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Odyssey Planning Debrief

Lesson 9 from: Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

Bill Burnett, Dave Evans

Odyssey Planning Debrief

Lesson 9 from: Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

Bill Burnett, Dave Evans

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Lesson Info

9. Odyssey Planning Debrief

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of the lesson is Odyssey Planning Debrief, which involves discussing and sharing the Odyssey plans created by the participants.


  1. What is the purpose of the Odyssey plan debrief?

    The purpose of the debrief is to share and discuss the Odyssey plans created by the participants.

  2. How long should each person spend talking about their plans?

    Each person should spend up to four minutes giving a brief overview of their plans.

  3. What should the listeners do during the debrief?

    The listeners should provide specific affirmations from the plans and ask questions to learn more about certain aspects.

  4. How long is the debrief process?

    The debrief process takes 24 minutes, with each person spending eight minutes on their plans and the remaining time for conversation.

  5. What is the importance of having a life design team?

    Having a life design team allows for feedback and reflection on the plans and helps in generating more ideas and insights.

  6. How can individuals create a supportive and generative environment outside of the classroom?

    By forming a life design group with a few people and creating a safe and supportive space for sharing and discussing ideas, individuals can create a supportive and generative environment outside of the classroom.

  7. What is the common outcome of the Odyssey planning process?

    The common outcome is that people often find ways to modify and enhance what they are already doing rather than completely changing their lives.

  8. What should participants be cautious of during the process?

    Participants should be cautious of trying to do all three plans at once and should focus on making good choices and living well within them.

  9. What are some common elements that may appear in multiple plans?

    Common elements that may appear in multiple plans can include values, themes, and goals that are important to the individual.

Lesson Info

Odyssey Planning Debrief

So we're going to have an Odyssey plan debrief where, guess what we're gonna do? We're gonna have triads again. But let's mix them up, you've already hung out with those three people you now know intimately, now we're tired of talking to them, we're going to shuffle it up, but at your tables. So everybody, kind of, shift one or two people around. Just move physically around, so a couple of folks move around so that you're in a difference triad at your tables. Do that right now. You're debrief process will be the same for all three people in the group. You're gonna spend eight minutes on each person, half of that them talking about their plans, half of that all three of you chatting about what you've heard. So, part one, the presenter, each presenter will spend up to four minutes just doing a fly over of those plans you just did. That took you 12 minutes to write them, you talk as long as you thought, you'll go way over time. So it's really flying over, hit the highlights of the milesto...

