Your first act is school, your second act is work, but have you thought about what you’re going to do in your third act? Join host Liz Tinkham, a former Accenture Senior Managing Director, as she talks to guests who are happily “pretired” – enjoying their time, treasure, and talent to pursue their purpose and passion in the third act of their life.
Inspire others to get more and to do more later in life.
Athena helps women achieve executive-level leadership expertise, polish their boardroom and executive knowledge, get closer to board seats, and make leaps in their careers.
On today’s show, Liz talks with Eva Nahari—The Queen of Garbage Collection. Eva developed her love for computer science after a strange encounter with a creepy guy on a subway platform in her native home of Stockholm, Sweden. She graduated during the post dot-com bubble and had a tough time finding a job, until she described a way to clean up garbage java code to a prospective employer.
That first job launched a two-decade career solving difficult problems across a variety of Silicon Valley tech companies as a top Product Manager. But eventually, her career plateaued and she got stuck—unable to figure out how to get to the next level and increasingly angrier with her inability to solve the problem. Fortunately, a good friend introduced her to an older and wiser career coach who taught her how to allow herself to exist in an uncomfortable state with no plan and no immediate problem to solve. She told Eva that this state would allow her to be open to the most possibilities and, lo and behold, it worked.
Today, Eva is applying her problem-solving skills as Principal at DNX Ventures, a Tokyo and Silicon Valley VC where she continues her love of software development as an investor in early-stage tech companies.
3:48 The Creepy Guy
10:34 The Queen of garbage collection
13:39 Career start and going where she was scared
16:08 Getting stuck
20:58 Stay in an unclear direction state
25:57 Going from a square to a circle
29:22 Becoming a Venture Capitalist
34:55 Eva’s View
You can find more about Eva Nahari here. She also writes a Substack blog called Eva’s View. In the episode, Eva mentions the book Ground of Your Own Choosing by Beverly Ryle—learn more about the book here.
If you enjoyed the podcast, please subscribe and share a review. Engage with more stories of those finding fulfillment in the third act of their lives on Liz Tinkham’s Third Act podcast at thirdactpodcast.com.
Liz Tinkham (00:18):
Hi, this is Liz Tinkham and welcome to Third Act, a podcast about people embracing the third act of their lives with a new sense of purpose and direction. The third act begins when your script ends but your show is not finished.
Liz Tinkham (00:34):
Hi, and welcome to Third Act. Today, I talk with Eva Nahari, the queen of garbage collection. Eva developed her love for computer science after a strange encounter with a creepy guy on the subway platform in her native home of Stockholm, Sweden. She graduated during the post .com bubble and had a tough time finding a job until she described a way to clean up garbage Java code to a prospective employer. That first job at a subsidiary of BEA Systems launched a two decade career solving difficult problems across a variety of Silicon Valley tech companies as a top product manager. But eventually her career plateaued and she got stuck, unable to figure out how to get to the next level and increasingly more angry with her inability to solve the problem.
Liz Tinkham (01:20):
Fortunately, a good friend introduced her to an older and wiser career coach who taught her how to allow herself to exist in an uncomfortable state, with no plan and no immediate problem to solve. She told Eva that this state would allow her to be open to the most possibilities, and lo and behold, it worked. Today Eva is applying her problem solving skills as a principal at DNX Ventures, a Tokyo and Silicon Valley VC firm, where she continues her love of software development as an investor in early stage technology companies.
Liz Tinkham (02:00):
Eva, welcome and thanks for joining Third Act. Where do I find you today?
Eva Nahari (02:03):
Well, I’m actually in Mountain View in my home, in my son’s room, so I’m surrounded by all this wonderful, cheerful art and toys.
Liz Tinkham (02:13):
Why in your son’s room? Is that your best podcast room?
Eva Nahari (02:15):
Liz Tinkham (02:16):
Eva Nahari (02:19):
But it’s very warming, it’s heartwarming and creative in here, so that’s a good spot.
Liz Tinkham (02:25):
Oh, well good. Well, I’m thrilled to have you on the show and I want to really get into it because you have a great first act story, which includes a creepy guy. So, can’t wait to hear it. So you’re Swedish, started college as an electrical engineering major. Why electrical engineering? What were you thinking?
