Meals: Even if it’s not practical to do meals with every employee every day, at least make an effort to eat with employees a couple times per week. Over time, you’ll rotate through everyone (within reason) and this alone with provide a better relationship and quality of work life. 

I had the pleasure to interview Zeb Evans. Zeb is a serial entrepreneur who has started several software companies. Currently, he’s founder and CEO at ClickUp, a productivity platform where people plan their work.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve started several companies in the past and ClickUp was a result of an internal tool we were using for productivity. My goal was to be able to use one app for everything productivity, instead of using several disconnected apps.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I was absolutely shocked at how fast we were able to grow. I thought this was going to be the hardest industry in the world to penetrate, but it’s been a lot easier than anticipated. We’ve grown to over 40,000 teams in a little over a year – much faster than Asana, Basecamp, or Trello. 

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people? 

We’re working on ClickUp 2.0, which brings together tasks, notes, reminders, calendars, chat, docs, and spreadsheets – all in one app. This will be the first app of its kind and we truly believe we can make the world more productive, that’s the core of our mission. On average, Clickup 1.0 users are already 28% more productive – that’s almost 30% extra time they can spend on creating or with their families. 

Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview.  According to this study cited in Forbes,  more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?

First, people are pushed into the standard American path of, school, more school where you choose your career, then that career for the rest of your life. Unfortunately though, most people find out too late (after they graduate) that they don’t enjoy what they studied. Now it’s too late though – and most people stay on that path instead of changing it.  

Secondly, I think people simply are not growing. For me, happiness is all about growth. Not just in work, but in everyone in life. If you aren’t growing, you aren’t being stimulated. At ClickUp, our core goal for employees is growth. You’re never locked into a role – for example, even if you have a customer service title, you can spend 40% of your time on other areas that interest you such as marketing or content. 

Based on your experience or research,  how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?

Obviously being unhappy at work has a profoundly negative impact down the chain. Not only does it affect peers, but it affects customers, and yes ultimately the bottom line.

Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?

  1. Encourage employees to work on other things aside from their designated role: this has aided us tremendously in our scalable growth of our workforce. But it also has enabled us to find strengths in people that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. I believe  that anyone, can do anything. It’s just a matter of time and dedication. We’ve discovered hidden talents in numerous employees that otherwise would have been pigeonholed into a specific role. 
  2. Have a good sense of humor: this may seem little, but goes a long way when you work with people constantly. 
  3. It’s all about growth: ensure your team is growing in every way, that’s the key to happiness and stimulation 
  4. Freedom: provide more freedom in all areas of work life, it will ultimately have a net positive impact in nearly every way 
  5. Meals: even if it’s not practical to do meals with every employee every day, at least make an effort to eat with employees a couple times per week. Over time, you’ll rotate through everyone (within reason) and this alone with provide a better relationship and quality of work life. 

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?  

Personally, I think it’s about providing more freedom at work. As a libertarian, I see this is the core of what makes people creative and ultimately what produces happiness. We have to trust that people will do the right thing, and if they don’t, then they aren’t right and you can move on. But at least give them a chance. 

How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?

Just like above – more of a “learn by doing” style with radical freedom in working in other areas that aren’t necessarily part of your title. 

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I went to a Tony Robbins conference after dropping out of college, and that gifted me an entirely new perspective on life. 

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Absolutely. It’s been a bit of a journey but I’ve learned that money can make you happy, if you give it away. I’m extremely passionate and involved with eradicating the poverty industry that’s created poverty in third world countries. I am working with a crypto app in Africa to help distribute land rights to locals so that they can finally start businesses and bring themselves out of poverty. I’m also involved with releasing non-violent offenders from prison and providing a path to working in normal society. 

Can you please give us your favorite  “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? 

Once you realize you do not have to live life following what appears to be the norm, you open yourself up to experience true happiness. You allow yourself to enjoy the fullness of the human experience with no limitations.

Society, especially American society today, pressures people into cookie cutter lives. We want everyone to do great in school, go to college, find a career, and do that for the rest of your life. That’s not what makes you happy, necessarily. And unfortunately, you find that out way too late. This explains why people are so unhappy at work – they aren’t doing what they want to do. But now that they’ve got their degree, they have no other choice. 

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement  that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I always say this but anyone can do anything. Especially with the advent of the internet. If you don’t like your job, then fucking change it. You can learn anything online – spend your nights learning what interests you. And only when you’ve mastered it, leave your current job. If you spend just 2-3 hours a day, after 6 months, you’ll be an expert in pretty much anything related to a position you want to pursue.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success!