David Kadavy Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
To subscribe to the podcast, please use the links below:
Introducing David Kadavy
David Kadavy is today’s guest on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview.
He is a man who looks like he is having a great time earning an income, building a business and helping start-ups across the globe to become successful.
And he seems to be playing to his authentic self.
Which really is when things start coming together at a rate of knots too.
As he says on his blog” I am the author of the #18 Amazon best-selling book, Design for Hackers: Reverse-Engineering Beauty.
And prior to writing Design for Hackers, I founded the Design departments at two Silicon Valley startups.
I also freelanced for clients such as oDesk, PBworks, and UserVoice.
I also launched numerous other projects on my own, none of which failed hard enough to be worthy of mention in this bio.”
How The Dots Joined Up For David
But although this is an amusingly self-depreciating summary of his adult working-life.
He has found the success that so many people are searching for travelling the world, speaking about design and entrepreneurship, and mentoring startups, including those at 500 Startups.
And if that doesn’t sound good enough he also has the ability to choose to pop down to South America for a couple of months, when it gets too cold in his home in Chicago.
Which sounds great if you can do it.
So how has he managed to find the fun in a life which for so many is just hard slog?
And what it is about startups that excites him so much?
Well let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots, the one and only David Kadavy.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with David Kadavy such as:
Why he tried his hardest to keep away from the corporate masses, and lived a life on the edge of what was expected everyday.
How he found it difficult to embrace his authentic self due to the environment that he found himself in living in Nebraska.
When he had a job he always tried to think “I am getting paid to learn here” especially when it was a job that he didn’t like or truly care for.
How he once got fired from a job, and even to this day has no real idea what happened to make him leave….but he was so glad that he did.
How he believes that we should all attempt to find the times in our lives when “Flow” occurred the most and develop those things into our adult working life.
How To Connect With David Kadavy
Products By David Kadavy
If you enjoyed this episode of David Kadavy then why not listen to some of our favourite podcast episodes such as Jane Barrett, Karl Vadaszffy, Sean Swarner or the amazing Tom Ziglar
Or if you prefer just pop over to our podcast archive for thousands of amazing episodes to choose from.
Audio Transcription of David Kadavy Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling join up dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK David Ralph
David Ralph [0:26]
Yes, hello, everybody, hello world, wherever you’re listening, whatever you’re doing, whoever you’re doing whatever is happening in your life. Thank you for coming to join up dots This is Episode 229. And it’s one of those special ones when you’ve got to David shares to Davids clash doesn’t happen very often. But the guest today is, is probably better looking than me is Dean. And he’s younger as well. But other than that, he is a man I’ve been wanting to have on the show for a long time, because he he looks like he’s having a great time earning an income building a business and helping startup across the globe to become successful. And he really seems to be playing to his authentic self, which he really is when things start coming together a rate of not to. As he says on his blog, I am the author of the number 18 Amazon best selling book design of a hackers reverse engineering beauty. And prior to writing design for hackers, I founded the design departments at to Silicon Valley startups and freelance for clients such as Oh desk, PB works and user boys. I also launched numerous other projects on my own, none of which failed hard enough to be worthy of a mention. But although and I’m using the self depreciating summary of he’s had a working life, he has found the success that so many people are searching for traveling the world speaking about design and entrepreneurship, and mentoring startups, including a Bose at 500 startups. And if that doesn’t sound good enough, he also has the ability to choose to pop down to South America for a couple of months when it gets too cold in his home in Chicago, which sounds great if you can do it. So how has he managed to find that finding a life which was so many is just hard slog. And what is it about startups that excites him so much? Well, let’s find out as we bring on to the show to start join up dots the one and only David Kennedy. How are you, sir?
David Kadavy [2:14]
I’m doing great. Thank you so much for that great introduction, David when I’ll be honest, you wrote most of it yourself, didn’t you? Yes, true.
David Ralph [2:22]
I took it straight from your about page. There was no effort there. But I
David Kadavy [2:26]
did. I thought it sounded familiar.
David Ralph [2:28]
It was totally familiar. It was totally familiar. I must admit I am when I went over to your your about page and did my virtual stalking as I did. That is very self depreciating. And I laughed more on that page when any other I’ve actually sort of looked at the fact that you quote the number 18 Amazon best selling book? Is that a kind of? Is that your character? Do you like to gently poke fun at yourself?
David Kadavy [2:56]
Well, I I actually, I think that I don’t I don’t know, I think that I actually have a pretty healthy ego. So I try not to be too self deprecating, but I guess I maybe I am.
David Ralph [3:10]
Well, maybe you are to the UK, United Kingdom feathers and ladies. Yeah, maybe there’s a sort of translation across the pond. But now I found I found a lot of it amusing. And I tell you what I found most amusing and you’re the first person I’ve ever found. This is on Twitter. And everybody go over to Twitter, there’s going to be a link at the bottom of the page to David’s page. But if you actually click on his Twitter picture, which I don’t know why I even did bezza little speech bubble that says Haha, thank you for taking a closer look. Now, I’ve never seen anyone do that as well. So were you sitting there one afternoon and thought this would be funny if somebody clicks on my picture, this little speech bubble?
David Kadavy [3:51]
Exactly. Yeah, it’s funny, because I know that probably you’re probably not the only person to have ever clicked through on my avatar and noticed that there’s that little message there. But you’re you’re one of the only people who’s ever admitted it.
David Ralph [4:11]
But he isn’t he I loved it. I thought this this is a funny guy. I’m gonna look forward to having him on my show.
