3 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Olympic Gold Medalist Shaunae Miller

As entrepreneurs, we have a lot to learn by watching these dedicated athletes give their all for a shot at becoming an Olympic icon.

Photo: Thierry Augustin, founder of Augustin & Co.; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Thierry Augustin, founder of Augustin & Co.; Source: Courtesy Photo

The Rio 2016 Games have been eventful to say the least. Doping controversies, safety in the Olympic village, and of course historic records being shattered (really Wayde?).

That’s why every four years we glue ourselves to the couch to see which athletes, in spite of it all, rise above to make that podium.

As entrepreneurs, we have a lot to learn by watching these dedicated athletes give their all for a shot at becoming an Olympic icon.

Case in point, Shaunae Miller, the Bahamian sprinter who won a gold medal in the 400 metres event, was step-in-step with arguably the best women’s track & field athlete in history until a headlong dive in the final meters of a memorable lap in the Olympic Stadium.

At the end of the night, Allyson Felix cemented her impact, passing Jackie Joyner-Kersee as track’s most decorated female athlete, but it was Miller who made all the difference.

Here are 3 reasons why (and how they apply to your business):


1. Clarity

“The only thing going through my mind was I have to get the gold medal.”

Miller collapsed on the floor, lungs no doubt burning, waiting for the results of the biggest race of her life. She knew her end goal and kept it top of mind.

If you’re struggling in your business, whether it’s to get more sales or expand in a new market, it helps to go back to your why. Having clarity of purpose allows you to outline the steps that get you to your goals (and to adjust even when things go slightly off book).


“I’m going for the gold and if you want it from me, you’re going to have to come take it. I know I’ve put in a lot of hard work, and if you have too, then we’re going to have a showdown at the finish line. I’ve been competing in track since I was just six years old. I come from a family of athletes, and they help me push through any obstacles I encounter as an elite runner.” – Shaunae Miller (Source: Adidas)


I can’t say for sure, but I doubt Shaunae Miller trained to dive at the end. But she did train—incessantly. She knew who she was going up against and prepared accordingly. And her clarity along with the next lesson, preparation, allowed good instincts to take over when it mattered the most.


2. Preparation

Shaunae Miller is 6’1″. She can make up her fair share of ground. But her genetic gift is only amplified by proper preparation.

She won silver in Beijing, had a disappointing 2012, and came to Rio dialed in. If you hope to improve your business (or to bounce back), you have to lay the right foundation. Once you have your end goal, think about what resources you need, what systems you should implement and how much time it’ll take to build out a platform that you can run on.

Should you be using email marketing more frequently and strategically? Hint: yes! Are you taking advantage of social media or using influencer marketing? Would brand partnerships be favorable to draw new eyes to your site?

Create a competitor matrix that keeps you abreast of what’s going on in your industry, but also do a deep dive into your customer profile so you can provide as much value as possible.

Preparation is what makes the big moments worth it. Most successful people aren’t surprised by their success.


3. Desperation

She dove. Her unorthodox dive has become an Olympic moment to remember. The Washington Post reports, “When Shaunae Miller threw herself across the finish line to win the gold medal in the women’s 400-meter finals Monday night at the Rio Olympics, she made a decision that does not always work out.”

I actually missed this race because I was cooking dinner. Can you believe it?

For what it’s worth, the meal turned out great, but when my wife shared the results I went right to the replay of the race—incredulous as ever. “She dove? No way!”

And of course, this is not the first dive and in track and field it’s a perfectly legal tactic. We saw it in the men’s final in ’08 and a qualifier this year. But you still don’t expect it. And that’s what makes it so exciting!

As an entrepreneur, you’re constantly asked to beat the odds, to bet big, to take risks. And you have to judge whether a risk is worth it, for your business, your customers, your team and your family. Timing that dive was a 50/50 shot at gold… at best.

She might’ve tripped and ended up in third, or worse yet, missed the podium altogether. But with one chance, she decided to go big.

When it comes to your business, you need the same mentality. In many cases, especially in e-commerce, you have once chance to resonate with a new customer — one chance to get them to stick around long enough to discover how great your products really are.

So why not pull out all the stops?

Miller decided there was just enough gas in the tank to make a big play. And her dividends are historical. It is the Olympics after all.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Thierry Augustin is an e-commerce brand strategist and helps e-commerce entrepreneurs attract, engage and retain customers.. Thierry shares practical branding and marketing advice on his business blog. Download ‘E-Commerce Success’ the ultimate guide to making sales online for free here. Connect with @taugustin_ on Twitter.


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