4 business lessons from Sochi Olympics

Although the Olympics are only half-over at this point, there are still some pretty amazing and inspirational stories that have emerged from the events. Athletes are often a good source of stories about defeating the odds, staying motivated, and working hard – and so it’s no surprise that there are some solid business lessons everyone can learn from Sochi:

You’re never too old.

Evgeny Plushenko, a Russian figure skater, competed in Sochi at the age of 31. For a singles competitor in figure skating, that’s ancient. He’s the only male to have won four medals in four Olympics. In 2002 he won the Silver in Salt Lake; in 2006 he won the gold in Turin; in 2010 he won the silver in Vancouver; and in 2014 he won a gold in the new team figure skating event. Although he ultimately withdrew from Sochi, he’s still talking about sticking around for the 2018 Olympics. If you apply this sort of belief that you’re never too old to your business or career, you might give yourself the courage to reinvent your career at any age.

Be prepared.

#SochiProblems became a famous – or infamous hashtag due to the fact that Sochi was embarrassingly underprepared for the games. Some of the hotel rooms weren’t finished, stray dogs wandered the streets, and the streets weren’t even done being paved by the time the Olympics started. Of course, because it was the Olympics, it’s not as if Sochi has to worry about losing business to a competitor; there isn’t an alternate Olympics in Moscow. If any business were this miserably unprepared, it would fold pretty quickly. Instead, Sochi had just gotten a lot of negative press.

Where there’s a will there’s a way.

As a result of the miserable preparations mentioned above, the doors in some of the hotel rooms didn’t function properly. In one notorious case, American bobsledder Johnny Quinn got locked inside the bathroom of his hotel room. Amazingly, he kicked through the door and immediately posted images of his “Sochi jail break” online. A lesser person may have just given up, but Quinn wasn’t about to miss out on the chance of a lifetime, so he kicked his way out.

Success is all in how you view it.

Technically, this isn’t “new” Olympics news; this is based on a mid-1990’s psychology paper published by the American Psychological Association. In it, Victoria Husted Medvec, Scott Madey, and Thomas Gilovich determined that bronze medalists were often significantly happier than silver medalists. Why? Because bronze medalists viewed their alternate outcome as not medaling at all, whereas silver medalists viewed their alternate outcome as winning first. Thus, although the silver medalists clearly placed higher, they were less satisfied with the results.