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Find a Way or Make One!

It Takes Grit to Succeed

‘Karen and Jay share thoughts on the importance of grit and determination in ‘making a way,’ especially in moments where it is difficult to find a successful path forward.’ Special video credits to Julie Pendleton.

It’s tempting to look for the perfect time – when all the circumstances seem to be lining up in your favor. Setting you up so neatly for success. So, you wait and wait – but the time never seems to be entirely perfect. You’re looking to find the time, find the way – and it’s just not to be found. Unfortunately, the reality is that if you continue to wait – the time and the perfect way most likely will never arrive. So, to be successful in this world, you need to have grit – the determination that says, ‘If I can’t find a way, I will make one!’

In the pursuit of our dreams and ambitions, life often presents us with challenges and circumstances that may appear insurmountable. It is during these moments of adversity that the qualities of grit and drive shine the brightest. Grit and drive are the unwavering determination and resilience that propel individuals to push forward, even when faced with less-than-ideal situations.

One of the most compelling examples of grit and drive in action is the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani advocate for girls' education. Growing up in the Swat Valley, a region fraught with Taliban oppression and hostility towards female education, Malala could have easily succumbed to the prevailing circumstances. However, her unwavering determination to receive an education and empower other girls in her community led her to become a global symbol of resilience. Malala's courageous journey, despite facing life-threatening adversity, underscores the importance of grit and drive in forging a path to success.

So, too, entrepreneurs are no strangers to setbacks and unfavorable conditions. One notable story is that of Elon Musk, the visionary behind companies like SpaceX and Tesla. During SpaceX's early years, the company faced multiple failures, including three rocket launch failures that brought it to the brink of bankruptcy. Musk's unyielding determination and belief in the importance of space exploration pushed him to invest his personal fortune to keep SpaceX afloat. Today, SpaceX is a leading player in the aerospace industry, thanks to Musk's extraordinary grit and drive to succeed against all odds.

In the realm of sports, few stories exemplify grit and drive better than the journey of Michael Jordan. Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Jordan faced numerous obstacles and rejections throughout his career. Most notably, he was cut from his high school basketball team as a sophomore. However, instead of giving up, Jordan used this setback as motivation to work harder and become the best player he could be. His relentless drive not only earned him a spot on the team but also propelled him to win six NBA championships and five MVP awards. Jordan's story is a testament to the idea that success often requires pushing through adversity and setbacks with unwavering determination. In other words, ‘making your way,’ especially when no viable way seems apparent.

Grit and drive are not limited to the realm of celebrities or extraordinary circumstances. They are qualities that can be cultivated in our everyday lives. When faced with personal or professional challenges, individuals who exhibit grit and drive are more likely to persevere and find solutions. Whether it's navigating a difficult career transition, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, or pursuing a passion project, the ability to stay committed and resilient in the face of adversity is a valuable asset.

In the face of challenging circumstances, the importance of grit and drive cannot be overstated. Real-life stories like those of Malala Yousafzai, Elon Musk, and Michael Jordan demonstrate how these qualities can turn adversity into opportunity and lead to remarkable success. Whether in education, entrepreneurship, sports, or everyday life, grit and drive are the driving forces behind those who refuse to be deterred by setbacks. They remind us that even when the path seems uncertain, forging ahead with determination and resilience can ultimately lead to the achievement of our goals and dreams.

Pioneers with Grit and Determination – Right Here in New Hampshire

In the world of technology and innovation, there are those who make headlines with their groundbreaking achievements, and then there are those whose stories often remain in the shadows, but their impact is nothing short of extraordinary. Jeremy Hitchcock, the visionary behind Dyn, and Dean Kamen, the driving force behind ARMI and more, are two such individuals whose journeys exemplify the remarkable power of persistence – and the steadfast determination required to ‘make a way.’

Jeremy Hitchcock, a name that may not be immediately recognizable to many outside of the technology and education circles in the Granite State, embarked on a mission to transform the internet's infrastructure. He co-founded Dyn, a company specializing in internet performance management, which ultimately became a vital cog in the global internet machine. But the path to success was far from smooth. Dyn faced numerous challenges along the way, from technical hurdles to fierce competition. Yet, Jeremy's unwavering commitment to his vision kept him pushing forward.

Similarly, Dean Kamen, the driving force behind ARMI (Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute), embarked on a quest to revolutionize the field of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. His dedication to improving human lives through innovation earlier had led him to develop groundbreaking devices like the Segway and the iBOT wheelchair. Despite facing skepticism and setbacks along the way, Dean's relentless pursuit of innovation never wavered. Today, ARMI is on its way to remarkable success and achievement.

What sets individuals like Jeremy Hitchcock and Dean Kamen apart is their ability to weather the storms of doubt and adversity. They understand that true innovation often demands persistence beyond measure. Their stories remind us that success is rarely immediate; it requires unwavering determination, resilience in the face of challenges, and the courage to defy conventional wisdom. In other words, when it is not apparent that there is a ‘way,’ they have the insight and grit to ‘make one!’

Inventor Pioneers – Choosing to ‘Make a Way!’

As a teenager, Henry Ford learned how to take watches and other timepieces apart and repair them, gaining the reputation of an expert watch repairman. Later, he would tinker with engines and became even better known for this pursuit. In fact, he was affiliated with the people who in some way had started Cadillac, General Motors, and even Dodge.

While he didn't invent the motor or even the automobile, he foresaw there would be a great demand once people knew they could afford such a thing. So, he took the initiative and with a bit of unconventional flair – seized on a way to ‘cut through the clutter’ and let people know about the opportunity. He found a race car driver to promote the concept. With the help of driver Barney Oldfield, he made the Ford brand nationally famous before the production line even began. Once the cheap, easy-to-repair and maintain vehicle started rolling off the line, it moved quickly. No pun intended.

