Tag: Grit

Faisal Saeed Al Mutar’s first experience with Americans was during the second Iraq war when a US tank rolled up in front of his house. He shares his incredible story of growing up under Saddam Hussein’s regime, the vaccuum in his neighborhood that was filled by members of Al-Qaeda, blogging against extremism and receiving death threats as a teenager, escaping Iraq, and the ten year journey to becoming an America citizen. He discusses being taken in by a family in Virginia, why he thinks Americans are amazing people, his appreciation of the values America was founded upon – free speech, civil liberties, and freedom of religion – and the importance of the separation of powers. His is the founder of Ideas Beyond Borders, a non-profit that seeks to prevent extremism before it takes root by translating and creating content related to the values that make people less likely to be recruited by extremist organizations. And he shares stories of the heroes he works with across the Middle East who are risking their freedom and lives to help translate content covering controversial or banned ideas, from civil rights, to women’s rights, to evolution, and critical thinking.

Full transcript available here: WiW57-FaisalSaeedAlMutar-Transcript

Story Hour with Bridget Phetasy is a segment where Bridget reminisces with cousin Maggie and tells stories explaining who she is and how she got here. Full transcript available here: WiW27-StoryHour3-Transcript

This story hour comes as a result of several requests. Bridget covers her history with the restaurant industry – across the country, in small towns and big cities. Find out why being a hostess isn’t as easy as one might think, why you should never go out to eat when you’re starving, and why Bridget loved being a busser (hint: you don’t have to talk to the customers). Tales told also include, losing her virginity to someone inappropriate, her brilliant strategy for skipping school and how it all came crashing down, which famous singer grabbed her ass at Sundance, and Bridget’s secret true passion in life.

Story Hour with Bridget Phetasy is a segment where Bridget reminisces with cousin Maggie and tells stories explaining who she is and how she got here. Full transcript available here: WiW6-PhetasyOriginStory-Transcript

Bridget Phetasy shares the definition of the word Phetasy (a word she made up). The origin of the company, taking it on tour across country for 6 months, the eventual downfall of phetasy.com and the hope for its future resurrection. Along the way hear stories about a crazy ex-neighbor who thought Bridget was spying on her for Oliver Stone, how Bridget met her (now ex) husband from Belarus when he was working as a busboy, the “days of soup and toast”, and why attempting to cross the border into Canada with bundles of t-shirts wrapped in white plastic bags and duct tape is a bad idea.

This week Bridget welcomes Paul Shirley, former NBA player, published author, and founder of Writers Blok, a communal workspace for writers in Los Angeles. Paul talks about the role sports play in helping us learn to fail, operating at peak capacity, how having too much free time can be paralyzing and why being a people-pleaser is both his biggest asset and greatest weakness. Paul and Bridget debate whether cavemen had more free time than we think they did, discuss overcoming internal resistance and agree that setting constraints on your life is helpful. Be sure to check out Paul’s podcast Stories I Tell On Dates.

Chloé Valdary, (The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Atlantic) freelance writer and deep thinker, talks with Bridget about dealing with Imposter Syndrome, the death of art, why revolution is easier than governance and the three things she learned from Bret Stephens. Chloé and Bridget discuss their shared desire to see all humans flourish while they analyze the joy that being snarky can bring. Don’t miss their fascinating takes on intersectionality, astrology and why dudes want to fight – always. Be sure to read Chloé’s fabulous piece on intersectionality – Whiteness is Blackness and Blackness is Whiteness.

Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development) talks with Bridget Phetasy about his early job selling graves over the phone, their morning routines, embracing the uncomfortable, dark nights of the soul, trusting in your skill as an artist and how the key to life is to keep moving forward. Listen in as Jeff discusses why he’s so supportive of other artists in the industry, marvel that neither one of them knows Ariana Grande’s real name, and hear them almost decide to become roommates in the latest episode of Walk-Ins Welcome.

This week Bridget Phetasy interviews Rosie Moss, actress, waitress, Bar/Bat Mitzvah coach, Hebrew school teacher, very busy human. Rosie shares her first experience on a network show in an episode of The Connors. She and Bridget discuss traversing the chasm between your dreams and reality, the curse of always wanting more, why the people you surround yourself with are what make you successful, and how touch football saved her.

Learn about Steve Howey’s (Shameless) journey into acting and how getting a national Coca-Cola commercial right out of the gates was the worst thing that could have happened.  He talks marathons, triathlons, how he pushes himself beyond his perceived limits and why the mind is a dangerous place.

The Power of Being Able to Do a Good Job at Tedious, Detail-Oriented Work


There is a growing body of research on the importance of determination, of grit, of stick-to-itiveness in kids becoming successful adults. In German, they call this staying-power quality “sitzfleisch.”  The etymology, according to the St. Louis Fed, alludes to the ability to stay seated for a long time in order to perfectly complete a task. And possessing a healthy portion of sitzfleisch can mean higher wages. From“What Sitzfleisch Has To Do with Wages” by economist David Wiczer:

How can we measure this advantage of persevering at a task, at staying seated until the task’s conclusion? It turns out that the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) includes a measure. The U.S. military designed this series of tests to help place new soldiers into jobs in the armed forces. Many of the tests cover straightforward topics such as “Word Knowledge.” However, one test stands out as peculiar: “Coding Speed.” Test-takers match words with numbers from a list in accordance with another separate key. This is a tedious exercise to do over and again, and returning and checking one’s answers is a true test of stamina.

The Last Possible Good Failure


shutterstock_90261658I’d probably make a lousy prostitute, I concluded. Time to swallow my pride and move back home. 

It wasn’t my parents’ fault. Almost always, children have to be taught to be less whiny, not more. Virtuous parents rightly hold up stoicism as a model for their children’s behavior. Most problems you face at any given moment will eventually go away if you simply toughen up. Unbending persistence in the face of pain is the key to ultimate success.

Except when it isn’t. Looking after my respiratory problems – which, after all, could be life-threatening – would have been enough for any parent. When I began having funny aches in my bones, too, my parents said, “It’s just growing pains. Have another banana.” Or, “Walk it off.” Or, “You must’ve slept on it funny.” They said this day in and out for years. And I took their advice like a good girl, stifling whining and backchat, day in and day out for years. Eventually I got sick of bananas, though much addicted to long walks by myself, especially in chilly weather, when the numbing ache of the cold obliterated other sensations.

Un-Teaching Grit: The Marshmallow Test Revisited


James Pethokoulis recently asked how we can teach children the grit – the persistence, self-control, and conscientiousness – they need to climb the opportunity ladder. I don’t have a great answer to that question, but I do think there’s a likely answer to the question, “How do we un-teach grit?”

Many of us are probably acquainted with the Stanford marshmallow experiment. In this experiment, a young child is left alone in a room with a reward (in some cases, a marshmallow) with the promise that — if he refrains from eating the reward for a fixed length of time — he can have an even bigger reward once the time is up. It is considered a classic test of a child’s ability to delay gratification. When the researchers followed up on the children years later, they found that those able better to delay gratification had turned into more successful young adults: they had higher SAT scores and educational attainment, lower BMIs, were better able to cope with stress and frustration, and so on. Self-control wins! Grit wins! Conservatism wins! Go us!