Why I left my job at Evernote (and what I’m doing next) – Brett Kelly

Why I left my job at Evernote (and what I’m doing next)

Today is my last day at Evernote.

Since my working there has been a big plot point in my little Cinderella narrative, I thought I’d explain why I’m leaving and where I plan to go.

“Fine, I’ll bite — why are you leaving?”

Glad you asked!

Our pal Bilbo Baggins described it better than I ever could:

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

Between my work at Evernote and running a moderately-successful side business, the people that matter most to me—my family—spent the last several years getting the short end of my attention stick. When they happened at all, quiet evenings with the family were punctuated by Dad the Dumbass constantly looking at his phone or stepping away for a minute to take care of something “urgent” (note: these things were almost never urgent).

Becoming yet another super (self-)important Internet busy-body bit me squarely on the keister. Like, hard. I never planned for it to be that way, but that’s probably true of most people in my position.

My leaving Evernote is part of a larger effort to bring the pendulum back toward the middle of… whatever it is that a pendulum swings in.1 Something had to give and, after careful consideration, my job at Evernote was the only real candidate for the chopping block.

(N.B.: This has nothing to do with Evernote; it’s a fantastic company with a grand vision and I’m proud as punch to have been a part of what they’re doing. Staffed by some of the smartest, most driven folks I’ve ever met, I have no problem believing that Evernote will exist for the next 94 years and beyond.)

Put way more simply, I want my and my family’s life to be simpler and slower. Making cool Internet stuff is great and everything, but I’m looking forward to playing with my kids, having drinks with my wife, and reading books without feeling like I’m ignoring anything.

“Sounds fab Mr. Internet Doofus, but are your kids going to eat ‘Fatherly Devotion on a Bed of Quinoa’ or do you have some plan for making money? Hmm?”

I do have a plan, yes. In a nut, my little writing business (which is comprised of this blog and Evernote Essentials) has just become my full-time gig. As you read this, my fancy new business cards reading “Independent Writer” are being printed and shipped to my home.2

Joking aside, I guess I really am a full-blown, professional writer now. It’s kinda weird to say, to be honest, but it’ll do for now.

As far as what I’m actually writing, I’ve got a few things in the hopper. First and foremost, the next version of Evernote Essentials will be out quite soon. If you’ve already bought it, keep an eye out. If you haven’t and you feel like supporting a newly-minted independent writer, I can think of worse links to click.

You can also expect blog posts more often than my previous editorial schedule of “once a frickin’ quarter whenever I feel like it.” A couple of posts per week is my tentative goal, but we’ll see how we go.

Other ideas are sloshing around in my head—at least one of them will almost certainly become a reality—but I’ve learned my lesson about announcing things before they’re even remotely finished, so the lid is staying on the rest of it for awhile.

That’s the long and the short of it. I’m excited for what’s next.

Thanks for stopping by and, if you like what I do here, expect a good deal more of it starting, well, now.

  1. Look, I’m not a frickin’ poet. Slack is appreciated. ↩
  2. Note: this isn’t actually true. ↩

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Good luck, Brett. I’m looking forward to what you do.

Ian Patrick Hines

Congrats, man. I’m really stoked for you. It’ll prove to be right choice. I know it.

Gwen Hernandez

Good luck, Brett! I’ve had several of these realigning-life-with-my-values moments, and the shift has always been worth it. 🙂


Congrats, Brett! I think this will be really good for you and your family and I wish you the best.




I applaud your courage and your decision. Will keep watching for your posts and books. Good luck!

Jamie Phelps

Best of luck, friend. Can’t wait to read what words fall out of your head and onto my computer screens next. 🙂 Hugs and hand pounds.

Jean MacDonald

Good for you, Brett–I’m sure you will be successful! (And yes, I know the feeling…)



I totally get where you are coming from on this. I like the Gwen said it “realigning moments”. I look at these moments as a celebration of success that now are causing us to make more choices on our journey.

