As we reached 1600 Amphitheatre (our final destination), we were greeted by some folks from Google and Dealer.com who handed out our id's for the day and a Google envelope. Inside was a $35 gift card from Google to use at the Google Store... Heck, the gesture was greatly appreciated, but I already had plans to spend a mini fortune at the store... this was a nice bonus though!
After everyone signed in, we were escorted to building 40 by security. Entered the building, did a sharp left and then up the stairs into the meeting room. The room was very spacious, but Mike (McManes) and I missed out on getting a table... oh well, better wake up earlier next time. Anyway, we picked our seats and on each was a nice Google bound notebook and a Google pen so we could take notes. The room was very well setup specially when it came to the food arrangements; and I would know since I used to be an executive chef and used to do this kind of high end catering for a living. There were 5 urns of coffee, 3 of orange juice, and a couple of waters. When we first walked in the meeting room, breakfast was being served, so I grabbed some OJ and a muffin and headed to my seat.
At exactly 9:30am some music started playing, people started going back to their seats and on the two giant screens up front, the "Google" story video started to play. When the video ended, we were welcomed by Ben Wood (Head of Channel Sales at Google) and soon after his speech, the day took off with one seminar after another. Ten separate seminars were presented and the key speakers were Jonika Hoomes (Google Auto Channel) and Matt Murray (Dealer.com Digital Manager & pictured to the right)... The knowledge that these two speakers have when you put them in the same room is "out of this world". Besides being at Google HQ that day (and being a geek like I am meant the world to just be there) the thing I liked the best were the seminars. My mind is still going a hundred miles an hour and I have so many ideas I want to implement, but I have to remind myself to take a day at a time.
Google had pretty tight with security... we weren't exactly allowed to walk around during the lunch hour, but connected to the seminar room was a bridge like hallway and right below it, was the self propelled swimming pools where they joked that the life guards have the easiest job in the world because the pool is only like 4 feet deep.
The afternoon had a few more seminars and the day was over at approximately 4:00pm. Some people left at that time (I don't know why) but the rest stayed for the tour of the Google Campus. We were broken into three groups of about 25 people each and our tour guide was probably the coolest of them all. He was a software engineer (I think) who took his dog to work everyday -- on a side note, there are about 125 dogs that go to work with their owners on any given day at Google. So he took us throughout the campus (99% was outside, which sucked because Google has some pretty unique interior architecture and meeting spaces, etc...) but nonetheless, it was neat seeing it all. We walked by the organic garden with plump tomatoes, peppers and an array of all sorts of herbs (again, right up my alley when I used to cook) so that part was neat. It doesn't hurt to grow a garden like that in California weather either!
One thing I noticed during our tour was that EVERYONE had a Mac... which I thought was funny because Google makes the Android OS... thought they would all have Windows based notebooks. I'm not a Mac guy (per say) but can understand why they use them.... they are certainly faster processors.
The Google Store was something I was looking forward to, but when we got there, our tour guy said we only had 10 minutes to get in, shop, and pay for the stuff. My shopping experience was really rushed, but I came out with a good assortment of t-shirts and other smaller trinkets for family and friends.
As soon as we left the store, the tour was close to over. The last stop was where Stan makes his home which is also close to the beach volleyball court. Stan is the resident T-Rex dinosaur who has an ongoing feud with the local flamingo population. According to our tour guide (I think Blaise was his name), Stan was molded from the best preserved T-Rex fossils ever unearthed and the statue was auctioned off for charity by the previous owners of what now is known as Googleplex. Apparently they couldn't find a place for Stan "indoors", so they moved him outside... I'm guessing where the flamingos used to live, hence the feud!
One more thing about the beach volleyball court... the people you see playing above are all Google employees and are still on the clock. Google has a different philosophy for their workforce. They incorporate proper nutrition with a complimenting fitness routine and "encouraged" naps in the afternoon. They swear by it and say that their productivity levels are bar none.
The one thing I really like learning about is that Google feeds their employees three times a day (for free) and in between these feedings, should anyone have the munchies (hard to believe, but possible) there isn't one office or meeting space within the entire campus that is more than 65 feet away from what they call a "micro kitchen" which is stocked with bare essentials: coffee grinder, cappuccino machine, 7 types of milk, organic snacks, fruits, candies, etc... That's awesome!
With all this food, you would think the entire Google staff is obese... False, I might have seen one or two "bigger" guys, but the majority is fit to run marathons. This is attributed to their exercise routine among the gyms on the premises. You get your own fitness trainer and you can do the typical cardio and weights routine, or play some beach volleyball, swim a few laps on one of two propelled pools, etc... Pretty cool stuff. I seem to be repeating myself in this blog, but it was such a different concept, that I can't seem to stop talking about it.
In closing, the trip to Google HQ and the seminars sponsored by Dealer.com will be something I will always remember for as long as I live. It has inspired me to do better at work and to try to live a better life, I don't take too much personal time from my busy work schedule, and after seeing how much emphasis Google places on quality of life... it's a no brainer.