukraine. Being in Watsa one of the things that struck me and it's true for pretty much everyone there, an average Google employee had two to three refugee families with them. These are mainly women and children.
People don't speak the same language all the time, people are using Google Translate on their phones to communicate. So we have to do a sprint to get the language translation working right. We opened up a portion of our space to NGOs as well as entrepreneurs from Ukraine and more importantly, we committed to investing in Poland. So we announced a $700 million investment, both in office space and to hire more people in Poland. And we're going to commit to investing in Central and Eastern Europe at this pivotal time. But I think it definitely the war shows how much we have to continue fighting for and so it's an important moment to get right.
>> Yeah, it's incredible to see corporations like Google committing time, resources, financial investment, and technology to causes like this. And I'm personally in awe of how many causes that you're invested in. Apart from Ukraine, Russia, you also have announced plans recently in investment in Africa. And things like job skills training for low to middle income folks. More broadly, how do you choose which causes you want to invest your time and effort into? >> It's a great question.
With a company at scale, there's a lot of things that come your way I think you have to be disciplined about where you think Google can make a difference. And what is a unique perspective or value proposition you can bring to the table. And over time we have understood there are things we can do well and things other organization's are better at doing.
An area, for example, given our focus on information, skilling has been a big focus for us, digital skilling. I think, there's no substitute for college but unfortunately not everyone has access to it and can afford to go to college. And so skilling people bringing them, giving them access to digital skills has been a big push. In the US, we launched a career certificate program. It's a nine month program, we've done it on four major areas. And we back it up with working with employers to recruit people.
And it's been extraordinarily successful, 75,000 people have gone through it. And almost 50% of it is from underrepresented groups. And when I look at the demand there is from people for these things and so I think as a society we need to figure out about how we can scale and give access to digital skilling to more people.
But that's an area where we feel Google can strongly contribute. And so we choose and get involved in areas like that sustainability is one of the ones. So we choose where we think we can add value.
>> Yeah, so it seems like you look at your strengths, and then look at what impact you can make based off of your strengths and pursue those issues. >> That's right. >> Yeah, and you touched on this briefly about sustainability. A couple years ago, you announced this lofty goal of being carbon neutral at Google by 2030. And you have to unify many business units and product lines to achieve this goal.
How are you going about getting the whole company to rally behind a goal of sustainability? >> One of the important things and if I could clarify one thing, because it's sadder than people, we've been carbon neutral since 2007. So Google has been carbon neutral since 2007, and one of the earliest companies to do so. Sustainability has long been an important goal.
What we have now committed is by 2030 to be carbon free, so not using offsets, but actually running our operations 24/7 carbon free. That is a hard challenge, because today we can use offsets and that involves investing in developing new technologies beyond wind and solar, be carbon capture, how do you store energy and to do it around the world. And so, but it excites us because it's a lot of R&D again, and you can apply technology.
And we bought some of the earliest wind and solar contracts in 2010, and costs have fallen by 85% in the last 10 years. And so again, looking at these new technologies, we just have a whole data center now up and running with geothermal. And so, tapping into new technologies, and we want to bootstrap it and help drive the technology and the cost curve over the next decade so that we can reach there.
But it's a challenge, it stresses us out, but incredibly excited as technologists the chance to make progress. >> Yeah, and none of these big initiatives were asked of you and asked of Google, these are things that you as a company and you as a leader have decided to take on. The theme for our slate of speakers this year is Beyond Expectations.
So we'd love to hear what motivates you to go above and beyond what is expected of a business leader. >> I would tie it back to the first question, at least in the context of the work I do. I travel around the world, and I still today, particularly when you go into emerging markets, it's a very different view from here. You see how eager people are to get access to technology because they understand how it'll make their lives better. So you see it, you feel it, when I go to Vietnam, or India, or Africa, and there's a lot more work to be done.
And just in India recently, we are working on a cheaper, high quality smartphone, maybe around the $30 price point. And last week we just announced in Africa, our product development center in Nairobi, hiring engineers, UX designers and so on. When you see the appetite and the desire for people to make their lives better by gaining access to technology, that's what compels me to go beyond.
And I think its very consistent with what our company has set out to do. >> Yeah, I can tell how much intentionality you have behind all the initiatives within Google and externally. So truly, thank you so much for giving us a framework and ideas behind how you make decisions, that we can kind of take away from here. With that, we do have student questions, so we can turn it over. Right there.
>> Hi Sundar. My name is Melissa Jiang, and I was a former Tapestry employee, so great to meet you. My question is, going back to the year or forward to the year 2030, in what capacity do you see Alphabet partnering the most with governments? And this can be from tech access, to grids, to search, and what will make you feel most proud of getting right? >> The second part is, I do think sustainability is going to be the defining issue for us to get right in the next decade or so.
So we are definitely committing Alphabet seriously, just to get to a carbon free goal would involve billions of dollars in incremental investment from us. But we think it's the right thing to do, it would be good for us as a business, I think over time. But I think that is something I want us to be able to get right and I think, definitely something we'd be proud of if we can get there. To your first question, I presume you're asking, by 2030, how do you see us engaging with governments and so on? Okay, I think tech, one of the bigger, more profound changes underway is I think technology is going to be a regulated industry. And, part of, as a company working at scale, is anticipating, working constructively with regulators. Because I think at the end of the day, technology affects citizens and so every country is going to be thinking about this deeply.
