Gretchen Rubin

Speech Topics

When it comes to work habits, there’s no one right approach for creativity or productivity, just what works for each individual. In many ways, we are all alike—but our differences are very important. The better you understand yourself, and your colleagues, the easier it will be to start working better than before.

Rubin points out several crucial differences in how people approach the world. Understanding these differences allows us to manage ourselves better, manage other people better, and reduce arguments about who is “right” and “wrong.” She highlights the difference between Abstainers vs. Moderators (about how to fight temptation); Marathoners vs. Sprinters vs. Procrastinators (about the pace at which work should be completed—a real issue within teams); Finishers vs. Openers (about a person’s willingness to work toward completion or to start something new); and the “Four Tendencies” framework (about how a person responds to a request or an order). Together, these distinctions throw new light on how best to motivate people, help them change their habits, make it possible for them to work and live together harmoniously—and how to manage yourself.


Habit change can be very difficult, but it can also be surprisingly easy. What are the easy ways to tackle habits? Rubin discusses the Strategies of Monitoring, Convenience/Inconvenience, Clean Slate, Lightning Bolt, Abstaining, Loophole-spotting, Treats (the strategy that’s the most fun), and Accountability. These approaches are straightforward, easy to apply, and make habit change surprisingly simple.

Gretchen Rubin explains several habit-change strategies can help people improve their health habits—even if they’ve failed before. Strategies such as Clean Slate, Abstaining, Convenience and Inconvenience, and Pairing can be adapted by just about anyone to make it easier to have healthier habits. The Strategy of Loophole-Spotting is the funniest strategy, and the Strategy of Treats is the easily most delightful to follow.

We’ve all heard a lot of myths about habits. For instance, it doesn’t take 21 days to form a habit; beating ourselves up after a lapse doesn’t make us do better; repetition isn’t always necessary; we shouldn’t try to make “healthy choices.” Gretchen Rubin reviews some of the most common misconceptions—and sets people straight. When we understand the many ways in which habits can form, we set ourselves up for better success.

Many people have tried and failed, many times, to make an important habit. Gretchen Rubin reviews some of the habits that people most often want to create, and gives many concrete, manageable ideas for how to go about it. For instance, she discusses exercising more, eating healthfully, ending procrastination, and getting true rest and relaxation. As we all know from tough experience, there’s no magical, one-size-fits-all answer, but solutions exist.

Gretchen has a wide, enthusiastic following, and her idea for a “happiness project” no longer describes just a book or a blog; it’s a movement. Happiness Project groups have sprung up from Los Angeles to Enid, Oklahoma to Boston, where people meet to discuss their own happiness projects. More than a dozen blogs have been launched by people who are following Gretchen’s example. On her companion website, the Happiness Project Toolbox, enthusiastic readers track and share their own happiness projects.

Gretchen invites you into The Happiness Project community. She discusses how she uses her blog, the Happiness Project Toolbox, her newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to spread ideas and connect with an audience. She describes five visionary statements that guide innovative thinking about using the internet to connect with people.



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Gretchen Rubin is the author of several books, including the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, and most recently, Better Than Before. She has an enormous readership, both in print and online, and her books have sold more than two million copies worldwide, in more than thirty languages. On her weekly podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin, she discusses good habits and happiness with her sister Elizabeth Craft. Rubin started her career in law and was clerking for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when she realized she wanted to be a writer. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

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