Human-Centered Design and Aging Innovation

with Dhaval Patel,

Founder and CEO, Lotus Laboratories

This week on Art of Aging, host Michael Hughes chats with Dhaval Patel, Founder and CEO of Lotus Laboratories Inc. During the episode, Dhaval shares his personal journey of how mobility struggles in his life helped spark a desire to help create technology to serve those with mobility needs. The conversation also includes how reliability and simplicity are the cornerstones of good technology, the challenges of creating technology in the space, how to give users the product-handshake experience, and more.
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Highlights from this week’s conversation include:

  • What Lotus is and the technology they are working on (0:49)
  • Dhaval’s personal story of wanting to create technology to serve those with mobility issues (4:09)
  • How reliability and simplicity can drive innovative technology (8:00)
  • The importance of human-centered design (10:27)
  • Giving users the product-handshake experience (17:30)
  • The challenges of creating technology (23:45)
  • Advice for those looking to invent technology in the future (26:15)
  • Three questions on aging for Dhaval (29:25)
  • Connecting with Dhaval (37:22)


Abundant Aging is a podcast series presented by United Church Homes. These shows offer ideas, information, and inspiration on how to improve our lives as we grow older. To learn more and to subscribe to the show, visit


Michael Hughes 00:07
Hello, and welcome to Art of Aging, part of the Abundant Aging podcast series from United Church homes. On this show, we look at what it means to age in America and in other places around the world with positive and empowering conversations that challenge and courage and inspire all to age with abundance. Today, I am very pleased to have Dhaval Patel, with us, with Lotus. And this is actually part of our aging innovators series where we talk with entrepreneurs who have chosen to create new offerings and introduce new technology into the world of aging. And welcome to devolve.

Dhaval Patel 00:47
Thank you. Pleasure being here, Mike. And it’s, it’s an honor to have you here love the podcast. Well,

Michael Hughes 00:53
Thanks very much. And first of all, I just want to start off straight with Lotus.

Dhaval Patel 00:59
What are you working on? Well, for people with limited mobility, like veterans, older adults, persons with disabilities, we’ve created a wearable ring that controls objects at home by pointing them in. Unlike typical boom tech, like Alexa, there are no apps. No rewiring, no internet.

Michael Hughes 01:22
Okay, back up just a little bit here. So it’s a ring. And you wear it. Yeah. And I guess you just gesture, threading and stuff happens.

Dhaval Patel 01:34
Correct. So you can essentially go from home to smartphone in seconds, without the internet without any apps without any rewiring. And so the whole idea is you put on this ring. And you can go around controlling the space around you. A lot of people tell us it’s sort of like telekinesis, but of course there’s science and engineering behind it.

Michael Hughes 01:57
We’re gonna let you plug away at the end of this one. But, I mean, does it have to be just a ring? Can you put it into I don’t know, like, a watch or a banana? or something?

Dhaval Patel 02:15
Yeah, we can get into sort of why we designed it the way we did. But essentially, part of the way we designed it, and my background is in human interface design, was that we first interviewed people for nine months, you know, the set of people I spoke about in the underserved underrepresented community. And the feedback we got from them was, can you please make something that you don’t have to look at while using that you can use with one hand, and that it’s very simple and very light and does not draw attention to that. Very subtle. And so that was the ring that was the reason that we came up with the ring form factor, because you can go to bed with it. It’s small, it’s subtle, people don’t have to take it off. And you can use it with one hand.

Michael Hughes 03:00
And the device is paired with another device that would actually control the light aid or the TV or the things that people would want to control. Right?

Dhaval Patel 03:13
Correct. So we have the ring. And then we have these secondary systems. So you can have a switch cover. We’re working on drapes, and doors. And so you can attach the things magnetically to different things in your house, no rewiring, and then we use just like your TV remote, we use infrared. So using that eliminates the need for apps, smartphone and internet, all you have to do just like your TV remote is pointing like,

Michael Hughes 03:39
I just want to go back to something and so I can finally live my childhood dream of having curtains that open and close by.

