So last week at this time, this was my view:
Actually last week at this time I was in a plane somewhere over Missouri, but the point is last week I was enjoying some beach.
This was the balcony of my hotel room. So yeah. That was pretty awesome.
I flew out to L.A. courtesy of Toyota to hear about their company and drive around in their latest vehicles. You might remember I have been invited to be part of the TWIN network. Well we kicked things off in style.
I arrived in L.A around lunchtime on Tuesday and so I grabbed my bloggy BFF Jenny for lunch and then lounged on the couch in her room until my room was ready. I think she may have wanted to nap or shower or not hear my endless yapping but she was out of luck. Fortunately I also succeeded in annoying the front desk by calling down every half hour asking if my room was ready. So when I got to my room I immediately collapsed and got in a nice nap to recover from my 4:30 wake up call.
We headed out for a lovely dinner where I was totally overserved by our waiter. I take no personal responsibility for my state at the end of the meal. Every time I looked up the waiter was pouring more wine in my glass. I mean it SEEMED like I only had one glass of wine, but my state at the end of the evening suggests otherwise.
I do know that I sat with a lovely Toyota employee, Sona, who I pretty much wanted to move next door and be my friend. She was awesome. I also may or may not have told Jen the same story 7 times. Fortunately she can’t remember the story. Hopefully it was a good one. She seems to think I am kind of awesome so I can only assume it was.
Wednesday morning we headed out to Toyota to learn all about what makes their company great. And you know what makes them great? For years their company has done what they do through the lens of their two pillars.
- Respect for People
- Continuous Improvement
If you want to learn a little Japanese today, the word for the day is Kaizen. It means continuous improvement. So even if the product they make is awesome (which it is) they are always looking for ways to innovate and make it better. And I think that totally shows in the cars they make. They are really leaders in a lot of areas including technology, hybrids and safety.
Speaking of technology, hybrids and safety, it was car driving time! Outside of my awesome Toyota Sienna and a rental Camry I haven’t driven many of their cars. And since my Sienna is a 2004 I am totally out of touch with what is going on in the world of new cars. So I first wanted to see what a 2012 Sienna was all about.
I make minivan driving look good
The new Sienna has a little seat in the middle of the third row to accommodate an extra person. I want a car to seat as many people as possible so this is a bonus. I didn’t think it was the most comfortable seat in the world but for carpooling around town it would be nice. For long trips there was a DVD screen that was INSANE. Like your kids head would explode when they saw it. It was huge and could even accommodate a split screen so your kids can watch different shows. They can also accommodate a Wii!! My kids would never want to leave the car.
photo courtesy of Life Rearranged
I didn’t get a chance to drive a Prius cause they were pretty popular, but they aren’t really practical for our family right now because we need BIG in a car. I did ask when they were going to make a Sienna hybrid because I truly would love to drive a car that got awesome gas mileage and was better for the environment. But alas, it ain’t happening. Unfortunately the cost of making a hybrid minivan at this point would make the car so expensive no one would buy it. I am crossing my fingers by the time we can afford another car it will exist.
One of the things that impressed me so much about this experience is that Toyota really cared about what we had to say. A lot of companies just want to tell you why they are awesome. And I don’t mind that because I like to hear why companies are awesome. But throughout the day it also became very obvious they wanted to know what we thought about their cars. Which isn’t that surprising considering their company is built on Kaizen. And since we are a group of opinionated bloggers, there was no lack of feedback for them. Be careful what you wish for.
By the end of the day I was a bit tired since my stupid brain was on EST and I woke up at 4:30 again. Sigh. A hotel room with no kids in sight and I wake up at 4:30. Anywho, tired translated to a little crazy so when we got to the Toyota museum and I spied a display dedicated to advertising over the years there was only one thing to do. Jenny and I simply HAD to recreate their famous ad with the Toyota jump (don’t tell me you are too young to know what that is or I will be forced to punch you).
Yeah, I know. We are awesome. And seriously retro is super cool. I know what you are thinking. Toyota should totally hire us and resurrect the ad campaign. From your lips to Toyota’s ears ladies.
Tomorrow I want to tell you about my absolute favorite thing about Toyota which needs its own post. Their philanthropy. To be continued……
Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of Toyota.