Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Sept 3rd 2009


Reading the book by Malcolm Gladwell, The Outliers, provides an interesting insight into why some people are at the top of the table, while others who are equally as talented fall by the wayside. It suggests that success can be as much to do with circumstance and luck, as hard work, determination and grit. OCVBC will not mean much to anyone who did not grow up a girl in Orange County, California,. It’s stands for Orange County Volleyball Club and is a huge part of why I am where I am today. The reason I bring it up, is I believe that had I not grown up in Newport Beach, had I not played for this club for 5 years, I would not have achieved what I have and certainly would not be in London writing a blog about my experiences as a young entrepreneur.

I think in general, most people will have a difficult time seeing circumstance as a main driver in why people are successful. We have grown up on the American dream and would like to believe that regardless of circumstance, with hard work and determination, we can achieve whatever we want. Sure, hard work, intelligence, and grit will always play a huge part in separating people. Lazy people rarely become uber successful. But it takes more than that. By growing up in Newport Beach, one of the hot beds of women’s volleyball in the country, I, along with countless young girls started playing volleyball for OCVBC when I was 12. It was something that, seemingly, everyone did. The club was started by Charlie Brand, a man who is arguably one of the most influential people in the country in women’s volleyball. He was also unarguably the toughest. He took spoiled overindulged girls and turned them into tough athletes. No one, regardless of wealth, social stature, looks or intelligence was spared. Everyone was treated the same and everyone had to fight for their starting position every single practice. He taught us that if you want something, no one is going to hand it to you; you need to go out and get it. Charlie also made you punctual, professional and tough. If you were not 15 minutes early, you were late. Being late meant that your teammates had to run sets of lines while you were forced to sit and watch. A shirt out tucked was more lines and heaven forbid you cry. While all of this seems like sadistic abuse and often times it felt that way, it is also the backbone to many of the girls’ future successes. The club was one of the best in the country. We produced many of the top college volleyball players, Olympians and pro athletes. It didn’t just give you an opportunity to play volleyball in college (which many of us did), but it also gave you something that I have found often lacks in young kids in the working world: discipline.

I played for the club for 5 years and through my success there was recruited for an Ivy League university and subsequently played my whole 4 years at college. Those 9 years of my life I commited to the sport, is the single largest commitment I have ever made to anything. The lessons learned there have been woven into everything that I do. I look at how I run my company and cannot help but think of Charlie. Sometime I wonder if I would be here today if I had been allowed to quit when I was 14, as I so desperately wanted to. I hate to admit it, but I categorically know I would be nowhere near. Growing up in Newport Beach, one could make all kinds of assumptions of the advantages I may have had. But in reality, the real advantage was Orange County Volleyball Club. An environment where you could not buy your spot on the starting team and where everything you earned was yours. Where team was everything and one person was nothing. Where being late or lazy came with huge repercussions and where the weak were weeded out naturally. Where being the captain of the team meant that if you lost, the weight fell on your slender teenage shoulders and where you learned to look out for each other because your hell was also their hell. It personified the quote, “if it was easy, everyone would do it”.

I bet that if asked, each entrepreneur, business owner, or any successful individual will have a similar story. There will be something in their life that formed them into how they are, whether that be a parent, coach, teacher, sibling or friend. I imagine there are loads of people out there who given a similar set of circumstances, would be at the top of their game as well. If I have learned anything about business, it’s that you need more than just hard work and a winning attitude to make it. You need all that in spades, but these days you also need that something more.

1 comment:

  1. This brought back some awesome memories/feelings. You should forward this to Charlie....