DO A LITTLE MEDIA
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is a socially awkward introvert who would prefer not to have to court the press. But Zuck's most recent winning sit-down with 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl and his Saturday Night Live cameo polished his company's image — perhaps buying some cover on those troublesome privacy issues.
RUN A CONGLOMERATE
Google's big successes of late come from YouTube, run by Salar Kamangar as an independent company, and Android, run independently by Andy Rubin. See a pattern? Given the breadth of Google's initiatives from robotics to energy, why not organize the whole company as a decentralized operation much like Jeff Immelt's GE, where Aviation, Health Care, and so forth are all quasi-independent?
Google product rollouts are notoriously clumsy. (Freaks and Geeks and Curb Your Enthusiasm combined have fewer cringe-worthy moments.) Page isn't Katy Perry. Fine. Even without a showman, at least recognize that slick production values and a clever wink to the audience once in a while can help communicate your message and burnish your aura.
DON'T LOSE SIGHT OF THE LONG VIEW
The worst part of being a visionary CEO of a public company is the quarterly numbers game. Jeff Bezos receives regular drubbings from Wall Street analysts and investors who knock down Amazon's stock price because they blame Bezos for not maximizing profits today. But when it comes to managing for today and 10 years from now, you couldn't do better than Bezos for a role model.
ADMIT THAT ADVERTISING ISN'T EVIL
You can't measure the value of every genius ad in Steve Jobs's reign at Apple, from "1984" to "Think Different" to "There's an App for That." Google routinely churns out pretty cool innovations. For what it spends a year feeding its employees (approximately $80 million), Google ads could cement its status as a beloved American company.
A version of this article appeared in the April 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.