Why I left Google

“What a stupid decision to leave the best company in the world”

I don’t think I need to explain the thousand reasons why Google is ranked the #1 company to work at, but you probably want to hear how I could even dare to leave such a place. But before some of you start hating on me already, please stop and think – Who’s life are you living? cos I’m definitely not living yours.

Many would agree, myself included that it is in fact a stupid decision. Why would anyone leave the free meals, free massages, free holidays and the great work life balance?

Well, Ellen Huerta did and so did I, and I can bet you that there are hundreds of other Googlers that are feeling the same way right now. After 4 years of working here, I can conclude that it’s not about the company that you work at or the benefit that pours on you, it really doesn’t matter if these things are not important to you.

The decision to leave was made by me, not my friends, not my parents, not my manager, but me. That’s actually all I needed to reassure myself that I’m making the right decision. Because this is my life, and I’m sick of following the rules of what is taught to be the right choice, what is deemed to be successful, and how one could be happy based on the general consensus of others.

What I find important is to be happy, and I can only be happy if I’m doing the things that are important to me.

I may be naive or stupid from the eyes of the many, but for me, it’s more stupid to live life for somebody else.

Apologies for being aggro here, but I’m really tired of people telling me how I should strive to be successful when they aren’t even me. Besides, being successful in making lots of money and owning 10 houses doesn’t mean we’ve succeeded life. If we’re not successful in living a life that is truly our own,  we’re probably wasting our time. The words of wisdom of those that have been there, done that.

Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s talk happy stuff now. You may find it interesting to know some of the thought processes that I went through leading up to what may be the biggest decision of my life.

Ellen Huerta

The first inspiration came after reading the blog ‘Why I Left Google‘ by Ellen Huerta, which gave me instant goosebumps from being so accurate to what was going on in my head, as if she was speaking directly through me. I can’t applaud her enough for being so honest with herself and for having the courage to do the things that she did.



Ueno Koshuzan

The second inspiration came from my dad, an ex-ballroom dancing state champion, an ex-body builder, one of Japan’s first ever certified sommelier, a Special Advisor of Cultural Exchange in Japan, a Tourism Ambassador of Asahikawa Hokkaido, an Associate Professor of Visual & Performing Arts and a lecturer of Eastern and Western Music at NTU, a Management Committee Member of the Singapore Tennis Association and the President of Sakura Tennis Club, a Chairman of Expatriates from Hokkaido in Singapore, a CEO of two companies, a father of 5 kids, and last but not least a Shakuhachi Master with 2 albums released. This is the man who I’m most inspired by, my role model, my mentor, and my dad. Although he expresses his thoughts against my idea of travelling, he is kinda like a breathing example of a why I want to travel.

Actually, there’s not much he can say when there’s a featured film of him that describes him as a travelling musician spreading the love of Japanese music to the world. At 1min35sec of the clip he defines what Journey is to him, he says “it’s about the continuous road of discovery, and the joy of seeing new paths opening up as you journey on”.

But on a more rational note, it’s a very frightening thought I must admit. There were countless times when I thought of turning back and give in to the comfort of Google, where I can be on track to lead an admirable career with short holidays here and there, sunday picnics and friday night bonanzas, weekend barbecues and pool parties in vegas.

Fast forward a year or two, I’ll probably still be sitting in the same office doing the same job staring into the same computer screen as I wait for free lunch, BUT I may have gotten a new promotion, a new girlfriend, possibly be married to a hot chic with a new car and a new home. I may even have a startup of my own one day, and ultimately making my family proud as I settle in to the peaceful laid back lifestyle of Australia with kids running around the backyard.

Simultaneously, however, I wondered about the other side of the possibility. The what if question. What if today was my last day? What if I could spend a few months without mobile notifications reminding me of what I need to do next? What if I could learn how to sustain my own organic farm and be totally independent when there’s a global shortage on food? What if I could wander around the streets of Rio as a pilgrimage to the mecca of football? What if I could help kids in Cambodia change their lives by teaching them how to create a website? What if I could teach them breakdancing? What if I could conquer Mt.Everest and stand on top of the world? What if I could spend a whole day looking at volcanoes, lakes, oceans, instead of staring at this computer screen? What if I could make a difference in other people’s lives by building a new home? School? Farm? a Life?

“It’s not what if, it’s what now?”

I came to a realisation that we simply can’t afford to forever wonder about the never ending what ifs.  Time will pass regardless of whether we’re ready or not.

My colleague at work gave me a good quote to wrap this section up:

“What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it”

Have a great day 🙂

5 thoughts on “Why I left Google”

  1. As I’ve told you before: you’re 100% doing the right thing. And that’s coming from someone who is super happy at Google right now. But your journey is YOUR journey and this opportunity you have will probably never present itself again to make such a trip, an experience of a lifetime. You will come out on the other end of this trip with a perspective on things that neither you nor me can predict at this stage. All the best of luck on your travels! We’ll miss you at the office.

  2. Ganbare Kohei! This is amazing stuff and I envy you for being brave enough to start this journey. The best of luck! You know Akshay from Dover Court is running all around the world for the next few years? Maybe you will bump into him! Funny how the two little rascals who were the top long distance runners are setting off on a journey around the world. Stay safe and I look forward to reading about your experience. I’m sure you will meet a lot of people along the way but if you ever need help in Cambodia (Phnom Penh) or Colombia (Bogota) I have friends I can link you to.

  3. Couldn’t be written any better. Its really hard to break away from years of trying to conform and its equally as scary. Too many people find themselves on their deatbeds regretting moments exactly like this, when there is a window of opportunity to conquer that dream. But ever too often, they choose to conform once more and play it safe. You certainly made a good and above all a healthy decision and I wish you all the best!

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