My experience tells me that once this tide starts to rise, it is only going to continue to improve. Nothing breeds success like success.
I am a “ski” guy, but this Olympics has converted me to become the newest fan of snowboarder Shaun White. Back-to-back gold medals, what an achievement! Even more inspiring is what he’s been doing with his tremendous earning power and celebrity – promoting good causes and charities for kids. Shaun tells his own story of being about 9 or 10 years old and standing in line for an autograph from one of his boyhood heroes, only to be turned away after standing in lines for what seemed like forever because the autograph party was closing. Shaun said, “That will never be me. I will never be that person to a little kid. I will do anything for kids. That incident scared me and made me aware of the power of fame and I will not abuse it.”
Another great Team USA athlete is Bode Miller. Two events and two medals – such an achievement, and yet Bode is reserved, mild-mannered, humble and appreciative. Seems like becoming a father and the maturity of added years are agreeing with the superstar.
I had breakfast Friday morning with an old friend, Picabo Street. You’ll recall Picabo captured the gold at the 1998 Olympics, but shortly after suffered devastating injuries that put her in rehabilitation for two years. We discussed the ups and downs of the Olympics over the years. No one could possibly be more amped about Team USA’s performance this year than her.
Picabo shared the perspective with me that it seems the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and US Ski Team have finally placed the focus and attention on the athletes, which is were it belongs. This triggered a bit of a corporate parallel – Olympic athletes are like the “customers” of the USOC. In the business world, large companies will sometimes make the mistake of getting caught up in their own greatness, forgetting that success cannot come without their customers – or their employees. What Picabo and I are noticing is that the USOC seems to be recovering from this mistake, and has returned attention to their number one customer – the athletes. And guess what the result is? Team USA is having a great year.
For some athletes the best is yet to come. We are about halfway through these Olympic games, and there is a lot of action ahead. Most people I talk to seem to believe we are going to see the most successful Olympics in U.S. history.
One thing is for sure – the city of Vancouver is alive! The streets here are absolutely jammed, there is zero room on the sidewalks, and the crowds and partying goes on until the sun comes up every day. In fact, the noise is quite a factor for those of us living in downtown Vancouver and trying to sleep.
It truly is a world party being held in Vancouver and tens of thousands of fans are taking it in. The experience is unforgettable.