David Kadavy [4:17]
It’s funny, nobody, no, almost nobody ever says like, Hey, I was I was checking out your Twitter page. And I wanted to look closer at your picture. So I clicked on it. And I saw this message. Nobody ever admits that. But I thought it would be a fun, I like to think about these things when when people interact with, with with anything, where you’re, you’re, you’re presenting yourself online in some way. And there’s I like having little easter eggs like that sometimes is like the
David Ralph [4:43]
hidden message at the end of records, isn’t it when you you get to the end of an album, whatever. And then there’s a gap and you fall asleep on the sofa. And then suddenly you realize 20 minutes later a track start?
David Kadavy [4:54]
Yeah, if you if you actually take that image into Photoshop, and you choose like inverted image, you’re going to get a secret another secret message on know
David Ralph [5:03]
what I’m gonna do tomorrow? I’m kidding. No, but I’m still gonna do it. And what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna try to hack into it, and put something really offensive. So this, this goes live on the 13th of December. And of course, we’re recording this live, this is what I should have ads. And there’s going to be people going over in Mad Mad droves, hundreds of people clicking on your way, I don’t know if you can actually crash a Twitter page with users clicking images. Let’s see if that’s possible.
David Kadavy [5:29]
If you play this interview backwards.
Yeah, you won’t believe what you hear. I know,
David Ralph [5:37]
it’s just feel it’s, it’s x rated or 18 rated, or whatever they call it now. So what if we look at your life and we are going to spend time going back over your life because that’s what we do and join up dots there is there is there’s a sort of fun element to you, you seem somebody who is quite creative in his choices. And you’re also somebody that’s got the ability to sort engage in many different sort of facilities and environments where you’re always that kind of guy when he was a small child, were you the sort of fun amusing one that was always trying to connect people in the classroom. You know,
David Kadavy [6:15]
I actually I was I,
I would say that, like my mother would, would say David
always could entertain himself.
Whereas my brother just wanted to like break things, break my toys, and stuff like that. But I would spend hours and hours in my room by myself and I would be drawing or I would play with magnets, or just, I could just spend so much time in my room by myself exploring all these different things. And, you know, actually I grew up in in, in Nebraska, which is not like a culturally vibrant place, I grew up in a sort of suburban environment. And I actually, I just didn’t didn’t have a lot in common with the other kids in my neighborhood. And I remember this is kind of a strange, strange explanation. But I remember kind of feeling frustrated, like how there’s like a huge world out there. How come I have to hang out with these people just because they live in my neighborhood. And so when when, like, when I finally first got like an AOL account in 1995, or something, and I could chat with somebody who lived in like Virginia, then I was I was amazed, like, I felt I got like a real rush out of that. So I think I wanted to connect with people. But I wanted to get to connect with people who were curious about things. And now with the internet, you can do that. And and the number of people who really follow their curiosity in that way. It’s a small percentage of the population. So you know, as far as like the that were in my neighborhood, or that were in my classroom, that was a very low percentage, you know, it was like, it was like me, I was like, the weird one that, you know, who wanted to draw all the time and play with magnets or conduct science experiments or something is what it seemed like anyway.
David Ralph [8:16]
And do you embrace that side of your character? When when you’re in sort of the corporate environment? Now the business world? Do you try to remain slightly on the edge somehow, because your story of yourself as a child sounded like me exactly the same. I used to spend hours on my own drawing, definitely. Just playing just doing stuff. And I, you know, I never needed anybody. And now, I love being slightly on the edge. I don’t like to be within the sort of the crowd. I don’t like to conform too much. So you feel exactly the same way?
David Kadavy [8:51]
Yeah, yeah. I’ve actually, you know, done as much as I could to keep myself out of the corporate world. Not that, you know, I, I like business. I like capitalism. To a fair degree, but I, yeah, but I do badly as an employee. I’m not somebody who likes to just show up at a certain time or anything like that. And I have learned to embrace that to not feel like oh, that means there’s something wrong with me. But it happens even in my own business I, I might feel like there’s something that I should be doing, because there’s an expectation from my customers are something that Oh, I should I really need to be, you know, building this course, or writing this particular email. And then one of my friends will say, actually, Noah Kagan said this, who I think was on this podcast, I was telling him that one time about something I needed, it felt like I needed to do and I was stressing myself out about it. Somebody that something that people in a corporate environment often experienced, they feel like they need to do something, otherwise, they’re going to get fired or something. And he and he was like, Well, why do you need to do that? You just talked to me about smoothies for half an hour. And you were excited about it. Why don’t you talk about smoothies instead of instead of this? And I don’t necessarily I haven’t written about smoothies yet. Maybe someday, but it did sort of flip a switch. And I get that reminder from friends, like, you know, every once in a while, like, Oh, that’s right. Like, this is supposed to be fun. Let’s go back to that feeling of being alone in my room, that feeling of flow, that feeling of being so immersed in what you’re doing that you forget to eat, or the deciding you don’t sleep.
David Ralph [10:48]
So Noah was a fascinating character, he came on the show. And he, he turned the tables on me quite quite well, to the point where it’s actually one of my most download God chose, I was actually having live coaching really from him. And he was really, really putting me on the spot and asking some quite difficult questions. which at the time, he said, Is this difficult for you? And you could hear about he was loving doing it. So you need for your David
Unknown Speaker [11:17]
David Ralph [11:18]
he asked all those kind of questions. And to be honest, I enjoyed it, because it made me realize that we were creating a different show. It made me realize that I was getting a glimpse of the real man and not the interview guest. And he was showing his true passions, but you do it. People need to kind of know, okay, you’re going in their life, don’t they? Just to ask the hard questions when quite honestly, we could coast sometime.
