When you’re writing a book about resilience, people naturally start opening up about hardships that they or their loved ones have faced. Many of us had already worked together, but we all grew closer during this project. We appreciate everyone included here for their expertise and contributions and even more for their candor and trust.
Nell Scovell edited this book with heroic persistence. She thought carefully about every sentence and every paragraph with an unflagging dedication to getting it right. Nell has a remarkable set of skills and this book reflects them all. As a journalist, she is the master of shaping and honing stories. As a speechwriter, she has a deep understanding of how to capture voice. As a comedy writer, she provided much-needed humor, both on and off the page. We admire her attention to detail, her ability to get to the heart of each moment, and the real sacrifices that she made for this project out of loyalty and love. Her proficiency comes through on every page, and we could not have written this book without her.
Journalist Stacey Kalish conducted more than forty interviews, asking difficult questions with empathy. Stanford sociologist Marianne Cooper’s sharp analysis focused our thinking, and her deep knowledge about social and economic inequality provided invaluable insight.
Our editor at Knopf, Robin Desser, understood the need to balance emotion and research and how to integrate the two. Her enthusiasm out of the gate helped us get to the finish line. Knopf’s editor in chief Sonny Mehta and president Tony Chirico were our Option A and we are grateful for their support. We also thank CEO Markus Dohle for championing all of our work at Penguin Random House. Our agents Jennifer Walsh and Richard Pine gave exceptional counsel and friendship throughout every step of the process.
David Dreyer and Eric London are virtuosos of communication and trusted advisors whose steady voices of reason were a constant beacon. Liz Bourgeois and Anne Kornblut could not have been more generous with their time or more brilliant with their observations on people, tone, and emotion. Lachlan Mackenzie contributed his compassion and his unique gift for using imagery to illustrate difficult concepts. Gene Sperling came through time and time again with his knack for seeing around corners and solving problems we did not even realize we had. Merrill Markoe shined a light in the darkness and made us laugh out loud.
As the president of the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation, Rachel Thomas has led LeanIn.Org’s efforts to support women all over the world in pursuing their ambitions. Now she is expanding her focus to launch OptionB.Org. There is no one better at what she does. A huge thank-you to the entire team for the passion and creativity they bring to their work every day. Special kudos to Jenna Bott for her design talent, Ashley Finch for her leadership and execution, Katie Miserany and Sarah Maisel for helping people share their stories, Raena Saddler and Michael Linares for creating the Option B website, Megan Rooney and Brigit Helgen for always knowing what to say, Bobbi Thomason for localizing each edition, and Clarice Cho and especially Abby Speight for supporting the Option B community. Our heartfelt thanks to Norman Jean Roy for dedicating his immense talent to capturing the spirit of resilience in photos and to Dyllan McGee and her team at McGee Media for giving our heroes voice on film.
We were lucky to have advice and input from knowledgeable friends. Carole Geithner provided insight on how to help children through grief. Maxine Williams contributed her deep knowledge of bias and diversity. Marc Bodnick pushed us to find the right examples to illuminate the three P’s. Amy Schefler taught us how hospitals learn from and prevent errors. Andrea Saul shared her communications and political prowess. Rabbi Jay Moses, Reverend Scotty McLennan, Cory Muscara, Reza Aslan, and Krista Tippett lent their unique religious perspectives. Anna Quindlen urged us to address the isolation of grief. Reb Rebele highlighted new developments in resilience research. Arianna Huffington reminded us that people read not just to learn but to hope. Craig and Kirsten Nevill-Manning showed up as they always do and weighed in on key questions of tone. Scott Tierney emphasized the power of investing in community before adversity strikes. Nola Barackman and Tessa Lyons-Laing called out the elephants in the book. Lauren Bohn interviewed Wafaa with a wonderful translator, Mohammed. Dan Levy and Grace Song taught us about resilient small businesses. Kara Swisher and Mellody Hobson helped us get key phrases right. Ricki Seidman stepped in to improve cohesion and clarity. Michael Lynton encouraged us to reflect on how this book connected to our previous writings. Colin Summers patiently answered daily questions about style and substance. And we give our most heartfelt thanks to Allison Grant, who not only shared her knowledge of mental health but also gave both of us her love and support throughout the entire writing process.
