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Prototype Ideation & Exercise

Lesson 11 from: Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

Bill Burnett, Dave Evans

Prototype Ideation & Exercise

Lesson 11 from: Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

Bill Burnett, Dave Evans

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Lesson Info

11. Prototype Ideation & Exercise

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of the lesson is prototyping and ideation for designing one's life.


  1. What is the purpose of prototyping in designing one's life?

    Prototyping allows individuals to test out different ideas and experiences to gather data and insights that can inform their decision-making process.

  2. Why is it important to frame a good question when designing prototypes?

    A good question helps to focus and guide the prototyping process, ensuring that the prototype is actionable and provides valuable information.

  3. What is the significance of warming up before ideation?

    Warming up helps to shift the brain from analytical thinking to creative thinking, setting the stage for more effective and generative ideation.

  4. How can one generate lots of ideas during ideation?

    By deferring judgment and being open to all ideas, individuals can generate a wide range of possibilities. Group processes can also be helpful in generating ideas.

  5. How should ideas be selected for prototyping?

    Ideas should be selected based on their potential for delight and informativeness. The most delightful and informative ideas are the ones that should be pursued for prototyping.

  6. What is the difference between a decision and a prototype?

    A decision is a final choice, while a prototype is a quick, inexpensive, and actionable experiment that helps gather data and insights to inform decision-making.

  7. How many prototypes should one aim for?

    It is recommended to start with two prototypes that can be implemented within the next seven days, allowing individuals to gather data and insights quickly.

  8. Why is it valuable to have conversations with others during the prototyping process?

    Conversations with others provide valuable perspectives and insights that can help individuals learn and gather more information about their prototypes.

  9. What are the potential risks of not prototyping before making a big life change?

    Without prototyping, individuals may make premature and uninformed decisions that could lead to dissatisfaction or failure. Prototyping allows for a better understanding of what a particular path or experience entails.

  10. How can prototyping help individuals design their lives more effectively?

    Prototyping allows individuals to gather real-life experiences and insights, which can help them make more informed decisions and design a life that aligns with their values and goals.

Next Lesson: Unicorn Hunting

Lesson Info

Prototype Ideation & Exercise

We're gonna prototype something from the odyssey plans that you guys have already completed. So remember when we were talking about Ann's plan, and she was curious about writing a book and going back to school? Those are two things she was interested, like, "What would it be if I tried that "or if I tried a little piece of that? "What would that be like?" So we're gonna go through this with your odyssey plans. What I'd like you to do right now is just start thinking about, getting a little bit curious, one or two things on your plans that you might like to prototype. And we're gonna show you exactly how to do this, but pick out your plans and think about what might be on that list. You've got 15 years' worth of ideas sitting in front of you, and we're saying just pick one or two, no more than three, things like, yeah, I would really like to know more about this. I'm curious about this. That's the critical question. Yeah, and we'll show you how to frame that question. We're right th...

