Grit is Sexy

definition of grit, Men's Health 2014

I was listening to a podcast the other day where an executive talked about how a big component of his success was “grit.” And since that moment, I’ve probably seen the word “grit” 30+ times.

Definitions of grit are vague. The Webster Dictionary defines it as “mental toughness” (which instantly makes me think of every NFL commentator ever). Angela Lee Duckworth, in her TED Talk about grit, describes it as “passion and perseverance for long term goals.” For many people, grit seems to fall into the I-know-it-when-I-see-it category.

But research is showing us that grit is a real thing, and as Laurence Roy Stains points out in Men’s Health, we should want more of it. Not surprisingly given his audience, Stains uses Wes Welker as the embodiment of grit. Early in his career, Welker barely earned a college football scholarship by the skin of his teeth, and after college, he went undrafted. Today, Stains points out, Welker is a five-time Pro Bowl pick and achieved the most receiving yards in a six-season span in NFL history. His success has been attributed to his unwavering dedication, confidence in his own abilities, and consistent work ethic. Welker’s coach, John Fox, has described him as “very gritty.” Examples like Welker show us that gritty people separate themselves by continuing to work hard, despite obstacles that would cause others to quit or give up.

We don’t know if grit is an inherent quality that some people are born with or if grit can be taught. Vicki Davis, an educator and author, argues that grit is developed by situations that require it. Researchers like Duckworth want to get more specific – they are working hard to identify exactly how we can teach kids to be “more gritty” as they move through school and ultimately face challenges in their adult lives. You can take Duckworth’s “grittiness quiz” here to determine your own self-reported grit score. I scored right in the middle around 3.3… probably because taking the quiz reminded me of all the little personal projects I have gotten excited about over the years, but then abandoned when life got busy.

“80% of success is just showing up.” – Woody Allen

John Wayne wasn’t the only one in Hollywood with grit. Regardless of what the research ultimately shows, we know that in order to have success, you have to show up. People with grit will show up at every single practice and at every single meeting with their end goal in mind… and tomorrow they’ll get up and do it again.

Need some more inspiration?


Stay Engaged is on Facebook

Click on Facebook

The Stay Engaged Experiment is now on Facebook! Check us out at

To celebrate our new page, here are a few fun Facebook facts:

  • Each month, 1.3B people actively use Facebook (that number is a little conservative)
  • Half (48%) of all Facebook users log in on any given day, spending an average of 18 minutes on the site
  • Half of users ages 18-34 check Facebook as soon as they wake up, and almost 1/3 (28%) of them check Facebook before they even get out of bed
  • Users have an average of 130 friends (I’ll pause so that you can go judge your own popularity based on that number… you know you will)
  • 75% of all Facebook users are outside of the United States and 70 different languages are available on the site

(All stats from

Much of my experience is in the B2B marketing community, which has primarily ignored Facebook.  KISSmetrics just did a blog post about why some high profile companies are shutting down their Facebook pages.  The post is great – it outlines the reasoning for and against business Facebook pages, which can help you to decide if Facebook is right for your company.  If it is, this infographic from the Social Media Business Academy is a little dated but still useful:

Facebook post cheat sheet

What are your go-to Facebook resources or tips? Please share in the comments or on our Facebook page!

The Benefits of Launching Imperfectly

blank page

“If you set your bar at ‘amazing,’ it’s awfully difficult to start.” – Seth Godin

I recently rewrote the About page for this blog. I didn’t like the one that I launched with – it was vague and didn’t say much. In theory, I could have waited to launch the blog until I had a perfectly crafted About page… and I would probably still be working on it. In fact, I am sure that this About page is also not perfect, but it is better than the last one.

One of the most difficult things about starting any new project – whether a new product, new marketing program, or a new blog – is identifying when to launch. What does “ready” look like?

“Claiming that you need to ‘learn more’ or ‘get all of your ducks in a row’ can often be a crutch that prevents you from moving forward on the stuff that actually matters.” – James Clear

Today, growth hackers win. Waiting to be perfect means you’ll either A. never get off the ground, or B. someone will beat you to your market. The early birds might catch the worm, but they also give themselves more time to look for more worms if needed.

