Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Learn from Olympians - Keeping the Business Alive

Now that his life is under a microscope, I just about choked on my diet pudding snack reading that in competition, Olympic champion Michael Phelps eats 12,000 calories a day. And he eats omelets and pizza, not nasty energy bars that melt in your car and taste vaguely like chemicals. I don't know about you, but that kind of caloric intake seems unreal - and enviable. Having a sedentary job and being a woman, I'm supposed to eat less than 2000 calories a day. Pizza is a luxury not a staple. Granted, Mr. Phelps works off his behind - literally - for a living. Not that I've been looking...

But to link this to career choice and self-employment (you knew that link was coming), this Wall Street Journal article on Phelps' business prospects reminds us of the "flash in the pan" danger that confronts many would-be entrepreneurs like this champion. You receive some press or momentary attention for your product or personal brand and then it fades. How do you prevent that from happening? According to his agent, by being patient (long term goals) and strategic; he described the marketing efforts in the lead up to Beijing with an uncertain payoff.

And as pointed out in this New York Times article, resilience and flexibility in the face of change are some of the best methods past Olympic champions like Bruce Jenner have dealt with the silence after the gold dust settles. And where have we heard this before? The top two personality dimensions that correlate most with entrepreneurial success are openness to experience and conscientiousness defined as:
  • Conscientiousness "indicates an individual's degree of organization, persistence, hard work, and motivation in the pursuit of goal accomplishment;" and
  • Openness to Experience is seen in a person "who is intellectually curious and tends to seek new experiences and explore novel ideas."
I would make a risk-free guess that Mr. Phelps is high in Conscientiousness. And in adopting the new advances in swimming technology, I'm thinking he can stretch that search for innovation into business ideas. My bet is on Michael Phelps to do what he puts his mind to: be a long term commercial success and to elevate swimming's visibility. 14 gold medals can't be wrong.

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