David Kadavy [11:46]
I have a bracelet that I wear all the time, it says what would know, WW and KD? What would Noah Kagan do? I don’t really have the bracelet. But I think it would be good
David Ralph [11:57]
to know she believed you did. I bought into that. Totally. I thought he’s gone mad here. But I
David Kadavy [12:05]
know I asked myself that question, though.
David Ralph [12:07]
Yeah, well, I think it because you know, he, he really is a man who is not even like he’s a man on a mission. It’s like he knows exactly what he wants to do. And it was, yeah, it was quite demanding conversation that we had a very enjoyable one as well. So so you kind of having this vibe that you try to stay out the corporate mix, and you you stay to the side. When you embrace that, did you remember a time like most of us did when you play the role you played what other people expected you to do before you actually said no, this is stupid, I might as well just be David and the david that I was born to be. Do you remember doing that kind of thing?
David Kadavy [12:49]
Yeah, certainly, there was definitely a lot of friction in that process. Because
again, I grew up in Nebraska.
My dad worked for the state company for 37 years, which is pretty admirable. But you know, the, the feeling or the thing that we were kind of taught was, Oh, you’ve got to have a job. And like having a job is like number one, you got to have a job, it’s got to be like, secure. And that’s really important. And everything should kind of should, should kind of follow that. And so that I did feel a lot of pressure in in that, that culture of, you know, get a job and being obedient employee. And it just never felt right. And I ended up getting a job that was relative to you know, the choices that I had, it was, it was good, it was pretty creative. I started a graphic design department at an architecture firm my first job out of college, but it was still a kind of a stuffy, inviting man, you know, people are kind of come over to my desk all the time, saying like, Oh, so when you gonna get married? And when are you gonna buy a house, none of those things are necessarily bad things. But I think when you’re 23 years old, and you’re full of curiosity, and you’re living in Nebraska, and you don’t want to be living there, really at your core, you don’t want to be living there, then those would be terrible choices to make, particularly buying a house.
David Ralph [14:31]
And did you respond? Did you sort of respond? No, that’s not on my radar. That’s not my plane, or did you just kind of let them think but yeah, that’s, that’s a natural progression in life? Uh,
David Kadavy [14:43]
no, I guess I would sort of be like, I don’t know, I don’t really want to do those things. I just, I, it was a weird feeling. Because it was just such, that sort of mentality was so prevalent, that was just the way things work, it seemed. And it, it seemed everywhere around me and it and I felt inside like, like lives, there’s something wrong with me that I don’t want to do. Like, I feel like that’s really those would be really dumb choices. And I’m 23 years old. And, and I have a world to explore. I don’t know when I’m gonna go ahead and do that. But
I, it just didn’t feel right. And I
didn’t, I didn’t play along, thankfully,
David Ralph [15:29]
well as painful for you, but so many people. And that’s one of the reasons of the show, really David but I’m aware and I did it myself, which is kind of annoying. But hey, whoa, you know, you do these things. You play the role that you expect other people want from you. So I left college, and I got a job in a London City Office. And I was there for pretty much 20 years really. And I can’t say that I was doing what I was putting this have to do. I occasionally had moments that I burst into lie. But I just kind of bought into that myth, as you’re saying that everybody else was that it’s up to you to get a job, knuckle down, get a house, all those kind of things, and by certain benchmark ages in your life, achieve what is socially acceptable. So by a certain time, you would have moved out from mom and dad’s and then another time, you would have bought your own house man another time, you know, and I think I was on that that timeline. And it’s amazing, and it’s invigorating. But there’s people like you that are saying, I never felt like that, and I wasn’t going to do it. And I’ve let me lead my life as I should. And that’s what everybody should do, isn’t it?
David Kadavy [16:45]
Yeah, I mean, you should definitely reevaluate whatever whatever situation people are throwing at you, I find it kind of ironic, too, because especially with the house thing, it was, you know, 2003 or something. And that was everybody I just heard like a brother can record houses the best investment, investment, best investment you can make. It was so funny, because, you know, I was growing up, this is Omaha, Nebraska. This is where Warren Buffett from the man who said, Be be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are feeling fearful. And here everybody’s thinking that buying a house is the best investment you can make. And in my mind, I was thinking, you know, well, my own freedom and curiosity and, and personal development is the best investment that I can make. And lo and behold, the, you know, the real estate market eventually crashed within a few years. And I would have been a bad situation, I think, if I had gone ahead and bought a house as an example.
David Ralph [17:47]
You see so many people out there, especially the successful people, and they do exactly what you say they invest in himself. Vat is where value is going to be gained. I was speaking to a chap the other day, I was a professional paint bowler, and I didn’t even know that you could be a professional paint bowler. But he was very, very good at it. And he earned about half a million and instead of sort of investing in property or whatever he invested in on courses and self development. And he said that is the way that is how I can plant a seed that will actually grow into an investment that I can use on a daily basis. And he’s taken that knowledge and he’s connected with some of the sort of the high achievers in his area. And now he’s got a network to die for. He’s got a company to die for. And it’s all stem from him investing back into himself. Did you think that is a part that people nowadays miss out on, they don’t realize that actually, while you’re at work earning a living, you should actually be developing yourself. For the next stage in your career, you should be learning stuff, even if it’s a rubbishy job that you don’t like, you should be trying to find elements in it that you can strengthen your tools to move on to something else.
