Critical Foundations

The Thirty Questions Everyone Must Answer to Build a Meaningful Life

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"Inspiring and helpful, thought-provoking and practical, brilliant and compelling. The book is impressive. The author, Scott Schimmel, takes you through his own realization and gives practical advice and real world examples for many of life's big questions that adolescents might never be asked. Since reading this book, I have coached my own children and my students through some of these strategies and the results I have received are remarkable. As an educator and parent, I find this book as both a book and daily resource that helps guide thought-provoking conversations with this generation of kids. 5 stars!"
- April Maniscalco, School Counselor and Parent

About the Book

Here’s a sad reality: you can do well in school, get into a great university, do well there, get a well-paying job, but still miss out on building a meaningful life. It happens all the time.

The current school system is a sprint to gain the knowledge necessary to pass tests and be ready for the academic challenges in college. There’s little room for reflection, integration, or building relevant self-awareness.

Through years of research and work with tens of thousands of students, educators, transitioning veterans, and parents, we've developed a keen perspective- a meaningful life has to be intentionally constructed. It doesn’t work to give answers—you have to ask questions. You have to create the circumstances for people to discover their own answers to life’s most critical questions.


There are three pillars to the foundation of a meaningful life:

  • A clear identity
  • A compelling purpose
  • Authentic connection

We've identified a series of questions for each pillar that will yield clarity, confidence, and serve as a roadmap to building a meaningful life. Here’s the core premise: if someone can articulate their answers to these series of questions, they will have a strong foundation for constructing a life that's both poised for success and prepared for meaning.

In this book, we walk through each one of the thirty critical questions—why they're so essential and how to go about answering them. With vulnerable storytelling, these foundational concepts become accessible and relatable to someone of any age. The second half of the book delves into common sense skills to help guide a young person to find their answers to these critical questions.

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Taking the mystery out of building a meaningful life, one question at a time. 

What you'll get:

  • New episode each week
  • An interactive curriculum you can use for self-reflection or engaging discussion
  • Relevant articles to dive into each question
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