nes, hit the highlights of the reactions that you had on your dashboards, and so on. Give us an interesting overview of what these plans are. Number one, number two, number three. You're just using your little sheet and talking us through it. And then, once that's done, listeners, you have two jobs to do. Give a couple, two to four if you can, specific affirmations from the plans. By the way, you want to be effective as an affirmer? Use specificity, like, "Those are great, "that's a just a really neat set of plans." (audience laughing) "You know, like in Ann's case, that was really great "but I was particularly affirming of the way that "you were really thinking about "when could you get the grad work in or not, "and doing that up front. "It's really clear you're thinking about sequencing "and planning, and your energy flows over time. "Good job about that." Oh, now, number one, that's more helpful, and number two, it means I was actually listening. So we use affirmations that are specific, i.e. you had to be listening carefully. And second thing is, what did you notice you want to hear more about? So, "Oh, wow. "The Galapagos. "Say more about that." You can use the technique, literally, the question is, "Tell us more about that." It's not like, "The Galapagos, really? "Turtles. What's up with that?" That's not a good question, because now it's a critiquing question. Most of the questions we ask in this society are rhetorical critiques masquerading as questions, like, "You really want to buy that car? Okay." That's not the kind of questioning we're doing here. We're doing affirmations, we're doing, "Tell us more." And so, four minutes of stories, four minutes of conversation, we'll give you a time reminder, move on. So, 24 minutes, you'll spend 24 minutes with 18 of the smartest people in the world doing nothing but caring about each others' lives for a little while. This is, like, a really important time, which means you want to be in perfect triangles, you're all in lines again. Get those nice shapes going and ready, go. So, my first life plan is what I'm currently working on which is, this reboot. The name of the company is called ReBoot Excel. And so the idea is, in this year we're looking at expanding both geographically and with digital content and really, we've actually just spun out of the parent company. So, it's the first time that we are just trying to make this on our own. I'm making the assumption that we develop these products, that they're a success, we grow, and, about a year and half from now, there starts becoming interest from buyers. And there are some people that are talking to us now that could, potentially, be buyers for this. So, then it would be sold, I would say, maybe, two and a half years from now and we would be tied to whoever's buying us because that would, probably, be part of the deal. So, there'd be another year and a half, two years of transition to this new company to get them set up, continuing to run it, and then, once we'd vested enough that I could leave, at that point I would have opportunities for speaking engagements or consulting to companies. And then, in the background of all this are some family obligations. The youngest child of mine is living on the Cape at her boarding school and so, to find some periods of time within that, that I could spend a big chunk of time on the Cape so she could be a day student rather than a boarding student. I have a mom who, we lost my father a couple years ago, and I still feel like she does want support, so making sure there's still the time to see both my mother and my children. And I do like travel and exercise and, given the way we've worked on ReBoot so far, it's sort of, a balanced lifestyle, definitely fits in all that. Do you mind if I start with a couple questions? Absolutely. So you talk about products, like, what kind of products? So here we are at CreativeLive. So, one of the reasons that we're here is because we think we might be the Bill and Dave in the future and, actually, presenting a class to a live audience. But then, that gets sold afterward to these women that are considering returning to work that are not in one of the ten cities that we offer classes. They can buy it from CreativeLive or from another company called Capella University. We've had, several discussion with them. So that's why we're sitting here is just to... So it's like there's a media aspect to it? I'm sure there's like books or brochures or... Well, there's like a 30 day email. You'll get an email once every 30 days, or once a day for 30 days that help you on a training path. So there's these new products Different materials... It's sports materials or, got it. There's in-person and then there's digital. Gotcha. So on that same line, buyers, who's your target? What's your target buyer like? I mean, is it, like, Richard Branson investor type or is it like a... It actually would be training companies or maybe, for profit universities that offer training and this is an interesting target market for them. I forgot, I was like, "Why is she asking..." I forgot the... (group laughing) The email? Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. We're twin sisters separated. Transition periods are always interesting. So if somebody buys, like, an insurance company or a construction company, it's like, "Oh, you gotta stand for three years." During that transition is your role, or are your roles, the same? Or is it something, like, a phase-out plan where it's like... I would like to think of it as a phase-out plan because I don't think I'd want to stay with the acquiring company. I think what I like is starting things up and so, to have started it successfully enough that it could get purchased, is, sort of, the exciting part. And, so now, I would want to transition enough that it could continue being successful in the hands of that company and whoever they hire. 90 days same role, 90 days training, and, I got it. Cool. Now if you're doing this exercise at home and you happen to be all by yourself, that's fine. You can still look at the three plans, see if you see any connections between the three, see what comes up for you about the combination of threes. A lot of times, people don't completely change their lives and pick the crazy plan, but they take something from that plan and they move it into the thing they're actually planning to do. And again, this is just an ideation. You don't have to buy in to the entire thing, you're allowed to change it. The other thing is, we really encourage you to be in a life design team. So, you know, have some people over for pizza, share this with them and, maybe, have them do the exercise, too. You could facilitate this just with the worksheets and the conversation we've already had. Or, share it with a spouse, a loved one, a brother, somebody who really knows you, because it's really interesting to get feedback about what you say and have it reflected back to you. Sometimes, you know, we don't even know our own truths until we say it out loud. If you're home alone, you can still do this exercise and it's valuable, but we really encourage you to form a life design group, at least one other person, and do this with somebody. And you can do it