Dhaval Patel 03:50
Yes, that is indeed the goal. And not just that, I think that because it is infrared and it’s everywhere. You can actually do it wherever you go. So if your fan friends and family visit you, you can do it. You know, they can use it in your home and you can use it in their home. So it’s what we call network advice,

Michael Hughes 04:07
which is okay, super exciting. So, I want to get back to this. But you know, devolve. Want you to share more about your background, but I think I shared this with you earlier, you know, you could have gone off and figured out a new sports drink or you could have figured out I don’t know, your shoes or something like that. But something that’s more commercial. You chose to devote this project to people with functional limitations, people that are in need . What led you to do that?

Dhaval Patel 04:47
Yeah, it’s interesting. So as you know, by training, I’m a hardware engineer. So my expertise is in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, applied physics and math. Basically, I’m not a nerd. I love that I actually lean into it as you can people call me that more than. And I love that I very much always been a sort of science engineering person. And so, you know, my previous role was managing the engineering division at Apple for iPhones, watches and air pods. And a couple of years ago, and so I, you know, maybe to start off all the way back, I was born with misshapen knees, it’s called bull legs. And so my legs weren’t straight. And over the years, I’ve been on and off crutches. But the real journey starts one night. A couple of years ago, I had just gotten into bed at the end of a long day, only to realize I’d forgotten to turn off the hallway late. But I was too exhausted, as I tend to be. I was too exhausted, to climb out of bed, hop on to my crutches, a whole 10 feet, turn off the light, although back 10 feet and get back into bed. So I slept with the lights on the entire night. And woke up in the morning thinking, if someone like me, an engineer in big tech with expertise in wall electronics to form Lutron. You know, I’m from Apple with Lutron. In an engineer, if I’m not even using smart home tech, who is and you know, initially, it started out thinking, well, this is probably just a me issue. But it turned out that 91% of homes in the US were built before smartphones, but there’s no easy way to upgrade them. And as much as that affects everyone, it disproportionately affects the 27 million Americans living with limited mobility. Veterans, older adults, persons with disabilities, who can take up to four hours daily, at home on fell care. And so that seemed like a problem worth solving. And then, you know, there’s a deeper, deeper reason to which I’ve been an apple for about eight and a half years. And if you’ve seen Hamilton the musical, there’s this Yep. Yep. It’s on the big quotes. This line from Hamilton I really liked, which is, what is legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see. And I was thinking, you know, 30 years from now, I don’t think I’m gonna be telling my grandkids, Hey, your granddad added the eighth camera in the smartphone. Interesting engineering? No,

Michael Hughes 07:34
sorry. We might have eight cameras, just just like we have eight blades in a razor blade.

Dhaval Patel 07:39
Sure. And, you know, a very interesting engineering puzzle, you know, very cutting edge. It’s a difficult challenge. Not easy. But I’m not sure how meaningful it is. And so I wanted to work on something that was meaningful. And of course, given my own experiences, and upon realizing the breadth and depth of the problem of how many people impact how much this seemed like, I wanted to make this my life’s mission.

Michael Hughes 08:05
But I want to ask you a question. Two things strike me about that. First of all, you are not wedded to the bleeding age, Internet of Things, smart home technology. I mean, and in fact, the technology that you created, sort of backs into the use case about you know, just the everyday person is not going to have that right. And I see, obviously, we see a lot in the aging space about really cool, new, amazing tech. But it just seems that what it’s almost seems like you just wanted to go for simplicity here reliability, simplicity. How did that come about?

Dhaval Patel 08:51
Yeah, it’s a great question. So I think, definitely a huge credit for this goes to Apple, I mean, the train you in this design thinking methodology? I think the very first question is, does your device or idea deserve to exist? Which is, you know, is it genuinely solving a problem? And how much is it solving? Should it exist? Should you spend, you know, 510 years of your life working on this? Should other people spend their time working on this, I think it shouldn’t even exist. And then if you’ve crossed that threshold, and even to convince yourself of that, the first thing to do is fall in love with the problem, not the solution. And, you know, again, credit to this to lots of people that came before me. This is me, having learned from them, and it’s essentially centered around what you would call the human centered design process. Right? Right, right. These are all facets of that process. And so the first question is, Have you spoken to the people? You know, how much do you really understand the problem? Of course, you come at it from your perspective, but not everyone. Under has the same lived experience. You see that you want lived experiences, not something you’re reading, something you talk to people, just talk to people. And second, you want a diverse set of lived experiences, you want to talk to a granddad, you want to talk to a young kid, you want to talk to a veteran, you want to talk to someone that had sports injury, you want to talk to someone who’s had a stroke, someone who’s just growing older, someone who has arthritis, you want to get the whole spectrum of lived experiences, to test both the understanding of the problem and the solution.

