Bill Burnett: Designing Your Life

Design professor Bill Burnett shares five design thinking tips to re-envision your own life, whether you’re at the start of your career or contemplating your next act.

May 19, 2017

Designers spend their days dreaming up better products and better worlds, and you can use their thinking to re-envision your own life, says design professor Bill Burnett. He shares five tips to try whether you’re at the start of your career or contemplating your next act.

Bill Burnett, executive director of Stanford’s design program at the d.School, uses design thinking, a career’s worth of starting companies and coaching students, and a childhood spent drawing cars and airplanes under his Grandmother’s sewing machine to inform his work on how to design your life. In five eyebrow-raising findings, Burnett offers simple but life-changing advice on designing the life you want, whether you are contemplating college or retirement.

After years of drawing cars and airplanes under his Grandmother’s sewing machine, Bill Burnett went to college, where he discovered that there were people in the world who did this kind of thing every day (without the sewing machine), and they were called designers. Thirty years, five companies, and a couple of thousand students later, Burnett is still drawing and building things, teaching others how to do the same, and quietly enjoying the fact that no one has discovered that he is having too much fun. As executive director of the Design Program at Stanford, he runs undergraduate and graduate programs in design, both interdepartmental programs between the mechanical engineering and art departments. Burnett worked on the design of the award-winning Apple PowerBooks and the original Hasbro Star Wars action figures. He holds a number of mechanical and design patents.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

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