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I’m a keynote speaker, an author, and founder and CEO of The Grit Institute with a passion for transforming people and organizations through inspired and practical presentations, training and writing. I believe in every person's ability and agency, and I believe developing courageous leaders for a better world will help to change our world.



Hi there, and thanks for visiting!
I’m glad you’re here.

Speaking, writing, and working with teams and people to reach their potential are a part of my DNA. From triathlons to high mountains, the military cockpit to the boardroom, I thrive on helping people and teams set audacious goals, connect to purpose, and achieve success beyond their wildest dreams!

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The weekend I graduated from Duke University with an AB in English, I took my oath of office and was commissioned as a 2LT in Army Aviation. In the next eight years, I became one of the first women to fly Apache helicopters, serving on three continents and leading two flight platoons and a line company.

I transitioned out of the Army by earning my MBA at the Tuck School at Dartmouth, and leading outstanding teams in the corporate world as well, beginning in the medical device industry, and landing at Microsoft.

In the midst of school and flying came skydiving, scuba diving, big-mountain climbing and long-course triathlons (also choirs and volunteering and writing).



I started an MDiv (part-time), and decided not to pursue it, returning to my love of words with an MFA in creative writing.

More recently, I founded and led the board and the $6.5M capital campaign which envisioned, capitalized and built a new library in our rural community. I believe leadership is critical in every area of our lives and work, and that if we have skills to offer for the betterment of our societies, we have an obligation to offer those abilities up to make the world a better place. 



The Grit Factor Book by Shannon Huffman Polson

I take that experience in leadership and courage and devote my work to speaking, research and writing, as well as online and facilitated leadership training at The Grit Institute and as faculty in the Tuck School of Business Leadership and Strategic Impact program. Through keynotes, my books, and training, I work as a corporate partner to organizations across the country to transform individuals, teams and company culture.

What's next? Finding a way to fund offering these programs to veterans and their families transitioning into the civilian sector, and supporting continued leadership development for youth. 

In a world reeling from accelerated change and massive disruption across industries, the keynotes, book and trainings from The Grit Institute propel audiences into the possible. I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with companies committed to change, to grit and resilience, to people and values centered leadership, and more. One person and one company at a time, we will change the world. 

My writing wrestles with life by way of words to explore possibility.

After a family tragedy, I left the corporate world to write my first book North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey, and with that return to story, I never looked back.

The Grit Factor: Courage, Resilience and Leadership in the Most Male Dominated organization in the World, was published by Harvard Business Review Press in September 2020.

Current published and pending work is primarily in non-fiction, both journalistic and creative, as well as poetry. My essays, poems and a short story can be found in various anthologies. See more at this link.

I continue to work with our local library, and sometimes teach at our local schools as an artist-in-residence with Methow Arts. My husband and I are co-founders of Methow Episcopal, and our kids keep us busy, too. During the 2022-23 school year, our family undertook a grand adventure, moving to France to work and go to school (which would take more grit than we could have imagined). Return is bittersweet, though our community in the alps of France will always be in our hearts-- and our travel plans. And we continue to work on our basic levels of French!
Favorite ways to procrastinate or wind down:  Ted Lasso, failing to keep up with house cleaning, or giving in to other loves of reading, painting, singing, piano, and heading out in the mountains with the greatest adventure of my life, my husband Peter and two young boys (sometime our dog Bonnie comes, too). Vices: good wine, good chocolate.
P.S. Details at LinkedIn are here.