Company Culture Events
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I/O Psychs on Motorbikes: The long & winding road to leadership excellence

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David Ostberg

Director of Culture Enablement, Culture Amp

I was probably seven years old when I had my first motorcycle experience. A relative was passing through our little town in the cornfields of Illinois when he rolled into our driveway on an unforgettable yellow Honda. The mesmerizing sound of the engine, the beauty of the metal, rubber, lights, and mysterious componentry... I was hooked. All I remember after that was hanging onto the handlebars as I sat on the tank, rumbling down our dirt road while the sun dipped into the horizon. I didn’t want that ride to end, and it wasn’t until years later that I was able to fulfill my dream of having a bike of my own.   

It took even longer for me to find my professional passion. I graduated with an undergraduate degree in psychology and knew there had to be something out there that was more stimulating than the job I was struggling to wake up for every morning. At my company, at my customers’ companies, very few people looked happy, even fewer seemed inspired, and rarely did anyone have anything great to say about their managers and leaders.

Finding a better way to work through I/O psychology

It was disheartening, to say the least, but there was a part of me that believed there had to be a better way. As a result, I started talking with anyone who’d give me five minutes about my wild idea. I saw a way to make people’s work lives better by combining psychology with business.  After a few months of exploring this idea, I was introduced to the field of Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

The road to my PhD in I/O psych was long and winding and certainly came with its fair share of bumps, but I made it. After a total of 14 years with two separate startups focused on predictive analytics for hiring (followed by some time off for reflection), I couldn’t have been more excited to continue my personal quest by joining Culture Amp as Director of Insights in late 2015.

Culture Amp’s goal as a company is to empower People Geeks to create Culture First organizations through feedback, and part of that journey involves helping others understand how to build better leaders. Every organization is unique, and the best path to effective, inspiring leadership is to listen to what employees want and need to thrive. Most managers, leaders, and executives want to do their absolute best but often don’t know how to get there.

Empowering the Culture Amp community through workshops

To help clients and non-clients alike, Culture Amp has recently kicked off a series of in-person workshops around the world. Our workshops focus on critical topics like leadership development, taking action on feedback, and storytelling through data. One of the most rewarding things about leading these workshops is meeting and connecting with people geeks all around the world. A core component of my personal quest is to hone my critical thinking, presentation and storytelling skills, and nothing inspires me more than hearing what others are doing to overcome challenges and make their organizations better for their people.

Part of putting culture first is understanding and actively promoting what motivates your people, and I can’t express how excited I am to have the support of Culture Amp to combine two of my passions: motorcycling and empowering people geeks! Over the next week or so, my longtime friend and Culture Amp colleague, Dr. Jen Cullen, and I will be touring around the beautiful Pacific Northwest to host a series of workshops in Vancouver, BC, and Seattle, WA. While most business people travel by plane, we’ll both be travelling all the way from our San Francisco office by motorcycle. Jen will be on a Suzuki V-Strom and I’ll be riding my trusty Triumph Tiger. Woop woop!  

Follow us on Twitter or Instagram and look out for our #IOPsychsOnMotorbikes and #PeopleGeeksInTheWild hashtags to see what we’re up to on this trip.

We’d love for you to reach out to say hello; tag Culture Amp along with #PeopleGeeksInTheWild on your favorite social media platform, and share some stories about what inspires you, both personally and professionally. We’re looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you at future workshops and Geekup events!

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