The concept of MVP, or Minimally Viable Product, applies to more than just product development. A Minimally Viable Product (MVP) has just those core features that allow the product to be launched, and no more. The product is typically released to a subset of possible customers, such as early adopters, who are thought to be more forgiving and more likely to give feedback, than the general population. Then based on customer feedback, the product is developed and updated over time into exactly what its target customers will love. It is a strategy designed to deliver a product that customers WANT… verses spending time up front designing something that they neither want nor need.

So this blog will continue to be a work in progress. I think the name is too long (I should ideally cut it down to two words), but it is functional for the time being. There is also a ton more work I could do on the site itself. But for now, I’m focusing on content and getting to know my readers. Ideas? Things you’d like to see or content you’d like to read? Tell me in the comments below or @RachelLColello.

Need more proof that launching imperfectly is the way to go? Read 10 things to stop caring about so you can actually launch your website

3 Ways to Avoid a Bad Customer Experience

I had a bad customer experience recently. I have been debating if I feel comfortable disclosing the name of the perpetrator, but I have decided that there is enough negativity in the world and it was a harmless mistake, so I’m not going to.

So without naming names, I provided the perp with my email address in response to an online offer. The offer made no mention of their email newsletter. Unfortunately, when I received the automated confirmation email from their system, it ONLY mentioned the email newsletter and made NO MENTION of the original offer I was responding to. Being in marketing myself, I fully understand that the offer was a way for the perp to collect email addresses for marketing purposes. But let’s improve our communication ok? At least pretend that you care that I responded to your offer. At least make sure I actually receive the benefit of said offer before you start talking about your email newsletter. Now I don’t trust the site, I declined the newsletter, and I will most likely never visit the site again.

The sad thing is, I know it was just an oversight. Someone forgot to update the auto responder when they posted the offer. We’re all busy and it could happen to any of us. But that oversight lost them a potential customer. So how can we avoid the same slimy feeling fate?

  1. Plan campaigns, avoid one-off tactics. Quick and easy tactics to grow email lists are very tempting. But as we all know…
    (Image credit:

    Campaigns force you to plan in advance, which in turn, will hopefully force you to think through the campaign’s full customer experience.

  2. Test with fresh eyes. Even if you feel like your company or campaign is too small for a full-scale user test, at least ask a coworker or friend to test out your offer. Fresh eyes may catch the mistakes that can hurt your brand.
  3. Try it yourself. No seriously – every single time you add something new to a website, product or program, please try it for yourself. It is so simple and yet so easy to skip.

Do you have tips for avoiding customer experience mistakes? Share them below or tweet me @RachelLColello.

What is your Workday Breakfast?

Hot tea for breakfast

I used to be a big fan of the WSJ column “What’s Your Workout?”. I liked looking into successful people’s lives and seeing that they juggle a crazy schedule, just like the rest of us do. My favorite profiles weren’t the over achieving executives who ran companies while training for triathlons. Instead, I loved the people who just built basic health and fitness into their day. I can’t find the exact column online anymore, but I remember a top ballet executive who walked several miles through Manhattan to and from her office each day. That, plus a few hours of ballet or yoga classes a week, made up her workout. She was beautiful, healthy, and just seemed so balanced.

So along those same lines, I thought I would do a little research into what successful professionals eat for breakfast.


As a woman who’s been very open about her health, Oprah recently spoke with The Guardian about what she eats for breakfast every morning. These days it is typically a bowl of oatmeal with nuts and fruit and her breakfast smoothie: half a banana, peach yogurt, fresh or frozen berries, a teaspoon of almond butter (or peanut butter) and orange juice.

Tech entrepreneurs did a great piece on what 50+ tech entrepreneurs eat for breakfast. Their breakfasts range from ultra healthy smoothies to candy bars. My favorites:

  • “A breakfast ritual: cottage cheese and hot sauce with a hot coffee and almond milk. Make sure that it is Sriracha on the table every morning!” – Brian Neman, CEO of Sanguine (sounds weird to me, but also kind of nutritious)
  • “Every day for about 10 years I’ve eaten a Chunky KitKat. It’s not the US version. I get my chocolate stash shipped in from my parents in the UK each month and have a chocolate cupboard that no one else is allowed to go near. I’m very protective over my British candy and have to eat at least one bar for breakfast daily.” – Heddi Cundle, big cheese at MyTab (points for honesty)
  • “Kale / beet / frozen berry smoothie with coconut water, one fried egg” – Russell Benaroya, cofounder and CEO of EveryMove (obviously a fitness company)
  • “First I have a cup of coffee. After that I go for a walk with the dog. Once done with the walk, I eat two pieces of toast bread, each of them with a layer of Dutch Gouda cheese, another one containing British mustard, and a final one on top with slices of Hungarian Salami (special sausage).” – Gabor Sved, cofounder and CEO of Ask a Stranger (that actually sounds amazing)

