This spring my wife and I took off for the West coast and a little R&R in San Francisco. About a week or two before we departed we received a notice from Google. We’d recently been flagged as a digital team with great growth potential and would be receiving additional resources. HELL YES!!! This also earned us the introduction to Ken Harper from Google’s team.
About week before we left for the West coast, Ken invited my wife and I down from San Fran to Mountain View, CA to tour the Googleplex (World Headquarters) and their sales team’s offices. Beth and I hopped in the rental car from our rented condo at 900 Chestnut St. and jetted out of town. We headed south out of San Francisco and jumped on the 101 Freeway.
We were a little early so we diverted for a quick tour through the beautiful city of Palo Alto (I’ll go back soon if I get the chance). I wasn’t going to pass on a quick stop at Stanford and Apple on the way, would you?
Ken met us at their sales and marketing team offices (labeled inside Google “The Quad”) and handed us our badges for the day. It was official, we were Google property for the remainder of the day.
I was channeling my inner Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn from “The Internship.” Was what we saw in the movie true? Was this really their culture? What cool stuff would we see?
There are three main things that will forever stand out in my mind during our visit to Google and one bonus though I’ll leave you with.
4. Bonus – Profitability
Let’s discuss the food first. You couldn’t be more than 20 yards away from food at any time while on the campus. Snacks, fruit, veggies, cookies, ice cream, more snacks, drinks, peppermint water, cucumber water, water, tap water, etc. If you can fathom it, Google probably has it. It’s easy to see why those new to Google may likely revisit the “freshman 15” from college years. There were multiple cafeterias for employees serving food from all four corners of the world. It was really awesome. If you’ve been to Google before, you might be familiar with the restaurant we selected. It is called “Charlie’s,” and takes its name from the original lone chef at Google.
Next is recreation. Since Google is consistently labeled as one of the best places to work in the world, you wouldn’t think the spread of activities available on-site would be all that surprising. However, I was still taken aback. There was once again about any activity you could imagine here. Want to shoot hoops? Done, but only if you’re down to play on a sickening full court in the middle of the NorCal sunshine. An olympic swimming pool, fitness room, weight room, yoga and meditation area, running track, bikes, water aerobics… the list goes on and on! We were touring around 10:30 a.m. and there were people out enjoying their work/life balance on campus. There were also plenty of canines roaming the campus as it is totally cool to bring your dog to work whenever you want. It was really inspiring to see the kind of freedom any of their team members operated with.
Last is the “Google Bike.” I’d heard about these and saw them in the movie. Not only are they real, there are hundreds of them on campus! I even took one for a little spin as you see here.
The lasting lesson I learned from the travel is this: Everyone wants the perfect work-life balance with all the freedoms paid for by their great employer. In reality what people need to understand is first they should focus on making a few billion dollars a year and they can have whatever the hell they want whenever the hell they want. None of the bonuses come without being insanely profitable first. I’m only half-kidding.
It was a great visit and the beginning of a wonderful business partnership. Beth and I can’t wait to get back to San Francisco and hopefully next time we’ll be bringing some clients with us to embark on the journey.