ere between ideation and prototyping. We wanna come up with some things we wanna prototype. And then we're gonna show you how to generate lots of ideas so that when you go out to prototype them you have more than one idea for how you will get to a little bit of an experience or a conversation about the thing you're curious about. So a lot of people, when they learn brainstorming or something, they just do it. They just brainstorm. And that's not actually as useful as it could be. We've done a lot of research on how to have better and more ideas, and really, we break it into four steps. You can't have a good idea if you have a bad question. So we're gonna work a little bit on this idea of framing a good question. What would be a good thing to prototype? You don't want it to be too broad. You don't want it to be too narrow. It's gotta be open ended. It's gotta have the possibility of a generative answer. And we'll help you frame that question from the things that you're curious about in your plan. Then, really importantly, you gotta warm up. I don't know about you, but if I've just come from a budget meeting, I've just come from the faculty meeting where we were arguing about who used the copier and didn't write down the number of copies they did, crazy stuff, you might not be in your most creative mode or mood, and you really do need to move from the analytic and rational side of your brain to the synthesis and opening, creative side of your brain. So we do a lot of warm up exercises, and we're gonna do one here in just a second. Then ideate, the idea of deferring judgment and going for lots of ideas. That diagram Dave showed of the little censor who's in there saying, "Oh no, these ideas are not safe. "Don't have them," we need to get rid of that censor. And so we're gonna do a group process to ideate on your prototype ideas. And then the best thing is, I've noticed a lot of times teams do pretty good ideation, but when it comes to picking an idea, they pick the thing that's safe or easy or the one they know how to do, and that's hardly ever the one that's gonna teach you the most or the one that you're most curious about. So we're gonna pick some different criteria for selecting ideas. Now, if you just do the ideation part and you don't select ideas, you don't make them actionable, it's really not useful. So this is the part where I really want you to follow along with us in this process. How many of you have been in a brainstorm, have done a brainstorming session, been in a brainstorm, and it ended with a wall covered with Post-It notes and somebody gets out their iPhone and they take a picture of the Post-It notes and they post it on the website and then that's it? And now we wasted a lot of Post-It notes and we don't know what to do. That is not brainstorming. That's Post-It wastage. So that's not what we're doing. That's why that fourth step is so crucial. And my contention is cell phones are where ideas go to die. No one ever looks at that picture again, because you can't tell anything from the picture of all those different things. So framing a good question. Let's talk about framing a question. When we were talking about Ann and she was thinking about going back to school, she could've asked a bunch of different questions. "Well, what's college like now? "I haven't been to college in 20 years. "Do I still enjoy studying? "Will I enjoy studying hard? "How is that gonna be for me?" Those are pretty generative questions. Is grad school really necessary? Well, that's actually not a prototype-able question. You just go look it up. What do I wanna do? Do I need a degree for that, yes or no? It doesn't require an innovative or a generative process. Should I really do this? The question about the outcome. The first two questions are really about process. What's it like? How will it work for me? Should I really do this? That's not a process question. That's an outcome question. You can't prototype, "Should I really do this?" because-- A decision is not a prototype. It's a decision you will make based on the experiences you have from the other prototypes. Will the younger students really hate me? Well, again, that's not something that you can decide in your head. You're gonna have to figure that out by just being there. So our sense is that, "how many ways could I prototype "the experience of studying seriously again?" is the kind of generative question that would lead to, "Oh, I can think of five things I could do "to find out more about that question." My curiosity would lead me to prototyping around that question. So she had the idea of writing a book. And we said you could do a bunch of things. You could ask other people who've written a book, "What was that like?" You could go talk to writers and find out how they write. You could go to a writer's workshop, something short like a weekend. Will I like being an author? Well, that's another one of those questions where you're just not gonna know 'till you do it. That's not prototype-able. "Should I really do this?" again is not prototype-able. Always comes up. That's a decision. So in order to frame a good question, we wanna make sure you're framing a question that you can actually get some data on. Can I pull this off with money and stuff? That's a planning problem. That's not a prototype. "How many ways could I prototype "the experience of seriously writing?" is the generative question that frames