Interview: Dave Seah

Many years ago I found Dave on the internet as the creator of the Emergent Task Planner, a printable productivity form. Since then he has developed a side business for functional stationary on Amazon, time for me to catch up with him.

Hi Dave, tell us a bit about yourself

Dave Seah Photo: Sid Ceaser “Sure, I was always a bit of a form and productivity nerd, even when I was a kid. When I discovered carbon paper for instance, I was so excited… I could make more than one thing at the same time! We didn’t have a photocopier or anything. So, in 4th grade I started a club, just so I could create membership-forms and use carbon paper to duplicate them. Three if I pressed hard enough!”.

“I wanted to be a computer game maker and went to study computer engineering, in the first place to make computers that could play better games. But by the time I graduated, these better computers already existed, so I shifted toward software and got a fine arts master’s degree in computer graphics design. This makes me a bridge person, with technical and artistic understanding”.

How do you generate your income?

“By doing contract work (but only with people I know and have met before) and I have the income from the Amazon sales”.

Can you tell us a little bit about your business on Amazon?

“I’ve been creating these planners, functional stationary, and I thought it would be cool to have my own physical product with my name on it. It turned out to be a great experiment creating it, with finding the right type of paper to write on and picking just the right shade of Pantone”.

“I asked some of my readers what they’d like and settled on a pricing that would allow me to make some money but at the same time attract buyers. At first most of the referrals came from my own blog and related articles on the web, but soon sales came from Amazon directly, people where starting to find me. It is now starting to generate a very decent income for me”.


What did you learn from this?

“That I love making up stuff and somehow earn money with it!”.

“At the same time I learned that I didn’t like the operational side of it, the packaging, labeling, inventory and driving to the post-office on a daily basis. After a while I decided to outsource that to Amazon too, although that was a pain to figure out in the first place. Took me 6 months!”.

– Actually, Dave shared thoughts on a profitability sheet comparing the costs of using Amazon and of Shopify store.

“Another thing I learned, about my blog, I didn’t know what to write about at first. When I started I thought I would be writing about interactive design and to share the knowledge that I had. Eventually I ended up blogging about every cool thing that catches my eye.

I read about your Six Big Goals, can you tell us a bit more about that?

“Yes, well it took me a while to get comfortable with pursuing things that interest me and to try and see if I can somehow make a living with that. Contract work if fine, especially if you -like me- are in the position to work with people you like and projects you care about. But as I’m getting older, my desire for a sustainable living grows”.

“I have been doing the Groundhog-day resolutions for a while and I was reviewing those and I saw trends of recurring ideas and lack of progress. At least 6 of those ideas stuck with me and I’ve committed to achieving these goals by 2024“.

Do you have any advice or tips?

“Conduct small experiments and see what happens. Just take 5 minutes and see where it leads. Set an alarm for 5 minutes, if it doesn’t work then stop and move on, 5 minutes well spend. If you think you’re on to something however, add 5 more minutes. Add 15 minutes more minutes and see how much more you can get done. If by then you are on fire and want to add another 15 minutes, you know you are on to something. This works with procrastination and with fear of failure”.

“By the way… about the fear of failure: I have a fear of failure – and I will ask myself “how much damage I can do, will this get me fired?”. No? Then; “will this actually kill me?”. No? Start experimenting!”.

“Check out a thing called “structured procrastination”, John Perry wrote a book about it (“The art of procrastination“). It’s about about procrastinating with other useful work”.

“Lastly, I’m also running with live streaming, where people can see me work, ask questions and basically virtually work with me. It’s on youtube, you should check it out.”

Find Dave online:

Photo credit: Sid Ceaser

Thanks Dave for your time, you are awesome! And that you for reading, you are awesome too, I hope you know that!

btw: this interview is in english as I want to move these interviews to – in order to do so, there will be a short summer recess with no interviews.