On the second day of his visit to India, an amiable Pichai had a candid talk with cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle, and then with 2,000 college and school students at the SRCC.
In the Ask Sundar event, Pichai chatted with the students and talked about what he aspired to be as a child. “When I was young, I dreamt of being a cricketer… And I was a huge fan of Gavaskar. In 1986, for the India-Australia match, I was in the stadium,” Pichai said.
Over the years, Pichai has developed a liking for soccer and closely follows the game of Spanish club FC Barcelona and its Argentinian player Lionel Messi. “It is easier to follow the sport overseas” he said.
During the student interaction, the Google leader recalled the days when he had to memorize phone numbers. Pichai said he can’t do that anymore. “It was because the numbers had just six digits. In the US, numbers have 10 digits and I store them on my smartphone,” said Pichai, whose first phone was Motorola Starc in 1994-95. “I bought my first smartphone in 2006. I probably have 20-30 smartphones in my house now,” he added.
Pichai said it took some time for him realize the power of Internet when it first arrived. “Later, it became obvious to me that the Internet would connect humanity and would have a profound influence on the lives of many,” he said.
Talking about his work, he said that Google is an amazingly fun place to work. “When I first came to Google, I was like a kid in a candy store. You walk around and people are working on amazing things.”
“If not at Google, I would have taken (up) football or cricket. I would still be building software products. I love to do that,” said Pichai whose first software was a binary version of chess.
Pichai believes that India has always had an entrepreneurial streak. “I would see a tea seller in an odd place and would think that there was an opportunity and this guy took it,” Pichai said as he advised the students to follow their dreams and their hearts. “It is worthwhile trying to take risks. You will get many opportunities to reinvent yourself. If it doesn’t work out, you can always come back,” he added.
“You have to work with people who make you feel insecure,” he said. “If you are comfortable in what you are doing, then you are not pushing yourself.”