a really good brainstorm and then lots and lots of options to try things. So you're looking, again, for a conversation or an experience. It's not about making a decision. That will come when you have data. You'll get the data from the conversation or experience. And deciding whether you will or not like something, the only way to understand that, 'cause that's about, "What will I be like in the future?" is to try something that you can experience and get some inclination of whether or not that's gonna fit for you. So if we get a good question, then we can absolutely ideate something that's gonna be fantastic in terms of prototypes that we can really try. And literally you could try them tomorrow, this weekend. Remember, I said prototypes have to be fast and cheap to construct and they gotta teach you something, so they have to be actionable in the world. Okay, so we're gonna, handing out a worksheet, the prototype ideation worksheet. We want you to get a good framing question. Select one element, or circle two or three things maybe on your plan. Just pick one. Select one that you think is sort of an interesting one, something that you're the most curious about. Like to learn about. Not necessarily something that you know how to learn about. It's not about something that will be easy, but something that you're curious about. What would it be like? How would I discover more about? And we gotta frame a question that's not an outcome or a decision but it's an exploration, it's a process. In the example with Ann, you'll notice she asked herself, she tried a couple of times, "What question do I really wanna ask myself "about this being a writer, this becoming a student again? "And then I'm gonna get to the really good question. "That's the one that would really help me "focus in on what I'm trying to do." That's what we're gonna have you do right now. Just fill out that top line. Frame up a question that you think is generative and prototype-able. So that's the topic, and then you put the questions underneath that. Now, write under that framing question, how many ways might I prototype that experience? So we templated the first part of the question for you. Again, the focus is on the experience that I'm trying to have, not the answer. I'm not making a decision. I'm gathering experiences and insights that will inform my decision later. And even now as you're working on this, if you get stuck, raise your hand, 'cause probably the kind of question you might have other people have, too. Yes. Yeah, go ahead. So, my example is, I'm thinking of making a web series about topics I'm interested in. So would a prototyping thing, like making a short little pilot like an example-- So the question is, "I wonder what it's like to do a web series "or have ever developed things?" What am I curious about? So prototyping, I just wanna get started, I wanna start doing the work, no. I'm curious about what it's like to be this person. What about that lifestyle? What about that work, vocational pathway, are you curious about learning more about? [Man In Cap And Glasses] Okay. Your question is not, "How do I implement my plan?" That's an implementation question. This is a curious prototype try it question. And two or three things that you think might be ways to do that. Thinking of being the author, producer, writer, director, and star of my own web series. I'm gonna talk to somebody who's done something like that before. I'm gonna investigate people who write for those things. I might talk to the guys at CreativeLive here. They kinda do something like that. A bunch of different conversations I could have. I think even, you mentioning the experience of, if I just tried to make a 10 segment, what would that ... Would I enjoy it? What would that be like? But don't try to make a whole thing. A little tiny snippet. Okay, everybody got a shot at it? This is just a question. This is not your list of ideas yet. What's the question I'm asking? Ideation, framing. You don't have to do three. If the first one works for you, it's really clear, that's great. How many ways can I-- Sorry, I have a question. Yeah. I seem to be stunted with it like I can't get beyond that. What's it like to be in this-- What's it like to have decided to live that life? Yeah, but I'm stunted after that. I can get to another question. Well, okay. There's probably just one aspect of the particular life plan you're focusing on that has to do with this particular experience or this particular kind of role or living in this particular culture or world. So what's the thing you're curious about in your plan? Could you tell me? Something you'd like to know more about? Or do you know everything you could possibly know about all the ideas you've had in all your plans? No. So name something in one of your plans you'd like to know more about. What's it like-- How long does it take? How long might it take? How long might it take? That's a research. How long might it take to become, to get it all done? Yeah. That's a planning question, not an experience question. That's what I mean, is-- Yeah, you're stuck there. Yeah. You're stuck. Okay. What's the first-- What's the thing you're planning? Your first year, what's the first step of your plan? First year of one of those-- This was actually about writing a book. Okay. All right. What's it like to be writer? But then I can't seem to find another question after that sort of. Are you