Nov 17, 2020
It’s not every day I get to ask a decision engineer a question.
This week, Michelle Florendo joins me on the podcast. She is an
executive coach who helps people untangle messy decisions in life
and work. You are going to enjoy this conversation if you’ve ever
found yourself in a position in making a messy decision. Michelle
shares her step-by-step process for making decisions and also helps
us untangle the difference between good vs. bad decisions and the
After studying decision engineering at Stanford University, she
spent the past 15 years helping hundreds of professionals use the
principles of decision engineering to make decisions with less
stress and more clarity. She has led workshops on decision making
for both domestic and international audiences, guest-taught on
decision making in Stanford's famous Designing Your Life course,
been a repeat workshop lead at UC Berkeley's Haas School of
Business' Women in Leadership Conference, and currently hosts the
podcast Ask A Decision Engineer. She served on the inaugural
coaching team for Seth Godin's altMBA, is a founding member of
the Forbes Coaches Council, is a Senior Coach for Management
Leadership for Tomorrow, and is an adjunct faculty member at New
Ventures West. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her
husband and two small children.
During our time together, Michelle also explained how we have
two thinking systems and how we can begin to use the system that is
effortless, fast, and often undervalued in our society which tends
to value our brainpower over what our heart and gut may be saying.
- The characteristics of typical decisions. (6:49)
How to know when you need a decision scientist to have your back.
- There are emotional components to making decisions that require
understanding what our emotions are telling us. (9:09)
- FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and how we are socialized to think
about optimal decisions. (10:13)
- Michelle shares about how she made the decision to leave a
full-time job to work for herself. (11:55)
- Feeling lost and ashamed about making the wrong career decision
and how Michelle applied her expertise to her situation.
- Decisions are made of three components: objective, options, and
information on how those options may have on your big objective.
- When we are judged for our decisions: we talk about career
trauma or a visceral reaction. (20:42)
- If a decision had a good outcome then that decision must have
been good. Alternatively, if the outcome is bad then the decision
must have been bad. Michelle explains how neither of these views is
always true and how outside forces can affect decision outcomes.
- System 2 thinking (slow, cerebral, analyzing, effortful) versus
System 1 thinking (fast, intuitive, sometimes prone to bias,
- How we can expand the capacity of either thinking system.
- Is being an entrepreneur or full-time corporate professional
more mentally draining? (28:51)
- Making a career pivot. Pivoting requires one decision and then
smaller decisions may be needed to support your success too.
- How to make a decision using System 1 Thinking 101: write
everything in your brain down, then imagine stepping into each
option, and tune into what you feel. Ask yourself: are you feeling
something that is contrary or not? What is the emotion telling me?
Is it fear or a settling? What happens to your heart rate? Give
yourself space to explore. How might you use this data?
- Realizing that you can make the best decision and be
vigilant enough to know when you need to make another decision too.
Links to quench your curiosity: