wears many hats- he’s an author, international lecturer, a productivity consultant and the author of the international best seller "Getting Things Done." The 71-year-old says that until his 30s he wanted to become the president of the United States
and then he decided to start his own venture.
His 30 years of pioneering research, coaching and education stemmed from doing multiple jobs such as a waiter, magician, karate instructor, landscaper, vitamin distributor, glass-blowing lathe operator, travel agent, gas station manager, U-Haul dealer, moped salesman, restaurant cook, personal growth trainer, manager of a lawn service company, and manager of a travel agency.
Business Insider caught up with the man to discuss his interesting career path and his perspective on productivity with businesses that has helped companies like the Lockheed Corporation. Allen
had a lot of advice to dish out to the small businesses that struggle with the work-life balance.
On trial and error
“When I graduated, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. Much like most young people I decided to have multiple personal explorations before I started my own business,” said Allen who claims to have had 35 jobs before the age of 35 years.
“I was always the Number 2 guy. All my friends started their own businesses and I just helped them realize their dreams,” Allen got easily bored and switched jobs constantly. He was always adventurous and didn’t let limited qualifications stop him.
Don’t wait for an opportunity
When it comes to ambitions, Allen has a simple philosophy, “Ask yourself what would my ideal world look like and then work towards creating that life. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity and just engage. I wish I had just done this exercise before jumping from job to job.”
Allen attributes his success as an entrepreneur to always being curious, “I always asked myself how things work and never felt uncomfortable to ask questions.”
Engage, Engage, Engage
Another advice Allen gives entrepreneurs is to go after what attracts you. “Take out the people you admire for coffee. Engage with them and never be afraid to take a risk if it feels right.
The key for Allen has always been to understanding your commitments before working towards them. He was named the Top 5 consultant in the US by Forbes
magazine and he still reaffirms that he can’t force people to work in a team.
“You can’t force people to work like you do but you can do your best. Present the best example with whatever you’re doing and you will make others feel compelled to have their act together.”
Write all of it down
While David Allen has seen his consultancy grow from scratch, he is still a big believer of micro-managing.
“Your head is a terrible office and so it is very important to have an external brain. As an entrepreneur, you have to capture your ideas. Write it down, decide what the next action is and organize your reminders to accomplish the next steps. When you don’t have a to-do list, you will always be missing out on something important and this is what causes unnecessary stress.”
So do write it all down and even if you can’t get it all done, you’ll hopefully still have a story like Allen to tell from all the notes.