We had the good fortune of connecting with Damon Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Damon, how do you think about your personal finances and how do you make lifestyle and spending decisions?
You have to have a budget in business, otherwise you won’t be sustainable!
In business I manage my finances using cost benefit analysis. The systematic approach to understanding the cost versus the benefits of various different options with the final output outlining the best approach to achieve your particular goal whilst saving on your investment. I also have a business spend tracker which records everything I spend each day vs my monthly budget allowance.
Personally my spend tactics are very different. Whilst I do still consider cost vs benefit more often than not my decision is based on me buying something I personally just like which has no bearing on the cost but is aligned with my own style.
I wear my personality on my outside and I work on the premise that every day you should wake up and be the best version of yourself, and consider every day to be an interview. You never know who you might meet or what opportunity might present itself! Everything I wear, every event I attend, every coffee shop I visit, it’s a fashion show! It is very important for me to do my research and think about my personal spending decisions. Inspiration is everywhere but I like to be my own brand. I wear what I like and not what I’m meant to like or what it costs. I’ll always remember when I was a young engineer with no money. I really wanted to buy a Dyson vacuum cleaner. I spent ages researching them and window shopping. But I simply couldn’t afford one. I bought a cheap imitation which broke pretty quickly. I then replaced it with a new one on warranty, which also broke! I bought another similar priced one and that broke too! In the end I saved up and just bought the Dyson which I should have bought in the first place. This was a lesson for me on quality. Buy well made, well engineered products. You’ll have to pay for them but they will last! It’s the same with everything I buy now. Sunglasses, mid-century furniture, lamps, everything! More often than not, well made, fashionable products hold a high premium so my bean counting is mostly saved for my business decisions. These days I buy rarely but I buy well. I have a personal wish list. Some items I want have been on it over 6 months already. I’m still looking for the right ones, researching, investigating and not rushing into purchasing them.
What should our readers know about your business?
I founded ‘Engineered by Damon’ with the vision to support, grow and develop companies utilizing our vast expertise and experience which we have accumulated over the last nineteen years working for some of the world’s leading automotive companies in the industry. We are now working with a range of companies from fresh new startups, to established companies by helping them to develop their strategies, supporting and ramping up production, helping to introduce class leading exciting quality products to the market place in a timely manner. We have started to explore the field of high quality, bespoke limited run projects in collaboration with other companies in our industry as well as our own stand-alone ventures in the not too distant future. Our work currently extends across a range of many market sectors – Supercar, Classic Car, Motorsport and Motorcycle, with plans to expand into new sectors in the future. As a progressive company, we are happy to consider working on any project even if it doesn’t sit within the remit of one of these sectors and would rise to the challenge. Since moving to Los Angeles, I have personally become an avid fan of the local mid-century modern architecture and do have aspirations of one-day designing and manufacturing some period correct furniture of my own…. Our wide range of services can be seen on our website: https://www.engineeredbydamon.com/#services
What was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Timing is everything! If you cast your mind back to our last interview just over a year ago I predicted that the supercar world which I’ve spent most of my working career would sadly start to suffer, EV car sales would grow significantly and the world of bespoke, limited run car builds and classic car restoration would continue to blossom. Many companies are deeming the pandemic as the reason for their plummet in car sales. Of course it has had a large effect but this industry was already slowing up prior to the effects of the pandemic. My decision was a multitude of reasons and a reaction to my predictions and an effort to protect my career and future employment. I now get to learn from a much broader range of people and work on many different cars and with many different companies, expand my experience and knowledge and at the same time work within a segment of the automotive industry which is continuing to prosper and enjoy variation and different challenges each day. I think I might struggle to work for a company now which builds the same product every day.
Risk taking: How do you think about risk? What role has taking risks played in your life/career?
I’m a strong believer in the famous Mark Zuckerberg quotation “The biggest risk is not taking any risk….’! If you’re well trained, have financial stability and savings what’s the worst that could realistically happen?! I call my risk ‘calculated risk’ An opportunity presents itself and you have to weigh up the pros and cons of taking the risk. If the pros outweigh the cons then we have a risk to consider taking! You’re at the horse races and you place a bet. What can you realistically afford to lose? That’s what you should bet. In 2010 I was sat next to an old work colleague. He asked “Damon, where will you be in 5 years time?” I replied hopefully not here doing this! It was here that I started taking calculated risks!
