/ Dojo Spotlight: 10 questions with a Dojo Black Belt

The Dojo is Domo’s online community forum focused on connecting, collaborating, and sharing best practices to leverage the power of the Domo platform. It is monitored daily by Domo community experts and is a central place where you can ask questions, find answers, search solutions, and express ideas.

Headshot of Grant Smith, Dojo's recent Black Belt

Grant Smith, BI manager at Sweetwater Sound, the largest online retailer of musical instruments in the U.S., has been an active member of the Dojo since his early days as a Domo user. The Dojo awards community members with different color belts—similar to karate—as they level up in the forum by answering and posing questions. This gamification system is something Grant, a competitor at heart, has responded well to. In fact, Grant recently became the first-ever Black Belt since upping the rank difficulty on the Dojo. To learn more about Grant and what drove him to become a black belt, we met and talked it out. Here’s how the conversation went …

Q: Grant, first of all, congratulations on becoming the first-ever Black Belt in the Dojo. That’s such an awesome accomplishment. I assume you’re in Domo all the time. Is that a fair assumption?

A: I live, eat, and breathe Domo. I’m in there every single day, whether it is trying to solve problems with all the different tools Domo has, creating new cards, dashboards and pages, or just trying to become a better technical resource for all the other “Domo Agents” we have within our company.

Q: How has the Domo platform helped you personally, and how has it helped Sweetwater Sound?

A: Whenever I can automate things, I try to. Domo has been a big help in that regard, because it makes it so easy to pull data in from a large amount of different sources, which is huge for an online retail company like ours.

With Domo, we’ve really been able to give data to stakeholders to make more accurate and quicker decisions. The fun part is when you see that light switch in their brain go on. They’re like, “Oh, now that I have this data and I have that data, can we do something like this? Can we maybe look to see how our ROI is doing on this giveaway?” That’s really exciting to witness.

Q: So, you’ve really seen Domo impact the culture.

A: Yeah, nearly every single department is utilizing Domo in one way or another now, whether it’s the reporting aspect, the embedded analytics tool Domo Everywhere—you name it.

Q: What are one or two things that you would tell a new Domo user?

A: It’s kind of a joke, but my go-to saying is, “There’s an API for that.” Domo is a such a powerful tool. You can customize it and do a lot of cool things with it. So, for somebody new, it’s just a matter of understanding that you have the data at your fingertips (with Domo), and from there, it’s so easy to play around with and look at things differently and quickly.

Q: When did you feel like you knew that you were going to become a master of the Domo platform?

A: When I was hired. Domo was brand-new to me when we began the implementation process back in 2019. But my personality is such that I wanted to take ownership of it. And it’s been a fun experience. I love figuring out how to solve problems, or how to configure something.

That’s why I initially went onto the Dojo. I hopped on about a month or so after we started with Domo. I just happened upon it, really. Back then, it was a fairly quiet space, just because Domo’s user base was smaller than it is now.

I go by this philosophy of the best way to learn is to teach. It’s a matter of, “How can I answer that question?” If I can’t answer it, then I don’t know it. It’s having that mindset of like, “Can I explain it to a 5-year-old, or a 15-year-old?” To explain it entails making sure you understand it enough yourself.

I didn’t really have a lot of questions when I hopped on the Dojo, but other people did. And so, when I was first starting out, I was like, “Oh, hey, somebody has this question that they’re trying to answer. I don’t know it.” And that would prompt me to play around with Domo, to see if I could solve those problems. That’s how I learned most of Domo—by trying to answer other people’s questions.

Q: What is the most valuable aspect of the Dojo for you now?

A: I’ve been able to build a lot of good relationships with other Domo users. I’m able to pick their brains and ask, “How do you do these things? How do you do that?” Having those connections is really beneficial.

Q: Let’s talk about the gamification aspect of the Dojo. What is it about the badges and the point system that you like so much?

A: I’m just competitive. I wanted to get to Black Belt before someone else did—which may explain why I may or may not have been on the Dojo answering questions while I was on vacation!  If there’s a leaderboard for me to try and climb, I’m going to go for it. And it’s fun to get badges along the way. Being the data nerd that I am, I love stats. I enjoy trying to figure out, “OK, how many points do I get for this? What’s that worth? And are there any new badges out there that I can get bonus points with?”

Q: What motivated you to become a Black Belt, besides just being competitive?

A: I just have this passion for training and teaching people so they can get more out of the platform and make cool stuff. That’s why I did a Domopalooza talk. You can talk about the product all day long, but how do you apply it to your job, for your company? How do you solve problems with it? That’s what interests me the most.

Q: What does it mean to you to be a Major Domo? And what does that look like at Sweetwater Sound?

A: As a Major Domo, I’m essentially in charge of making sure that everyone can rely on Domo and use it successfully—and that it doesn’t become a swampy mess! The goal is for everyone to be able to make faster, better, and smarter decisions with data, and a big part of meeting that goal is to ensure that everything in our system is well-maintained and well-governed.

As for what it looks like, Domo fosters a lot of discussions around data governance, including where our data lives, what it represents, whose definition is the correct definition, and so on. And it’s the basis of an internal bi-weekly meeting that I lead around any new features that are available, any new projects we’ve taken on, or any questions that have come up in the past that we now have answers to.

These meetings have also given everyone a chance to sort of celebrate what they’ve been able to achieve with the Domo platform, which can then be applied by others, as well. That’s huge not just on those levels, but on gaining buy-in throughout the entire company, too.

Q: Last question: If you are talking to a peer outside of Sweetwater Sound, what would you want them to know about Domo?

A: I would say that it gives you a lot of flexibility. It gives power to end users, because it enables them to slice and dice data however they see fit. You can go very high level, or you can go super technical with it. It just depends on what exactly you’re trying to accomplish.

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