The #CultureFirst series is a chance to showcase the team here at Culture Amp. We asked everyone a few questions which will give you an opportunity to get to know each of us a bit better.
Damon Klotz - Digital and Community (San Francisco)
Damon started his career in HR, transitioned into digital strategy & co-founded a startup; he found the trifecta in his role with Culture Amp. The snazziest dresser in our SF office, you’ll find Damon keeping long hours engaging in Twitter wars over cheese puns.
Culture Amp: What can you do as a CAmper that you haven’t been able to do elsewhere?
Damon Klotz: Joining Culture Amp has given me the opportunity to do something that I’ve been doing for fun for several years now - building an HR community. Whilst I was at University I was president of the HR Student Group then after graduating I ran the Young Professional Chapter of the Australian Human Resource Association and have also been involved in the Global online HR community. My role at Culture Amp has now allowed me to do that at scale as we aim to grow a global community of People Geeks. So although I have been building community elsewhere, I’ve never had the remit to be able to do it in my actual job before.
CA: Best day you’ve ever had at work, here or anywhere else?
DK: My role before Culture Amp was the Global Head of Digital Strategy for Ramsay Health Care. Being that it was the health care industry, it was definitely a more traditional organization and hadn’t really delved into the world of digital and social media before. Two years into my role I had the opportunity to keynote a health care conference in Ireland talking about the impact of digital on health care. The ability to change the perception and inspire several hundred leaders about the impact of social media on the health care industry was a pretty amazing feeling. After my talk, Paul Ramsay, the founder of the company, came up and thanked me for the talk. He was one of Australia’s most respected and successful business people, but he had this amazing ability to make everyone who worked for him feel respected and recognized. I’ll never forget what he said - “Damon, I loved your talk. I didn’t really understand a lot of it - I only just recently learned how to text - but I know this is important and I’m glad you’re taking the company into the 21st century.”
CA: What do you geek out about outside of work?
DK: Football (soccer) is by far the thing I geek out about the most. Far too much of my brain is full of random stats about players from around the world. From which clubs they used to play for, what country they’re from or what their rating is on Fifa. The team I support is Chelsea in the English Premier League and I’ve been really fortunate to have spent a lot of time in London both traveling and working and have been able to see them play over 20 times now. My first home game where I was singing along to chants I’d only ever seen on TV was definitely a religious-like experience.
CA: If you could have one super-power, what would it be?
DK: Whilst this super-power is probably not worthy of a Marvel film anytime soon, I’d love the ability to speak every language in the world. Would certainly help in my aim to travel to every country in the world.
CA: What is something about you not many people know?
DK: I’m a big fan of stoic philosophy and have been able to use it in my life to be able to turn obstacles into opportunities. Over the course of my life I’ve had several people close to me affected by mental health and suicide. Whilst I couldn’t change what had already happened, I was able to try turn my experiences into an opportunity to try help others. A handful of my mates created a campaign called "Soften The Fck Up" to change the language we use around mental health and encourage Australian men to open up and talk to each other. This campaign had a much bigger impact than we initially thought and we’ve since been able to create a Not-for-Profit organization called Spur Projects. Our latest campaign is the world's largest real time mental health survey and we’re trying to recruit Ellen DeGeneres as our ambassador.
CA: If you could be a character in a movie, who would it be?
DK: I’d probably have to go for James Bond. I’m not going to start a debate on who is the best Bond of all time, but the idea of traveling the world in a tailored suit and driving fast cars is pretty appealing. The other movie/tv person who I have an unhealthy obsession with is Anthony Bourdain. I’ve probably watched every episode of all of his shows at least once and think it would be pretty neat to spend a few weeks in his shoes.
CA: Where would you go on an all expense paid trip tomorrow?
DK: Travel and experiences are definitely a few of my favorite things in the world. I’ve been lucky enough to visit 38 countries so far so I’d have to pick a part of the world that I’ve yet to visit. If money was no barrier then I’d love to spend several months traveling through South America where I could switch between big cities watching local football teams every weekend and beach hideaways where I could read all those books that are waiting for me on my Kindle.
CA: What was the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
DK: This wasn’t advice in the typical Confucius style quote, it was more of a life lesson that occurred very early on in my career that I’ve never forgotten. The day I turned the legal age to work in Australia my dad drove me around the suburbs of Brisbane with a resume that he helped me put together. My favorite subject at high school at the time was Film and Television, so I had my heart set on working at Video Ezy (so long my friend). After about three hours of dropping my resume off at over 15 different places we finally decided to call it a night and got some dinner on the way home. As we pulled into Hungry Jacks (Burger King for my American friends). My dad noticed a sign in the window saying that they were hiring. My initial reaction was that there was no way I wanted to work at a fast food restaurant. I reluctantly handed in my resume as we ordered. Fast forward four weeks later and I hadn’t received a call back from any of the other places I applied. But I did get an interview at Hungry Jacks and ended up being offered a job where I went onto work for a year of late night shifts. This whole "experience" taught me very early on in my career that the dream job you desire isn’t going to to magically just happen for you. This lesson has been crucial in my career and I learned that I have to really persist and work hard in order to be able to do work that you love. From that moment on I’ve always said that I’m going to go above and beyond to find the opportunities and experiences that I need to be able to do work that I love.
CA: What does Culture First mean to you?
DK: After working at Culture Amp for nearly a year and seeing not only the constant development of our own culture but also meeting so many different and amazing companies around the world I’ve given this subject quite a bit of thought. I’ve worked in some pretty amazing team cultures at different organizations but this is the first time that I genuinely am proud of my whole organization’s culture. I think the way that I’d describe Culture First is that it’s the combination of a purpose driven organization where truly everyone believes in the "why" behind it’s creation and has a group of dedicated and driven people who’ve decided to join it. I know that at Culture Amp we’re creating a Culture First organization when I have to be out of the office, and I genuinely miss not being surrounded by the energy and inspiration of the people there.