54

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. ↩

Join 25,000 Smart People...


If you enjoyed this post, I'll let you know that my email newsletter is where the real fun is. Productivity wit and wisdom, not too long, and always a good time.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 54 comments
KevinMorrison

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

Reply
Ian Patrick Hines

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

Reply
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. 🙂

Reply
Jamie

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

Reply
Louis

#congratulations
#wisdom
#prayer

Reply
davistech

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

Reply
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.

Reply
Jean MacDonald

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

Reply
FrankLipski

Brett,

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!

Frank

Reply
Darren

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

Reply
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.

C

Reply
Donnie Law

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

Reply
Andy Traub

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

Reply
MikeVardy

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.

Reply
Tyler

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

Reply
HilaryMelton-Butcher

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

Reply
DanielHaaf

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

Reply
JudyChaffee

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!!

Reply
ScottElias

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

Reply
KatybethJensen-Ruscitti

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

Reply
Cristi

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

Reply
jksarlington

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.

Reply
Micke

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:

/Micke

Reply
Gail Morris

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

Reply
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

Reply
MariaCochrane

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!

Reply
MaryBerry

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.
Congrats!

Reply
GiuseppeDella Chiesa

Well done !

Reply
Cinders

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!

Reply
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

Reply
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.

Gayle

Reply
Mike Hamilton

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.

Reply
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.

Reply
Vicki

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!

Reply
MarilynBoling

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

Reply
Darryl Brooks

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!

Reply
    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.

    Reply
TeresaNorth

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.

Reply
Chase

CONGRATS YOU GODDAM ANIMAL!

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!

Reply
KjellNorden

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.

Reply
GregBrown

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

Reply
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!

Reply
RyanOakley

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.

Reply
Jerry Katz

New Adventures are Real Adventures! Much Luck!

Reply
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!!

Reply
jhgoldberger

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

Reply
GabrielPonzanelli

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

Reply
maglizm

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

Reply
raindance15

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

Reply
StefanSchulte-Strathaus

Brett,

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,
Stefan

Reply
Craig

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.

Reply
JasonJohnson

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!

Reply
MichaelTrimarchi

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

Reply
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.

Reply

Leave a Reply: