Kobi Yamada is an author of many inspirational books including New York Times best-selling What do you do with an idea?, What do you do with a problem? and What do you do with a chance?. Kobi is also the CEO of Compendium, a company created 30 years ago that inspires and empowers millions of people around the world with small window cards with thoughtful messages hidden inside. In our conversation, we discuss intuition, ideas, inspiration, and the importance of gratitude.
Kobi Yamada: I grew up in the Pacific Northwest just south of Seattle, Washington in the United States. My journey as a writer began with my journey as a reader. I have always been drawn to the immense pull of words. As a child, I never really imagined I would one day be an author, but I appreciated storytelling and I was fascinated by how 26 little letters could carry so much potential for imagination, creativity, and inspiration.
There are so many quotes that have inspired me throughout my life, but here’s a few I love:
“Everything hinges on how you look at things.” by Henry Miller.
“Creativity takes courage.” by Henri Matisse.
“Chase down your passion like it’s the last bus of the night.” by Terri Guillemets
“Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.” by Jack Kerouac.
One last one from Ray Bradbury, “Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything.“
I don’t remember my first book specifically. But I do recall the feeling of being able to travel to a different time and a different place while reading, and that appreciation and wonder have never left me.
My definition of success is doing work from a place of joy. And happiness is living a life steeped in love in all its forms.
Caring. When something is done with a full heart, with passion, with love and consideration, it shows. It can be a gesture, a product, a selfless act. When caring is present, I can’t help but be inspired.
We all have fears. We all have doubts and uncertainty. Life can be difficult at times. But it is precisely in those moments when we stretch ourselves, we test our courage, our grit, and our resolve, and we find out how strong and capable we really are. We may not welcome the adversity, but we all want to be better versions of ourselves as we go through our lives, and there is no better way to grow and learn than during challenging times.
The line between possible and impossible is different for everything and everyone. And it changes from person-to-person and situation-to-situation. But I will say it is one of the great adventures in this lifetime to keep moving that line.
I actually don’t. I know routines are incredibly helpful for many people, but I prefer to think of life as more of an improvisation than a routine. I’m on the hunt for things that surprise and delight me, and I find I have more fun when there is a bit of mystery in the day.
I believe intuition, ideas, and inspiration are gifts. And I try to show my gratitude by welcoming them with my time and attention. I guess I hope that if I’m a gracious host, they may just stay a while, and perhaps they’ll tell their friends.
I’m most proud of building a company filled with talented, dedicated, good people who work every day to make a positive difference in the world.
It can be difficult at times to know if you are “doing what you should be doing.” But the way I look at it is if I am touched, moved, or inspired by the work I am doing, if I can feel it with my whole being, then I believe I am at the right place doing the right work.
That it ends. Death is our greatest teacher. It says we don’t have forever, and therefore, anything of value we want to do, we will have to do it in the time we are alive. To me, that says: take nothing for granted and make every moment count.
What is the one thing you think of that always makes you smile? The answer is mine. But I do appreciate the question. I’m smiling now.
Yarrow Kraner. He’s the founder of Hatch. Yarrow is a full-hearted alchemist living in Montana who mixes world-class creative talents together from all different backgrounds and disciplines to make a better world. He’s an inspiration to me and I think he would be for your readers, too.
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I have met Kobi a few times and I have always appreciated his honesty and I know deep down he means everything he says and everything he writes. I always feel better about life after I read something he has wrote. He truly is a great man.
This is truly inspirational. Thanks for the interview. Loved your positivity and the way you approach life. I feel we need to inculcate positivity in kids so that they grow up with confidence to face the challenges of life. I make my kids read related blogs and indulge in interesting, fun activities that help them to be strong and independent.