Grants 101

When People Tell You to Quit

Sep 22, 2022

“You’ll never make it,” they decreed, swiping away grease from their sandwich. My Italian sub caught in my throat. Their comments were a surprise attack. I’d bought this senior scholar lunch because I admired them. I’d been looking forward to this meeting for weeks. I’d come to learn. I never expected I’d be crushed instead.

This meeting almost derailed my career. Because I believed them. Their decree matched my fears. I didn’t think I was up to snuff.

I write this newsletter because you will encounter people like this in your career. People who tell you what you’re capable of. Who say they’re “helping” you by giving you the “hard truth.”

You deserve better. You deserve people who tell you how to get what you want. Who don’t question whether you have a right to dream.

That’s what this newsletter is about. Giving you tools so that YOU determine your future. Not me. Not a mentor. Not a stranger who happily eats the sandwich you buy them. Yes, it’s tough to get a grant. But we can share what the hurdles are and how to tackle them. That way you can make decisions about your career and what you want to strive for in life. 

Thank you for joining me in this mission. This month marks the one year anniversary of this newsletter. When I started, I hoped there might be 200 people interested in talking about grant writing. But now this community is 900+ scholars strong. I am so grateful that you’re here. We are all stronger when we help each other.

To celebrate this milestone, I compiled a quick start guide for anyone looking to get started with grant writing. In brief, here are some essential steps for grant writing:

And as a special thank you for being a newsletter reader, Princeton University Press gave me a coupon code for you. Take 20% off my book with the code Lai20.

Thank you for reading and believing that scholars deserve support for incredible ideas.


Stay in touch: Twitter, the Newsletter and The Grant Writing Guide book.

P.S. If you know someone who could benefit from grant writing advice, would you mind sharing this newsletter with them? Creating networks of support helps drown out the chorus of doubters.

P.P.S. That senior scholar didn’t know what they were talking about. I earned tenure last year. I just returned from an invited trip to the National Academies, where I spoke about my research. And I’m still eating Italian subs, despite that one bad experience. We’ve started packing Italian subs for trips to the beach!