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“We don’t generate or manufacture our desires from thin air. We’re social creatures, and from the minute that we’re born we come out of the womb really looking to our mothers for cues about what’s important.” – Luke Burgis

Mimetic desire — the act of desiring simply what others desire – imitating what other people want instead of developing our own intentional, conscious wanting – is a powerful force in our development, our world and in our everyday lives. Today’s Finding Brave guest shares his expertise about this concept of desire and why it’s critically important to identify and pursue your own unique and personalized desires with more intention and clarity, and to ground yourself in the values that matter most to you personally — those “thick desires” and relationships — that will endure and truly enrich your life.

Luke Burgis is the Director of Programs at the Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship and a professor of business at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He co-teaches a popular class for all incoming students there called “The Vocation of Business,” an anthropological investigation into the purpose and meaning of business itself.

Luke has been the founder and CEO of multiple social impact companies. He was named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25” by BusinessWeek after the early success of one of his first companies, Healthy Vending, which revolutionized the vending industry in 2005. His other ventures have all tried to contribute to what Luke calls a healthy “human ecology.” He is currently the Founder & Managing Partner of an organization called Fourth Wall Ventures that invests in, incubates, and advises companies that do the same.

Luke’s first book, Unrepeatable, explored how people can discover and live out their unique purpose in the world, and help others do the same. His latest book, Wanting, is about human desire itself—why people come to want the things that they want, and how we can build a better future by understanding the process through which desires are generated and shaped.

In this episode, Luke reveals why people that have the happiest, most meaningful, fulfilling and productive lives are not the ones that pursue someone else’s idea of what we should be producing. Also, if we can help others flourish for who they really are, it will lead to a much different and better world for everyone.

Highlights from this Episode: 

  • What is mimetic desire, and the ways in which the topic inspired Luke to write his latest book [4:26]

  • How society influences the desires of each person [8:18]

  • Luke’s concepts of “thick” versus “thin” desires, and an image that will help you understand this idea [10:34]

  • How a forced time off work turned out to be a blessing for him [17:11]

  • What you can do to start to determine your own desires, including a specific question to ask yourself [20:06]

  • Why your own narrative and stories you tell yourself play such a big role in this process [26:19]

  •  Where Luke got his drive to visualize and manifest his desires [28:37]

  • The impact we have on the desires of those around us [31:06]

For More Information:

Latest Book, Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life & On Audible (Pre-order the book and send receipt to to receive $10 off code within 24 hours)!

Resources Mentioned:

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My 2 Books Were Honored This Month in “100 Great Books in Leadership!”

I’m absolutely thrilled and honored to be included in a powerful new list of “100 Great Books” in the leadership space, from the journal Leader to Leader, compiled by Bruce Rosenstein, Managing Editor of Leader to Leader, celebrating his 10th anniversary in that role and the 100th issue. The journal is co-published by Wiley and The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum.  This list is a perfect place to start if you want to read about every aspect of essential leadership today. I’m thrilled to see many of my friends and colleagues in the leadership space on this list as well, including the illustrious Herminia Ibarra, Chip Conley, Marshall Goldsmith, Whitney Johnson, Guy Kawasaki, Bev Kaye, Debbe Kennedy, Jim Kouzes, Tom Rath, Michael Stallard, Sally Helgesen, and Daniel Goleman


Other resources mentioned:

Luke’s First Book, Unrepeatable: Cultivating the Unique Calling of Every Person

His Anti-Mimetic Newsletter

Kathy’s Power Gaps Survey & Support To Build Your LinkedIn Profile To Great Success

Her TEDx Talk, Time To Brave Up & Free Career Path Self-Assessment

Kathy’s Amazing Career Project video training course & 6 Dominant Action Styles Quiz

Become a Sponsor!

We’re excited to be accepting new sponsors for Finding Brave now! If you have a business, program, product or service that helps professionals thrive and that resonates with the messages we share on Finding Brave, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us via our contact form on the Finding Brave site ( to share more about your work/organization and your proposal. We’d love to speak with you!

Sponsor Highlight  

I’m thrilled that both and Amazon Music are now sponsors of Finding Brave! Take advantage of their great special offers and free trials today! 

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Need Some Amazing Assistance with Your Own Podcast? Here’s How to Get It

It’s not often that my podcast editor Matt and his team at PodAssist take on new clients, but they now have limited spots available to work with more great podcasters. If you’re looking for the best help possible (as I was when I began Finding Brave) in your own podcast today, or you’ve always wanted to launch a podcast but you weren’t even sure how to get it off the ground, this is your chance! 

To check out the services they provide, go to and if you’re like I was and want your time and energy back and your podcast to be the best it can be, reach out to him at today (use the subject line “Kathy C. Sent Me” for a special bonus)!

Don’t delay – spots are very limited! 


“I promise you, I think everybody has [fulfillment stories]. If you really reflect deep enough and you realize that we’re not talking about what other people think is important, but just what you believe is important.” [21:23]

“We’re all wired and motivated in such different ways, but I think that you will begin to see a pattern emerge if you follow the thread through as far as you can go.” [24:53]

“People can be doing exactly the same thing, but they can be motivated or find satisfaction in completely different ways.” [26:19]

“I have this thing inside of me, that if I don’t get it out somehow, I’m just going to go crazy. It’s like I have to give birth to this thing.” [29:14]

“Our desires are not independent, so I have a responsibility for the people that I work with and what we as an organization want. My students’ desires affect me too, so it’s not a one-way street.” [31:48]

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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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