“Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” By Angela Duckworth


I could not wait to finish this book so I could share with as many people as possible. Our society has over emphasized someone’s “natural” talents and has not given enough credit to “effort”. Most importantly consistently applied effort through struggle, something referred to as “grit”.

I strongly recommend this book for anyone. The principle of “grit” is a mindset that anyone can accept as soon as they accept its powerful effect.

This helped me see more clearly why I have always seen the best results in my life from something I have always referred to as “consistency”. This can be described as the principle of “just keep showing up”; no matter the task or what you were trying to accomplish. Any success I have had has been directly related to how committed to doing something consistently; it has never been because I was born with some specific skill.

Here are some highlights, my full book notes attached:

  • Talent is no guarantee of grit.
  • Society’s focus on “talent” distracts us from something that is at least as important, and that is EFFORT. Effort counts twice.
  • Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them.
  • Will Smith: “The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is: I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me. You might be all of those things. You got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple.”
  • Even more than the effort a gritty person puts in on a single day, what matters is that they wake up the next day, and the next, ready to get on that treadmill and keep going.
  • Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it.
  • There’s no single gene for grit, or indeed any other psychological trait.
  • Imperative that you identify your work as both personally interesting and, at the same time, integrally connected to the well-being of others.
  • Without experimenting, you can’t figure out which interests will stick, and which won’t.
  • So, parents, parents-to-be, and non-parents of all ages, I have a message for you: Before hard work comes play.
  • If you’d like to follow your passion but haven’t yet fostered one, you must begin at the beginning: discovery.
  • Unlike the answers to crossword puzzles, there isn’t just one thing you can do that might develop into a passion. There are many. You don’t have to find the “right” one, or even the “best” one—just a direction that feels good.
  • Type of practice matters:
  • (Spelling Bee study): Deliberate practice predicted advancing to further rounds in final competition far better than any other kind of preparation.
  • Spellers rated deliberate practice as significantly more effortful, and significantly less enjoyable, than anything else they did to prepare for competition.
  • Grittier kids reported working harder than other kids when doing deliberate practice but, at the same time, said they enjoyed it more than other kids, too.
  • When you have a habit of practicing at the same time and in the same place every day, you hardly have to think about getting started. You just do.
  • However they say it, the message is the same: the long days and evenings of toil, the setbacks and disappointments and struggle, the sacrifice—all this is worth it because, ultimately, their efforts pay dividends to other people.
  • Grittier people are dramatically more motivated than others to seek a meaningful, other-centered life.
  • “Imagine yourself fifteen years from now. What do you think will be most important to you then?
  • There’s an old Japanese saying: Fall seven, rise eight.
  • How do grit paragons think about setbacks? Overwhelmingly, I’ve found that they explain events optimistically.
  • “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
  • If you experience adversity—something pretty potent—that you overcome on your own during your youth, you develop a different way of dealing with adversity later on.
  • When kids are playing sports or music or rehearsing for the school play, they’re both challenged and having fun. There’s no other experience in the lives of young people that reliably provides this combination of challenge and intrinsic motivation.
  • But only for kids who participate in activities for two years rather than one.
  • Following through on hard things teaches a young person powerful, transferable lessons.
  • In our family, we live by the Hard Thing Rule.
    • This brings me to the second part of the Hard Thing Rule: You can quit. But you can’t quit until the season is over, the tuition payment is up, or some other “natural” stopping point has arrived.
    • In other words, you can’t quit on a day when your teacher yells at you, or you lose a race, or you have to miss a sleepover because of a recital the next morning. You can’t quit on a bad day.
    • And, finally, the Hard Thing Rule states that you get to pick your hard thing.
    • A fourth requirement will be added: each girl must commit to at least one activity, either something new or the piano and viola they’ve already started, for at least two years.
  • “That there’s a hard way to get grit and an easy way. The hard way is to do it by yourself. The easy way is to use conformity—the basic human drive to fit in—because if you’re around a lot of people who are gritty, you’re going to act grittier.”
  • “Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”
  • Supportive and demanding parenting is psychologically wise and encourages children to emulate their parents.



Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Great read for anyone. Best insights:http://bit.ly/2cGhJcB

on Motivation…

“Motivation is more like a skill, akin to reading or writing, that can be learned and honed.”

“To motivate ourselves, we must feel like we are in control.”

“I hand out a number of compliments, and all of them are designed to be unexpected.”

“We praise people for doing things that are hard. That’s how they learn to believe they can do them.”

on Optimizing Teams….

“‘Psychological safety’, how do you convince people to feel safe while also encouraging them to be willing to disagree?”

Individual intelligence didn’t correlate with team performance.

It was the norms, not the people that made teams so smart.

Two behaviors that all the good teams shared.

• First, all the members of the good teams spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as “equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.”

