By Stephanie Shriver-Engdahl - Consultant, Shopping Center Industry Yogi, Podcaster, and Force of Nature
It is an interesting and rare opportunity to experience a company as both an “outsider”, and an “insider”. So when asked to share my unique perspective, I thought sure, why not? They asked for the tea, they shall receive it; a provocative, no holds barred blog post on what it is like to have been a client of Placewise and now an insider. Easy.
Ok, so actually not so easy. I literally was coming up with nothing. I decided to start from the very beginning, from my first visit to Placewise, which was at that time known as Mall Finder. Maybe if I focus on what’s different, the difference in my experience will come to me.
My memory is admittedly a little fuzzy (it was 20 years ago after all!), but I recall a small, no-frills office with fluorescent lighting, bare walls, and guys everywhere working elbow to elbow. It was “open concept” before that was a thing. Someone was using one of those big exercise balls as a desk chair. It made me think of a call center I had worked at in high school - minus the cubicles and cigarette smoke. You get the picture. I distinctly remember thinking, “where are the women in this company?”
Fast forward almost 20 years later to today. The office is considerably larger, still open concept - but now the “intentional” hipper version; and is complete with exposed brick, cases and cases of La Croix, and a snack box subscription. We go on “team building” outings and track OKRs - but the biggest difference is the team.
There are a lot more people who look like me (ok the younger version), and more who don’t look or think like me. And that is a very good thing.
Then it came to me - the epiphany I was hoping for! The reason I was having such difficulty sharing my experience as both an outsider and an insider…
I couldn’t share it because I never felt like an outsider! As a client, Placewise always made me feel like my goals were their goals, and my problems were their problems. That’s not to say that there weren’t the occasional hiccups or times when we didn’t see eye-to-eye, but when you are creating things that have never existed and doing things that have never been done before, it kind of comes with the territory. We worked together, contributed to and celebrated each other’s success - and were collaborators, co-creators, and partners.
It felt very special, until I became part of the team, and realized the truth.
That’s how they treat everyone. :)