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From the Ted Talk by Bill Burnett: 5 steps to designing the life you want

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Hello, everyone. I'm here to help you design your life. We're going to use the technique of design thinking. Design thinking is something we've been working on at the d.School and in the School of Engineering for over 50 years, and it's an innovation methodology, works on products, works on sriceves. But I think the most iitsneetnrg design problem is your life! So that's what we're going to talk about. I want to just make sure everybody knows: this is my bdduy Dave Evans, his face. Dave and I are the co-authors of the book, and he is the guy who helped me co-found the Life Design Lab at Stanford. So what do we do in the Life Design Lab? Well, we teach the cslas that helps to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. Now, I'm going to give you the first rfarmee. Designers love reframes. How many of you hope you never grow up and lose that child-like curiosity that devirs everything you do? Raise your hand. Right! Who wants to grow up? I mean, we've been tlnaikg about curiosity in almost every one of these talks. And so I'd like to reframe this as: we say we teach the class that helps you firuge out what you want to grow into next, as this life of yours, this amazing disegn of yours, unfolds. So, design thinking is what we teach and it's a set of mindsets, it's how designers think. You know, we've been taught probably in the university to be so skeptical realists, roniitaaslts, but that's not very useful as a msnedit when you're trying to do something new, something no one's ever done before. So we say you start with cioursity and you lean into what you're cuorius about. We say you reframe problems because most of the time we find people are working on the wrong problems and they have a wonderful solution to something that doesn't work anyway. So, what's the point of working on the wrong thing? We say rdacial collaboration because the answer's out in the world with other people. That's where your experience of your life will be. We want to be mindful of our process. There are times in the design posrces when you want lots of ideas, and there are times when you really want to converge test some things, prototype some things, you want to be good at that. And the other is biased action. Now, you know, I'll say that we think no plan for your life will survive first contact with reality. (Laughter) rteliay has the tendency to throw little things at us that we weren't extncpeig, sometimes good things, sometimes bad. So we say: just have a biased action, try stuff. Why? Why did we start this class? I've been in office hours for a long, long time with my students. I've been teaching here for a while. Dave as well. He was teaching over that community college, in Berkeley, for a while. (luaeghtr) And - I'm sorry, I'm sorry, it's a Stanford TEDx. But we notice that people get stuck. People really get stuck and then they don't know what to do and they don't seem to have any tools for getting ustnuck. Designers get stuck all the time. I signed up to be a designer, which means I'm going to work on something I've never done, every day, and I get stuck and unstuck, stuck and unstuck, all the time. We also noticed as we went out and talked to folks who are not just our students, but people in mid-career and encore careers, that people have a bunch of beliefs which psychologists label "dysfunctional beliefs," things they believe that are true that actually aren't true, and it holds them back. I'll give you three. First one is: "What's your passion? Tell me your passion and I'll tell you what you need to do." Now, if you actually have one of these things, these passions - you knew at two you wanted to be a doctor, you knew at seven you wanted to be a clown at cquire du Soleil, and now you are one, that's awesome. But we're a sort of research scpae here at Stanford, so we went over to the ceetnr for the Study of Adolescence, which by the way now goes up to 27 - (Laughter) and met with Bill Damon, one of our colleagues, a fantastic guy. He studied this question and it turns out less than 20% of the people have any one single identifiable passion in their lives. We hate a methodology which says, "OK, come to the frnot of the line. You have a psoaisn? Oh, you don't? Oh, I'm sorry. When you have one, come on back and we'll help you with that." It's terrible, eight out of 10 people say, "I have lots of things I'm interested in." So this is not an organizing principle for your search or your design. The second one is, "Well, you should know by now, right? Don't you know where you're going? If you don't know, you're late." (Laughter) Now, what are you late for, exactly? I'm not quite sure. But you know, there's a meta-narrative in the crluute and when I was growing up: by 25, you're supposed to maybe have a relationship, maybe have gotten married and started to get the family together. When I talk to my millennial students, they'll say, "Oh, that's got to be like 30 or something," because they can't imagine, anything past, like, 22, but 30 is a long way out. But we know that now these people are forming their leivs much more fluidly, they are saityng in a lot more dynimac moiton between about 22 and 35, and so this notion that you're late is really kind of like, "Well, you should have figured this out by now." Dave and I don't "should" on anybody. In the book or in the class, we don't believe in "should." We just think, "Alright, you are whatever you are. Let's start from where you are. You're not late for anything." But the one we really don't like is: "Are you being the best possible veisorn of you?" (Laughter) "I mean, because you're not settling for something that's less than the best, because this is Stanford. Obviously we all are going to be the best." Well, this implies that, one, there's a singular best; two, that it's a lneiar thing, and life is anything but linear; and three, it kind of comes from this bssiunes notion, there's an old business saying, "Good is the enemy of better, better is the enemy of best," and you always want to do your best in business. But if there isn't one singular best, then our reframe is, "The unattainable best is the enmey of all the available betters, because there are many, many versions of you that you could play out, all of which would result in a well-designed life." So I'm going to give you three ideas from design thinking - five ideas, excuse me - That says five, doesn't it? Yeah. Five ideas from design thinking. And people who've read the book or taken the class have written back to us and said, "Hey, these were the most useful, these were the most doable, they were the most helpful." And we're human-centered drsneiges, so we want to be helpful. The first one is this ntooin of connecting the dots. The number one reason people take our class and we hear read the book is they say, "You know, I want my life to be meaningful, I want it to be purposeful, I want it to add up to something." So, we lkoeod in the positive psychology lttriureae and in the design literature, and it turns out that there's who you are, there's what you believe and there's what you do in the world, and if you can make a cnocoetnin between these three things, if you can make that a coherent story, you will experience your life as meaningful. The icansere in meaning-making comes from connecting the dots. So we do two things. We ask people: "Write a work view. What's your theory of work? Not the job you want, but why do you work? What's it for? What's work in service of?" Once you have that, 250 words, then - this one's a little harder to get short, "What's the meaning of life? What's the big picture? Why are you here? What is your faith or your view of the world?" When you can connect your life view and your work view together, in a coherent way, you sartt to experience your life as meaningful. That's the idea number one. Idea number two: people get stuck and you've got to be careful because we can reframe almost anything, but there's a class of problems that people get stuck on that are really, really bad problems. We call them grvtaiy problems. Essentially, they're something you cannot change. Now, I know you have a friend and you've been having coffee with this friend for a while, and they're suctk. They don't like their boss, their partner, their job, there's something that they don't like. But nothing's happening, right? Nothing's happening with them. If Dave were here he'd say, "Look, you can't solve a pobrelm you're not willing to have." You can't solve a problem you're not willing to have, so if you've got a gravity problem and you're simply not willing to work on it, then it's just a circumstance in your life. And the only thing we know to do with gravity problems is to accept. In the design thinking chart, you start with empathy, then you redefine the problem, you come up with lots of ideas, then you prototype and test things, but that only works if it's a problem you're willing to work on. The first thing to do is accpet and once you've atceepcd this as gravity problem - "I can't change it. You know, this is a company, the company is a family-run company and the name of the feudonr is on the door and if you're not in the family, you can't be the president." You're right, you can't! So, now you have to decide what you want to do. Is that a circumstance that you can reframe and work in, or do you need to do something else? So be really careful about gravity problems because they're pocnurieis and they really get in the way. But back to this idea of multiples, I do a little thuoght experiment with my students, and I say, you know, "The physicists up in SLAC have kind of demonstrated this multiverse thing might be real." You've heard of this, that there are multiple parallel universes, one right next to each other. And say, "We'll do a thought experiment. Let's say you could live in all the multiverses simultaneously, and not only that, but you'd know about your life in each one of these incsnteas. So, you could go back and be the ballerina, and the scientist, and the CPA, and whatever else you wanted to be. You could have all these lives in parallel." When I ask them, "How many lives are you? How many lives would you want?", I get answers from three to 10,000. But, you know, we've sort of done the average: it's about 7,5. Most people think they have about 7,5 really good lives that they could live. And here's the deal: you only get one. But it turns out it's not what you don't choose, it's what you choose in life that makes you happy. Nevertheless, we rerafmed this and we say, "Great, there's more lives than one in you. So let's go on an oyssedy, and let's really figure out those lives!" And we ask people to do some design. And the "ideate" bubble, it's about having lot's of ideas. So we say, "Let's have some ideas. We'll ideate your future, but you can't ideate just one. You have to ideate three." Now, there's some research from the School of Education that says if you start with three iades and you