When Steve Jobs turned thirteen, after cold calling Bill Hewlett (of HP computers), he got a summer job that would be the beginning of his journey into the world of electronics. At that job, he met Steve Wozniak, who was a couple years older than him, and they became good friends. Jobs would visit Wozniak at college while he was still in high school.

They started Apple in 1976, and Jobs was pushed out of the company in 1985. He then started NeXT Inc. It was a NeXT workstation that the World Wide Web would be created on just 5 years later. In 1997, Apple acquired NeXT, and Jobs returned to the company he co-founded. Soon thereafter, he was once again put in charge of Apple, and that’s when he introduced the "iMac," with the iPhone coming ten years later, and the rest, as they say, is history. Jobs loved to quote Wayne Gretzky, saying, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been." Like Ford, he saw the direction he wanted consumer electronics to go and had the intention of making exciting products and stimulating intense loyalty and demand. His meaning behind the "i" in iPhone was internet, individual, instruct, inform, and inspire. He sold concepts, not just products.

This brings us to our most recent day inventor extraordinaire, Elon Musk. Soon after college, he started his first software company, which he sold for a massive profit. He then started an online bank which later became PayPal, and he also sold that. Now a billionaire at only 31 years old, he took $100 million and started SpaceX. Two years later, he became an early investor in Tesla, and another two years later, he started SolarCity, which became Tesla Energy. It seemed he was following Moore's Law of sorts with his wealth and success. Another nine years later, he founded both Neuralink and the Boring Company, at which point it seemed he was unstoppable with innovation.

His most recent endeavor, officially launched in July 2023, is xAI, an artificial intelligence company with the goal of understanding the true nature of the universe. Perhaps unlike either Ford, who revolutionized transportation and mass production, or Jobs, who revolutionized electronics and communication, Musk seems to have reached out even more aggressively catapulting into all four of those areas and has begun to explore much further. Far beyond our "pale blue dot, suspended on a sunbeam" (Carl Sagan). That’s a vast understatement. The truth is, Elon says that “as super interesting as Mars and space are, they pale in comparison to how interesting humanity is.” It leaves room for the question: what will the next innovator, looking for a path that doesn’t yet exist, create? Finding a way is one approach – ‘Making a way’ – is the common denominator of these extraordinary inventor pioneers.

Positive Profile of the Week: Brendan Keegan: Triumphing Over Adversity

This week we are delighted to highlight the efforts of a successful business leader right here in the Granite State - Brendan P. Keegan, Chairman, CEO & President of Merchants Fleet.

Brendan has proven time and again that adversity is simply a stepping-stone to success. With a career spanning multiple industries, his journey to becoming one of the most influential figures in the business world is a testament to his resilience and innovative leadership.

From his early days as a systems engineer at EDS, Brendan rapidly climbed the corporate ladder, ultimately becoming the youngest Chief Sales Officer at a Fortune 100 company. His rise to the top was marked by his ability to transform businesses, raise capital, develop strategies, and drive revenue growth, all while creating substantial value for investors. Keegan's track record speaks volumes, with nearly $5.0 billion raised in capital and over $10.0 billion returned to investors.

His accolades are a testament to his unwavering commitment to excellence. He has been recognized as the world's Most Innovative CEO by CEO World Awards®, Executive of the Year by Best in Biz Awards, and Visionary of the Year by Globee Awards, among many others. Under his leadership, Merchants Fleet has achieved impressive milestones, including being named a two-time Inc 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Company and a Deloitte Best Managed Company.

However, Brendan Keegan's journey to success goes beyond the boardroom. He has faced adversity since the day he was born, entering the world prematurely and fighting for his life. This early battle with adversity planted the seeds of resilience and fearlessness that have defined his leadership style.

As the CEO of Merchants Fleet, Keegan's innovative vision has propelled the company into a new era, pioneering the concept of FleetTech. He recognized the potential for growth in the fleet industry and set out to transform the company's business model. This bold move has positioned Merchants Fleet as the fastest-growing fleet management company in North America.

Keegan's commitment to giving back to the community is equally impressive. Alongside his wife Dana, he founded the Keegan Courage & Faith Foundation, with the aim of donating one million dollars to youth programs. Their contributions include funding the Keegan Leadership Center at Bishop Guertin High School and the Barbara Keegan Arts Center at St. Christopher's School, among others.

Looking ahead, Keegan envisions continued growth and innovation for Merchants Fleet, with a focus on enabling the movement of people, goods, and services while providing exceptional service and flexibility. His passion for technology and innovation ensures that the company will remain at the forefront of the fleet management industry.

In addition to his business endeavors, Brendan Keegan is dedicated to mentoring and coaching emerging leaders. He believes that leadership is a daily decision and that anyone can become a leader with the right guidance and determination. As he looks forward to his future, Keegan plans to share his wealth of experience by sitting on boards and helping entrepreneurs achieve their business objectives.

Brendan Keegan's life story is a testament to his ability to face adversity head-on and emerge victorious. As a fearless leader, he has not only transformed businesses but also inspired countless individuals to conquer their fears and lead fearlessly in the ever-changing business landscape. With a bright future ahead, Brendan Keegan's impact on the business world and the next generation of leaders is bound to be profound. Brendan, we express our deep appreciation and say ‘thank you’ for your many positive efforts and contributions to our community and beyond!

Quotes of the Week: Making a Way!

"When you can't find a way, create one." - Napoleon Bonaparte "Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person." - Mother Teresa "The best way to predict the future is to create it." - Peter Drucker "Opportunities don't happen. You create them." - Chris Grosser "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward." - Martin Luther King Jr.


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