This episode’s guest is Dave Evans. He’s a lecturer for the product design program at Stanford, a management consultant, and the co-founder of electronic arts. He’s not the singer with AC/DC.

Dave was an early Apple employee. He worked in the Lisa division on the laser printer and mouse. He left Apple to co-found Electronic Arts with Trip Hawkins. Come to find out, Dave may very well be the person who introduced the concept of evangelism to Apple. And the rest is history.

Dave obtained his BS and MS in mechanical engineering from Stanford, along with a graduate diploma in contemplative spirituality from San Francisco Theological Seminary.

Through his career, he found the same “design thinking” responsible for amazing technology can be used to design and build your career and your life, a life of fulfillment and joy, constantly creative and productive, one that always holds the possibility of surprise.

These findings inspired him to co-found the Stanford design lab with Bill Burnett in 2007. This resulted in the formation of one of the most popular courses ever at Stanford, at least according to Fast Company. And the book Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.

We are going to cover:

  • Why interests trump passions.
  • How to get hired.
  • What to do before you quit
  • And should it come to this, How to quit.

If your podcast player provides the ability to slow down the speed, now would be a good time to do it because Dave is a firehose of ideas and opinions.

Enjoy this interview with the remarkable Dave Evans!

If you enjoyed this episode of the Remarkable People podcast, please leave a rating, write a review, and subscribe. Thank you!

Join me for the Behind the Podcast show at 10 am PT. Make sure to hit “set reminder.” 🔔

I’ve started a community for Remarkable People. Join us here:

Transcript of Guy Kawasaki’s Remarkable People podcast with the remarkable Julia Cameron:

Guy Kawasaki:
Hello, it's Guy Kawasaki. This is the Remarkable People Podcast.
This episode's guest is Dave Evans.
He's a lecturer for the product design program at Stanford, a management consultant, and the co-founder of Electronic Arts.
He's not the singer with ACDC.
Dave was an early Apple employee. He worked in the Lisa division on the laser printer and mouse.
He left Apple to co-found Electronic Arts with Trip Hawkins.
Come to find out, Dave may very well be the person who introduced the concept of evangelism to Apple, and the rest is history.
Dave obtained his BS and MS in mechanical engineering from Stanford, along with a graduate diploma in contemplative spirituality from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.
Throughout his experiences and accomplishments, he came to discover that the same design thinking responsible for amazing technology and products can be used as a blueprint when designing one's ideal career and life.
These findings inspired him to co-found the Stanford Design Lab with Bill Burnett in 2007. This resulted in the formation of one of the most popular courses ever at Stanford, at least according to Fast Company and the book, Designing Your Life.
We are going to cover wide interests, trump passions, how to get hired, what to do before you quit, and should it come to this, how to quit. If your podcast player provides the ability to slow down speed, now would be a good time to do it because Dave is a fire hose of ideas and opinions.
I'm Guy Kawasaki, this is Remarkable People. And now here is Dave Evans.
Did we overlap at Apple?
Dave Evans:
Just barely. I actually think you owe me a huge debt of gratitude.
Guy Kawasaki:
Dave Evans:
Because when I left to co-found Electronic Arts with Trip, Steve walked me around the parking lot for three and a half hours and tried to talk me into being in the division directing marketing for then.
Guy Kawasaki:
So you would've been Mike Murray?
Dave Evans:
Yeah, or you.
And the other thing is I left, made some more opportunity. And it was actually a really hard call. I was having a really good time at the time.
I actually I have a question for you. We technically did overlap, I believe you had joined the company before I left. But then the first time I actually saw you, and I don't know if we interacted much, was when you introduced the very first ever Apple developer conference.
And one of your first slides was your business card which said that you were an Apple evangelist and it included a definition in a dictionary formatted phonetic layout of what the word evangelism means, what Apple evangelism means.
And at that point we'd been Electronic Arts for about seven minutes. And Trip and I came. So I came back to Apple as a vendor, as a prospective evangelist. And well now that's interesting, I actually know the backstory.
I don't know this for sure, but there's a real good shot that I was the first guy that brought the word evangelism to Apple because I was on the corporate culture committee with Anne Bowers and Steve and two other guys. And I'd been at the company about two months when that got started.
They were terrified during that either we grew from 800 to 5,000 people, that all these people from national semiconductor and HP were going to turn this into some other place.
And we were all talking about we need a museum, we need a training program. And I'd only been there a little while. And most people, Steve included, knew that I was this seriously religious guy. And they're all talking and I said, "None of this is going to work because what you're talking about is not a program and it's not a training thing, it's evangelism," which was not a business word at the time in 1980.
And the room stops dead and Steve leans over and he goes, "What the fuck did you just say?" And Trip who's sitting next to me interrupts because he's dragged this guy along, he's like, "I don't deserve to be there nor near mature enough." But he's interested. And Trip leans kind of goes, "Hey, Steve, he talks like this all the time. Give him a minute. It's either going to be really interesting or we'll just fire his ass." And Steve goes, "Go ahead."
And Trip goes, "You got a minute, go." And I said, "Let tell you what evangelism is and it won't do the whole stick." But in about a minute, I explained it's caught not taught. It's a disease model, you can only get it from somebody who's got it. It's all about the people. These people who are arriving, the only way to become Apple people is through people who are Apple people, turn them into Apple people. Programs don't turn them into Apple people, people turn them Apple people.
And that pivoted the whole program and I didn't get fired. And it wasn't like evangelism posters went up the next week. But nonetheless, that was the first time I'd seen the word evangelism in print in a business meeting, was at that meeting that you led. So we never worked together, we never collaborated, but we just bounced off each other very briefly.
Guy Kawasaki:
Wow. I owe my title to you.
Dave Evans:
Maybe, but I'm pretty sure you thought it out.
Guy Kawasaki:
So the sequence was first it was Jesus, then there was Dave and then there was Guy. Did I get that right?
Dave Evans:
The etymology of technological theological understanding, there you go.
Guy Kawasaki:
That's great.
Dave Evans:
I'm of Apollos, Cephas, Dave or Guy, there you go, yeah.
Guy Kawasaki:
People like Fuller are throwing up right now, but that's a different discussion.
Dave Evans:
Actually, they're not because Tod Bolsinger, the EVP that helped do the completely reform out of the formation model then at Fuller, I've worked with him really closely for many years.
I did senior high ministry with Steve, Fuller's grandson of the founder in Pasadena in the seventies, you go way back. And we're hanging out at the COHO at Stanford, Tod and I. And he goes, "Hey Dave, guess what? I figured out why we get along so well. Because design thinking and practical theology are the same thing just with different words."
I said, "Great. What's that mean?" He says practical theology is a very specific approach. He sends me a white paper, and I go, "Oh yeah, it's totally." And it's orthopraxy not orthodoxy, it's about doing that kind of stuff. And he said, "That's why we get along." I go, "Fine." I was happy getting along. Well, that'd be an understanding why, but I'm glad to know why. Anyway, we digress, we digress easily.
Guy Kawasaki:
In your brief stint at Apple, what were you working on?
Dave Evans:
Oh, I joined Apple six weeks before the IPO, and that's a bit of a story. It starts with me hanging up on them on the phone three times because you're probably looking for the Dave Evans at Hewlett Packard, he's the computer guy.
I'm the mechanical engineering guy. Had a welding torch with my hand at the time when Apple called me. Then as now Apple's pretty arrogant and goes, "Anybody's going to hang up, it's us, not you."