Michael Hughes 10:33
I mean, there’s many directions, we can go there. And I think, you know, amongst the reasons I wanted to have you on the podcast was to really explore this concept of human centered design. And I know that, you know, when I have people coming at me, you know, say that we got the greatest thing since sliced bread, you know, they seem to say, hey, we can do 100 different things that can address your issue or problem, but it goes into my mind that well, do I even know what my opportunity or problem is? And then how can you show that you’ve designed for me to address the top things like as a guide, right? I mean, I tend to find that people who have adopted a huge percentage, and I’m still very much nascent in here, but my gut feeling is that, you know, the UX tends to be a lot simpler, a lot more intuitive. Is that your feeling as well?

Dhaval Patel 11:30
Oh, 100%. And not only do you end up with a better product, you end up with a better product that more people like to use or love to use, because they’ve bought into it, because you’ve kept you you haven’t spoken to them once you keep talking to them. As you continue building the product. they’ve tested it, they’ve given you feedback. So they have skin in the game. Be they have vested interest, you know, that’s something that is my Lotus ring. I helped design it, I gave them feedback, I spoke to the founder of the engineering team, he made that button the size that it is, because I told them to do that. Right? You’re personally invested in the product, which is fantastic. But all you want. What you don’t want is a solution that someone’s created in isolation and thrown over the fence with the hopes that someone will like

Michael Hughes 12:21
it. And you’re also speaking to universal design principles here, right? Because you know, you are addressing a need associated first of all, it’s hardware. Right, right. And then you’re talking about the way that people engage and use that hardware. And I’ve got maybe two questions for you. You talked earlier about the diversity of people that you talk to. Have you talked with veterans, you’ve talked with sports injuries, you’ve taught kids older adults, are you looking for diversity or commonality? I mean, how do you find those nuggets that really say, Wow, I am really understanding this problem now?

Dhaval Patel 13:02
Yeah, the way I think about it initially is you start off in the state of you don’t know what you don’t know. And all you’re trying to do with the initial interviews, the user discovery process, is to go from there. So I know what I don’t know, you still have little time you don’t know. But now at least you know what you don’t know. So then you get started digging into it. So until you started talking to people, we didn’t realize that. In whom daily activities were the bigger issue than out of home chores. And now I know, that’s something I don’t know about. Right. So my in you know, it’s very natural. But my next question tends to be what are the daily home activities that you tend to have a pain point with? And then within that, then you go deeper, you know, what’s the underlying reason you’re not able to do those activities? Why does it take you four hours everyday to do your activities? Right, right. Why does it take you four hours? And you know, once you drill down enough, in our case, we realized to do the basic things, you need lights, doors, and drapes. And so that’s where we came by sorry, guys.

Michael Hughes 14:13
And also, I guess, you know, what are they? What are they doing today to try to address this right? And why is that not working?

Dhaval Patel 14:21
Right. In fact, there’s another good example from Henry Ford, which is, folks don’t always understand their problem. Clearly. They don’t necessarily know what the solution to the problem may be. Because of course, they’re not engineers. Why would they? And in fact, you don’t have the opposite side, right? You don’t clearly think of a solution in your mind, but you don’t have the problem statement player. So Henry Ford’s court was, you know, if I’d asked, I would have ended up making a faster horse. And so what you want is you want to combine the two and I find the combination to be really more than the sum of the parts, which is, you want a deep, deep understanding of the problem, fall in love with the problem, not your solution, and then keep iterating with the team. And so something you mentioned resonates a lot, which is, we ended up realizing that the combination of inclusive design and universal design would be the most powerful, though the example of this would be, yes, it’s a ring, yes, it uses infrared. And that part doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a young girl, it doesn’t matter, you know, what your specific situation is, that is universal design. That’s the same. What is different is the inclusive design, where if you have mobility limitations, or if you’re deaf, or you don’t have any disability, you’re going to do point and click to control your space, right? But if you have arthritis, you can wave and use gestures. So you don’t have to do fine motor control. If you’re paraplegic or quadriplegic, and you can’t, or you’ve had a stroke, and you can’t move your arm at all, then you can use your voice. That way, these are different inclusive modes of including different types of people in the same device. So they can still get the same benefits. And so that the combination of inclusive and universal design is most powerful. You don’t leave anyone behind, you include everyone, but at the same time you get the benefits of scalability with universal design, because everyone can use it. Well, yeah, well,

