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.


It’s very important to know ourselves, but self-knowledge is challenging. Gretchen sorts everyone into four categories, which describe how people tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations (a deadline, a “request” from a sweetheart) and inner expectations (write a novel in your free time, keep a New Year’s resolution).

Your response to expectations may sound slightly obscure, but it turns out to be very, very important.

In a nutshell:

• Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations (Gretchen is an Upholder, 100%)
• Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense (her husband is a Questioner)
• Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
• Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves

Do you find yourself within this framework? Doing so can help you understand how to manage yourself better. Figuring out the Tendencies helped Gretchen understand herself, and it has also made it much easier for her to understand other people’s perspectives.

In this talk, learn about the four tendencies and find out what kind of person you are.

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.



click the covers for more information


Gretchen Rubin is the author of several books, including the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, The Happiness ProjectHappier at Home, Better Than Before, and most recently, The Four Tendencies. 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.

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