The team at Knopf jumped in from the get-go with enthusiasm that rose to ebullience (Paul Bogaards, we’re looking at you). This book benefited tremendously from the diligent and passionate work of Peter Andersen, Lydia Buechler, Janet Cooke, Anna Dobben, Chris Gillespie, Erinn Hartman, Katherine Hourigan, Andy Hughes, James Kimball, Stephanie Kloss, Jennifer Kurdyla, Nicholas Latimer, Beth Meister, Lisa Montebello, Jennifer Olsen, Austin O’Malley, Cassandra Pappas, Lara Phan, Danielle Plafsky, Anne-Lise Spitzer, Anke Steinecke, Danielle Toth, and Amelia Zalcman. Ellen Feldman went above and beyond in shepherding our work from manuscript into print. We greatly appreciate the work of the extraordinary Amy Ryan, whose meticulousness was surpassed only by her patience for enduring endless emails about the Oxford comma.
Designing the book jacket was a labor of love for everyone involved. We thank Keith Hayes for his creativity and the talented team at Knopf who made the jacket possible: Kelly Blair, Carol Carson, Janet Hansen, Chip Kidd, Peter Mendelsund, and Oliver Munday. We also appreciate the invaluable contributions of John Ball, Holly Houk, Lauren Lamb, and Shawn Ritzenthaler at MiresBall.
We were fortunate to have the continuous support of the teams at WME and InkWell, especially Eric Zohn, Eliza Rothstein, Nathaniel Jacks, and Alexis Hurley. Huge thanks to Tracy Fisher for the expertise and dedication she brings to rolling this book out globally.
Many friends and colleagues read drafts and gave honest feedback. We are grateful for their time and their suggestions: Joy Bauer, Amanda Bennett, Jessica Bennett, David Bradley, Jon Cohen, Joanna Coles, Margaret Ewen, Anna Fieler, Stephanie Flanders, Adam Freed, Susan Gonzales, Don Graham, Nicole Granet, Joel Kaplan, Rousseau Kazi, Mike Lewis, Sara Luchian, Schuyler Milender, Dan Rosensweig, Jim Santucci, Karen Kehela Sherwood, Anna Thompson, Clia Tierney, and Caroline Weber. A special shout-out to Larry Summers for making this the first book he ever read on his phone.
We relied heavily on research from outstanding social scientists, whose work informed our thinking and plays a central role in the book—especially on the three P’s (Marty Seligman), social support (Peggy Thoits), self-compassion (Kristin Neff and Mark Leary), expressive writing (Jamie Pennebaker and Cindy Chung), job loss (Rick Price and Amiram Vinokur), post-traumatic growth and meaning (Richard Tedeschi, Lawrence Calhoun, and Amy Wrzesniewski), happiness and emotions (Jennifer Aaker, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Dan Gilbert, Jonathan Haidt, Laura King, Brian Little, Richard Lucas, Sonja Lyubomirsky, C. R. Snyder, and Timothy Wilson), resilient kids (Marshall Duke, Carol Dweck, Gregory Elliott, Nicole Stephens, and David Yeager), collective resilience (Daniel Aldrich, Dan Gruber, Stevan Hobfoll, Michèle Lamont, and Michelle Meyer), failing and learning at work (Sue Ashford, Amy Edmondson, and Sabine Sonnentag), loss and grief (George Bonanno, Deborah Carr, Darrin Lehman, and Camille Wortman), and love and relationships (Arthur and Elaine Aron, Jane Dutton, and John and Julie Gottman).
Our deepest admiration goes to those who shared their stories in this book and on optionb.org. Most are members of clubs they didn’t want to join, and we are so grateful that they offered their wisdom. We are inspired by their resilience and quest to find meaning and joy. On the days when the void closes in, we can all draw strength from their example.