Google, Switzerland and Me! Part 2

After the shock wore off – it was time to get down to business! I was going to fly to Zurich to speak at Google!! Still nuts to say! Most important was to know the real challenges the audience was facing so that I could tailor my speech for them. After a few emails, I understood their challenges and re-worked my speech so that it really spoke to THEM!

They also requested we leave time for Q&A. So, speech was ready to go, agenda for my 1 hour time slot was set, flight and hotel were booked. I say it rather nonchalantly now, BUT, at the time, it felt soooooooooo surreal and I really couldn’t believe it. The level of excitement was through the roof – I felt this rush of happiness like a kid in a candy store!!

My speech was on Mon Jan 25, 2016 at 3pm. I flew to Zurich ahead of speech day to ensure I had enough time in case there were any flight delays, connecting flight issues, baggage problems as well as enough time to get over the jet lag (Switzerland is 6 hours ahead).

My biggest supporter (my amazing, rockstar sister, Yasmin) was there with me. We felt this was “too-cool” of an experience and wanted to share it with each other. We arrived on Saturday afternoon and after dropping our bags at the hotel, started exploring – we had just a few days in Zurich so had to make the most of it.

 

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As luck would have it, a dear friend had recently moved to Switzerland…..Zurich in fact!! Yas and I met up with Aimee, her awesome husband and their adorable baby and walked around the old town of Zurich. They took us all around, pointing out certain areas, shops, boutiques, areas we must see/walk while in Zurich. We walked around the cobblestone streets and peeped into all the chocolate shops along the way!! (Their chocolate creations are to die for! YUM)

At precisely “early-bird” dinner time, Yas and I were starving! (We might have been in Switzerland but our body-clock thought differently) On our list of “MUST-EATs” was fondue…..glorious yummy fondue. So, our adventure to find the best fondue in old-town Zurich began.

We noticed that many restaurants would only have fondue OUTDOORS! The patios were set up with these lovely colorful blankets but as you can see from the pictures – it was cold! The image in my head was eating fondue in front of a warm fire….inside!

IMG_0231With our tummy’s grumbling…….we were on a mission: find a fondue restaurant that we could eat INDOORS…and fast!! Finally, we stumbled across the restaurant that we had read about prior to arriving in Zurich – famous for fondue!! Whohoooo!

We patiently waited till the restaurant opened at 5:30pm and were the first ones through the door. I’m glad we were first because there was quite a line behind us and most had reservations. We were in heaven……restaurant Le Dezaley was superb!

After dinner, we tried to stay up but by 8:30pm, jet lag was hitting hard and we passed out. It was a wonderful day 1 of our trip to Zurich.

The next day was Sunday. I day before my speech at Google. One of our “MUST-DOs” was hiking and taking in the gorgeous scenery. We also wanted the closest mountain since we didn’t have too much time. Upon many recommendations we took the train and in less than 30 minutes, we arrived at the closest mountain – Üetliberg.

From Üetliberg, we got to see panoramic view of both Zurich and the Lake of Zurich. There was even a hotel (Uto Kulm) on the top of this mountain. (Left pic)

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It was a lovely site and I’m glad we got to climb 1 mountain! When we got back to Zurich, we meandered through the streets, stopping at all the cute shops, looking at the menus of all the restaurants (Food is ALWAYS on our minds!).

Monday arrived! It was Google Speech day. I will admit, I was rather nervous. My speech wasn’t till 3pm – I was hoping to do it in the morning so I could alleviate the nerves right away and enjoy the day. We decided to walk around and go chocolate shopping – my sis knew a distraction was necessary and chocolate would do the trick. We also wanted to buy as many unique Swiss chocolates and cookies for our family and friends.

After lunch, it was time to get ready. I was a teeny (ok ok……HUGE) bundle of nerves but Yas was awesome. She calmed me down, gave me confidence, told me funny stories and beautifully straightened my hair. I wanted her in the room with me but Google had a strict privacy policy so she was not allowed in the room. We also couldn’t videotape the speech and Q&A session – which I totally understood. One of the goals was that everyone in the room could freely talk and ask questions without the worry that it would end up on the internet.

I arrived at the HUGE offices way before 3pm. There was no way I was going to be late. My contact at Google came to the lobby to get me and almost suddenly, my nerves disappeared. We laughed, talked and it was very evident how much he appreciated me coming to share my story and inspire his team.IMG-20160125-WA0002 (1)

He introduced me to his colleagues across Europe and various leaders across the company. It was a very intimate setting – there were about 40-50 people in the room.

As I began to speak and shared my story, I could see everyone “leaning in.” They were so engaged. After the first half, I delved into positive coping tools and THEIR challenges. With the nods of agreement and captivated interest, I KNEW I was hitting the nail on the head – the challenges I described were exactly what they were all feeling. I discussed different ways to look at the challenges they were facing to ensure success.

Next up was the Q&A. I was so surprised at how inquisitive they were! Question after question. It was wonderful! To have such a bright, smart and down to earth group of people so engaged was heartwarming to me.

I realized 2 things:

First, I had no reason to be nervous. The people in that room were so welcoming, warm, and expressed a great deal of gratitude that I had come to Zurich to share my story with them and inspire them.

Second, it reinforced that I made the right career move. There is a lot to learn when you get into a new career but at the end of the day, to be able to inspire and motivate other people is an awesome feeling that I love!

I will never forget this amazing opportunity I was given!! Thank you Google 🙂

 

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