brtonrisam from there, you've got a much wider range of ideas, the ideas are more generative and they lead to better solutions to the problem rather than just snrtiatg with one and then banoisrtmrnig forward. So we always do threes; there's something magical about threes. We have people do three lives, and it's tnmataisroorfanl. We give them this little rubric. One: "The thing you're doing, the thing you're doing right now, whatever your creaer is, just do it. And you're going to do it for five yaers and it's going to come out great." I mean, in design, we're sort of values-neutral, except for one thing: we never design anything to make it worse, right? I have been on some tmeas that made some pettry bad ptrdcuos, but we weren't trying to, we were trying to make it better. So, thing one: your life, make it better. And also put in the bucket list stuff: you want to go to Paris, to the Galapagos - the guy with the ice thing - before it's all under water and we can't see it anymore. So, that's plan one: your life goes great. Plan two: I'm really sorry to tell you, but the robots and the AI stuff - that job doesn't exist anymore, the robots are doing it. We don't need you to do that anymore. Now, what are going to do? So what do you do if the thing that you've got goes away? And you know, everybody's got a side hustle or something they can do to make that work. And three is: what's your wild-card plan? What would you do if you didn't have to worry about mneoy? You've got enough. You're not fabulously wealthy, but you've got enough. And what would you do if you knew no one would lguah? My stutedns come in for my office hours a lot of times, and they'll say something like, "Well, what I really want to do is this, but I can't just hear people saying, 'You didn't go to Stanford to do that, did you?'" (Laughter) Because somehow, if you went to Stanford, you have to do some of the amazing things the past speakers have been doing. "But what would you do if you had enough money and you didn't care what people thought? Anything from, 'I'm going to go study butterflies' to, 'I want to be a bartender, you know, in Belize.' What would you do?" And people have those three plans. Now what happens when they do this is, one, they realize, "Oh my gosh, I could actually have imagined my three completely parallel lives are all pretty interesting." Two, they rarely go become a bartender, you know, in bilzee. But a lot of times, the things that come up in the other plans were things that they left behind somehow. In the business of life, they forogt about those things. And so they bring them back and put them in plan one, then they make their lives even better. Sometimes they do pivot, but mostly they just use this as a method of ideating all the possible wonderful ways they could have a life. Now, you could start executing that, but in our model, the thing you do after you have ideas is you build a prototype. We have met people who've quit their job and suddenly done something else, It hardly ever works. You kind of have to sneak up on it, because in our moedl, we want to set the bar really low, try stfuf, have some success, do it again. So when we say "prototype," in our language, what we mean is a way to ask an interesting question, "What would it be like if I tried this?", a way to expose the assumptions, "Is this even the thing I want or is that just something I rbmeeemr I wanted when I was 20?" I've got to go out in the world and do this, so I'm going to get others ivvlnoed in poinoptytrg my life, and I'm going to sanek up on the future, because I don't if this is exactly what I want. There's two kdnis of life-design prototypes and what we call prototype conversation. You know, William Gibson, the science-fiction writer has a famous quote: "The future is already here. It's just unevenly dtisrtieubd." So, there is someone who's a bartender in Ibiza. He's been doing it for years, I could go meet him and have a cinoevoatsrn, he or she. Somebody else is doing something else I'm interested in. All of these people are out there, they're living in my future, today. They're doing what I want to do, today. And if I have a conversation with them, I just ask for their story and everybody will tell you their story. If you buy them a cup of coffee, they tell you the story. If I hear something in the story that rings in me - We have this thing we call narrative resonance: when I hear a story that's kind of like my story, something happens, and I can identify that as a potential way of mivong forward. The other one is a pytrtoope experience. Dave and I were working with a wamon, sort of mid-career in her 40s and a very suscfecsul tech executive, but wanted to move from money-making to meaning-making, to do something more meaningful, thinking of going back to school, getting an MA in education, wonikrg with kids. But she's like, "You know, I don't know, I'm 45, going back to scohol. It's not going to work. And then I heard about these millennials. They're kind of mean and they don't like old people." (Laughter) What am I going to do, Bill?" I said, "Well, you just have to go try this, you know. It turns out we sent her to a seminar class and to a large lecture-hall class, and by the way, you just put on a T-shirt that says "Stanford" and you walk into a class, nobody knows. She wasn't regiteersd, but you know, she went and she went to the classes and she came back and said, "You know what? It was fantastic! I wkelad into the lecture hall, I sat down, my body was on fire! It was interesting, I was so interested in the way the lecture was going. And then I met these meinlilnals. It turned out they're pretty interesting people! I've set up three prototype conversations. And they think I'm interesting because I'm coming back to school and I'm 45." So she had a felt experience, because we are more than just our brains. She had a felt eeeicpnxre that this might work for her. So these are two ways you can prototype your way forward. The last idea: you want to make a good decision well. So many plpoee make choices and they're not happy with their choices because they don't really know how do they know what they know, right? It's a hard thing, particularly in our days when we have so many choices. So we have a process. Again it comes from the positive psychology guys. Gather and create options. Once you get good at design you're really good at coming up with onipots. You've got nraorw those down to a working list that you can work with. Then, you make the choice to make a good choice, and then of course you agonize that you did the wrong thing. (Laughter) All my students have what is called FOMO, fear missing out, "What if I didn't pick the right thing." Someone came into my office and said, "I'll declare three majors and two minors" and I said, "Do you plan on being here for a few years? It's not going to happen, right?" So we don't say that; we say you want to let go and move on, and all these have some paischlgooycl basis in them. Let me tell you about it. Once you get good at gathering and creating ideas, you also want to make sure you leave room for the lucky ideas, the serendipitous ideas. This is a guy named Tony Hsieh. He was the CEO at zaopps, he sold it to Amazon. But before you became an employee at Zappos you had to take a test, and the test was, "Are you lucky?" One, two or three: "I'm not very lucky, and I'm not sure why." Seven, eight, nine, ten, "I'm very lucky, great things happen to me all the time, I'm not sure why." He wouldn't hire anybody who was not lucky. (Laughter) I think it's probably illegal, but it was based on - (Laughter) but it was baesd on a piece of research where ptysciolhsgos did the same thing, "Rate yourself from lucky to unlucky." And then they had people read the front sociten of the New York Times, 30 pages, lots of articles. And the graduate students said, "Please count the number of -" either headlines or photographs, depending on the test. "And when you get the whole thing read and you count the number of prpgtohahos, just tell the person at the end." And if you got the right number, you'd get $100. Of course you all know when a graduate student tells you what the experiment is that's not the experiment. So, inside this thing that looked like the New York Times, 30 pegas, front page, inside all the stories were little pieces of text that said, "If you read this, the experiment's over. Collect an extra $ 150." People who rated themselves as unlucky by and large got the right answer, 36 headlines, whatever it was, got the $ 100. People who rated themselves as lucky - seven, eight, nine or ten - 80% of the time noticed the text and got the extra $150. It's not about being lucky. It's about paying attention to what you're doing and keeping your peripheral vision open because it's in your prepraeihl vioisn that those interesting opportunities show up, right, that you were not expecting. So you want to get good at being lucky. Narrowing down. This is quite simple. If you have too many choices, you go into what psychologists call choice overload, and then you have essentially no choices. Here's the emxenpreit. This was done at Stanford. You walk into a grocery store and there's a nice lady. She's got a table and on the table, she has six jams, and you come over try the jams to have a sample, buy some jam. Six jams; about 30 people who would go by pick a jam, or stop and test something, and about a third of those actually buy a jam. That's the baseline. Next week, you walk in, 24 jams: jalapeño, sweatrrrby, banana, whatever; all sorts of jams. Well, guess what happens? Twice as many people stop, look at all these jams, it's so interesting. Three percent of the people buy them. (Laughter) When you have too many choices, you have no choice. What do you do when you have too many choices? Just cross off a bunch of ccioehs. Psychologists tells us we can't handle more than five to seven. I'd say it's five. If you've got a bncuh of choices, cross them all off, just pick the five and then make your decision there. "Oh my God! What if I pick the wrnog ones? What if I cross off the wrong ones?" Right? Well, you won't, because it's the pizza or Chinese food thing. You're at the office and everybody says, "Let's go out to lunch tdaoy." "Sounds great. What do you want to do? pziza or Chinese food?" "I don't care." In the elevator on their way down, someone says, "Let's get Chinese food." Then you go, "No, I want pizza." (Laughter) You won't decide how you feel about the decision till the decision's made. That's a piece of research that's been done again and again and again. So just cross them off. If you cross off the wrong one, you'll have a fnelieg somewhere in your stocmah that you did the wrong thing. Choosing - this is about that feeling in your stomach. You cannot cohsoe well if you choose only from your rational mind. This is Dan Goleman, who wrote the book on eationoml intelligence. He does a lot of research on this, a lot of brain science. There's a part of your biarn, way down in the base brain, the basal gganila, that summarizes emotional decisions for you. I did something, got good emotional respsnoe