Bernie Roth on Designing the Lives We Want: PYP 226

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Bernie Roth is a co-founder and Academic Director of the incredibly influential d.school at Stanford University (officially known as the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design).

He's also the author of a charming, unflinchingly honest, and hugely helpful book, The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life.

Bernie's great contribution to the world, aside from his numerous inventions and innovations in machine design, robotics, and engineering, is the insight that successful, happy, healthy people generally don't achieve these nice things by accident.

Instead, they apply design principles to their lives, and make the good stuff happen.

Granted, they don't formally recognize that what they are doing is informed by design thinking. But once you meet Bernie, you'll see that the things you want to achieve – a clean diet, an exercise habit, a better relationship with a spouse, a more lucrative and meaningful career – can be approached as design problems rather than pipe dreams.

I asked Bernie to be a guest on the Plant Yourself Podcast to help me see how to apply his work to the goal of making and sustaining healthy lifestyle changes. I hope you find his wisdom and techniques as valuable as I do.

We covered:

  • Bernie's challenging childhood (manic-depressive father, almost flunking out of school)
  • engineering students who talked about starting their own companies but ended up working for Hewlett Packard
  • how to turn pipe dreams into reality
  • applying methods of industrial design to humans
  • the hallmark of design thinking: empathy
  • “most people are working on the wrong issue”
  • if you work on the right issue, you're smart enough to solve your problem
  • the difference between a dream and a goal: intention and attention
  • how Bernie helped Tara Parker Pope of The New York Times regain her life by showing her how to reframe her problem
  • the magic question: “What would it do for you to solve that problem?”
  • you give life meaning: you're a god, not a victim
  • “reasons are bullshit”
  • the difference between trying and doing
  • we don't live in a 2+2=4 world
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Links

The Achievement Habit – on amazon

The Stanford d.school

Bernie's academic bio

Bernie on The Bregman Leadership Podcast

Bernie and Peter Bregman – video:

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Music

The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.

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