Sam Zammit is the General Manager at Karmo, a car subscription service that offers services through Karmo Subscription, Karmo Innovation and Karmo Residential Car Share.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I actually started my career in the Army as an Infantry Officer. I was lucky enough to work with some amazing people in some amazing parts of the world. After 11 years, I left the Army with a strong passion for working with purpose in high performing teams.
My exit strategy from the Army was always to take a year off to study. After completing the full time UQ MBA program, I spent a couple of years as a consultant before joining the Uber team here in QLD.
This was the start of my fascination with the merging of transport and tech. Since then I’ve spent time with Hey You, a food and coffee order ahead startup, JUMP – Uber’s micro-mobility arm and now part of Lime and the Routing Company, a public transit tech startup.
I now work as the General Manager of Car Subscription startup – Karmo where we are making your next new car more flexible and affordable than ever before. As part of our subscription program you get a new car every 4-6 months at a price point that is comparable to traditional new car ownership.
Most of my job is working with our CEO Nick Boucher, on growing and scaling Karmo’s current subscription and rideshare rental verticals and working on future verticals like car share and fleet management.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Like most roles at early stage companies, no two days are the same. To make sure I get through what I need on a weekly basis, I reverse engineer my days by first scheduling out my personal goals for the week, then big ticket work goals and then shuffling everything else around that.
On a personal level, kids footy on Saturdays, fishing or some other activity with the kids on Sunday and hanging out with my wife is scheduled first, followed by figuring out my workout schedule for the week (3 days body weight / kettlebell circuit, 2 days x 10km run).
As I’ve gotten older regular exercise has become increasingly important especially for helping with sleep and general physical and mental health.
Monday morning I start with a quick plan for my work goals for the week and schedule time in my calendar to make that happen. I write down three goals per day on a sticky note which finds its way onto my monitor to make sure I stay focused and not too sidetracked. Everything else gets scheduled into the gaps.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes it allows for it but we also have three core days per week where we get everyone into the office (which we’ve just moved into). Over the last 6 months, I spent so much time at Nick’s place anyway because we found that complex decision making and early stage culture building is so much easier when you’re all in the same room.
I’ll probably spend more time in the office over the next few months but our steady state model is Tuesday – Thursday in the office for meetings, brainstorming, strategy sessions and 1:1`s. Monday and Friday are work from home project days.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
For me, having a good work life balance is about making sure I’ve got time to be a good husband and father, a good friend, time for learning and personal development and I can still perform at work. If I’m getting a sense that I’m falling short in any of those areas, it becomes a focus until I’m back in alignment.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
In some ways, the last 12 months have been more about maintaining good routines and not letting external forces affect them. Habits around diet, exercise and sleep seem to have had the most positive ROI for me in the last 12 months.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
On the podcast front, I’ve recently been enjoying ‘Invest like the Best’ which has some cool interviews with founders, investors and money managers. I’m also a bit of a history fan so Dan Carlin’s Hardcore history is a big favourite as well. I also regularly check out Transit Unplugged which has some great interviews with public transit planners around the world.
On the book front, I recently finished Smartest Guys in the Room by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind which I loved. I’m also a bit of a science fiction fan, I’m currently half way through the Dark Forest, part of the Three-Body Problem book series by Cixin Liu.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I have a Vostok Amphibia dive watch that I’ve been wearing for the last few years. It’s a super practical, low cost watch that has a fascinating product history. It’s development is a great example of creative problem solving in a high pressure environment which also happens to be analogous to working in early stage startups.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Toto Wolff, the current CEO and Team Principal of Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team. He’s running a high performing F1 Team, has a strong entrepreneurial and business background, is full of insightful quotes and never seems flustered.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
If you’re pushing the boundaries in any part of your life, failing and making mistakes is going to be part of that journey and it’s easy to lose motivation. I’ve always found it helpful having something you can refer to in order to remain undeterred. For me, Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘The Man in the Arena” speech always helps me put things into perspective and keep my foot on the gas.
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