A chip on the shoulder. Hard working. High motor.

All of these words describe a trait that I’m really fond of – scrappiness.

Someone who earns that last dollar.  Someone who doesn’t feel entitled to anything. Someone who appreciates what they have and works hard for it.

I think of some professional athletes that are scrappy.

Old school basketball players like Jeff Hornacek and John Stockton, or even more recent stars like Stephen Curry. Small NFL wide receivers like Wes Welker or Julian Edelman. They don’t have the size and strength of some of their peers. Maybe they were overlooked. But they put in the work to get better and better everyday and fight each and every play.

I know many people who are scrappier than I am. But I like to think that I have some elements of scrappiness. Most entrepreneurs do.

I attended some pretty good schools, but nothing elite like an Ivy League school, a Stanford, or a Duke. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t good enough to get into those schools, and that puts a little chip on my shoulder.

Or maybe it was the way I was raised, by parents who had to work really hard to put food on the table. Don’t get me wrong, I was by no means poor growing up. I got everything that I needed as a kid. But my parents were immigrants who moved to the US for a better life for our family, and they had to start over and work extremely hard to provide for us. Maybe that’s where it comes from.

Regardless, I think scrappiness is a result of both nature and nurture.

You may or may not have had experiences that have hardened you, that made you scrappy. But you can learn how to work harder. You can teach yourself how to fight and claw. You can learn how to be more appreciative of what you have.

You can teach yourself to be scrappier. I try to do it everyday.

In what ways are you scrappy?  I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at

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