You are not a genius? No Problem!   

Calvin Coolidge

I recently began reading a biography about a political figure I knew nothing about. The book is Calvin Coolidge by Amity Shlaes. Our 30th president was born into a farming family that was not wealthy but they believed that success was a result of hard work and showing up every day.  Calvin was a “C” student and an introvert (read geek) who, like most of us experienced a range of failures. Let’s see how this average person made it to the White House.

Shlaes explains, “Coolidge himself identified perseverance as the key to that triumph. He is quoted as saying, ‘If I had permitted my failures, or what seemed to me at the time a lack of success, to discourage me, I cannot see any way in which I would have ever made progress.’ In that same vein, students of Coolidge erroneously quote Calvin as writing:

                      Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

 Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent.

Regardless of who penned that paragraph, their words spoke to me. When I was launching my business, I had a sinking feeling that I wasn’t the best writer on the planet, that everyone else likely surpassed my SAT scores and that my competitors were all Suma Cum Laude graduates from Harvard or Yale. That said, I crossed my fingers and launched my business. Before long, I successfully I built my business with interesting clients who appreciated my writing skills. I wrote three books for the publisher, Arcadia, published a Chamber magazine, provided Hearst with cover stories and served as ghost writer for a pharmaceutical CEO.

As a solo entrepreneur, I wear many hats: president, writer, salesman and janitor. The most challenging part of that equation is not being the janitor, but rather marketing.  Often, when I hear NO, I assume that means forever, rather than JUST NOT NOW. These days, I am revising my thinking and adopting the “not now” concept. With Calvin in mind, I am becoming more persistent!



Coffee anyone?

I recently hosted a 9:00 a.m. breakfast meeting for my professional networking group. I served fresh berries, juice and muffins. I skipped the coffee because (a) I am not a coffee drinker and (b) all of the coffee drinkers always bring their own morning brews.


However, at the break, several people asked for fresh coffee. I have possibly made coffee twice, but now I was on the spot. I ground the beans, poured the granules into the filter, added the water and pressed the ON button. As expected, the coffee filled the carafe and people loaded their mugs. No one complained and no one died so I felt good about my efforts. Thinking back, though, no one complimented me either.


A few days later, my husband, started making coffee for himself.  He asked what I had done to the coffee maker – grounds were all over the place and it was a mess. He said the coffee had to be horrible. I ludicrously suggested I email an apology. Instead of saying, “No, it’s not that bad,” he said, “Great idea!”


Who knew? No one puked on the carpet, no one gagged over the sink and no one threw their coffee at me…so, I thought things were OK. Luckily, for my group, in the future my husband will be making the coffee so they won’t be sipping coffee grounds.

We all use homographs every day, but do you know what they are?

Homographs are words that are spelled the same but have different pronunciations and different meanings. A homograph that is pronounced differently is a heteronym.
Let’s look at some examples:

  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
  2. The farm was used to produce produce.
  3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
  5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  10. I did not object to the object.

English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor is there ham in hamburger. There is no apple or pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England and French fries aren’t from France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads (which aren’t sweet) are animal organs.

The English language is full of paradoxes: quicksand works slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.