I moved to London leaving my family, friends, employer and financial security behind and starting working at McLaren Automotive. A relatively new-ish supercar company. The company I left was an iconic automotive ,established manufacturer who was founded in 1913. The next 5 years were very successful for myself, my career and my company. A new opportunity arose to move to Los Angeles, California and leave a company which I’d help grow into a successfully company with my fellow colleagues. I do like a challenge and I must admit it’s the risk of failure that weirdly excites me. You have to work hard, you have to succeed. Your career and your livelihood depend on it. It’s a big motivator. With risk can come great reward and whilst it isn’t plain sailing and is very hard work it’s the risk takers who seem to be the ones who do succeed on the whole. They’ll be battles along the way and sometimes you’ll wonder if you made the right decision but to this day the majority of the risks I have taken have paid off and the ones which didn’t you learn from them. You can read and learn from other people but your own life and experiences will always be your biggest teacher.
Where are you from and did your background and upbringing impact who you are today?
I was born in a small town called Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire, England. I will be forever indebted to my parents for the upbringing they gave me and for helping mould me into the person I am today. They are what I term ‘salt of the earth’ – very good, honest and moral people. Both self made and they were keen from an early age to teach me how to succeed the hard way. My father always told me he could just hand me a ‘silver spoon’ (some weekly pocket money like some of my school friends used to get), but this wouldn’t teach me anything and wouldn’t teach me self-sufficiency. Instead he made me get a job as a newspaper boy. I used to deliver over 100 papers every Friday night after school. I used to get paid once a week and he used to put it straight into my piggy bank! I’d then have to ask permission to spend it and justify what I wanted to buy! I was managing budget even way back then!
I now feel very satisfied that I am in a good position to steer my friends through tricky situations or advise them where required based on the values and principles my parents have taught me through my life and my own personal life experiences and background.
What is the most important factor behind your success/the success of your brand?
There are many factors but the most important to me are 1) Have passion – When the tough times come, and they will come you’ll continue to preserve and be undefeatable! 2) Have a positive mental attitude – Stay motivated, be positive and surround yourself with positivity. If you aren’t positive how can you expect people to believe in you, your brand and what you stand for! 3) Authenticity – It’s important to be yourself and be your own brand!
What value or principle matters most to you? Why?
Values for me are situation dependent and can change over time. They are standards of human behavior. My main three personal values are integrity, honesty and compassion. You have to treat others how you’d expect them to treat you. Principles are different. They are permanent and don’t change. My main principle is the removal or avoidance of negativity. I live by this rule every day and if somebody attempts to engage in a negative conversation I will immediately move on and change the conversation. If you do this there will be less negativity in your life. Surround yourself with positive, like minded people. Positivity attracts good people and success. In life we will always hear and experience bad news unfortunately. So it is important not to indulge in unnecessary negativity where possible.
Work/life balance: How has your balance changed over time? How do you think about the balance?
When I was young the work scales outweighed the life scales comprehensively! When you’re starting out in your career I don’t think you have any other choice if you want to succeed in your chosen discipline. I think the same applies when you start a new job too, anytime during your career.
My balance certainly has changed over the years though. I’m more mature these days, my brains works differently. Once you’re happy at work and happy with your performance you then have to try your best to balance the work/life scales. Sleep is very important. Switching off is important too when you leave your workplace. Some people have the job luxury of being able to switch off the minute they clock out to go home. Some of us don’t and can never really completely switch off. But it’s important to at least try. Let your mind rest, get some sleep, relax with a hobby and/or loved ones, family and friends. Then when you get to work you’ll be raring to go again, energized, not tired and you’ll put in a killer shift! I must confess I still feel guilty for watching a film at home when I could be doing some work or sending some emails instead. But I’m getting better at this and having a rest doesn’t mean you don’t care! It’s better to put a 110% 8 hour shift of work in each day rather than a 12-14 hour shift at 55% effort and go home tired and spoil the rest of your working week! Be efficient and economical with your time. If you can’t do your work in an 8 hour day something is wrong. You need some more help, you need to make some changes or you need some training etc.
