Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Evan Addams. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. For ways to connect with Evan, the notes, and for links to everything discussed, check out our show notes.
Evan Addams: 00:00 You can’t do this on your own and the more that you try to hold everything tightly, the more you’re going to become a bottleneck tier on life. And we use that example at No Wait where I was an important part, but I became a bottleneck because I really wasn’t letting go enough.
Doug Smith: 00:16 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 199.
Doug Smith: 00:33 What’s up everyone? And welcome to another
Doug Smith: 00:34 episode of the L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith and I am your host. I hope you’re doing well. In today’s episode, you’ll hear an interview with Evan Addams who was employee number two at a startup company called No Wait, which scaled and got sold to yelp for $40 million dollars. If you’re unfamiliar with No Wait, they created an app that is a wait listing system for restaurants that allowed guests to add their name ahead of their arrival in order to speed up the time that it takes to be sat. Through the app, guests can check their wait times received texts when their table’s ready and several other features. If you haven’t used it, it’s incredible. My wife Laura and I use it all the time and it’s just an awesome app. But in this episode, you’ll hear our lightning round interview with Evan Addams where we walk them through our lightning round questions.
Doug Smith: 01:15 And if you haven’t already, I encourage you to go back and listen to episode number 198, which is part one of our interview with Evan. And in that episode, you’ll hear him talk all about the lessons that he learned from being a startup to scaling to getting sorted and what he learned from that experience. So I have encouraged you to listen to both episodes. Evan brings a ton of value in both of them. So you’re going to love that. Before we dive into that, just a few announcements. First, let me just ask you this question. Have you ever wanted to take your life and leadership to the next level? Have you ever desired to be a part of a community of leaders that will encourage you to challenge you? And hold you accountable for your goals, help you reach your potential, and to cause you to make a bigger impact.
Doug Smith: 01:52 If so, then you need to become a member of L3 Leadership. When you become a member, you’ll have the ability to join our private facebook group. Join or launch one of our mastermind groups. You’ll have access to our community of leaders and access to the tools and resources you need to take your life and leadership to the next level. So stop doing life as a leader alone and join a community of leaders that will help you thrive. To learn more about membership, go to L3leadership.org/membership. I want to thank our sponsor, Alex Tulandin. Alex is a full-time realtor with Keller Williams Realty, and if you’re looking to buy or sell a house in the Pittsburgh market, Alex is your guy. He is a member and a supporter of L3 Leadership and would love an opportunity to connect with you. You can learn more about Alex and connect with him at Pittsburghpropertyshowcase.com. With that being said, let’s dive right into the lightning round with Evan and I’ll be back at the end with a few announcements,
Doug Smith: 02:46 So, the lightning round is short questions. So let’s see what you got. I know you didn’t prepare for this on purpose.
Evan Addams: Yes, I want these to be natural.
Doug Smith: I’m Really excited. So what is one belief or behavior that’s changed your life?
Evan Addams: 02:59 Yeah, I
Evan Addams: 03:00 actually, you joked about it earlier. I’ve been getting up in the morning and exercising. I don’t want that to be true. I love when somebody who’s very successful says I don’t exercise because I will follow you on that. But for some reason, one of my first, our, our only son, my first son, I’m being prophetic here. When he was born, which would have been December of 2016 crazy time. Any new parents out there know that year one in particular, the first few months or just survival mode. I started to get up in the morning before my wife, you know, five, six in the morning and I’d get on the treadmill or hit the gym in that just 40 some minutes of every day or most days getting started with that routine. It launched everything else. It helped me come back. I was already energized so I can jump right in with my son and help out if needed. I wasn’t wasting time later in the day by saying, sorry, I’m going to come home late cause I go to the gym first and I just physically felt better. So that’s been one of my keys for the last two years. Has Been, doing that and allows me to eat big breakfasts.
Doug Smith: If you can put a quote on a billboard for everyone to read, what would it say?
Evan Addams: 04:16 Well, I guess I’ll be redundant. I, it’s just been, it’s, it really has been. Sean calls me a fanboy, but, but that phrase of great entrepreneurs create throughout how it ought to be. I think that’s it. It really fits well with me. But that’s actually a controversial phrase because this question of ought to be who are you to say what it ought to be? And I think there’s a little bit of arrogance necessary. You know, I, I’m fine calling an arrogance. You can back it off and call it confidence. But, I think entrepreneurs need to understand that it’s not just about, I’ve heard a definition before of, well, you need to figure out what the market wants and give it to them. That’s order-taking. You can make a lot of money doing that. But really we’re, culture makers. Entrepreneurs are culture makers. And so I, hope that that’s when you say billboard, I kind of think of what message do I want to get out there. I hope that entrepreneurs realize that they’re not just there to fulfill what the current market demand is, but help create healthy demand.
