Back in the fall of 2015 I was invited to speak to the employees of a company called Trivago, at their international headquarters in Dusseldorf, Germany. I had never heard of the company before, but gladly accepted the invitation.
I become increasingly excited for the opportunity to speak with the employees of what seemed like a very cool company.
Less than two weeks before my trip, the Brussels airport was hit by a terrorist attack. The Dusseldorf airport is only 120 miles from Brussels, just across the border in Germany. The US Government issues a Europe-wide travel alert, and I considered postponing the trip, but ultimately decided to move forward.
I arrived in Dusseldorf, checked in to the hotel, and found a wonderful little bakery for coffee and a pastry.
That afternoon I enjoyed a walk around the major shopping district in Dusseldorf. I was fascinated by the architecture.
The next day I was given a tour of the Trivago offices by my host Anna, the organizer of the Academies program which brings in speakers like me. The Academies are a unique program at Trivago, optional and free to all employees, designed to offer broader perspectives on life. Their events range in topics from music to travel to, of course, magic.
I was immediately taken by the positive energy in the workplace. Anna informed me that the average age of a Trivago employee is 28. The offices are clearly designed to encourage collaboration and creativity. They have think tank rooms for impromptu meetings, and ‘offices’ are mobile – employees can work from wherever they choose, and with whomever they choose.
We settled into the room for my speech and I set up a few props. The crew was very kind and helpful and getting me everything I would need. I was also struggling due to jet lag and a mild sinus issue, and they were happy to get me hot tea from the kitchens on a different floor.
People started coming in and completely filled the room. I was surprised to see a handful of children brought along by their parents. Anna later informed me that it was the first time she had ever seen children at an Academies event. I introduced myself to the parents and explained that it wasn’t a proper magic show, which they knew. Still, I offered to show some quick tricks just for the kids before we started, and they were absolutely delighted. It was a really enjoyable moment.
The speech itself went incredibly well. I delivered a 90 minute interactive presentation, followed by a 30 minute Q&A session. The audience was so enthusiastic that if did not arbitrarily cut it off after 2 hours it would have just kept on going. In fact, a handful stayed around to chat for another 20 minutes while I packed up. Here are some highlights:
Overall I had a magnificent time with the employees at Trivago, and I look forward to returning to Germany when I have more than just two nights to spare. It was a beautiful country that deserves weeks of exploring, I’m sure.