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The Employee Experience Platform | Culture Amp
Culture First 2019
Lexi Croswell, author

Lexi Croswell

Writer, Culture Amp

On June 12 and 13,2018 nearly 1,000 People Geeks attended the Culture First conference at Pier 27 in San Francisco. From Patty McCord's opening keynote to a packed panel on the business outcome of putting culture first, attendees were sure to take away something from each session.

If you couldn't make it or simply want to relive the highlights, enjoy this recap of the inaugural Culture First conference through the eyes of our attendees.

Day One 

On day one the doors to Pier 27 opened at 8:00 am and attendees made their way to the second floor to grab a bite before being welcomed to the event. The emcees of Culture First were our very own JD Peterson and Jo Cranford.

Patty McCord

Patty McCord's opening keynote covered why building a culture of freedom and responsibility strips away the constraints that can thwart high-performers so your teams can be lean, nimble, motivated and happy. As she addressed the HR leaders in the room she said, "You want a seat at the table? The table is set. It’s our time."

Susan Cain

Susan Cain took the stage next and spoke about the Quiet Revolution. As she said, about one third to half of all employees are introverts. It's time to rethink innovation because solitude matters.

Didier Elzinga

Next it was time for Culture Amp CEO Didier Elzinga to talk about what it means to be Culture First. From talking about how values are uncovered to reflecting on the time we take away from our loved ones to be at work, to paying down diversity debt as a company with four white male founders, Didier embodied having the courage to be vulnerable in his address.

Rod Hamilton

Founder and Chief Product Officer at Culture Amp, Rod Hamilton shared what it's like to build the platform that is helping companies put Culture First. After reeling in the audience with an opening metaphor about the collaborative capabilities of the common pigeon, Rod showcased how the power of employee feedback can transform organizations.


While the speakers were the highlight of the day so far, every conference attendee needs time to rest, recharge and refuel. Thankfully, great food trucks from Off the Grid were on-site to feed our hungry People Geeks.

Aaron Dignan

After lunch, attendees got ready to participate in Aaron Dignan's Mars 2100 simulation. In this immersive simulation participants role play as founding citizens of a new society on Mars. As they navigate critical decisions for building a community that can thrive in the harsh conditions they experience the discomfort of uncertainty and get an opportunity to try on and practice new ways of working.

Day 1 - breakout sessions

After five amazing keynote speakers, now it was time for attendees to make a choice.

Day one breakout sessions included:

  • Work with me: Facilitating difficult conversations about diversity
  • Finding the right ingredients for cultural change
  • Driving change with data visualization
  • How to transform your millennial managers into epic team leaders
  • Sensing power and cultivating organizational aliveness

Pattie Money

Chief People Operations Officer at SendGrid, Pattie Money discussed how they'e maintained a constant focus on navigating the intersectionality of engagement, diversity and inclusion, leadership and culture.

Adam Grant

Wrapping up day one was Adam Grant, Professor and Author of “Give and Take,” “Originals,” and “Option B.” His talk on how non-conformists move the world kept everyone on the edge of their seat with pen to pad taking notes.

Day Two

Tatyana Mamut

Former Tech Executive, Tatyana Mamut kicked off day two with a keynote addressing five types of culture risk. If you missed her Q&A session, Tatyana followed up with answers to top questions on LinkedIn.

Lindsay McGregor

Co-author of "Primed to Perform," Lindsay McGregor educated the audience on the science of total motivation and how to craft high performing cultures.

Day 2 - Morning Breakout Sessions

Even more great sessions were packed into day two of Culture First with attendees having a choice between the following before lunch:

Day 2 - Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Re-energized by another great food truck lunch, sharing stories together, and anticipating more things to come, attendees chose between the following sessions:

  • Behavior by design: How space shapes behavior and behavior shapes culture
  • Radical empathy: The secret to listening and sharing vulnerably
  • Think like a marketer: How to harness employee feedback to build a lasting learning culture
  • Aligning your external & employee brands – insights from an emerging and an established company
  • Consciously creating culture with people analytics & employee experience design

Closing Panel

The last speakers to take the stage were HR leaders from Warby Parker, Casper, WeWork, and Patreon. With moderator Katy Steinmetz from Time Magazine, they discussed the business outcome of putting Culture First.

Here's to the next Culture First

Thank you to all of our attendees, speakers, sponsors and all-around People Geeks. We couldn't have done this without you, and we're so glad you've joined us in putting Culture First.

What’s next

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