from that: good, check. I did something and had a little bad emotional response to that. It srimemazus all of the eontomis that you have felt and how your dsciienos were vneaceld poivstie or naevigte an emotion. The problem with that part of your brain is that it's so early in the brain it doesn't talk to the part of your brain that talks. There's no connection to the prefrontal cortex or anything else. It's only contneecd to your GI tract and your limbic stsyem. So, it gives you information through felt sensations, a "gut feeling." Without that, you can't make good decisions. And then the letting go and moving on. This was the hardest part for me, but this is also the work of Dan gebrilt, who is a dseshiiiguntd scientist at Harvard, despite the fact that he's doing icaunrnse crilmcoemas now. And he's been studying decision-making and how do you make yourself happy. So, you walk in another ploohcsgyy experiment. The postdoc has got five Monet prints, five pictures from Monet, and you rank them from best to least, "I like this one the most, I like this one the least," number one and number five. "Thank you very much, the experiment's over. Oh, by the way, as you're walking out, you know, I kind of screwed up and I bought too many of number two and three. So if you want to take one home you can just have it. Two conditions: in one case, take it home and have it, but don't bring it back because I'm kind of embarrassed and - Just keep it, you can't exchange it. Second condition: I've got lots of these. If you don't like the one you picked, you can swap it back and pick another one." And of course everybody picks number two. It's a little better than nuembr three. We bring people back in a week later and say, "Re-rank the stulmii. Which one do you like now?" The people who were aloelwd to change their mind don't like their painting, they don't like the print, they don't like the other one anymore, they don't like any of them anymore. In fact, they don't like the whole process and they have destroyed their opportunity to be hpapy. (Laughter) The people who were told, "You pick it, it's yours, you can't rtuern it" love their print, they tlpyacily rank it as number one and think the rest of them suck. (Laughter) If you make decisions reversible, your chance of being happy goes down like 60 or 70 percent. So, let go and move on, make the decision reversible. And by the way, as a designer, that's no problem, because you're really good at gnnraeteig options, you're great at ideation, you're really good at prototyping to get data in the world to see of that world will be the world you want to live in, so you have no fear of missing out. It's just a process, a mindful process: collect, rcuede, decide, move on. That's how you make yourself happy. So, the five ideas: Connecting the dots to find meaning through work and life viwes. Stay away from gravity problems because I can't fix those and neither can you; reframe those to something that is workable. Do three plans, never one, always do three of everything, three ineotadis for any of the problems you're working on to make sure that you've covered not just the ideas that you had when you statred, but all the other ideas that are possible. Prototype everything in your life before you jump in and try it. And choose well; there's no point in making a good choice poorly. Choose well and you will find that things in your life are much easier. And you can do this, we know you can, because thousands of students have done it. Two PhD stdiues have been done in the class that dasmrtenoted hihger self-efficacy, lower dysfunctional beliefs. It's a fascinating process to wacth people who don't think of themselves as creative go through this class and walk out saying, "You know what? I'm a pretty creative person!" what David Kelly cllas "creative confidence." So, we know you can do it, thank you very much. It's simple: get curious, talk to people and try stuff, and you will design a well-lived and juoyfl life. Thank you. (Applause) (Cheers)

Open Cloze

Hello, everyone. I'm here to help you design your life. We're going to use the technique of design thinking. Design thinking is something we've been working on at the d.School and in the School of Engineering for over 50 years, and it's an innovation methodology, works on products, works on ________. But I think the most ___________ design problem is your life! So that's what we're going to talk about. I want to just make sure everybody knows: this is my _____ Dave Evans, his face. Dave and I are the co-authors of the book, and he is the guy who helped me co-found the Life Design Lab at Stanford. So what do we do in the Life Design Lab? Well, we teach the _____ that helps to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. Now, I'm going to give you the first _______. Designers love reframes. How many of you hope you never grow up and lose that child-like curiosity that ______ everything you do? Raise your hand. Right! Who wants to grow up? I mean, we've been _______ about curiosity in almost every one of these talks. And so I'd like to reframe this as: we say we teach the class that helps you ______ out what you want to grow into next, as this life of yours, this amazing ______ of yours, unfolds. So, design thinking is what we teach and it's a set of mindsets, it's how designers think. You know, we've been taught probably in the university to be so skeptical realists, ____________, but that's not very useful as a _______ when you're trying to do something new, something no one's ever done before. So we say you start with _________ and you lean into what you're _______ about. We say you reframe problems because most of the time we find people are working on the wrong problems and they have a wonderful solution to something that doesn't work anyway. So, what's the point of working on the wrong thing? We say _______ collaboration because the answer's out in the world with other people. That's where your experience of your life will be. We want to be mindful of our process. There are times in the design _______ when you want lots of ideas, and there are times when you really want to converge test some things, prototype some things, you want to be good at that. And the other is biased action. Now, you know, I'll say that we think no plan for your life will survive first contact with reality. (Laughter) _______ has the tendency to throw little things at us that we weren't _________, sometimes good things, sometimes bad. So we say: just have a biased action, try stuff. Why? Why did we start this class? I've been in office hours for a long, long time with my students. I've been teaching here for a while. Dave as well. He was teaching over that community college, in Berkeley, for a while. (________) And - I'm sorry, I'm sorry, it's a Stanford TEDx. But we notice that people get stuck. People really get stuck and then they don't know what to do and they don't seem to have any tools for getting _______. Designers get stuck all the time. I signed up to be a designer, which means I'm going to work on something I've never done, every day, and I get stuck and unstuck, stuck and unstuck, all the time. We also noticed as we went out and talked to folks who are not just our students, but people in mid-career and encore careers, that people have a bunch of beliefs which psychologists label "dysfunctional beliefs," things they believe that are true that actually aren't true, and it holds them back. I'll give you three. First one is: "What's your passion? Tell me your passion and I'll tell you what you need to do." Now, if you actually have one of these things, these passions - you knew at two you wanted to be a doctor, you knew at seven you wanted to be a clown at ______ du Soleil, and now you are one, that's awesome. But we're a sort of research _____ here at Stanford, so we went over to the ______ for the Study of Adolescence, which by the way now goes up to 27 - (Laughter) and met with Bill Damon, one of our colleagues, a fantastic guy. He studied this question and it turns out less than 20% of the people have any one single identifiable passion in their lives. We hate a methodology which says, "OK, come to the _____ of the line. You have a _______? Oh, you don't? Oh, I'm sorry. When you have one, come on back and we'll help you with that." It's terrible, eight out of 10 people say, "I have lots of things I'm interested in." So this is not an organizing principle for your search or your design. The second one is, "Well, you should know by now, right? Don't you know where you're going? If you don't know, you're late." (Laughter) Now, what are you late for, exactly? I'm not quite sure. But you know, there's a meta-narrative in the _______ and when I was growing up: by 25, you're supposed to maybe have a relationship, maybe have gotten married and started to get the family together. When I talk to my millennial students, they'll say, "Oh, that's got to be like 30 or something," because they can't imagine, anything past, like, 22, but 30 is a long way out. But we know that now these people are forming their _____ much more fluidly, they are _______ in a lot more _______ ______ between about 22 and 35, and so this notion that you're late is really kind of like, "Well, you should have figured this out by now." Dave and I don't "should" on anybody. In the book or in the class, we don't believe in "should." We just think, "Alright, you are whatever you are. Let's start from where you are. You're not late for anything." But the one we really don't like is: "Are you being the best possible _______ of you?" (Laughter) "I mean, because you're not settling for something that's less than the best, because this is Stanford. Obviously we all are going to be the best." Well, this implies that, one, there's a singular best; two, that it's a ______ thing, and life is anything but linear; and three, it kind of comes from this ________ notion, there's an old business saying, "Good is the enemy of better, better is the enemy of best," and you always want to do your best in business. But if there isn't one singular best, then our reframe is, "The unattainable best is the _____ of all the available betters, because there are many, many versions of you that you could play out, all of which would result in a well-designed life." So I'm going to give you three ideas from design thinking - five ideas, excuse me - That says five, doesn't it? Yeah. Five ideas from design thinking. And people who've read the book or taken the class have written back to us and said, "Hey, these were the most useful, these were the most doable, they were the most helpful." And we're human-centered _________, so we want to be helpful. The first one is this ______ of connecting the dots. The number one reason people take our class and we hear read the book is they say, "You know, I want my life to be meaningful, I want it to be purposeful, I want it to add up to something." So, we ______ in the positive psychology __________ and in the design literature, and it turns out that there's who you are, there's what you believe and there's what you do in the world, and if you can