Why did you pursue an artistic or creative career?
From a very early age I liked to build things. I’ll rephrase that! Take things apart….and often couldn’t put them back together, to my father’s frustration! As I got older things started to get put back together! My mum told me she dropped me at playschool and when she came back to pick me up I was sat in the middle of a Lego village! The lady looking after us all asked my mum how old I was and said this is the work of an 8 year old! I was 3 years old at the time! I then starting modifying toy cars and putting everything I’d dismantled previously back together to my father’s delight! Fast forward a few years to 1995. I was at a crossroads in my life and had to make a decision on what I was going to study at university. I was obsessed with a legal television series called ‘Murder One’ with Theodore Hoffman and the same year the juicy OJ Simpson court case commenced! I really was considering studying criminal law. I started researching the subject and even spent some time doing work experience at a local law court on a murder case. I’m very impatient and after some good advice from my father where he managed my expectation and made it clear how much hard work, money and time it would take for me to graduate and become a lawyer I went to University to study Manufacturing Engineering instead and I guess the rest is history now! I make things!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
So Silver Lake is my go to place and has been for many years. I really feel comfortable there and I have some very happy memories there. Speranza on Hyperion Ave is an italian bistro which I adore and take all my favorite people to. My go to dish here is “Bucatini all’ Amatriciana.” Competitive pricing, a nice wine list and tasty dishes in a buzzy, candlelit al fresco setting. Cafe Stella just down the road on Sunset Blvd is a romantic french bistro with a similar vibe and a nice bar too if you’re not ready to go home after your dinner. I’m a car guy as you know and LA car culture is second to none. I’d be sure to take them to an early morning cars and coffee event! This might sound a bit cliche but you just have to take them for a drive down the PCH to Malibu. Put your window down a bit and breathe in that ocean air, get your feet wet in the ocean and sand between your toes! The sound of flowing water is so inspiring for unlocking ideas in your mind. Palm springs is always a good idea! When it’s not too hot there of course. You’re surrounded by mid century architecture and palm trees and it’s the perfect place to relax and get any from the LA hustle and bustle. My go to place there for food and drinks is Workshop Kitchen + Bar on North Palm Canyon Drive. Bootlegger Tiki on same road is always fun too! We stayed at both Dive Hotel and Les Cactus Hotel recently and I strongly recommend you do too. The Arts district in Downtown Los Angeles is always a great place to go for a wander, people watch, eat, drink, shop and play. I’m a creature of habit and if I like somewhere I become a repeat visitor. In Downtown I enjoy drinks at the top of the Ace Hotel, dinner on the rooftop at Perch and the Little Easy Bar is a fun little place reminiscent of new orleans. We have to go for a hike! Most people go hiking in Runyan Canyon or to the Hollywood sign which have great views but are busy and ‘too traditional’ for my liking. I personally like to go for a long hike through various neighborhoods in LA with a list of mid century houses I want to take in on the way and everybody I’ve taken on one of these hikes has loved it. Finally, don’t forget the LA sunsets they are something else, especially from the right vantage point!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It’s a long list! My father gets a special mention for sure. He is my confidant, mentor, advisor, personal assistant etc. You name it, he’s it. It’s been good for him too as he is now learning from me on the business side of things. My partner Elen is a huge support to me in Los Angeles. Not only are we peas from the same pod but without her daily support and creative personality everything would be much tougher. I am surrounded by many go getters, motivators and positive people and ever since my school days I’ve always ensured I spend time with older, more knowledgeable people and successful people. I always say you can count your best friends on one hand. They know who they are and they are much appreciated. Life is a lesson and I learn new things every day. It’s all about taking something positive, where possible, from every conversation and experience you have. As I get more knowledgeable and successful myself I’ve started to enjoy helping people personally and giving something back.