Grit - The Power of Perseverance and Passion

(Adapted from a speech delivered by Marcel Krawczyk to the 2011 College Pro Franchise Managers on Nov. 5th, 2011)
What I have here are some very cool words – Words that every time I hear them remind me why I do what I do day in and day out.
Perseverance – Resolve – Resilience – Ambition
Collectively these words define another even cooler word – Grit.

All of you in this room have grit. You have the perseverance and passion for a long-term goal. Regardless of your results this year your long-term goals are not over. Anyone who claims to have built something of lasting value – be it a business or a personal relationship – without suffering serious pain and disappointment is either a liar or dangerously naïve. The best predictor of your capability for outstanding achievement is your grit – it’s the choices and sacrifices you make when everything around you seems too difficult to achieve your long-term goals. Such as: Delivering those three additional estimates during the week; Knocking on doors for another hour after you’ve been out there for 3 hours Sunday evening because you are 2 leads short of your weekly goal; or Having a serious talk with a painter or an employee who may not be a right fit for your business.
In 2004 I was going into my third year as a computer science major and about to accept my third offer to continue my internship at Motorola as a software engineer. Instead, I declined Motorola and accepted the franchise manager position at College Pro in the fall of 2004. In August 2005 I had failed as a franchise manager. With a revenue goal of $80,000 and an expected business close date of August 12th, I found myself painting alone without a crew well into September and my business barely broke $40,000 in revenue. I had failed.
Discouraged, I went on to try something new. I went to work at a marketing startup company at which, due to the sheer contrast of experience and education, I quickly realized that my experience at College Pro wasn’t just a failure but an indispensable learning experience. It was a platform for what I was capable of.
In 2008, I came back to College Pro with an open mind, more grit than ever, and started all over. That year I doubled the size of my business. Through perseverance and passion I succeeded. I came back again in 2009 to focus on my leadership development by recruiting, hiring, and training other franchise managers while managing my franchise. After another successful year, I left College Pro in 2009 to pursue my passion in marketing and business development.
I’m proud and excited to tell you that today I own my own marketing agency called Little Jack Marketing and PR (that’s We have national clients including California, Florida, and New Jersey; We were recognized and contacted by companies in Ireland and Mexico to work on marketing campaigns in social media and strategy; And we’ve built relationships and partnerships with local advertising companies, a development company, a film production company, and even an event production company for on-going projects.
My College Pro story isn’t necessarily one of great success. I didn’t break any records. I didn’t do anything extraordinary while I was here. But the skills and experience combined with on-going learning has directly contributed to where I am today. Your experience this past year has taught you what it truly means to fail and to have the grit to get up time after time to succeed.
Now I wanted to leave you with 3 key take-ways that I learned while at College Pro but became more applicable with the more I did. Something useful and something that you could apply as soon as today.
My 3 take-aways to you are:

  1. Own Your Mistakes – It’s easier to handle conflict immediately rather than later. Acknowledge that you made a mistake or that a mistake was made under your supervision, propose a solution, and make the correction your priority.
  2. Persistence is Golden – Keep getting back up, trying new things, and striving towards your goals. You will fail. You will reach crisis of meaning many more times in your life. If you don’t push through you will crash and burn. But if you get back up you will find momentum to start working in your favor. You’ll realize, like I did, that you have more competence and confidence than before.
  3. You Can’t Do it On Your Own – Your team, your network, your community, and especially your customers and clients all contribute, in their own way, to your success. I can’t tell you how many times I have received a phone call from someone who I had built a relationship at one point or another who has positively impacted my business and my successes.

My call to action to you is do you have grit? Do you have the perseverance and passion for your long-term goals? What will YOU have to do to make YOUR goals happen?
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