Evan Addams: 05:22 What’s the best purchase you’ve made in the last year for $100 or less?
Evan Addams: 05:27 I have purchased,
Evan Addams: 05:29 Or should we ask you a million dollars or less?
Evan Addams: No don’t do that, and let’s see. $100 or less. I’m going to have to go with
Evan Addams: 05:42 books. I mean, there have been. I’m looking at it
Evan Addams: 05:46 questions, I’m ruining the next one. You’re asking me what books have been.
Evan Addams: 05:51 Books had been my favorite sub $100 purchase and the top couple, the last year or so, one of my favorite genres that there’s an author, Andy Crouch, he wrote a book called playing God that it is, it’s very spiritual, but I’ve actually recommended and given it to a nonspiritual folks because it’s about authority and power and healthy use. Basically a redemptive use of power. And especially in the entrepreneurship world, you’re probably, whether you sell your company for millions or you’re just running a small team, you have power. And so how you use that, you power over your own life. How you use that is, is there’s actually a redemptive, I would say biblical way to do that. Well, and Andy Crouch hits that well and in the startup world. We’re talking about entrepreneurship. Not spiritual by any stretch, but there’s a book called The Hard Thing About Hard Things and it is, if you wanted really know, I’d say if you want to know the no, the no wait story.
Evan Addams: 06:58 I’ve no reason to try to write a book. This guy just nails it. I mean the personality types that he references in the books, the ups, the downs, the emotions and psychology, the wartime, the peacetime, and if you want to get to know what’s it like to really work from start to finish a startup checkout hard thing about hard things by Ben Horowitz. It’s fantastic.
Doug Smith: I’m not sure if you listen to podcasts, but if you do, what are your top two or three right now?
Evan Addams: Well, I have been, so this is a little spiritual of me, I’ve been stuck on. I’m the sermon of the week from Bethel Church and those are technically podcasts, but I’ve been gobbling those up and then otherwise not a podcast at all, but my wife has me hooked on the Hamilton soundtrack. So I never thought I would like I’m a, I like musicals, whatever. But she was like, you have to listen to it. I’m, you know, and, and so, you know, my wife’s like, we got to get tickets. I’m like, I’m not trying to like, well we can have tickets, we can buy another house basically how things are priced right now and, and so, but I haven’t heard it is a powerful set of music. So my, my audio life is filled with the sermons of the week and then music wise, I’m doing a lot of Hamilton right now. Say that.
Doug Smith: 08:22 Do you have a favorite failure? That would be brief that actually led to success?
Even Addams: Yeah, it really was. I didn’t mention my first startup it, I came out of college and I was doing a startup in restaurants, not competitive to No Wait, but I was just determined to make it work and I didn’t know what work really meant, but it was through that interaction that led me to the relationships that built my. No, wait a minute, my wait career. So technically, I mean that I did not make much money at all. The time I spent was a failure by most standards, but because it led to the No Wait relationships that you know, I would say that that lead to success.
Doug Smith: 09:03 Would you have done anything differently?
Evan Addams: 09:06 You know, I, mean because it worked out where the failure turned to success, I guess not at this point, but you know, I think the biggest thing I learned from it was I spent in sales even I spent a lot of time trying to perfect my pitch and perfect my sales collateral, but we had the most success and really what led to the No Wait relationships was getting out there. I would go door to door to restaurants. I would simply just put my idea to the streets and that was what gave us the success that we did have, but also built a relationship that allowed me to meet the No Wait crew.
Doug Smith: 09:45 When you get to spend time with leaders that your fans of? In this case, we’ll just say since you’re a fanboy of Sean Ammirati. do you have any questions that you love to ask you? Is there one or two that you’re like, every time I meet with a great leader?
Evan Addams: 09:56 Yeah. And I’m a fan of books, so I always liked to understand curriculum-wise, I think constantly being educated is an important part of all of our lives. And so I’m always looking to build new curriculums, whether it’s something specific like in the might be a history-based curriculum that teaches me something about our culture or other cultures or it could be a technical thing I always want to learn. So, I try to get a sense of what’s the latest thing they’ve read or most impactful thing they’ve read on the year. The other thing I ask is I ask for their empathetic advice. I simply want to know you have navigated the story well. So for pull yourself back into my shoes, here are my data points. How would you think about this? And it sounds like a straightforward, simple question, but I get to watch somebody with 20, Well, in Sean’s case, not that much. But you know, what I would say to the next generation of experience from me, say I’ve been through that and here’s how I would make my decisions or here’s how I did it, here’s how I would do them a little bit differently and I try to really take notes on that. And that’s a powerful, powerful way for me to get an idea of how to set my path straight.
