Thrive: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?

Susan Cain: The last time I felt burned out was twenty years ago, when I was a corporate lawyer. I felt burned out all the time back then. Partly because I worked too hard, but mostly because I worked too hard at the wrong thing. These days, I still work hard — it’s my nature, and I follow in my father’s diligent footsteps, too — but I love it all, so burnout never enters the picture.

Thrive: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?

SC: Take a walk! Walking through the trees (these days) or along the city streets (my old life) always leads to instant ideas, creativity, and happiness.

Thrive: What advice would you give your younger self about reducing stress?

SC: Understand that if you’re anxious about Item A, this is NOT a good time to think about vaguely stressful Items B, C and D. Challenges that you’d normally take in your stride can seem insurmountable when colored by anxiety.

Thrive: What’s your evening routine that helps you unwind and go to sleep?

SC: I hang out with my family, put on my softest pajamas, and listen to an audiobook—which taps into an ancient and primal love of listening to campfire tales and bedtime stories.

Thrive: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.

SC: “There’s a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in.”— Leonard Cohen. 

This quote is my life philosophy, and the epigraph to my new book, Bittersweet.: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole— which is dedicated in Leonard Cohen’s memory.


  • SUSAN CAIN is the author of Quiet JournalQuiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, which spent eight years on The New York Times best seller list, and has been translated into 40 languages. Susan’s TED talk has been viewed over 40 million times and was named by Bill Gates as one of his all-time favorite talks. LinkedIn named her the Top 6th Influencer in the World, just behind Richard Branson and Melinda Gates. Susan partners with Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant and Dan Pink to curate the Next Big Idea Book Club. They donate all their proceeds to children’s literacy programs. Her new masterpiece, Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole, was published by Crown on April 5, 2022 and is an instant #1 New York Times bestseller.