later. Because I only have one more minute, I'm going to do the last one, which is the crazier one, but, sometimes, I think it actually is realistic. Our family traveled to Africa a year and a half ago, and I was just totally struck by Rwanda, how it's totally re-emerged from the devastation they had had with the genocide. And so, I do wonder, at some point later in life when my kids are all settled and I don't have to worry about who is where, the idea of moving to Rwanda and providing some kind of service. Part of what we're doing in ReBoot is developing an entrepreneurial track, and so, if my goal was to be there and help provide entrepreneurial services and training to women in Rwanda. And I could totally imaging living in a third-world country and just the natural beauty of the place, just the authenticity of the people. And life itself. I'd just love to go there. With Jim? Yes, Jim could come along. That's my husband. I've already told him that that's one of the "out there's". Jim's not coming that's part of the plan. But anyway, so that would be the third one. Great. Wow. Very cool. Thank your listeners for being so supportive. Affirmations. Wow, you have three really nice plans. Three great plans. I actually imagine doing each of them. None of them seem so totally wild. And you could do them, serially, too. Absolutely. I mean, you have to abandon one for the other. Yeah, I think they're really... I almost think from an affirmation standpoint, I almost think two is, kind of, a lead in for three. I think I'm going to have some responsibility for two, whether I have to go on leading it or whether I'm on a committee where... And, in fact, I'm trying to encourage my husband to be the one to lead that one, so I can be involved but I don't have to be the leader, so I can keep doing what I actually like doing. But the milestone you set up here in one, if you were to, kind of, do something similar in two, it's almost a stepping stone to three. Absolutely, absolutely. You have this idea. Yep, I'd be sold of the company, and I could move on to... I mean, you could even, if you do this successfully take that to Rwanda. I'm sure there's the same needs, right? Exactly. What a... And that goes back to the thing we talked about. And you'll live to 120. It's a team thing though, too. Once you get something going, like we talked about earlier, developing a team around you, that still continues the... The casa continues to operate. And then I can go off and do whatever. Finish person already? Thank you. Thank you very much for working hard with each other. And listening. Yeah, kinda nice to have two people just talk about you for a couple minutes, isn't it? And really listen, right? Really listen, like, what's really going on? You know, that's what we would call generative listening for one another. How many of you have too many place where you get heard like that? (audience laughing) Yeah, we, sorta, can't do enough of that for each other so if you make that a habit, that's a nice thing. Now what do I want to do with this? Well, we just stopped that activity and now we are going to, go through the slides I didn't forget to advance, and now, have a conversation. We did something that not most people do on most days, and how was that for us? Again, a conversation guide is coming to your table, and it will available to you at home, as well, if you're with other people. And some questions, how do you feel about this idea of exploring three possible variations on you? Is that fun? Is that scary? Is that, like, silly? What do you think about that? How did the gauges invoke your insights? Did you find the feedback loop of hearing from your own thoughts in the form of your reactions to your ideas, was that insightful or comparing and harassing? Contrasting those ideas, how did that work for you? What did you get out of doing this exercise? That's always our final question. Now that I stand back, about 40 minutes ago we started this thing, what are you getting out of it? What are some of your takeaways from this experience? Have that conversation as a full table and enjoy one another. Go for it. I think one thing that most stood out to me was that, after I went through all of my future identities, Derek pointed out, "There's things you could be "doing now for all of those things, "and why can't some of them be happening simultaneously?" At the same time. It, kind of, takes the idea out of it being this big thing, necessarily, and that, there's a little thing you can do for it now. It doesn't have to be overwhelming. I thought it was, kind of, refreshing and invigorating a little bit. When you get in that, monotonous routine, how we were talking about earlier, "Oh, I've doing this for ten..." It really opens the mind and I want to be creative and make those resources always go to 100. To me, it's taking your life and, instead of being reactive, being proactive. And taking control of the reins and designing the life you want to see for yourself. And, I agree with you, some of these that felt a little out there to begin with, once you start really breaking them down into actionable steps, you're like, "We could do that, "and it'd be really fun." You look at, you know, the like-it meter and you're like, "Well maybe we should be doing more of that." So we've just done this Odyssey loop. We've done ideation. We've done the ideation step of design. We've been having a bunch of difference ideas, how to have the ideas, how to converse about the ideas, how to structure our ideating session in a way that's generative. What are your takeaways, you were probably just sharing some of those, and any questions about the process? Now, by the way, it is not questions about your particular plan, we'd be glad to do plan specific coaching at lunch if you like, but particularly just the Odyssey planning process. Any questions from you? Or, Chris, people out in the Cloud who have either comments or questions for us? Anybody? Yeah, go ahead. I think it was interesting actually putting some of the thoughts on paper and stating, "What would I do first across this span of time." Because it was actually more realistic than I thought it was gonna be. And we were just talking about number three, the "Wild Idea", just listening to other people talk about those exciting things for them... You're not nearly as crazy as these other dudes. Yeah, I know. (laughs) We're actually just a little bit crazy, arent' we? Not that, but, it was almost like stepping outside myself for a second and putting myself in those different visions. And living them was really cool because everybody was extremely excited about what they were talking about. That's something that we noticed. That was pretty cool to be a part of. "It was like, standing outside of myself," he said. That internal critic, you know, there's a part of your consciousness that is also called the observer. Now, sometimes, when one part of your brain grabs that guy's attention, you know, it's the guy that's beating you up all the time. "That's not going to work, you're gonna look stupid again. "It's just like when you were in sixth grade." That guy, you want to watch out for that guy. But you can have this observer, that's not the person actually in the