David Kadavy [18:59]
Yeah, yeah, I think that, you know,
when I had a job, I always tried to view it as, am I getting paid to learn something. If I’m getting paid to learn something, that’s good. And so what I did was, at the same time, I was just eating these terrible banquet, frozen dinners every day for lunch, they were like 80 cents, I would never eat one of those today. But I can’t imagine what I did to my body. But I was I was eating those things for lunch almost every day to the point with people I worked with would make fun of me. But I was saving money, saving as much money as I could, I was socking it all away into the stock market. Because I knew at some point, I wanted to have some sort of cushion that I could use to to free myself up. And, and I ended up this was 2003, 2004, I bought Google and Apple stock with the, with the money that I would saving. And you know, that portfolio grew so that when I did finally go out on my own, I could, I could have that cushion. And to this day, I’m still constantly reinvesting I think of it almost like being Amazon, you know, look, you know, how much people who are listening follow stocks, but Amazon has this huge p ratio, that the the price of the stock is is way higher than it should be for the earnings. And and part of that is because, is it because they spend all their profits on research and development. So I see that I spend all my money on research and development, which, you know, starts with me, starts with my own personal development. So for example, right now, I’m in Austin for five weeks, you know, just to network with people and to build up social capital and stuff, I’m spending, you know, extra money and to be down here. It’s an investment, I don’t know, I don’t know how it’s exactly going to pay off. I know that it will, but it will take a lot lot of time. I’m constantly trying to reinvest, starting with starting with me, and, you know, things that need to be automated or whatever, then I then I go ahead and, and do that. But it’s all about freeing up my own creativity and curiosity.
David Ralph [21:16]
So you have actually structured your life to a point, but you’re not trapped in a nine to five, you have got the the freedom to be able to plan these things and just do them.
David Kadavy [21:29]
Yes, absolutely. And that’s been
I mean, I like to think that I planned it
a great deal of forethought. You know,
I started blogging, and you know, that process of investing, so that I would have money. Like over 10 years ago, I didn’t know what form that was going to take, I remember having a fantasy about like, traveling around in an RV or something and working and, and I didn’t have doing exactly that. But the thing that I do now is, you know, I go to a place and I live there for a month or two months from time to time. And I also have my home base. And so it’s a similar, similar sort of forum, you don’t know what the world is going to look like 1010 years from now, but I knew that I wanted to have that I wanted to have freedom and, and I knew that something about the people around me when I was working in a corporate environment and the
the way that they might
talk about things that they thought that they were going to maybe do some day, but they didn’t do and just hearing like the regret and their voice. Or, you know, seeing some of the excuses they they might set up for themselves to tell themselves that they couldn’t do certain things.
Those were things that I didn’t want to experience in my life. So do you believe? Did you believe that
David Ralph [23:01]
both those regrets because somebody told me and I think I’ve mentioned it on a couple of shows, because it was horrific. But somebody has written a book of the 10 regrets that people have on their deathbed. And so they these people were dying, and he went round bear and interviewed them on their deathbed. And the number one regret was that they had lived the life of others and not the life that they should have done. Which is is terrifying, isn’t it that absolutely threatens me to my core about I will end up on the deathbed. Well, my number one regret would be that I’m dying. And my number two one would be that I’m actually living somebody else’s life. And I haven’t done what I wanted, because, hey, we’re only on this planet once David
David Kadavy [23:44]
Yeah, I mean, that’s,
that’s something that’s in my mind all the time, right that that life is that you live once and, and you better make it count. And I know, you know, I can think back to this particular co workers that I had. were, you know, living in Omaha your whole life, or living in Nebraska or whatever. place that might be away from centers of civilization is totally fine. If that’s, if that works for you. But to hear somebody say like, Ah, you know, we we always thought that maybe we try living somewhere else. But you know, when we got married, and then we had kids and not and and hearing, like the regret and someone’s voice when they talk about their life that way, was like just such a warning call for me that if I feel like I should do something other than what I’m doing right now that I should go ahead and do it. And
Unknown Speaker [24:53]
David Kadavy [24:56]
that’s something that I always try to live with urgency in that way that’s that I want
to make my life count in some way.
David Ralph [25:07]
I think that’s, that’s the only way you can do it. And I’m gonna play some words now. And I’m going to tell you a little story. Tell a story. First, I tell the story first, I live in the same life as you. And I go and I meet people that I used to work with. And because I’m in this kind of very motivational environment. Now, I’ve got a lot of big dreams and sort of challenges to overcome. And I’m loving every minute. And I speak to people and I go, Oh, it’s all right for you. Yeah, you know, it was always going to be okay for you. And I said, No, it’s no different. I’m no different from you. You’re no different from me, I just decided to do something and you haven’t Yeah. And then I go back sort of six weeks later, or whatever, to have another couple of points with them. Because there’s always somebody leaving. And we have these conversations. And I realized, but six weeks prior or six months prior, they were telling me what they were planning to do. And then they still haven’t done it. And there’s always Oh, wait till Christmas or old is not quite right now, or there’s always something and I haven’t quite tweaked and I’m speaking to all of you out there every single one that’s listening to this, there’s always a reason why you can’t do something. But there’s always just one reason why you are going to do something and that’s you. Wow, that’s profound in it David
David Kadavy [26:17]
Well, yeah, I that resonates a lot with me, especially the things about reasons why you can’t do things. There’s always reasons you can come up with I like to think of this scapegoats. There’s always things that make things various things harder. And we all have them. There’s, there’s what I used to think about, well, I was born in and raised in this place in the middle of nowhere, kind of and I didn’t really have access to a lot of you know, cultural things going on or whatever. But that doesn’t, you know, that that becomes part of your story that becomes part of your path and, and you you find ways around it. You know, some challenges are, are harder to overcome than others. But ultimately, you almost never know any, almost any, anything that you can come up with about why you can’t do a certain thing. You’ll probably never know if that’s actually the reason that you can’t do it. I mean, like, but I’m, I’m five nine, I probably never played professional basketball. Muggsy Bogues was five, three, and he had a very, very healthy NBA career, just as an example, but you always have to go ahead and and try
David Ralph [27:41]
a coach you do. And I’m going to play some words now that really you bled into perfectly. And these are the words of Jim Carrey,
Jim Carrey [27:48]
my father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [28:16]
Now interesting, that is kind of your story, really, your your dad has done the very safe route, and he’s worked for the same company for I think, 38 years, you were saying, but you’ve taken the Jim Carrey route of doing something you love, but you you might fail it, but hey, it’s better to fail at something that you love and do something that you don’t like, can do those words have resonance to you.