interested in the answer to that question? Yes. Yeah. Great. So that's a good question. That's one. So you, like Ann, are interested, and your name happens to be Ann, so maybe it's you, are interested in learning, what would it be like to be a person authoring a book? Right. That's a perfectly good question. Are you interested in how authors get paid? Yes. Okay, so that's another question. I wonder how authors get paid? Are you interested in how authors find agents? Yes. Okay, that's another question. You're interested in authors, how to find agents. These are all things that would be easily prototype-able by talking to an author, an agent, a producer, somebody who does. And books are kind of a dying thing. What about digital? There's so many interesting questions in this space. When we got started, we thought we would just maybe make a PDF and throw it up on Amazon. I'm really glad we didn't do that. (audience laughs) So everybody got a question which is, and you're asking yourself and some other people in just a minute from now, how could I prototype the experience of becoming a writer? How could I experience the prototype of learning how to fly a plane? How could I experience prototypes of actually running a daycare center in my home on the side? Whatever it might be. You guys got those questions? Okay. Now what do we do? All right. Well, of course, what you would normally do is you'd jump right into trying to solve that problem, but that's not the right thing to do because you're all sitting here and you're kind of being a little bit, we're talking and you're all sitting and you're very passive. Creativity is in fact a mind body problem. Or it's just a mind body connection. I don't even view it as a problem anymore. But look, where an embodied intelligence. This isn't the thing that just takes my brain to meetings. We have intelligence, all. We have emotional intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence, intellectual intelligence. You gotta get them all wired up in order to do your very best ideation, your most creative work. So what happens in a warm up, if you do it well, we move your brain from one set of patterns to a different set of patterns. And this is a very technical term. To attain transient hypofrontality. Yeah, he really likes transient hypofrontality. I'm like, "Do we have to have this slide?" He says, "Yes." Hyper is a lot. Hypo is (mumbles) so not much frontality. So this is your brain. The prefrontal cortex is all warm and bright and sunny and it's not what you want, because the prefrontal cortex is the part of your brain that tells you that that's a stupid idea. That's hyperfrontality. That's hyperfrontality. You want that calmed down. You want that almost not turned on at all. You want more right brain activity than left, and you want the thing that joins the two, the corpus callosum, to be firing on all cylinders. In order for that to happen, we gotta change something in your state. So we're gonna play a little game called countdown. Would everybody stand up please? Stand up please. Bill] Now again-- We need a little bit of room. Yeah, (mumbles) a little bit, 'cause you're gonna be doing this with your hands, so don't-- We're gonna wag a little bit. Don't smack anybody. And, as I said at the very, very beginning of our workshop, do this in any way that is comfortable for you. If you get to some place in this exercise and you're like, "I think I'm gonna fall over," just stop. Don't fall over. You can totally do at this home. Yeah, absolutely, do this at home. And the live audience, just follow along with us. Especially if nobody is watching. What I'm gonna, especially if, so I'm gonna lead you, but I'll show you how it goes. You're gonna take your right hand and you're gonna go eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two one, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two one. I got a bad leg. Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. I think I can do this. Okay. And then we'll go seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, and five. We'll count all the way down to one, and it'll get a little faster. Well, it goes faster 'cause it goes faster. So everybody understand? And you shout the numbers out with me. Are we ready-- It's like camp. To play countdown? This is a game we steal from improv comedy. It's the way they warm up comedy teams to get them really jazzing and thinking funny things together. Ready? Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Six, five, four, three, two, one. Six, five, four, three, two, one. Six, five, four, three, two, one. Six, five, four, three, two, one. Five, four, three, two, one. Five, four, three, two, one. Five, four, three, two, one. Five, four, three, two, one. Four, three, two, one. Four, three, two, one. Four, three, two, one. Four, three, two, one. Three, two, one, three, two, one, three, two, one, three, two, one. Two, one, two, one, two, one, two, one. One, one, one, one. All right, very good. Great job. Good job. Two things about the game which are interesting. One, we did bilateral exercises, left and right side, left brain, right brain, (mumbles) both sides, too. Do you notice how odd numbers are harder to count than evens? And in sort of Western music, it's fours and threes and twos and sixes, but there's no sevens and fives? Except for the only song to ever hit number one and counted in five was Dave Brubeck's