make a __________ between these three things, if you can make that a coherent story, you will experience your life as meaningful. The ________ in meaning-making comes from connecting the dots. So we do two things. We ask people: "Write a work view. What's your theory of work? Not the job you want, but why do you work? What's it for? What's work in service of?" Once you have that, 250 words, then - this one's a little harder to get short, "What's the meaning of life? What's the big picture? Why are you here? What is your faith or your view of the world?" When you can connect your life view and your work view together, in a coherent way, you _____ to experience your life as meaningful. That's the idea number one. Idea number two: people get stuck and you've got to be careful because we can reframe almost anything, but there's a class of problems that people get stuck on that are really, really bad problems. We call them _______ problems. Essentially, they're something you cannot change. Now, I know you have a friend and you've been having coffee with this friend for a while, and they're _____. They don't like their boss, their partner, their job, there's something that they don't like. But nothing's happening, right? Nothing's happening with them. If Dave were here he'd say, "Look, you can't solve a _______ you're not willing to have." You can't solve a problem you're not willing to have, so if you've got a gravity problem and you're simply not willing to work on it, then it's just a circumstance in your life. And the only thing we know to do with gravity problems is to accept. In the design thinking chart, you start with empathy, then you redefine the problem, you come up with lots of ideas, then you prototype and test things, but that only works if it's a problem you're willing to work on. The first thing to do is ______ and once you've ________ this as gravity problem - "I can't change it. You know, this is a company, the company is a family-run company and the name of the _______ is on the door and if you're not in the family, you can't be the president." You're right, you can't! So, now you have to decide what you want to do. Is that a circumstance that you can reframe and work in, or do you need to do something else? So be really careful about gravity problems because they're __________ and they really get in the way. But back to this idea of multiples, I do a little _______ experiment with my students, and I say, you know, "The physicists up in SLAC have kind of demonstrated this multiverse thing might be real." You've heard of this, that there are multiple parallel universes, one right next to each other. And say, "We'll do a thought experiment. Let's say you could live in all the multiverses simultaneously, and not only that, but you'd know about your life in each one of these _________. So, you could go back and be the ballerina, and the scientist, and the CPA, and whatever else you wanted to be. You could have all these lives in parallel." When I ask them, "How many lives are you? How many lives would you want?", I get answers from three to 10,000. But, you know, we've sort of done the average: it's about 7,5. Most people think they have about 7,5 really good lives that they could live. And here's the deal: you only get one. But it turns out it's not what you don't choose, it's what you choose in life that makes you happy. Nevertheless, we ________ this and we say, "Great, there's more lives than one in you. So let's go on an _______, and let's really figure out those lives!" And we ask people to do some design. And the "ideate" bubble, it's about having lot's of ideas. So we say, "Let's have some ideas. We'll ideate your future, but you can't ideate just one. You have to ideate three." Now, there's some research from the School of Education that says if you start with three _____ and you __________ from there, you've got a much wider range of ideas, the ideas are more generative and they lead to better solutions to the problem rather than just ________ with one and then _____________ forward. So we always do threes; there's something magical about threes. We have people do three lives, and it's ________________. We give them this little rubric. One: "The thing you're doing, the thing you're doing right now, whatever your ______ is, just do it. And you're going to do it for five _____ and it's going to come out great." I mean, in design, we're sort of values-neutral, except for one thing: we never design anything to make it worse, right? I have been on some _____ that made some ______ bad ________, but we weren't trying to, we were trying to make it better. So, thing one: your life, make it better. And also put in the bucket list stuff: you want to go to Paris, to the Galapagos - the guy with the ice thing - before it's all under water and we can't see it anymore. So, that's plan one: your life goes great. Plan two: I'm really sorry to tell you, but the robots and the AI stuff - that job doesn't exist anymore, the robots are doing it. We don't need you to do that anymore. Now, what are going to do? So what do you do if the thing that you've got goes away? And you know, everybody's got a side hustle or something they can do to make that work. And three is: what's your wild-card plan? What would you do if you didn't have to worry about _____? You've got enough. You're not fabulously wealthy, but you've got enough. And what would you do if you knew no one would _____? My ________ come in for my office hours a lot of times, and they'll say something like, "Well, what I really want to do is this, but I can't just hear people saying, 'You didn't go to Stanford to do that, did you?'" (Laughter) Because somehow, if you went to Stanford, you have to do some of the amazing things the past speakers have been doing. "But what would you do if you had enough money and you didn't care what people thought? Anything from, 'I'm going to go study butterflies' to, 'I want to be a bartender, you know, in Belize.' What would you do?" And people have those three plans. Now what happens when they do this is, one, they realize, "Oh my gosh, I could actually have imagined my three completely parallel lives are all pretty interesting." Two, they rarely go become a bartender, you know, in ______. But a lot of times, the things that come up in the other plans were things that they left behind somehow. In the business of life, they ______ about those things. And so they bring them back and put them in plan one, then they make their lives even better. Sometimes they do pivot, but mostly they just use this as a method of ideating all the possible wonderful ways they could have a life. Now, you could start executing that, but in our model, the thing you do after you have ideas is you build a prototype. We have met people who've quit their job and suddenly done something else, It hardly ever works. You kind of have to sneak up on it, because in our _____, we want to set the bar really low, try _____, have some success, do it again. So when we say "prototype," in our language, what we mean is a way to ask an interesting question, "What would it be like if I tried this?", a way to expose the assumptions, "Is this even the thing I want or is that just something I ________ I wanted when I was 20?" I've got to go out in the world and do this, so I'm going to get others ________ in ___________ my life, and I'm going to _____ up on the future, because I don't if this is exactly what I want. There's two _____ of life-design prototypes and what we call prototype conversation. You know, William Gibson, the science-fiction writer has a famous quote: "The future is already here. It's just unevenly ___________." So, there is someone who's a bartender in Ibiza. He's been doing it for years, I could go meet him and have a ____________, he or she. Somebody else is doing something else I'm interested in. All of these people are out there, they're living in my future, today. They're doing what I want to do, today. And if I have a conversation with them, I just ask for their story and everybody will tell you their story. If you buy them a cup of coffee, they tell you the story. If I hear something in the story that rings in me - We have this thing we call narrative resonance: when I hear a story that's kind of like my story, something happens, and I can identify that as a potential way of ______ forward. The other one is a _________ experience. Dave and I were working with a _____, sort of mid-career in her 40s and a very __________ tech executive, but wanted to move from money-making to meaning-making, to do something more meaningful, thinking of going back to school, getting an MA in education, _______ with kids. But she's like, "You know, I don't know, I'm 45, going back to ______. It's not going to work. And then I heard about these millennials. They're kind of mean and they don't like old people." (Laughter) What am I going to do, Bill?" I said, "Well, you just have to go try this, you know. It turns out we sent her to a seminar class and to a large lecture-hall class, and by the way, you just put on a T-shirt that says "Stanford" and you walk into a class, nobody knows. She wasn't __________, but you know, she went and she went to the classes and she came back and said, "You know what? It was fantastic! I ______ into the lecture hall, I sat down, my body was on fire! It was interesting, I was so interested in the way the lecture was going. And then I met these ___________. It turned out they're pretty interesting people! I've set up three prototype conversations. And they think I'm interesting because I'm coming back to school and I'm 45." So she had a felt experience, because we are more than just our brains. She had a felt __________ that this might work for her. So these are two ways you can prototype your way forward. The last idea: you want to make a good decision well. So many ______ make choices and they're not happy with their choices because they don't really know how do they know what they know, right? It's a hard thing, particularly in our days when we have so many choices. So we have a process. Again it comes from the positive psychology guys. Gather and create options. Once you get good at design you're really good at coming up with _______. You've got ______ those down to a working list that you can work with. Then, you make the choice to make a good choice, and then of course you agonize that you did the wrong thing. (Laughter) All my students have what is called FOMO, fear missing out, "What if I didn't pick the right thing." Someone came into my office and said, "I'll declare three majors and two minors" and I said, "Do you plan on being here for a few years? It's not going to happen, right?" So we don't say that; we say you want to let go and move on, and all these have some _____________ basis in them. Let me tell you about it. Once you get good at gathering and creating ideas, you also want to make sure you leave room for the lucky ideas, the serendipitous ideas. This is a guy named Tony Hsieh. He was the CEO at ______, he sold it to Amazon. But before you became an employee at Zappos you had to take a