Luke Burgis


There’s a seductive force that leads entrepreneurs to battle for the approval of Shark Tank judges; that makes 1% of books account for 80% of total book sales; and that helped Peter Thiel make the first outside investment in Facebook. It turns out that why we passionately pursue some things and don’t care about others is more complicated than we ever realized—and its story has never been told, until now.

What Do You Want?

A groundbreaking exploration of why we want what we want, and a toolkit for freeing ourselves from chasing unfulfilling desires

As an undergraduate studying philosophy at Stanford, Peter Thiel met French polymath René Girard and was introduced to his theory of “mimetic desire”—the idea that most human wanting comes from imitating the desires of others. Each of us is surrounded by people who generate, shape, and manipulate our desires at every turn.

The consequences of mimetic desire are startling. Because people learn to want what other people want, they are easily drawn into rivalries and conflict. But mimetic desire does not have to be in control. We are free to choose. And those who understand mimetic desire have a tremendous advantage over those who don’t—they can use it for good or for ill.

Drawing on his experience as an entrepreneur and teacher with a background in classical philosophy, Luke Burgis shows how to counteract the mimetic forces of the market by turning blind wanting into intentional wanting—not by trying to rid ourselves of desire, but by desiring differently. Burgis shows how to achieve more independence from trends and bubbles, how to feel more in control of the things we want, and ultimately how to find more meaning in our work and life by grounding them in desires that will never fade away.

Who It's For

Caesaer’s Self-Deception


The Author

Luke Burgis

Luke 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 where he also teaches business at The Catholic University of America. Luke has helped form and serves on the board of several new K-12 education initiatives and writes and speaks regularly about the education of desire. He studied business at NYU Stern and philosophy and theology at a pontifical university in Rome. He’s Managing Partner of Fourth Wall Ventures, an incubator that he started to build, train, and invest in people and companies that contribute to a healthy human ecology. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Claire.
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Luke Burgis

Luke Burgis

Luke Burgis

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My notes as a creator in an algorithmic world—learning when to ride and when to drive.