David Allen Profile (Nimbus/Biz 941)

Cover of Cover via AmazonBy Bob Andelman
July 2007

Fast Company magazine called New College alum David Allen (’68) “one of the world’s most influential thinkers on productivity.”

Lots of people know the work of Allen these days through the reach of major profiles in Time and Business 2.0 magazines, as well as his popular books, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity and Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life, and management seminars.

Based now in Ojai, California, Allen is an admitted late bloomer in life who left New College and Sarasota in the mid-1960s for the California Zen. His path took him through the heart of the ‘70s New Age movement, during which he developed a relationship with pop psych guru John-Roger and his Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness. Along the way, Allen married four times, finally hitting pay dirt with Kathryn, with whom in 1996 he founded and runs the David Allen Company (www.davidco.com ), which had 2006 revenues of $6 million and 32 employees. His approach to organization and efficiency has hit the right note with thousands of people nationwide.

“I happen to like no-stress; I like clear space in my head,” Allen says. “I think everybody can relate to feeling buried and confused. But if you make a list, you feel better. If you realize that, you will never feel confused the rest of your life. That’s what I figured out. Get stuff out of your head, realize what it means to you and you can negate that stuff.”

Allen, 61, a Louisiana native who once made his presence known on campus with the roar of his motorcycle, has nothing but fond memories of his unconventional education at New College.

“It makes people like me who don’t fit in, fit in,” he says. “It was a great, noble experiment. It certainly was a microcosm of a lot of the world, a great window into a lot of opportunity, a lot of bright people thrown into a small space. I’ve always loved the idea of a salon, where people of like minds get together and things happen. New College created a fertile atmosphere for that. I still feel a sense of gratitude to New College for having had that experience there.”


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Copyright 2009 Will Eisner: A Spirited Life by Bob Andelman