test, and the test was, "Are you lucky?" One, two or three: "I'm not very lucky, and I'm not sure why." Seven, eight, nine, ten, "I'm very lucky, great things happen to me all the time, I'm not sure why." He wouldn't hire anybody who was not lucky. (Laughter) I think it's probably illegal, but it was based on - (Laughter) but it was _____ on a piece of research where _____________ did the same thing, "Rate yourself from lucky to unlucky." And then they had people read the front _______ of the New York Times, 30 pages, lots of articles. And the graduate students said, "Please count the number of -" either headlines or photographs, depending on the test. "And when you get the whole thing read and you count the number of ___________, just tell the person at the end." And if you got the right number, you'd get $100. Of course you all know when a graduate student tells you what the experiment is that's not the experiment. So, inside this thing that looked like the New York Times, 30 _____, front page, inside all the stories were little pieces of text that said, "If you read this, the experiment's over. Collect an extra $ 150." People who rated themselves as unlucky by and large got the right answer, 36 headlines, whatever it was, got the $ 100. People who rated themselves as lucky - seven, eight, nine or ten - 80% of the time noticed the text and got the extra $150. It's not about being lucky. It's about paying attention to what you're doing and keeping your peripheral vision open because it's in your __________ ______ that those interesting opportunities show up, right, that you were not expecting. So you want to get good at being lucky. Narrowing down. This is quite simple. If you have too many choices, you go into what psychologists call choice overload, and then you have essentially no choices. Here's the __________. This was done at Stanford. You walk into a grocery store and there's a nice lady. She's got a table and on the table, she has six jams, and you come over try the jams to have a sample, buy some jam. Six jams; about 30 people who would go by pick a jam, or stop and test something, and about a third of those actually buy a jam. That's the baseline. Next week, you walk in, 24 jams: jalapeño, __________, banana, whatever; all sorts of jams. Well, guess what happens? Twice as many people stop, look at all these jams, it's so interesting. Three percent of the people buy them. (Laughter) When you have too many choices, you have no choice. What do you do when you have too many choices? Just cross off a bunch of _______. Psychologists tells us we can't handle more than five to seven. I'd say it's five. If you've got a _____ of choices, cross them all off, just pick the five and then make your decision there. "Oh my God! What if I pick the _____ ones? What if I cross off the wrong ones?" Right? Well, you won't, because it's the pizza or Chinese food thing. You're at the office and everybody says, "Let's go out to lunch _____." "Sounds great. What do you want to do? _____ or Chinese food?" "I don't care." In the elevator on their way down, someone says, "Let's get Chinese food." Then you go, "No, I want pizza." (Laughter) You won't decide how you feel about the decision till the decision's made. That's a piece of research that's been done again and again and again. So just cross them off. If you cross off the wrong one, you'll have a _______ somewhere in your _______ that you did the wrong thing. Choosing - this is about that feeling in your stomach. You cannot ______ well if you choose only from your rational mind. This is Dan Goleman, who wrote the book on _________ intelligence. He does a lot of research on this, a lot of brain science. There's a part of your _____, way down in the base brain, the basal _______, that summarizes emotional decisions for you. I did something, got good emotional ________ from that: good, check. I did something and had a little bad emotional response to that. It __________ all of the ________ that you have felt and how your _________ were ________ ________ or ________ an emotion. The problem with that part of your brain is that it's so early in the brain it doesn't talk to the part of your brain that talks. There's no connection to the prefrontal cortex or anything else. It's only _________ to your GI tract and your limbic ______. So, it gives you information through felt sensations, a "gut feeling." Without that, you can't make good decisions. And then the letting go and moving on. This was the hardest part for me, but this is also the work of Dan _______, who is a _____________ scientist at Harvard, despite the fact that he's doing _________ ___________ now. And he's been studying decision-making and how do you make yourself happy. So, you walk in another __________ experiment. The postdoc has got five Monet prints, five pictures from Monet, and you rank them from best to least, "I like this one the most, I like this one the least," number one and number five. "Thank you very much, the experiment's over. Oh, by the way, as you're walking out, you know, I kind of screwed up and I bought too many of number two and three. So if you want to take one home you can just have it. Two conditions: in one case, take it home and have it, but don't bring it back because I'm kind of embarrassed and - Just keep it, you can't exchange it. Second condition: I've got lots of these. If you don't like the one you picked, you can swap it back and pick another one." And of course everybody picks number two. It's a little better than ______ three. We bring people back in a week later and say, "Re-rank the _______. Which one do you like now?" The people who were _______ to change their mind don't like their painting, they don't like the print, they don't like the other one anymore, they don't like any of them anymore. In fact, they don't like the whole process and they have destroyed their opportunity to be _____. (Laughter) The people who were told, "You pick it, it's yours, you can't ______ it" love their print, they _________ rank it as number one and think the rest of them suck. (Laughter) If you make decisions reversible, your chance of being happy goes down like 60 or 70 percent. So, let go and move on, make the decision reversible. And by the way, as a designer, that's no problem, because you're really good at __________ options, you're great at ideation, you're really good at prototyping to get data in the world to see of that world will be the world you want to live in, so you have no fear of missing out. It's just a process, a mindful process: collect, ______, decide, move on. That's how you make yourself happy. So, the five ideas: Connecting the dots to find meaning through work and life _____. Stay away from gravity problems because I can't fix those and neither can you; reframe those to something that is workable. Do three plans, never one, always do three of everything, three _________ for any of the problems you're working on to make sure that you've covered not just the ideas that you had when you _______, but all the other ideas that are possible. Prototype everything in your life before you jump in and try it. And choose well; there's no point in making a good choice poorly. Choose well and you will find that things in your life are much easier. And you can do this, we know you can, because thousands of students have done it. Two PhD _______ have been done in the class that ____________ ______ self-efficacy, lower dysfunctional beliefs. It's a fascinating process to _____ people who don't think of themselves as creative go through this class and walk out saying, "You know what? I'm a pretty creative person!" what David Kelly _____ "creative confidence." So, we know you can do it, thank you very much. It's simple: get curious, talk to people and try stuff, and you will design a well-lived and ______ life. Thank you. (Applause) (Cheers)

Solution

  1. gravity
  2. based
  3. psychological
  4. radical
  5. belize
  6. ideas
  7. students
  8. ideations
  9. peripheral
  10. increase
  11. brainstorming
  12. millennials
  13. walked
  14. forgot
  15. transformational
  16. motion
  17. expecting
  18. photographs
  19. reframed
  20. linear
  21. narrow
  22. odyssey
  23. unstuck
  24. pretty
  25. rationalists
  26. stimuli
  27. start
  28. options
  29. distributed
  30. cirque
  31. pizza
  32. feeling
  33. talking
  34. watch
  35. prototyping
  36. instances
  37. emotions
  38. strawberry
  39. thought
  40. looked
  41. connection
  42. today
  43. generating
  44. higher
  45. class
  46. curious
  47. staying
  48. emotional
  49. drives
  50. gilbert
  51. pages
  52. joyful
  53. reduce
  54. stuck
  55. psychologists
  56. started
  57. laugh
  58. founder
  59. return
  60. insurance
  61. summarizes
  62. positive
  63. starting
  64. happy
  65. accept
  66. teams
  67. buddy
  68. years
  69. choose
  70. wrong
  71. stomach
  72. center
  73. services
  74. stuff
  75. figure
  76. enemy
  77. number
  78. commercials
  79. zappos
  80. conversation
  81. distinguished
  82. registered
  83. connected
  84. ganglia
  85. bunch
  86. experience
  87. section
  88. moving
  89. front
  90. kinds
  91. reality
  92. calls
  93. woman
  94. sneak
  95. laughter
  96. pernicious
  97. people
  98. design
  99. involved
  100. model
  101. interesting
  102. response
  103. typically
  104. decisions
  105. literature
  106. studies
  107. school
  108. passion
  109. process
  110. system
  111. working
  112. successful
  113. remember
  114. vision
  115. psychology
  116. space
  117. dynamic
  118. version
  119. problem
  120. reframe
  121. prototype
  122. notion
  123. curiosity
  124. brain
  125. brainstorm
  126. experiment
  127. products
  128. designers
  129. money
  130. demonstrated
  131. views
  132. allowed
  133. choices
  134. valenced
  135. culture
  136. lives
  137. negative
  138. career
  139. business
  140. accepted
  141. mindset

Original Text