And I finally relent and say, "Oh, come over, let you buy me lunch. I don't think you guys are interested, you don't really like computers. But I'll come to lunch once because Steve was just on the cover of Time Magazine, that might be interesting. And then we'll all figure out this is stupid, but fine, you're paying for the lunch." So we have lunch and they do figure out that I know nothing about what they do and at the end they go, "Huh, yeah. Now what? But you're interesting."
And I go, "Yeah, actually you're more interesting than I thought you'd be too." They go, "What do you want to do?" I go, "You called the meeting, you decide." And they go, "Well, come back and talk to somebody else." And I go, "Sure. I'll come back and talk to somebody else." Fourteen visits later, Steve says, "You don't understand fuck all about what you do but we think you're an Apple kind of guy. Let's just try this thing for ninety days, see what happens." Off we go. I was the third guy in the Lisa marketing team. I worked for Trip.

Guy Kawasaki:
Oh you poor thing.
Dave Evans:
Because I had a mechanical engineering degree, they were all, "Can you product manage anything with a moving part in it? You understand parts." So I had keyboards, mice, and printers, and disk drives. And the two really interesting things were the mouse and printers. So I got to bring desktop laser printing to the world, which is pretty cool.
Guy Kawasaki:
The way I remembered, we didn't start laser printing till about 1985 or something with Bob Belleville. And so you're telling me there was a laser printer project way back when?
Dave Evans:
Yeah. So we realized we wanted to have graphic printing and we wanted fonts. Fonts didn't exist. I think it was fixed character set on twelve dot matrix printers. And so the first thing I went to work on was trying to get somebody to build us a laser printer, a dot matrix scanning laser, the image writer, to get a low end entry level printer where we could control all the materials so we could just turn it into a slow laser.
They all came with character generators and stuff and we said, "No, no, no strip all that shit out. We just want the print head, the platin and the carriage. Just give me the raw controls, we'll take it from there." That was incredibly hard to get somebody to give us that. There's a long story. C. Itoh got it and Epson blew it, but they did and we made them a ton of money.
And then on the laser side, we started working on the lasers immediately. So I was up with Dan Putman before Adobe existed, roaming around the basement at Xerox PARC looking for stuff we could turn into products. Went to HP Boise's and saw the very first Canon optic rig on a test bed on a bench in eighty-one. So we were working on the laser stuff from the start, but we begged Xerox to go into the business, they didn't get it.
And so that's where Hewlett Packard and the laser writer really came into fruition. It wasn't available on the release of the Lisa, but it was all underway and that's when it got to be such a big deal people go, "Oh, wait a minute. This is going to be huge. In fact, the laser printer is more complex and more expensive than the computer." And we go, "Yeah. Now you're finally getting it."
Because Steve Capps and Owen Densmore who we stole from Xerox, finally got them to understand what's going on. So Bill Atkinson, Steve Caps, and Owen Densmore going, "No, this is the hard part." And I ran off and created those relationships. And then they started the peripherals division. So they took the keyboard company, Mike what's his name, the crazy German guy, and made him a division manager, Vennard, made him a division manager to create the peripherals division and started all that stuff.
If you worked very closely with Vennard at the time, he was very aggressive, very successful and extremely territorial. So he hired a bunch of guys and pretended that he started it from scratch. And when you launch the division, the project manager and the marketing guy that started it got up and the first thing he says is, "I just want to say, by the way, this entire division owes its existence to Dave Evans because everything we're doing, he started it and figured it all out, we're just going to deliver on what Dave started."
And Vennard just about burst into flames. Because under no circumstances is anybody who isn't working for me getting credit for it. And I just said, "Whatever, that's fine, just ship the product."
But it was really flew to character his essay in Switzerland with the guys that did the very, very first designs of Daisy wheel printer element fonts, the guy that developed Palatino because his wife liked it. It was a really interesting time. It was a really interesting time.
Guy Kawasaki:
Oh kidding.
Dave Evans:
So I was there two and a half years and just got to do a whole lot of work really fast and then ran off and did the EA thing. But it was fun, it was fun. As you were there, you started around that time, it was a pretty shaken big time.
Guy Kawasaki:
Yeah, no kidding. In your wildest dreams, did you ever think Apple would be as successful as it has become? Because I'll answer first, I didn't. Obviously I left twice.
Dave Evans:
No. I was there the day we took out the full page ad in the Wall Street Journal, welcoming IBM to the business.
Guy Kawasaki:
Oh God, yes. Yes I remember that.
Dave Evans:
And I thought to myself... Because I've been in other industries before, Apple was not my first place out of school. And I went like, "I get arrogance as a branding technique, but guys, this is a very large, very serious company."
And I knew the story about how they shanked it in the mini business and never again. And I just thought, "Oh, this is not the sleeping giant you want to kick."
And between them and Microsoft, I just thought, "We'll see. At a 3 percent market share, we'll see." But that reinvention of the company coming out of the iPod was just stunningly brilliant. And I got to work with Steve pretty closely and it was a delightful time, we had a lovely time.
Two fun stories there I could tell if you want to go back into the old story thing, but-
Guy Kawasaki:
Oh yeah, absolutely.
Dave Evans:
It was really an interesting time. And before the iPod existed, I wasn't sure they could make it because the people they were fighting were just so strong, whether they deserved to or not. And then the fact that Steve did it, so to speak, depending how you count, three or four times. There are so few visionary leaders that can do it ever and did ever repeat performance.
But to repeat performance three or four times is really stunning. Steve, you worked very closely with him, was not necessarily a fabulous human being every day, but he was an incredible piece of work. I had a great time working with him. My favorite day was the day I totally called him out. I just screamed at him one day.
Guy Kawasaki:
And you live to talk about it.
Dave Evans:
He had one of those days where he has what he called a Birkenstock day. He would just appear. He would come in the t-shirt and the jeans and the Birkenstocks. He's been on the cover of Time for god's sake at this point. And he felt what I was working on was interesting because he understood that the mass in printing was really cool.
And so he just slides into my team meeting and he goes like this. And he goes, "I'm just an engineer team. You just have one more engineer in the team today." I go, "That's great, Steve, thanks." And so the meeting gets completely perturbed and he jumps in and does his thing and that kind of stuff. And then we're leaving, we're walking out and he goes, "Hey, thanks. So how'd that go?" And I go, "Don't you ever effing do that again." And he goes, "What?"
I go look, "I'm sorry to tell you, but you don't get to just be an engineer. You are fucking Steve Jobs and you are all the time. You gave that away. I'm perfectly happy to have you come join my team. I love your ideas, we work together really great, but I'm sorry you don't ever get to not be Steve Jobs again for the rest of your life. That's a loss. I feel for you, brother, I feel your pain, but no it's over. And don't you ever pull that shit in my room again. Call me ahead and we'll bring you in and we'll have a great time, but cut that crap out." And he kind of goes, "I'm sorry." And we get along fine, we get along fine. I had nothing to lose. I mean, I didn't belong there anyway.
Guy Kawasaki:
So tell me, just how-
Dave Evans:
Get in charge of this interview Guy Kawasaki, get in charge here.
Guy Kawasaki:
Just how popular is your Stanford course?
Dave Evans:
We are so grateful to Fast Company for the complete disinformation that we teach the most popular course at Stanford, which was published five years ago. And try as we might, to tell the truth, that falsehood which has done us a great deal of good continues to persist. We, to our knowledge are probably one of, if not the most popular, pure electives at Stanford.
And we run depending on the year, anywhere from 12 percent to 20 percent of the student body takes our course, one in five or six students at Stanford get through the course. Now to our knowledge, somewhere between 15 percent and 30 percent more students actually learn the material than take the course because there are so many what are called ‘ballistic students’ at Stanford who are shot from a gun through and through ready to go, triple majoring in chem engineering and all the rest, haven't got time for two wasted units on learning how to design your life.