Eva Nahari (02:42):
I had applied for it or I had the paperwork done and it was more like I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I feel like college students I talk to today is very much in the same boat. I have to make a life choice and I don’t know what to do. What do I like? I don’t even know what to apply for. And I was in that boat and I looked at my sister who went to electrical engineering the year before me, and I’m like yeah, why not? At least I can borrow her books.
Liz Tinkham (03:14):
To keep the costs down.
Eva Nahari (03:19):
So it was very random. My dad is also an engineer, but I never really knew what that was, I guess. It was hard to understand, and in school I had interest of both arts and language and I thought I was going to be a writer one day. That was my interest more on the creative and art side, but I also had interest in math and chemistry, but in the end, electrical engineering, because why not?
Liz Tinkham (03:48):
Why not? There was your sister. I mean, it’s interesting that two girls from the same family go into engineering. That’s really great. But then you were telling me that this creepy guy follows you, which leads to a change from electrical engineering to computer science, so please unwind that story for us.
Eva Nahari (04:02):
I was, I guess, I was like 18. I must have been 18, 19 because I was out in Stockholm where I’m born and raised. You’re allowed to be out in the bars when you’re 18, so I had just been with some friends. I was on my way home. You only go by subway in Stockholm, you don’t need anything else, so I was in the subway station. It must have been after midnight. I felt this guy, not really a normal guy following me and I moved away and he came after, I moved away. He came after, and I’m like okay, this is starting to creep me out. So I went and stood next to this decent-looking gentleman with like, a suit and a briefcase and like, okay.
Liz Tinkham (04:46):
He was in the subway too after midnight?
Eva Nahari (04:48):
He was a safer bet than the creepy guy. I could have been wrong. I could have been wrong, but I made my risk assessment and I’m like I’m going to just stand next to this guy. And that guy is like, “Hey, that guy is following you. You can stand here if you want and we can chat.” I’m like, “Thank you.” Yes, they could have worked together, who knows, but you have to make your bet sometimes. And I started talking to this gentleman and then he was very nice and we entered the same subway cart, and turns out he was an electrical engineer, graduated and working, and we talked about that and he said, “If I were to choose today, like you are, I would go into computer science. That’s the future. I would do that a hundred percent.” I came home around 1:00 AM, 2:00 AM, and I changed my application to computer science and then I sent it in.
Liz Tinkham (05:41):
Oh my gosh, that’s so funny. And of course, he never knew, right? Because that was … You never saw him again.
Eva Nahari (05:45):
No, but thank you, if you’re listening.
Liz Tinkham (05:48):
Yeah, thank you. Thank you. If you know who you are, the non creepy guy. So how did you end up getting your first job then, in computer science?
Eva Nahari (05:54):
Well, that was interesting. So fast forward four and a half, five years, I was looking for my master thesis job and I had a lot of options in the spring of 2001, and I had signed up for a job. I was going to simulate pacemakers. That was what I was going to do.
Liz Tinkham (06:17):
Was this going to be in Sweden somewhere?
Eva Nahari (06:19):
Yeah. And then I went on a trip with my friends. We had saved up, we had worked and saved up for money to go around the world and visit different interesting places, New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Tokyo, and then back to Stockholm. And then when I came back, the IT bubble had happened, the crash had happened. All jobs were gone and I’m like, “Okay, I still have my master thesis project. I don’t have any money left.” I was counting on that first salary, but I had to go through every connection I’ve ever made during my university years. I had collected all these business cards from job fairs and guest speakers and any connection because everybody encouraged me to connect, take every connection you can during college, and I did that. Lucky me.
Liz Tinkham (07:10):
And thankfully you saved all the cards too.
Eva Nahari (07:12):
Yes, I did. That must have been the universe or something. So I had about hundred or more that I just went through and emailed and most of them bounced, like all the companies had gone, right? And then there were some that like, “Yeah, we might take you in but we can’t pay you.” And I’m like I had rent to pay, I needed food, and I didn’t want to run back to dad and kind of ask for a loan or anything. So I’m like I got to figure this out. This is real life. And then I was down to two cards, and one of them was a friend from the choir at Royal Institute of Technology, where I went, and okay, but he works at this company that only recruits the best of the best every year. And I’m like mediocre, I’m not that guy or gal, there was no gals in that category in computer science, but yeah, I was not … I was mediocre.