David Kadavy [28:38]
They do they do have resonance, but at the same time, you know, I don’t I don’t kid myself, like, there’s, there’s a lot of things that have made it possible for for me to live a life that I am living, you know, I was I have kept coming of age come of age at during a time of incredible, like entrepreneurial revolution, where such really we have all these technologies available to, to, to be able to build these type of lifestyles. And, you know, who knows what things would have been like, if I if I grew up, if I was born, you know, 20 years earlier, 10 years earlier, even like when things worked completely differently, like I, I’ve built my business over the course of 10 years.
I guess I’ve been on my own for seven.
and it takes
the made a lot of mistakes along the way has been a very slow learning process. You know, I feel like back, you know, a few centuries ago, not centuries, but a few decades ago, even you, you’d have to really like know how to run a business first and then come with a plan. And then you have to raise capital and all these things, you know, these days, you can kind of bootstrap stuff. So I would kick myself that, you know, it was a lot, it’s, it’s a lot easier for me than it would have been if I’d been born much earlier. I don’t agree with that. But here it is, you know, here we are in this time. And and I think that people are it can be easy to get stuck in the old ways of doing things. Meanwhile, all these new opportunities have opened up. And so people should take advantage of them. I’m sorry, you were saying?
David Ralph [30:34]
Yeah, I agree with that. Totally. People have got opportunities now. But I believe if this wasn’t here, I believe that you would still make a go of it. I believe what you’re demonstrating is about mindset and belief and bloody mindedness and not wanting to conform, and all those personal traits that make somebody, you know, inspirational and motivational and go and create their own path. And then, you know, yes, you got the opportunity of the internet. Yes, in certain ways, you can start up a company very cheaply now, but people were doing it 100 years ago, people were doing it 200 years ago, but there is no difference. It’s still that mindset of belief, and going for something even if you don’t know, but you’re going to achieve it. I think you I think you’re right. And I think you’re wrong. I don’t know how?
David Kadavy [31:24]
Well no, I mean, I I totally agree. There is certain there are certain personality traits that have have been, you know, there’s always been the cowboys and cowgirls of the wild, wild west, whatever the wild wild west might be at the particular moments, and, you know, I tend to gravitate towards that. Would would I have also been able to do that with a different set of factors? I don’t know, I think maybe. But, but ultimately, I’m I’m not exactly sure. I guess I try to just have gratitude for the fact that I that I have been able to, to get to this point, it was super hard. It was, I think that a lot of people who
fantasize about it.
Maybe they they, and maybe they have some sort of scapegoat about why they can or can’t, why they can’t. And sometimes, I kind of want to be like, you know, it’s actually that hard. It is actually that hard. And you won’t know unless you really try. So it’s very, very hard. If it had been harder. I think I would have persevered. But I actually don’t know.
David Ralph [32:51]
I think that what I’m doing now is multiple times harder than any job I’ve ever done. And I’ve done Jim but we’re really, really hard in the past. And I hated doing them. And I think this is the difference. You can do a job like we’re doing and we’re talking about on an entrepreneurial kind of online business and structure it yourself. But when it’s hard, but you love it, you’re willing to go that extra mile, are you willing to be punched in the face and get up and keep going again. And I think there’s a difference with it. I think so many people will look at the work ethic that it’s going to take to start something when they’re in a job that isn’t too hard. And they’re earning an income and I think what’s the point, but when you’re in it, and you know, with your heart of hearts that even if you weren’t being paid for it, you’d still be doing it because there’s some kind of drug in it that makes you want to come back to it time and time and time again, when the heart becomes play in the play becomes hard and hard becomes work. And it all kind of gets mixed up somehow very different from when you’re working for a boss, that you just don’t like a new car don’t work for them.
David Kadavy [34:01]
I mean, I think it’s all about motivation and being engaged in what you’re doing. You know, when I I tried really hard to find meaning in my work with when working for other people. And I that for me, I think there’s a little calculator in my brain where I have to have a certain amount of financial security happening before before I start giving myself permission to explore more. But the thirst is still there to do that exploring. And so I did work to get that financial security there.
But you know, I,
I had I had when I finally got fired from my job. I had $130,000 in my ameritrade account, and I was 28 or something like that. And I don’t know, that’s, it depends on what you view, like here, that’s a ton of money, or that’s actually not that much money. But like, I had to have that amount of money before and then I had to get fired. Before as soon as I got fired. I was like, Well, I’m not going to work for other people again, like why would you
David Ralph [35:14]
get fired? But
David Kadavy [35:17]
I actually don’t know. That’s how
I Well, it’s the you know, maybe fired isn’t the right word I it might be it the thing is it was a startup. When when I came to work for them, it was a it was like a green sustainable business startup, you know, I was looking for meaning in my work, I wanted to feel like I was doing something that that mattered and that mattered.
