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“The main takeaway for me would be that we need to weave a discussion about contribution into more and more conversations, because it’s a way to repair the broken relationship between people and the work that they do today.”Tom Rath

When today’s Finding Brave guest was 16 years old, he learned he had a rare and catastrophic genetic mutation, one that would lead to cancers in multiple organs. After living for more than 25 years since his diagnosis—three years longer than doctors predicted—he has not only beaten the odds but has learned that time is more valuable when you can see your mortality on the horizon. His inspiring messages for listeners today focus on the impact of contribution, not only for others, but for yourself as well.

Tom Rath is a renowned, bestselling author and researcher who has spent the past two decades studying how work can improve human health and well-being. His 10 books have sold more than 10 million copies and made hundreds of appearances on global bestseller lists. Tom’s first book, How Full Is Your Bucket? was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller and led to a series of books and activities for kids that are used in classrooms around the world. His book StrengthsFinder 2.0 is Amazon’s top selling non-fiction book of all time. His other bestsellers include Strengths Based Leadership, Wellbeing, Eat Move Sleep, and Are You Fully Charged? In Tom’s latest book, LIFE’S GREAT QUESTION: Discover How You Contribute to the World, Tom shares the details of his personal story, explores what makes life worthwhile, and offers actionable advice on how to create meaning by focusing on what you can contribute to others. 

During his 13 years at Gallup, Tom was the Program Leader for the development of Clifton StrengthsFinder, which has helped over 10 million people to uncover their talents, and went on to lead the organization’s employee engagement, well-being, and leadership practices worldwide. Tom has served for the past five years as a Gallup Senior Scientist. He also served as Vice-Chair of the VHL cancer research organization and has been a regular lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania.

I find Tom’s writings so rich, and every single word he writes contains a universe of messages within them. I know you’ll get as much value from this episode as I did in speaking with him. 

Highlights from this Episode:

  • The way that the health challenges Tom faced as a youth impacted his life’s journey, and the role that his parents played in helping him through them [6:38]

  • What he has discovered, and studies say, about children who face struggles early in life [8:07]

  • Why contribution matters for every single person, plus the one daily question Tom asks himself that keeps contribution in focus for him [9:48]

  • How putting things in perspective will lower stress, among other benefits, and how to do it [14:53]

  • The consequences that can be seen when we aren’t living in service to others, and how you can learn to do it without sacrificing your own well-being [16:00]

  • What the goal was for Tom in creating his latest book, and how it can be used as a tool for contributing to society [21:08]

  • The top message that Tom hopes people will take away from the book [29:03]

  • What really drove home to Tom the concept that people matter [31:00]

  • Why he feels that all of his books have resonated with millions of people – and counting [33:13]

For More Information: 

Resources Mentioned: 

Tom’s Latest Book, LIFE’S GREAT QUESTION: Discover How You Contribute to the World 

Kathy’s 6 Dominant Action Styles Quiz 

105: Top 5 Regrets of the Dying and What We Need To Learn From Them, with Bronnie Ware

For more about Kathy’s upcoming book The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths To Career Bliss, sign up for her weekly newsletter at for updates, free giveaways, contests, and more, coming in Spring 2020. And to discover if you are experiencing any of the 7 damaging power gaps today, take Kathy’s Power Gap Survey and find out! 

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“Our backstory, those events shape our experience and why we do what we do.” [3:58]

“With all of these little things that you’re doing each and every day that may seem mundane or monotonous, you’re building a reserve that will make a difference when we inevitably face hard moments.” [7:42]

“The more you can direct your energy and attention outward to things that make a difference for other people, it actually minimizes your own stress levels and worries in the process.” [12:31]

“It’s amazing how resilient we can be when we put our situation in perspective, and then try to focus our energies on something bigger than self.” [15:22]

“There’s no way you can be your best for others if you don’t put your own health first.” [19:07] 

“It is a bumpy process, and it’s absolutely a journey to continue to hone a better relationship between you and the work you do.” [28:41]

“Today it’s a lot easier to hit play on Netflix than to read a non-fiction book, so you’ve got to whittle it down to just the essential sentences or you’re going to lose readers quickly.” [35:41]

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Kathy’s new book The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss shares vital information on the 7 most damaging power gaps that 98% of professional women face and how to overcome them. Boost your power and confidence today!


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