Eva Nahari (08:06):
And I’m like, I’m just going to email this guy and see, maybe he knows of someone else who looks for a master thesis project person. And I emailed him. I’m like, “Hey, I’m not really asking you, but do you have another position?” I knew that they filled one already with the best guy. And I’m like maybe they have one more, but I’m not sure I want to work with a job, a virtual machine. It’s like what is that? It’s something super techy, geeky. I was going to change the world with machine learning and simulate pacemakers and help lives. That was my drive. And here’s like JVM, a little component that translates software, Java language to assembler instructions and the operating. I mean, it’s so low level, nobody knows what that is. And I’m like I don’t really want to work with that. And then he responds as like, “You have an interview on Monday.”
Liz Tinkham (09:05):
Oh my goodness.
Eva Nahari (09:06):
I didn’t want one. So I go to this office dressed like me, which is a skirt and a little cute top, and I don’t know if I wore high heels, but that’s me. And I meet all these like jeans and t-shirt guys, all guys, everywhere guys, and I’m just feeling how wrong I am just by being dressed wrong. I should have shown up in jeans and a t-shirt. I was just not a fit. And I sit there super nervous and all the founders interview me across the table at the same time, that was intimidating in itself. “We have this project and this project.” And then I hear myself.
Eva Nahari (09:52):
They don’t hire anyone unless they come up with their own idea, that’s the rumor they have. So the night before I have basically almost cried and tear my hair out, I had to come up with an idea of my own, right? And I looked into old notes from guests speaking from the company and I realized okay, I want to do machine learning, and they’re doing a Java virtual machine. How the heck can I combine the two? And I came out with this crazy idea of teaching the memory management system of when to free up memory without impacting anything running on that Java virtual machine. So it was like a learning garbage collector. That’s what it’s called.
Liz Tinkham (10:31):
Yeah. Yeah, the learning garbage collector. I love that.
Eva Nahari (10:34):
I’m like the queen of garbage collection. Anyway, so I sit there and I hear these projects proposed to me, and then I hear myself, but I have my own idea. I can teach a garbage collector, a memory system, when is the best time to clean up the memory without interrupting the running applications. And they’re like, “You can do that?” I’m like, “Yeah. Yes. Yes. Yes, you can do that.” I had no idea, but that was what I had come up with in my pain and panic of I have to find something that motivates me to join this company that creates a Java virtual machine, and I got hired.
Liz Tinkham (11:18):
Did you end up building it for them?
Eva Nahari (11:20):
Yes, and I got two patents on it too.
Liz Tinkham (11:22):
Oh my gosh. Well, I think there’s such a great lesson to be learned for people who are listening, who might be a little younger, who in their careers, in terms of one, keep all the contacts that you ever meet and make sure you store them either your virtual card, contacts, or if you still have cards, and keep in contact, which I always tell my adult kids, stay up with in LinkedIn with people. And two, sometimes your ideas, there’s no stupid ideas in a lot of ways, right?
Eva Nahari (11:53):
I want to echo that and say every time when life has gone the right way, for me, it’s not always gone the right way, right? Is when I bring myself to the table. In this moment, it was like I came in my … Sorry for bringing out the fashion thing. I know it’s …
Liz Tinkham (12:11):
Oh, no, no. I think it’s fair.
Eva Nahari (12:13):
…typical women and stuff. But I came up in a skirt, being me, and I didn’t let my fear hold me back of okay, I just pick one of their projects because my project is not good enough. There was not being held back by fear that what I bring to the table is not good enough. What I bring to the table is not of value. And I think many women that I’ve been mentoring is thinking they have to adapt to what all these other brilliant people are thinking. But in the end, we’re all unique and bring us to the table. That’s the value. Brilliant ideas come by bringing different people together, and I think that’s what I mean. In this moment I spoke up and as the worst came out, my fear started regretting that choice, but I still did it. I brought me, my creativity to the table in my form that like okay, I’m just going to do this because if I don’t do it, I will never know if I can do it.
Liz Tinkham (13:23):
So let’s fast forward because now you’ve been … You ended up coming to the U.S. and you’ve had some serious computer science chops working as product managers and several companies like Oracle and Azul and Cloudera. I mean, what were you thinking your career path would be?
Eva Nahari (13:39):
From graduating college I thought it would become some kind of engineering manager. That turned out not to be the best fit for me. I tried it for a while but I realized I wanted to solve bigger business, complex problems than spending most of my time motivating people why they should grow in their career. So I didn’t really think … I think I said yes to an opportunity when it came my way and maybe I had one step inside like okay, from team lead, I knew I wanted to become engineering manager, and from working as a customer advocate, aggregating input from many, many customers to product managers, I knew I wanted to become a product manager.
