Hey there! I’m a white female living in Portland, Oregon by way of NYC (mostly) and a bunch of other places. My first book, Can You Learn to Be Lucky?, was a Fast Company best book of 2018. I wrote my second one, Making Numbers Count: The Art and Science of Communicating Numbers, with Chip Heath.1
The self-help industrial complex is bullshit
Bestselling authors aren’t your therapist. They’re just great marketers. You know all of those self-help gurus and productivity bestsellers? For the most part, they are privileged workaholics whose real talents lie in self-promotion and marketing.2 They’re great at coming up with quirky frameworks that seem like they should work: just do that thing for five minutes! Stop paying attention to the haters! Lean in!! Alas, life is complex. Challenges arise. You kick yourself because you feel like things shouldn’t be this hard. (Hint: it’s not you. It’s the system.)
Data is not divine. All data points are subjective, lagging measures of what imperfect humans once measured imperfectly. But we workshop them because of their promise of objectivity, of feeling like we know something for certain in a chaotic world, and the love of feeling like we’re right.
Psychology is not a valid science. Psychology was once my North Star to understand humans—until I got a glimpse into the whole enterprise. Researchers (biased, as are all humans), academia, the publishing landscape, the file drawer problem, the replication crisis… real life is far too complex for the scientific method is simple. Lab results do not accurately represent real world experience. These are cultural products, and by demystifying the process, we can get a glimpse of the machine at work and recognize it for what it is.
A lot of this has to do with the social side of numbers
Why are we so likely to believe something? It has a number attached to it, and therefore feels legit.
My expertise lies at this interplay of quantitative and qualitative data: what is measured and reported, and what actually happens. The Starr Report aims to offer real advice for people who want to write, create, or otherwise accomplish their goals while having a life, and I’m open about things that brand managers would prefer I not share, like my mental health, anxieties, and frustrations.
In other words, I’m trying to acknowledge the B.S. in culture while also being mindful of the fact that your feed doesn’t need any more negativity.
Feel free to say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org