The 2016 Bigelow Forum was held at the Wentworth by the Sea on Thursday, September 15th and Friday, September 16th. The theme of this year’s Forum 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 main themes explored were integration of relationships and 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 our clients react a certain way during a transaction is essential, as there is a tremendous amount of emotion / psychology that 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 to be better advisors for our EOMs?
- HOWdo we do this? The Forum is a learning community, a toolbox if you will, of resources which we can pull from to help build relationships, share knowledge, and integrate them into our work with EOMs. By forming these strategic partnerships, we build understanding which in turn transcends professional domains. These new tools can ultimately be implemented 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 where with 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 the day on 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 GRIT scores the less likely a cadet was to drop out. GRIT is a hallmark of high-achievers, so although not 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!” She continues to strive to be ever more humble and ego-less, 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 for what they did. She now faces a challenge with her own children, who are being raised with privilege facing little struggle, to model the same level of commitment as her parents did for her.
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 that type of challenge is often those moments that make 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 thereafter and comprised of four EOMs each of whom are at different stages 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, and a combination of talent and effort.
INTEGRATE: Wrap-Up & Closing Remarks
Pete concluded our gritty two-day experience by his framing 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, be that of board member, spouse, CEO, and others to assuring whatever his or her dream and next chapter in life is realized.