Unpacking LA’s Vibrancy: Lessons for Social WiFi & the Polish Business Landscape
After an enlightening trip from Warsaw to Los Angeles where Social WiFi exhibited at marketing expos, CEO Paul Webster writes about the striking differences in the business atmospheres of the two cities left him reflecting on what LA has that nowhere else he has visited holds. Los Angeles’s unique blend of positivity, premium service, innovation, and experiential focus offers valuable lessons for the business community in Social WiFi's homeland, Poland.
Background: A home in Poland
Based in the Central European city of Warsaw, Social WiFi have grown to hold clients in 107 different countries over the last 10 years. Founded in 2013, their initial growth came primarily in Poland and in later years gathered traction in a handful of exotic countries around the world. But the USA has always felt a place that could be better. Yes, business is strong in the worlds biggest economy, but there is so much more untapped potential in this market.
CEO Paul Webster reflected after a visit with an executive during a visit in 2022 that one district of LA probably has more bars and restaurants than Social WiFi had clients in the entire country. He set the target that this must change.
And change it did with continued growth in the USA resulting in further investment as trade expos in California throughout 2023. But it was the success and reflections of the most recent visit to Los Angeles that has left Paul feeling that there is even more to learn and share.
Paul takes up the rest of the blog article with his thoughts.
A Positive Outlook: A Foundation for Success
In Los Angeles, the air is thick with positivity, with each interaction full of goodwill and optimism. Strangers can greet each other warmly, spreading a contagion of happiness and genuine care or curiosity. I have heard many Poles talk of this kindness being false, which could be the case deep down, but being on the receiving end of such interactions, it doesn't feel it. It can lift you up throughout the day and give you a wave of energy, even just for a moment. And when you feel this way, you're more likely to take this positivity into your next interaction.
Simply walking into a convenience store and being asked by the cashier "hows it going?" is a surprise to me. Five years in Poland has conditioned me to be taken aback by such an interaction. And probably the 30 years prior to that in the UK also.
For sure, when you speak to people about LA, they will ask you about the homelessness, the drugs, the high prices, the cannibis and so on. Its there for sure, but from what I saw, nowhere near as prevailent as Twitter (or is it X) might make you think. And for the homeless problem, its quite sizable in some parts including downtown. What I noticed though was that unlike other places, they wouldn't bother you. Perhaps there are other factors at play there, but let's not speculate.
A joke you can often here in Poland is that of the "Polish Smile". That Polish people don't smile and don't hie how they truely feel. It is a joke and often one Poles will make about themselves, so its not actually so bad in reality, but I would like to import this positive outlook and spirit among people to Warsaw. I think it would make what is a very vibrant city, even better.
Service with a Smile: Elevating Customer Experience
In the City of Angels, service isn’t transactional; it’s an experience. The hospitality industry exemplifies service that goes beyond expectations, making guests feel not just welcomed but cherished. The enthusiastic, over-and-above service approach in Los Angeles is a blueprint for other businesses around the world to improve their customer interactions. Yes, they're working for their tips, which sadly are vital to these workers earning a decent living wage, but what a difference it makes.
I have long spoken about the need for businesses to delivery experiences rather than just product and services, and while in LA this believe is just hardened even more. For those that are interested in learning more about delivering experiences, look at a book named The Experience Economy. Long story short, people can forget about things they buy and things they do, but they rarely forget how something made them feel. Create an unforgettable experience!
Almost every interaction in LA was a memorable experience. Our challenge in Social WiFi is to now consider how we can make every interaction with clients, partners, prospects etc, as good of an experience as possible. And while this has always been the case, sometimes you can have your eyes opened to where you should improve. And it doesn't just stop there. We must do this internally among the team and with others that we meet during our working day. Such easy changes can deliver such lasting results inside and outside our business.
Innovation & Progress: A place where things happen
This next section isn't such an easy change, but something I want to write about nonetheless. Such an ecosystem takes time to create and great investment to make it happen. But Los Angeles feels like a place where things happen, science and humanity progresses, and innovation is created. Not only that, creativity thrives.
Whether you're spending time downtown, are strolling Beverly Hills or enjoying time by the Pacific Ocean, you feel like someone once occured here. Its hard to ignore that LA is the place where cinema and film-making progresses. When you scratch beneath the surface, you realise how much technology, creativity and innovation has taken place in the Hollywood region. If you go to the Science museum, you will see the Space Shuttle Endeavour - is there a more incredible piece of human engineering? At the Grammy museum, you will see how audio recording and broadcast has developed over time. Not all innovations were made in the city, but for sure many did and were grown and embraced. The list goes on and on.
An environment where things are happening is a hard thing to define. Is it that there is a mission? Recognition that we exist standing on the shoulders of those that came before us? I'm searching for an answer to this so that Social WiFi becomes a more compelling business to be involved in. How can Poland develop this environment? I'm sure many will have thoughts on this.
Delivering Memorable Experiences: LA’s Signature
Going back to a topic mentioned earlier, I believe that delivering experiences is something that LA does better than any other city I've visited. Why cannot I never wait to go back? Because the city is memorable. What I do there is memorable. The people are memorable.
If you have a positive interaction that makes them feel good, and they do the same with the next person they meet, and so on and soforth, what difference would that make in an entire office or city? Do service professionals have a requirement to do this beyond standard customer service? Perhaps subconsciously some people realise this. Maybe introverted people need some help from others to get this out during the day.
Los Angeles has the "product" - a metropolis with sunshine and everything that you could wish to do. Most cities do. They have things that make people want to visit and spend time and money there. But how many cities elevate this "product" to a memorable experience? Especially an experience enhanced by the people?
Its so obvious, but the interactions we have with one another and with strangers can make such a difference to many more peoples moods and days. Having a bad day? Whats better than somebody randomly making you smile or laugh. Personally, I owe it to other people that I meet to make them feel good in every interaction they have with me. I'll be the first to admit that I have to work on that. Maybe this is the start of my mission.
Summing up: Elevate Communication to Improve Everything
So throughout all these ramblings, what is the one thing that I think makes the biggest difference? Its broad, but 'communication' is the word that comes to mind.
The manner in which we communicate, especially verbally, has the power to transform our environments, relationships and much more beyond. Each one of us has the ability to make somebodies day. In fact, this was one of the service mottos at a corporate I worked at in the beginning of my career - "make their day".
On a personal level, its something that I want to work hard on, and my employees will tell me that I need to work on it. And if we all work on this, such a shift in communication not only promises to elevate out level of service but also to create a workplace and social space where well-being and happiness are prioritised, and where every interaction leaves a positive, lasting memory.
And as for the city of Warsaw and the country of Poland, let’s take a leaf out of LA’s book and communicate in ways that build, uplift, and inspire, setting the stage for unparalleled success and contentment.
Let's be less transactional in our approach, but build relationships and delivery experiences.
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