Take Five. It's the only song to actually use five beats. If you took an MRI of all of your brains right now, it's entirely different. Hopefully happier. Okay. So here's the ideation exercise. You're going to help each other build off of the ideas that you already have. So you have your framing question. Flip your piece of paper over, I believe. Yes? Yep, it's on the back. On the back side, pick one of your questions, you wrote two or three-- The best, clear question. Pick the one that you think is the most open ended, that's gonna give you the most creative answers. This is, "My prototype framing question is ..." How do I learn about being an author? How do I discover what it's like to find an agent? What would it be like to live in New York? What would it be like to live in New York for a year? So put that at the top. You're the owner of this piece of paper. You've written your framing question down, and now you actually get a chance to do a little bit of your own brainstorming. I want you to write down two or three ways that you could actually prototype. I can't move to New York. That's not prototyping living in New York. But I could talk to Dave, 'cause I understand Dave does an entrepreneur in residence thing in New York every-- Spring. Spring, every spring. So he goes to New York and he finds a place to live. I could talk to him. I'll have a prototype conversation with Dave about living in New York. That's one idea. Oh, I have a friend who's really a New Yorker, grew up in Brooklyn. I'll talk to her, find out what she thinks about-- Binge watch six New York movies all night. I could binge watch, I could watch Manhattan over and over and over again. If you don't like Woody Allen, that wouldn't work for you. So write down a couple of those. Now, here's what we're gonna do. Normally, one way to do brainstorming is we all go up to a board and we just start putting up ideas. And the idea of brainstorming is really to build off the ideas of others. But what we're gonna do is another way to do brainstorming. I don't know if you've done this before, where you're gonna now take that piece of paper. You've got a couple ideas on it? Two, three, four, five ideas? Everybody got something? Now, all your collaborators, you've got five collaborators at this table. Things that could be prototypes. Doesn't have to be good or bad. There's no judgment. Prototype conversations, don't forget-- No judgment. All kinds of different people you could talk to about the topic. So anyways, one idea is not, "Talk to somebody." That's like talk to somebody who grew up there. Talk to somebody who just moved back from there. Talk to somebody who goes there on vacation all the time. That's three conversations. So lots of different kinds of people you could talk to. We're gonna have you pass the worksheet right now to the right. You've got your name at the top, so you know you're the owner of this worksheet. Pass it to the right. Everybody do it. Come on, come on. Get rid of your sheet, get rid of your sheet. All right. Now the person next to you is gonna be so generative and so good at coming up-- So look at the question. They're gonna look at your question, and they're gonna come up with two or three more ways to do it. And then about every 30 seconds, we're gonna keep passing it, passing it, passing it, until everybody has built off the ideas of others. And you're allowed to misunderstand their question. It doesn't matter. Quickly, write down a couple of possible things. Write down whatever you think would work. Experiences they could have, conversations they could sign up for-- The crazier the better. That would help them learn something about that question at the top. A couple of suggestions. What are other things they could do? Is this something you can email it to somebody and say, "Hey, I'm working on this. "Could you give some feedback?" Make a chain letter out of it, sure. It's almost like Words with Friends. Here's three ways I can solve my problem. Can you send me three back? Now remember, this is that stage where if you just stop and take a picture of the board and say, "There, the brainstorm is over," nothing happened. Now is the part where we do the work. The work is, I want you, the owner, review the list of ideas that you got with an open mind. And even they scrawled it out and you can't quite understand it, just interpret it. They misunderstood your question a little bit-- That's okay. You get it. You decide that it's an interesting idea. I want you to think about two categories of ideas that you might be interested in, but first, put a check next to the ones that you think, "Wow, I wouldn't have thought of that," or, 'That's an interesting idea." Just put a little check mark next to as many of those as you think are interesting. And maybe they're all interesting. Maybe people came up with crazy stuff that you think is really interesting. So put a check mark next to the things that are interesting or that are just different than what you would've thought of, the ones that attract you. Okay, and then I wanna give you this rubric for selecting. We wanna get down to two ideas that you will actually do, you will actually do in the next seven days. So it has to be, remember a prototype is quick, easy to do, inexpensive. It doesn't require you flying to New York. This is something you can do in the next couple, three days, six or seven at the most. But the two criteria