For me, the typical Fourth of July holiday consists of two things—fireworks and movie marathons. Most years, I have to alternate between the two; but, on this weekday-extended version of the holiday, I was able to give full attention to both. So, after escaping with some big bangs, 10 fingers, and excitement, I tuned into perhaps the most patriotic saga in history—The Rocky Balboathon. It was here, during commercial breaks, when I was able to contemplate a quality embodied by Rocky that every American hero and leading tech transfer professional must exhibit. Rocky has grit and you should too.
Grit can be defined as perseverance with passion—an ability to push passed all obstacles and challenges to succeed. Consider these three traits of Rocky as an angel on your shoulder as you train for your future success in technology transfer:
- Take a punch: Remember how Rocky’s face looked like an open-faced meatball sandwich at the end of each fight. His secret, and some might call it a strategy, was to push through the pain to a place where only he could compete to be the last man standing. Whether it is negotiating an agreement, searching for partners, or working out a discounted cash flow exercise, there will be frustration and setbacks. There will be times when you feel like you should go down for the count; but, please heed one of my favorite lines from the series, “Life isn’t about how hard you can hit…it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward!”
- Practice hard: Chase chickens, drink a carton of eggs, punch cold meat, run up Siberian mountains—do what it takes. Rocky knew that the real fight was won long before he entered the ring by a methodical, dedicated mastery of the skills and conditioning that he would need. You, too, should develop your skills through self-study and professional development, mock negotiations and deal structuring, and conversations with customers and clients. Remember that much of Rocky’s training was unorthodox and dictated by available resources. Get creative and gain perspectives that will differentiate you from your competition
- Filter the noise: Some might easily associate Rocky’s simplistic nature with ignorance; however I see this as wisdom to filter out the “noise” of life. Noise is criticism and sideshows that detract from what is important and we would all be more effective by learning from him. Work/life balance, humor, and perspective all are pivotal in making sure you bring your best to your next “fight”.
Tech Transfer is no easy road that is often filled with rejection and setback on the way to glory; but, remember, its all worth it when you can run to the top of the nearest large staircase, hoist your fist in the air, and scream, “Yo (insert name of the person that signs your checks), I did it!”