#47: Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman – Understanding the human needs, finding meaning in life and pursuing life goals

health & fitness performance personal development podcast Jun 23, 2020

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 How do you pursue the right goals and find meaning in life? Pretty big questions. My guest in the episode, Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman is a big name globally in the humanistic psychology space and has a suggestion on this from a psychological standpoint.


In our enchanting conversation, Dr. Kaufman told me what got him into psychology and described his most monumental rework of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.


In this conversation, Dr. Kaufman reveals segments of his last book where he updates the common understanding of Maslow’s theory by exploring less-well-known writings of Maslow’s, and also by incorporating more recent empirical psychological studies. He suggests the more dynamic model that complements the modern fast pace of living, incorporating some standard basic security needs then expanding into more creative and dynamic capabilities. It’s an interesting take on the importance of appreciating that the nature of our lives is constantly changing and I really hope that this talk will help all kinds of minds to live a creative, fulfilling, and self-actualized life.

Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman has taught courses on intelligence, creativity, and well-being at Columbia University, NYU, the University of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. 


Scott likes to share his enthusiasm of psychology through his teaching, writing, speaking, and podcast. He writes the column Beautiful Minds for Scientific American and hosts The Psychology Podcast, which has received over 10 million downloads. Kaufman’s writing has appeared in The AtlanticPsychology Today, and Harvard Business Review.


Scott received a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Yale University, and an M. Phil in experimental psychology from the University of Cambridge under a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. In 2015, he was named one of “50 groundbreaking scientists who are changing the way we see the world” by Business Insider.


Things Scott did in his past life:

  • Scott was director of research at the 2e Center, Bridges Academy.
  • From 2014-2017, Dr. Kaufman was at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the scientific director of the Imagination Institute. In this role, he oversaw a project to advance the measurement, growth, and improvement of imagination across all sectors of society. The Imagination Institute funded 16 research projects to advance the measurement of imagination. They also hosted gatherings of the world’s most imaginative and creative people across 12 domains of human progress (the “Imagination Retreats“).
  • At the University of Pennsylvania, he also taught the course “Introduction to Positive Psychology”, which was one of the most popular courses at the university.
  • Dr. Kaufman is on the advisory board of The Future Project, a non-profit dedicated to working with schools to unlock the limitless potential of every young person in this country.
  • Dr. Kaufman co-founded The Creativity Post with Milena Fisher and Elliot Samuel Paul.
  • Dr. Kaufman is classically trained in vocal performance and likes to sing musical theatre (his inspiration is Terrence Mann). He also plays the cello (he was taught by his grandfather Harry Gorodetzer, a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra), and he likes to dances hip hop recreationally.
  • In 2005 and 2007, Scott was rejected from American Idol. So he did what he does best: he analyzed how to win American Idol.


Show Notes

0:30 Introduction to Scott Barry Kaufman

1:37 Dr. Barry Kaufman’s journey to Psychology and human potential

2:55 Updating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

7:05 What does it mean to become the best version of yourself

10:45 Be more, Do less state of life

13:13 How to be more passionate about the things you are doing

16:05 Getting to the stage of being the best version of yourself

18:55 Benefits of Gratitude Journaling Practice

21:20 Pointers for pursuing the right goals

28:02 Surprises that Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman encountered while working on his latest book

31:03 The real meaning of happiness

32:20 Connect with Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman

34:50 Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman advice on how to satisfy our needs


Connect with Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman


Podcast https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAvfZQ3r24F-V1JYqn2pfXg

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sbkaufman

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ScottBarryKaufman



Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman’s books:


Scott’s 2019 NeuroLeadership Summit talk on self-actualization and his new hierarchy of needs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtEIKKfhSaI


Scott’s latest TEDx talk on twice-exceptionality https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ih5caeD06ms



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