Interview with Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google: “You don’t learn very much when you yourself are talking”


The guys at iInnovate posted a lovely interview with Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. Among the topics they covered were:

  • Anti-trust (with a beautiful deke to create “time and space” as we say in hockey)

  • Innovation

  • Competitive advantages

  • Motivation of entrepreneurs

  • Maintaining the entrepreneurial spirit

  • Traditional and non-traditional organization design

  • What Microsoft and Yahoo does that impresses him

  • Invention of disruptive technologies

My favorite line was: “You don’t learn very much when you yourself are talking.”

By | 2016-10-24T14:21:45+00:00 March 21st, 2007|Categories: Entrepreneurship, Management|26 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. Chris Howell March 21, 2007 at 10:17 am - Reply

    Mr. Kawasaki:
    Enjoy your blog very much. You might turn that phrase on it’s head for additional wisdom. You can’t teach anyone anything if you keep your mouth shut.

  2. Marc Duchesne March 21, 2007 at 10:40 am - Reply

    “You don’t learn very much when you yourself are talking.”
    Rule #1 for sales & (product) marketing people : let the customer talk.
    Always keep in mind the old saying : “Talk to me about myself, that is the only thing of interest for me”…

  3. beza1e1 March 21, 2007 at 11:14 am - Reply

    I read your blog in my feedreader and this annoying MajikWidget opens a browser tab everytime i read an entry of yours. 🙁

  4. David Bain March 21, 2007 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    Great quote from the ‘You have two ears and one mouth’ school of thinking

  5. thinks March 22, 2007 at 4:27 am - Reply

    Writing is hard. Listening is harder

    Ive been tied up lately with transitioning from my current day job to a new one. As such, I havent been keeping up on my reading much this week. The funny thing is, I dont feel I have as much to say when I have fewer inputs. Pu…

  6. Todd March 22, 2007 at 8:26 am - Reply

    sometimes i learn i can’t talk very well when i’m talking…does that count? 😉

  7. New Horizon Business Services, Inc March 22, 2007 at 9:33 am - Reply

    I am one of your many readers, keep up the good work, your ideas here are cool ^__^
    stay happy

  8. Joe Fusco March 22, 2007 at 9:38 am - Reply

    Maybe this is off topic, but…
    I noticed the “Snap” previews are AWOL from your site all of a sudden.
    When I first saw them, I thought, “that’s interesting; cool product.” But after a few encounters with other sites that used them, I could easily see the downside.
    Question: have you had a change of heart about this product? Have you encountered your own downside? If so, could you share that with us, and why?
    Snap is still here. I didn’t remove it. I think it’s very useful and cool. Most things are just cool. 🙂

  9. janemc March 22, 2007 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    “You don’t learn very much when you yourself are talking” definitely applies to intranets.
    I wrote a post last November about a talk given by Jeffrey Veen from Google at KMWorld & Intranets 2006 where he talked about – among other things – getting users involved in design.
    Too many intranets are top-down, which explains why they never become truly business critical for an organisation.
    Management needs to learn to listen, and it has to be obvious from their intranets that they want to hear from employees.
    Intranets are very often the lifeline in large, decentralised organisations and therefore one of the most powerful listening tools available to management.

  10. Don Wilson March 22, 2007 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    Technically, the best way to learn a given subject is to teach said subject to others.

  11. Geekfish Weblog March 22, 2007 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    ReBlog: Guy Kawasaki summary of Eric Schmidt of Google

    I cant really improve on Guys post linking to this interview with Eric Schmidt of Google.  Check out the original podcast over at   Good stuff in the interview on disruptive technology, managing innovation, and non-t…

  12. Research, Technology, March 22, 2007 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    Eric Schmidt on high-potential disruptive technologies

  13. Mike Johnston March 23, 2007 at 4:28 am - Reply

    Really enjoyed the podcast. Specifically the part about Google considering itself an “Infrastructure Distribution Company”. Interesting.

  14. Cleon Cox III March 23, 2007 at 5:26 am - Reply

    Your blog is such an inspiration to me and many others in the world Guy. Thank you for covering the stories you do and posting the obvious to remind us of the opportunities we have available to us.

  15. Daniel Eder March 23, 2007 at 6:37 am - Reply

    I disagree that it will be hard in the future to duplicate ASP software distribution.
    Its the same as hosting companies were not as sophisticated when they started out but now we have mosso and mediatemple which launched first stage cheap grid hosting.
    I believe that a google type “application grid” will be commonly available.
    The value lies in creating superior software similar to as adobe wants to launch photoshop for the web via AJAX frameworks or Flash.