Lauren Schmitt, MS, RD, CPT @laurenschmittRD

Lauren was interviewed about the best breakfast foods to eat for improved focus. She recommends one of the following combos to avoid brain fog and maintain steady energy throughout the morning:

  • Greek yogurt, high fiber cereal or oats, flax seeds, and berries
  • Whole wheat English muffin with eggs and avocado (and she says to pay the extra dollar for eggs with added omega-3s)

And since we’re talking about it, this morning I had two cups of coffee with vanilla creamer and some leftover egg casserole from yesterday’s brunch.

When I was doing research for this post, I came across this – Why You Shouldn’t Give a Shit What Successful People Eat for Breakfast. She’s not wrong. But I’d argue that having an eagerness to learn from another’s success isn’t the same thing as trying to blindly copy them and expecting that to make us rich. And I’m certainly not suggesting that people are successful because of the amount of protein they consume in a day. But I’m curious about it. And I like knowing that “successful” people are human

Give a Gift, Rather Than Offering a Deal

I stumbled upon while researching a future blog post and I was struck by the effectiveness of this pop-up window: pop-up window

It seems like every retail site has a pop-up window upon entry these days.  Most of them offer 10-15% off (barely covering sales tax) in exchange for your email address.

email offer 1 email offer 2 email offer 3 email offer 3

This is different. James Clear has a gift for you and wants to know where to send it.  He isn’t asking for anything in return (not overtly). And he clearly states why you should want the gift – it will help you to build better habits and improve performance.  The only thing I would change would be to shorten the copy.

Clear seems to carry this “let me tell you what I can do for you” theme throughout his site:

James Clear screenshot

What a great example of putting the audience first and trying to be truly helpful, rather than just selling.  Clear’s tactics won’t work in every situation, but I applaud the fresh, helpful approach!

How to Makeover Your Mornings Without Adding Stress

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 8.19.58 AM

We all know people who seem to accomplish more in the first few hours of the morning than the rest of us do in the whole day. These early risers run 10 miles before the sun is up, add two chapters to their novel before checking their work email, or complete international business deals while sipping their first cup of bulletproof coffee. Mornings are tough enough without all the PRESSURE! That is why I am so glad I discovered Laura Vanderkam’s “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings – and Life.” I listened to the easy to digest audio book, but you can also read the ebook.

In the book, Vanderkam explains:

Why mornings are so important – Humans seem to have a finite amount of will power for each day. We start the day with a full cup, which makes first thing in the morning the best time to start a new habit or work towards an important goal that takes effort and concentration. Even better news? Once you have started a new routine and that routine becomes a habit, it no longer requires as much will power (Vanderkam’s example – do you need will power to remember to brush your teeth? Not once it becomes a habit!)

Which tasks best suited for precious morning hours – We all know that as the day goes on, challenges will arise that demand our attention. Because of that, we are often unable to cross important, but not urgent, tasks off of our to-do lists. We want to workout after work but it rarely happens. We’d like to read the works of Shakespeare, but we’re too tired before bed. With that in mind, Vanderkam recommends that we use our mornings to address tasks that are highly valuable and provide long-term benefits, but are not urgent. Those might include:

  • Nurturing our relationships – e.g. have a daily family breakfast (rather than family dinner), do a craft with your kids, meet a best friend for coffee, commute with your spouse, email or write to people you care about
  • Nurturing our careers – e.g. focus on a long term career goal without interruption, brainstorm new ideas, start your side business in the mornings rather than after work in the evenings
  • Nurturing ourselves – e.g. workout, meditate, read for pleasure, read for spiritual growth

And most importantly, she reminds us that morning tasks should make your day better not worse. They should be FUN and should start your day on a good note. In other words, if you want to workout in the morning, but the thought of going for a run makes you shudder, then find a different workout that makes you excited to get out of bed. Did you know that Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, plays tennis every morning at 5:45am?

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share your morning habits in the comments below or @RachelLColello.