I have no doubt you will be successful no matter which direction you would have chosen. But I will say as a supporter of your Evernote Essentials “Stuff”, I am glad you chose that!

Good Luck with your realignment!



What a wonderful post! Love your sense of humour and your take on everything. Congratulations on making the decision to ENJOY your life!

Collin Schoenfeld

Good choice my friend and very proud of you. Jobs come and go, but you can never get the time back with your family. I truly wish I could make the same decision.


Donnie Law

Exciting! (but scary). You’ll do great.

Andy Traub

Sounds like you’re making a decision that will change generations. Well said and well done. Good call.


Stoked for you, buddy. Welcome to the club! Can’t wait to see what you unleash to the world because it will undoubtedly be stellar.


Pumped for you, sir! So fun to see how you’ve navigated your journey.


Hi Brett – thanks for updating us .. and I’m looking forward to getting your next version of Evernote Essentials … as I finally intend to see catch up with technical life.

Good luck and yes I’ll be interested to see your new direction … cheers Hilary


Best of luck with your choise, Brett. And many greetings from a swedish reader and appreciater. Your work is much appreciated.


Well done! At such an early age, you figured out what really matters!! You can always reinvent yourself, (and it looks like you are). The one thing you can never find again, is this time with your family, congratulations!!


Congrats on making the switch! All the best to you and your family for continued success.


Thanks for the update. Good Luck. And I’ll look forward to more great things from you.


Inspired by the courage. Hope that the new adventure will be very rewarding!


Congrats on the transition to the Independent world. Anything that takes away too much time from family isn’t a good thing.

More and more people are realizing the need to find ways to make their own time by creating their own working environment.


Hey Brett!

Its a decision I think most people in any non-linear kind of career are pondering daily… glad you had the guts to do something about it.

Good luck, best regards from a reader of yours in Sweden:


Gail Morris

Congrats! Looking forward to the update on the book…and much more…

Mike Asbury

It takes great courage and humility to make this confession and take this step, Brett. I applaud both! Also looking forward to more great stuff from you! -Mike


Don’t forget to look up toward God. He is why we are all here. Every molecule in the universe is held together by Jesus. That’s reason enough to seek Him.
And I second all the affirmations you’re getting. You are moving in a sane and healthy direction. And yes that IS scary!


You go, Brett! Happy for you and I know you’ll make it work for the best. For me, it was moving to the country 5 years ago. It was scary, but we did it, started a farm, and even though it’s a ton of work punctuated by an occasional heartbreak, I wouldn’t have things any other way.

GiuseppeDella Chiesa

Well done !


Good luck; I am looking forward to the promised update.

I worked for a wise man many years ago; he told me that no one on their death bed ever says that they wish they had spent more time at work…. and I can tell you from experience that your children grow up too fast. We made the time for our children when it counted, and now that they are adults, they are our best friends! Now our focus is making the time to have a relationship with our grandchildren; the kind of relationship that carries forward into their adulthood (God willing) and is demonstrated by them visiting us because they “want” to and not because they “have” to… Best wishes, your future is bright!

Bryan Tevreden

Well, Brett,

It is not often that I leave comments on blogs but here is the exception. I have had so much fun reading Essentials and it changed the way I use Evernote dramatically. So thank you for that and gifted as you are, I am sure this change of route will work out wonderfully as well. If not now, then shortly thereafter.

Soon, Bryan

Gayle Scroggs

Bravo, Brett!

You are a wonderful role model . . . not for “remembering everything” but for “remembering the most important things.”

Best wishes as you move forward, Brett.



You may well have made the best decision of your young life, my man, and I’m proud you did. My wife quit a very good job she loved when our first child was born, and later, I made a similar move, so I could be my own boss. I’ve never regretted it, never gone hungry, and I have the finest children and grandchildren you could ever hope to meet. My oldest grandson works for Evernote, in Austin! You are a very good writer and will do well following your heart. Good luck and God bless you.

I’ll buy a second copy on my Kindle when the revision comes out, just to help a bit, and will certainly give you a good review and recommend your stuff to my friends.