Michael Hughes 16:18
That’s the thing. So it’s, I mean, I remember seeing a documentary about I think it was at IDEO. And they were designing garden clippers, and they were co creating it with maintenance people, because these are people that will be using the Clippers the most. So if you design for that extreme, the middle middle kind of takes care of itself.

Dhaval Patel 16:37
Exactly. I mean, the very common example in, you know, advocacy of this line of thinking is curb cuts. Right? Very simple example, right? Yes, originally you want to, you’re probably thinking of wheelchairs using copepods? Well, once you meet that everybody uses it. You know, if you got a ton of if you’re on a bike, if you have a kid with in a stroller,

Michael Hughes 17:01
if I’m rolling my luggage. Yeah, exactly. If

Dhaval Patel 17:05
you have luggage with you, you know, it helps tons of situations. The other big example is often closed captions, or subtitles, right? Yep. Originally created for people who are deaf back in the 70s. But you know, if you’ve ever watched Netflix, or if you’ve ever watched a foreign movie, or if you’re watching TV at home, and someone’s asleep, and you’re trying to watch it at low volume, yeah, and you’re keeping the subtitles on, or if it’s a movie with a, an accent that you don’t quite understand. You know, it was not built for you, but you’re benefiting from it. And that’s the whole idea.

Michael Hughes 17:34
That’s terrific. Hey, because you’re concentrating on hardware. And because of your history at Apple, I really, really have been thinking about this asking what I’ve been thinking about asking you for a while. But there’s this concept of the product handshake, right? The way that a product feels, and that’s famous with Apple, you know, and you just hold these things, and they feel expensive, and they feel quality, and you enter and, you know, how do you look at that product handshake? Is there a philosophy there when you’re actually designing that form factor itself?

Dhaval Patel 18:11
Absolutely. So I think the first part is to get the human experiences, begin the lived experiences and be as diverse as possible. That’s part number one. Then once you’ve understood the problem, and you’ve looped in the stakeholders into your solution, eight, what do you think this is what we’re thinking? What are your thoughts? How would this work, when you end up starting, so now I’m talking fees, too, when you start engineering, we have a few design principles. And some of these, of course, come from Apple, my alma mater, there are two big principles that we take pride in. One is, technology should appear when needed and disappear when not needed. We actually take pride in the fact that you don’t even notice it’s there. And if you actually see the best technology that you use, they’re kind of just there. And they show up when you need and they disappear when you don’t. And it’s that you don’t even spend time thinking about it. They just exist as part of your life. And so that’s one big principle. The other is we want to make sure that it’s extremely cognitively simple and physically simple. And both of those are very important. And in fact, using those principles is what led us down the path of where we are today, which is we’re using old technology, I would argue, right? Yeah, this is pretty years, everyone in the Internet of Things is chiefing the internet part. But the funny thing that happens when you try to use the internet is that the internet means you have to be connected to the network all the time, which means you need power all the time, which it turns out. You need wires all the time because you need power all the time. So if you don’t. If you don’t constrain yourself to that, and you just fall in love with the problem, and you’re saying my constraint is simplicity. That’s how we lead down. You know, that’s where we’re using magnets. And there’s no rewiring. That’s why you’re using infrared. It’s just pointed out on the internet. And so that’s how we lead to this, because those are the two principles. You’ve seen visible when you don’t need to be there. And you keep it simple.

Michael Hughes 20:22
Because that’s really important, right? Because if we start getting into the ideation phase and the art of the possible, I mean, you’re gonna want to just really expand your thinking and come up with as many crazy solutions as possible. But you need those constraints, right?

Dhaval Patel 20:37
Yeah, in fact, I think it was a really nice board. And this one I don’t remember as well, I might mess it up. But shoe design, or the really best products are born out of constraints on Yes, it’s just an idea. Or it’s a research project, but the really best products are born out of constraints.

