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Grit to Great
Cover of Grit to Great
Grit to Great
How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary
Borrow Borrow
It is not native intelligence or natural talent that makes people excel, it's old-fashioned hard work, sweat equity, and determination.

In Grit to Great, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval tackle a topic that is close to their hearts, one that they feel is the real secret to their own success in their careers—and in the careers of so many people they know and have met. And that is the incredible power of grit, perseverance, perspiration, determination, and sheer stick-to-it-tiveness.

We are all dazzled by the notion that there are some people who get ahead, who reach the corner office because they are simply gifted, or well-connected, or both. But research shows that we far overvalue talent and intellectual ability in our culture. The fact is, so many people get ahead—even the gifted ones—because they worked incredibly hard, put in the thousands of hours of practice and extra sweat equity, and made their own luck. And Linda and Robin should know—they are two girls from the Bronx who had no special advantages or privileges and rose up through their own hard work and relentless drive to succeed to the top of their highly competitive profession. 

In a book illustrated with a cornucopia of stories and the latest research on success, the authors reveal the strategies that helped them, and countless others, succeed at the highest levels in their careers and professions, and in their personal lives. They talk about the guts—the courage—necessary to take on tough challenges and not give up at the first sign of difficulty. They discuss the essential quality of resiliency. Everyone suffers setbacks in their careers and in life. The key, however, is to pick yourself up and bounce back. 

Drawing on the latest research in positive psychology, they discuss why optimists do better in school, work, and on the playing field—and how to reset that optimistic set point. They talk about industriousness, the notion that Malcolm Gladwell popularized with the 10,000-hour rule in his book Outliers. Creativity theorist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi believes it takes a minimum of 10 years for one's true creative potential to be realized. And the authors explore the concept of tenacity—the quality that allows us to remain focused and avoid distraction in order to get the job done—an increasingly difficult task in today's fragmented, cluttered, high-tech, connected world.

Written in the same short, concise format as The Power of Nice and leavened with the natural humor that characterizes Linda's and Robin's lives—and books—Grit to Great is destined to be the book everyone in business needs.
It is not native intelligence or natural talent that makes people excel, it's old-fashioned hard work, sweat equity, and determination.

In Grit to Great, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval tackle a topic that is close to their hearts, one that they feel is the real secret to their own success in their careers—and in the careers of so many people they know and have met. And that is the incredible power of grit, perseverance, perspiration, determination, and sheer stick-to-it-tiveness.

We are all dazzled by the notion that there are some people who get ahead, who reach the corner office because they are simply gifted, or well-connected, or both. But research shows that we far overvalue talent and intellectual ability in our culture. The fact is, so many people get ahead—even the gifted ones—because they worked incredibly hard, put in the thousands of hours of practice and extra sweat equity, and made their own luck. And Linda and Robin should know—they are two girls from the Bronx who had no special advantages or privileges and rose up through their own hard work and relentless drive to succeed to the top of their highly competitive profession. 

In a book illustrated with a cornucopia of stories and the latest research on success, the authors reveal the strategies that helped them, and countless others, succeed at the highest levels in their careers and professions, and in their personal lives. They talk about the guts—the courage—necessary to take on tough challenges and not give up at the first sign of difficulty. They discuss the essential quality of resiliency. Everyone suffers setbacks in their careers and in life. The key, however, is to pick yourself up and bounce back. 

Drawing on the latest research in positive psychology, they discuss why optimists do better in school, work, and on the playing field—and how to reset that optimistic set point. They talk about industriousness, the notion that Malcolm Gladwell popularized with the 10,000-hour rule in his book Outliers. Creativity theorist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi believes it takes a minimum of 10 years for one's true creative potential to be realized. And the authors explore the concept of tenacity—the quality that allows us to remain focused and avoid distraction in order to get the job done—an increasingly difficult task in today's fragmented, cluttered, high-tech, connected world.

Written in the same short, concise format as The Power of Nice and leavened with the natural humor that characterizes Linda's and Robin's lives—and books—Grit to Great is destined to be the book everyone in business needs.
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  • From the book Chapter 1

    Why Grit Matters

    The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.

    —Vince Lombardi

    Steve Jobs. Colin Powell. Michael Jordan. All famous individuals who excelled in their fields, and whose names have become synonymous with excellence and achievement. But apart from that you are probably unaware of any similarity between them. After all, what does one of the most transformational pioneers of the personal software industry have to do with leading troops into battle, or guiding America’s foreign policy? And what do the exploits of the greatest basketball player of his generation have to do with Silicon Valley or the Pentagon? But these three overachievers share one very surprising trait. All three were so ordinary growing up that virtually no one predicted their future greatness. They were all easily overlooked and dismissed, their talents grossly underestimated.

    Steve Jobs had a 2.65 GPA in high school and never completed his first year of college. As a high school sophomore, Michael Jordan went home in tears after his basketball coach decided he wasn’t good enough to make the cut for the school’s varsity team. The future secretary of state and chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff trudged through high school with a very ordinary C average, and scant self-confidence. Not long ago, Colin Powell told an interviewer, “I never thought I would be someone important. I was just a pretty average kid with average grades in an average home. There was nothing special about me.”

