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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than a self-help book
I've never been much of a fan of how-to-succeed books of any sort, whether they're about "how to make friends and influence people" or how to run a successful business. The focus always seemed too narrow, and the prescriptions always seemed to be of the flavor-of-the-moment, pop psychology variety. But in Clutch, Paul Sullivan manages to clearly explain a phenomenon that...
Published on September 27, 2010 by Geri Smith

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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Breezy read - superficial analysis
Sullivan has an excellent premise - understand factors that help in decision making under pressure. Unfortunately, if you already know that the key reasons for failure are overconfidence, over-analysis and an inability to take responsibility (?), you are going to be disappointed with the insights in the book. Furthermore, the discussion on the five traits that make good...
Published on October 11, 2010 by Sreeram Ramakrishnan


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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Breezy read - superficial analysis, October 11, 2010
This review is from: Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't (Hardcover)
Sullivan has an excellent premise - understand factors that help in decision making under pressure. Unfortunately, if you already know that the key reasons for failure are overconfidence, over-analysis and an inability to take responsibility (?), you are going to be disappointed with the insights in the book. Furthermore, the discussion on the five traits that make good decision making under pressure - is also quite thin and without a systematic reasoning as to why these particular traits were chosen. In the end, the book comes across as superficial, despite the very entertaining narratives used throughout.

To discuss some of these "personal" traits, Sullivan focuses on examples, that are in my opinion, macro-events that took significant amount of time and a series of decisions - failure of the US auto industry, financial crisis etc. To attribute these macroevents to a specific decision (or a subset) seems overly simplistic given the plethora of books written on these very topics. Even earlier examples such as those focusing on successful litigator are incomplete since Sullivan talks only about the cases they won. It is this choice of narration and examples (that comes across as cherry-picked), the lack of any meaningful citations or detailed notes that make this book not attain its potential. The last segment - on how to be clutch - flattered to deceive without any new advice; unless you consider the need to accept, psychologically adjust, prioritize, etc as novel insights. In the end, this reads more like a motivational book on decision making than gaining any significant insights. A recent book, Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To, despite its sometimes tangential topics, does a remarkably better job, at least from a researcher's viewpoint.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than a self-help book, September 27, 2010
This review is from: Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't (Hardcover)
I've never been much of a fan of how-to-succeed books of any sort, whether they're about "how to make friends and influence people" or how to run a successful business. The focus always seemed too narrow, and the prescriptions always seemed to be of the flavor-of-the-moment, pop psychology variety. But in Clutch, Paul Sullivan manages to clearly explain a phenomenon that all of us face at one time or another in our lives: Why do some people withstand extraordinary pressure to consistently overcome difficulties and turn in great performances, and why do some people consistently fail? What I like best about the book, apart from its easy-to-read and engaging conversational style, is that it presents case studies from a variety of professions, which broadens its appeal to a larger body of readers. He doesn't just talk about Wall Street bankers who are "clutch" under pressure: he writes revealing portraits of well-known sports heroes and their personal vulnerabilities; about a war hero who overcame dangerous, fast-changing circumstances to save his platoon; about a high-end real estate agent who discovered the virtues of thrift after the 2008 crash and saved his business; and my favorite example, that of a talented actor who shared very personal insights into how he shuts everything out to focus on being "present" on stage in a tension-filled scene, to very dramatic effect. Sullivan tops it off by giving readers some very practical advice on how to become "clutch" in our everyday lives--on everything from one's golf swing to one's financial planning. This is a great read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good read., November 25, 2010
This review is from: Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't (Hardcover)
If you pick up the new book "Clutch" thinking it is a how-to book, you'd only be partially right. Instead of giving readers step-by-step instructions on how to be a clutch player in life, Paul Sullivan shows readers examples of clutch players in life.

The author defines clutch as doing what you normally do well but under pressure. According to Sullivan, there are five key areas of determining if a person is clutch. They are:

1. Focus
2. Discipline
3. Adaptability
4. Being present (and blocking out everything else)
5. Using fear and desire to drive for success

On the other end of the spectrum is choking, of which Sullivan devotes the second portion of the book. He believes there are three reasons people choke, which are:

1. The inability to take responsibility for your actions
2. Overthinking
3. Overconfidence

Instead of playing psychologist, Sullivan shares stories of those proven to be clutch players, such as a Navy Seal who had to adapt during wartime in order to win, a marketing genius who used his fear of leaving his family poor to start a profitable advertising agency, and a successful litigator who used focus to become one of the best attorneys in the United States.

And just like he shares stories of clutch players, he also considers stories of those who've choked, including a well-known name in sports whose overconfidence made him great during the regular season but insignificant when it counted most during The Playoffs, and a prideful leader at one of the Big-Three auto industries who choked while a newcomer thrived in the same environment.

"Clutch" seems to lose its way a bit towards the end of the book when the author starts to dole out advice on how to be a clutch with your money and how to be a clutch in sports. Though given his background as the "Wealth Matters" columnist for the New York Times and the fact that he has interviewed legends like Tiger Woods, the chapters shouldn't be a surprise. Perhaps if he had coached his readers on how to be a clutch in business and at home as well, the addition would have made more sense.

