Is there really a straight line between you and the things you want in life? Entrepreneur and educator Luke Burgis goes deep on how understanding mimetic desire can help you better connect the dots between where you are now, and where you want to go. Burgis breaks down the theories behind mimetic desire and the teachings of René Girard, why all of our behaviors are imitative, why we desire things we don’t need, and why this all leads to missing out on aspects of life that are far more meaningful and valuable.
Burgis has co-created and led four companies in wellness, consumer products, and technology. He’s currently Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Director of Programs at the Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship, and he also teaches business at The Catholic University of America. He is also the author of Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life.
Here are a few highlights from our conversation:
I think there are always circumstances that are involved too. And oftentimes with decision making, the circumstances, the soil in which decisions are made is a really critical and overlooked factor.
Through when times are really good and when times are really bad. I think that’s kind of a really good test of a relationship, right? And then sort of find that fertile soil of sort of peace, where things are not totally wild in either direction, where you start to make a decision, right?
There are these people that are powerful mediators to other people. And if you can identify who those people are and how they’re operating, you’ve just identified sort of one of the root causes of problems, or just one of sort of the root players in this system. And identifying those mediators is sort of really key.
I absolutely think that choosing in an intentional way the people that we’re closest to is the most important thing that we can do to affect what we want.
We have ways to set up our lives for success when it comes to desires. So desires are path dependent, and one desire can bring us, if we follow that desire, will bring us to a place where we’re in a different position than we were when we started.
I sometimes like to call it “layered thinking”. There’s the rational layer, there’s the tacit layer, and there might be other layers. And they’re all important. And we can’t just make a decision based on any one layer, frankly, and certainly the top layer.
00:00 – Intro
00:37 – Luke’s big career change
08:37 – On making money and being miserable
16:03 – On building trust for solid relationships
20:47 – Why we lost (and gained) relationships during COVID
24:14 – Tacit knowledge with trusting others
29:35 – Borrowed vs. earned knowledge
31:48 – Literature to experience human nature
35:09 – Identifying mediators of desire
38:00 – René Girard and Mimetic Desire
41:08 – Accurate vs useful
46:38 – Non-obvious examples of mimetic desire
52:56 – How to create a luxury brand using mimetic desire
58:33 – Social media’s impact on mimetic desire
01:01:41 – Is identity mimetic?
01:07:03 – Mimetic desire on attractiveness
01:12:42 – Positive sides of mimetic desire
01:15:23 – Born vs. nurtured desires
01:19:22 – On changing your desires
01:31:30 – The Flywheel of Desire
01:40:12 – On the power of rituals
01:46:02 – On happiness and satisfaction
01:57:53 – How social hierarchies affect human nature
02:02:24 – Why we seek out obstacles for accomplishment
02:05:48 – On happiness and marriage
02:14:38 – The Whole Body Yes and Tacit knowledge
02:16:03 – What success looks like for Luke Burgis