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“The hardest challenge is to be yourself in a world where everyone is trying to make you somebody else.”  e.e. cummings (1894-1962), American poet, author, and artist

Our Approach

At Grittopia Human Analytics and Performance, our goal is simple:  To help organizations and individuals "Be their best. On demand. More often."

What does this mean?

Well, many of our clients (and, quite frankly, our founders!) would classify themselves as having a history of feeling like “overwhelmed overachievers”.  If you can identify with this description, you know that it’s a state of being that can fuel great achievement and success but often to the detriment of overall well-being and contentment.

While many coaching programs either focus on how to achieve more or how to reduce stress, we want all of our clients to increasingly feel what we call “contentedly ambitious”. When clients are in this state, they are positively building on their unique past, exceptionally satisfied with the present, and excited to act on a compelling future, all without losing their edge. It’s about getting “above the line”, on demand, more often:


How do we do it?

Well, we fundamentally believe that becoming contentedly ambitious revolves around a simple formula:

The Right Energy applied to the…

Right Things at the…

Right Time, and

Consistently Applied and Adjusted.

Our approach is highly customized and based on:

  • A comprehensive understanding of what really matters to you and those you care about the most, combined with...
  • A proprietary system of analysis and development based on the latest scientific research, the most compelling evidence of "what works" in the real world, and our team's unrivaled practical experience and extensive formal training in human performance development.

Ultimately, we want to ensure that clients become experts in driving their own performance enhancements over time and being accountable for their own results.  After all, its their life, not ours!

Think of us like coaches to world class athletes.  All of our clients are better at their "craft" (their lives) than we are but value the expertise, perspective, and willingness to "call B.S." that trusted coaches can provide.

Our clients have spanned nearly every demographic category:  men and women, young and old, rich and poor, executives and "doers" name it.

We especially love working with master (age 55-70), super-master (age 70-85), and ultra-master (over 85) athletes, adventurers, and achievers.  They inspire us to keep getting after it!

But, if we have a client sweet spot, it's the "overwhelmed overachievers" (and organizations that have a lot of them), often in ultra-high stakes and highly demanding jobs, usually in a period of transition and "soul searching, and living somewhere at the bottom of the "U-Curve of Happiness" (verified in research studies conducted around the world):


Ready to find out more?

Our Origin Story (from Tim Zak, Founder and CEO)

Grittopia Human Analytics and Performance emerged from a typical lifetime of hardship, learning, accomplishment, and some bad and a lot of good luck.

I was born with no real natural talents and without a genius IQ.

My grandparents were 1st generation Americans from Eastern Europe and Italy who were employed as butchers, steelworkers, bartenders, and assembly line workers.

I had braces to straighten my deformed legs almost from birth.

I wasn’t fast, or quick, or tall, or strong, or particularly athletic in any way.

I was cut from my 7th grade basketball team and was the 20th pick in 8th grade, sitting so far down the bench that I couldn’t even see the coach at the other end!

My parents, who had little to give but unconditional love, struggled mightily to maintain our lower (in the best of times) middle class status in the face of economic shocks, personal hardship, and just plain bad luck. 

My dad spent 8 years going to night school to get his college degree while simultaneously working multiple jobs, including delivering newspapers and packing ice cream trucks, to make a living.

I almost failed junior high.

I barely passed my first semester of college and had my athletic career cut short by a freak injury.

But I kept practicing and stubbornly working to get better.

And accepting, often grudgingly, the blunt suggestions and criticisms of coaches, teammates, mentors, managers, and clients, keeping what worked for me and ignoring the rest.

And realizing early on that I would need to seek out every advantage and shortcut that I could find, working smarter and resisting the pressure to conform, if I was ever going to get closer to optimizing my performance and reaching my potential.

My life, slowly but surely, in fits and starts, like so many others employing the same approach, moved in positive directions.

Ended up a 3-sport varsity athlete in high school and was a starter on two state playoff basketball and soccer teams.

Graduated with honors from one of the world's leading universities with double majors in computer science and business.

Became a manager at IBM at 25 while simultaneously getting a Master's Degree in Engineering Science with all A's except for a single class.

Graduated with an MBA from a Top 20 business school and finished #1 in a class of 750 students with concentrations in finance, marketing, and international business.

Was a senior consultant at McKinsey and Company, one of the world's leading management consulting firms.

Founded or was an early employee in five start-ups spanning the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, including one of the first investment incubators for social entrepreneurs in the U.S.

Co-launched and headed up the first accredited foreign university in Australia.

Became a full-time professor at one of America's Top 10 public policy and management schools.

Recognized as a "super randonneur" in 2008 and 2009 for achievements in ultra-long distance cycling, and qualified for Paris-Brest-Paris, the historic precursor to the Tour de France.

I'm a 4th degree black belt and became a certified instructor.  In 1999, I was a silver medalist at the Tang Soo Do World Championships in Cardiff, Wales.

I've been married (once!) for almost 30 years and have 25 year-old twin boys:  Justin, a former college baseball player now working in healthcare analytics and Josh, currently working on a PhD in Chemistry at CalTech.

In 2020, I completed a nearly year-long certification process to become a human potential coach, which included 100s of hours of 1-on-1 coaching with real clients and graduate-level study in a wide-array of disciplines including physiology, psychology, productivity, creativity, focus, decision making, resilience and grit, and the science of happiness.

Over the past 35 years, I've advised 100s of companies and organizations, from start-ups to some of the world's largest multinationals, and coached 1000s of individuals, from college students to CEOs, on how to achieve their most audacious goals and become ambitiously content.

Everyone--Olympians, executives, brain surgeons, you, me--has at least two things in common:  we all have a 24-hour day and we all have the need and ability to be better humans.

Grittopia Human Analytics and Performance is a repository for my curiosity, a source of personal energy, and one way that I hope to have a small, positive impact on people who will change the world.

Ready to find out more?

Ally The Pooch
Ally The Pooch