What DisneyLand is to kids aged 5, Google is to today’s 20 somethings. Something so extremely cool and/or interesting that can’t be ignored. It has all the characteristics: the place is legendary, it has that sort of mythical aura around it, something you can’t believe in until you see it, and then it’s full of cool things to see – a dinosaur skeleton, Android statues… – and of course it’s full of people working there, it’s even fuller of visitors and if you look around carefully you get to see some of your idols. The only first real difference is that at Google these characters are not from movies but from reality. The second difference is a consequence of the first one: they don’t need to wear lousy costumes that frighten the kids.
With Imagine, at our visit to Google, we noticed that the most common famous character to find at Google is… well, the Google employee. Yes, there are actual people made of skin and bones who enjoy life and work at one of the world’s most famous Campuses. We actually got to personally meet two of them who gave us feed-back on the projects we were working with at Imagine: Carlos Gomez and Albert Orriols. We started at one of those über-cool Google offices and finished speaking sitting somewhere in the gardens of the campus. And why did that happen? Because the fact that the Google employee is nice is not only a myth, it’s actually real: they paid great attention to each detail of our projects and gave us really valuable feedback. In one word: impressive.
Like any Museum or Theme Park, the Google Campus has its own shop to which we all ran at the end of the visit. Weirdly you can only access it through an employee. When we found out panic spread through the whole group but, as I already explained, those people are über-nice and an unknown employee gave us access to it.
As entrepreneurs we are passionate, curious and slightly geeky, and we try to be loyal. But we can’t. We left Google and drove to the main shop at the Apple Campus where shopping-craze went on (editors, please make sure VC’s don’t read this).
Back to the Creativity Center we finally got some lunch – although we’re adapting to american lifestyle we’re still Spaniards who need to sit down and eat huge quantities of warm food in the middle of the day And in the afternoon we had a talk by Alex Castellarnau, in my opinion one of the best we’ve had at Imagine.
Alex Castellarnau is one of those legendary people who can actually say they’ve gone through the 23 interviews required to enter IDEO. But he is even more special: he worked at IDEO and then quit to work for DropBox. Expectations were high. To be honest, when he entered the room I felt compassion, I thought: with that CV you must know people expect a lot from you and always delivering to such high expectations must be exhausting. Three minutes into his speech I realised we were really in front of a genius.
I wish I could recreate his speech here but it’d be impossible, so I’ll just try and give you some hints so you can kinda figure how great it was.
It was an extreme speech in every sense. Extreme in its passion, extreme in its vision, extreme in its depth, extreme in both its rationality and emotionality. Extreme in its contradictions. The speech was built upon seven stories. Yes, seven stories, each of them with a morale, a message to tell. Stories that might seem trivial at first, but were then converted into life-learning experiences. Seven stories ranging from his personal experience at Apple Wood Church to the fact that David Kelley never took a decision, a retired Navy Seal teaching at University of Virginia or a simple trip to Philz Coffee. In a way everything connected: life and profession, creativity and being practical, storytelling – or almost poetry! – with a clear message, emotion and rationality combined like Ying and Yang… the extremes, the opposites. And as I was trying to write all of this down, almost in a sort of trance, I hear him concluding his speech sentencing ‘’I believe in a world of extremes’’. And everything made extreme sense.
By dreamer Albert C. Mikkelsen