And so I found that in you know, trying to
doing something, do something environmentally conscious. And and when I got hired that company, they were like, we’ve we’ve been through 11 designers do, are you actually up for this? So I lasted longer than any of those designers did. And, and ultimately, the company wasn’t well managed. It wasn’t very long before that company imploded after, after I was gone. Now. I don’t want to I’m not trying to point fingers and say like, Oh, it was their fault or something because it reflects a reflection upon myself that I went to work for a company though, that wasn’t that that ultimately wasn’t well managed, and well, well LED. So. So I didn’t concern myself too much with it. Actually, I think that there was I there were a lot of different business business business initiatives going on in that particular business, like they had like, very unclear goals. And a lot of that was manifesting itself in the design, as often happens. And I worked to build consensus amongst all those goals, and then went fine for a while and then eventually that eventually it didn’t. And, you know, I moved on I didn’t concern myself with with why really,
David Ralph [37:11]
he seemed site Bobo, but you claim responsibility for that you you made a decision to put yourself in that position to take that job. And that’s a different type of mindset, isn’t it? A lot of people with a gun. Oh, you’re all swines in, I hated you from the moment I went in there and play the victim. But you’re pretty much saying, Well, actually, it was my decision to get that job in the first place. And so, you know, I put myself in that in the firing line.
David Kadavy [37:37]
Yeah, I mean, there were I had opportunities to work with with other at that type of time, when I was making the decision of whether, you know, work for that job or do other things, I had opportunities to work with, with people who went on to do really great things, and, you know, for whatever reason that those things didn’t work out. And yeah, I made the choices that I did with information I had at the time. And those weren’t necessarily like the right choices for that time. But things have have turned out okay, for me, just fine. And, yeah, ultimately, you are responsible for you, you are accountable for what happens. There, there’s, there’s luck, and there’s bad luck. You know,
bad things happen to good people sometimes. But
ultimately, you have to, you have to be accountable for what you do otherwise, you’re never going to going to learn you’re just going to go around blaming people for the rest of your life. So I don’t, you know, that. And that’s and that’s another thing that I think is is comes out of entrepreneurship, and specifically solo Partnership, which I think is is really the root of my passion, at this point, anyway, is that when you work for yourself, you can’t blame anybody, if something doesn’t go wrong, I mean, he, if it’s like your host is down, and now you’re not making any money or something like it’s ultimately your responsibility. And you are going to learn how to accept that and to and, and learn how to proceed in ways that is going to achieve your goals, where you’re going to fail, or you’re going to be blaming other people. So and it’s it’s something that I think happens with people who, who have jobs, and that, that wants to make the leap and entrepreneurship. And that don’t is that they can sit there and in their cubicle and fantasize about all the things they would do if they had the time and the opportunity. And unless they really try those things, they’re just fantasies and they and they don’t, they will never find out for sure. And it just breeds resentment for the job that they have in the life that they have. If they don’t. If they don’t face up to the harsh, harsh reality and finding out what it’s really like.
David Ralph [40:06]
So So how did you make the decision to go it alone, you you come out of this job, and you decided but you’re not going to work for anyone anymore, which is fair enough? Well, you’ll get to a point when we almost become unemployable. And we want to do our own thing. But then finding our own thing is a lot harder, and then learning enough about it to get paid for it is the next step along the line. So how did you decide what direction your life was going to go into?
David Kadavy [40:33]
Yeah, so first of all, as far as deciding, it was the moment that I got fired. In fact, my my boss, who actually is a friend of mine, you know, no hard feelings. And I don’t know whether it was even her choice. We never really talked about it. I don’t think that it was, but I turned to her. And I was like, yeah, this is going to be a pretty important day in my life is July 17, 2007,
this is going to be a special day.
And I and I knew that I was not going to go work for other people at that point. And so then it was kind of the next day waking up. And there’s this vastness of, Okay, what do I do with my day. And a lot of it, the first couple of weeks was just existential was that I had grown up in this with this. Sort of, like I mentioned, this view, the view about having a job and having a job is sort of your identity and, and being able to like, touch my own skin and say like, I’m actually still here and to like look at my bank account, or my America trading, not my savings and say like, okay, there’s money there. And I could actually go for a fair amount of time before, that’s a problem. And if it was a problem, I have the skills, I have the experience, to go make more money, you know, and just getting comfortable with that reality that I have this space, I have this vastness, I have this time to explore and getting comfortable with that. So that was like the first couple weeks. And then and then it was trying to reconnect with that feeling of flow that I felt when I was alone in my room drawing when like the hours were just melting by when I was so immersed in what I was doing when I would finish a project that I was working on whether it was a drawing or, or a model car or something and look at it and say like wow, like I did that as well as I could that is a good product. And that was a feeling that I had that had just been wrung out of me, working for other people was always seemed like things were moving too fast. People weren’t asking the right questions. And and I didn’t get to build, ultimately build things where I was like, man, I did that as well as I could.
David Ralph [43:04]
So you were reconnecting with your younger self, the essence of because the tagline of this show is connecting our past to build our futures. And we believe a lot is about the kind of things you did when you was a young kid and you love doing and he was aware of it, and you realize you have to get back to that state.
David Kadavy [43:20]
Yeah, and it wasn’t necessarily about the activity. Because, you know,
eventually after you learn how to draw an apple that looks just like an apple, you get bored, and you move on to other things. And so it wasn’t as about like just sitting my room drawing it was about there was a, I ended up building a Facebook app, and I like made this really great spec document for it, or I would just do a bunch of writing. And it was just about trying to find that feeling in my brain trying to listen to my brain. And and that feeling of like, the blood pumping through your veins just a little bit harder, because you’re just so into what you’re doing. It’s all I wanted to do, because I knew that I couldn’t go work I had, I was turning, turning down freelance clients, you know, a couple times a week, I was just not going to do freelance work. Was that fear?
