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The Formula


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About the Author

Ronald F. Ferguson, PhD, joined the faculty at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1983 and has spent his entire career there using teaching, research and writing to increase the flow of knowledge between the university and the world. An MIT-trained economist who focuses social science research on economic, social, and educational challenges, he co-founded Tripod Education Partners in 2014 and shifted into an adjunct role at the University, where he remains a fellow at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy and faculty director of the university-wide Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI). A February 2011 profile of Ron in the New York Times wrote, "There is no one in America who knows more about the gap that Ronald Ferguson." Ron's current focus as AGI director is an initiative titled the Boston Basics. Inspired by the fact that birth-to-three is a critically important period for learning, the Basics Campaign is striving to saturate the entire community with advice and support for the parents of infants and toddlers. Ron holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a PhD from MIT, both in economics. He has been happily married for 38 years and is the father of two adult sons.

Tatsha Robertson, MA, is an award-winning editor and writer with more than 20 years of experience handling investigative, feature, and news stories for leading magazines and newspapers. As the first female New York City Bureau Chief and National Rover for the Boston Globe, she began studying how parents raise successful children some ten years ago. She pioneered Essence magazine's focus on investigative and news articles, which led to the positioning of the magazine as a significant authority and voice on news and led to an interview with President Obama on parenting. Most recently, she was a senior editor at People, where she focused on crime stories. She has been an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University since 2005. Ms. Robertson has been a frequent guest on national media, appearing on programs like TODAY and for television networks that include CNN, HLN, FOX, and MSNBC. A prolific writer, Robertson recently co-authored Media Circus with Kim Goldman. She is also completing a thriller. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and earned a bachelor's degree at Morris College and a master's degree in journalism at The Ohio State University.


"If you are a parent or plan to be, read this book. You'll learn what you can do—and there is a lot you can do—to help your child succeed in the fullest sense of the word. Beautifully written, impeccably crafted. I loved it."
—Angela Duckworth
"The Formula is for all parents who want to be powerful advocates and strategic partners for their kids. Refreshingly practical, it unpacks what parents of high-achieving adults did to help their children be successful and happy. I recognize so many of these traits in my wonderful parents."

—Dr. Bridget Terry Long, Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education 

"With over 40 years of education experience, I have learned that a child's success isn't solely dependent on grades or standardized tests. Success, starts first and foremost at home, with parents that support an intrinsic motivation for their children to reach their fullest potential. However, just as children have different learning styles, parents, as well, have different parenting styles. The Formula masterfully combines the latest research with compelling, real-life stories and introduces us to different parenting styles and provides a formula for teaching, motivating, and empowering successful children."

—John D. Couch, Apple's first VP of Education and coauthor of Rewiring Education

The Formula pursues an important question that social scientists, preoccupied with explaining the problematic outcomes of childhood, seldom address: the role parents play in developing children—regardless of their race, class, or national origin—who become extraordinarily successful in life. Ferguson and Robertson's compelling analysis of data collected on the life stories of interesting people who change the world is a must-read." 

—William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University

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