Dragan Ruzic

I wish you best of luck Brett, taking the time to take a big breath – it’s a big decision to go 100% freelance. OK, you might end up in couple of contracted assignments and all, but still.
Great move, looking forward to the update of Evernote Essentials.


Congratulations on taking the first big step to your new life! As a mom whose kids are already grown and have a life of their own, I can truly say that I regret the many times that I chose business over family. Stay true to your goal of raising some great adults, and invest your time wisely. Kuddos!


Best decision ever — you will never regret it! I applaud your courage and integrity.


It’s a beautiful thing that you’re doing! I wish you every success, and also thank you for doing this at this very time when I’m especially needing some encouragement and motivation by example. I’m about to retire from my “career” and am very much looking for a new normal in my life. I want to continue to work but at something that is really a personal expression, not just doing someone’s bidding. Thanks again!

    Jan Rifkinson

    As a retired citizen, I can tell you that you are taking an essential step to find balance in your life. Too many people miss this step, I’m afraid. It takesawareness, guts & determination. Congratulations & welcome to a new balanced life. It’s quite different & extremely satisfying.


Congrats. Having made a similar decision in the recent past, but never as well described as having too much bread and not enough butter, it is congratulations I offer, not solace, pity, etc., but goodness.



As a semi-pro internetter, I applaud your leap.

As an ever-failing dad, I fear for your sanity. (kids are the WORST).

As a mostly-black white dude, I think your rhythm is atrocious.

And as a drink bar loacl I luv you soew munch maaaannn!!!!11!


You have one life and it’s to short, way not build your dreams. I should have done the same and I have done it.


Brett, your kids and wife will thank you. Great move. Finally a real man putting what is important first.

Simon Fernandes

Congratulations! It’s heartening to see people like yourself making the most of what they have, but most of all, being honest about what matters to them inside. Thanks for being one of them!


One day I will have your guts.

I mean…….one day, I hope to write a blog post similar to yours – announcing to the world that I’m doing my own-thing full-time full-on.

Good on ya Brett. Big fan.

Jerry Katz

New Adventures are Real Adventures! Much Luck!

Tobias Rimkus

Thank you for this wonderful post. Quite inspirational actually!! So happy to hear about your decision as family is indeed all that counts!!! Looking forward to reading much more of your upcoming work!!


Way to go Brett and good luck with the writing career. Whatever else you do please keep publishing Evernote Essentials.


Goon on you. I wish you the best and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your writing.


All the best to you and your family, Brett – I enjoy your writing style and look forward to seeing more of it.


I applaud your choice… I like your style. Kudos. J



Clearly not an easy decision that you made here. But sounds well thought through.
All the best for you, your family and your growing business.

I am looking forward for the next book coming from you.



Best of luck to you, Brett. BTW, I’d love to know more about your “little writing business.” I’m trying to start one, too, and I’d like to know how you did it. Email me offline.


Too cool Brett. Congratulations! What an adventure. What you shared about the family getting “the short end of my attention stick” has been a struggle for me the past couple years and it was good to hear recognize the problem and find your solution. I’m still working on the finding my solution part but it’s very encouraging hearing you share your experience. Thanks!


You will never regret “family first”. Best wishes, great writing!

Louis R.Stephens

That’s really a breadth of fresh air Brett. I am a Front-End Developer for a digital marketing agency with a majority of auto dealerships and I get an “Urgent” task almost daily. It’s ridiculous how business is changing into something that is keeping us constantly connected to work matters. I blame it ALL on notifications. Where has work/life balance gone?! I have since turned notifications off and if it’s really “Urgent” I’ll get a call or I’ll open an angry thread of emails the next day or Monday morning. It’s funny how our clients think just because something is important it has do be taken care of right then, instead of the next business day. Granted, there are truly urgent matters, but I honestly feel that people need to really put these things into perspective better or get over themselves, because sometimes it’s merely an ego thing (a lot of times, really). So, good for you and your ability to take control. Happy for you and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for you. Good luck and God Bless.


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