David Ralph [44:13]
Or what? Why would you turn down money?
David Kadavy [44:17]
I mean, I didn’t feel like I needed it.
To me, what was more important was, was reconnecting with, with the passion, reconnecting with that curiosity. That was my metric. And I wanted to give myself the space for that. And yeah, I, you know, I had I had I had money saved up. And you know, I went ahead, and I cashed out $40,000 in my portfolio, like the next day or something. And I said, like, all right, well, there’s, there’s a chunk, that should last me a while. And you know, started really saving, I mean, I lost weight. Because I was eating less,
David Ralph [44:57]
it was all those, you know, since my my meals when it
David Kadavy [45:01]
It wasn’t I mean, I, I had gotten a little bit more conscious about what I had what I hate by that point. So I wasn’t eating a decent meals, I was just eating less. I mean, I lost weight, like it was it was I did belt tightening, literally, because I just wanted to get myself that space, to feel comfortable with being here in this moment with this thing that I’m working on right now. And just reconnecting. Rebuilding that those those like reward pathways of feeling pride and for what you’re creating.
David Ralph [45:42]
So while you were really doing in that state is something but many people don’t have the opportunity to do but you were giving yourself the ability to recharge, refocus, consciously make decisions without the rat race driving you down. And so many people, the alarm clock goes off, they jump into the shower, they went off to work, they get their get a coffee, boom, and they’re at work, and then they come home and they sort of do the same. So that really was a moment where you did the best thing not just for your body, but your spirit. But for your whole life, you gave yourself the chance to, to just reassess and recharge yourself like a like a mobile phone, like a cell phone getting back to full power again, I suppose.
David Kadavy [46:26]
Yeah. And again, I think this is one of these things where people sit in their cubicle and think to themselves off, I just had the time if I just had had the money, and I gotta tell you, it’s frightening. You wake up in the morning, and there’s nobody to tell you what to do. And there’s nobody to bounce ideas off of. And there’s just this vastness, this this space that you’re just trying to fill up. And so I tried to fill it up as much as I could with that flow with that curiosity. And I just wanted to see what was the product of that. And then once I once I had that product that it’s like, it’s like your sculpture that somebody finds it finally puts a mound of clay in front of you. And you have something to grab on to and to mold. And so it’s just that process over and over again of like, all right, what makes me curious, what can I do with that? Now, can I make some money with this? No. Okay, yes. All right, let’s go for you know, make a decision based off of that.
David Ralph [47:24]
And so, but when did it really become your business when you went, right? Okay, I’ve sorted myself out, I now know the way to go forward. And it wasn’t going to be a fully realized business. It was a startup. So you were moving into something new? When do you think that you actually laid in bed one night? And oh, God, I’ve actually built myself a business that is going somewhere. Mm hmm. You know,
David Kadavy [47:50]
it’s, that’s an ongoing thing. It wasn’t it, I did that whole year of exploration. And then I was living in Silicon Valley at the time. And I moved to Chicago, then because I wanted to give myself again, I want to give myself more space to think. And, and that was a place, I felt like I could do that. And then I started then I started taking on freelance clients. But then I was saying, Okay, I’ll I’ll build 10 hours a week, and the rest of time, I’m going to make passive income to continue to free up my brain. So I did that. And then, you know, more exploration for a couple of years. And at the end of it, you know, it had been basically three years since, since I I got fired from my job was when I wrote a blog post, that that led to a publisher emailing me and saying, hey, do you want to write a book called design for hackers? And do you you could have done that? three year process?
David Ralph [49:03]
Yeah. So looking back on it, do you think three years was the right time? Or do you think actually, when you found your thing, you could look back in hindsight and go, yeah, I could have actually done this. I could have got the got there quicker than I did.
David Kadavy [49:16]
It would certainly, you know, been practically possible to do that. Especially because design for hackers stems from a, it stemmed from a bar camp, a conference talk that I had done a year, maybe two years previous, I don’t remember for sure. us, me, so I, so I had the idea already. But it had just been sitting on the back burner for a while. But in the meantime, I was building all these skills that were making it so that I was equipped to, to market a book like that. So I have done all this blogging and experimentation like that, where I was learning all these skills. So like practically, yes, I could have said, you know, done kind of lean startup approach, and said, like, all right, well, here’s what here’s something I know about its design. Here’s something I’ve got experience with, which is entrepreneurship and, and web development. And I could have practically maybe done that faster, though. I don’t even know if the market was ready, because I did the talk. And I like made a blog post about it, you know, two years previous. And it didn’t explode. It didn’t take off. It didn’t take off until tears later when I wrote a different blog post.
David Ralph [50:40]
So is it important timing in your journey in everyone’s journey? Is it you can have that idea six years earlier, nothing would happen to it. But if you hit at the right time when the audience or the market or the world is ready for it? That is when magic happens?
