I’m Stijn, a fervent globetrotter and a Senior Manager at The House of Marketing. As you probably guessed by the title, I have a special connection with Los Angeles. Want to know why?
Well, I’ve always been passionate about traveling and getting myself immersed in new cultures. Therefore, I’m constantly looking for ways to incorporate these aspects in my professional life. So when my previous employer presented me with the opportunity to move abroad, I knew I had to seize it.
The big choice
After giving myself some time to choose a city, I came up with Los Angeles. Why? Easy! The perfect weather, a surfer’s paradise, and nicely located between the company headquarters and my CEO’s home office. L.A. was also home to some Belgian friends - having a social safety net was a crucial factor in the decision-making process, as my wife and I were welcoming our first child!
We liked the idea of being surrounded by familiar faces, as everybody knows the prejudices about L.A. People are loud and superficial, they are health-crazy, they're all about trends – yet we found the people to be very charming and kind. About the superficiality: yes, people call you their best friend way sooner than any Belgian ever would. But as most Americans are used to moving a lot for studies or work, they know that keeping an open and friendly attitude is the best way to efficiently build your social network. This is something I try to remember when meeting people in Belgium.
A picture of our passports, including my son's American one, taken at LAX – and one of us in the snow in Northstar, California.
Work vs. play
Plunging into the L.A. culture was an interesting experience. Los Angeles has that boho vibe which results in people being much more relaxed and open to change. This is something that’s also reflected in the workplace. Most Angelenos believe in a result-based work style, rather than in a strict 9-to-5 system. Working in coffee shops or taking a quick surf break is not uncommon. This mindset of trust and fluidity appealed to me and I still encourage it in my current professional relations.
A different side of the city
After living in the city for about a year and a half, I can say that L.A. showed me a completely different side of herself - one that is vibrant, creative and exciting. It’s a city that induces a particular way of living, one where you spend more time outdoors than indoors, and where living healthy is easy and something you actually enjoy.
Something that is also very different is how entrepreneurship is stimulated in the States. Kids are taught about starting a business when they’re still in high school. This entrepreneurial spirit is omnipresent – and really contagious. Obviously, it’s also one of the values of The House of Marketing that I appreciate the most.
Stunning sunset at the beach along Highway 1 in Malibu, California.
No place like home
Did Los Angeles steal my heart? Yes, absolutely. My stay had a big impact on my life. Not only on a professional level but also on a personal level. But I’m also glad to be back in Belgium. Secretly I missed my mayonnaise and chokotoffs. On a more serious note, I’m happy my family can spend more time with my son, and by joining The House of Marketing I found an interesting challenge to give my all on a professional level. However, Los Angeles will always remain a special place and I can’t wait to go back and show my son his roots.
We’ll meet again soon, City of Angels!