Before THUMOS the book, Mark Canny was a 20 year-old who grew up in an upper-middle class suburban New Jersey town with a stay-at-home mom, one-year-older sister, and father who worked in a New York City bank. He grew up with an inclination for people and problem-solving, and pursued Psychology and Sociology academically and professionally at the University of Rhode Island.

Before THUMOS the book, Nickantony Quach was a 54 year-old from Vietnam who grew up in a rural town where he had to walk many miles each day to go to school, with 5 siblings, and parents who worked at all hours. After moving to Texas for high school and university, where he focused academically on mathematics and computing, he became a computer programmer at IBM for 7 years, and then traveled the states for a short time before moving to Germany for another 7 years. Nick now has a son who graduated from university and has lived in Providence, RI ever since.

Mark Canny and Nickantony Quach are seemingly one of the most unlikely pairs to have met, nevermind become coauthors of a book. While Mark was still in college, Nick was approaching retirement, and the only thing that could have brought them together would’ve been the possibility of running into each other in the state of Rhode Island. Despite its size, that chance was still very unlikely. Enter Mike Vanseveren, Mark’s childhood friend and, coincidentally, Nick’s neighbor, who noticed their mutually unblinking love for humanity, and felt compelled to introduce them to one another. That quality Mike saw is what truly brought and kept these two strangers together. The more they saw the suffering of human lives around them–at home, in school, at work, and at far-away places–the more they wanted to do something about it. Although, they came to find throughout the first two years of collaboration that almost every aspect of their lives were not just different, but sometimes the opposite.

As a typical specialist in technology, Nick did not pay much attention to the interpersonal and emotional needs of others. Over several months, Mark introduced him to a number of ideas in psychology and what the authors call “empathy education.” On the other hand, as a typical college student, Mark was unaware of the finer points in professionalism, productivity, and management. Nick brought him necessary pointers in what the authors call “startup education.” The product of their combined hard work shows up as this book, the merging between empathy education and startup education. That is how THUMOS can make a big difference for both social and professional success in every life.

Throughout the first year of their collaboration as they set out to change lives, they did not know exactly what to do aside from meeting regularly as to give their ideas and work a chance to evolve. They can now tell you, as you see this book in front of you, that experience isn’t as consequential for the writing of your first book as it is to have a shared idea along with a few hours per week. They can also tell you that before anyone’s life was changed by this material, neither expected that it would be theirs that were changed first. This writing project altered their original course of life, and their new course began with the word, thumos.