experience. And so, what we're giving you a chance to do here, is have a conversation with each other, and with your own observer, like, "Maybe this could actually work." So there's a possibility it's a chance to pay attention in a structured way. Other thoughts here. A thought and a question. We all were commenting on how refreshing it is to be in a group of people who are, you know, expansive, and generative, and affirming. How do we go and create that outside of this room on an ongoing basis so that we, continually, generate these new ideas and feel good about them? Buy the book. (audience laughing) In large volumes and hold parties. No. This was easy to do, you know, Casey put out an invitation, you guys signed up, we brought you in. I mean, this is not a hugely, carefully, vetted group of, we found the sixth generative, the 18 generative people in the 700,000 people that live in San Francisco. This is much easier than you think. As soon as somebody's willing to play ball, and work on this stuff, and do it honestly at all, that's almost all it takes. I mean, we've done this, literally, now with thousands of people. We've done this in gyms with 600 people at once, who don't know each other at all and everybody treat each other well. You know, we talked about this a little before we even went on live, is, you need a container, that's your group, you need a couple people, two or three, that's plenty, and you need to say, "Hey, this is gonna "be a safe conversation, you don't have to talk "about anything you don't want to talk about." If you provide the container and the safety, they'll be surprisingly willing to play. Because everybody thinks the rest of their life could be really interesting. And all you need is a couple of these little structured ways of approaching that. Sort of, a little scaffolding on that conversation, and people just, show up. It's a great thing about people, we tend to like each other. Yeah. What you all have found from your research, so when people do this exercise is, for example, the third idea is always the wacky one. Or, is it that, actually, you find some commonality amongst your ideas? Just from an analytical standpoint, what are some of the takeaways that you've seen? Well, we've talked in the very beginning about how this class is set up for everybody. But, everybody's in a different place, so some people use this exercise 'cause they're in the middle of a pivot, I was a this and now I want to be a that. But just, having a little bit of ideation around what that pivot might mean, that tends to be very useful to people. I'd say though, in general, the statistics are most people are gonna do what they've been doing, but they'd like to, maybe, add creativity, or add some element to it that's just not there. Most people don't jump out of a plane. So, by articulating three plans, what they find often, we find our students do as they say, "I'm gonna stick with plan one, but there was somethin' "in plan two that's gotta be in my life, "and there was somethin' in plan three that "I'm just not willing to let go of anymore." And so, they find that they enrich the thing that they're already doing by just paying attention to the things that they, sort of, left behind. "Yes, we said we're going to go to Paris every five years "and renew our vows and we haven't done that. "And that feels inauthentic now that I'm thinking "about my life as an authentic and coherent life." Either I have to say we're not gonna do that, that's not a priority. Or buy tickets. Or, get the tickets and go to Paris. So they don't typically... Leap. Jump out of being a CEO into a poet, or if that's what they really want to do, then they have a way to go from one thing to another in a way that doesn't wrench their lives, to take their kids out of school, whatever it is. Mostly, people are finding ways to modify and enhance what they're already doing. Very common that ideas from different plans are like, "I don't have to jump that far, I can move this over here." But, I would say watch out for, there's a tendency, "I know, I'll do all three. If I fold them over together "and put a staple in it, I can be three people at once." 'Cause the world really does want me to have everything I could possibly do. We teach a class called Designing Your Stanford to freshmen and sophomores at Stanford. How to go through college experiencing it like a designer, and the mantra of the class is, getting more out of, not cramming more into. So, our goal here is, not to help you have so many ideas that you just, stay up all night all the time for the next five years. It's about making good choices and living well within them. People are loving us. The people at home who have been doing this have been sharing their comments, thank you. Karen says, "I'm fascinated by some of the common elements "that showed up in each of my plans. "I'm excited to see some consistent values appearing." And Kendall says, "I'm very much "in a searching/restart place, so I had three, "very different ideas. "I found that certain aspects kept bubbling up "and revealed to be important things to consider "when I'm putting in perspective, "the rest of my life's circumstances. "For instance, creativity, innovation, problem-solving, "and mobility, are all common themes "to all of my scenarios." Thank you so much for sharing. That's great. Yeah. And we will move on to our last lesson here. Wrapping it up on Odyssey planning. There is more than one of you, you know, there's not just one "right" you that you're waiting to show up. So you want to have all your ideas, more ideas makes better ideas. Now we've done our three plans, right? What are we supposed to do? We've got to pick which one to live, right?

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Ratings and Reviews


A fantastic class for someone seeking to optimize their life for a greater sense of satisfaction and especially for someone who is considering a career transition. We are taught effective methods for brainstorming, examining, and prototyping our options, and we are given an approach for the hardest task of all: how to make a choice when faced with multiple good options! Also great tips for networking and getting your foot in the door. This class was very timely for me as I've been struggling with making a decision on what my next career was going to be. I now feel equipped with tools that will help me make that decision with less agony and more fun! Also, I'm a huge fan of design thinking, so it was great to see how that methodology could be applied to making one of the most important decisions in our life.

Karen Vitto

Great course! Great for who like me is on their 30's starting life in a new country with a new language and have been out of the industry for 4 years. Designing new goals, making new networking and starting a MBA for some updates on my carrear. Really helped with some focus. Super recommend!


Loved this class! It was high energy, fast paced and well organized, as well as inspiring. It helped me to make more concrete things I've been thinking and dreaming about. I'm so glad I took it. I made great contacts and will definitely use this material in the future!

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