  16. steve smith March 23, 2007 at 8:58 am - Reply

    Another thing I like about Schmidt is that he doesn’t get consumed by the moves (or words) of Google’s competitors.
    In an interview with Business 2.0 a couple of years ago, Schmidt was asked to respond to a statement from a Microsoft leader about Google, hinting Microsoft was now the “underdog.” Schmidt replied by saying, “He’s welcome to say whatever he’d like. I’m happy to talk about Google.”
    I don’t think his comment wasn’t competitive naiveté, but an appropriate view of the competition. Schmidt’s line of, “You don’t learn very much when you yourself are talking.” also applies when we’re preoccupied by listening to competitors or watching their every move. Being consumed by a competitors voice drowns out the voice of the market and misdirects (or kills) our attempts at real innovation.

  17. Globally local - locally global March 23, 2007 at 10:09 am - Reply

    Talking or listening ? What does your intranet reveal about your management style?

    Guy Kawasaki wrote a post in his blog How to change the world about a talk given by Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, and Guy’s favorite quote was “You don’t learn very much when you yourself are talking”. I was

  18. TC March 23, 2007 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    It would be great if you can interview the Head of Recruiting at Google. I think they are plain arrogant and stupid in forgoing candidates with excellent background that would make a best fit to the job (this is the exact words from one of their recruiters), but with a less than perfect GPA from a less prestigious college.
    They can afford to do this now because of the buzz, and everyone wants to work there. What does a perfect GPA has to do with the ability to work in teams, lead a successful project and handle conflicts? I don’t know, I haven’t seen much of a connection in my HR life.
    Google poses itself as a fun and innovative workplace but retains such an oldschool restrictions on their hiring practices – it is plain stupid in my opinion.
    Am I dying to work for Google? No. I wouldn’t even feel proud working for a company with such a stupid concept. Yahoo!, go kick their butts!!

  19. Run with God March 25, 2007 at 6:38 am - Reply

    “Learning” the Google Way

    “You don’t learn very much when you yourself are talking.” Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google Thanks to Guy Kawasaki for the quote. I’ll be honest here. I gotta learn this one. I talk/type too much and there are times I

  20. Abner March 27, 2007 at 8:10 am - Reply

    The line, “You don’t learn very much when you yourself are talking” is a rip-off of an old Lyndon Johnson quote. He once said, “You can’t learn much while you’re talking.” The possibility that LBJ stole it from someone else is, of course, quite real.

  21. Shel Horowitz, Ethical Marketing Expert March 27, 2007 at 9:03 am - Reply

    Guy, I was very interested in Eric Schmidt’s comments on ethics–as someone who has spent the last several years spreading the message that ethics can be a powerful success driver in business.
    Google’s ethics are very high when it comes to returning high-quality search results and developing customer-friendly products/unequaled user experience, and I think this has contributed directly to the company’s success. However, Google’s approach to the rights of content creators versus the company’s stated desire to index the world’s entire store of information certainly opens up a lot of ethics questions among publishers who feel their rights are being trampled.
    Thanks for flagging this interview.
    Shel Horowitz, shel (AT), 800-683-WORD/413-586-2388
    Marketing & publishing consultant/copywriter, award-winning author of
    * Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts
    People First
    * Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers
    * Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World /
    –>Join the Business Ethics Pledge – Ten Years to Change the World,
    One Signature at a Time (please tell your friends)


  22. In Search of Perfect Client Service April 22, 2007 at 9:46 am - Reply

    Listening To–And Learning From–The Masters

    I had a few moments of free time, so I started looking back at some blog posts I had saved but hadn’t really had time to read and think about. Guy Kawasaki of How To Change The World posted…

  23. stil June 11, 2007 at 1:11 am - Reply

    Am I dying to work for Google? No. I wouldn’t even feel proud working for a company with such a stupid concept. Yahoo!, go kick their butts!!
    When I first saw them, I thought, “that’s interesting; cool product.” But after a few encounters with other sites that used them, I could easily see the downside.
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  24. mirc July 14, 2007 at 11:40 am - Reply

    i know lots of things about SEO but never heard CEO. now i am reading and learning

  25. mp3 indir July 14, 2007 at 11:42 am - Reply

    Great quote from the ‘You have two ears and one mouth’ school of thinking

  26. music August 5, 2007 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    Oh, I think you were so right to have focused on that specific quote. I like even better what he said just before that — that teaching is the best way to learn, though maybe that’s because I teach. But I can certainly attest to the truth of his statement. I have learned more in the ten years of teaching than I learned in all my years as a student (and I like to think I was a good student). It isn’t just listening that does it, though that’s a big part of it. In addition, it involves being forced to think about a subject in depth. You certainly can’t hope to stand before a class and talk, even if you are just discussing, if you haven’t really thought through your topic. As a result, you are forced to learn that topic in an entirely new, and incredibly thorough way. I don’t guess I knew that he did this each week, but I’m glad to know he does. It makes me even more idealistic about how the web might actually turn out in the end.

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