David Kadavy [51:00]
Yeah, and I think that this is an important part of the idea of you know, the podcast is called the join up dots pod cast. that resonated with me, because throughout this entire journey, whenever I felt like, you know, is this going to work out, I’ve watched that Steve Jobs commencement address, and it would resonate with me so much the idea of join up dots and and at the time, I felt like, like, Man, I’m a little scatterbrained, like working on all these different things, what are these things have to do with each other. And then eventually, they converge, and they converge at this one moment in time. And that was when designed for hackers was born. And you know, it was I had to follow my curiosity, and I had to trust that it was going to lead me to the right place. But the magical thing about that is that when you’re doing these things that seemed to have no immediate payoff, then you’re doing, you’re doing something that you are passionate about. Not only that, that passion is propelling you forward, but you’re also going somewhere that nobody else is willing to go because there’s no obvious immediate payoff. And then when, when timing lines up, and who, I don’t know if there’s a formula for saying whether or not timing ever will line up. But I think that if you have a pulse on the world, and you then you build your worldview, and you stay within that, and you follow your passions, then then I think that, you know, eventually the world, the timing does become right, and those dots converge. And suddenly, you’re in this place where nobody can, nobody else’s, nobody can catch you. You are the one person who does this, this unique thing.
David Ralph [52:50]
At the words of Steve Jobs, because you obviously are buying to them and you you, you’ve led us once again perfectly to that moment in the show. So Mrs Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs [53:00]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards, 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future, you have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [53:35]
So you really are on the well worn path. But it’s the path that is worn by your own footsteps. You’ve you’ve created this thing. And you found yourself at that moment where no experience is wasted. All those three years of trying things and bumbling around has come together. It was was it faith and belief that ultimately got you better, like Steve is saying in the speech?
David Kadavy [53:57]
Yeah, I mean, when you play that clip, it totally gives me chills because I that was the, you know, that was one of the many sections of that talk that, that bolstered me and gave me the confidence to, to continue was believing that yes, this has to be the if I follow my curiosity, this this has worked out because it feels so right. It’s, it was kind of connecting again, with with you know, what I was talking about when people would say, Oh, you should buy a house and I and, and feeling my brain like that’s so wrong, there’s something so wrong with the way that you were thinking. And in feeling in my brain that I had a different way of thinking about it. The fact that at that point, by that point, I had felt like I did make the right choice, because I imagined a different reality from the reality that was surrounding me. And, and then when I made it to Silicon Valley, then I found that and you know, of, like creativity and belief in one’s ideas. And so I had gotten that sort of, I gained confidence in my own thinking, I had gained confidence in the, in the belief that okay, yes, this feels right. And what I’m seeing around me, doesn’t seem right. And that means there’s something there. So I had gained that. And so that was, you know, something that propelled me forward?
David Ralph [55:37]
Is it anything? And but before we send you back in time, which we do, and we’re going to do that very shortly at the end of the show, but is there anything back in your life that you kind of go? Yeah, okay, if I could go back in time I would change or do you just buy into whatever happens, it’s part of life rich tapestry, and it’s part of the many dots lead you to where you are now.
David Kadavy [56:05]
Hey, you know, I like to think that, that I could have made some decisions differently. And things could have turned out even better. And I do like, where I where I am. And that’s neat. But But yeah, there are some things. You know,
I don’t really know.
For sure. But I think that
that yeah, that things, some things could have been different that that could have made things a little bit easier.
David Ralph [56:37]
Because I like the failures. Now I look back at certain things. And I go, yes, that was a bad time in my life. But thank God for it. And that was a failure. But yes, that’s moved me on to that part. I, I see all the times that I’ve tripped up as actually, funnily enough, the times that I’ve moved forward, because I’ve got past that and was never going to work. And I’ve moved on to an area where all those failures, all those successes have come together. And that’s where I am now. And I like looking back at them and thinking yeah, I’m glad I went through those.
David Kadavy [57:15]
Yeah, a lot of these things I I can look back on fondly, but I don’t want to relive them.
David Ralph [57:22]
Yeah, that’s exactly it. Yeah, you grow because of them. Well, this is a part of the show david that I’m going to send you back in time. And this is the end of the show, which we called a sermon on the mic. And if you could go back in time, what age David would you choose to speak to? And what advice would you give? Well, we’re going to find out, because when I play the theme tune and it fades your up. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [57:55]
David Kadavy [58:09]
hey there David it’s, it’s me David
at Don’t be scared. It’s me, I’m your older self. I’m 35. Now, you’re like, if you like 15 or something like that, the one thing that I want to tell you is that you should really try very hard to surround yourself with people who are also very curious about the things that they do. One thing you one way that you might want to do that is is you probably not thinking about college or what college actually is. But that’s one particular place where you could surround yourself with with people who are curious about certain things. So I know you’re probably just going to pick whatever college but you might want to put a little more thought into that. Keep in mind that’s going to be a place you’re going to go you’re going to live there for four years. And you know think about the town you’re going to live and think about the type of people that are going to be there think about those things surround yourself with with like minded people. Everything will be fine David
David Ralph [59:19]
the penultimate question really is for all the audience out there all the listeners that have been focused in on your conversation for the last hour. Do you think that they should all and can they have a kick ass life?
David Kadavy [59:32]
Yeah, you absolutely you it, it behooves you to have a kick ass life. You have this one chance. So make it count.
David Ralph [59:41]
Make it count and David said that and the two David said that so you should listen is a double David where me. So how can our audience connect with you, sir?
David Kadavy [59:51]
The best way? Well, let’s see here. I have an email list that it starts with a lesson on design. It said design for hackers calm. And there’s a you get a sign of get a free course on design. But I also send out a lot of great stuff on entrepreneurship, productivity, things like that. And then I’m also very active on Twitter at at Academy. So those are two great places
David Ralph [1:00:17]
will have all the links in our show notes David, thank you so much for spending time with us today. joining those dots. And please come back again when you have more dots to join up because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures David Academy. Thank you so much.
David Kadavy [1:00:33]
Thank you so much, David.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become so he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to join up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on join up dots
David Ralph [1:01:02]
and that’s it done sir