Grit, The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success: “Everything that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you”

With Jessica Higgins

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“Everything that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you…” — Steve Jobs. To me this means that anything is possible. I look around at architecture, business models and software and realize that we’re all capable of anything. It comes down to the execution.

As a part of my series on how influential people built empires from nothing, I had the pleasure to interview Jessica Higgins, JD MBA BB. Jessica is a researcher, consultant and marketing communications professional. She was named the Breakthrough Female Founder of 2017 by Thrive Global and has been published in over 1,000 news media outlets, including Entrepreneur, USA Weekly, NBC and many others. Her first book, 10 Skills for Effective Business Communication: Practical Strategies from the World’s Greatest Leaders released at #1 in Amazon New Releases for Communication and Social Skills and is available on Amazon HERE.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path

I began in operations management, mainly restructuring Fortune 500s, and discovered the hidden component many management consultants miss is the internal marketing side. You have to make people believe in new things to generate new outcomes, and that is just the world we live in today. Few get that, more are beginning to, but I made a career out of it. Culture is created and changed when beliefs are changed.

Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

In my twenties I collaborated with people who saw the value I brought to the table and took advantage of me. Both of them still owe me money. I look at your personal history as a series of lessons that can ratchet you up, or down. It’s important to stay focused on the positive and just keep going forward.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

My friends and mentors believe in me, even at times where I struggle to, and they’ve kept me going. Despite all the human poison I’ve encountered, there are humans out there that can give you great strength. It’s important to find them and keep them close.

So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?

I think an often underestimated component of GRIT is self-awareness. Grit, to me, begins with recognizing when I am not in the place I should be mentally. The dark times are when you feel stuck. My version of GRIT is taking time to myself during the rough moments, connecting with my purpose, and then the productivity finds itself right back on track. When you’re back in a positive stride, great things just come to you.

So, how are things going today? 🙂

Life is short and time is our most valuable resource. I treat time as very expensive, meaning that every day is going great!

But honestly, the end of the year is a time of planning for the next year, meaning that the unknowns are high for entrepreneurs. It’s more important than ever to stay confident and positive.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)

“Everything that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you…” — Steve Jobs. To me this means that anything is possible. I look around at architecture, business models and software and realize that we’re all capable of anything. It comes down to the execution.

“I wake up every day knowing 100% that I will succeed.” — my client, WeShareMD. I asked how you keep going when things are tough and this was his immediate response. Maybe entrepreneurs are deluded, but delusion seems to be a key factor in success!

“You’re going to face a unique set of challenges being female and beautiful. The business world was not made for you. Get tough.” — my Dad. I was raised by an entrepreneur who was very transparent with me about the world of women and work. It prepared me well.

“The opposite of addiction is connection.” — Joe Polish, CEO of Genius Network and Genius Recovery. His words of advice are that many entrepreneurs are extremists, meaning many of us are addicts in one way or another. If we reach out to others about the demons, or worries, we can overcome them. If we keep them to ourselves, they can eat us alive. Joe’s work is very powerful in helping people overcome addiction, but I think the connection message transcends to all of us in some way.

“The best way to become an expert at something is to be willing to be mediocre at it for about 5 years.” — Seth Godin. The idea here is to just create. You’re far more likely to get better at it over time, than worse. Whatever you want to do with your life, just start hacking away at it now.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?

My dear friend and mentor, Ben Way (who wrote the forward to my book 10 Skills for Effective Business Communication), is my rock, personally and professionally. He’s one of our great technologists and futurists, which means he’s always insightful when you have any type of business issue. He’s also very open about his personal struggle with anxiety, and helped me overcome my anxiety with a regimen of healthy diet and cortisol management. Just last week, research was published that anxiety and depression may be a function of nutrition. Of course Ben knows everything before everyone else does! I wish everyone had a Ben in their lives.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I try! I publish a daily blog for free to the public at, where I provide my insights into ideas and skills meant to help others grow. People seem to like it, and if you do, share it. I take that time out of my day for others to spread ideas meant to change behaviors, which may just change our culture over time.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’m very excited to be working with the innovative fintech company, Spark Invest. Intelligent investors hold a small percentage of their investment portfolio in startups because these high-risk, high-reward opportunities can either fail, or yield far higher returns than the public markets, so its viewed as worthwhile. This is not investment advice, we’ve seen it happen before, from the early investors in Microsoft, to Facebook, to Birchbox.

The problem is, these investment opportunities are hard to come by, and generally only available to accredited investors.

So Spark Invest is making these investment opportunities available to the everyday person, and is regulated by FINRA and the SEC.

I would like to see this replace some of the retail investment markets now, in particular thise which are unregulated and largely fraudulent. Namely, ICOs.

What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Just because you were good at creating a great product or service, does not mean you are good at being a leader. Treat leadership as a skill: study and practice it daily. Without that piece you have absolutely no business running your business.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Well, we’re creating a Super PAC now to CTRL+ALT+DELETE Congress. Our culture seems to be moving in that direction in some areas, but we need everyone to catch up. If we want a government that reflects us, we have to hire from a pool of people that reflect us, and those simply aren’t career politicians.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Oh the places you’ll go!” — Doctor Suess. You have absolutely no idea or control over what happens next, other than what goals you set, and accomplish. That’s the best we can do to keep ourselves in the driver’s seat. Otherwise, we’re just sitting around letting life happen to us.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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