If you’re planning for retirement, are you planning for longevity? And not just from a financial perspective. Be intentional about planning how you’ll live your long life. Don’t settle. Award-winning product designer Ayse Birsel joins us to share her insights and creative design thinking tools that can help you design your life to be full of love, purpose, well-being, and friendship. Her new book, Design the Long Life You Love: A Step-by-Step Guide to Love, Purpose, Well-Being, and Friendship, is based on her co-design research with older adults. It can help you craft the next phase of life and make the most of your longevity.
Ayse Birsel joins us from New York.
Ayse (pronounced Eye-Shay) Birsel is one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People 2017. She is the author of Design the Life You Love, A Step-By-Step Guide to Building A Meaningful Future. On the Thinkers50 shortlist for talent, she gives lectures on Design the Organization You Love to corporations. Ayse writes a weekly post on innovation for Inc.com.
Ayse designs award-winning products and systems with Fortune 100 and 500 companies, including Amazon, Colgate-Palmolive, Herman Miller, GE, IKEA, The Scan Foundation, Staples and Toyota.
She is the recipient of numerous awards including Interior Design Best of Year Award in 2018 for Overlay, a new Herman Miller system, multiple IDEA (Industrial Design Excellence Awards) and Best of NeoCon Gold Awards, Young Designers Award from the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Athena Award for Excellence in Furniture Design from Rhode Island School of Design. Ayse is one of only 100 people worldwide to be named as one of the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches—a program Goldsmith conceived during Ayse’s Design the Life You Love program—along with the President of the World Bank, the head of the Rockefeller Foundation and the President of Singularity University. She is a TEDx speaker. Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the MoMA, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Born in Izmir, Turkey, Ayse came to the US on a Fulbright Scholarship and got her masters degree at Pratt Institute, New York.
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Mentioned in This Podcast Episode
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On Design Thinking
“Design thinking is creative problem solving in a nutshell. And what led me to apply it to my life was, many, many years ago, I was part of a group of women CEOs and we were asked to define our life’s mission in one sentence. And I said in the moment – and I don’t know why I said it – I said, my mission in life is to design the life I love. And then eventually that’s what I ended up doing because I developed a design thinking process that I called Deconstruction-Reconstruction. And then the two things came together and I remembered, hold on one second, our life is our biggest project. It’s like a design project full of challenges and criteria – things that we want and we need, and what if I apply my process to it? And it started as an experiment.”
On The Most Important Factor in Life Design
“Optimism. And that’s what I saw. So we did this year-long research with people who were 65 and older all the way to 90 plus, and we asked them to come and design their life with us. And the one thing across the board that I saw in everybody was optimism. And nobody said to us, even the people who were in their nineties, nobody said, aren’t you a little late? They were all like, Yes, I’m here to design my life. That’s the idea.”
On Designing What to Avoid
“It’s really important to know what to avoid because if we are intentional about those things, we can make time and space for things we love. And that’s why I want to remind people, it’s not just only about things you want to include, it’s also about things you want to get rid of. And so the things that people talk about, three came to mind. One is they say yes to too many things. So they want to learn to say no. And what’s good about that is if you can say no to things, you’re making time for other things, for new things, maybe things that are important to you. So one is to avoid saying yes to everything. The other thing that came from our research was toxic friends, especially older people, were very clear about saying no to toxic friends and saying, I don’t have time for this. So I thought that that was really interesting. And then the third one is living life not being true to yourself. And this comes from some research that was done with people who were dying about their wishes, things that they wish they had done. And Joe, the number one thing is, I wish I had lived a life true to myself and listened less to other people or what other people expect of me. So that, that also comes up in our research. And frankly, designing your life or designing your long life is all about being true to yourself.”
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About Your Podcast Host
Joe Casey is an executive coach who also helps people design their next life after their primary career. He created his own next chapter after a twenty-six-year career at Merrill Lynch, where he was Senior Vice President and Head of HR for Global Markets & Investment Banking.