Hello, everyone. I'm here to help you design your life. We're going to use the technique of design thinking. Design thinking is something we've been working on at the d.School and in the School of Engineering for over 50 years, and it's an innovation methodology, works on products, works on services. But I think the most interesting design problem is your life! So that's what we're going to talk about. I want to just make sure everybody knows: this is my buddy Dave Evans, his face. Dave and I are the co-authors of the book, and he is the guy who helped me co-found the Life Design Lab at Stanford. So what do we do in the Life Design Lab? Well, we teach the class that helps to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. Now, I'm going to give you the first reframe. Designers love reframes. How many of you hope you never grow up and lose that child-like curiosity that drives everything you do? Raise your hand. Right! Who wants to grow up? I mean, we've been talking about curiosity in almost every one of these talks. And so I'd like to reframe this as: we say we teach the class that helps you figure out what you want to grow into next, as this life of yours, this amazing design of yours, unfolds. So, design thinking is what we teach and it's a set of mindsets, it's how designers think. You know, we've been taught probably in the university to be so skeptical realists, rationalists, but that's not very useful as a mindset when you're trying to do something new, something no one's ever done before. So we say you start with curiosity and you lean into what you're curious about. We say you reframe problems because most of the time we find people are working on the wrong problems and they have a wonderful solution to something that doesn't work anyway. So, what's the point of working on the wrong thing? We say radical collaboration because the answer's out in the world with other people. That's where your experience of your life will be. We want to be mindful of our process. There are times in the design process when you want lots of ideas, and there are times when you really want to converge test some things, prototype some things, you want to be good at that. And the other is biased action. Now, you know, I'll say that we think no plan for your life will survive first contact with reality. (Laughter) Reality has the tendency to throw little things at us that we weren't expecting, sometimes good things, sometimes bad. So we say: just have a biased action, try stuff. Why? Why did we start this class? I've been in office hours for a long, long time with my students. I've been teaching here for a while. Dave as well. He was teaching over that community college, in Berkeley, for a while. (Laughter) And - I'm sorry, I'm sorry, it's a Stanford TEDx. But we notice that people get stuck. People really get stuck and then they don't know what to do and they don't seem to have any tools for getting unstuck. Designers get stuck all the time. I signed up to be a designer, which means I'm going to work on something I've never done, every day, and I get stuck and unstuck, stuck and unstuck, all the time. We also noticed as we went out and talked to folks who are not just our students, but people in mid-career and encore careers, that people have a bunch of beliefs which psychologists label "dysfunctional beliefs," things they believe that are true that actually aren't true, and it holds them back. I'll give you three. First one is: "What's your passion? Tell me your passion and I'll tell you what you need to do." Now, if you actually have one of these things, these passions - you knew at two you wanted to be a doctor, you knew at seven you wanted to be a clown at Cirque du Soleil, and now you are one, that's awesome. But we're a sort of research space here at Stanford, so we went over to the Center for the Study of Adolescence, which by the way now goes up to 27 - (Laughter) and met with Bill Damon, one of our colleagues, a fantastic guy. He studied this question and it turns out less than 20% of the people have any one single identifiable passion in their lives. We hate a methodology which says, "OK, come to the front of the line. You have a passion? Oh, you don't? Oh, I'm sorry. When you have one, come on back and we'll help you with that." It's terrible, eight out of 10 people say, "I have lots of things I'm interested in." So this is not an organizing principle for your search or your design. The second one is, "Well, you should know by now, right? Don't you know where you're going? If you don't know, you're late." (Laughter) Now, what are you late for, exactly? I'm not quite sure. But you know, there's a meta-narrative in the culture and when I was growing up: by 25, you're supposed to maybe have a relationship, maybe have gotten married and started to get the family together. When I talk to my millennial students, they'll say, "Oh, that's got to be like 30 or something," because they can't imagine, anything past, like, 22, but 30 is a long way out. But we know that now these people are forming their lives much more fluidly, they are staying in a lot more dynamic motion between about 22 and 35, and so this notion that you're late is really kind of like, "Well, you should have figured this out by now." Dave and I don't "should" on anybody. In the book or in the class, we don't believe in "should." We just think, "Alright, you are whatever you are. Let's start from where you are. You're not late for anything." But the one we really don't like is: "Are you being the best possible version of you?" (Laughter) "I mean, because you're not settling for something that's less than the best, because this is Stanford. Obviously we all are going to be the best." Well, this implies that, one, there's a singular best; two, that it's a linear thing, and life is anything but linear; and three, it kind of comes from this business notion, there's an old business saying, "Good is the enemy of better, better is the enemy of best," and you always want to do your best in business. But if there isn't one singular best, then our reframe is, "The unattainable best is the enemy of all the available betters, because there are many, many versions of you that you could play out, all of which would result in a well-designed life." So I'm going to give you three ideas from design thinking - five ideas, excuse me - That says five, doesn't it? Yeah. Five ideas from design thinking. And people who've read the book or taken the class have written back to us and said, "Hey, these were the most useful, these were the most doable, they were the most helpful." And we're human-centered designers, so we want to be helpful. The first one is this notion of connecting the dots. The number one reason people take our class and we hear read the book is they say, "You know, I want my life to be meaningful, I want it to be purposeful, I want it to add up to something." So, we looked in the positive psychology literature and in the design literature, and it turns out that there's who you are, there's what you believe and there's what you do in the world, and if you can make a connection between these three things, if you can make that a coherent story, you will experience your life as meaningful. The increase in meaning-making comes from connecting the dots. So we do two things. We ask people: "Write a work view. What's your theory of work? Not the job you want, but why do you work? What's it for? What's work in service of?" Once you have that, 250 words, then - this one's a little harder to get short, "What's the meaning of life? What's the big picture? Why are you here? What is your faith or your view of the world?" When you can connect your life view and your work view together, in a coherent way, you start to experience your life as meaningful. That's the idea number one. Idea number two: people get stuck and you've got to be careful because we can reframe almost anything, but there's a class of problems that people get stuck on that are really, really bad problems. We call them gravity problems. Essentially, they're something you cannot change. Now, I know you have a friend and you've been having coffee with this friend for a while, and they're stuck. They don't like their boss, their partner, their job, there's something that they don't like. But nothing's happening, right? Nothing's happening with them. If Dave were here he'd say, "Look, you can't solve a problem you're not willing to have." You can't solve a problem you're not willing to have, so if you've got a gravity problem and you're simply not willing to work on it, then it's just a circumstance in your life. And the only thing we know to do with gravity problems is to accept. In the design thinking chart, you start with empathy, then you redefine the problem, you come up with lots of ideas, then you prototype and test things, but that only works if it's a problem you're willing to work on. The first thing to do is accept and once you've accepted this as gravity problem - "I can't change it. You know, this is a company, the company is a family-run company and the name of the founder is on the door and if you're not in the family, you can't be the president." You're right, you can't! So, now you have to decide what you want to do. Is that a circumstance that you can reframe and work in, or do you need to do something else? So be really careful about gravity problems because they're pernicious and they really get in the way. But back to this idea of multiples, I do a little thought experiment with my students, and I say, you know, "The physicists up in SLAC have kind of demonstrated this multiverse thing might be real." You've heard of this, that there are multiple parallel universes, one right next to each other. And say, "We'll do a thought experiment. Let's say you could live in all the multiverses simultaneously, and not only that, but you'd know about your life in each one of these instances. So, you could go back and be the ballerina, and the scientist, and the CPA, and whatever else you wanted to be. You could have all these lives in parallel." When I ask them, "How many lives are you? How many lives would you want?", I get answers from three to 10,000. But, you know, we've sort of done the average: it's about 7,5. Most people think they have about 7,5 really good lives that they could live. And here's the deal: you only get one. But it turns out it's not what you don't choose, it's what you choose in life that makes you happy. Nevertheless, we reframed this and we say, "Great, there's more lives than one in you. So let's go on an odyssey, and let's really figure out those lives!" And we ask people to do some design. And the "ideate" bubble, it's about having lot's of ideas. So we say, "Let's have some ideas. We'll ideate your future, but you can't ideate just one. You have to ideate three." Now, there's some research from the School of Education that says if you start with three ideas and you brainstorm from there, you've got a much wider range of ideas, the ideas are more generative and they lead to better solutions to the problem rather than just starting with one and then brainstorming forward. So we always do threes; there's something magical about threes. We have people do three lives, and it's transformational. We give them this little rubric. One: "The thing you're doing, the thing you're doing right now, whatever your career is, just do it. And you're going to do it for five years and it's going to come out great." I mean, in design, we're sort of values-neutral, except for one thing: we never design anything to make it worse, right? I have been on some teams that made some pretty bad products, but we weren't trying to, we were trying to make it better. So, thing one: your life, make it better. And also put in the bucket list stuff: you want to go to Paris, to the Galapagos - the guy with the ice thing - before it's all under water and we can't see it anymore. So, that's plan one: your life goes great. Plan two: I'm really sorry to tell you, but the robots and the AI stuff - that job doesn't exist anymore, the robots are doing it. We don't need you to do that anymore. Now, what are going to do? So what do you do if the thing that you've got goes away? And you know, everybody's got a side hustle or something they can do to make that work. And