Tom Rath is an 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 that are used in classrooms around the world. His book StrengthsFinder 2.0 is Amazon’s top selling non-fiction book of all time. Tom’s other bestsellers include Strengths Based Leadership, Eat Move Sleep, and Are You Fully Charged?


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The Learning Leader Show

  • Commonalities of leaders who sustain excellence:
    • “They are the single best people at asking good questions.”
    • “They are amazing listeners. They make you feel like you are the only person in the room.”
      • Ask insightful questions that help others identify something they had not previously thought of
  • How does one develop that skill?
    • Spend time alone learning… Have a genuine intellectual curiosity… Write caring, handwritten notes
  • Make sure your teammates know you care about them and show your gratitude
    • I shared the story of Doug Meyer calling me simply to say “thank you” and how much it meant to me.  Be a thoughtful leader who leads with gratitude.
      • Use specifics when describing why you appreciate someone
  • Why did StrengtsFinder catch on?
    • “We should not fall back to a resume.  We don’t have a good language to describe what we do and our talents.”  Strengths Finder does that for people
      • As leaders, we should always be on the lookout for the unique talent in others
  • Tom’s Top 5 Strengths:
    • Futuristic
    • Analytical
    • Relater
    • Significance
    • Activator
  • My Top 5 Strengths:
    • LearnerPeople who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
    • InputPeople who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.
    • IntellectionPeople who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.
    • IndividualizationPeople who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.
    • AchieverPeople who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
  • Individualize — Send articles to specific people each day — Write: “Hey, I was reading this and thought you might find it helpful.”
  • What you can contribute is more important that your passions. “There’s an enormous mismatch in what the world needs and what’s out there.”
  • Three big influences on Tom:
    • Dr. Martin Luther King – “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?”
    • Ben Horowitz’s commencement speech
    • His grandfather, Don Clifton — “Our greatest contribution can be to teach others.”
  • There is a higher correlation in helpfulness when you can literally see the people you’re helping (Tom shares the research to back this up).  This gives you motivation to see your impact.  We need a productive purpose.
  • When feeling unfulfilled or unhappy at work?
    • Instead of looking to leave the company, look for new ways to get to your intended outcome.  How could you re-write your job? Can you make the job you have today meaningful?
  • The Peter Principle – The principle that members of a hierarchy are promoted until they reach the level at which they are no longer competent.
  • Qualities Tom looks for in a leader:
    • Desire to develop other people
    • Vision
  • Life’s great question is: “What are you doing for others?”
  • We need to align basic expectations: “How do each of us want to contribute?”
  • Create – Have a challenger as part of your team.  Someone to push back and ask questions
  • Relate – An energizer.  How do you get and stay charged up? What reminds you of the vision? Of the mission? How to have fun?
  • Operate – Scaling… Reaching more people.
  • Advice: Map what the world around you needs. Who are you? What are your talents? Interests? Motivators? –> Draw the connections.  Look where they intersect.
  • Why joining The Learning Leader Circle is a good idea…


More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership