Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

2/5 Stars

It’s review time again. Unfortunately, it’s not happy review time. I received a free advanced copy of this book through Goodreads Firstreads for review. I was actually really excited to read this short little advice guide because of my current situation. I was hoping that it would be full of great tips, helpful advice, and the occasional story of achieving greatness and sustainability to keep my head up and keep pushing through to achieve my goals. That’s not, however, what I got.

This is a short book written by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, two very successful women working in advertising. They have worked with huge clients including, but not limited to, Wendy’s and Aflac. These two women share advice that they have gained over the years in an attempt to tell you how you, too, can achieve success.

Sounds like a fun little book, right? What I described above is what I was expecting to get. Two successful women giving advice, I was all about that. But, that’s not what I got. What this book mostly consists of is anecdote after anecdote after anecdote of rags-to-riches stories. That’s all this book is. Thaler and Koval just take turns telling story after story of people who achieved success. And, not even really how they achieved success – just that they didn’t have it before, they worked hard and had a lot of luck along the way, and now they’re rich. This book gives zero instruction (not that there are really instructions on how to achieve success) on how to reach your goals.

The first 15 pages started out promising with a definition of each trait it takes to make it big and be successful. It was nice. These women said that success is out there for anyone to achieve and you don’t even have to be exceptionally talented to reach it – Success comes to those who work hard and practice. Okay, that I can get on board with. I liked the opening and was all ready to take notes on the advice these women were about to impart on me.

Then, by about page 35, after the 5th anecdote, I started to get bored. But, I was hoping that things would get better. I was hoping that there would be some more helpful advice imparted to follow and not just the women summarizing the story they had just told in an attempt to turn it into some sort of vague advice. I really thought this book would turn around.

It didn’t.

It just got worse.

There were so many anecdotes that I just didn’t care about, and the stories of “success” just kept getting worse and more boring, as if Thaler and Koval were attempting to grasp words that didn’t even exist. This is a very short book, only about 130 pages, but I found myself really struggling to finish. I was bored. I wanted it to end. I didn’t learn anything.

In fact, the word Pluck that’s in the title of the book, I don’t even know how it applies. It was never even explained in the book. Why is it in the title if you’re not going to explain what exactly “Pluck” means and how you can use it to help you gain success.

Next, I don’t even know who the target audience of this book is supposed to be. I think it’s meant for middle-aged people who have made mistakes in their life but have a desire to turn themselves around and be successful. I know this book was not meant for my age group. Thaler and Koval excessively talk down to millennials and make my generation (and everyone born after me) sound like horrible, lazy people who don’t want to work or do anything and just expect things to be handed to them. This is not how you sell a bookI was so angry by the end of this book, I just about threw it in the garbage. I want to send these women an email and be like “Hey, so excuse you, but many people of my generation work exceptionally hard and it’s not our fault that we live in a ruined economy and are doing our best with what we have.”

This book in no way helped me or made me feel like success was achievable.

You can’t talk down to an entire generation and then expect to profit off them buying a book you’re promoting that you claim will help them achieve success, when you explicitly say in said book that we are lazy, ungrateful humans who don’t deserve success. What kind of game is this? I don’t want to play. Count me out.

There’s also a few points where Thaler and Koval try to talk about metal disorders and obviously have no idea what they’re talking about. At one point there was an actual generalized sentence that said all pessimists were depressed and all optimists were happy people no matter what immune to all mental disorders. I’m sorry, but do you realize how ridiculous that sounds?

Finally, there were so many contradictions in this book, I have no idea how Thaler and Koval expect me to achieve success. They were like be this and then later said but don’t be this and do that but then later said but don’t do that. The one that got me the most was in the beginning when they said talent didn’t matter and it was, in fact, practice that counted, and then later they said practice isn’t everything, you have to have talent too. Alright-yyyy then.

I did not enjoy this book and definitely do not recommend or endorse it. This was boring, blah, and reaching to achieve something that wasn’t there to begin with. I suggest Thaler and Koval stick to advertising and stay away from writing any more books or giving advice.

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