Praise & Op-Eds For Clutch


Mr. Sullivan has sallied forth with notepad and pen in hand to tell individual stories… [He] takes his examples from sports, business, the military and the stage. He explains right away that there are five traits that help people pull off a clutch performance: focus; discipline, adaptability, presence (i.e., actual involvement in the task at hand), and fear and desire. Read More »


Clutch, by New York Times columnist Paul Sullivan, is a well-written examination of what makes a person perform despite stress. It’s not luck, he emphasizes; it’s “the ability to do what you can do normally under immense pressure. Read More »


In Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don’t, Paul Sullivan, a columnist for the New York Times, explores how to shine when the stakes and the pressure to perform are high. The secret that separates the players who are good in the clutch from those who choke, he says, is a well-developed ability to respond in stressful situations in a constructive way… Sullivan has written an easily digestible book. Read More »


New York Times columnist Sullivan provides a noteworthy look at what causes some people to buckle under pressure when others thrive. He identifies people who are ‘clutch’—who excel in difficult, stressful situations—across a range of professions and determines what personal qualities keep their performance consistent even when times get tough. Sullivan, a self-professed lifelong ‘choker,’ examines the handful of telling characteristics: focus, discipline, adaptability, the ability to be fully in the present, and being driven—not thwarted—by fear and desire. In-depth examples of clutch individuals include actor Larry Clarke; attorney David Boies; business writer Mark Stevens; and Willie Copeland, a military team leader who was awarded the Navy Cross. Sullivan provides valuable insight into star players and companies who choke under pressure and why (the culprits: an inability to accept responsibility and a tendency to overthink and be overconfident). Perceptive and original, Sullivan’s account holds sound advice for everyone—athletes, politicians, and business people—looking to amplify their performance under any circumstances.


We’d all like to be the clutch player, the go-to guy or gal who can get things done under pressure. But it’s not in the cards for all of us, or maybe it is. In the forthcoming Clutch, Paul Sullivan, a columnist for The New York Times, examines strategies essential for remaining composed when the pressure’s on. Sure, there are plenty of sports references. But Sullivan uses those to illustrate larger points, such as the perils of overthinking. Anyone who feels that they tend to lose their confidence when the stakes are high can glean something from this analysis. For many that might mean prepping for that all-important job interview. Read More »


New York Times columnist Sullivan looks at a bunch of case histories to determine why some people succeed while others fail, miserably and otherwise. He looks at actors, athletes, business people, soldiers, lawyers, psychiatrists and others, trying to find some thread among the more successful…his anecdotes, insights and observations are interesting and provocative.


Is clutch performance just a fluke? Paul Sullivan, in this terrific book, says no. With the deft touch of a skilled storyteller, he brings us into the minds and souls of people who come through when the stakes are high. Clutch is the ultimate guide to understanding high achievement and to stepping up your own game. Read More »

—DANIEL H. PINK, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

Everyone knows that it’s difficult to work under intense pressure, but what Paul Sullivan explains so well in this book is that there is a certain art to it that anyone can master. Clutch is an engaging and insightful read that will help you overcome even the toughest challenges.

—LOU HOLTZ, former Notre Dame football coach

Anyone who has ever missed the game winning free throw in high school and spent the rest of their lives replaying the moment in their minds will want to read this insightful, lucid account of big time players and why they thrive under pressure. Sullivan scores!

—JOHN SEABROOK, author of Flash of Genius and Other True Stories of Invention

In Clutch, Paul Sullivan—one of the best young journalists at work in this country—shows us what really effective people do in situations where they must perform well, even gracefully, under pressure. His interviews with people in clutch situations are never less than thoroughly entertaining. Sullivan has a keen eye for what matters, and this wise book deserves a large audience.