Eva Nahari (14:31):
I never really thought the full path and I realized that many of my male mentors and male colleagues always had this end goal and they had thought up every step of the way there. That’s not my cup of tea. I’d rather want to pick the next thing that scares me a little, because then I know I grow. And if I follow my growth interests and my heart, what really intrigues me and scares me at the same time, it somehow have landed me in more interesting context and given me more opportunity. And I’ve never regretted that compass, although I know most of the world have some kind of plan that first I’m going to do this, then I’m going to get to the next level, then I’m going to be a VP, then I’m going to start my own company. I didn’t really think that way.
Liz Tinkham (15:24):
So, second piece of great advice is follow your interests and where you think you’re going to grow the most.
Eva Nahari (15:31):
And I think I play back on that note of like, go where you’re a little bit scared.
Liz Tinkham (15:37):
Go where you’re a little bit scared. I like that.
Eva Nahari (15:39):
Don’t let your fears hold you back.
Liz Tinkham (15:43):
Oh, so many people are going to have a hard time with that, but that’s great advice. So you’re a woman product manager in Silicon Valley during a period where there were probably few and far between. What was that like? And any advice to our female listeners who might be product managers, aside from take on a little fear, go where you’re most interested? What else would you say in how to navigate a good career through that?
Eva Nahari (16:08):
So I think there’s two chapters you need to go through, and this is speaking from subjective experience. I’m not everybody else, I can only talk about me. I had to go through two chapters and the first chapter was working hard, learning from people better than me, trying to find mentors, and really struggle through the hard parts where you work on your not so good science and grow up a bit. Growing with responsibility and all that, just do your job well and learn as much as you can, and then that will take you part of the way and always be respectful to people. And if someone is really strong technically, then what value can you bring to the table?
Eva Nahari (16:59):
So you kind of respect and utilize the talents around you for the … Optimize for the best value over your time, right? I’m very technical but I worked with very, very technical people, so I focused on the customer. And when I worked with other people that, as organizations grew, that were really good at the customer side, maybe I worked on this strategy or how to enable sales because then sales can do more, right? So be flexible in what you focus on but always do enable impact.
Eva Nahari (17:35):
But I’m derailing because the most important part is the second chapter, and that’s when you hit that, maybe it’s what people call the glass ceiling, but this is my journey and my realization. I worked on, let’s call it a square shape. The way I saw my ladder up in product management, like director, senior director, VP. I looked at the ones before me that weren’t many women, so I tried to mimic the ones before me, right? The ones who’ve gone all the way. And I became a better and better square, the shape I was watching, right?
Eva Nahari (18:14):
And then I got stuck. There was years and years and years where I didn’t feel like no matter how hard I work, I don’t get further. What’s wrong? I’m doing everything they ask, and then the next performance evaluation like, “Eh, you’re not doing enough with customers.” Okay, then I focus on customers and they’re like, “Okay, you’re not technical enough.” Then I focus on technology and innovation. “Oh, then you’re not strategic enough.” I was never enough. I could do all of it, and in the end I was so mad. I’m like, “I’ve done this. I’ve done this. Show my entire record.” And I was so mad, it was still not enough. Then I got a kid. I took a little time off and I came back and I was so mad, still.
Liz Tinkham (18:59):
I’ve done that before.
Eva Nahari (19:01):
I took a coach.
Liz Tinkham (19:01):
You know that mad feeling, yes.
Eva Nahari (19:05):
Exactly. I couldn’t get out of being mad.
Liz Tinkham (19:09):
So how’d you get out of it?
Eva Nahari (19:11):
I took a coach.
Liz Tinkham (19:12):
Your coach was 74. Is that correct?
Eva Nahari (19:15):
Liz Tinkham (19:17):
Okay. How’d you find this coach?
Eva Nahari (19:18):
So my husband introduced me to Female VC many years ago, and he’s like, “You should meet this gal. She’s amazing. I think she can inspire you.” We met once and we realized like, “Oh my gosh, we’re the gasoline on the fire for each other.” She scared the heck out of me, and apparently I scared the heck out of her in a good way. So she’s like, I can’t meet you again until I met all these goals. It’s intense. Six months later, I needed her help on something, and then we got to talking and she’s like, “You need to meet my mentor.” So she introduced me to her mentor, which is this fantastic 70 plus year old lady in New Hampshire or somewhere there on the east coast. And she has like four kids, but she chose career back in the day.
