The 2016 Bigelow Forum was held at the Wentworth by the Sea on Thursday, September 15th and Friday, September 16th.
This year’s Forum theme focused on how we, as expert advisors, can be more effective in building and capturing Enterprise Value with Entrepreneur Owner-Managers (EOMs) who are naturally gritty. What is GRIT? Our keynote speaker, Dr. Angela Duckworth, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, defines GRIT as “the passion and perseverance for long-term goals.” Two of the central themes explored were the integration of relationships and the integration of knowledge, GRIT and Deliberate Practice.
Pete Worrell, Managing Director at Bigelow, opened on Thursday afternoon with a brief presentation reviewing the “Why, What, and How” of EOMs:
Understanding WHY a client reacts a certain way during a transaction is essential. A tremendous amount of emotion/psychology can take place behind the scenes, which, without the right guidance, can prevent EOMs from optimal decision-making in their own rational self-interest.
WHAT if we collaboratively build our individual and group understanding of the psychology behind this challenge to be better advisors for our EOMs?
HOW do we do this? The Forum is a learning community — a toolbox if you will — of resources we can access to help build relationships, share knowledge and integrate into our work with EOMs. By forming these strategic partnerships, we can develop an understanding that, in turn, transcends professional domains. We can ultimately implement these new tools into our work via Deliberate Practice and GRIT.
ACTIVATE: Outward Bound
After Pete’s opening remarks, Rob MacLeod, Managing Director at Bigelow reviewed the afternoon activity — a three-hour relationship-building event at Fort Stark. Under the guidance of Outward Bound, teams participated in two separate activities: navigating the water in kayaks in order to retrieve laminated cards placed on buoys and building a catapult. Both activities required communication and teamwork, helping to facilitate a new way to connect and learn from each other’s different styles.
ACTIVATE: Morning Welcome
Stephen McGee, Director at Bigelow, began Friday with a review of our GRIT survey results completed by over 300 EOMs and advisors. The results showed that we are a gritty bunch! The median GRIT score for our survey respondents was 4.0 compared to the median for all American adults of 3.8. Interestingly, EOMs scored both the lowest and the highest in our population of respondents. EOMs also generally seemed to believe that GRIT is inherent and cannot be trained, with the majority also believing there is no such thing as too much GRIT.
GRIT: Keynote with Dr. Angela Duckworth
One of the many highlights of Dr. Angela Duckworth’s presentation included her West Point cadet study, where she found the higher the GRIT scores, the less likely a cadet was to drop out. GRIT is a hallmark of high achievers, so although it’s not always a guarantee, it is essential to success.
Pete then interviewed Angela, who candidly responded about her own GRIT, quoting Will Smith by stating, “you will never outwork me!” In her life, she continues to strive to be ever more humble and less ego-centric, pointing out that as Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks said, doing so “is unfakeable.” Angela feels that she is so gritty because her parents displayed a commitment to excellence, passion and utter perseverance in everything they did. She now faces a challenge with her own children — who are being raised with privilege and facing little struggle — to model the same level of commitment that her parents did for her. Listen here.
In graduate school, she experienced her first real challenge as to her level of GRIT when her advisor criticized her for not having “a good idea in two years.” Angela noted that we do not have a lot of practice with criticism; in fact, many of us have a “low friction life” in which we do not face adversity. However, facing such challenges is often what makes you grow. In her own experience, that was when she determined her future would be characterized by working as hard as possible in an area for which she felt passionate and that getting “back in the game” after a refractory period is what she feels truly characterizes gritty people.
EXPERIENCE: Entrepreneur Owner-Manager Panel on GRIT
The EOM panel, co-moderated by David Linton, Managing Director at Bigelow, and Dr. Angela Duckworth, commenced shortly after and included four EOMs, each of whom is at a different stage of the “The Life Arc of an EOM”:
Jennifer Borislow, Founding Principal at Borislow Insurance (T-10)
Michael Trigilio, Former Majority Owner of Associated Home Care, Inc. (T+months)
Deborah Grass, Former Co-Owner of Astroseal Products Mfg. Corporation (T+10)
Ford Reiche, Former Founder/Owner of Safe Handling, Inc. (T+10)
Personal challenges and triumphs were shared, with all agreeing that GRIT can indeed be learned through deliberate practice, plus a combination of talent and effort.
INTEGRATE: Wrap-Up & Closing Remarks
Pete concluded our gritty two-day experience, stating that we are a community of expert advisors, where knowledge sharing and relationship building benefits both us and the EOM. Integrating this year’s Forum on GRIT and incorporating Deliberate Practice will help us guide the EOM — who has so many roles to play, whether as a board member, spouse or CEO — to accomplish whatever their dreams and next chapter in life may be.