Olympic athletes are in danger. Let me explain.
Alex, my childhood best friend, competed in the 1998 Nagano Olympics as part of the United States Ski Team. He then tore his anterior cruciate ligament, at which point the United States Ski Team let him down. If it wanted to continue to be competitive, it would have to finance itself. But looking for money from friends, family and sponsors was demoralizing, exhausting and constant. Plus, it forced her to start asking questions like, Why am I doing this? Who am I doing this for? I don’t know or care about anything else, so what if I withdraw? I was scared, I was alone and no one came to help me. So he left the sport.
Like Alex, most Olympians face a similar fundamental crisis, both identity and financial. A study concludes that “barely 0.5% of funds [del Comité Olímpico Internacional] they went directly to the athletes. This contrasts with the biggest sports leagues in the world which pay their athletes between 40% and 60% of their income, which means that research has found that half of Olympians are considered financially insolvent.
Here’s why: When Olympians begin their athletic careers, the only way to succeed on a global scale is to have a narrow view: relationships, friendships and hobbies are lambs slaughtered in a relentless pursuit of the ultimate goal. : to win. .
Related: 30 Legendary Athletes Who Became Business Stars
Then, an inevitable day comes when the armor of the illustrious athlete begins to crumble. And the question arises: what next? And how do I get out of the financial and emotional prison that I have created for myself? The balance shifts and cascading depression occurs (which affects more than 70% of elite athletes, according to an IOC study).
Therein lies the ultimate paradox of the most prolific and successful athletes in the world. Their singular purpose is what propels them at uneven speed towards a lifelong dream and pursuit of their sport and becomes the acid that erodes the foundations they so enthusiastically built.
It’s partly our fault as an audience. Since 1896, apart from a few pauses due to economic crisis, war or pandemic, the Olympic Games have inducted, revered and catapulted thousands of athletes to international fame, whether they were prepared or not. And the expectation that these athletes would meet the exacting physical, emotional and intellectual standards and stereotypes followed, regardless of the tools at their disposal to do so.
These questions remain: how can we stop this continuous and widespread demolition of Olympians? How can these athletes take this globally recognized badge of honor and gracefully transform it into something of meaning, purpose and financial security? Working with dozens of Olympians and action sports athletes, here are six lessons that help athletes avoid post-Olympic depression, increase earning opportunities, and build lucrative, meaningful futures.
1. Create personal identities of today rather than yesterday
Identities consist of the various characteristics that you use to categorize and define yourself, and the characteristics that are constructed by those around you. By creating a cohesive set of identities, you build self-confidence and give people a reason to connect with you, who you are (versus who they want you to be), what you believe in, and why. It also allows you to control your perception of yourself in the world.
Your identities can be brother, runner, LGBTQ advocate, coffee drinker, yogi, vegan, etc. The key is that you need to be clear about what they are now versus what they were up until now. If you don’t, you risk letting the whims of the world, the media, friends and family shape your identity, leading to a loss of control.
Related: Entrepreneurs’ Identity Crises
2. Nail your origin story; Make it personal
Crafting a powerful origin story is key to building trust, relationships, and credibility for who you are and what you stand for. Having a powerful origin story also helps you stay consistent on social media, in interviews, developing a keynote, or in discussions with sponsors. To create a personal brand story, here are the questions to consider:
context : How did you get interested in your sport? Were you born with a natural talent or did you pick up skills along the way? Did something happen to you that forced a change and opened a door? Did you fail at anything?
Challenge : What were the biggest obstacles on your path to success? Injuries, competitors constantly beating you, weather preventing you from reaching the top, bad luck on a course?
Main turning points : What enabled you to overcome your challenge? How has this changed your life, your sport, your happiness, or your ability to achieve something?
Triumph : What did you achieve or create after that moment? How did you feel? Did it change anyone else’s life?
Transformation : How have you changed emotionally, physically, intellectually or spiritually? What results have you obtained?
3. Know who you want to be the hero
The most common mistake athletes make is that they jump at what they want their audience to think, feel, do without understanding what excites them to do, what they want to feel or what motivates them to to act. Knowledge will allow you to deliver words, stories and truths that will make your audience’s life better, more meaningful, happier and richer. And that builds community.
