Don’t wanna read? I gave a keynote about my main interests! Click here!

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

  1. 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.)

  2. 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.

  3. 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


(Heath is the New York Times bestselling author of Switch and Made to Stick; I am an elder millennial with student loan debt.)


Great success depends on a perfect storm of events coming together—which is largely due to luck—but we’re all blind to the things that come easy to us.

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Everything we're taught about work, self-improvement, and getting things done was written by privileged people, using studies that don't replicate, and only tested in laboratory settings. Here's some useful information for those of us in the real world.


Karla Starr

Author, MAKING NUMBERS COUNT (w/ Chip Heath) & CAN YOU LEARN TO BE LUCKY? Just a single 🐶 mom trying to make it in this world 🌎