So a whole bunch of our students teach the course on the side. There's a gray market of people co-teaching the class in real time, running a little study group of people who are unregistered. And we also believe that there's a cultural effect, which we really saw early on.
I'll stop right there. So the short answer is yeah, a couple thousand kids a year, somewhere in the order, 15 percent, 20 percent of the students learn how to design their lives before they go.
Guy Kawasaki:
And does a dean or the provost or president call you in and give you a bonus at the end of the year for having such a popular course?
Dave Evans:
No. We elect most people in the academy very much suffer the prophet in his own hometown problem. No, we hang on by our finger nails. It's a small team, the Life Design Lab is a team of five people.
We are begging, borrowing, and stealing money to just barely survive. We are an incredibly cost efficient operation. And big bang for the buck, we cost barely a half a mega buck a year to run. And you'd be surprised at the amount of genuflecting involved to get that money.
So we're appreciated. And a lot of people love us, but because we serve lots of things at the same time, we are supported by the vice pros who under graduated, graduated, student affairs, the dean of engineering, the center for teacher and learning. Everybody likes you, nobody loves you. So we have a little bit of the problem of being too broad.
And at Stanford we teach, we're overwhelmingly teachers. And Stanford's an R1 university. And at an R1 university you pay for research and teaching is free, you teach on the side, and we teach on the front. So getting money for teaching itself is surprisingly difficult.
But so far so good, fifteen years in, we're not gone yet.
Guy Kawasaki:
So for the uninitiated, and I may count myself in that group, what exactly is design thinking?
Dave Evans:
That comes up for us a lot because now that we're talking about applying design thinking to designing your life, once upon a time, it was the product design program, the oldest interdisciplinary program at the university, the Integration of Psychology, Art and Engineering located in the design division of the Mechanical Engineering Department of the School of Engineering at the university called Stanford. So we're five levels down.
And the Life Design Lab is just a little goofball project inside that thing so we're like a thing inside of a thing inside of a thing. And design thinking was started in 1963.
David Kelley, who is the third-generation guru of design at Stanford, following on the heels of Bob McKim who really built it who now lives in Santa Cruz. And Bob was the mentor for Kelley and my partner, Bill Burnett, the executive director. Before that was John Arnold, who came to Stanford out of MIT because MIT wouldn't let him do it because they thought it was silly.
And of course, he started the design program in the basement over in the Quad by doing the appropriate Silicon Valley thing. He didn't ask permission, he just printed letterheads. So that's how you get the design program.
So it was the product design program, how to innovate the concept of what a good product would be for a long time. And it was the lunatic fringe for much of that going on a forty-year history or a fifty-five year history now.
And it became cool in the last twelve, fifteen years, inaccurately coincident with how design thinking fueled Silicon Valley becoming visible and popular, and with the creation of the D school, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, which is where when David Kelley started working on that too, he asked Bill Burnett to help him out by becoming the executive director of the design program.
So design thinking has been the renaming of human standard design for about ten, fifteen years.
And now it's being pushed into economic development, and educational systems, and now life design. So as we push that model further and further, more and more people get confused by it.
So not having forgotten your question, what is it? First thing to understand is what it's not. So we talk about engineering thinking where you solve your way forward, solving a tamed problem that's well bounded and you have adequate information to get the right answer, that's engineering, that's great.
I have two engineering degrees, engineering rocks the house, but it doesn't solve all the problems. You got business thinking where you're never done, customer never loves you enough, your profitability is never high enough, your supply chain's never ecological enough. But you can get better. And if you go to the right business school, you can get better quantitatively.
So you optimize your way for it. That's business thinking.
You've got research thinking, which we do a ton of at Stanford, going all the way back to the process development, Aristotle and Plato, downstream of Socrates, dependent, independent hypotheses and variables, a way of coming up with knowledge. If you're good enough at coming up with knowledge rigorously, we'll give you a cool floppy hat and a three striped shirt called a doctorate gown and off you go.
And there's bureaucratic thinking, which is boxes and arrows and a paragraph explaining each one, which is all about you don't have to depend on the people, the process is so reliable, you can actually depend on the process and will be process oriented.
So you got process oriented stuff, you got analytic oriented stuff, you got optimization oriented stuff, you got solution oriented stuff. They're all great ways with thinking and they don't solve wicked problems.
Those things where you don't know what you're looking for until you find it, when you find it, it's not replicable elsewhere because it's totally contact sensitive. That concept was developed by urban planners at Berkeley in the seventies actually, wicked versus tamed problems. And most wicked problems are intensely human problems, like what do you do the rest of your wild and wonderful life?
So in design thinking, we build our way forward. We are building this thing, we have no data on, it's called the future, had never been there before. You sneak up on the future through prototype iteration, you can empirically try small things at the set the bar low and clear it.
So design thinking first and foremost is a way of understanding a problem deeply, then concluding what it is you actually might want to do about that problem, so that's empathy followed by definition.
And then you have a whole bunch of ideas, this whole purpose of which is to come up with things worthy of prototyping, which are not things to prove you're right, they're things to learn what you already know you're wrong about. And you learn iteratively enough to get to a thing that's worthy of shipping and then you call that a product or a life or a commitment or a strategy and off you go, that's the semester in six minutes.
Guy Kawasaki:
So wait, so what is prototyping in this context? How do you prototype a life?
Dave Evans:
That's a really good question. And because you know design thinking, you knew that was the right question to ask.
I'll argue prototyping is the absolute cardiopulmonary system of design thinking. It is really what it's about. The whole thing is just a setup to go do prototypes.
And it's important to distinguish what I call a design prototype from an engineering prototype. When you walk into your prototype, “Hey, maybe this new engine will really work, let's run it at two times normal speed and throw a goose through it before we put it on an airplane full of people.” And that prototype fails and you go, "Oh crap, it failed."
That's the outcome of your prototype test. That was an engineering prototype because they asked the question, does it work, is it ready?
You start that prototype because you think you're done, you think it's going to work. You really want this to be the one, “Let's go test this prototype and make sure it's okay.” That's proving I'm right prototyping. Totally important thing to do.
Design says, I know I don't know what I'm... 130 mice under my desk, we were talking about the old Apple days a minute ago. And you're going to hold this thing in your hand and your hand's going to roll around on the desk and some thing on a goofy, bad looking cartoon's going to bounce around in front of you on the screen and that's going to help you think about what you want to write. Is that going to work? We have no idea that's going to work.
Are people going to get seasick? Maybe get seasick. And is your hand going to cramp? And that turned out to be a problem.
But if we do it a bunch of times to learn what works and what doesn't work and this is why failure immunity. Fail often to succeed sooner. You fail your way into learning your way forward and the stuff you don't know what you're doing, but you have to do the empirical experiential process.
So when you prototype a product, I had a box of 130 mice, you can imagine what that looked like.
And then to prototype a life, again, this is an experiential thing. It's very simple, it's two things, it's a conversation or an experience. So you prototype your way forward by talking to people and a particular kind of talking to people. It's the narrative conversation, it's not the transactional conversation.
That's crucially important. And then you have experiences, a little trial and error. Take a small project, take a lunch and learn, go out and do a shadowing.
And there's good research on this by the way. Buddy, Dan Gilbert at Harvard, not a bad school, we'll talk about the distinction between surrogation and research. Surrogation or analysis as a basis for input to decision making.
