Author Interview: Tom Rath and the Key 3 – and a Free Giveaway!

Aug 4, 2015

So after all that dental-work-bulging-disc-poison-ivy drama, I’ve been on a bit of a health and wellness kick around here. This includes continuing to train for the IronGirl and doing The Whole 30 with my husband (EXCEPTION: cream in my coffee).

My recent interview with teacher mindfulness guru Tish Jennings also has me obsessing over YOUR health and wellness. As many of you know, I started my work because I simply thought it was missing from teacher, principal and executive education. But now I’ve come to believe that Togetherness hugely impacts success and sustainability. Which brings me to my next round of author-stalking. . . and this one is a biggie!


I’ve been a fan of author Tom Rath for some time. I became super interested after the release of Eat Move Sleep, and then graduated to full on fan-girl status with his newest book, Are You Fully Charged? The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and LifeFortunately for me, Tom reacted positively to my author-stalking. PS I think you all know this, but I never post about anything sponsored. I just find stuff I like and write about it. And I was so interested in speaking with Tom that I drove 45 minutes into “town” during my vacation on the Chesapeake Bay to get enough Verizon reception to chat!

In short, Tom’s most recent book is all about the “3 Keys” that matter most for our personal and professional well-being – “meaning, interactions, and energy.” I love reading more “business-y” type books and thinking about how the concepts can apply to educational settings. As a bonus, Tom comes from a long line of educators and his own wife works in a school. So, he gets it.

Tom and his publisher have kindly agreed to give away two copies of Are You Fully Charged? to Together Group readers. Read on for an excerpt from our conversation and a chance to win!

Maia: Let’s play out a very typical situation in a teacher’s life. He is instructing a crafted lesson that he stayed up late preparing. He grabbed a granola bar or sugary power drink on his way out the door after five hours of sleep. He is then in the middle of teaching the lesson and a student starts to misbehave. How could you apply your 3 Keys in this situation?

Tom: Let’s walk through the 3 Keys. I’ll start with meaning. When people hear this term, they frequently infer “must move heaven and earth,” rather than paying attention to tiny victories. In recent studies, our research has confirmed that celebrating small things more frequently can have an incredibly positive benefit. This may mean pausing to think about how a teacher just helped a student who had been struggling for months with a math concept. The teacher in your scenario may have to really pause and notice how many kids are getting it!

The second key is your interactions. Bad interactions outweigh the positive, hands down. If the teacher takes the initiative, no matter how challenging the student behavior issue, to look for and respond to positive interactions, it helps turn the situation around for everyone.

The final key is your energy.  This teacher really has to ask himself what he needs to do his very best at 2 PM in the afternoon – and it likely has to do with sleeping enough, eating well and getting some exercise.

Maia: I love this. In so many ways, teaching is a great way to generate meaning and have positive interactions. But it is also requires so much emotional output and physical energy that it can be easy to get discouraged. Tom, do you think schools should be doing anything different to help students achieve the 3 Keys?

Tom: The fact that we expect kids to sit in chairs and learn from 8 – 3 each day is completely at odds with all research on what people need for mental and physical health. I am so personally invested in this that our family arranged our entire schedule so we could walk my daughter one mile each way to and from elementary school each day. Schools can really innovate on the energy front. Maybe there is one classroom that has kids pedaling on stationary bikes while they are reading. . .

Want your own copy of Are You Fully Charged? Ready to make a new commitment for the start of the school year?  

To enter: Please leave a comment on this post below with your first name, last initial and email address along with how you plan to apply one of the Key 3 strategies (meaning, interactions, or energy) to your work or life in the coming month. Enter by Friday, August 14th.

Contest fine print:

  • Entries must be received by Friday, August 14, at midnight EST to be considered.
  • If a winner does not respond within 48 hours of receipt of a notification, a new winner will be chosen.

Good luck! And guess what? Tom also has a children’s book called The Rechargeables that I’m going to blog about – and give away copies of – next month!


The contest has ended. Celeste P. and Elizabeth S. are our winners!  Thanks to everyone for sharing!