three is: what's your wild-card plan? What would you do if you didn't have to worry about money? You've got enough. You're not fabulously wealthy, but you've got enough. And what would you do if you knew no one would laugh? My students come in for my office hours a lot of times, and they'll say something like, "Well, what I really want to do is this, but I can't just hear people saying, 'You didn't go to Stanford to do that, did you?'" (Laughter) Because somehow, if you went to Stanford, you have to do some of the amazing things the past speakers have been doing. "But what would you do if you had enough money and you didn't care what people thought? Anything from, 'I'm going to go study butterflies' to, 'I want to be a bartender, you know, in Belize.' What would you do?" And people have those three plans. Now what happens when they do this is, one, they realize, "Oh my gosh, I could actually have imagined my three completely parallel lives are all pretty interesting." Two, they rarely go become a bartender, you know, in Belize. But a lot of times, the things that come up in the other plans were things that they left behind somehow. In the business of life, they forgot about those things. And so they bring them back and put them in plan one, then they make their lives even better. Sometimes they do pivot, but mostly they just use this as a method of ideating all the possible wonderful ways they could have a life. Now, you could start executing that, but in our model, the thing you do after you have ideas is you build a prototype. We have met people who've quit their job and suddenly done something else, It hardly ever works. You kind of have to sneak up on it, because in our model, we want to set the bar really low, try stuff, have some success, do it again. So when we say "prototype," in our language, what we mean is a way to ask an interesting question, "What would it be like if I tried this?", a way to expose the assumptions, "Is this even the thing I want or is that just something I remember I wanted when I was 20?" I've got to go out in the world and do this, so I'm going to get others involved in prototyping my life, and I'm going to sneak up on the future, because I don't if this is exactly what I want. There's two kinds of life-design prototypes and what we call prototype conversation. You know, William Gibson, the science-fiction writer has a famous quote: "The future is already here. It's just unevenly distributed." So, there is someone who's a bartender in Ibiza. He's been doing it for years, I could go meet him and have a conversation, he or she. Somebody else is doing something else I'm interested in. All of these people are out there, they're living in my future, today. They're doing what I want to do, today. And if I have a conversation with them, I just ask for their story and everybody will tell you their story. If you buy them a cup of coffee, they tell you the story. If I hear something in the story that rings in me - We have this thing we call narrative resonance: when I hear a story that's kind of like my story, something happens, and I can identify that as a potential way of moving forward. The other one is a prototype experience. Dave and I were working with a woman, sort of mid-career in her 40s and a very successful tech executive, but wanted to move from money-making to meaning-making, to do something more meaningful, thinking of going back to school, getting an MA in education, working with kids. But she's like, "You know, I don't know, I'm 45, going back to school. It's not going to work. And then I heard about these millennials. They're kind of mean and they don't like old people." (Laughter) What am I going to do, Bill?" I said, "Well, you just have to go try this, you know. It turns out we sent her to a seminar class and to a large lecture-hall class, and by the way, you just put on a T-shirt that says "Stanford" and you walk into a class, nobody knows. She wasn't registered, but you know, she went and she went to the classes and she came back and said, "You know what? It was fantastic! I walked into the lecture hall, I sat down, my body was on fire! It was interesting, I was so interested in the way the lecture was going. And then I met these millennials. It turned out they're pretty interesting people! I've set up three prototype conversations. And they think I'm interesting because I'm coming back to school and I'm 45." So she had a felt experience, because we are more than just our brains. She had a felt experience that this might work for her. So these are two ways you can prototype your way forward. The last idea: you want to make a good decision well. So many people make choices and they're not happy with their choices because they don't really know how do they know what they know, right? It's a hard thing, particularly in our days when we have so many choices. So we have a process. Again it comes from the positive psychology guys. Gather and create options. Once you get good at design you're really good at coming up with options. You've got narrow those down to a working list that you can work with. Then, you make the choice to make a good choice, and then of course you agonize that you did the wrong thing. (Laughter) All my students have what is called FOMO, fear missing out, "What if I didn't pick the right thing." Someone came into my office and said, "I'll declare three majors and two minors" and I said, "Do you plan on being here for a few years? It's not going to happen, right?" So we don't say that; we say you want to let go and move on, and all these have some psychological basis in them. Let me tell you about it. Once you get good at gathering and creating ideas, you also want to make sure you leave room for the lucky ideas, the serendipitous ideas. This is a guy named Tony Hsieh. He was the CEO at Zappos, he sold it to Amazon. But before you became an employee at Zappos you had to take a test, and the test was, "Are you lucky?" One, two or three: "I'm not very lucky, and I'm not sure why." Seven, eight, nine, ten, "I'm very lucky, great things happen to me all the time, I'm not sure why." He wouldn't hire anybody who was not lucky. (Laughter) I think it's probably illegal, but it was based on - (Laughter) but it was based on a piece of research where psychologists did the same thing, "Rate yourself from lucky to unlucky." And then they had people read the front section of the New York Times, 30 pages, lots of articles. And the graduate students said, "Please count the number of -" either headlines or photographs, depending on the test. "And when you get the whole thing read and you count the number of photographs, just tell the person at the end." And if you got the right number, you'd get $100. Of course you all know when a graduate student tells you what the experiment is that's not the experiment. So, inside this thing that looked like the New York Times, 30 pages, front page, inside all the stories were little pieces of text that said, "If you read this, the experiment's over. Collect an extra $ 150." People who rated themselves as unlucky by and large got the right answer, 36 headlines, whatever it was, got the $ 100. People who rated themselves as lucky - seven, eight, nine or ten - 80% of the time noticed the text and got the extra $150. It's not about being lucky. It's about paying attention to what you're doing and keeping your peripheral vision open because it's in your peripheral vision that those interesting opportunities show up, right, that you were not expecting. So you want to get good at being lucky. Narrowing down. This is quite simple. If you have too many choices, you go into what psychologists call choice overload, and then you have essentially no choices. Here's the experiment. This was done at Stanford. You walk into a grocery store and there's a nice lady. She's got a table and on the table, she has six jams, and you come over try the jams to have a sample, buy some jam. Six jams; about 30 people who would go by pick a jam, or stop and test something, and about a third of those actually buy a jam. That's the baseline. Next week, you walk in, 24 jams: jalapeño, strawberry, banana, whatever; all sorts of jams. Well, guess what happens? Twice as many people stop, look at all these jams, it's so interesting. Three percent of the people buy them. (Laughter) When you have too many choices, you have no choice. What do you do when you have too many choices? Just cross off a bunch of choices. Psychologists tells us we can't handle more than five to seven. I'd say it's five. If you've got a bunch of choices, cross them all off, just pick the five and then make your decision there. "Oh my God! What if I pick the wrong ones? What if I cross off the wrong ones?" Right? Well, you won't, because it's the pizza or Chinese food thing. You're at the office and everybody says, "Let's go out to lunch today." "Sounds great. What do you want to do? Pizza or Chinese food?" "I don't care." In the elevator on their way down, someone says, "Let's get Chinese food." Then you go, "No, I want pizza." (Laughter) You won't decide how you feel about the decision till the decision's made. That's a piece of research that's been done again and again and again. So just cross them off. If you cross off the wrong one, you'll have a feeling somewhere in your stomach that you did the wrong thing. Choosing - this is about that feeling in your stomach. You cannot choose well if you choose only from your rational mind. This is Dan Goleman, who wrote the book on emotional intelligence. He does a lot of research on this, a lot of brain science. There's a part of your brain, way down in the base brain, the basal ganglia, that summarizes emotional decisions for you. I did something, got good emotional response from that: good, check. I did something and had a little bad emotional response to that. It summarizes all of the emotions that you have felt and how your decisions were valenced positive or negative an emotion. The problem with that part of your brain is that it's so early in the brain it doesn't talk to the part of your brain that talks. There's no connection to the prefrontal cortex or anything else. It's only connected to your GI tract and your limbic system. So, it gives you information through felt sensations, a "gut feeling." Without that, you can't make good decisions. And then the letting go and moving on. This was the hardest part for me, but this is also the work of Dan Gilbert, who is a distinguished scientist at Harvard, despite the fact that he's doing insurance commercials now. And he's been studying decision-making and how do you make yourself happy. So, you walk in another psychology experiment. The postdoc has got five Monet prints, five pictures from Monet, and you rank them from best to least, "I like this one the most, I like this one the least," number one and number five. "Thank you very much, the experiment's over. Oh, by the way, as you're walking out, you know, I kind of screwed up and I bought too many of number two and three. So if you want to take one home you can just have it. Two conditions: in one case, take it home and