Surrogation meaning learning through the stories of others. And it turns out surrogation is a more effective process. So that when we had to come up with the super short version of the entire 270 page book one time going on live TV in Canada, I came up with the, not one sentence, which they asked for, but four really short sentences, only ten words.
So if you want the design your life thing, and “Hey listeners, if your board just writes this down at a Post It note and you just come back to the rest later”, it is get curious, talk to people, try stuff, tell your story. And the two middle ones, talk to people, and try stuff, are life prototypes.
Guy Kawasaki:
That's it?
Dave Evans:
That's it.
Guy Kawasaki:
End of discussion?
Dave Evans:
We're done.
Guy Kawasaki:
I'm surprised it took four things.
Dave Evans:
I'm sorry. It's almost a whole Post It note.
Guy Kawasaki:
So now in this context, what's the purpose of education?
Dave Evans:
Oh, I didn't see that coming. What we are doing, because this could back to when we started, Scotty McLennan, the then chaplain of Stanford comes to me and he goes, "I know what you're doing." I go, "Okay, yeah. We've been..." He goes, "No, I know what you're actually doing." I went, "Shhh." What he meant by that was, we're doing adult formation, we're doing values integration.
He goes, "We don't do that here. Here's what's going to happen. You're going to get found out. Then you're not just going to get fired, you're going to get run out of here on a rail, you're going to get tarred and feathered. I'll give you names and numbers of people to whom we've done this before." I said, "Are you saying don't do it?"
He goes, "No, do it, just go fast because you haven't got long."
Six years later, he comes back and he goes, "Good news, there's been a sea change. You're no longer on the wanted poster, you're on another poster board for doing it right, keep going."
And so what we think education's job is and all it was 200 years ago, everybody understood this, 100 years ago we lost it, that it really is young adult formation, which includes knowledge, learning how to learn and learning a lot of things.
The liberal education and learning how to think and learning what the great ideas have been, that's in great debate right now, of course, in a more inclusive understanding of the world. And that's a totally appropriate conversation we should be having.
But along the way, how do you become your authentic and legitimate self? Or John Hennessy, or the president for most of the time I was at Stanford would say the university's job is to solve the big problems, that's what we're here for.
And then he further said the answers to the big problems in today's world lie between the disciplines. So we've got to overcome this problem of interdisciplinary research, which is another problem which he started to try to work on, which is what the Knight-Hennessy fellows are all about.
But nonetheless, education's job should include not merely giving you a bunch of information to go use, but empowering you to be the kind of person who can discern what life to use that in.
And so I used to have a slide, which when I was doing this with educators, bubble number one is information or education, which is all this data we're going to download into your brain over this four year period.
And then there was going to be career launch or career transaction. We're going to have a career standard and get you a job. So we're going to get you a bunch of information, we're going to help you land a job.
And there's this thing in the middle that was missing, which I call for who and how do I translate that information into the right place to be in the world that matters. That is a complete left to the readers and exercise in the modern university.
So we're doing, if you want to put a short point on it, is we're trying to do educational reform and reinstall legitimate adult formation as part of what the academy can perform by doing it using a human centered methodology that is completely inclusive and regarding of any and all worldviews and values and belief systems.
So a come one come all. And we experience that deeply. But what I keep saying is if you get the human part right, you can't go wrong. So we're just trying to do the human thing. I'm a strongly believing Christian, my partner Bill Burnett is a deeply niche and loving atheist, and we get along great because we do the human thing the same way so come on down.
The mission of the Life Design Lab is to apply the innovation principles of design thinking to the wicked problem of designing your life at and after university to pursue the objective of the formation of empowerment in a conscious competency in life and vocational way finding.
So you get done with us and we'll make you a competent life and vocation way finder.
Guy Kawasaki:
That's all in one course? And all of that and you get two credits?
Dave Evans:
And you get two credits. And on average we'll double your ideation speed for free.
Guy Kawasaki:
Such a deal. That makes tuition worth it right there.
Dave Evans:
It is a deal, yeah.
Guy Kawasaki:
A little bit orthogonal to what we've been talking about, but as the expert in designing one's life.
Dave Evans:
That's a terrifying statement but yeah, go ahead.
Guy Kawasaki:
Do you think that people should pursue passions or interests?
Dave Evans:
Yeah. That comes up a lot. In fact, Bill and I are getting the rep as the anti-passion guys because one of our lead dysfunctional beliefs, we're talking about dysfunctional beliefs, is the question, what's your passion? And we don't like that question. And we'd like passion, fine, we just don't like that question. Because you have to watch out for questions’ belief systems.
All questions have belief systems.
And if you're going to empower a question to either organize or judge your life, and the what's your passion question for most people does both. Okay, “Guy, what's your passion?” “I haven't really found mine yet.” “Oh, that's so sad. What's wrong with you?” Or if you're Guy Kawasaki, I would say, "Oh Guy, what's your passion?" “Oh, I have lots.” “Which one did you hear about first?” Oh, you don't really know what you're doing, do you?
The problem with the passion question is, its belief system includes, everybody has a passion, you'll know it early in life. One of them should be the central organizing principle of your life.
The world will let you do it. In fact, the world will probably let you do it and at least make a living, preferably make a killing if you're in Silicon Valley. And all five of those ideas are dead wrong, none of them is true.
And most people who discover a vocational passion, it's the outcome of the well lived life, not the starting place. 80 percent of people under the age of forty answer the what's your passion question with, “I don't know yet”, or “I've got a bunch, which one did you want to hear about?”
Neither of those eight out of ten totally normal people don't find what’s your passion as a good guidance principle. So we just don't like the idea of the presupposition a priori, passion precedes everything position, but we're pro passion.
If you've got an organizing passion and the world cares about it, “I love blue noots.” Great, knock yourself out. “I'm a killer programmer and I love AI based retail-oriented systems.” Oh, come and have a seat.
So I talk to some students now and then who are really into what the world's currently doing and I say, by the way, you do deserve to be incredibly grateful for how convenient it is to be you right now. There are other people you might be that are less convenient. But that's just the way it is.
So now we're pro passion, but we're not the presupposition of worrying about it. So you start with your interests, but we're the intersection of what's going on in the world that's actually happening and you're interested in and have some skills and prototyping. Let's go prototype those things.
And I like people, I know I'll go get a master's in organizational development and start working in a HR and see if I like that. And four years later and a quarter million dollars down the drain, you're kind of going, "Ah, that wasn't so great." That's a pretty expensive way to try that. So, no, passion's a really good thing, but it's not the starting place for most people.
Guy Kawasaki:
Wait. So what should that person have done instead of getting a quarter million dollar education and starting a career?
Dave Evans:
Say you're an engineer, you're working professionally, you start thinking, "Man, people think is really working for me and I'm tired of this code stuff and maybe I should jump." First of all, then go have a whole bunch of what we call the life design interviews, or we used to call informational interviews, go ask people, go find people doing the kind of work you think is interesting and say, "Hey, I've done the research and it turns out you're the most interesting person in the world."
Actually in your case, that's true because that's the brand you've actually developed. And I've actually been working really hard on that. It's so cool to be you. “Hi, I'm Guy Kawasaki.” “What do you do?” “Oh, I play Guy Kawasaki.”
Guy Kawasaki:
That's my passion.
Dave Evans:
My passion's being Guy Kawasaki, being that guy. There's the guy you actually are and then there's the Guy Kawasaki thing, brand.
I don't mean to be rude, but I thought that was incredibly cool. It's paid well, it's worked out. You can take it just fine. But anyways, so not everybody can play that game. But I want to do the human thing. So go talk to people who do that work, get their story. And it turns out literally hearing another human being creates... The separate self is a complete lie as Dan Siegel at UCLA will remind us of all.
