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Photo: Joey Mantia
Inspiration

Olympians with side hustles

If you’ve been breathlessly watching the dispatches from the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, you’ve noticed a lot of athletes on top of their winter sports game. And while a select few will be going home with the gold, some are going home to something else entirely — the side hustle that keeps them occupied when they’re not Lutzing around.

As a follow up to a recent story on Side Hustle wisdom, we wanted to take a closer look at what some of the most famous Olympians do during their off months. Hint: It isn’t just getting in shape for the next Olympics. From a speed skater who moonlights as a coffee shop owner to a gold medalist who creates her own furniture, these athletes use their incredible powers of concentration to focus on business pursuits as well.

  • The snowboarding photographer: Best known as a snowboarding gold medalist, Iouri Podladtchikov has taken his photography to the next level with a limited edition (only 300 units were made), extremely pricey camera (over $5,000), Leica Q Snow. And before you think this was simply a case of a brand meeting an influencer, the Swiss Olympian has already published two photography books and has plans to open his own studio. As to the color of the finish, for Podladtchikov, it’s more than just about snow, as he said in a statement: “White – for me, that also means ‘carte blanche’ – it’s up to you. It’s time to get creative.”
  • The gold medal shredder: Shaun White recently wowed the world with his astounding gold medal performances, but he’s also had a couple of acting cameos. White also was the bassist in the band Bad Things, who played at Lollapalooza in 2013. Before you get too impressed though, ice dancer Evan Bates doesn’t just play the guitar – he actually built one by himself.
  • Gold and Bronze and Wood: Snowboarder Kelly Clark has her fair share of medals of different hues, but when she’s not schussing down the slopes, Kelly creates furniture. Her company, Sparrow Creative Co. offers designs that have the purity of (wait for it) driven snow.
  • The highly caffeinated speed skater: Skating at high speeds requires concentrations, a second skin uniform, and probably a fair share of caffeine. Which is really convenient for Olympic newbie Joey Mantia who is an investor and co-owner of Coffee Lab, a coffee shop on the University of Utah campus.

Meanwhile, in case you’re wondering what happens when an athlete’s medaling days are behind them, consider the case of Dr. Benjamin Spock who was considered the premiere authority on raising kids during the mid-century. What most of us didn’t know though, was that Spock was part of Yale’s crew team in the 1924 Paris Olympics. In fact, he won a gold medal at 21 and rowed for the rest of his life.

A more recent Olympics to commerce success story belongs to Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss — the twins who claimed Facebook was their concept and subsequently sued Zuckerberg. The Winklevoss twins, who competed in the men’s coxless pair rowing event at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing — apparently invested their $11 million lawsuit win from a few years back and turned it into a billion-dollar cryptocurrency fortune.

A great takeaway from Olympians past and present is their ability to transform their incredible focus into viable side hustles and full-time careers. Now about that doubles luge …

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Rachel Weingarten is a marketing & brand strategist and president of 729.marketing. She's a pop culture and trends analyst who frequently writes about business and style and the business of style. Rachel's a sometimes professor, teaching personal branding on the graduate and undergraduate levels. She leads corporate seminars on topics including evolving communication and spirituality in the workplace. Rachel is also the author of three award winning non-fiction books.