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One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do Hardcover – July 16, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Film and TV producer Phil Cooke reads his latest personal development book at a pace that sounds overwhelming at first but that ultimately settles into a good fit for his high-energy message. His speaking style has a confident tone that is convincingly urgent. Once the inspirational beginning of the audio runs its course, Cooke offers an array of accessible ideas on how to identify a single life direction that can express what invigorates us, what we enjoy doing most. A communication expert with Christian roots, Cooke aims this advice squarely at listeners with artistic, performance, or altruistic ambitions—people who often need help not just with narrowing their focus but also with balancing their lives and expressing their talents in ways that will be noticed by their target audience or customer base." 
T.W. © AudioFile Portland, Maine
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Phil Cooke, a writer, speaker, and filmmaker, is changing the way business, church, and nonprofit leaders influence and engage the culture. Christianity Today calls him a “media guru.” His media company, Cooke Pictures, advises many of the largest and most effective churches and nonprofit organizations in the world, and his books and blog (at are changing the way they tell their story.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159555484X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595554840
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #771,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

An internationally known writer and speaker, Phil Cooke has actually produced media programming in nearly 50 countries around the world. In the process, has been shot at, survived two military coups, fallen out of a helicopter, and in Africa, been threatened with prison. And during that time - through his company Cooke Pictures in Burbank, California - he's helped some of the largest nonprofit organizations and leaders in the world use the media to tell their story in a changing, disrupted culture.

According to former CNN journalist Paula Zahn, Phil is rare - a working producer in Hollywood with a Ph.D. in Theology. He's appeared on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, and his work has been profiled in the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

His book "Jolt!: Get the Jump on a World That's Constantly Changing," shares his secrets of making today's culture of disruption and change work for you. "One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do" helps you find the great purpose and calling for your life. And his newest book: "Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media" is changing the way churches, ministries, and nonprofit organizations share their story with the culture.

He's lectured at universities like Yale, University of California at Berkeley, UCLA, and is an adjunct professor at the King's University in Los Angeles. In addition to writing his blog at, he also blogs for The Huffington Post, and is a contributor to Fast Company,,, and Fox News.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Paul A. Rose Jr. on July 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A few years ago, I met Phil Cooke at the Sunscreen Film Festival. He was speaking at the event and was kind enough to stick around after his panel discussion to chat one on one with several folks who had attended. When I introduced myself, he asked me what I did. I told him I was an actor and writer. "But which one are you the best at?" he pressed further. The ensuing discussion opened my eyes to a lot of realities and was my first taste of what Phil has now put down in book form, as One Big Thing.

ONE B1G THING takes the reader on a journey to discover what is the one main purpose that they were put on this earth to complete. In Phil's case, it is helping others discover that one thing in their own lives and helping motivate them once they've discovered what it is. Luckily, for those of us who haven't always known what our One Big Thing is, Phil didn't discover his until later in life - he might even argue he didn't have it fully defined until a couple of years ago - so the reader gets the benefit, not only of an expert who has discovered his calling, but also that of the person who struggled for years, trying to figure out what that is.

A popular misconception about the One Big Thing is that it is JUST one thing. It is and it isn't, Phil explains. Everyone has One Big Thing, but that one thing can be expressed in many forms. Some might be tempted to complain that they can do many things well. I myself, felt that for many years. But the beauty of One Big Thing is that once you discover what that thing is, it allows you to focus and excel more, and, yes, enjoy more, the tasks and activities that you are doing - in keeping with your One Big Thing.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Bradley Bevers TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
One Big Thing is a good book about what you should do with your life, but the author does not take enough of his own advice. There is not enough here to call it a truly unique book - mostly information that you have read in many other books, told from a slightly different perspective.

On the upside - and the reason I gave this 3 stars - it is very readable and well-written. The advice, while not very practical, is solid. The quotes throughout the book are really good and you will probably be reminded of a few gems that you will want to save. In fact, if you have never read any book on self-help or you are looking for a gift for a graduating student who hasn't read much, this would be a good choice. Otherwise, I think there are better options that will get your further.

Two other choices for books with more practical wisdom for getting where you want to go and figuring out your life's purpose:

Leaders Who Last - Very practical - especially the first section - and worth reading. You will learn and use more from this small book then you will from a dozen of the thick, wordy self-help books available.

Train Your Brain For Success: Read Smarter, Remember More, and Break Your Own Records - Great book on discovering your purpose, mission, vision, and core values. Very practical, with exercises throughout to guide you. You will also learn some very useful tools for memory and reading.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm an author and I hate to write bad reviews, I know how much work it takes to write a book and that no matter what you write some people will find it unappealing, with all that in mind, I still couldn't find even 3 stars of good reading in this book.

I tried to like this book but just couldn't get past the fact that I've read this book 100 times and each was done better. The chapters and subsections are short and full of platitudes that lead nowhere. The core idea of this book "Find your one big thing" could have been a short magazine article and been better served. I don't think that the author could have more quotes or references to other people's work without the whole book being a bibliography.

Here's a great example of the advice in the book "Compromising your values catches up with you." Or the map of your future, ask yourself these four questions:
1. What comes easy to you
2. What do you love?
3. What drives you crazy?
4. What do you want to leave behind?

According to the author, if you just answer these four questions you'll be able to begin identifying the OBT One Big Thing that will give your life direction, purpose and meaning.

I wanted to like this book, I wanted it to have something original (he has a whole section about the importance of original thinking but there isn't any sign of it here) I didn't want yet another cookie cutter book. This book appears simply to be an attempt to take advantage of momentum created by the authors earlier books and success.He talks about how Hollywood makes fortunes on sequels and to that end, he may be right and may have a winner.

I gave the book two stars because the author is a good writer. The book is easy to read and fast. The problem is that I want the 90 minutes it took of my life to read it back now.

Unless you've never read a motivational book or article in your life, I can't recommend this book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Finding your purpose is exactly what the author writes about. Focus, and focusing on that one big thing that makes you stand out is a large part of what Phil Cooke talks about. Distractions to your focus is another main problem that will come against you in your search; a choice of some many good things fighting for your attention against the best. Even the changes in technology; the additions of so many ways of communicating can actually make it harder to be heard.
The world is looking for the extraordinary; not just good in several different things. These are several other challenges addressed.

I found many of the quotes that Phil used in this book to be very good and his description of his wife as the "typical creative person" was not only funny but I could see myself in it. This is the second book that I've read by this author; in fact that's why I chose this particular book when I was given the chance. That said, I found some of the material a bit dry and some of the information repetitive. Was it worth the read? Yes. As I kept going, I found the 4 questions that he asked very insightful in narrowing your focus. Even though it wasn't exactly what I had hoped for, I didn't come away empty handed as other small "gems" were uncovered. I believe others who read it will have the opportunity to re-balance; re-focus, start again or be encouraged to continue.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
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