When you're picking up somebody else's story, you're actually having an experience. It's not just information. This isn't the research called “What do you get paid, what do we need to study?” No, no, no.
Tell me about being you. How did you get there? What was it like? What's a good day for you? And that's the walking a mile in their shoes thing.
You did that twenty, thirty, forty, fifty times, which is perfect and then along the way you're telling the story of what you're learning.
And those people who invite you, "Hey, would you like to sit in on a meeting with me? Hey, we're doing this seminar, why don't you come and maintain the coffee bar and you can learn with the people learning in the back of the room and hang out during the break and see what people are doing?"
You start getting the hands-on experiences and you do small bits and then you go to your boss and kind of go, "By the way I noticed that all the engineers in our team are bored and they suck at leading team meetings.
And because they are lousy at the human being thing, what if I did some research on how to lead a meeting and talk to human beings a little better and I did a couple of lunch and learns, would that be okay?"
And by the way, most bosses do not mind more value for free, more for free, which is a pretty easy sell. And then you go to other people in the company who are doing the kind of work you want.
And by the way, no manager on the planet has ever gotten all the money that he or she asked for in the annual budgeting cycle. So you ask any manager, for-profit, nonprofit, governmental, whatever, and go, "Hey Susan, but what'd you put in for your budget?"
I put in my budget for 3.2 million. And what'd you get? I got 2.7 million. So you got a half million dollar short. So if I gave you $50,000 of that $500 you didn't get, would you do with it? Yes, I know what to do with it. So there's not a manager in the world that doesn't know what they would do with a hundred thousand dollar check that just tripped over on the sidewalk.
And you can offer that to them called guess what? Thirty grand of free consulting is looking right at you, what do you want to do? Let's go. And you give yourself a night job doing real work. And often those, they feel so guilty after you do a good job they hire you anyway. That actually does... It is a bit of a trick, but it actually has worked for quite a few of our clients.
Guy Kawasaki:
So a lot of this, we're skirting around this issue that many young people are probably thinking, which is then, how do I look for my first job?
Dave Evans:
Guy Kawasaki:
Take the passion thing out of it because I'm not going to be passionate about my first job if you think about it.
Dave Evans:
Right. May not be, yeah.
Guy Kawasaki:
So what am I looking for?
Dave Evans:
In fact, in the first book, there's a whole chapter of how not to find a job, which debriefs the way people do it most of the time, it's pretty effective. The most effective way on average, particularly in the for-profit sector, about 80 percent of the jobs are not listed.
So when you have applied to everything, you just hit one in five. Great, how do I get my hands on those opportunities that aren't even public, aren't even listed somewhere? And now a lot of the listings are bogus anyway, they're just resume collectors for AI engines to pile up resource bases.
Now I'm not saying people don't get hired through and Indeed, I'm not saying that the published jobs aren't available, those do happen. Only problem is that there's a less than 3 percent hit rate, particularly the popular jobs that what I call, there's the popular company problem.
And FAANG, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google can get anybody they want so their hiring criteria are understandably draconian. They don't care about anything but not getting a false positive and so they can throw lots of good people out the window.
So what do you do? What you have to do is you have to crack the network.
Most hiring is done person to person. And the way to crack into the network is to be in the community. The way to be in the community is be in the conversation. The way to be the conversation is to get somebody to talk you. The way get somebody to talk to you is to ask them a question to which the answer is very likely going to be yes.
And when you say, "Hi Guy, are you hiring?" The answer is, “No.” Or “Do you have any openings?” “No.” Or, “Well, there might be some here, but I'm not in charge, no.” Or “Yes. It's now one of those 10 percent situations where actually there is an opening and I am in charge of it and I am looking.” “Oh, great. Can we talk?” “Well, sure. Now, who am I talking to?” I'm talking to you Guy.
That's immediately judging. Because constantly Guy's going red light, green light, red light, green and I'm looking for deal killers as fast as I can because the kindest thing I can do is get rid of you when I find out you don't really apply.
Guy Kawasaki:
Sounds like Tinder.
Dave Evans:
Yeah. You said that, I didn't.
So it turns out the best way to get a job is not ask for the job, but ask for the story. And so when you go out and just ask for the story, again, I've done the research, he's a really interesting person, I'm really fascinated by the field, I've done the work.
When I look between the lines the question that arises for me that might be keeping you awake at night, “Is the following, is that of interest? If so, is there twenty minutes either over Zoom or in person, depending on where you live and how nervous you are when I could buy a cup of coffee at the place and time of your choice and just hear your story?”
And our estimate is seven out of ten times you actually get a yes to that first and foremost, because you are asking a question to which the person you are speaking has the capacity to say yes, which is yes, I have a story and yes, I'm in charge of whether or not I tell it to you.
And most people's favorite thing is themselves and what they do.
So that's not that hard a thing to get as it turns out, even with cold calls on LinkedIn, which is a social contract that says I'm available to the world. So do your homework and the critical thing to bring to that conversation is a legitimate and sincere curiosity. I'm really interested in you. I'm not pretending to be so that somewhere during the call, you go, "Hey, how about you come work for us?"
If that's what you're doing, don't go because they'll suss you out as a fake in no time. So if you're genuinely curious, just go get the story, keep asking the conversation. And at the end of every conversation say, "By the way, this was great. Can you introduce me to two or three more people I should hear that story from as well?" And keep it going and keep it going. And typically, more than half the time, it's a volume game, you got to do this with dozens of people.
And let's say you're coming to school, and I've got three interests like, maybe this would work, maybe that'd be interesting, then you're going to run those conversational projects down all three of those pathways. So if you're going to have thirty-five conversations each, that's a hundred conversations. I've often encouraged students during the summer, "Hey, I need to go get the killer internship."
You get the killer internship, you've got a fifty-fifty chance of having a good boss.
And if you got the bad boss, it's brain deadly numbing, you're just cheap labor and you can't see anything. They keep you in a soundproof opaque box doing boring stuff. That's great. For ten weeks, you've got exactly three summers between a four year typical undergraduate residency.
And even it goes great, you have exactly one great, big, fat data point from your entire 10 week experience.
Sometimes you go, "Hey, what?" Go work the swing shift at Starbucks for beans and weenies money and for tuition and then spend the other sixty hours a week talking to people on four different tracks. Come back from the summer with 150 conversations, twelve insights and fourteen relationships and six networks under your belt. Now I got something to work with.
That's not a universal truth, but people who've done that have come away pretty happy with the outcome.
Guy Kawasaki:
I get that part about this technique of foot in the door. But underlying that question is, “What am I looking for?”
Dave Evans:
Oh, round one, you have no idea what you're looking for because you don't know anything. One example I would give is I go look, so when you're doing these conversations, the essence of curiosity is the pursuit of latent wonderfulness.
You start with the a priori presupposition that everything in the world is fascinating if I just understood from the point of view of the people who think it's cool. And there are plenty of people who think that thing is cool.
What do they know that I don't know? I'm selling this idea to a bunch of grads, I'm teaching a grad summer intensive program. The homework was to go to a career fair and meet a whole bunch spiel, including “I want you to talk to three companies that you're sure you have no interest in and then go visit at least one of them afterward to prove to yourself you don't know.”
And one of the young men who's a PhD in geo science or something like that, math, he was in math, raises his hand and goes, "Look, you're wasting my time." I kind of go, "No, I'm not wasting your time, you got to spend a little money to make a little money. Some of these might be boring, but trust me, there's a lot more interesting out there than you realize." And he goes, "Wait, no, there's some things I know that I know. For instance, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, there's no way in the world I'm interested in the CIA for God's sake."