are, rather than, "Oh, I know how to do this one," or, "This one is easy," I want you to pick the one idea that you think is the most delightful. If you actually pull this prototype off, you're going to be delighted. You're going to be laughing or you're going to be amused. You're gonna have some kind of a positive emotional affect. And the second one is the one where you think-- We're gonna write a fun sign board once a day every day for a week and wear it on the sidewalk for an hour and see which one people like. Okay. That would be a very delightful prototype, (mumbles) And the other one is, what do you think you would learn the most from? What's the most informative? If I could actually get ahold somebody who was an agent and they would explain to me how books get sold, boy, that would really tell me a lot about whether or not I wanna be in this business. By the way, nonfiction books like our book are sold in a completely different process than fiction. What we didn't realize until after we'd written the whole damn thing is that you don't do that. And our very generous editor, agent, looked at it and said, "I can't sell this book. "It's a piece of crap." And we said, "Okay, how do you really do this?" He says, "What you do is you write an outline "and you write one chapter and I'll take it from there." But a fiction book is a different story entirely. So what would you learn the most from if you actually prototyped that thing? Pick a delightful and pick an informative. Delightful and informative. Make sense? You got a couple, at least one? All right. Now, what we'd like you to do is get in, in pairs? No, that's at the end, no. All right. (mumbles) the action item. But the point being, we want you to actually do the, now, you may not be able to finish them, but you could at least get them started. The whole idea is you can get these things started. Now, how many of you, you're looking at a thing with a circle around it and you say, "Well, I think this is actually doable "and I think this might be a worthwhile idea. "I think if I would do this I would learn something," who's got one? How many of you actually have an idea like that? That you think is doable. Raise your hand (mumbles) All right. So what are some of your ideas? What do you do? Give us a report. So what are some prototype possibilities? I just saw a bunch of hands up. What were you referring to? What are you gonna do? So I follow a number of people who make content on YouTube. I subscribe to their channels. I was gonna try and reach out to them, see if I can do an informational interview, pick their brain about the process and stuff like that. Okay. I can reach out to some YouTube content guys and have a conversation. Great. Who else has got something they could actually do? Yeah. I think I can do this today. I wanna make video content, and I brought my video camera. So I haven't got my nerve up to ask anybody if I can shoot them. At the end of the class I'm gonna go and get my camera and we're gonna stand here and I'll shoot the video. Do it during the break and report before the day is over. Okay. Other things you can do. A couple on this table, things people had prototyped that were actionable. Meet with community leaders in a given area where I wanna open surf retreat. Just (mumbles) people in the community. That way you kinda get the whole community on board. All right, so I'd learn two things. One, I'd just find out a little bit about the community and what the needs are. And two, I'd actually be building the network of support if I decide to go forward with something in that community. So you get twofer in that prototype, right? And on the conversation, I wanna really reinforce this point, have lots of them. Like I should talk with an agent. No, you should talk to five. I did this exercise years ago when I was teaching at Cal. And two of my students came back after talking to people in different professions, and two women talked to dentists. And one woman, let's call her Susie, came back and she goes, "Oh, Dave, thank you so much for this assignment. "It was so important, because I've learned dentistry "is horrible, it's awful. "You saved my life from ruining myself in dentistry." And here comes back Eloise, and Eloise says, "Oh, Dave, thank you so much for the assignment. "Dentistry is wonderful. "It's fabulous. "I can't wait to go." And I go, "Whoa, nobody knows anything. "You know three unhappy dentists. "You know three happy. "Dentistry is not good or bad. "It's just dentistry. "What you wanna know is, why are the happy dentists happy? "Why are the sad dentists sad? "Exchange names. "Go talk to three more people. "Get together, have coffee. "Now six dentists in you might be learning something." So some of the ideas you have you can replicate over and over again and it gets better and better. Now, any other questions about prototyping, how to do it, what it's for, or other takeaways you've got from the exercise you were doing and just the whole idea of the next step from ideation is not decision making. The next step from ideation is go and try it. Yeah. Now our takeaways on this is, prototypes really are a way of sneaking up on the future. I don't know what it would like to be this person, but someone, have you ever heard the expression, the future is already here, it's just unevenly distributed? It's a William Gibson quote. He's a science fiction writer. It's like, thee