Dec 28, 2016
Co-hosts Jan Rutherford and Jim Vaselopulos interview
John Coyle, Founder and CEO of The Art of Really Living. John is
one of the world’s leading experts in innovation and design
thinking. John is an SVP and Professor of Innovation, and a thought
leader in the field of horology — the study of how we as humans
process time. His mission is to innovate the human experience, and
he has been applying "design thinking" to Fortune 500 companies,
careers, and leadership challenges for more than 20 years. Jan and
Jim talk with John about his Olympic journey, his pursuit to
maximize the ratio of experience to time, how design thinking
helped him find the right questions to ask, how to achieve Flow,
and when to de-stress to recover.
Listen in to learn more about the path to Flow, the
pursuit of excellence, and how to apply it with your team.
[3:39] John spent all of his time as an athlete
cramming more distance into the same time. In that pursuit, he won
an Olympic silver medal. Small increments of time matter greatly,
and can change a life. His experience of the passage of time in the
working world (slow in meetings, and fast with friends), led him to
study chronoception. He now works to manipulate cognitive time.
[7:51] John called every expert he could find on
neuroscience and the psychology of time, until he spoke with Dr.
Philip Zimbardo at Stanford, who told him everybody experiences the
acceleration of time as they age, but nobody has done research on
how to unwind it.
[8:24] John used design thinking — a style of
creative problem-solving through asking the right questions — to
try to discover how to get more experienced time in our years. It
is possible, as our brains don’t process time linearly. John helps
people reframe their relationship with time.
[17:40] One of the hallmarks of the Flow state is
that the brain actually stops measuring time. Most people report
this simultaneously as going really fast, and slowing down
completely. Your brain is processing really fast, resulting in the
ability to thin-slice and rewind moments with exquisite detail.
Steven Kotler says extreme sports and meditation both lead to
[20:28] If you want to slow down time on your
vacations, design fear and suffering into them. We are wired for
stories. We remember stories much better than data. Stories have a
plot, which develops through a crisis.
[22:44] Helping your team members move outside their
comfort zones, to find their native strengths, and having them
design their roles to do more of that, fundamentally changes their
relationship with risk and reward. They will risk more when they
excel in what they do.
[25:10] Mike Weldon was John’s coach from age 11 to
25. He taught John, “Race your strengths; design around and train
your weaknesses, but don’t make them your centerpoint.” He designed
his Olympic training on Mike Weldon’s teaching, and won the
[28:56] John says, ask the right questions in
development and leadership. Instead of asking how to fix your
weaknesses, ask how to design for your strengths. Don’t ask how to
have more years in your life, ask how to have more life in your
years. Instead of asking how to maintain a work-life balance, ask
how to perform better under increasing stress, and how to
[37:41] Reduce stress when needed, by refocusing on
your strengths, and applying these three destressors: low-grade
aerobics, social intimacy, and physical contact with your partner
or a pet.
[42:20] Regarding having worked with particular
individuals who very publicly fell from grace, John says innovation
works by ignoring the rules and the status quo while generating
ideas. In order to make a good solution, you then need to apply an
ethics filter to the idea. Some people skip that step, and they
hurt themselves and others.
“The value of an increment of time is not related to
“I just started becoming obsessed with … how we
experience time … the technical term is chronoception.”
“Cognitively speaking, how can we experience more
time, in the same amount of linear time?”
“They can reframe their relationship with time, and
actually slow, stop, and reverse the perceived acceleration of
“You can get to the Flow state so many ways, but it
is one of the penultimate outcomes of the human condition.”
Books Mentioned on the Show
15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time
Productivity Habits of 7 Billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29
Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs,
by Kevin Kruse
Neuromarketing: Is There a 'Buy Button' in the Brain? Selling
to the Old Brain for Instant Success, by Christophe
Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex
by General Stanley McChrystal
(Upcoming Book) Counter-Clockwise: Unwinding Cognitive
Time, by John Coyle
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly
Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human
by Steven Kotler
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, By
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, by Nassim
The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
John Coyle has an MBA from Northwestern University,
and is a graduate of Stanford University's "d.school" where his
academic advisor was David Kelley, the founder of IDEO and Steve
Jobs' right hand man. John is an NBC sports analyst, two-time TEDx
presenter, author, and sought-after keynote speaker. He won an
Olympic silver medal in speedskating, an achievement he attributes
directly to his design thinking background.
As a speaker and author, his talent is weaving facts,
examples and intellectual principles into engaging stories which
bring his topics to life and really make you think. They are
inspiring, practical, and actionable.