And I said, "Oh, it just so happens that the CIA is visiting the campus next week. They're not at this career fair, but guess what? You specifically, young man, Bill, you are assigned to go talk to the CIA next week and then come back and give us a report." And he kind of goes, "No." And I kind of go, "I'm flunking you because you can't do that." I go, "Watch me." It says pass, we all know credit scores, who cares? He's a PhD, he doesn't need the units.
So sure enough, he is pissed at me, "You're a wasting my time." A week goes by, he comes back in and he walks into the classroom, there were fifty kids and he's glaring at me as soon as he crosses the threshold of the door, he's glaring. Oh, this is not going to go well, this is not going to go well.
So we sit down, I'm like," Let's get this over with. Bill, did you go see the CIA?" He goes, "Yes I did." I go, "Tell us the story." He goes, "I'm really mad at you." I said, "I picked that up." He says, "Because I've really got a problem now." What's your problem? He goes, "It was really interesting. I really liked it and I'm really upset because they kill people and that upsets me. I don't know what to do with this. Can you help?"
He's a classic example. He had a very clear, completely inaccurate picture what the CIA was and did. And you're twenty-two, you're twenty-five, you've done one or two, you don't know... I'm not saying anything wrong with you. We tell our students you're not broken, you're twenty-two, there's nothing wrong with you, you're twenty-two.
You're good at the school thing. Guess what? Very few people live at school for the rest of their lives.
I said, "How many of you think it would be really fun to go work for a big insurance company?" They're all going to go, crickets, right? Dead sound.
I go, "How many of you would like to work on an innovation team exploring how technology could actually support the wellness movement, particularly with at-home caregivers who are solving one of the greatest problems in healthcare to reduce the amount of time people spend in hospitals before they die, techno wellness, who thinks that's cool?"
Now half the room's going to go, "Great." And “I got a project leader who's doing that project for AIG Insurance, who wants to him?” “Oh, do they do that kind of stuff?” “Yeah. You don't know anything, nothing personal, but give yourself a chance.”
So, “I'm interested in this problem, I'm interested in climate change.” Well, go read broadly, find seven different things that are going on, try to get your hands on somebody doing that work and go find out what they're doing.
Gee. Oh the department of energy is involved, I don't want to do that. Other than the acronym, do you know anything about the department of energy? You go talk to six people who worked there and find out what happened.
The first thing for the new person entering the workforce for the first time is go give yourself the equivalent of back-to-school night. Go find out what's going on out there. So round one is, of my interests, what's actually happening in the world around that interest?
And when I find out the entities, the institutional forms that are working on it, what are they doing and what are they like? And then we start thinking, oh, maybe this is the category of the domain or the human endeavor currently happening that I might want to go penetrate and get an opportunity in.
So for those people, this whole thing is like a three round project. And by the way, once you get your head wrapped on doing it, it's not this huge task, “oh my God, there's so much you have to do.” It's like, “This is so interesting, this is actually like being alive on purpose.”
Guy Kawasaki:
Maybe one day the NRA will be interviewing at Stanford and you can assign students to go see.
Dave Evans:
Yeah, see if I can sell that one. I'm not sure that that could be... I'm not sure that's a bar I want to clear.
Guy Kawasaki:
Now how about we apply some of these theories to people who are in a job?
Dave Evans:
Guy Kawasaki:
How do you know when to leave? Is it more likely you stay too long or leave too early?
Dave Evans:
Well, that's a huge question right now, the big quit, right? So year and a half ago, February twenty-fifth, 2020, we released a book called Designing Your Work Life specifically answering the question, “Hey, you may not want to completely reinvent yourself, but you want life to be a little bit better.” And if I had to pick someplace to make it better, maybe work where I spend most of my energy and time, is a place I can make it a little bit better.
And so we write this book, ten days later at shelter in place, the book made all the Top Ten Best Business Books of The Year. We got critical acclaim. We got crushed in sales because everybody's a little fearful of this thing called dying and I'm just hanging on for dear life.
So the book got crushed and then the CEO of Penguin Random House came to us last fall and said, "We really think it's a good book. And the work thing is really changing, why don't you guys update the book, come up with a bunch of brilliant ideas about a post pandemic reality and we'll start all over again?"
So three weeks ago, we released Designing Your New Work Life, which has four new chapters on disruption design, including work design in a post disruption world of which the pandemic is just a really, really big example. There's also climate change, and Me Too, and Black Lives Matter.
So you can have a regional disruption or a personal disruption. And we define a disruption as any change that's so big after which you say, "Man, things will never be the same again." And you and I are both Northern Californians.
And last time when we were working on that, I'm less than a mile from a fire evacuation line, we all darn near burned down so that's a regional disruption. And during that year, sadly, my wife died, Bill's mother and mother-in-law both died, all the women died on us in the same year, and that's a pretty severe personal disruption. So stuff happens and you got to handle that.
And now the big quit is going up. And I've just drafted an op-ed on reframing the big quit, why HBR and Gallup got it wrong.
And so if I'm in a job and I'm one of the 65 percent of American workers who are disengaged, 85 percent of the global workers who were disengaged, which have been going on for twenty-five years, what do I do? We will say first don't redesign. You can redesign in place.
The best person to give you a new job is yourself. I sound like I'm selling because I am, we just published this thing.
So there's four redesign strategies, reframe and reenlist, remodel, relocate, and reinvent with escalating levels of challenging difficulty, all of which could work right where you are.
And we're pretty sure that even if you want to quit, you should probably try to do an internal redesign first because the worst thing that happens is it totally organizes your act and gets you ready to start looking outside.
And the first two things that people can do, and we would argue that during times of stress like a pandemic, one thing you wanted to do to hang on to your humanity is design for yourself experiences where you are reminded of the legitimacy of your agency as a human being. You don't have no power.
This goes back to Viktor Frankl in Man's Search for Meaning but we'll come back to that if you want.
So we would say that the re-enlist and the remodel strategies of job design are immediately available all the time and I'm actually currently advocating relentless remodeling. And so a reframe and a redesign is just to change the narrative.
The company's pivoted a little bit and “I need to zero base my own job, I need to quit my job, redefine my relationship with it, rewrite my own personal manifesto and come to work to do the same thing for a totally different set of reasons.”
And that's not just making lemonade out of lemons, it really is an incredibly powerful thing. So the internal narrative is huge and most people deserve an update. So that's the thing one you can do and you do that instantly. And it matters.
Now thing two, remodeling, small changes with big reward. You can get huge psychic dividends from very small changes. The thing we talked about earlier, like the programmer, what if I did some lunch and learns on running effective meetings and I felt like I was making a contribution to the people, not just to the code?
And I do that for forty-five minutes a week, I do one lunch and learn a week. But I feel all these other cells in my body activating, there's a whole other part of me that I'm learning.
I'm getting accreditive feedback from people. And the difference between some and none of a certain kind of experience is huge. And that may be enough to bridge you across and tell that we get acquired by Google and it all changes or whatever.
Now we're not saying stay forever. If you're a twenty something listening to this, you're probably going to live to 100, you're going to work to seventy-five or eighty, you're going to have between thirty and forty jobs and three to five careers so you're going to quit at some point, which is why there's a whole chapter on generative quitting, how to quit. Most people quit really badly. So if you're going to quit, I'll just leave it there.
Guy Kawasaki:
If you're going to say that, at least give us the sixty-second.
Dave Evans:
The key thing is number one, clean up your messes. So you don't leave a pile of crap for somebody to come behind.