Liz Tinkham (20:17):
Wow. That was the day too because that would’ve been in the seventies, which would’ve been really hard.
Eva Nahari (20:21):
It was really hard. And she inspired me. She has written this book, “Being in a Transition”.
Liz Tinkham (20:29):
Yeah, we’ll put it in the show notes. That’d be great.
Eva Nahari (20:30):
Yeah. But she helped untangle me because I was stuck. I was so in my own thought patterns, I couldn’t get out of my own thought loops. And that’s my recommendation to any listener. If you’re stuck in … If you feel like you’re stuck in a pattern or a thought loop and you can’t get out, that’s when you need a coach.
Liz Tinkham (20:51):
Yeah, I think I agree. Somebody who is going to come at you kind of sideways, right?
Eva Nahari (20:54):
Liz Tinkham (20:54):
And kind of kick you out of it. How did she get you out? What advice did she end up giving you?
Eva Nahari (20:58):
She taught me how to stay in an unclear direction state. Stay with it and let it … I talk about being in a comfort zone, some kind of thing that’s easy for me. It’s not. And something very uncomfortable for me is to not know where I’m going and not feel what I want to do, like not being connected to what I want. That’s a very uncomfortable spot for me. And she taught me to stay in that. You’re open in that state. You’re actually open to anything and everything and that’s overwhelming, but the answer will come and you just have to trust that.
Liz Tinkham (21:44):
Are you still working?
Eva Nahari (21:45):
Yep. Yeah. Full time.
Liz Tinkham (21:46):
You’re at Cloudera at this point?
Eva Nahari (21:48):
Mm-hmm. I’m a toddler mom. My husband has a startup and I’m a full time executive at Cloudera.
Liz Tinkham (21:55):
Yeah, but you’re in your sort of uncomfortable, mad state and your 74 year old coach is helping you untangle all of it.
Eva Nahari (22:02):
Liz Tinkham (22:03):
Now where does she get you to? Because I think I would be in the same state. I remember my early forties, I got into the same position where I had a bad project. I got so mad because I got screwed, right? And it happens in work, and I stayed mad for probably two years. That was a very unproductive time, and then I missed out on some opportunities because I was so mad and I wasn’t open to anything. So I needed this … Where was that 74 old? She was probably in her sixties at that point. But anyway, so how’d she get … So you got comfortable in an uncomfortable state. What else?
Eva Nahari (22:36):
So she taught me three things in addition to like stay with it, it’s a process, you’ll get there. Just don’t be impatient. One is if you actually go … Let’s say you feel your week is overwhelming. It’s like I don’t even have time for myself to figure out what I want. If you’re in that state, understand that energy is like money you invest. It’s not a fixed amount actually. And she taught me this very late in life. I thought what you put in you, you have one bucket of eight hours a day of energy, and then you distribute that and then you’re done. But actually, if one of those hours are spent on something that brings you joy or fuels you or makes you feel like you thrive, then you suddenly get like two or three hours back of energy.
Eva Nahari (23:35):
So the more, either within your workspace you can carve out little moments of joy and like okay, what do you like, Eva? In my case, I actually like to talk to people and hear what they’re struggling with and maybe help. That’s me. And she’s like, “Why don’t you try to do that a little bit more tomorrow? And then homework, a little bit more this week. And then start small steps and just take a little bit of time of your day to just sit down with someone, no agenda, just hear them and see if you can help them out.” And that started to bring me so much joy back in my work day that I had energy for other things. It’s a kind of an investment magic, investing in what fuels you gives you 10 X the return.
Liz Tinkham (24:30):
So it helped to overcome probably the parts of your day that you were mad at things, right?
Eva Nahari (24:34):
Liz Tinkham (24:34):
Because you were joyful about it. All right.
Eva Nahari (24:36):
Liz Tinkham (24:37):
So there’s a one to X, one force multiplier on things that bring you joy.
Eva Nahari (24:41):
Liz Tinkham (24:42):
In your job. Okay.
Eva Nahari (24:43):
Second thing she said, “Have you tried bringing yourself to the table?” And that hit me really hard.
Liz Tinkham (24:52):
Back to your authentic self. And what did she mean by that?