Michael Hughes 21:00
Right, right. Right. Right. Right. Yeah, so you have this sort of, you know, deep investigation, really get a good sense of the problem, lots of great expanse of thinking and the possible, but really, it comes down to the constraints, because I guess, you know, with your background research at all, with all these people, I guess there’s deal breakers with the technology, there is factors that will increase or decrease us, I mean, is it just instinctive,

Dhaval Patel 21:32
or no, actually, so So you’re touching upon a grid pattern part, which is probably I would argue that third part in the design process, so the first step was talk to people don’t make assumptions, talk to the second part is designed with these constraints in mind, whatever is important to you, I would argue simplicity, and focus helps more. The third part is prioritization. And so, and that connects to the first two steps, usually the first one, which is, okay, now, I know I want to make a ring, I know it shouldn’t be without the internet, it should be very simple, no rewiring your 18 ways or 18 features I could add to it. And to be honest, before we started talking to folks, we had our own perceptions, we didn’t think drilling TVs would be very important. It didn’t seem that important. And as soon as we started talking to people, it kept coming up repeatedly, time after time. And you know, another example would be, everyone kept asking us if it would be waterproof. And so that quickly became relevant, which is, hey, when you make something so simple, and so easy, that you don’t have to take it off because the battery life is 75 days, as opposed to most electronics, which you have to charge every night. People want to keep it on like their wedding rings. But then that means they’re going to keep it on, they’re going to use it in the shower, they’re going to keep it on all the time when they’re washing their hands, especially with, you know, with COVID, in post COVID pandemic environments, so then they’d better be waterproof. And so very quickly, you need to, and you get to prioritize the important things up to the top and everything else project weights. So our big focus was that we can do 15 things. But we’re going to prioritize the lights, because you need them in the daytime with your blinds and at night with electric lights. And you need that as your baseline for everything. If you can’t see, then it’s hard, much harder to do things. And so our focus was lights, our focus was making sure it’s point and shoot, initially, because that’s for most people, most of the time, our focus ended up being you know, TV was low on our list, but after talking to people who can very high up on the list, because that’s one of the appliances people use almost every day for multiple hours in the day. And so anyway, the third step is prioritization to your point, which is, focus is your friend.

Michael Hughes 23:47
So I’m taking maybe two things here. And then I think we’ll wrap up, there are surprised questions for we’ll make every guest go through. But this, there’s a philosophical, or there seems to be maybe a chasm that you need to cross as an entrepreneur and you’ve got this fantastic idea in your head. And then you try it out. And people are telling you that your assumptions may not be what they were, there’s not as high a priority. And that can be difficult for some people to do, right? Because you’re so sure this thing is coming in, and now you’re getting new information. How do you adapt to that?

Dhaval Patel 24:31
It’s a good question. I think one part of it is just awareness. So if you go in with the expectation, and that it’s okay for people to tell you your baby’s ugly, is the phrase that often gets used actually, in the entrepreneurship world, which is go out and test it. That’s okay. You’re better off doing it now than spending two years of your life only to build something that nobody wants. That’s worse, right? And right there off at the beginning when it’s just an ID on the back of a napkin are much more are off testing it there. That’s the practical argument. The deep philosophical argument is if you’re truly wanting to help people, genuinely falling in love with the problem is more important anyway. Your solution will keep evolving. You know, the first iPhone and current iPhone Don’t look anywhere near the same. Right? the first computer in the now computer doesn’t look anywhere near the same. And so it’s going to bolt. And that’s a good thing. That’s a great thing. It means it’s improving. It’s getting older

Michael Hughes 25:29
to the point. But now, a first generation iPhone still wrapped in its box got sold for I think 50 $50,000 at auction, right? Because people celebrate where it is today. We don’t need a tangent. But the second part of this is

Dhaval Patel 25:48
just to add Yeah, I would say the reason that philosophical argument is important, is this a Simon Sinek word. People don’t buy what you do, they buy, why you do it is the core, which is people don’t do business with people who need what you want, do business with, or work with people who believe what you believe. And that’s why the why is very important, which is if your goal is really to help people talk to people.

Michael Hughes 26:18
And that’s not easy for everyone. You know, the second, that’s the second question. I mean, this whole process can seem so overwhelming. And you know, I’m a believer in that Kaizen principle where if you start small and build, and eventually you’ll get somewhere, but I don’t know. Can you offer any advice for people that may want to start this process, but they don’t know where to start?