Document your job. Literally write the manual on how to do your job, set up your replacement to win and leave them wanting more. So you walk out the door with a clean story. And it boils down to not that it’s hard to quit well, but very few people do it.
Most people do the generic quit, which is a four line, “This is my notice that I will be leaving Acme boot wear effective in two weeks. Thank you for the chance to have been a member of the team. Love, Bob.” You're like, "Fuck you. I got to go."
And somebody will do the flame mail, which is incredibly destructive as opposed to really launch this thing well.
And so leave this thing behind, these people are still in your network. So a generative quit is one that recognizes you are in charge, you're not just escaping. If you're going to stay in the same industry quitting is like divorce. Yeah, you may not be there anymore, but if you had kids, these people are part of your life forever. If you're in the same industry, they're part of your life forever.
So there's no reason to make it worse than it has to be.
So few people do this. You literally say, "Oh, by the way, here's a manual on how to do my job." Here are all the key projects in their current state of affairs, here are the key risks and next deliverables that are required. Here are the key people to help you on the critical issues and all the ones that are hard to find. And here's my number if something comes up."
They are gobsmacked when you do that. And it takes you about four hours.
Guy Kawasaki:
I would make the case that if I were the hiring person for the next job, if a candidate presented me and said, "This is what I did when I left my other job," that would be a really powerful thing to encourage me to hire you.
Dave Evans:
I haven’t even thought about how that looks on the other side. It's really true.
The reason we wrote that chapter was actually after I left EA early on because I wanted to do the startup and we got started and I thought, "Well, maybe I need a way to have more time for my kids," because they were small, “I'll just submit to being a large corporate guy for a while.”
So I actually went to what became a wholly own subsidiary of IBM and I couldn't stand it for a year and a half and then less but mid the big corporation. And I quit this way. I did this kind of quitting because I've been quitting a lot and I was getting pretty good at quitting. And my boss goes, "Wow, that was the best quit I have ever seen. You should totally write a book about quitting."
And I remember thinking about that like, "I don't think I've ever seen a book about quitting and everybody does it." It's not a book, it's just one chapter.
So Dan Hendrickson, if you're listening, thank you buddy for the counsel, write a book about quitting, I finally got around to it.
Guy Kawasaki:
That's great.
So you brought it up just now, maybe you didn't intend to. But how do you counsel students at Stanford to figure having kids in this designed life?
Dave Evans:
Oh boy. Well, and the book did well, and the first week has done very well. And so the publisher comes to us and says, "It's not a book, it's a movement and we need to keep the movement going. You spell sequel." And we go, "Sure." And they say, "Send us a list of next books you could write."
So we come up with a list of books and I was quite sure that they would pick the book, Designing Our Lives, because the fundamental problem with the first book Designing Your Life is the why, the problem is the why.
Almost nobody is in the thing alone.
I actually have a slide where I have a cover of the book and a big red X on the Y, so it's Designing Our Life. And frankly, there's nothing in the book about us, about how we're doing this together, almost nothing.
So it's a great flaw. And they turned that book down for the workbook and they had a whole rationale for that. So we didn't get to write it.
But I've got five adult children, they're all partnered. Four have kids, I've got nine grandchildren. I've got nineteen young people I'm watching very carefully. And they're all going through exactly this thing.
I got grandkids from one year old to nine years old, all within forty-five minutes because I'm way old. And the reality is it's incredibly tough.
I think you have to design our life together and you have to recognize if you're going to build a family, we're going to be a unit here.
And what do we mean by this? And how are we going to live? And who's going to pay the bill.
I'm David the fourth, David the fifth has had David the sixth. And Kim, my daughter-in-law, one of my many daughter-in-laws is a very seriously busy practicing breast oncologist at Stanford Medical Center and Dave's a senior product designer. He was in one of my first graduate classes, which kind of annoyed him but that's another story. And he's been a designer, he was at Apple years ago and has designed for lots of the firms in the Valley, and he's still working full-time for start up, mostly the swing shift, he's Mr. Mom.
But they've worked really hard at figuring out a lifestyle that actually works and raises kids well by themselves, not by rental people this entire time.
And then other people could do the rent thing, other people stop out.
My middle son and his wife who have three kids decided to homeschool during the COVID year because they just were convinced watching TV all day was not going to work for their kids. Freaking huge decision. So Chrisy has to quit her job, be a mom and they certify the Evans Academy Home School system and work their butts off for a year to make this thing happen.
And now they're back in school and just really happy to not be running school anymore, but nonetheless, it was the right call.
So I do think, shall we have kids or not? If so, how many, when, and how is a very serious conversation to have.
Some of our ideas, you can do Odyssey planning, our core exercise, invent three completely different versions of the next five years of your life and then start prototyping elements that you find interesting to allow yourself to have enough information to discern a good decision.
And you could absolutely Odyssey plan, ideate, alternative lifestyles that relates to, what would it be like to be a with child family? What would it like to be a childless couple if you're a couple? What would it be like to have a whole bunch of kids? And then you lay those out. We're going to simplify and we're going to be one income family and one of us is going to stay home and we'll trade off every other year.
Now, go find people living like that and see how that works, live into it, do prototype it. These are serious decisions and people just sometimes jump into it having thought about it on the couch for an hour or two.
Look there's three, four, five people's life in that boat you're rolling. Do some soundings before you start picking a path.
Guy Kawasaki:
Two more questions.
Dave Evans:
Guy Kawasaki:
Second to the last question is generally the role of money, especially the theory that after you make eighty grand a year, money doesn't matter that much. I don't know who came up with that, but-
Dave Evans:
There's a fair bit of research on it, yeah.
Guy Kawasaki:
So how does money play into this plan?
Dave Evans:
Dan Pink in his book on motivation called, Drive, talks about this stuff. It turns out once you make enough money that you take the issue of money off the table, then what do people want?
They want the way he's describes mastery, autonomy, and purpose. He's actually referring to research that calls it autonomy, relatedness, connectedness, and competency.
But nonetheless, people are looking for that meaning making stuff.
So the thing about money and we need to be honest about this here first of all. And we're sitting here, you and I are both Silicon Valley executives who've done well and spent a lot of time talking to those people. And one of my son-in-laws is a team lead at Netflix on internal tool development and they're all just working their fannies off having great all the time, because COVID drove huge utilization up.
Another one of my daughter-in-laws was in front office management in the hotel industry and that whole sector just face planted. Now she's got to completely reinvent herself from scratch.
So where you are in this world matters tremendously. Some people are really suffering and some people are thriving and there's a bunch in between. But money wise, getting over the first couple of bumps on Maslow's Hierarchy, and feeling safe, and not scared. So if you're safe and not scared, then frankly, the purpose of money is just to allow you to live in a way that you've figured out is what we call, coherent.
The thing we encourage people to pursue is the coherent life where, who I am, what I'm doing and what I believe in are in alignment that frees you to experience meaning making, if that's important to you.
And if you can't align those things, then your chance of meaning making goes pretty far down. We tend to think that the money thing just enables coherency.
Now beyond on that, if you want to be fabulously rich, or drive a lot of Ferraris or what have you, that's another story, but we don't spend much time on that because that's up to you.
Guy Kawasaki:
And my last question. Retirement, when, what to do, what's the last chapter?
Dave Evans:
That's the third book they really want, is the boomer book. I'm down to a 10 percent appointment of Stanford. I don't teach undergrads anymore. My only full-time teaching gig at Stanford is the DCI, the Distinguished Career Institute. Yeah, very distinguished.
Guy Kawasaki:
The thing you pay is sixty grand for the summer?