future is already here. Someone is doing the thing you wanna do. They're 10 years into that career, and they're loving it. And if you could just have their story, find out, "Well, how did you get here? "What do you do?" And you have to ask for the story. I just was in an email conversation with somebody who found us online and he said, "I know you won't answer this email, "but I've been trying to have "information conversations with people "and I keep getting shut down." And I said, "All right, I never answer these questions, "but what are you doing?" He says, "Well, here's my email. It says, "I wanna talk to you!" (audience laughs) That's the subject. I said, "Do you think demanding a conversation with people "is the right way to go? "How about something a little more interesting?" Like, "I saw your YouTube thing. "I'm really an admirer. "Could I just chat with you for," not even ask, it's just, "I'm an admirer." Then I open it and you make the ask. So it's just asking for a story. It's a little tiny step where you would learn something. It's a way of sneaking up on the future, 'cause someone is already living there. And if you do it a lot, it'll work about 70% of the time and the times where it doesn't work, you learned something. You learn something about your approach or something about the people you were trying to talk to. And it's this notion we mentioned before. There's no such thing as a prototype that fails. I thought dentistry would be interesting. I talked to a dentist. He said, "I wanna kill myself. "This is the worst thing I ever did." Did I learn something? Yeah, I learned something. I just learned that that might be an unhappy person, but I also have a chance to then go deeper with the next person and the next person. I build up this database of experiences and conversations, and now I know a little bit more about what's going on and I don't fear failure. This idea of fear being the thing, shame or fear being the thing that holds us back. Have really simple, easy conversations. You know somebody who knows something about this. So if you can prototype your way forward, it's the build your way forward idea, you can always find yourself in a new place. For people, it's often like, "Boy, I don't really live this way. "I'm not sure I really get it. "The prototype thing sounds a little different." It might be easier to understand why what happens when you don't prototype, which (mumbles). So a woman we know, we'll call here Elise, jumped into starting, she decided she was gonna go for it and follow her passion, make the big change, and start a restaurant and deli. She always loved Tuscan food and was convinced that Italian food well prepared in the right setting really facilitated wonderful conversations. It was social. And built community. It was just fabulous community. So the food is good and the social thing is good. This is the thing to do. And, "I'm gonna go for it 'cause I have a passion." This is a real story. Jumped out of her career, spent a bunch of money, bought into a place, totally remodels it, puts together a bunch of recipes, puts together a menu, sets up all the, it's both a deli where you can buy things and a little cafe where you can get food in real time, fabulous coffee, the whole thing. Opens it, and of course you know, the failure rate on restaurants is horrible. She's successful right out of the box. This thing works great. Wow! Except she hates it! (audience laughs) Because running a restaurant is totally different than planning one or imagining one. Running around being my Tuscan summer in your head is a whole lot different than actually every single day showing up and checking the shopping list and hiring 18 year olds who quit every other week and you gotta retrain them all the time. And, "I cooked that thing last week. "I have to cook it again?" Yep, for the rest of your life. "Oh my god, what have I done?" And we talked to her after the fact and said, "Maybe I should've prototyped." Yeah, like you could have gotten a job briefly as a waitress in a restaurant like that to see if it really works. How about catering? You can do that like for a weekend. You don't have to pay rent for a year to even find out if it works. You could shut that thing down. Lots of ways she could experience doing this without buying the farm or selling the farm. So it's sneaking up on small ways of not over committing prematurely. We find this is true in a lot of cases where people say, "You know, what I really wanna do is." And it turned out what she loved was the design of that experience, not running that experience. Running a restaurant is kinda hard. Designing restaurants is a pretty interesting thing. By the way, she sold the restaurant, and now she's on to-- Yeah, she's okay. She's okay. She's on to a new thing. So prototype is a good thing to do. So we did our odyssey planning. We did our odyssey planning, but-- And we have all these ideas and tools. But you know what? I was kinda hoping you were gonna help me find a job, and we haven't even talked about jobs. Oh yeah. This was supposed to be a practical course, not all this design stuff. Like great, that's great, that's great. I need a job.

Class Materials

Free Bonus Materials

Designing Your Life Homework
Designing Your Life Worksheets

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Impact Module Worksheet

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!

Student Work