5 money lessons we can learn from a world-champion athlete


Posted: June 09, 2021 | Word Count: 707

Champions put in work — a lot of work — to get where they are.

Few people understand that as fully as legendary short-track speed skater Apolo Ohno, the most decorated U.S. winter athlete.

“You're behind the curtain for a long time creating consistent habits,” he said. “And then when the curtain opens, you have this opportunity to show to the world what you’ve been working on and then it’s really interesting.”

But there’s more to Ohno’s story than the medals he won. After hanging up his skates, he pivoted into the world of business, where he applied the same focus and discipline that helped bring him athletic success. With this new direction, he needed to refocus his finances.

“Just like any other modality that you're incorporating into your life, financial wellness requires training,” he said.

Here are Ohno’s five money insights for climbing to the top of the podium — whatever that looks like for you.

1. Know it’s a process

On his computer at home, Ohno posted a sticky note where he jotted down three words to remember on his financial journey: “process over prize.”

“At the end of the day, I can't control the outcome, but I can control the things that I do on a day-to-day basis to help me get there,” he said. “Business and investing are long-term life pursuits.”

2. Don’t fall back on FOMO

When Ohno first entered the world of business, he didn’t want to miss a single deal. After a handful of years, something changed. He decided that he no longer wanted to be chasing opportunities — he wanted to be choosing.

So he gave up on the fear of missing out on investments that didn’t align with his long-term plan.

Now he asks himself broader questions:

  • How does this fit in the overall landscape of what you're trying to accomplish?
  • What is the purpose?
  • What is the end goal?

Answers to these questions help him decide where to focus his energy and resources.

3. Develop routines

During his years as an athlete, Ohno closely tracked progress. “If you can't measure it, it's very difficult to gauge where you're going,” Ohno said.

Just like exercise, nutrition and adequate sleep, checking in on his financial wellness is now part of Ohno’s daily routine.

Ohno recommends using the free online financial tools from Personal Capital to get clarity on your money. Nearly 3 million U.S. households use this technology for an overview of their financial accounts, all in one place.

4. Get talking

Simply put, money can be stressful. One way to make financial matters feel less overwhelming? Ohno says it’s important to nix the stigma.

Ohno and his fiancée Bianca Stam work to have open and honest money talks. “Her mom is very good with money and very straightforward, and so they talk about money as if they're talking about going to get lunch,” he said.

He encourages people to sit down and have vulnerable conversations with their own loved ones:

  • What does financial wellness look like to you?
  • What are the decisions that you need to make consistently?
  • What are some of your self-sabotaging money mindsets or practices?

“It really starts with talking about it in a way that is healthy and open,” Ohno said. “When you can remove the emotion and instead focus on the mechanics, that’s where it gets exciting.”

5. Align your money with your values

In new business ventures, Ohno aims to work with companies that value social responsibility.

“I want to see companies having the hard conversations — about diversity and inclusion, about creating a more sustainable but open financial network for any and all who are interested,” he said. “I think radical transparency is required.”

More broadly, he sees an evolution to “conscious capitalism.”

“We’re facing a lot of challenges in the country, but my belief is consumers and business-builders are starting to really open up around the idea that we can do all of it — do good, be good, make good,” he said. “The triple bottom line is real.”

Featured individual is a paid spokesperson and not a client of PCAC and does not make any endorsements or recommendations about securities offerings or investment strategy.

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