For some Google employees, one of the biggest debates in the company’s history circles back to the name of a pie being served in the campus cafeteria back in 2008.
Google’s head of human resources Laszlo Bock details the experience in his new book, “Work Rules!: Insights From Within Google That Will Transform How You Live And Lead,” which launches on April 4. The Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Mims got an early look at the book and relayed the anecdote.
In 2008, a dessert called the “Free Tibet Goji-Chocolate Crème Pie” was being served in Google’s cafeteria.
The name sparked a heated debate among employees. Some say it was fastest email thread to hit 100 responses in Google history, according to Mims’ account of the book. It became the longest internal email chain in Google’s history at the time exceeding 1,000 responses.
Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page even received the following email:
“This is from the menu today. If there is no good answer or action from the company I will quit in protest.”
Google employees around the world were concerned for a number of different reasons. Some were angered at the idea that Google would suggest Tibet should be free, while others took the opposite view. A few employees thought the chef should be free to call his pies whatever he pleased, while others were peeved that the name of a dessert had caused so much trouble in the first place.
Bock was in charge of handling the situation — the chef responsible for the name was suspended, but Bock later reversed that.
Bock’s book is bound to be chock full of workplace tips including how to handle experiences like these. The book will dive into the company’s staffing secrets and the steps it takes to make Google one of the best places to work in the world.
Bock wants companies to follow in Google’s steps, as he said in an interview with Forbes.
“You spend more time working than you do with your family, with your kids, with your friends, more time on a given day than you do sleeping, it’s such a huge part of life and for most people it’s a pretty miserable experience,” Bock said to Forbes. “I don’t think it has to be soul-draining and awful, I think it can be ennobling and empowering and have this connection to some broader impact.”