Category : personal

Look left! … No, look right!

My summer holiday of 2012 was a 3000 mile road trip in the United States. It was one of my best holidays ever. So, how come I never wrote about it here? The answer is simple. Since I arrived back in the Netherlands, I’ve been quite busy creating something (more on that in the future). Surprisingly, I finally found some time to write about the USA trip… Today part three; “Look left! … No, look right!”.

Earlier, I wrote about two amazing places, San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Today, I write about… wait for it… a road. Highway 1 to be more precise. “Why?”, you might think. “What’s so special about this road?” Well, Highway 1 is famous for running along some of the most beautiful coastlines in the USA. The scenery is simply breathtaking.

The following is a random scene, while driving on Highway 1. I am driver, my brother called shotgun. For quite some time already, we enjoy the beautiful views over the ocean. Suddenly my brother yells “look left!”. We simultaneously turn our heads to the left and see some really beautiful hills. The view is amazing. Nonetheless, my brothers interest is short lived. His eyes glance to the right… “Look right!”. That view turns out to be even more impressive. During the next few hours, this moment repeats itself waaaaay too many times, which definitely makes this highway a true highlight of the USA road trip.

My next stop: Los Angeles

Previous posts

Part 1: Exceeded expectations
Part 2: Google vs. Apple

48 seconds

During the past days, I directed the Global Leadership Summit in Drachten. It’s an annual training event for church, ministry and other leaders to sharpen their leadership skills. In Drachten, many of the talks are delivered via videocast and some are live. In addition, this local Summit includes lots of music and singing, which happens live on our stage.

As director, I absolutely love this conference, because the Global Leadership Summit is one of the few events I direct, where I’m able to listen to some of the talks (and even make notes) as well.

During the course of two days, I listened to incredible speakers like Bill Hybels, Patrick Lencioni, John Ortberg, Craig Groesschel and Jim Collins. Most stories were incredible interesting and very instructive. We learned about Amundsen’s and Scott’s ‘race to the South Pole’, why visions are most vulnerable ‘in the middle’, what core values (should) mean for organizations, why it is very important to have a blend of creativity + discipline + a certain amount of paranoia, why Southwest is such a successful airline and what the greatest danger to an organization is.

If I have to mention one particular talk, it would be the one of Patrick Lencioni (who spoke via videocast). I was so taken away by his talk, that I completely lost track of time. For any regular conference goer, this isn’t a problem… But for me it most surely is! As director, I’m supposed to keep an eye on the clock and know what’ll happen next. This allows me to instruct the crew and make sure the transition between videocast and the live-stage part goes smooth. Most often, this is exactly what I do… but not this time. Being almost too late, I realized we had to switch from telecast to the live-stage part in 48 seconds from now… Luckily, no-one in the audience will ever know that this director almost forgot to do his duty… 48 seconds… pfeeeuw…

Google vs. Apple

My summer holiday of 2012 was a 3000 mile road trip in the United States. It was one of my best holidays ever. So, how come I never wrote about it here? The answer is simple. Since I arrived back in the Netherlands, I’ve been quite busy creating something (more on that in the future). Surprisingly, I finally found some time to write about the USA trip… Today it’s time for part two; “Google vs. Apple”.

Second stop, Silicon Valley, California. It’s the place where companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and thousands of small technology startups have their headquarters. Since I’m interested in technology and use Apple and Google products every day, I decided it would be great to visit these two companies in their real Silicon Valley habitat.

Apple

Apple is well known for its vertically integrated products. It is impossible to (legally) install an app on my iPhone without using the Apple App Store. And their operating system (Mac OSX) only runs on Macbooks and iMacs only. They simply want to be in control of everything. The same applies to their Cupertino headquarters at One Infinite Loop.

Outside, the grass is mown with greatest precision, bushes and flowers are aligned perfectly and the building looks very ‘introvert’. Apple is in full control. Nonetheless, it was possible to go inside and take a quick look at their courtyard.

The same desire for control is apparent here. The courtyard is designed with ‘oversight’ as purpose. There are not trees, no hidden corners, there’s nowhere to ‘hide’ for its employees. But at least they tried to make it look a bit more fun by adding the parasols.

Google

Google’s next. It’s the company who brings us software like Google Search, Gmail, Chrome and Android. Their software, contrary to Apple, can be used by nearly everyone on almost any device. Google believes in an open society, which can be seen in the way they set up their Mountain View headquarters.

There are no fences to stop tourists, they even allowed us to walk among Google staffers in the courtyard at the Googleplex.

There are Google bikes everywhere. These GBikes are used to pedal from one building to another and are free of charge for employees.

Also, Google staffers can use many recreational facilities, like a volleyball court. How cool is that!

And what to think of Stan, the life-sized T-Rex skeleton that lives in the middle of the campus?

But Google definitely won the cool-factor for their headquarters when I saw the driverless Google car which drove around on the parking lot.

It will be interesting to see which of these companies will ultimately win the software battle. Google (open) or Apple (closed). Meantime, based on my visits, Google decisively won the real-world headquarters battle. But how long will their victory last?

Update: In November 2013 I wrote about the new Apple Headquarters. Click here for the article.

My next stop: Highway 1

Read part one of my USA trip here.

Exceeded expectations

My summer holiday of 2012 was a 3000 mile road trip in the United States. It was one of my best holidays ever. So, how come I never wrote about it here? The answer is simple. Since I arrived back in the Netherlands, I’ve been quite busy creating something (more on that in the future). Surprisingly, I finally found some time to write about the USA trip… Today it’s time for part one; “Exceeded expectations”.

The word ‘exceed’ can be applied to both good and bad experiences. It can refer to something that was supposed to be very bad but turned out a bit less bad… in other words, it exceeded the (very low) expectation. Or it refers to something which should be great, but turns out to be even better. In that case, it exceeds the (already high) expectation. Obviously, the latter is the best… but it doesn’t happen that often.

Fast forward to July 2012. I just arrived to San Francisco International Airport, ready for the first part of the trip. I was in awe of the steep streets, old classic houses that spread out over the many hills of San Francisco, the cable trams which move up and down these hills and a beautiful harbor with views over Alcatraz Island, which completes the already perfect picture. It’s easy to see why some say San Francisco is the most beautiful city in the world (my brother is one of them). Others say it’s ‘just’ a very, very beautiful city (I’m one of them).

As a true architecture addict, I was specifically looking forward to seeing and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. In my dreams, I made the bridge bigger and more beautiful than anyone can probably ever imagine. My expectation of this bridge was so big, that it’s impossible to meet this expectation. This meant, the moment I finally saw the Golden Gate Bridge for real, I…

[speechless]

[still speechless]

… Yep, the Golden Gate Bridge exceeded my expectation… by a huge margin.

My next stop: Google and Apple

Too close to call?

For some reason, every self respecting journalist believes the race between Obama and Romney is very close or maybe even too close to call. But is this really the case?

Some national polls predict Obama will be the winner, some say Romney has the upper hand. And all major news outlets claim these national polls really matter… But it doesn’t take long for the very same news outlets to change their mind and state that national polls don’t matter at all. Why not? Well, obviously it’s all about the twelve swing states, or were there only nine? No wait, there’re just five. How could I be wrong about that!

This means there’s only one fact left… it’s all about Ohio.

Right?!

Nope, that’s not the case either. It turns out Obama has a solid 5% lead in this state.

Most people know it’s virtually impossible for Mitt Romney to get to the needed 270 electoral votes without Ohio. This means… wait for it… I can now officially project Barack Obama to win the 2012 elections and continue to be president of the United States.