Published on May 28, 2015 by Philip Poole  
Larry Kloess

Degree/year:   B.A. in psychology, 2007

Hometown:   Nashville, Tennessee

Current:   Owner, Cause A Scene, a music booking and events agency

Bonus fact:   Larry was featured in the February 2015 issue of Native Nashville magazine.

How did your Samford degree / experience prepare you for your current work in the music industry? 

My Samford experience taught me that if you really want anything in life, you have to work extremely hard to achieve it, and that relationships really, really matter. Those weren't things I first learned in college, but I think they were most prevalent during my four years of college. Samford is where I first encountered true community, and I think being around the amazing people assembled in the dorms, classrooms and across the quad of Samford spurred me on to create places for community to exist through music. My degree is in psychology, which obviously didn't teach me the ins and outs of the music business. But, it taught me to ask difficult questions of both myself and others, to not be afraid to take risks, and most of all to pay close attention to the unique characteristics of individuals. My degree taught me how to better understand the complexities of people, which helps me in a huge way in the music industry that is largely built on relationships. As a former member of Samford's staff as an admission counselor, I was taught this even further with opportunities to invest in others and help students realize their dreams, while also giving me the much-needed confidence to stand in front of a group of strangers and share my story and sell them on an experience, which continues to serve me well to this day.

What Samford faculty or staff member had the most influence on you and why?   There are many faculty and staff members who had wonderful impacts on my life, but [psychology professor Stephen] Chew was chief among those. Without Dr. Chew's influence on my life, I very much believe my story would be dramatically different. I went into Samford as a biochemistry/pre-dental major intent on becoming an orthodontist one day, making a lot of money and taking Fridays off. By the Lord's providence or sheer luck, I registered for an elective course my first semester of college, which was Psychology 101 with Dr. Chew. It was the first college class I ever stepped into, and I honestly fell in love with the subject matter. When I was really struggling academically through my first 3 semesters of college and figuring out what direction to go in, I was reminded of how refreshing, yet challenging, Dr. Chew's teaching was and how he made the world of psychology come alive and realized pretty quickly that a change in my major was needed. 

Dr. Chew became my advisor once I made the switch, and when I was registering for a required physical education course and wanted to take Fitness Walking, Dr. Chew challenged me and advised me to "take something that will benefit you more in life that you wouldn't normally take outside of college," leading me to sign up for Social Dance. That class got me out of my comfort zone, and through that class I met a friend who led me to become a counselor at JH Ranch, a Christian camp in Northern California. There I really learned what it looked like to be a Christ follower, which led me to attend Focus Leadership Institute in Colorado Springs where I learned how to impact the world through my faith in business and where the first seeds of what Cause A Scene would be were planted. 

So, all that to say, without Dr. Chew's influence on my life, I don't think I would be taking bold risks and chasing after dreams today. And for that, I'm incredibly thankful.

 What would you say is the key to success in today’s world?  I think the key is defining what success actually looks like to you. If on the path of pursuing the "American Dream", success looks like a newer car or a nicer house or an extra zero or two in front of the decimal in our bank accounts, I think we've missed the point entirely. Cause A Scene has not been hugely "successful" from a financial standpoint, but I hope that it's had enormous success impacting the lives of others in a positive way and making the world just a bit better of a place for us to be in. So, to me, success is utilizing my God-given gifts and passions to improve the lives of others and growing more into the likeness of Christ every day. I think success, at the end of the day, is that feeling of joy doing what you love and contentment with the life you've been given. If I can go to bed every night knowing that I gave everything I could, then I've been successful in my various roles. 

What is the best advice you ever were given and by whom?    I've been given plenty of advice throughout my life but it all sort of blends in together. I think having people tell me to not take myself so seriously has been really beneficial, and learning to embrace my weaknesses as opportunities for the Lord to display his incredible strength. 

Do you have a favorite genre of music?   I don't think I necessarily have a favorite genre. I tend to be fairly eclectic with my taste in music. The biggest appeal to me as a consumer of music is the discovery process so I'm constantly searching for something new while being inspired and informed by the classics. I've been really influenced by folk and Americana music, jazz, hip-hop, and electronic music and singer-songwriters which can thrive in a variety of genres. Every time I've seen Mumford & Sons live it has strangely marked a big change in my life, so I think their concerts have been some of my favorite performances. Sigur Ros, Robert Plant, Arcade Fire, Mat Kearney, CSN, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, The National, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, The Lone Bellow, and Needtobreathe have all put on really impactful and meaningful concerts for me in the last few years. Seeing U2 and Bruce Springsteen live are on my bucket list, and seeing a show at Red Rocks in Colorado is on it, as well. 

What is a favorite Samford memory?  As a student, participating in Step Sing as a brother in Sigma Chi for all four years of college, especially our senior year performance of A Viking Conquest; playing intramural sports, particularly basketball; leading Sigma Chi in raising $12,000 for Children's Miracle Network as the Derby Days chairman my junior year. My years as a Samford student are full of great memories because of the people I got to experience college with. While I was on staff as an admission counselor, move in day at Smith and Vail [Halls] was a huge highlight for me getting to see the next generation of Samford students first arrive to campus. It was a privilege to get to work with every one of those families and students and becoming friends with so many of them.

 Why is giving back to the community important to you?   For me, giving back to the community is simply practicing gratefulness every day. We were meant to live in community with one another, and when you look at Creation, God declared everything good, but scripture says that it was not good that Adam should be alone. I think that distinction is so important, because we are all fighting that battle of feeling like we are alone. I think giving back to the community and more than that, creating opportunities for community to exist and thrive, are so necessary for us to find out who we are as individuals and be refined by those around us. I think we are blessed in life most when we bless others and when we allow things to flow freely through our hands into the lives of others. 

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.