Bob Dethlefs, CEO of Evanta, balances work and play.

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Bob Dethlefs, CEO of Evanta, balances work and play.


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“Effective leadership collaboration is the key to our future economic prosperity,” says Evanta CEO Bob Dethlefs. “When you come together around a watering hole to share information, you can vet, validate and verify your thoughts and ideas before you make critical decisions.” Portland-based Evanta creates and hosts leadership conferences for executives from the world’s largest companies. Evanta runs 153 leadership events annually in a variety of industries, including IT, human resources and professional sports. Dethlefs, 50, is an occasional guest speaker at George Fox University. He lives in a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home in Happy Valley with his wife, Anita. They have five children: three boys and two girls.

1114downtime downtime ills 1114-1 250pxGlobal Citizen
“My dad was one of the senior executives at General Motors, developing international business for them. So I lived all throughout Europe. I went to two junior highs and five high schools; I graduated from high school in Athens, Greece. That was one experience that probably helped me in business: I was able to adapt to any environment, and this could have been an attribute to me being able to see business opportunities.”

1114downtime downtime ills 1114-2 250pxBook Sense
“The best book out right now is General [Colin] Powell’s It Worked for Me. These were his lessons learned in both life and leadership — I highly recommend it. I was also intrigued by Ben Carson’s One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future. The third book I’m reading is Denali’s Howl, a story of 12 young men who tried to go up Mount McKinley in Alaska. Reading books about mountain climbing and climbing attempts is always intriguing to me.”

1114downtime downtime ills 1114-3 250pxDo Unto Others
“I have a philosophy: When you give, you get. When you watch somebody respond to something you do for them, whether it’s a gift, or something kind, or you donate something or your time, and they really appreciate it — that’s incredibly gratifying. Having the opportunity to build things for people who can utilize your services, creating value in the market, pursuing those opportunities and helping people — that’s exciting.”

1114downtime downtime ills 1114-4 250pxAnimal Dreams
“In the past, as I’ve met with [employee candidates], before we accept them I ask, ‘If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?’ In water I’d be an otter; on land I’d be a cheetah. Otters like to have fun ,and I’m the type of person who, when others are having fun, I’m having fun. A cheetah is fast and clever, and they’re always on guard and agile, and that’s what business is really all about: identifying opportunity and pursuing it rapidly with all your vigor.”

1114downtime downtime ills 1114-5 250pxAdopted Family
“My wife and I like to go to Turtle Island, which is a remote island off the Fijian island chain. We’ve become close with the [people] there from the surrounding villages who manage Turtle Island. One of the hosts, Mike, got married a couple years ago, and they named their first-born child Dethlefs — our last name. We went back for Dethlefs’ first birthday, and my wife and I were the masters of ceremony. We were decked out in Fijian garb; I was the head Fijian man.”