Scott Barry Kaufman is primarily interested in using solid psychological science to live a creative, fulfilling, and meaningful life.

He’s earned his research chops — He received a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Yale University, and an M. Phil in experimental psychology from the University of Cambridge.

He’s the scientific director of the Imagination Institute, and conducts research in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Scott is also an author — In 2013, he published Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, which reviewed the latest science of intelligence and also detailed his experiences as a child growing up with a learning disability. In the book, he outlined his Theory of Personal Intelligence, which goes beyond traditional metrics of intelligence (e.g., IQ, standardized tests), and takes into account each person’s unique abilities, passions, personal goals, and developmental trajectory.

Scott also has hosts the The Psychology Podcast — where he and I have had fun conversations about performance in high-stakes environments — ranging from performance in off-terrain back-country conditions to the vulnerability and intimacy in meaningful relationships.

Thanks so much for listening and sharing — I hope you’re also finding value in the Minutes on Mastery podcast (also on iTunes and other players) where we capture (in under 3 minutes) pearls of wisdom from our world-class and forward-thinking guests.

“I was inspired because I was desperate to show people I was capable.”

In This Episode:

  • Growing up with autoimmune disease that affected his hearing and made people think he was dumb (first 10 years of life) and having his self-esteem suffer greatly
  • His crave to be popular leading him to being a class clown
  • Comparing and contrasting desperation vs. inspiration
  • Is having a chip on your shoulder external or internal motivation?
  • What it means to be human and find your real self
  • How one teacher completely changed his life
  • Obsessive vs. harmonious passions
  • The core drivers for self-esteem
  • The intersection between being and becoming
  • Why there is a fear that comes along with becoming successful


Listen via: iTunes | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS



On growing up with auto immune disease: “When I think of myself before ninth grade, my only identity was special-ed kid.”

“I would rather be helpful than successful.”

“My drive in life is to bring as many people up as possible.”

“Creativity is inherently a vulnerable place.”


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Scientific Director at

Scott Barry Kaufman is a scientific director of the Imagination Institute, and conducts research in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also teaches the popular undergraduate course Introduction to Positive Psychology.