“As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well,

• Second, the good teams tested as having “high average social sensitivity”—a fancy way of saying that the groups were skilled at intuiting how members felt based on their tone of voice, how people held themselves, and the expressions on their faces.

“Leaders should not interrupt teammates during conversations, because that will establish an interrupting norm.”

on Productivity…

Making a decision and moving on to the next question feels productive.

A high need for closure has been shown to trigger close-mindedness, authoritarian impulses, and a preference for conflict over cooperation.

Even the plants’ senior executives, the consultants found, had fallen prey to an obsession with achievable but inconsequential goals, and were focused on unimportant short-term objectives rather than more ambitious plans.

“You get into this mindset where crossing things off your to-do list becomes more important than asking yourself if you’re doing the right things

If you’re being constantly told to focus on achievable results, you’re only going to think of achievable goals. You’re not going to dream big.

If you do know how to get there—it’s not a stretch target.

We spend hours answering unimportant emails instead of writing a big, thoughtful memo—because it feels so satisfying to clean out our in-box.

on Decision Making…

The paradox of learning how to make better decisions is that it requires developing a comfort with doubt.

Losers, Howard said, are always looking for certainty at the table. Winners are comfortable admitting to themselves what they don’t know. In fact, knowing what you don’t know is a huge advantage—something that can be used against other players.

on Creativity…

Creative papers had at least one thing in common: They were usually combinations of previously known ideas mixed together in new ways.

Within biology, this has become known as the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, which holds that “local species diversity is maximized when ecological disturbance is neither too rare nor too frequent.

Second, recognize that the panic and stress you feel as you try to create isn’t a sign that everything is falling apart. Rather, it’s the condition that helps make us flexible enough to seize something new.

Happy Memorial Day….Huh?

This got lost in my draft folder, but wanted to share before the summer passed by all together.

Just some random links and ideas, things I have been thinking about, impressed with, and want to share:

– Bryant University Lacrosse – Showcased on 60 Minutes:
As a proud alumni and former Captain of Bryant Lacrosse, this piece hits home big time. Really proud of the school, the Administration, and the unbelievable transformation of the Athletic Program

Link to Video here: http://cbsn.ws/1CPvusJ

– Books I have read/listened to this year that stand out:

1) The One Thing – George Keller

Link to the book’s website:www.the1thing.com

Link to the book on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1eipSCB

2) Choose Your Self Guide To Wealth – James Altucher

His website: www.jamesaltucher.com

Link to book on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1JDF6un


3) Zero to One – Peter Thiel, Blake Masters

Link to the book’s website: http://zerotoonebook.com/
Link to the book on Amazon:http://amzn.to/1HNMwjr

3) Leap First – Seth Godin

Link to the book on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1TXkGna

4) The Frackers – Gregory Zuckerman

Link to the book on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1MMUnvV

5) Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller (in progress) – Ron Chernow

Link to the book onAmazon: http://amzn.to/1TXlkRVhttp://amzn.to/1TXlkRV

– Articles stood out:

Hunter S. Thompson on Finding Your Purpose and Living a Meaningful Life: http://bit.ly/1VFloY3

I Prefer to Leave Early (James Altucher): http://linkd.in/1EEdnXZ

Why Football Matters, By John Harbaugh: http://bit.ly/1HVWWvk

Chatham, NJ Profile (NY Times): http://nyti.ms/1NPaFVi

Light Joggers Can Outlast the Ironmen Over Long Term: Health (Bloomberg): http://bloom.bg/16bzQ4d

– Miscellanous things to check out:

1) Searching for Sugarman – Great Documentary – check it out on Netflix: http://bit.ly/WNtTXn

2) Photo/Video Storage service I started using: https://www.mylyve.com/

3) Tower Inflatable Paddle Board – Just purchased for family vacation: http://bit.ly/1lzFB13

4) Boll and Branch – A new sheet/bedding business, Fair Trade


5) Healtheo360.com – Healthcare Social Media, video based company which provides “Virtual Social Therapy”: www.healtheo360.com

**Note: None of my suggestions above is meant as an advertisement or endorsement. I may have had passive investments in some of the businesses listed; however, all suggestions in the post are personal in nature.



How much is your music worth?

Reading a new book, “Millennial Money: How Young Investors Can Build a Fortune”, by Patrick O’Shaughnessy.

Wanted to share a simple investing principle cited in the book; and something for us to consider, consuming vs. investing…

“In October 2001, the cost of a shiny new, first generation iPod was $500. At the time, the same $500 would have bought you 64 shares of Apple stock. The 2001 iPod has been rendered obsolete ten times over, but the 64 shares are now worth $32,308. Investing is better than spending.”

Of course, Apple just announced their QUARTERLY profit of $18 billion; more than another business has ever earned in one quarter.

