Bill Burnett

Adjunct Professor and the Executive Director of the Life Design Lab at Stanford

Speech Topic

Design Your Life – Sixteen years prototyping meaning and purpose in higher education.

My colleagues and I have been running the the “prototype” we call the Life Design Lab at Stanford for sixteen years, teaching classes for freshman, seniors, and PhD students, and working with over 300 colleges and universities around the globe to apply the innovation principals of design thinking to the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  My talk focuses on what we learned that journey, and what’s changed since 2007.   

Bill Burnett Bio
  • Executive Director of the Life Design Lab, Stanford
  • Adjunct Professor in Mechanical Engineering – Design at Stanford
  • Founder and Managing Director – the Designing Your Life Institute, Singapore
  • An educator at Stanford since 1984, a popular public speaker (TEDx talk has over 7 million views) and three-time entrepreneur.

Bill Burnett is an Adjunct Professor and the Executive Director of the Life Design Lab at Stanford. He received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering – Product Design at Stanford and has worked in industry and academia ever since.  He teaches in the undergraduate and graduate program in Design as well as classes at the, Stanford’s innovation Institute.  In addition, he has worked in startups and Fortune 100 companies, including seven years at Apple designing award-winning notebook computers and several years in the toy industry designing Star Wars toys.  He advises several startup technology companies started by his students.  He is the founder and Managing Director of the Designing Your Life Institute, an international non-profit that promotes life design skills in Singapore and across South-East Asia.

Bill is also the co-author of Designing Your Life, a New York Times #1 best-seller and a book that captures the lessons from 16 years of teaching the Stanford class of the same name.  In 2020 he co-authored ˆ – the second edition published to address work after the global COVID pandemic – a book that helps you reimagine your life and your job. Both books are based on design thinking and positive psychology and attempt to help people answer the age-old question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”