You need to understand what excites your audience and what drives their motivations, needs, behaviors, challenges, pain points, goals, aspirations, and fears. Questions to ask: What do you want to avoid or fear happening in your life? Where do you feel stuck, what is difficult for you and what frustrates you? What do you want to feel, what do you dream of and what do you need and want the most? Is there anything stopping you from getting these things?
Write down the words, phrases, or phrases they use to describe their challenges or desires (either internally or for others), then use them to help them offer something that will help them survive or thrive .
Related: 9 Ways to Know and Understand Your Audience
4. Create Basic Posts Anywhere North Of Neutral
You need to give people, brands and partners a reason to be attracted to you. To do this, you must understand that neutrality is not noticeable and ambiguity is always perceived negatively. In other words, being bland, mundane, and toasty with milk is forgotten and certainly not picked up by sponsors.
So, to be remembered, retain your audience, and encourage brands to look your way, it’s important to figure out what’s important enough to you to be ready to stand up for it. To find out what these things are, ask yourself three questions:
- Do you have a different opinion on a common belief in your sport, in your industry, in your circle of friends and athletes?
- What’s going on in your sport, because it’s been around forever but maybe obsolete now?
- What left you “bruised but not broken” (credit terms: Brene Brown)? Think about what you have been through and who has marked you. Maybe you were treated badly because you were gay, had an eating disorder, or were criticized for your running style. But, you survived, didn’t you? What lesson did you learn from it?
Then take those ideas and share them constantly.
5. Make the invisible visible
There is an aspect of voyeurism in the lives of athletes that is endlessly fascinating, entertaining and inspiring. Sharing your formula, the “how” behind what you do, helps people feel like they know you, but also has a slim chance of being like you. It also creates a boomerang effect where audiences keep coming back, meaning community – the ultimate gold rush for brands.
To do this, follow these THREE rules:
- Be specific and concrete . This deep connection with your audience – and your relationship – happens when you get to the heart of the matter and shine a light on the thoughts, feelings, mistakes, pain, wins and losses you’ve experienced. The more descriptive and specific you can be, the more universal feelings become.
- Start with the bleeding. Sort your content and stories so we’re hooked from the start. Sure, your story needs a point, but don’t over-prepare because you’ll start losing people with too much context.
- to be coherent . People need to hear a message seven times to assimilate it. Also, an average of 0.83-10% of your followers see your posts, so repeat your main posts often and consistently so they’re heard.
Related: 5 Steps to Becoming an “Olympic” Entrepreneur
6. Plan and target revenue opportunities
With a new brand story and messaging strategy, it’s time to move on to creating targeted revenue opportunities. Here are five steps to generating income:
Create a mailing list . Unlike social networks, you own your mailing list and are not a victim of algorithm changes. So create a way for fans, supporters, and sponsors to sign up to your mailing list and send them email updates on events, expeditions, nutrition, training, stuff. you love, learn or look forward to on a regular (weekly) basis. ).
Create a fixed content schedule. Think of your social media presence as your resume. Therefore, it’s essential to create a consistent content creation schedule that you can stick to.
Create a main presentation . Using your origin story or a clear message, create a main pitch that you can compare to brands. Paralympic athlete Aimee Mullens reportedly earns between $30,000 and $50,000 per speaking engagement, and brands around the world are hiring athletes to speak at conferences, events, and corporate meetings.
Non-endemic contact marks. Take your identities from above and write down 10 marks that match those parts of you. Ask them what they need, then offer them support with blog, video, and social media content in exchange for their financial support.
Hire a sports agent. If you’re looking to build on your momentum and be exposed to more opportunities, hire a sports agent. You can expect to pay them more than 15% of your earnings, but 15% of $100,000 is more than 0% of $0.
As an Olympian, you have earned a universally recognized badge of honor that carries weight, prestige and status in the eyes of an international audience. It’s time to build on that so you can rest assured that your wins, sacrifices, wins, losses, and efforts matter and can help you build a lucrative and meaningful post-sports career.