And take Europe's GDPR as an example, it's an important foundational privacy legislation, right? And I think we anticipated, we invested up almost 18 months of work to get ready for it. And I think it's given certainty to both European citizens, it gives businesses certainty about how to operate, so that's one example of legislation working. And so we would expect to be constructively working with governments around the world. Arjuna mentioned AI.
And I think that's going to be important for us to get right. And I think governments will end up playing a key role in the timeframe. >> Hi, Sundar, I'm Shinies, thank you for being here.
Yesterday we had the privilege of having Barack Obama on campus. And he spoke about how changes in the way we communicate and consume information has a massive impact on our democracy. So while Google is not a social media company, I'm curious to know what you see Google's role in that debate is.
>> I mean, first of all, I think it was an important speech. And I think that's something we think about deeply, it's in our stated mission. If you think about search, this is what we are trying to do for every query, right? We are trying to sort what is higher quality information. And so, it cuts to the essence of what we do. In YouTube, we brought the same principles.
Such a complex topic, but maybe I can answer it with an example. It's actually easier to do this as a company when society agrees on an area, so when society converges and agree. You can see that happening in the context of the war, Russia, Ukraine, and I think that's why you see a lot of companies be able to get it right. When society is very divided about where to draw the lines, it inherently gets harder.
But the way we approach is generally on important areas, to use YouTube as an example, we raise what we think of as authoritative information. That's journalistic content, or in the case of, if it's health related, maybe from universities or hospitals or public health organizations. So we use those tools just like we have done search to try and think hard about what are higher quality sources of information.
And we view that as a goal, and that's one way by which we tackle the problem. But it's an important issue and I think part of it is, if there are better rules, including laws and legislation, I think it'll actually make it easier. But you'll find writing the law and legislation is hard, because I think as a society, we're still grappling with what we think is the right answer for many of these things.
Hi, Sundar. I'm the at the business school. >> [LAUGH] >> And also from Madras, so it's really nice to meet you. I used to work for the Gates Foundation thinking about bringing innovation to emerging markets in undeserved people.
So everything you say resonates. My question is a more personal one. During the work you do, there are many difficulties, difficult moments, highs and lows.
Do you have any everyday habits or personal mantras that keep you going when things get tough? >> It's a great question. First of all, in my most decisions it took me a while to realize when decisions come to you, the higher up you are in an organization, the easy decisions don't come to you, right? [LAUGH] By definition when something has come to you, it's because others have spent time on it and they can't resolve it. So in some ways I realized that.
So two things, one is, I think you making that decision is the most important thing you can do. You're breaking a tie and it unlocks the organization to move forward. And so, it's an important thing. One of the mentors here, Bill Campbell, taught that to me early. Every week he would see me, he would ask me, what ties did you break this week? And so it's always struck with me. So I view making these decisions as, you're really helping the company, and so that makes it a bit more fun.
The second is, with time you realize most of those decisions are inconsequential. It might appear very tough at the time. It may feel like a lot rides on it, prelook later and you realize it wasn't that consequential. There are few consequential decisions, and judgment is a big part of leadership, and you don't always get it right and you have to learn from it. But I think most decisions aren't that consequential.
And so thinking through both, it helps me think about it as it's just another normal day in the office, and so you keep going through it. >> So I think we have time for one more question right back there. >> Hi, Sundar. My name is Nick Pershore. I'm from Syria. And in Syria, 20 million people don't have access to all of the products that Google produces.
That's because of regulations that are put in place by countries like the United States and certain countries of the European Union. So on top of being under a dictatorship, 20 million Syrians don't have access to the financial world, don't have access to basic technology products. And the gap between the developed and developing world is really just increasing. You're one of the most important leaders in the world. What are you doing to advocate on behalf of these people and give truly universal access to technology products? Thank you.
>> That's a great question. As a company, our mission is to provide universal access to information, and anytime we are not able to do that for a set of reasons. I mean, we struggle with it, we feel compelled to try to find a way. We do have to comply with laws as a company.
And in areas like Syria, the ways we have contributed, a, we've been involved in the refugee workaround, Syrian refugees for a long time. We build access to open source technologies in many of these cases and support things. Android is open source, things do make their way into these countries. So we work at the open source level in areas where we are not fully able to directly work. But I think it's an important question. I don't have all the answers here.
But thanks for asking it, and I'll think about it more. >> Awesome, so we typically conclude our conversations with a lightning round. I will start a sentence and you will finish it. So it's a fill in the blank. >> [LAUGH] >> So first of all, something that inspires me is? >> Watching the next generation blossom.
And I think society always worries that the next generation isn't as good as they are, that is not true. And the next generation ends up making the world even better. So that inspires me. >> I am the most proud of? >> Trying my best to do the right thing by the people I'm involved with, both obviously, personally and professionally, people I work with. >> During my time at Stanford, I loved? >> I used to love just being out in the court, and sitting and grabbing lunch with friends. Driving today reminded me of that, for sure.
>> I am the happiest when? >> Many things, but being around people, building products, and solving problems makes me very happy. >> And finally, the best piece of leadership advice I've received is? >> Be authentic to yourself and be the best leader you can be. I think there's no one right template, and don't try to be in someone else's mold.
>> That's wonderful. Sundar, thank you so much. It's been such a pleasure. >> [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]