—JAY PARINI, author of The Last Station

His painstaking research of the various fields from which he draws examples ensure that his anecdotes are full of drama, devoid of clichés and highly informative about the inner workings of outstanding performers. Sullivan’s descriptions are so substantive and persuasive that readers can begin developing their own clutch abilities from them. Read More »


It immediately occurred to me while reading Paul Sullivan’s brilliant new book Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Other Don’t that great traders are clutch players who are “on call.” They must always deliver results while pressure is just one or two losing trades away. Read More »


This book is one that I read through to the author’s notes, as I could not get enough of the real-life stories, and how they apply to everyday decisions that most of us take for granted. For those that are serious about understanding what makes great decision-makers in “clutch” times, this book is a must read. Read More »


A very interesting book with examples of how different people, ranging from lawyers to baseball players, managed to come up large in tough situations. The author writes about preparing for the big moment and not being intimidated. Named One of Ten Books to Improve Your Business Success


If you’re looking to understand better why you never miss a four-foot put on the practice green, never double-fault when practicing tennis serves, never forget a line when giving a presentation—but always seem to when the heat is on—read this book. Read More »


I highly recommend [this book] to any entrepreneur, because owning a business involves constant decision-making under pressure and you have to be “clutch” to survive and thrive. Read More »


With a rich retelling of classic “clutch” performances in sports and corporate American history, Sullivan uncovers the shared characteristics of those who have achieved milestones on the field and in the boardroom. Read More »


Clutch gives good advice for readers looking to understand why some people come through in tough moments — and why others choke. Read More »


Drawing insights from the bad times, he lists five specific steps as what one should take when the pressure faced is financial… Introspective read that you can ill afford to let drop off from your hands. Read More »


And there is no quick, new-age answer to instantly transform someone who chokes under the weight of expectations into a star performer. That’s because while focus and adaptability are two key components to being clutch, what every scenario Sullivan highlights has in common is attentive, interminable preparation. Nothing can replace the time spent honing a craft — it’s what positions a person for success in the critical moments. Read More »


If you can’t perform well under pressure, then you can’t really perform well. Paul Sullivan explains very readably how great performers meet the challenge. Chokers everywhere—which means all of us, in some part of our lives—owe him thanks.

—GEOFF COLVIN, author of Talent Is Overrated

In Clutch, Paul Sullivan has captured the essence of what makes stars superstars. Concise, engaging, and invaluable. A brilliant book with lessons on how to excel in whatever you do both professionally and personally.

—SCOTT R. SINGER, author of How to Hit a Curveball: Confront and Overcome the Unexpected in Business

Op-Eds based on Clutch

Who is the most “clutch” person you know? That’s the question I always get when I talk about how people succeed under pressure. My answer is always a military leader — someone trained to make combat decisions with life-or-death consequences. No business leader or athlete can ever lay claim to that. Read More »


But just as important [as the traits of clutch performers] is the ability to understand and eschew the qualities that cause people to choke in the same circumstances. My research into military leaders, business executives, and athletes indicates that there are three common problems: a failure to accept responsibility, overconfidence and overthinking. Read More »


Every time I saw Tony Hayward try to explain his way out of BP’s befouling of the Gulf of Mexico I cringed. The same goes for whenever Dick Fuld has reemerged to again assert it was the government’s fault, not his, that Lehman Brothers failed. And I know I would feel the same way if Ken Lewis didn’t have the good Southern decency to stay quiet after nearly wrecking Bank of America. The reason is that all three chief executives failed under pressure. Read More »


Being great under 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… We are so fascinated by these feats that we have created a nearly mythical aura around clutch performers. Read More »


“Pressure Points”

“Interview: Paul Sullivan”

Excerpts from Clutch

Frederick Peters is not the type of man you would expect to have financial problems. He owns Warburg Realty Partners, which sells some of the most expensive apartments in Manhattan to people with unimaginable wealth… Had I not been told, I would have never guessed that a few months before our meeting in March 2009 he had been forced to make decisions under extreme pressure to keep his firm afloat. Read More »


In 1982, General Motors closed its manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif. The location, far from Detroit auto suppliers, was considered among the worst-performing assembly lines in the company’s system. Roger Smith had become GM’s chairman the year before Fremont was closed, and he had begun to think of ways to reorganize the car company. He knew there was a problem; he just wasn’t sure what it was, exactly, or how to fix it. Read More »


In 1978, Bernie Marcus, 49, had just been fired from a chain of hardware stores. He had few options so he did what he had been talking about doing for years: He started what would become The Home Depot. Read More »