Every Google employee I have ever met wears a Google shirt on their day off. All their stories are Google stories, their besties and (often) partners are from Google, and they talk a lot about how great Google is. On the one hand, it’s alarmingly cultish, but on the other hand it’s a testament to their genuine love for an employer… or at least their genuine love for working in what sounds like a nerd Shangri-la.
It’s probably the closest thing we have to the old stereotype of the Japanese salaryman, who thinks of himself as a Mitsubishi employee first and foremost when it comes to questions of identity.
Now, imagine that Mitsubishi salaryman was talking up the benefits of a Mazda 3 while you’re in the Mitsubishi showroom. Or try to picture one of those Google proselytisers telling you Bing is an underrated search engine, actually, and you should try using it.
Last night, I was in an Uber, chatting to the driver, and the main thing he wanted to talk about was how great Ola is. I’d never even heard of the thing – apparently it’s an Indian-owned competitor to Uber, which takes less of a cut per ride from the drivers while charging passengers less per kilometre. I didn’t need to do any research on this ride-sharing service, because my Uber driver had a full rundown on the benefits.
“Sounds like I should sign up,” I said.
“Oh, definitely. Definitely.”
Apparently, he is – and a lot of other drivers are – logged into both services, to maximise income. Which is fair enough, given the work situation they’re in. It’s a gig economy, they’re not employees of Uber and don’t have the tangible benefits of belonging that our old-timey salaryman or Google-jumpsuited programmer have.
It’s to the driver’s benefit and the company’s detriment if I’m active on both Uber and Ola, especially if I spread the word further in an op-ed column. And it’s obviously better to have more than one service competing for my coin as a consumer.
But you have to wonder, from a leadership perspective, about the ramifications of someone spruiking a rival service while they’re earning money under your umbrella.
Is your organisation closer to Google, with its starry-eyed workers loving the whole experience and happy to wax lyrical about it over boardgames? Or is it more like the Mitsubishi man quietly pushing people towards Mazdas?
PS: Obviously, I gave the bloke five stars. You have to reward someone for a hot tip like that.