My guest today joined the Stanford Design Division faculty in 1962. He was the youngest member of the university faculty and now decades later, he’s the oldest faculty member. His name is Bernard (Bernie) Roth and he is the author of The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life. As one of the founders of Stanford’s d.school, he remains active in the d.school’s development and currently serves as the Academic Director. Bernie’s primary intention as both an educator and a person, is to empower his students, family and friends to have fulfilling lives. He’s the kind of teacher we all want, and some are fortunate to have in their academic careers.
In 2003, Bernie joined a group of colleagues looking to bring more cross-disciplinary collaboration into education. This was the genesis of the d.school, and it represents the sense of well-roundedness and personal integration that Bernie exudes. He is a person whose philosophy and commitments mark all he does, from the classroom to the home and whose consistency in denying fallacious crutches in our beliefs, is rivaled only by his consistency in trying to live and be as best he can. Bernie’s work is perhaps epitomized in the way he encourages his students and others to take concrete action to either produce a result that matters to them – something they have always wanted to do but haven’t done – or resolve a problem in their life.
Bernie’s insight is fascinating and counterintuitive. His ways of conceptualizing the world and the ways people and events engage in it made me think. I have no doubt they will make you think as well. I found myself challenged by Bernie’s differentiation between trying and doing, along with his charge to trade contemplation for action. I was grateful to be able to speak with Bernie and I hope that the conversation, and Bernie’s work, are useful and inspiring to you.
“The best thing in life is to just say what you do or what you don’t do without worrying about why.” – Bernie Roth
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