Talking resilience with Evan Sharp of Pinterest

Bite-sized insights from thought leaders | Resilience, part 2

Evan Sharp, Pinterest co-founder, joins us for a 12 Questions interview.

Our 12 Questions series takes you into the minds of influential leaders to discuss today’s hot topics. Read their fresh views on leadership, managing through change, and the ins and outs of modern work. Think of it as your office hours with some of the most innovative people in business.

We continue our seven part interview around resilience with design mastermind, Evan Sharp. Evan, is the co-founder of Pinterest, where he also leads all design efforts at the micro-sharing juggernaut. A former architect, Evan finds inspiration from pinning interesting maps, science facts, architecture, vacation plans, and fonts for his design projects. Before Pinterest, Evan worked at Facebook as a product designer.

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Thanks, Evan, for taking part in this series. To begin, can you describe your career in 12 words or less?


Straight to the point! Given the current state of the world, everyone is talking about resilience. What does being resilient mean to you?

For me, it often means saying “no” and compromising on one thing, in order to be uncompromising somewhere else.

And how has your thinking about it changed in 2020?

It reminded me how much change itself requires resilience.

In a lot of ways compromise, as you mentioned, is about change too. And how have you come to understand the importance of resilience in your own career?

I think most of the work I do that is any good happens because I keep at it longer than many people would say makes sense. So for me resilience leads to simplicity and excellence.

When was the last time you had to check in with yourself?

I do this several times a day: with how I’m feeling, or even by meditating.

Is there a time when you wish you were more resilient?

I’m never as resilient as I want to be.

How do you usually stay connected with your team?

Generally through weekly check-ins, emails, texts or calls. Like most, we're currently working remotely, so everything has to be either online or over the phone. I just try to be sure I'm staying in touch as consistently as possible.

What are some mistakes we all make when it comes to resilience?

I tend to become self-critical, “why aren’t you more resilient, Evan?” But that puts even more pressure on me, which requires even more resilience. So now I try and be self-compassionate instead of self-critical and remember that I’m good enough just the way I am.

How can people be more resilient in their work-life?

Be aware of how you feel. When you're ready to give-up, tell yourself: that’s the pain of growth.

Who's the most resilient person that you know? Why?

My 1 1/2 daughter. It doesn’t matter how many times she falls down or can’t quite get something to work. She always tries it again!

If you could leave people with one piece of advice about how to deal with what's happening right now in the world, what would it be?

Whatever hardship you face, make some time to consciously dream—to visualize your future.

Said like a true philosopher. Finally, what's one memory from a job you'll never forget?

I injured my wrist screwing in the legs to the dozens of IKEA desks we ordered in the early days of Pinterest. You really do have to do everything yourself when you’re in a startup!

Evan Sharp, Co-founder of Pinterest
"Whatever hardship you face, make some time to consciously dream."—Evan Sharp

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Talking resilience with Evan Sharp of Pinterest
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