After years as a successful tech exec at Apple and Electronic Arts, Dave Evans came to realize that his real mission in life was to help others find theirs. Starting at Stanford with dreams of following Jacques Cousteau as a marine biologist, Dave realized (a bit late) that he was lousy at it and shifted to mechanical engineering with an eye on the energy problem. After four years in alternative energy, it was clear that this idea’s time hadn’t come yet. So while en route to biomedical engineering, Dave accepted an invitation to work for Apple, where he led product marketing for the mouse team and introduced laser printing to the masses. When Dave’s boss at Apple left to start Electronic Arts, Dave joined as the company’s first VP of Talent, dedicated to making “software worthy of the minds that use it.”
Having participated in forming the corporate cultures at Apple and EA, Dave Evans decided his best work was in helping organizations build creative environments where people could do great work and love doing it. So he went out on his own; working with start-up teams, corporate executives, non-profit leaders, and countless young adults. They were all asking the same question. “What should I do with my life?” Helping people get traction on that question finally took Dave to Cal and Stanford and continues to be his life’s work.
Today he teaches Life Design at Stanford University and is the co-author of Designing Your Life and Designing Your New Work Life. Dave Evans holds a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford and a graduate diploma in Contemplative Spirituality from San Francisco Theological Seminary.
The pandemic of 2020 created massive disruption—a change of such scale that things will never be the same again. Life-altering disruptions can be personal, regional or global and are increasingly part of modern life. We all need to know how to design our way through them. When a disruption arrives, it ends the way things were and throws life into a confusing latent zone before the new world begins. It’s tempting to “just wait” for things to go back to “normal”—but they never will. The only way out of the waiting room is through generative acceptance. In this presentation, Dave Evans shows how to turn the ambiguity of disruption into design freedom by generatively engaging the new reality and staying ahead of the unpredictable. Learning how to set the bar low and clear it with frequent and small redesigns for all aspects of life and work can help us not only learn to survive disruption, but to find new opportunities within the uncertainty. Disruption Design is a new core competency for modern life.
The pandemic forced our humanity out into the open, especially on the job. When you Zoom into work from the bedroom, your colleagues see you as a real person, not just a role. Disruption hits us all so hard that it makes our shared humanity—our hurts, our fears, our vulnerability—immediately more visible, and increases the levels of trust between employer and employee. Dave Evans demonstrates how this change in relationships offers the potential to make work a more human experience for all of us. He also warns against the danger for business leaders who ignore this shift in the culture. If organizations try to simply return to “normal” and take away that increased level of trust and recognition from their employees, they will soon find their talent looking elsewhere.
The question “What do I want to be when I grow up?” is one that never truly goes away. Whether you are a college grad entering the workforce, a forty year-old shifting careers, or a sixty-eight year-old trying to define an encore career, the search for a fulfilling life never stops. In this riveting keynote that can be adapted to a hands-on workshop, Dave Evans teaches audiences how to look at career and life planning through the lens of design. Participants are given the tools to build their way forward and to develop various life scenarios just like a designer tests multiple prototypes. This approach fosters creativity and adaptability and allows audiences to accept that there is never just one right path.
Talent management professionals know that traditional, hierarchical relationships between employers and employees are shifting rapidly, and the future of talent retention, particularly among millennials, lies in keeping employees engaged. In this lecture, Dave Evans helps talent management professionals become early adopters of design thinking, integrating managers’ personal development conversations with employees’ life design goals so that each employee can actively co-create his or her experience within the company.
The notion that a student’s college major will determine what they do for the rest of their life and that everyone must find their “passion” if they are to succeed are myths, or what psychologists call dysfunctional beliefs. In this thoughtful and inspiring lecture, Evans helps college students and grads debunk these myths and understand that there is no single right path. Following the framework of design, Evans walks audiences through the process of trying out lots of ideas, taking action and learning by doing. This is a lecture that can change a students’ life.
A well-designed life is a life that makes sense. It’s a life where who you are, what you believe, and what you do all line up together. From a Christian faith-based perspective, Dave Evans teaches audiences how to integrate their philosophies of life and work to form their own personal compasses, which they can then use to design their way forward in life contemplatively and mindfully.
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"Dave’s visit was extremely successful with much positive feedback from students, faculty, and staff. Dave’s high energy, magnetism, and deep knowledge thrilled the Cornell Dyson community; all enjoyed interacting with him and hearing his unique perspectives on the lifelong and lifewide applications of design thinking."
Cornell University, Cornell University
"Dave and Bill perfectly hit the balance for the audience and spoke to the crowd in a targeted way. I couldn’t have hoped for anything more. The room was packed and in spite of being early in the morning, about 1000 people attended. Smashing success."
Clio Cloud Conference
"Dave was an absolute success. His messages resonated so well with our audience—his delivery is so upbeat and energizing. He set a wonderful tone for the whole entire day."
University of British Columbia
"Dave was OUTSTANDING! He created such a buzz on day one that people were still talking about it all the way through the close of the conference. Dave set the tone for what I think was one of the best HRPS conferences ever."
HR People + Strategy
"Dave was very well received – both highly entertaining and educational! The whole day went swimmingly and helped put Metro State and its career center on the map. It was just what I had hoped for – Dave introduced some fresh thinking and sparked a lot of discussion already. I think people were surprised at how much fun they had and there was a lot of laughter in both sessions."
Metropolitan State University
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