    So what was it that changed the course of Powell’s life? How is it that countless successful people don’t display obvious special gifts, talent, or genius early on? How do you catch up in the game of life when you aren’t blessed with perfect scores on your SAT or an Ivy League education or a family fortune to give you a head start?

    Emerging research suggests that there is far more to success in life than a country club pedigree or natural ability and sheer talent. Passion and perseverance, it turns out, matter more than talent or intelligence when it comes to being successful. For most of us, the corner office or professional kudos is the result of hard work, rather than exceptional genes. The endgame, it turns out, belongs to the truly diligent, not the merely talented. It belongs to those who have grit.

    Grit is a somewhat old-fashioned term, resurrected from a previous century. But it is enjoying a remarkable renaissance these days. Why? Because it seems as if we are getting soft. Grit is about sweat, not swagger. Character, not charisma. Grit has been equated more with methodical stick-to-itiveness and survival than any secret ingredient to success. Which is too bad, because for so many, grit is the secret to success. Grit is the result of a hard-fought struggle, a willingness to take risks, a strong sense of determination, working relentlessly toward a goal, taking challenges in stride, and having the passion and perseverance to accomplish difficult things, even if you are wallowing in the most difficult circumstances.

    Perhaps what we love most about grit is that you don’t have to be born with it. It can be learned. In fact, perseverance and the value of hard work have been, since the time of the Greek philosophers, always considered to be core elements of raising and educating the next generation. Aristotle, writing about the virtues of hard work, said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.” Our Founding Fathers, with their great admiration for the...
About the Author-
  • Linda Kaplan Thaler is an Advertising Hall of Fame luminary and creator of many of the industry’s most iconic campaigns, including Kodak Moments and the hilarious Aflac duck. Linda was the co-founder and CEO of the Kaplan Thaler group, which quickly became one of America’s fastest growing ad agencies. She is currently Chairman of Publicis Kaplan Thaler, and the coauthor of several national bestsellers, including Bang! Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World, The Power of Nice, and The Power of Small.  She lives with her family in New York City. 

    Robin Koval is the CEO and President of the Truth Initiative, the national public health foundation dedicated to achieving a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco and the creators of the award winning and life-saving truth® youth tobacco prevention program. Robin is also a leader in the world of advertising and marketing. She is a co-founder of the Kaplan Thaler Group, creators of the Aflac Duck and many other well-known campaigns, and was CEO of its successor, Publicis Kaplan Thaler. She is the co-author of three other best-selling books: The Power of Nice, The Power of Small, and Bang! Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World.  Robin lives with her husband in Washington, D.C.
Reviews-
  • James Patterson, bestselling author, former CEO of J. Walter Thompson

    "You don't need to be brilliant or incredibly talented to become hugely successful. But what you do need is to read this book. Grit to Great teaches us all how to develop our grit quotient so almost any goal is possible."

  • Arianna Huffington "An insightful guide to achieving success in work and life, filled with real-life stories, tools and techniques that can help us all live with more passion, perseverance and resilience."
  • Mark Sanborn, bestselling author of The Fred Factor "You need GRIT to get great, and this book succinctly tells you how to do it. There's no sugar coating: Thaler and Koval tell it like it is because they've used grit to achieve great success themselves. I recommend it."
  • Nancy Brown, CEO, American Heart Association "Grit to Great reminds us that every day is an opportunity to set new goals and challenge ourselves in different ways. With grit, no matter our age or whether we've accomplished prior goals, there are countless reasons to keep moving forward and enormous, often unforeseen rewards to be reaped in the process."
  • Diana Aviv, President and CEO, Independent Sector "Don't walk, run to get your copy of Grit to Great. It's chock full of good sense, insights, and useful advice that can make just about anyone feel they can succeed."
  • Florine Mark, President & Chairman of the Board of The Weight Watchers Group, Inc. "Losing weight and staying fit are hard work. Grit to Great helps give you the tools to make your goals a reality and be the best you can be."
  • Dan Amos, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Aflac "In Grit to Great, Linda and Robin offer the insight, knowledge, and life lessons that can help propel you to the next level. Their determination to succeed has had direct tangible benefits for many iconic brands, including Aflac. Their 'grit' has led to another remarkable book that lays out in straightforward fashion what it truly takes to be successful."
  • Gail McGovern, President and CEO, The American Red Cross "Thaler and Koval have written a very valuable book. Their insights and anecdotes on the importance of hard work, perseverance, and character provide timeless lessons that will resonate with their readers--from the senior executive to the summer intern."
  • Abraham H. Foxman, "In Grit to Great, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval remind us that it takes much more than a diploma or high pedigree to be successful. It takes equal parts hard work, determination, pluck, and a willingness to confront adversity and failure head-on. . . Grit to Great is a celebratory tribute to the great American success story."
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Grit to Great
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How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary
Linda Kaplan Thaler
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