Haje Jan Kamps

Sep 23, 2021

6 min read

Job hunting for renaissance people

I’ve long joked that one of the reasons I have to start my own companies is that I’m virtually unemployable. The joke stopped being funny when I realized it might just be true.

The Venn Diagram of Interests

My particular interests mean that I am particularly drawn to a cluster of companies that do something in the following spaces:

  • Mental Health — treatment, awareness, mindfulness, self-care, community-based mental health work… You name it. In addition to the wider picture of mental health, I have a particular interest in Psychedelic medicine — I believe that psychedelic medicine can have enormous healing potential, and I’d love to help normalize and develop that.
  • End of Life — or helping humans transition through a change in general — think from single life to a relationship, from marriage to divorce, from bachelor to parent, or from being alive to, well, not.
  • Education — I don’t particularly see myself as a high school teacher, but one of the red threads that have run in my career is that I’m a life-long educator. A stack of books about photography, thousands of articles, all over the web, and the Photo School I founded, which has taught 10,000+ people the basics of photography, may all have something to do with that.

Company values

There is no plan B for our planet — we only have one, and if we burn it to the ground, we don’t get a spare. In addition, I have a strong distaste for companies that see humans as disposable resources. One lens to see this through is the triple bottom line; Planet, People, and Profit, more or less in that order.

  • Work toward improving the future — I would value companies that are future-focused, and end up on the right side of history. Solar over petroleum; public transport over personal car ownership; prevention over cure.
  • Environmentally conscious — Don’t make a bunch of plastic rubbish that is the flavor-du-jour but ends up in landfills within 5 years. Be at least carbon neutral. Either directly or indirectly have a positive impact on the environment. Don’t mandate travel for meetings where a Zoom call would suffice. Commuting — do we have to? Care enough to say so, and then practice what you preach.
  • Be socially conscious —In the US in particular, corporations play an important role — and have the opportunity to be leaders in social change. Talk the walk and walk the walk.
  • Invest in people — Certainly directly (with its own staff), but preferably indirectly, too (with its product and/or services) help people pull themselves upwards. Have robust growth plans for your team members. Help people up-skill. Your staff will eventually leave — and that’s okay — send them on their way with kindness, compassion, and an excited story to tell about what you do and why. Invest in social programs, don’t shy away from ex-incarcerated people. Be aware around BIPOC folks and minorities, LGBTQI+ groups, etc. Be sensitive to people’s mental and physical health.
  • Be remote-friendly — For many reasons — but not least for environmental and mental health reasons — my next dream job will likely be remote-only, remote-first, or at the very least remote-friendly.

The deal breakers

There are a few companies that seem to tick many of the boxes above, but that are still out of the running. I hasten to add that I don’t hate the people who work at these companies — they have different priorities than I do, and that’s cool — but for me, there are things that make it really hard to consider a role. Recruiters from Facebook and Lyft have been on my case for a while, for example. Is flattering to be contacted, but on reflection, I don’t think I can work for a company that isn’t a Force for Good in the world.

Different ‘levels’ of Chief of Staff

Chief of Staff — like CEO — is a really nebulous job title. This issue is so prevalent that one of the main websites for Chief of Staff roles created a ‘leveling framework’ with five different levels. The job ranges from a Personal Assistant with a fancy title (‘level 1’), to a role that is very close to ‘deputy CEO,’ (‘level 5’) where the Chief of Staff can take meetings on behalf of the CEO, and in some cases make decisions on behalf of the CEO.

OMG, Haje, I know just the thing for you!

Amazing! me@haje.me is a great way to get a hold of me for an introduction or a conversation.