Dhaval Patel 26:45
Yeah, I guess, instead of advice, I’ll tell you what works for me. I don’t know if I’m qualified to give advice, per se. But I’ll share my journey in the hopes that it’ll help someone else. Don’t worry about trying to find the right answer, just begin. Just begin. And whatever your path is. Walking is better than standing still. And you will gradually find the right direction. Even if you initially are walking in the wrong direction, ultimately people will lead you down the right way. Or you’ll run into things and then you’ll gradually correct. And you’ll go the right way. So the first advice is just beginning. If you know the playbook, you know that you’re supposed to be talking to people just talk, maybe the initial couple of conversations won’t go well, but ultimately you will. And so the other way to describe it is the only place to go is up. Sure, because you’re at the start, there’s nothing to lose. And slowly and even if she’s gotten

Michael Hughes 27:43
in that wrong direction. You know, if you are in love with that problem, then just the joy of discovery should carry you into that spot, right?

Dhaval Patel 27:55
The joy of seeing your work, helping the lives you’re trying to help will lead you down the right path. The work itself and the people trust me enough people are trying to do the right thing that they will lead you down the right path. The practical argument is also that if you keep people in the loop, they are brought in with you there, you’re not running a solo mission. Now you have everybody with you. Everyone’s trying to help you, everyone comes out of the woodwork. It’s kind of amazing. Really, when you mean to do well, how many people will go out of their way to help you. And so that’s also the practical reason. So yes, it may seem scary. Yes, it might seem like it’s a long journey. And yes, it may seem like a lot of work. But man just beginning and trying to do the right thing will carry you off to the leader.

Michael Hughes 28:44
Amazing. Real quick before we get into our ending questions, and I’ll give you a chance to do this again. Tell us where people can find you. Oh, sure.

Dhaval Patel 28:52
Easy way is to go to our website. That’s www DOT Lotus labs.or G that’s ello T U S like the flower labs l abs.or. G and ultimately own email, feel free to email me at Devall at Lotus Or let us not stop ordering that DHEA V al Deval at Lotus Awesome. Well, we’ll

Michael Hughes 29:19
hit that at the end. So okay, here’s our ending questions. So one thing we like to do at the end of our podcast is to ask our guests three questions about their own perspective on aging and may we do this with you? Absolutely. Okay, so question number one. When you think about how you’ve aged, what do you think has changed about you or grown with you that you really like and really like about yourself?

Dhaval Patel 29:49
Yeah, I would say the change in priorities has been one that I’ve welcomed. I’ll give you the more tangible answer which was that I started spending a lot more time thinking of the purpose of my life. And that was a tough question. It took me a few years to crack it. And I’m not claiming I have the answer, but I have an answer. And the answer for me was, and this is something I’m proud of, because now everything I do falls in line with this, which is, there’s two purposes of at least mine life. One, the purpose of life is to live it, which is just to spend time with people you love doing things you love. Right, just live it. And the second is, spend your time doing something meaningful. Right? I mean, 30 years from now, 50 years from now, 70 years from now, the two things you’re not going to be doing. And that this is the way I came to this conclusion is the two things you won’t be doing as you know, in my final years, I don’t think I’m going to be spending time wishing, oh, I wish I spent four more hours at the office earning another $100 I don’t think that’s going to be the case. And I’m certainly not going to be the case where even if I helped a ton of people, if I’m not, you know, spending time with loved ones, that’s maybe not, you know, I don’t know, if I would have said, I have led a purposeful life, because I didn’t have anyone to share that with. And so everything I do now falls in those two categories, which is to live life, spend time doing things you love with people you love, that tends to be the personal side. And then the professional side tends to be spent working on things you find meaningful, whatever that means to you. And that often is whatever your own skill or your talent or your ability, and your strong suit tends to be in for me, it’s science and engineering. That’s how I want to help people, I want to build something that continues helping people even after I’m gone, hence, Lotus, and it’s the cord from Hamilton. And so for me that’s more meaningful, and I want to spend the rest of my life doing that.

Michael Hughes 31:51
That’s awesome. Okay, question number two, what has surprised you most about you as you’ve aged?

