Linda Kaplan Thaler & Robin Koval

Authors of Grit to Great

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON November 16, 2015

Discussion

Linda Thaler@lindathaler2 · Chairman, Publicis New York
I'm Linda Kaplan Thaler, Chairman of Publicis New York and Advertising Hall of Famer. I'm Robin Koval, CEO and President of Truth Initiative, the creators of the award winning and life saving truth youth tobacco prevention program. Together, we founded the Kaplan Thaler Group and have written 4 national best-selling books. Our most recent, Grit to Great, debunks the myth that you need a brilliant I.Q. or virtuoso talent to become successful. In fact, it's not the "It" factor that determines success, it's the "GRIT" factor- guts, resilience, initiative, and tenacity. We're excited to answer your questions, please ask us anything!
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@lindathaler2 @robin_koval how do you think GRIT differences between men and women? And what are some of your hypothesis regarding why those differences exist?
Robin Koval@robin_koval · CEO Truth Initiative
@corleyh The good news is that Grit is not gender specific and both men and women have equal access. Men may naturally feel more comfortable taking positions that require guts or initiative but women may be naturally more resilient. As we've looked at the data from nearly 10,000 Grit Quiz tests, we see no difference by gender. The book tells great stories about men with grit (Colin Powell, Michael Bloomberg) as well as women (Diana Nyad) and we were really pleased to see that one of our favorite "gritty" women - Arianna Huffington just put Grit to Great on her list of 5 books she is giving for the holidays (sorry for that outrageous plug, but I couldn't resist!).
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
Hi @ThePowerOfSmall thanks so much for joining us today. I would love to hear what advice you would give to startups looking to break through the very crowded and noisy startup space and get noticed? Is there any branding or messaging that you would suggest or promote?
Robin Koval@robin_koval · CEO Truth Initiative
Harry - you need to "Lose the safety net" That's what we had to do at our agency when we told a stuffy insurance company that a duck should be their spokesperson. The Aflac duck was a very controversial idea, in fact, they almost didn't test it. Be brave and don't be afraid to be counter-intuitive. The conventional wisdom is almost always wrong.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Linda and Robin, thanks for being here today 🙌 During your career to date, what has been your a) most challenging moment and how did you overcome it? b) proudest moment and why? c) most surprising moment?
Linda Thaler@lindathaler2 · Chairman, Publicis New York
@ems_hodge Hi Emily - I think one of our most challenging moments was leaving a very secure job at a well known ad agency and partnering to start a small start up agency in a fourth floor walk up. We ultimately overcame our fears by being incredibly relentless and always assuming we were the underdog. We simply decided to out work our competitors and began to be recognized as one of the hardest (and fastest growing) ad agencies in America. My proudest moment was winning the Wendy's account, we competed against 50 other agencies, all hungry to work with this incredible fast food restaurant. I think that surprised us, and our competition!
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
@lindathaler2 To a certain extent, can't you look at GRIT as a form of intelligence? Perseverance has always struck me as a learned skill as opposed to a personality trait.
Linda Thaler@lindathaler2 · Chairman, Publicis New York
@jeffumbro We look at GRIT as one of the only traits you do not need to be born with. You can develop and hone your grit whether you're 8 or 88. Yes, some people are born with more stamina than others, but it's never too late to get gritty. We have tons of "grit" builders in the book to help you do just that.
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
How do you think people develop GRIT? Do you think some people just naturally have it? Are environmental pressures more important (role models, early childhood experiences, etc.)?
Robin Koval@robin_koval · CEO Truth Initiative
@alexcartaz Unlike IQ or talent (like athletic ability) Grit is something we can develop, and control. So, yes, it is true some of us are naturally more gritty or have been raised in homes where we have been taught the path to success is through working hard (something we can control) vs. being smart (something we have less control of), but the research overwhelmingly says that we are in control of our guts, resilience, initiative, and tenacity once we are aware of it. Take our Grit Quiz on www.grittogreat.com to see where your baseline is.
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
What do you think are some of the best examples of the misconception between the role of GRIT in success vs that of IQ and other singular measures of intelligence?
Linda Thaler@lindathaler2 · Chairman, Publicis New York
@alexcartaz Hi Alex - We did a ton of research and interviews around people who are enormously successful, and very few were blessed with high IQs or virtuoso talent. Colin Powell was a C- student all through college (until he found his passion by joining the ROTC on campus), Michael Jordan could not even qualify for his HS Varsity Basketball Team (he finally made it the year after), and Steven Spielberg applied to film school 3 times before he was accepted. Nobel Prize winners and Fortune 100 CEOs have good, but not stellar IQs, and, in fact, very few of them attended Ivy League schools. Research has shown that the best predicator of success is not having the "it" factor, but the "grit" factor, which we define as "Guts, Resilience, Initiative, and Tenacity."
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
How important is the role of community, family, and social support structures relative to GRIT for becoming successful? What insights do you have about how they interact?
Robin Koval@robin_koval · CEO Truth Initiative
@alexcartaz Great question. We can develop develop GRIT in our kids, in fact, until the mid-1980's that was a basic principle of raising kids. But, since then the popularity of the self-esteem movement has turned that upside down. We are so concerned with making kids feels great about themselves that we fail to teach them how to bounce back from failure. So, instead of giving every kid a trophy or telling every kid they're "special", we need to let kids fall (but not fail).
Rachel Davis@rachl_davis
Hi Linda and Robin- which of the presidential candidates do you think has the most GRIT?
Linda Thaler@lindathaler2 · Chairman, Publicis New York
@rachl_davis I think anyone who runs for office, especially the presidency, has to have incredible perseverance and stamina. I do believe Hillary has proven, over the decades, to have an enormous amount of grit, especially with her ability to bounce back after failure. Remember, she is the one who first advocated for a national health coverage plan!
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Hey both! Could you tell us a bit about the writing process and how you prioritise certain aspects... How do you go from idea to published?
Linda Thaler@lindathaler2 · Chairman, Publicis New York
@bentossell Talk about having grit! Writing a book requires an enormous amount of stamina, especially since it's so easy to get distracted by work, family, and, well, life. What Robin and I do, we have written 4 books together, is stick to a very regimented schedule, whether it be one chapter outline a week, researching 10 books/articles every two weeks, etc. And I must say, having a writing partner makes it a lot easier because you don't want to let the other person down. The most important part is getting that outline done, and it often takes several iterations (this book took almost 3 years to finish). Once the editor has you go through, what seems like, endless revisions, you then get to the really difficult part - marking your book. And that involves the intricacies of social marking, boost, posts, etc., since the old fashioned way of just advertising your book via tv or print doesn't really reach your target in the way it did even a few short years ago. We are proud to say, though, that our stamina paid off, as "Grit to Great" has become a national bestseller. But it took a lot of grit to get there!
Linda Thaler@lindathaler2 · Chairman, Publicis New York
@lindathaler2 @bentossell oops, I meant to say "marketing your book"...
Linda Thaler@lindathaler2 · Chairman, Publicis New York
Wonderful questions and we hope you enjoy the book! And remember, success is a four letter word!