- REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
- Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has a custom-made comic strip hanging in his office of Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and himself apologizing.
- The detail was reported in The Wall Street Journal’s recent piece about the lessons Schmidt learned from the late Silicon Valley business coach Bill Campbell.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google that sits on parent company Alphabet’s board of directors, has an unusual piece of artwork hanging in his office.
A custom-made comic strip featuring Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seemingly apologizing hangs in the doorway of his office, reports The Wall Street Journal. The revelation was made in an article discussing the new book Schmidt co-authored alongside two other Google executives about renowned Silicon Valley business coach Bill Campbell.
The artwork depicts Zuckerberg saying, “Sorry, but we’re still right,” and Cook saying, “You’re holding it wrong.” Schmidt, too, is shown in the comic saying, “We screwed up. Sorry.”
The illustration encapsulates Schmidt’s approach and the lessons he’s learned from Campbell, who was known for mentoring high-profile executives like Schmidt, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. Schmidt’s book, which he co-authored alongside Google’s Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle, is called “Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell” and was released on April 16.
It was from Campbell, who died at age 75 in 2016, that Schmidt learned how to own up to mistakes, according to The Journal. “If you make a mistake, admit it, and do it right now,” Schmidt said to the newspaper in reference to the lessons he learned from Campbell. “And if you didn’t make a mistake, don’t admit it.”
Schmidt didn’t discuss the meaning behind those quotes featured in the comic strip when speaking to the Journal. But they sound similar to some of the responses Google and Apple have issued to controversies in the past.
For example, when asked in 2010 about using the Google Street View program to collect data about personal internet usage, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said, “In short, let me just say it. We screwed up,” according to an article from CNET published at the time.
The Tim Cook quote could be a reference to Steve Jobs’ response to what was known as “Antennagate” back in 2010 following the launch of the iPhone 4. Shortly after the device launched, customers complained about the phone dropping calls and seeing their cell signal bars decrease when their hand bridged the exposed antenna located along the bottom of the device. In what appeared to be an answer to a customer email regarding the issue, Jobs issued the now-famous advice to “just avoid holding it in that way.”
The theme reflected in Schmidt’s comic strip about owning up to mistakes may be more relevant than ever today, as companies like Google and Facebook face increased scrutiny from regulators, the government, and the public. Earlier this month, Facebook was under fire after it was discovered that the social network harvested email contacts from 1.5 million users without their knowledge, Business Insider’s Rob Price reported. In late 2018, Google grappled with backlash over the way it handled allegations of sexual misconduct, leading to worldwide protests in the company’s offices. Alphabet and Google also face ongoing criticism –including some employees quitting in protest – over Google’s secretive work on a censored search engine for the China market, which internally was called Project Dragonfly.