It’s not every day that a new cookbook author joins the ranks of dignitaries such as Al Gore and Tina Fey. But Jody Eddy did, by speaking at Google headquarters.
The co-author of Come In, We’re Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World’s Best Restaurants, Jody’s oddessey to the Googleplex began when publicist friend Carrie Bachman made a request.
Cliff Redeker, who books speakers for the Google talks, wanted travel information about Iceland for a future trip. Eddy is working on a cookbook with an Icelandic chef, Gunnar Karl Gislason, so she and Redecker began a conversation. Eventually, he invited Jody to speak about her new cookbook.
The Google speaker series began in 2005 and features hundreds of authors, musicians, chefs, economists and politicians. Redeker now arranges 250 to 300 talks per year, all free to employees, with the help of volunteer Google employees. The talks go up on YouTube, which gives authors another chance to promote their book online, and Google employees get another chance to watch. Here is Eddy’s YouTube video.
Another author benefit of Google talks is book sales. Google purchases the author’s books from a nearby independent bookstore in Mountain View, CA, and sells them to its employees at a steep discount. Jody’s $35 hardcover book cost $10 for employees; paperback books sell at Google for $5.
I got to join Jody as part of her Google posse. First, the Google campus is enormous. It was a miracle that we found each other at all! There are four main buildings and more than 30 cafes overall, although not all based in the Silicon Valley. Charlie Ayers, the first Google chef, wrote a cookbook and now has a restaurant in nearby Palo Alto.
Just imagine restaurant quality food, for free, every day, at your workplace. Whole cafes are dedicated to Asian and Indian food and others to vegetarian and vegan food. That may not be your thing, but Google has a pronounced emphasis on eating healthfully to keep their employees in shape. (To see more photos, see this post by Adam Roberts of the Amateur Gourmet, who also did a talk there.)
Jody and I ate lunch in one of the cafes and toured a few others with one of the many volunteers who help Redecker host speakers. Then Jody gave a talk and slide show about what great restaurants of the world feed their employees.
En route from lunch to the auditorium, we saw a trailer for free haircuts (catering mostly to guys) and colorful bikes that anyone can use to zip from one building to another. And I probably shouldn’t be showing you this, but I was amazed by the stall toilets with heated seats in the women’s restroom. Those Googlers (as Redecker called them) sure have it good.
You’ve probably wondering how you can give an author talk at Google? I asked Redecker this very question, on your behalf. First he said it was an interesting question. Apparently Google had an online submission form, but so many people applied that it was removed. Now he suggests you do the following:
“Published authors are our largest genre. If you’re interested in speaking at Google, your best bet is to reach out to your publicist. We maintain strong relationships with nearly all the major publishing houses, and many indies. It’s the most direct way to make our volunteers aware of your work. More than likely, we’ve already worked with someone there on an event. Of course, you can also @-mention us on Twitter (@googletalks). “
(Disclosure: One of the links in this post goes to an affiliate, for which I may be compensated if you make a purchase.)