Master Your Digital Self

Heidi Forbes Öste: PhD Behavior Scientist


Behavioral scientist Heidi Forbes Öste, PhD wanted to grow up to be happy, no matter which career path would’ve accomplished that. Although Heidi was always good at math, she thought it was an insult at a young age when anyone pointed it out; she believes that was due to the mentality of that time.

In college, Heidi originally declared a major in psychology with a minor in voice. However, after choosing a college that wasn’t right for her, she took a couple of years off to work and figure out what she wanted to do. When she went back to finish her degree, it was in international affairs, which integrated everything from political science and sociology to behavioral science. 

Upon leaving academics and entering the real world, she was not taken seriously in her STEM field. 

Unfortunately, it wasn’t only men but also women in leadership roles who were skeptical and not supportive of women entering STEM fields. To overcome those barriers, she had to build up her own confidence because she didn’t want to be judged by her looks or gender.

What also helped her to overcome those barriers was being invited into research groups for education technology at an early stage in her career back when the first GIFs were being created. Her WTF moment was the STEM culture and culture clash. When she was working for a company in Germany, she was the only employee who was American, female, and young. This socially isolated her. She also didn’t smoke, which was the time they used to bond. The social isolation is the reason she didn’t renew her contract with that company. 

In keeping with her passion for wellbeing, Heidi wrote her dissertation proposal on social technology. The idea for going further and writing books about social technology and, specifically, wearables stemmed from a desire to increase awareness after personal experience but it was difficult to get an audience at first because it was such a new concept. And thanks to technology, she has a bigger platform to provide awareness about technology.

Being in Sweden at the time, she was experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). As a result, she and her dog Lola started using wearables to aid with that disorder. Then, she attended a conference about how wearables change cognitive behavior, which led Heidi to think that wearables needed to be better understood. She wanted to research how to use wearables to make people more aware of what happens in their own bodies and brains.

Her book Digital Self Mastery Across Generations was a finalist of the 2019 Indie Book Awards. She also hosts the Evolving Digital Self podcast, which is a weekly podcast of interviews with business leaders about the human relationship with technology and how to positively evolve with it. 

Currently, Heidi is struggling with reminding herself to practice what she preaches about technology use. Heidi’s lifehacks are Lola and Hawaiian Tropic SPF 30 sunscreen. They both keep Heidi calm and help with her SAD. Not only is Lola adorable, but she is trained to ensure that Heidi moves periodically. Regular movement helps with SAD. Hawaiian Tropic helps Heidi with her SAD because of its summer smell. It makes her happy and simultaneously moisturizes her dry skin. Heidi’s go-to style tip is dying her eyelashes and eyebrows. Because she is white blonde, dying those two areas allows Heidi to have the appearance of wearing makeup without actually wearing any. It allows her to be as natural as possible so people focus on what she says rather than how she looks. 

To Heidi, success is a culmination of who surrounds you and being at peace with who you are. The legacy she wants to leave behind is to leave everything better than how she found it.