What was the hardest thing about quitting my job at Google?

Advice for those who are afraid of leaping into the unknown

Cassie Kozyrkov

--

In my previous blog post, I told you about how and why I left my position as Google’s Chief Decision Scientist after almost 10 years of service. This blog post is part 2, where I’ll get into the hardest thing about quitting.

What was the hardest thing about quitting Google?

Sure, the actual logistics were annoying. Being in the groove of a ten year gig means most of the little details are taken care of. You’ve got your team all specialized for what everyone is good at and you have plenty of space to think about the big ideas that interest you. When you leave, you discover all the tiny chores and paperwork in the universe. It’s all forms, forms, forms. (Which is why also I threw in moving house across state lines to keep things amusing.) But for me, the two hardest things about quitting were:

  • losing my work identity
  • information asymmetry

I’ll get into information asymmetry in my next blog post, but let me start by telling you about the inevitable identity crisis that hits when you leave a job you’ve devoted a large chunk of your life to. In my case, I spent almost 10 years at Google.

GenAI image by the author.

Spoiler: You’ll probably be more okay than you think

For anyone who quits a job they’ve been in for a long time, I have all the empathy for you. The identity crisis is real… and people won’t even wait until day 2 to ask what’s next for you. But now that I’ve been through it, I can report that these feelings have dissipated quite quickly (at least for me).

Losing my corporate identity: Whoooo are yoooou?

A social ritual I detest is “So, what do you do?” as the opening gambit for small talk*, especially when it’s pronounced so it sounds like, “Who are you? But make yourself easy to categorize.” (Or, worse, “Flex for me so I know if you’re worth my time.” Ugh.) It’s only small talk when the answer is straightforward, and even then, not always.

--

--

Cassie Kozyrkov

Chief Decision Scientist, Google. ❤️ Stats, ML/AI, data, puns, art, theatre, decision science. All views are my own. twitter.com/quaesita