have it, but don't bring it back because I'm kind of embarrassed and - Just keep it, you can't exchange it. Second condition: I've got lots of these. If you don't like the one you picked, you can swap it back and pick another one." And of course everybody picks number two. It's a little better than number three. We bring people back in a week later and say, "Re-rank the stimuli. Which one do you like now?" The people who were allowed to change their mind don't like their painting, they don't like the print, they don't like the other one anymore, they don't like any of them anymore. In fact, they don't like the whole process and they have destroyed their opportunity to be happy. (Laughter) The people who were told, "You pick it, it's yours, you can't return it" love their print, they typically rank it as number one and think the rest of them suck. (Laughter) If you make decisions reversible, your chance of being happy goes down like 60 or 70 percent. So, let go and move on, make the decision reversible. And by the way, as a designer, that's no problem, because you're really good at generating options, you're great at ideation, you're really good at prototyping to get data in the world to see of that world will be the world you want to live in, so you have no fear of missing out. It's just a process, a mindful process: collect, reduce, decide, move on. That's how you make yourself happy. So, the five ideas: Connecting the dots to find meaning through work and life views. Stay away from gravity problems because I can't fix those and neither can you; reframe those to something that is workable. Do three plans, never one, always do three of everything, three ideations for any of the problems you're working on to make sure that you've covered not just the ideas that you had when you started, but all the other ideas that are possible. Prototype everything in your life before you jump in and try it. And choose well; there's no point in making a good choice poorly. Choose well and you will find that things in your life are much easier. And you can do this, we know you can, because thousands of students have done it. Two PhD studies have been done in the class that demonstrated higher self-efficacy, lower dysfunctional beliefs. It's a fascinating process to watch people who don't think of themselves as creative go through this class and walk out saying, "You know what? I'm a pretty creative person!" what David Kelly calls "creative confidence." So, we know you can do it, thank you very much. It's simple: get curious, talk to people and try stuff, and you will design a well-lived and joyful life. Thank you. (Applause) (Cheers)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
design thinking 6
gravity problems 4
life design 2
office hours 2
positive psychology 2
work view 2
idea number 2
gravity problem 2
thought experiment 2
peripheral vision 2
emotional response 2

Important Words

  1. accept
  2. accepted
  3. action
  4. add
  5. adolescence
  6. agonize
  7. ai
  8. allowed
  9. amazing
  10. amazon
  11. answer
  12. answers
  13. anymore
  14. applause
  15. articles
  16. assumptions
  17. attention
  18. awesome
  19. bad
  20. ballerina
  21. banana
  22. bar
  23. bartender
  24. basal
  25. base
  26. based
  27. baseline
  28. basis
  29. beliefs
  30. belize
  31. berkeley
  32. betters
  33. biased
  34. big
  35. bill
  36. body
  37. book
  38. boss
  39. bought
  40. brain
  41. brains
  42. brainstorm
  43. brainstorming
  44. bring
  45. bubble
  46. bucket
  47. buddy
  48. build
  49. bunch
  50. business
  51. buy
  52. call
  53. called
  54. calls
  55. care
  56. career
  57. careers
  58. careful
  59. case
  60. center
  61. ceo
  62. chance
  63. change
  64. chart
  65. check
  66. cheers
  67. chinese
  68. choice
  69. choices
  70. choose
  71. choosing
  72. circumstance
  73. cirque
  74. class
  75. classes
  76. clown
  77. coffee
  78. coherent
  79. collaboration
  80. colleagues
  81. collect
  82. college
  83. coming
  84. commercials
  85. community
  86. company
  87. completely
  88. confidence
  89. connect
  90. connected
  91. connecting
  92. connection
  93. contact
  94. converge
  95. conversation
  96. conversations
  97. cortex
  98. count
  99. covered
  100. cpa
  101. create
  102. creating
  103. creative
  104. cross
  105. culture
  106. cup
  107. curiosity
  108. curious
  109. damon
  110. dan
  111. data
  112. dave
  113. david
  114. day
  115. days
  116. decide
  117. decision
  118. decisions
  119. declare
  120. demonstrated
  121. depending
  122. design
  123. designer
  124. designers
  125. destroyed
  126. distinguished
  127. distributed
  128. doable
  129. doctor
  130. door
  131. dots
  132. drives
  133. du
  134. dynamic
  135. dysfunctional
  136. early
  137. easier
  138. education
  139. elevator
  140. embarrassed
  141. emotion
  142. emotional
  143. emotions
  144. empathy
  145. employee
  146. encore
  147. enemy
  148. engineering
  149. essentially
  150. evans
  151. exchange
  152. excuse
  153. executing
  154. executive
  155. exist
  156. expecting
  157. experience
  158. experiment
  159. expose
  160. extra
  161. fabulously
  162. face
  163. fact
  164. faith
  165. family
  166. famous
  167. fantastic
  168. fascinating
  169. fear
  170. feel
  171. feeling
  172. felt
  173. figure
  174. figured
  175. find
  176. fix
  177. fluidly
  178. folks
  179. fomo
  180. food
  181. forgot
  182. forming
  183. founder
  184. friend
  185. front
  186. future
  187. galapagos
  188. ganglia
  189. gather
  190. gathering
  191. generating
  192. generative
  193. gi
  194. gibson
  195. gilbert
  196. give
  197. goleman
  198. good
  199. gosh
  200. graduate
  201. gravity
  202. great
  203. grocery
  204. grow
  205. growing
  206. guess
  207. guy
  208. guys
  209. hall
  210. hand
  211. handle
  212. happen
  213. happening
  214. happy
  215. hard
  216. harder
  217. hardest
  218. harvard
  219. hate
  220. headlines
  221. hear
  222. heard
  223. helped
  224. helpful
  225. helps
  226. higher
  227. hire
  228. holds
  229. home
  230. hope
  231. hours
  232. hsieh
  233. hustle
  234. ibiza
  235. ice
  236. idea
  237. ideas
  238. ideate
  239. ideating
  240. ideation
  241. ideations
  242. identifiable
  243. identify
  244. illegal
  245. imagine
  246. imagined
  247. implies
  248. increase
  249. information
  250. innovation
  251. instances
  252. insurance
  253. intelligence
  254. interested
  255. interesting
  256. involved
  257. jalapeño
  258. jam
  259. jams
  260. job
  261. joyful
  262. jump
  263. keeping
  264. kelly
  265. kids
  266. kind
  267. kinds
  268. knew
  269. lab
  270. label
  271. lady
  272. language
  273. large
  274. late
  275. laugh
  276. laughter
  277. lead
  278. lean
  279. leave
  280. lecture
  281. left
  282. letting
  283. life
  284. limbic
  285. line
  286. linear
  287. list
  288. literature
  289. live
  290. lives
  291. living
  292. long
  293. looked
  294. lose
  295. lot
  296. lots
  297. love
  298. lucky
  299. lunch
  300. ma
  301. magical
  302. majors
  303. making
  304. married
  305. meaning
  306. meaningful
  307. means
  308. meet
  309. met
  310. method
  311. methodology
  312. millennial
  313. millennials
  314. mind
  315. mindful
  316. mindset
  317. mindsets
  318. missing
  319. model
  320. monet
  321. money
  322. motion
  323. move
  324. moving
  325. multiple
  326. multiples
  327. multiverse
  328. multiverses
  329. named
  330. narrative
  331. narrow
  332. narrowing
  333. negative
  334. nice
  335. notice
  336. noticed
  337. notion
  338. number
  339. odyssey
  340. office
  341. open
  342. opportunities
  343. opportunity
  344. options
  345. organizing
  346. overload
  347. page
  348. pages
  349. painting
  350. parallel
  351. paris
  352. part
  353. partner
  354. passion
  355. passions
  356. paying
  357. people
  358. percent
  359. peripheral
  360. pernicious
  361. person
  362. phd
  363. photographs
  364. physicists
  365. pick
  366. picked
  367. picks
  368. picture
  369. pictures
  370. piece
  371. pieces
  372. pivot
  373. pizza
  374. plan
  375. plans
  376. play
  377. point
  378. poorly
  379. positive
  380. postdoc
  381. potential
  382. prefrontal
  383. president
  384. pretty
  385. principle
  386. print
  387. prints
  388. problem
  389. problems
  390. process
  391. products
  392. prototype
  393. prototypes
  394. prototyping
  395. psychological
  396. psychologists
  397. psychology
  398. purposeful
  399. put
  400. question
  401. quit
  402. radical
  403. raise
  404. range
  405. rank
  406. rarely
  407. rated
  408. rational
  409. rationalists
  410. read
  411. real
  412. realists
  413. reality
  414. realize
  415. reason
  416. redefine
  417. reduce
  418. reframe
  419. reframed
  420. reframes
  421. registered
  422. relationship
  423. remember
  424. research
  425. response
  426. rest
  427. result
  428. return
  429. reversible
  430. rings
  431. robots
  432. room
  433. rubric
  434. sample
  435. sat
  436. school
  437. science
  438. scientist
  439. screwed
  440. search
  441. section
  442. seminar
  443. sensations
  444. serendipitous
  445. service
  446. services
  447. set
  448. settling
  449. short
  450. show
  451. side
  452. signed
  453. simple
  454. simply
  455. simultaneously
  456. single
  457. singular
  458. skeptical
  459. slac
  460. sneak
  461. sold
  462. soleil
  463. solution
  464. solutions
  465. solve
  466. sort
  467. sorts
  468. space
  469. speakers
  470. stanford
  471. start
  472. started
  473. starting
  474. stay
  475. staying
  476. stimuli
  477. stomach
  478. stop
  479. store
  480. stories
  481. story
  482. strawberry
  483. stuck
  484. student
  485. students
  486. studied
  487. studies
  488. study
  489. studying
  490. stuff
  491. success
  492. successful
  493. suck
  494. suddenly
  495. summarizes
  496. supposed
  497. survive
  498. swap
  499. system
  500. table
  501. talk
  502. talked
  503. talking
  504. talks
  505. taught
  506. teach
  507. teaching
  508. teams
  509. tech
  510. technique
  511. tedx
  512. tells
  513. ten
  514. tendency
  515. terrible
  516. test
  517. text
  518. theory
  519. thinking
  520. thought
  521. thousands
  522. threes
  523. throw
  524. time
  525. times
  526. today
  527. told
  528. tony
  529. tools
  530. tract
  531. transformational
  532. true
  533. turned
  534. turns
  535. typically
  536. unattainable
  537. unevenly
  538. unfolds
  539. universes
  540. university
  541. unlucky
  542. unstuck
  543. valenced
  544. version
  545. versions
  546. view
  547. views
  548. vision
  549. walk
  550. walked
  551. walking
  552. wanted
  553. watch
  554. water
  555. ways
  556. wealthy
  557. week
  558. wider
  559. william
  560. woman
  561. wonderful
  562. words
  563. work
  564. workable
  565. working
  566. works
  567. world
  568. worry
  569. worse
  570. writer
  571. written
  572. wrong
  573. wrote
  574. yeah
  575. years
  576. york
  577. zappos