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Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without Hardcover – August 1, 2006

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Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without + Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements + How Full Is Your Bucket?
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Gallup Press; 1st edition (August 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595620079
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595620071
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Friendship may be coming into vogue as a topic (to wit, Joseph Epstein's new book Friendship: An Exposé), but Rath (coauthor of the bestselling How Full Is Your Bucket?) takes a pragmatic rather than philosophical approach. He explores the inherent value of friendships and says that the need for friends goes beyond commonality or companionship; in particular, he devotes a section to friendship at work, which, unlike many companies and managers, Rath sees as a positive force. Rath's research shows that employees who have a best friend in the office are more productive, more likely to engage positively with customers, share new ideas and stay longer in a job. Citing illuminating cases and surveys (many conducted for the Gallup Organization), Rath shows that many people succeed or fail based on the support and involvement of their best friends. Rath posits eight vital roles friends play: some are champions for each other; some collaborate; some connect people with others; and some build each other up through encouragement and trust. Rath's bullishness on friendship is based on solid research and couched in intelligent prose. 150,000 first printing. (Aug. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“A workplace without friends is an enemy.”
The Washington Post

“Friendships are good for business. Companies are coming to discover that, yet are at a loss at what to do about it. ... what Gallup has uncovered about best friends stands out as novel.”
USA Today

“Let friendship ring. It might look like idle chatter, but when employees find friends at work, they feel connected to their jobs. Having a best friend at work is a strong predictor for being a happy and productive employee.”
Time magazine

More About the Author

Tom Rath is an expert on the role of human behavior in business, health, and economics. He has been described by the media and business leaders as one of the greatest thinkers and non-fiction writers of his generation.

Tom has written five of the most influential books of the last decade. His first book, How Full Is Your Bucket?, was a #1 New York Times bestseller. His 2007 book, StrengthsFinder 2.0, was Amazon's #1 selling book worldwide in 2013. Tom's most recent New York Times bestsellers are Strengths Based Leadership, Wellbeing, and Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes.

Published in late 2013, Eat Move Sleep was recognized by Apple iTunes as one of the best nonfiction books of the year and by The Globe and Mail's as one of the 2013's top three business books. In total, Tom's books have sold more than 5 million copies, been translated in 16 languages, and made over 300 appearances on the Wall Street Journal's bestseller list.

In addition to his current research, speaking, and writing, Tom is a guest lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and a Senior Scientist and advisor to Gallup, where he previously led the organization's work on employee engagement, strengths, and wellbeing. Tom has also served as vice chairman of the VHL cancer research organization. He earned degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania. Tom and his wife, Ashley, and their two children live in Arlington, Virginia.

Customer Reviews

Imagine reading this as a book group selection -- read it with friends!
W. Jamison
I like being able to see how I can further enrich relationships I already have... and this book helps you think through how you can do that.
This book reminds us of the value of our relationships, and the unique role different people play in our happiness, success, and fulfillment.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Valentine Dworak on August 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Tom Rath stepped up to the plate for his sophomore effort at a book, and delivered a good book. Vital Friends asks you to evaluate who you have in your life that is a friend, and what kind of friend they are.

This book continues on in Gallup's use of theory that asks us all to not expect people to be what they are not, and tries to help people be who they were created to be.
If your friend is an encourager, let them encourage, but they might not be the strongest mentor that you will have in your life. Do not put your friends into roles they are not capable of fulfilling - have lots of friends - Rath makes all these good points and more in his book, "Vital Friends."

An easy read, Vital Friends explores why relationships are important to success in life, career, family and more. This book is worth reading - another good effort from the folks at Gallup, and Tom Rath.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Stormy on August 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In Vital Friends, Tom Rath makes two main points.

* One is that having friends at work is very beneficial to the employer. With a best friend at work, you are much more likely to be productive. Without a best friend at work, there's only a 1 in 12 chance you'll feel engaged! With three good friends at work you are 96% more likely to be extremely satisfied with your life. (All the numbers are from a Gallup poll.)

* The second point he makes is that you can't expect all your friends to be all things to you. He says different friends fullfill different needs and describes the different types of friends:

o Builders
+ Motivators and coaches
+ They push you
+ They know our strengths
+ They provide moral support
o Champions
+ Stand up for you
+ Sing your praises
+ "Thrive on your accomplishments and happiness"
o Collaborators
+ Share similar interests, ambitions and passions
+ Do a lot with you
o Companions
+ Always there for you
+ Make sacrifices for you
+ First person you call
o Connectors
+ Always introduce you to others
+ They seem to "know everybody"
o Energizers
+ Your "fun friends"
+ Make good days, great
+ People you call to have a good time or to relax with
o Mind Openers
+ Ask good questions
+ People you share ideas and express yourself outloud with
o Navigators
+ Give advise
+ Steer you
+ Share dreams and goals

Interestingly, he says that in friendships we don't play the same role to each other. So you might be a mind opener to your friend and your friend might be a champion for you.

This book was an easy and interesting read. You can easily read it in a day. (I read it on a two hour plane ride.) However, I would have liked a lot more detail and depth.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ana Ritter on December 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Vital Friends outlines the necessity and importance of friends in your personal and professional life. Tom Rath clearly illustrates the "Eight Vital Roles" that friends play in your life: Builder, Champion, Collaborator, Companion, Connector, Energizer, Mind Opener and Navigator. He includes steps on how to strengthen and/or create these friendships. After reading Vital Friends (short read-2 ½ hours) I have a new filter that I will use to view my friendships through and will definitely spend more energy building and strengthening these relationships. The book also includes an online diagnostic that allows you to analyze specific friends and build a website around these friendships provided you have the access code included in the book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James John Hollandsworth, M.D. VINE VOICE on July 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I've heard of good friends, close friends, old friends, casual friends, best friends, even "just" friends, but I had never heard the word "vital" to describe friends until this book. And that is exactly what Tom Rath proceeds to explain, that having friends, real, meaningful engaged relationships, is absolutely vital to our health, our well-being, and our personal and professional success. Not "a good idea" or "important" but actually "vital"- absolutely necessary.

He starts the book by stating that so much of the focus on personal and professional success is on self-improvement. But is that really the key? His answer is, "The energy between two people is what creates great marriages, families, teams, and organizations." In fact, his first chapter is entitled, "Who Expects You to be Somebody?" where he wisely observes that it is almost always the influence of meaningful people in our lives that drives us to achievement.

The second chapter, "The Energy Between," discusses how, "Focusing on the individual is too narrow -- and focusing on the entire group is too broad. The real energy occurs in each connection between two people, which can bring about exponential returns." His next chapter, "Better than Prozac?" cites some interesting research, including a Duke University study showing people with less than four close friends had more than double the risk of heart disease.

The most helpful concept he develops in the book is that of "the rounding error" in chapter 5. It is easy, he says, to expect a friend to be "well rounded"-- in other words, to be good at everything: inspiring us, being a companion to us, giving us an energy boost, expanding our horizions, and a dozen other different things.
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