Eva Nahari (24:56):
I had strived so long for at least 10 years now, we’re talking, to get to the next level of product management in the form of a title or responsibility, it doesn’t matter, but be recognized for it. I’ve got in one promotion, but then hit my head, right? And she’s like, “They’re not looking for excellent execution anymore. They know that. They know you can do that. They know you’re creative. They know you can handle customers. They know blah, blah, blah. But have you tried to bring your thoughts to the table, and not just see patterns aggregate and execute? Like you’re doing when you’re in the director ranks, you kind of execute on other people’s plans. And I was never asked or never allowed to do that, and she just planted the thought in my head as like I need to come up with something. I need to bring something to the table again.
Liz Tinkham (25:55):
Back to the garbage collection.
Eva Nahari (25:57):
Back to the garbage collection. And I’m like perhaps not so much about innovation because that I’ve done all the time. Now it’s about where is this company going? Where is the company suffering? Where can my innovation bring the most impact to what Cloudera at the time wants to go? I’ve kind of always thought about my universe and not the other ones, and I was doing things in a square way and she said … She brought this shape terminology to me like, “Have you tried to be the circle you are lately?” Because when that last step of executive comes up for discussion among the other executives, it’s no longer about your skills. You’ve already proven that earlier on. So here’s the secret. It’s about who you are. Who are you? And I have never been allowed to be me in a way because I’ve been shaped to be a square and they wanted to see more of me.
Eva Nahari (27:12):
The third thing is it’s okay to reevaluate what you used to work towards. It’s okay to change paths. And in the end, through her coaching, I came to a place where I don’t care anymore. I don’t care about being their product anymore. I’m not scared of it. It doesn’t challenge me. I know I can get there now. That was the problem in the beginning that I was working so hard for something that I didn’t really want anymore.
Liz Tinkham (27:45):
Oh my gosh. You’re such a great set of advice because I think people spend their entire career chasing that. By the way, the whole time that you’re talking, I’m thinking my 30 year old daughter definitely needs to listen to this podcast because she could so use your advice right now and she’s going to be so mad at me that I said that. But so you’re open at this point, you’re thinking maybe I’ve been chasing this VC product. That’s not maybe what I want to do for the rest of my life. And then a VC recruiter calls you. So what happens then?
Eva Nahari (28:16):
There’s two years between that actually. So I get my promotion too, but then I’m laughing when I’m getting it because I’m like I don’t even care about this, but it’s very fine. With my circle transformation. People started to see me differently. I also got a very, very good boss, Joydeep Das, if you hear this, you’ve been the best boss I’ve ever worked for. He enabled me in the circle shape that I was. I was different and he just brought the best out of that, so amazing bosses can make magic happen too.
Eva Nahari (28:52):
Sometime after that, I didn’t want to leave Joydeep, because I was learning under him. He was bringing the best out of me. He challenged me in the right way and made me fly. So I didn’t want to leave a good boss, so I stayed for a long time after that, two years I think. But my coach had encouraged me to invest in things that interest me so I had started Angel Investments. I’m like this is a fun form of gambling.
Liz Tinkham (29:16):
Eva Nahari (29:17):
With my own money. A little bit more money.
Liz Tinkham (29:18):
I would totally agree with you. I do it too, a fun form of gambling. Yeah.
Eva Nahari (29:22):
But I also got to work with really amazing people, the entrepreneurs, these people are just so brave and a little bit crazy and a little bit fantastic. It’s just fueling me to be around entrepreneurs and help them. So I knew I wanted to retire as some sort of investor, and I started Angel Investing. I met with this gentleman who showed up to be a part of Berkeley Angel Network, and he invited me to be part of that. I met him at the mingle party and I’m like, “Hey, I heard you’re an Angel investor. I want to learn that. Can we have regular lunches?” And he turned out to be a great coach for Angel Investment.
Eva Nahari (30:05):
And two years later I get a recruiting email from a VC. That doesn’t really happen to operational people very often. VCs go through network usually, and I wasn’t connected that way. And I’m like I have to take this recruiting call. I’m happy with my boss. I’m happy at Cloudera at that point. I’m happy with my life. But I had to figure out like okay, what’s missing? If VC is my long term plan, I need to figure out what is missing so I can pick that up over the next few years. Then I got the job and I had a hard decision to make.
Liz Tinkham (30:45):
About whether you leave Cloudera or not.
Eva Nahari (30:47):
Of whether I’m going to change my career right now or not. Yeah.