The question is, if I had this information in 2001, would I have still bought the iPod? I almost certainly would have borrowed money to buy as much Apple stock as possible. This would make me feel much more comfortable in giving up the $32,308 for spending $500 and getting the utility of iPod in 2001. I believe that is a completely rational assumption.

However, would you have bought the iPod with this information if you only had access to exactly $500? What is your opportunity cost of not having the iPod in 2001? There were other technologies available to listen to music back then remember. I actually think not having an iPod or other digital music device would be a much bigger obstacle.

There are also so many factors that are important here, i.e., when would you have additional cash, how long would you have to “go without”?

My guess is that I would have waited as long as possible and try to get by on my old Sony Discman!

I still have my 2001 first generation iPod, do you think it worth any part of either the original price or the $32,000?

We make trade-offs and long-term decisions every time we make any investment. The opportunity cost of our assets, cash, and liquidity is something to consider.

Keep starting…

Best lesson I learned in 2014 was to ‘just start’….inspired by a book with the same title. It works…

I ‘started’ a number of projects that are promising, some focused on work, some focused on family, some focused on long-term ambitions, some focused on personal development, and importantly, one focused on charity.

The act of doing is a powerful and contagious act.

Just do….don’t think.

What do you want to create?

To help you get going, here is a great 2015 book idea from Seth Godin….


What’s holding YOU back?

Influence “The Psychology of Persuasion” (Book Notes)

My full notes/highlights from “Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.” :  Influence

Great read for EVERYBODY. I have read Dr. Cialdini’s remarks and Youtube clips. I appreciate his scientific and biological study of how we humans responded to specific triggers.

As typical in this type of book, the principles seem so obvious after reading. However, it was helpful to have them all explained in different chapters.

I have tried to use some of the material in how I think about both my personal and professional life. Especially drawn to the research on social proof. We are all guilty of going into Amazon and looking for the “most popular” item in a category rather than doing research on our own. Short-cuts are amazingly efficient and powerful.

Key points:

– We feel indebted to repay gifts, favors, etc.

– When we make a commitment, we tend to stay committed to our stand.

– We imitate, especially when we are uncertain. “Social Proof”, humans prefer “shortcusts”, i.e., “best-selling” “most popular”.

– We like to be flattered. Praise doesn’t have to be accurate to work.

– We want something we can’t have or that is running out. The joy is in possessing rather how important something is to us.


Just Start (Book Review/Notes)

Book Review:  Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future by Leonard A. Schlesinger, Charles F. Kiefer

“Nothing changes unless you act”

Great place to start reading in 2014, especially those who may be paralyzed by starting (probably includes all of us). We plan too much, strategize too much, and at the same time, this planning and thoughtfulness can provide a false sense of comfort. We’ve been trained to analyze each project fully before committing.

Trying to guess the future based on the past typically turns out to be a poor way to make prospective decisions. If we were starting a computer company 3 years ago, we may have looked at the Dell model and assumed specific growth assumptions and copied some of their features. We would have missed the tablet, the future, and what lies ahead.

This book challenges the reader not to overly focus on prediction reasoning (pattern of thinking and acting based on the assumption that the future is going to behave in a way similar to the present). The future world is not knowable, and because of that we need to also apply “creaction”. This made-up word combines creation and action. As explained in the book:

“The future may or may not be like the past, but you don’t have to spend a lot of time wondering how it will play out if you plan to shape (i.e., create) it.”

“If you can’t predict the future—and increasingly you can’t— action trumps everything.”

“Action always leads to evidence.”

A really important part of the book is that it suggests you “bring others along” in your project. The idea of getting buy-in early by showing evidence is powerful. Simply suggesting a new venture or project based on analysis is the traditional way of making proposals. However, if you can get some early evidence that the assumed benefits and the vision of the venture can be successful, you can achieve much stronger commitments.

“Serial entrepreneurs told Saras Sarasvathy that they believed that the growth of their potential enterprise was limited only by the number of collaborators they could attract, not by how much money they could raise.”

The type of action is also important. The book describes this as taking “smart steps”.

“…the action you take based on the resources you have at hand and never involves more than you can afford to lose, that is, your acceptable loss. Having taken the step, you pause to reflect on what you have learned.”

This is all about not risking too much too soon. This gives you the ability to gather evidence before taking further risks or as the book describes…

“Process of act, learn, build, so you can Act again.”

Of course, you have to know what you want to create before you even take a small smart step. The book has a very good review of passion vs. desire and the role that perseverance plays.

“…the starting point is: what do you want to create?”

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard . . . is what makes it great.”

“In the worst of all possible worlds, you are going to fail quickly and cheaply as a result of using Creaction. That is not a bad thing.”

