No Grit No Pearl

How can we identify the traits in entry-level candidates that will most likely lead to performance, when there is little track record of experience to base our decisions on?

We know that intelligence is a good predictor of performance across the board. So, we might give candidates a psychometric test to identify mental ability. Or perhaps we assume that grades, or where someone attended third-level, will give us a better insight. Conscientiousness matters, so every resume with a spelling mistake should be binned…right?

For psychologist Angela Duckworth, 2013 winner of MacArthur Genius Fellowship for her work on achievement, we should be prioritising something else. Something which she claims predicts performance better than grades or intelligence or where someone went to college.

This something is “Grit”.

Duckworth describes grit as “passion plus perseverance”, or the ability to stick and persevere at goals over time, despite setbacks, frustrations and failure. It is about long-term commitment to a goal and engagement in a role, which allows for the development of mastery.


“Success is not final,” said Winston Churchill. “Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

The idea of tenacity in predicting success is not new. Indeed, Malcolm Gladwell popularised the notion that the common thread linking most major masters in their field was none other than boring old practice. Hard, gruelling, practice to improve the things you’re no good at – 10,000 hours of practice to be precise.


So, how can we select for grit?

While it is likely that some people are naturally ‘grittier’ than others, Duckworth believes that environment is just as important as nature – in other words, a match between the role characteristics and the candidate preferences is key.

When someone pursues a topic they are naturally interested in; a topic that gets their energy – that they think about, talk about and read about, tenacity grows. So, choosing a candidate that loves what they do within your business should not just be an added bonus, it should be a central part of your selection process.

Yet, aside from a possible glance at an optional line on a resume, how much attention really gets paid to interests when recruiting? I’ll wager, not enough.

Next, according to Duckworth, comes purpose. Connecting to the wider meaning of a role, or how the role provides a service to others, dramatically increases grittiness. So, spending the time to understand what motivates your candidate, and what the job means to them at a deeper level, is crucial.

Structure your interview to probe these issues, administer values-based questionnaires or use a sourcing tool that can identify these deeper-level attributes. Hiring smart candidates that don’t buy-into your role is not a smart move.


Selecting for grit is not enough.

For true grittiness to shine, employees need to believe that their aspirations can be realised, that the arduous search for the precious oyster shell will deliver. This requires that a culture of learning and growth is fostered, and that people can conceptualise how upward movement can occur. Pairing employees with more experienced mentors – people that have already transcended boundaries – can help destroy limiting beliefs.

So, when considering how you measure performance, stay mindful of metrics with longer-term results, like tenacity. Fostering perseverance may require more work up front but remember – no grit, no pearl!

Article first published for In Business magazine on 19.9.18

The Journey of a Lifetime


Looking back over the past few years of this incredible entrepreneurial journey, I can't help but wonder.....was I mad!?! Perhaps, but man, madness is a lot of fun. 

Here's one from last year's "Women Mean Business" magazine - and here's to all the amazing, powerful girls that have been with me, hanging on for dear life, on this roller-coaster of craic.


Women Mean Business

Sustainable, international technologies are at the heart of 12 new start-up businesses graduating from Phase Two of Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers Programme at The LINC based at the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown, who collectively have confirmed the appointment of 60 new Irish jobs within the next 12 months.

LINC salutes another class of smart business and technical entrepreneurs who have accomplished the six-month Intensive Business Accelerator Course and will now set about independently to raise capital investment, grow their businesses, and between them, create employment for 60 aspiring employees keen to work in one of Ireland’s newest, innovative start-ups.

The technology and business start-ups cover a range of industries, with one emerging company creating a virtual appointments platform for health and wellbeing Practitioners. founder Darryl Gibney, from Navan, Meath, is one of THE 12 New Frontiers graduates from nine counties in Ireland, as well as one international participant from Spain. Ms. Gibney has created a business which aims to reduce time, money and resources in the Practitioner sector, through a software that automates administrative tasks, whilst providing a front-facing on-demand booking engine for clients. The company is currently recruiting for Sales Consultants and PHP Developers.

According to Gibney, the Programme at The LINC helped her build a network of supportive fellow ‘Start-up’ers’ whose shared highs and lows have been worth their weight in gold.  “The New Frontiers Programme has been an invaluable experience on the road to building a successful, scale-able international start-up. New Frontiers gave me first-hand access to some of the smartest minds in Irish business, investors, technical developers, and their wealth of expertise.”

Other jobs to come on line will cover the creative arts, beauty, hospitality, data analytics, and wellness industries.

As one class graduates, the LINC is calling upon a new wave of entrepreneurs to apply for the 2017 New Frontiers Programme. Potential participants can benefit from mentoring, practical access to research and knowledge centres within the IT college and all within close proximity to major industrial and commercial hubs, giving them a competitive edge and a fantastic location to grow their start-up business.

We are delighted to have guided these entrepreneurs through their start-up journey over the past six months.  The LINC (Learning and Innovation Centre) at IT Blanchardstown has become a real magnet for top entrepreneurial talent in the capital and we harness and develop this talent through our partnership with Enterprise Ireland to deliver programmes such as New Frontiers,” said Learning and Innovation Centre Manager, Claire Mac Namee.

Pictured: Sarah Fleming, Beauty Entrepreneur from Dublin, Susan Kealy, Career Craft, Grainne Fenton, Technology Entrepreneur from Kerry, Darryl Gibney, Wellclik. Picture Andres Poveda.

Article first published in Women Mean Business 4.4.17

An Explicit Truth about Implicit Bias

An Explicit Truth about Implicit Bias

Discrimination is wrong. We all know that. Fortunately, as decent and educated professionals living in the West, we practice fairness and equality in all of our dealings.

If only.

Implicit bias refers to the unconscious stereotypes that all of us hold. Implicit biases don’t care about your sense of fairness, your morality, your good intentions or your corporate values. 

Spotlight on careers in mental health

Spotlight on careers in mental health

Budding meets Danish entrepreneur, Betina Carstens, who has worked with people with autism and spectrum disorders for 13 years. Betina is a trained child educator and riding master. She tells us how she turned her personal interest into a successful business.

6 unexpected ways to rock at interview

 6 unexpected ways to rock at interview

Interviews can be a minefield. Many people feel totally in the dark as to what interviewers want, and for thousands, the fear of sitting an interview widely surpasses the fear of death.  But be not afraid, Budding is here to make sure you shine. Below are revealed the ‘seven wonders of interviewing’, a list of lesser-known gems that help take the mystery out of the madness.

How to write a resume: 3 unexpected rules

How to write a resume: 3 unexpected rules

Most people have a rough idea of how to write a resume that is passable. The ‘good enough’ approach is adopted all too often, with job-seekers frequently opting to send one generic resume to many rather than spend the time tailoring their resume to each role.

It stands to reason that a resume that speaks directly and specifically to a potential employer is more likely to succeed than one that doesn't.

How to choose a career: why a "good job" can make you miserable

How to choose a career: why a "good job" can make you miserable

I asked my father for his definition of a “good job”.  Without looking up from his paper he replied, “good pay.”

The profit maximisation paradigm has been the dominant approach to business and to choosing a career for the past century.  Indeed, the Kelly Global Workforce Index found that the main driver for career change among Generation X and Generation Y workers is the need for a higher income.

But here’s what’s interesting.