Liz Tinkham (30:51):
Yeah. And how long have you been doing it now?
Eva Nahari (30:55):
Liz Tinkham (30:56):
What do you think? Are you getting over your fear?
Eva Nahari (30:58):
Oh yes, I’m excited. I’m so happy. I mean, it feels like … You know you have your favorite jacket and you have it over years and then finally you try a new jacket and you’re like I can’t remember why I liked my previous jacket. This fits so well.
Liz Tinkham (31:16):
Eva Nahari (31:17):
It’s awesome. I love it, and the team at DNX Ventures are just fantastic teachers and coaches and peers, and they’re so genuine and authentic that I feel like I’m one of them.
Liz Tinkham (31:34):
Eventually you said you want to be an investor sort of in your retirement. So this is sort of your pre retirement, so the stepping stone to get there.
Eva Nahari (31:42):
I’m not going to retire anytime soon.
Liz Tinkham (31:44):
Eva Nahari (31:44):
It just happened a little bit early.
Liz Tinkham (31:47):
So tell me a little bit about, if I’m listening and I want to go into VC, I mean, what makes for a good VC partner?
Eva Nahari (31:56):
Well, there are different flavors of VCs, so it’s like asking a little bit about which flavor of ice cream, but for my flavor, I think you have to be a very curious and positive energy person because you can’t be a downer ever in this early stage. You have to see what’s possible, and then you have to have a very analytic, and I would say, structured critical mind to go through every possible angle that this can go wrong because it will go wrong. And then you will see, do I think I can help if that happens.
Eva Nahari (32:44):
So a helping character, analytical mind, a futuristic mindset, and respectful. You have to be … If it’s not a fit, you have to respectfully save each other’s time, respectfully say no, respectfully help them maybe with something before you part ways. But I think many VCs have a bad rep for when money comes into the picture, it’s always a bit sleazy, but I feel that if you have good intentions and good heart and good goals and values, you can really help impact. You need to be very honest-hearted and high integrity to be a good VC, especially with what’s happening in the world today. And ESG, and all the sustainability needs that we as VCs need to take much more responsibility on what we invest in, and I think that’s key for the future of investment too.
Liz Tinkham (33:57):
Do you feel like you’re bringing your circle to the business to what you do now?
Eva Nahari (34:01):
I think my circle has expanded in this role. Yeah.
Liz Tinkham (34:05):
I almost named this podcast I’m Not Done Yet, because I feel like I’m not done yet. So what aren’t you done with yet?
Eva Nahari (34:11):
I’m not done with my VC journey for sure, I just started, so I have at least 10 years to see if I’m any good at it because that’s the return time of investments I make today is at least 10 years out so we don’t know yet. But I’m not done yet with exploring new chapters of my life. I know I still want to be that writer.
Liz Tinkham (34:33):
Okay. We are going to have to come back on your fourth act and tell us about that.
Eva Nahari (34:36):
Yeah, I will. One day I will write many books I think but maybe that’s my new retirement plan. Who knows?
Liz Tinkham (34:44):
Okay. Well, Eva, it’s been great talking to you and so many valuable lessons. Where can our listeners find you online?
Eva Nahari (34:52):
Ooh, you can find me on LinkedIn.
Liz Tinkham (34:54):
LinkedIn. Okay. And you write a blog?
Eva Nahari (34:55):
I have an awesome blog on Substack, it’s called Eva’s View. Both about what I’m observing as trends or where organizations need help forward, meaning if you’re an entrepreneur innovating in that space, you can see a blog about it and contact me. I’m looking. And then I also blog about product experience like go to market experience because that’s what I lived in my previous life.
Liz Tinkham (35:22):
So we will publish that in the show notes and more from there, but thank you so much for being on the show and have a wonderful holiday.
Eva Nahari (35:29):
It was a wonderful time spent with you this morning, so thank you so much.
Liz Tinkham (35:35):
Thanks for joining me today to listen to the Third Act podcast. You can find show notes, guest bios, and more at thirdactpodcast.com. If you enjoyed our show today, please subscribe and write a review on your favorite podcast platform. I’m your host, Liz Tinkham. I’ll be back next week with another guest who’s found new meaning and fulfillment in the third act of their life.
Want to share the story of your own Third Act on our podcast? We welcome stories from executives who pivoted their careers to find their passion and purpose later in their lives. Tell us more about yourself to be considered as a guest.