On Thursday, I had the exciting opportunity to see Cal Ripken, Jr speak. I work for Google in the Santa Monica office, but this week I’m in New York where Cal was visiting our NYC office as a stop on his book tour. I’m a member of the team that puts on authors events at Google. In our various offices, we’ve had everyone from Jane Smiley to the Iron Chef to Hilary Clinton. You can watch many of these talks on You Tube. In fact, here’s a link to a recent event I organized in Santa Monica featuring the “Too Hot Tamales” chefs. I will post the link to the video of Cal’s talk when it goes live.
Anyway, it was a thrill to see this Hall of Famer in person and I have to report he was incredibly nice and generous with his time. He spent over an hour at the office, talking about his new book: Get in the Game: 8 Elements of Perseverence that Make the Difference. He answered questions, signed books, and even posed for pictures with fans (like me!). He went the extra mile and signed book plates that will be sent to Googlers in remote offices who had tuned into the talk via videoconference (typically they would receive books for attending but obviously not have the chance to get them autographed).
Cal is a dynamic speaker. He told some funny stories related to his book, such as how “stubbornness” can be a good or bad quality depending on the extreme (at times his dad took it too far as evidenced by some amusing anecdotes, but stubbornness helped Cal Jr. reach his consecutive game record). In talking about the streak, he described some challenges, such as negotiating with his wife so that he might be able to skip the birth of their second child if it would cause him to miss a game. He told her that if he broke the streak on that day, then their son’s birthday would always be known as the day the streak died and baseball fans lost hope in Cal to save the game. 😉 Fortunately for everyone, the baby was born on an off day.
One of the eight pillars Cal spoke about was “life management.” He described how he took a proactive role in his relationship with his managers. He would meet with them before the season and tell them what he needed to do to be successful (i.e., not playing in every spring training game, but instead spending time in the weight room, watching video, etc.). He said managers appreciated his candor and respected his methods, while many of his teammates never considered this approach and instead just complained about the way they were being managed.
A Googler asked (or more accurately, begged) Cal to take an active role in the Orioles as a manager, GM, or even owner. Cal laughed it off, suggesting we pass the hat and all the Googlers chip in to buy the team. He gave a noncommittal answer, saying for now he wanted to not be tied to a long baseball schedule while his kids were still in high school. So cheer up, Orioles fans, he may be back in a couple years!
I look forward to reading the book, and I can see why Cal is finding success as a corporate speaker.
Thank you, Cal, for taking the time to visit Google!