Dhaval Patel 32:02
This is a bit funny. So two things, maybe one that ties to the previous question. And now this silly answer is, you know, when I was just coming out of college money was everything. You’re broke as a college student, you have no money, everything is about money. How can I earn the most and have this massive, you know, retirement money or nest egg or what happens? Very quickly, that gets old. As soon as, as soon as you’re able to kind of cover your basic requirements, that quickly stops being a motivating factor. I think the other thing that’s changed over time, also kind of happy about is I take I almost take pride in acknowledging the things I don’t know which one to learn, or the things I’m not good at, in one to learn, like almost emphasize that more saying, okay, these are my strengths. But these are all my weaknesses. And we’re going to be great if I spend the next four, five years learning about all these things. Like a very tangible example was when I was at Apple. One of the big reasons when I decided to leave professionally, my big goal was I could spend the next 10 or 20 years of my life at Apple, or my career at Apple. And I would still just be an engineer. But wouldn’t it be amazing if I left Apple and learned everything that was non engineering related about sales, marketing, entrepreneurship, market, you know, fundraising, financing, of course, I’m describing all career things. But that’s, I was taking more pride in all the things I did not know, but could learn if I just put my mind to it. And so I think that’s one of the things that’s happened over time, which is I almost take pride in all the things I’m not good at. Could be if I spend time learning it.

Michael Hughes 33:47
Well, that’s what I mean, that just reflects maybe the growth in self confidence you’ve had, the experiences you’ve had and the successes and the failures and what you’ve learned and your sense of personal growth. That’s an amazing sense of and I’m so glad that you shared that. Number three is there someone that you’ve met or worked with into someone in your life that has set a good example for you in aging you know, we call it you know, aging abundantly but it means different things to different people, but I’m just going to throw that to you as a marker, but it does anybody come to mind?

Dhaval Patel 34:25
Yeah, that’s an interesting one. There’s this, there’s many people that come to mind right now. I’m going to try and pick one category that tends to be mentors. If you’ve read the Odyssey, this beautiful sentiment which is a mentor is the union of path and goal. Just you just you want to just get to where they got to you want to add walk their path, and that’s the those are the best mentors. Here the union of the pathing goal. That’s one category folks. I’ll focus on someone lizard to take home , which is, I think , my dad. And I think the thing I love most about him, he’s a good balance of everything. But the thing I love most about his age, if he were answering these questions, is that each has never been a criteria for him to decide whether or not he could or should do anything. Which is quite amazing. He got his MBA at the age of 55, or 60. He was, you know, he was in class with students who were 25. And he loved every minute of it. It was amazing. And he’s gone on to get other degrees since. Yeah, there’s just no notion, I think. He is truly the personification of your mind and heart is where it’s all at. In. When I think of aging abundantly, he is what comes to mind because he sort of has the energy and vigor of what you would potentially could associate with youth. But then he, you know, he embodies that even though he’s over 70. Now, he’s still going in. Yeah, he’s trying to get his new certification on. He’s an architect. So he’s trying to get new certifications and everything. And so I guess the short answer is, for me, he is that mentor. He is. He’s the union of path and goal. I want to have walked in his shoes and gotten to where he’s been, no matter the age, and I truly believe he is an embodiment of having aged abundantly.

Michael Hughes 36:38
Wonderful. Well, I think that’s a terrific place to end it. Deval, thank you so much for being generous with your time. There’s just so much good stuff here. We could talk for hours and hope to have the opportunity to do it again sometime. But for you, our listeners, I want to thank you for listening to this episode of The Art of aging. It’s part of the abundant aging podcasters United Church homes, and we want to hear from you. What’s changed about you as you’ve aged that you love what has surprised you most? How do you define abundant aging and who is your abundant aging hero? Visit us at abundant aging to share your ideas. You can also give us feedback when you visit the Ruth Frost Parker Center website. We have a wonderful annual symposium coming up in October that you should check out. And Deval again, where can people find you?

Dhaval Patel 37:26
My website or email devolve d h aval. At Lotus labs DOT orgy. We’re going to the website We’d love to connect with anyone and Mike, thank you so much again for having me. This was an honor and privilege was all mine. Thank you.

Michael Hughes 37:47
That’s awesome. Great. All right, everyone. Thanks for listening and we will see you next time!