GoogleIt’s pretty rare that a presentation is given without media these days … even rarer when that presentation is from a leader of the world’s biggest source of it. So it was refreshing to sit back and just listen to Jim Lecinski, Google’s vice president of Americas customer solutions, tell his story. It was like a fireside chat, without the fire!

Jim covered three topics (which he likened to a play with three acts, but which were really three distinct stories) that all shared a common theme: When you value what matters, you’ll be successful.

Story 1: Where you live and work matters

Google has been in Chicago for almost as long as Google has been Google. They enjoyed their location in River North, but were outgrowing the space. After 10 years of growth, their numbers had swelled from around 30 people to over 1,000. The initiative to move started with a real estate checklist: What would a good location be? How big would the building be? But culture has always been very important to Google, and the location had to be more than convenient and corporate. What drove their decision in selecting the new space was the experience they wanted to provide both their employees and the city at large.

Jim shared that the building they ended up loving could not have been more limiting … for starters, it had no windows. Plus, all 12 stories were frozen floor to ceiling, and had to be thawed out before any work could begin. And so it began. Four years later, both the building and the neighborhood are transformed. Google made this investment in the city — as it does by Wi-Fi enabling parks, supporting public schools and more — because it believes that innovation matters everywhere, not just in northern California. Jim spoke of how investments in small cities like Ann Arbor and big cities like Chicago all add up to advance digital transformation for everyone, everywhere. It is wonderful to see a company that invests in what it values. He encouraged all of us to go wherever the experience can be gained, no matter where that would take us, and bring it back home to Chicago.

Story 2: What’s happening today matters

Jim then transitioned to talk about what matters right now to businesses and marketers. While the future is nice to think about, he encouraged a laser focus on what is happening now. A quick search of his day-to-day Google engagements yielded these results:

1. Digitize your product. What are you doing today to move beyond digital content to transforming your core product? Jim shared a great example of how the 120-year-old Monopoly game has been transformed into a digitally interactive game that is bringing new life to the experience. He also talked about how Grainger has transformed its core product offering. This is not a future opportunity; this is a competitive issue to address for the long-term viability of your company.

2. Mobile first. The deadline was yesterday, as Jim said. Did you know that 82% of the searches done for 2016 Super Bowl advertising were done on a mobile device? It was “only” 70% last year. So you say — that’s consumers. B2B is different. But it’s not. When 82% of all inquiries go mobile, will you be ready? The majority of today’s workforce are millennials. Mobile matters.

3. Virtual reality. This is fundamentally changing the way people engage with content, and it is not sci-fi. The New York Times sent out 4 million cardboard viewers one weekend last year. It was a watershed moment for them. They say they are building a “time machine” to bring people into historical events with 360-degree content. As Jim said, this is not niche, bleeding-edge stuff … these cameras can be bought for a couple of hundred dollars. Everybody can create this content. And yes, there is a business context here. Volvo sent out a direct mail piece with these viewers to enable people to take a virtual test drive. What are you doing for your business?

4. Orthogonal competition. What? “Orthogonal” is the new “disruptive.” It used to be that the first guy in a market would get top share, the second would get half of that and the third half of that … so everyone would keep a watch on their fellow competitors defined this way. But today’s market enables a whole new type of competition. Marriott and Hyatt may compete with each other, but Airbnb is eating their lunch. The advertising industry is experiencing this as well … automated exchanges now enable ad space to be purchased in the milliseconds and even microseconds before the target downloads a page. Now, the C-level prospect you seek may be found on a sports page, making traditional media buying a thing of the past. Marketing is moving away from a content-based placement paradigm, optimizing around finding the desired audience no matter where they are.

5. Technology isn’t optional. Invest heavily in marketing and ad technology. This is a matter of competitive survival. It will transform your marketing, and ultimately your company.

Story 3: You matter

Jim ended his storytelling with the personal advice he shares with the new hires at Google on how to manage their personal brand and be successful. He shared great perspective on success — we all want it. Nobody says they want to be mediocre. So that means desire isn’t enough. You must be willing to do what it takes to get there. This means commitment to you. How much do you want it? Here are five actions to add to your success-oriented life practice:

1. Network, network, network. Sure, we’ve all heard this before. But it really is important. The network itself is the value, as nodes connect with each other. Treat every event as an opportunity to add more value to your network. It will pay lifetime dividends as it grows.

2. Be a curious lifetime learner. Set some time aside every day to read industry news. And be an orthogonal learner (there’s that word again! So “Googly”!). Have lunch with someone from a vastly different world from your own — an artist or an engineer or an architect.

3. Be kind. Always. As Jim said, “kindergarten rules apply.” Disagreements are OK; just have them respectfully. There is no room for bad behavior.

4. Give yourself a break. Yes, this is a tough one. But essential. Jobs are hard. Life is hard. Over time, just keep moving up and to the right, as Jim said, and take the ups and downs in stride. I’ll just add my own perspective here too … the point of life is not be to become perfect. Life is to be practiced.

5. Do what it takes. Jim ended with this most important concept … nobody sets out to be mediocre. Do you know the talent you want to invest in? Are you prepared to do what it takes to be great?

Like Google itself, Jim provided great content quickly, served up on relevant topics. Thank you for sharing your stories and perspective with us, Jim!

See you all at the next luncheon on March 10. Don Welsh, president and CEO of Choose Chicago, will be sharing the latest at Chicago’s biggest B2B revenue generator. Register here.