I found the discussion on how to handle problems really insightful:

“Problems are good news (almost always). Really. Try this: accept the situation to the point of embracing it. Take as a given that it won’t ever change and turn it into an asset. What can you do with the “fact” that it won’t ever change?”

That can be really hard to do and does not come naturally. This is somewhere where your collaborators can be helpful. Have them suggest ways to make the problem an asset. This can change your thinking. I would guess that most successful entrepreneurs are able to make many of their problems into assets. This is something I am going to focus on more in 2014, through practice.

Attached are my full notes from the book. This is a great book for those trying to launch something new this year.  This isn’t specific to starting a business, it speaks to launching any project, any resolution, or anything you fear starting, this is a great start.


Buy yourself a gift…

For those that enjoy “networking”, meeting for coffee with other industry peers, you need to buy yourself one of these this holiday season (disclaimer: I have no direct investment or affiliation with Filed Notes):

field notes

I usually buy them from Amazon, also available at their own website, www.fieldnotesbrand.com

The most important part of this post is that in late 2012 someone who asked for my time and advice followed up by sending me a three-pack of these. A year later, I have a catalog of 8 of these, and am never without the handy book.

I rely on technology and try to digitize all of my notes, contacts, and almost everything through Evernotes and other forms. However, when sitting down brainstorming, it is much less intrusive to scribble on this pad and digitize the main points later. I believe they are less intrusive than typing away on a smart phone when meeting someone for coffee.

A huge unexpected benefitis that the pad allows me to be more creative. I find that I allow myself more creative freedoms when taking notes in my discussions on ideas with fellow networkers. In the investment field, we probably need a bit more creativity and less digital note taking. I am still a fan of the productiveness the digital form provides; however, I have been pleasantly surprised by the resourcefulness this small 48 page memo book provided.

Buy yourself a three-pack or try other books.  Also, a great gift to give to colleagues or follow-up your 2014 network meetings. This is a great time of year to try something new.

A big thank you to all who have read and contributed to this blog, I have met and shared ideas with many of you in the past 12 months. I appreciate learning your stories.

Lastly, a few tips for 2014 networking meetings:

1) Offer to pay (if coffee or meal is involved)

2) Have 3 pre-planned questions that you have developed after researching the person you are meeting.

3) Don’t email the person and ask to “get together for coffee” and get some advice. Be different, have something really interesting to discuss. Example, “I hear you were involved with the planning of that panel at the XYZ conference. I read an article regarding the topic you discussed and would like to share my ideas. Can you meet for coffee next week for 20 minutes to discuss? I am available every day between 2-4pm. Thank you.”

4) Don’t start with a discussion on the weather or the latest sports game. (Always difficult for me during football season!)

5) Actively listen and ask questions about that person. Try to have them speak 80% of the time.

6) Keep the discussion to 20 minutes and let them know your time limit before you start talking.

7) Offer to help based on something they said, listen for what  is their main issue/obstacle.

8) Write down the follow-up in your “Field Notes”.

9) Have something very specific to ask them.

10) Put notes into their contact information on your digital database. Keep a log and review at year-end to see who you met with, who you didn’t meet with, and review for outstanding follow-up.

Happy Holidays!

Follow-up: What’s The Buzz

The following was sent to me by a friend, Michael Galano, as a follow-up to my post, “What’s The Buzz”. Great article written by Emile Hallez (Ignites, October 7, 2013). Thanks, Mike!

“Revealed: The Most Hated Industry Jargon

By Emile Hallez October 7, 2013

“Thought leadership” and “low-hanging fruit” are like nails on a blackboard to Ignites readers, who last week bestowed the terms the ignoble crown of most hated in the fund industry.

Among sets of 10 common buzzwords and clichés in last week’s polls, readers voted their disdain for those catchphrases over others such as “solution” and “boots on the ground.”

The polls proved popular among Ignites readers, attracting 700 responses.

Experts have noted that while industry jargon and clichés can make communication more efficient, the use of unfamiliar or vague terms can also lead to discrepancies in meaning and spur confusion during interactions with both clients and associates.

Twenty-two percent of respondents voted “thought leadership” as the worst industry buzzword, over “value add” (16%), “synergy” (14%), “holistic” (10%), “solution” (9%), “leverage” (8%) and “robust” (6%).

Regarding the clichés, 19% of readers disfavored “low-hanging fruit,” just ahead of “Think outside the box” (18%), “Let’s circle back” (15%) and the moderately creepy “Open the kimono” (13%).

“Breaking down the silos” received 9% of votes, while “Skate to where the puck is going to be” garnered 7%.

The buzzword poll received 700 votes, while 668 readers voted in the cliché poll between Sept. 30 and Oct. 4. The most up-to-date results of the poll, which is still open to votes, can be viewed here.”