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Have you ever wondered what it’s like inside Google HQ? You always hear stories in the media of how fun and creative the company is; music rooms, rock climbing, free food.. it seems like a place of dreams and conjures up images of Willy Wonka himself at the Chocolate Factory.

Last year, I was fortunate to be invited to spend a day at Google Headquarters in Sydney as part of a very special trip organised by the friendly folk at Google and the Regional Australia Institute. And let me tell you, everything that you may imagine about how Google is, is true!

Relaxing at Google Headquarters
Relaxing at Google Headquarters

In 2016, George the Farmer was voted as one of 10 National Regional Online Heroes by the Regional Australia Institute and Google Australia. To say we were a bit chuffed is an understatement.

The top ten finalists were selected by a jury consisting of The Hon Michael McCormack MP – Minister for Small Business, digital entrepreneur and Birdsnest founder, Jane Cay, Regional Australia Institute CEO, Jack Archer and Head of Small Business at Google Australia, John Ball. Finalists were recognised for their outstanding use of the internet to grow their business, reach new customers and give back to the community.

It was fantastic to be acknowledged for not only exceeding in the online space but for giving back to our community. Ben and I feel very proud to reinvest 50c from the sale of every book back into producing freely available curriculum-aligned teacher’s resources. Over the past six months alone, we have had over 3000 downloads of our free guides and resources, which has helped educate approximately 40,000 students about agriculture nationally. Additionally, for the past two years, we provide free educational performances to our local regional community in the vicinity of $30,000 per annum.

Living and working regionally provides so many opportunities. Opportunities to live lives with purpose and meaning; to enjoy natural, quieter, inspirational surroundings; to bring up kids within strong communities and; all while still having the potential to reach and run global businesses.

So, on Monday, December 5, I along with the 9 other Regional Online Heroes from around Australia visited Google for a money-can’t-buy digital masterclass. We heard some inspirational stories from the likes of Aisling Finch (Director of Marketing at Google AU/NZ), Jane Cay (Founder of online retail outlet Birdsnest) and Richard Flanagan (Head of Business Marketing at Google) as well as having the opportunity for one on one talks with Google Adwords team members. In amongst our class time, we enjoyed a tour of the amazing work space/s and had a beautiful lunch at one of the all-day cafes.

Regional Online Heroes 2016_
Regional Online Heroes 2016 at Google HQ.

The other very worthy finalists included Rabbit Hop Films (Moree, NSW), Penny Evans Art (Lismore, NSW), Simply Rose Petals (Swan Hill, VIC), Crowd Carnivore (Pambula, NSW), Blackbooks Tea (Cairns, QLD), Off the Track Training (Longreach, QLD), Local Farm Produce (Bundaberg, QLD), AgData Australia (Toowoomba, QLD) and Corporeal Health (Northam, WA).

In the afternoon, we were joined by the Hon Michael McCormack MP, Minister for Small Business and John Ball, Head of Small Business at Google for the announcement of the number 1 Regional Online Hero. The award was presented to AgData Australia, who was represented by Stephen Dummett, for their valuable contribution for providing tools, data, and knowledge to help business owners make more informed decisions and improve productivity through their digital solutions. AgData was established on a family property in Toowoomba, Queensland in the 1980s and they now employ 20 staff and serve a whopping 22,000 customers nationally!

To top an already amazing day off, we were then whisked by boat around the Sydney Harbour to a spectacular dinner where we reminisced about our amazing day and looked forward to the possibilities of our future.

Living and working regionally provides so many opportunities. Opportunities to live lives with purpose and meaning; to enjoy natural, quieter, inspirational surroundings; to bring up kids within strong communities and; all while still having the potential to reach and run global businesses.

I’d like to extend a massive thank you to Regional Australia Institute and Google for such an inspiring experience. We may all be thousands of kilometers apart in Australia, but we can become connected with the simple click of a button.


The 2017 Regional Online Heroes competition opens on Wednesday, August 30. Don’t miss out on putting your business forward for consideration. Visit: http://regionalaustralia.org.au/regionalonlineheroes/


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