Dave Evans:
It's now seventy-two grand, that is, for a year.
So if you are one of the incredibly fortunate people to be among the one in ten who applied at the Distinguished Career Institute to be identified as sufficiently distinguished in your career, to come to the institute and become a fellow, then you can write a check to Stanford for seventy-two grand, not including travel and housing and books and all that for which you are allowed to take classes, wander around the campus, think about your life, and talk to Dave.
So the Life Design is one of the backbone structures of the Distinguished Career Institute year long program. And it's forty-five to eight-five-year-old people.
It's a gap year for grown ups and it's a really cool program, people love it, I'm working with them right now. Typically, the cohorts are thirty-five to forty odd people with a spike around the late fifties to late sixties, that kind of classic retirement figure.
So I'm in this conversation a lot. And first of all, my personal position, I'm a spiritual person, and I don't think God invited us to quit the team. I don't think there's any quitting team human.
You're supposed to be involved in the team and participating in the human adventure for your life until you can't. Now I do think you can go off quota.
So a couple years ago I went off quota. There's no number I have to hit, but I have to keep playing. So thing one is that.
And for a lot people to ask about what's the encore career, what's the next thing I do, and there's some of that language I like and some of that language, it's a little too narrow. But nonetheless, for retirement people, if I reframe the question and hey, we're designers, we always reframe the question, it's really just, what are you going to do next?
And first of all, there's the money question, do I need more money or not? And if I don't, then I can go off quota. But that's not retiring. Now it's just a reframe.
And so the classical three choices are.. just keep doing what I'm doing, do it again. I'm sixty-eight and I see guys sixty-five-year-old, "Hey, I'm floating a plan. I'm running up and down Sand Hill Boulevard again for the thirty-seventh time." And I'm thinking either you don't have a better idea, or you just really like doing this.
I don't want to do that again. And that if you really like doing it, want to do it again, that's fine. I mean, the first time I took my daughter Lisa to Disneyland at the age of five, she thought a great way to spend nine hours was to ride Dumbo forty-seven times in a row. And if you want to ride Dumbo again at the age of sixty-seven, go ahead, that's thing one.
Thing two is, for most people, the framing comes up a lot for me is “If I'm going to do a different kind of a thing next, am I going to relocate largely the same person in a different venue, domain and context?”
And my dear departed wife, Claudia, who was, you could argue at one point one of ten most powerful female executives in enterprise technology, first girl that IBM ever let sell their mainframe computer, shifted from enterprise sales and her last quota was 350 million and she hit a million bucks a day every day.
And then she shifted over to homelessness. She was the queen of homelessness in Santa Cruz for twelve years, the chair of the board of the Homeless Service Center. And she took that same person that she was and massively relocated, which was a really different thing. Homelessness in the public sector is a lot different than enterprise technology. But it was largely the same kind of an exec. So Claudia relocated, right?
Or you go pick up another one of your persona because all of us contain more aliveness than when lifetime permits us to live, there's a bunch of you in there that you want to let another one out.
So my partner Bill is finally letting the fine artist out. He's built a studio. He finally, fifteen years into his ten year commitment to Stanford, got to halftime, he's halftime starting this school year. And he's going to do it teaching full time two quarters and zero time two quarters.
Now the zero time two quarters, he's a fine artist in the studio. That's a different guy than the design consulting firm guy, design program leader guy.
So do you want to go pick up another one of your persona or do you want to relocate yourself or do you want to just keep going now? Now, there's other choices too, but those are the three big dog choices.
Guy Kawasaki:
And those are admirable choices, but some people just park their brain, right?
Dave Evans:
I can't help you with that. That's not living the well lived joyful life.
If you want to just go straight to leisure, good chance you're going to die young. Dick Bolles who wrote What Color Is Your Parachute?
Guy Kawasaki:
For forty years.
Dave Evans:
Yeah, fabulous book. We lost Dick about two, three years ago.
Frankly, one of our aspirations was to be, What Color is Your Parachute of the future, which we seem to be becoming so I'm really honored by that, Dick did really good work.
But for him, like everybody, your second books seldom do well. And one of his second books was The Three Boxes of Life. And the three boxes of life are; labor, leisure, and learning.
And his argument, and he was an ordained Episcopalian priest which so many people know, was that the human person is meant to work, play, and learn, and that a healthy person has got some action in all three of those boxes life long.
And unfortunately, modern life screwed it up. And so learn for twenty-five years, labor for forty years, play till you die.
That was the classic format. And he said it's incredibly inhuman. It's going to kill you so cut it out.
So you got to work really hard to get all three going and modern life still is, there's the school thing, and there's the career thing. So this leaning toward one of the boxes in different seasons of life, but the smart play is to have as much of all three all the time as you possibly can.
So I would strongly encourage people who are about to leave their primary traditional career, put it that way, AKA retire, not to just go play.
But if you're going to play in a really thoughtful way, I know a guy who is a founder of a very successful insurance company, did a really cool thing, quite humanely saved a bunch of lives, lovely guy, and did a traditional working his butt off on Friday, don't go in on Monday, the cliff retirement.
He didn't wind down, he jumped out the window, which is increasingly rare. And started walking around town ten, fifteen miles a day listening to books on tape.
First three years of his retirement, listening to books on tape. I go, "Hey, how's it going?" He goes, "It's great. It's going great. I'm learning a lot." And now he's applying and he's thinking, he's not just entertaining himself to death.
But there are very different ways people handle that thing.
But the happiest ones are the ones who are still engaged, you still have to have an engagement. And you can make a project out of figuring out what it is you want to be engaged in.
That woman Claudia that I tend to advocate a lot, took her two, three years of experimentation to figure out what a subsequent passion could be that I could invest my life in. And she made the searching process productive. Now, “Oh God, if I got to figure this out, I'm late.” No, no, no. “Oh, I noticed that I had a career and I raised my kids. I was a two trick pony, we're done.”
And then she's done making money selling enterprise technology and now what? “I have no idea. I have no idea what to do with myself.” So we came up with a way for her to explore that. “Well, I think women matter, I'm a woman, I was a feminist.” “Well, where might that be interesting.” “Oh, I'll go sign up with a California Women's Foundation which is a foundation to foundations, they give money to people who give money to people who help women.”
That's a place I can look broadly across who's helping women's lives get better. Hangs out with them, of course becomes the president of that in no time.
But nonetheless, hangs out there for three years or something. And it was while scanning from that high perch that she said, "Oh, there's homeless." And frankly, she got seriously recruited by a guy and fell into what then became literally a second career and really enlivened the last fifteen years of her life.
Guy Kawasaki:
That's an extremely remarkable interview. There's so many valuable points in this interview.
Dave Evans:
Well, it's a bucket list. I've been waiting to give Guy Kawasaki the reason to say the word remarkable for a long time.
Guy Kawasaki:
You've fulfilled my wildest dreams.
Dave Evans:
Oh, you need to dream bigger son.
Guy Kawasaki:
So there you have it, the gospel according to Dave Evans, the fire hose.
My favorite three topics, how to get hired by asking for ‘the story’, what to do before you quit, reinvent, that is trying to redo, reinvent, rethink the position you're currently in, and finally, if you are going to quit, how to quit with class, leaving a good impression even as you leave the company.
I'm Guy Kawasaki, this is Remarkable People.
My thanks to Peg Fitzpatrick, and Jeff Sieh, and Shannon Hernandez, plus Alexis Nishimura, Luis Magana, and last but never least, the drop in queen of Santa Cruz, Madisun Nuismer.
Until next time, mahalo and aloha.