People are everything

The people you encounter as you patronize a business almost completely shape your happiness with the encounter. And I'm of the school that says it starts at the top.
Giraffe restaurant logo
Today I ate breakfast at Giraffe - a restaurant in Terminal 5 of London's Heathrow airport. I liked this place, and will now change my LHR habit to stop here every time.

Why? The people.

The staff immediately put a smile on my face. They all had just the right amount, and kind of energy. Despite the fact that it was 7:30 am, they were all moving quickly, yet without making it feel rushed. Every staff person I was taking care of anything that needed done to make people happy. Everyone on the floor was always watching for empty seats, and signaling from across the room to seat a waiting person as soon possible - with a smile and a nice greeting.

In fact, every staff member was smiling, not just because they were being saccharine, but because I could just tell that they were simply that type of individual who is happy in life. They interacted with each other, and with patrons in a naturally joyous way that just made me smile back, tickled to be interacting with somebody nice to be around. (For a changeā€¦.) Somebody who doesn't get fussy about things. For example, when one of the wait staff dropped & broke an empty coffee cup, everyone smiled, laughed (nicely), made a humorous moment out of it, and somebody grabbed a broom / dustpan instantly.

This doesn't happen without managers that know how to hire great people. People that work happily, without grumbling, that chip in together, make a tribe, and effortlessly pull everyone up to their level of amazingness. Such hiring managers can make a business staggeringly successful. Oh, and lest I fail to notice, the local restaurant manager at Giraffe clearly knows his or her stuff, too - clearly knowing the operational elements that these happy employees need to execute flawlessly.

Yet it doesn't stop at local hiring managers; you can see evidence of happiness all the way to the top of this company. The decor, the menu, even the music present reflected similar love of life, food, and people. The entire place oozes it. The restaurant's motto: Love, Eat, Live.

I would love to meet the head of this company, to simply have a conversation and see if my impression -- that this is a happy, smart, and amazing person -- holds true. I'm willing to bet it does. Company culture trickles - no, floods - down from the top.

The takeaways: 1) Company leadership defines the company; CEOs that are effective define everything. 2) Hiring matters; pick people that make customers happy - whether that means emotionally, technically, or whatever's most important for your customers. People matter a lot.

Oh, and Kudos' Giraffe. I aspire to do what you're doing. And a special call-out to my waitress Magdalena. Such a nice spirit!