Doug Smith: 11:14 I’ll leave this work-related because I’ve been asking you, I get the answers always family, but what is the most worthwhile investment of your time and money as a leader? I’m just curious outside of family because that should be obvious.
Evan Addams: Yeah. Yeah. Outside of family for sure.
Evan Addams: 11:28 You know, I, I’m going to use a general word and I’m going to say community for a lot of people, that means your local community, which is your neighborhood. And I agree to that. My wife and I, it’s not a forced thing. We love it, but we go to our community events. My wife is on some community groups and the groups that plan things like landscape planting and cleanup. And I do the same thing, but I think if it’s not your local neighborhood or if you happen to be in a location where geography isn’t, doesn’t create your community that would say investing into the community, whether that’s your church, whether that’s a book club that you’re in, a, whether it’s an online group from your alma mater or whatever that might be. I think the most effective use of your money and time and it of course, like you said, your immediate family, but then it’s creating a community around you.
Evan Addams: 12:24 If you need to spend money to do that, if you need to spend money to be a part of an organization, or donating to an organization. I think for, especially as you think about kids, you want to build a community around them that supplements the values that you’re raising your family with and so the more we’ve done that in, the more we’ll be able to build those relationships. We do a Labor Day, Neighbor Day and it’s just an open block party. We put a sign out that says we’re making 200 hot dogs. Take them or leave them and we just get to meet the most interesting people who maybe roll out of bed in their PJ’s but want a hot dog and we have a good time and in those types of relationships have helped us as a family get closer to each other but sort of learn more about our community and be more effective.
Doug Smith: 13:17 You talked about getting up early and working out. I’m just curious, do you have any other unusual. Hopefully, that’s unusual, but do you have any unusual habits that enable you to be successful?
Evan Addams: 13:29 You know, I felt like I expanded my day. I again made a joke about breakfast. I’m doing breakfast meetings really expanded my day. I had a hard time getting people to meet me or do an internal meeting at 8:00 AM, but I found if you spend $10 on eggs you can get anybody to get up at 8:00 AM. So that was big and the other thing I’d add to that is I’m big on relationships so I know myself to a point now where even when things are flying high, I know I still just have psychological ups and downs like, well, I’m not sure how this is going to pan out or when I’m around great men and women I do better and so I am strategic about having a couple of people that I meet with monthly and I don’t say, hey, I’d like to meet with you monthly.
Evan Addams: 14:22 They’re friends, but I know that when I spend time with them, my day is better and so once a month I’ve got a list of. It’s actually about 10 people that I will see on a monthly basis. Coffee, maybe it’s a phone call, but usually, it’s in person, coffee, breakfast, whatever it might be in when I have those one or two meetings a week. Those are constant. I call them bumpers, you know, like a bowling ball going down the lane. I bounce off of them and they helped keep me sane or keep me on track. I try to do people who are same place and careers, meet people who are beyond where I am and some people who I can be helpful too in my experience. So I would say that’s a habit of having the right pillars in your life on a high frequency has been effective for me.
Doug Smith: 15:09 If you could go back and have coffee 10 years ago you were 20 years old, 20-year-old self?
Evan Addams: 15:15 Wow, now everyone knows I’m 30. You know, it’s, I think I would just say relax. I would say that if I’m sure 40-year-old Evan’s going to say the same thing. Like, just relax, and you try to plan everything man. You try to make all the i’s dotted, t’s crossed, figuring out exactly how you’re gonna make your millions and, and how you’re going to change the world. And, it’s not that I want 20-year-old Evan to have lower aspirations or change standards. It’s that, you know, and I’ll be spiritual. It’s that you can’t do this on your own. And the more that you try to hold everything tightly, the more you’re going to become a bottleneck tear on life. And we use that example of No Wait where I was an important part, but I became a bottleneck because I really wasn’t letting go enough.
Evan Addams: 16:15 And so from a spiritual side, it’s, it’s trust God, be peaceful. He’s going to take care of you. And beyond that, it’s not really about you Evan, you’re a part of a bigger plan of God doing some really cool stuff. So relax and enjoy yourself. And, I think, you know, I can, I can hear that now and I’m pretty sure, you know, if I, pray, I get to, to someday get to heaven and I hear exactly that phrase, which is like, relax you’re here now. Now you’ve got some more work to do up here, but relaxed. So, anyway, I think that’s the,
Evan Addams: 16:54 I think that’s the number one advice I have given myself 10 years ago.