Sullivan's book is still a very good read, and the lessons learned from both clutch players and those who have choked will stay with you a long time.

Recommended

Review by Emanuel (E.R.) Carpenter
Author of "Six-Figure Cold Calling"
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Clutch, December 31, 2010
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This review is from: Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't (Hardcover)
I was very disappointed in the book. Many stories about successful people, but no real information about how to be Clutch. No suggestions on how to calm your nerves, when you are playing in a tournament and you have an important shot. We all know about practicing, etc. I wasted my time reading the book. Bob G
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars uncluttch, December 31, 2010
What a waste. The author is a good story teller but telling stories of good performances (mostly sports) is a far cry from articulating what it means to be "clutch".
Big disappointment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to Read, Challenging to Apply, November 21, 2010
This review is from: Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't (Hardcover)
Garnering a number of useful lessons from a fertile field of real world performers, Paul Sullivan conveys what he believes are the necessary principles for someone to perform, rather than wither, under pressure. High profile attorneys, scoundrel-like bankers, heroic soldiers, various sports stars, little-known actors, and equally undistinguishable (though surely remarkable) businessmen all populate his landscape of admirable and ignominious doers of deeds striving to meet the challenges of their professions. Most appealing in this survey of clutch performers and contrasting chokers is Sullivan's engaging style, buttressed with familiar instances of people excelling and failing in the "clutch." Together, these two aspects of this breezy narrative makes it a pleasure to read, if not always cogently persuasive. Least appealing are the book's final two chapters, which are too narrowly focused to be much help to the general reader other than to witness a superficial application of Sullivan's general principles. The unique circumstances surrounding these last few topics deny the reader the opportunity to fully consider how one can be "clutch" in everyday life.

Despite this shortcoming, the several case studies found in the book's remainder, each cast in a variety of contexts, should provide any reader sufficient background to move forward from the general principles described within. The rarity of performances in the clutch, however, cautions that their consistent application will likely be the most difficult part.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to understand what people do under pressure...and why they do it, October 29, 2010
This review is from: Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't (Hardcover)
According to Paul Sullivan, "Clutch, simply put, is the ability to do what you do normally [but do so] under immense pressure. It is also something that goes far beyond the world of sport. And while it has a mental component, it is not a mystical ability, nor somehow willing yourself to greatness...Being under great pressure is hard work. This is part of the reason why we are so impressed by people who seem immune to choking. These people come through in the clutch when others don't...Just because someone is clutch in one area of his life does not mean he will be clutch in others...Transferring what you can do in a relaxed atmosphere to a tenser one is not easy - or else everyone would be clutch."

That said, we now understand why Sullivan wrote this book: To share what he learned while seeking the answers two questions:

First, "Why are some people so much better under pressure than other, seemingly equally talented people?" In response to the first question, Sullivan organizations his material according to six themes (Focus, Discipline, Adapting, Being present, Fear and Desire, and Double Clutch) and devotes a separate chapter to each. Then in Part II, he shifts his attention to explaining why some people choke and others don't...why people choker in some situations...and nit in others. He also examines the implications and possible consequences of "overthinking." Then, "Can people be clutch if they are not regularly in high-pressure situations?" Sullivan devotes Part III, "How to Be Clutch," to answering the second question.

I especially appreciate how Sullivan anchors his observations and insights in a human context. For example, there is much of great value to learn from his discussion of the renowned attorney, David Boies, in the first chapter. "Early in his career, he started to focus on the same two questions for every trial. `First, what are the facts,' he told me. `And then, second, what are the basic principles of the law here - not what were the detailed holdings of fifty cases, but just what are the basic principles of law that apply to this area'...Boies's focus on having a clear understanding of the issues and laws creates a solid foundation. He builds the morality play around that. However, it is not the play that helps him excel under pressure but his focus on telling the story in court. This ability allows him to withstand the immense pressure of any high-profile trial."

Boies and other exemplars throughout the book commit years of time and effort to becoming able to excel despite indescribably severe pressure in one or two domains of their lives...but not in all. Tiger Woods is clutch during competition in golf but has encountered well-publicized problems in other areas. Few (if any) of those who read this book will be sufficiently talented to achieve success in competition with Boies or with Woods but everyone who reads this book can - over time and with sufficient concentration - manage more effectively stress and the pressures that create it. One final point: What Paul Sullivan learned and then shares in this book will be of substantial benefit to those who wish to alleviate stress before it occurs as well as to those who must cope with it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clutch, July 3, 2011
The author makes a good case that the fear of failure is powerful motivation. Not sure we needed all that he had to say
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CLUTCH, January 4, 2011
This review is from: Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't (Hardcover)
CLUTCH by Paul Sullivan is without a doubt one of the best "motivational" books I have read in years. I was so good, that I actually bought multiple copies to share with family and business colleagues. The chapters are well laid out and the principals have applications across all types of business, sports and personal situations. This should be required reading for anyone who is driven for success and balance in life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good book, March 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This book is helpful if you have an athlete who has a hard time performing because of anxiety. Great for helping his/her mental game.
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Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't
Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't by Paul Sullivan (Hardcover - September 2, 2010)
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