Doug Smith: So one day when you get there at the end of your life, you will be there one day. What do you want to be remembered for, at least at this point in your journey?
Evan Addams: 17:05 Yeah, you know, I, I think, I’m actually going to take this much deeper than I usually try to give nice, lofty answers. I am very, thoughtful right now around, and I say that as a synonym to concerned around the way our culture is being impacted by technology. The biggest one in my mind is how much time we are glued to our, you can say social media, but our iPhones, I think it’s interesting that Mark Zuckerberg recently has said, wow, maybe we’re not impacting the world all the ways we hoped we are. Facebook changed their algorithm to make it more for friends and family-centric. The whole Russia bots thing, whatever, you know, whatever that is. Was it. It’s interesting that as a culture we’re now saying, okay, we found out that we can create all this amazing stuff. Now we need to ask ourselves why? In tat space, particularly, I would say we’re technology interacts with human interaction, human relationship, human connections, human communication.
Evan Addams: 18:19 I hope that a specific aspect of legacy beyond, you know, I could give nice answers for family and those are number one of course, but I really hope that and I do believe that God has something to say about the way we utilize technology for human flourishing and I want to dive deeper into that in my career and help us effectively as a culture, figure out how to increase human flourishing in a harmonious way with technology. Not throwing technology out the window, not allowing the robots to run our lives, but find the right way to truly think about what this next phase of existence will be as you know, as we continue to see increased automation and increased support from technology.
Doug Smith: 19:11 Yeah as we wrap up. Just want to. Someone’s saying this and they’re like, wow, I love this kid. Or this guy this 30-year-old man or 31,I want to connect with him or at least connect with what he’s doing and follow how can people connect with you? And then obviously be really open-ended. You can say anything you want to leave with our audience.
Evan Addams: 19:28 For sure. For sure. I’m in the midst of launching a splash page which will just be EvanAddams.com. And in lieu of that, while that’s coming up, my LinkedIn is the best place to generally grabbed me. I try to stay up to speed on that. So sending me a message there is, it is good in, in general, you know, I think the old adage is around it’s who you know and the focus on connections in business. I actually think that’s still true today as much as everything’s data-driven and I just, I still think life is about relationships and so, you know, I, I love connecting over coffee, but you know, in, a more specific phrase, I would say that I really would encourage the entrepreneurs out there, the aspiring entrepreneurs, the sales folks, the folks who are saying, okay, I want to build something here or maybe early stage career.
Evan Addams: 20:29 Those relationships, they’re not just important to get you a job. Those relationships are important to, as I said earlier, be the bumpers in your life, and so I encourage a lot of the folks listening to this as you’re trying to figure out, okay, what are some of the things I can do to create some success? How can let’s talk about different things. How can I lose weight this year? How can I save money this year? How can I become less angry this year? You can read books, you can take classes. Those are important things, but when you can find people who will gather around you, that community that we talked about, when you can even strategically texts people, Hey, I want to get together with you on Wednesday. Think ahead. I want to get together with you on Thursday. Fill your schedule with people who love you. That will help you as an entrepreneur help you as a seeking weight loser. It’ll help you as an aspiring financial success person and those people in your life will help you get to your goals and where you want to be.
Doug Smith: Well, thank you so much for your time tonight.
Evan Addams: Yeah, my pleasure.
Doug Smith: Thank you
Doug Smith: 21:39 everyone. Thank you so much for listening to our lightning round interview with Evan. I hope that you enjoyed it. You can find ways to connect with him and links to everything that we discussed in the show notes at L3leadership.org/199. Again, if you haven’t already, you can also go back and listen to part one of our interview in episode 198 where Evan shares the top lessons that he learned as the company grew, scaled and got sold to Yelp for $40 million dollars. So I encourage you to go back and listen to that as well. I want to thank our other sponsor, Henne Jewelers. They’re jeweler owned by my friend and mentor, John Henne, my wife Laura and I got our engagement rings through Henne Jewelers and we just love them as a company. Not only do they have great jewelry, but they also invest in people.
Doug Smith: 22:20 In fact, they give every engaged couple a book to help them prepare for their marriage and we just love that. So if you’re in need of a good jeweler, check out Hennejewelers.com, I also want to encourage you to stay up to date with everything we’re doing here at L3 Leadership. To do that, you can simply sign up for email lists on at L3leadership.org and you’ll start to get weekly emails updating you on everything that we’re doing here. As always, I like to end with a quote, and I love this quote. Someone once said this, they said, “When we’re no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” That’s so deep. “When we’re no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Thank you so much for listening and being a part of L3 Leadership. Laura, and I appreciate you so much and we will talk to you next episode.