Adapting with an Olympian’s mindset

Apolo Ohno. photo by Camilla Mingay

Having made the decision to retire after the 2010 Winter Olympics at 28 years old, Apolo Anton Ohno did not know what he was going to do next.

More than a decade later, the entrepreneur and motivational speaker continues to adapt and pivot, skills he honed on the ice, which led the short-track speed skater to become the most decorated Winter Olympian.

Prior to the pandemic, Ohno, 38, was holding workshops and speaking at events. Today, he conducts his work virtually.

Ohno, a Shin-Nisei, spoke with the Nichi Bei Weekly in a Zoom interview.

As a professional athlete, Ohno, who is of Japanese and European descent, said he developed a “tremendous amount of resilience, grit and adaptability.”

He added, “I learned that in my career as an athlete and I take that with me today. That’s what I try to really teach people, is helping people realize and recognize that they can adapt.”

Ohno also learned hard work and resiliency from his father, Yuki Ohno, who owns a hair salon in his hometown of Seattle.

He embodied “the quasi-American Dream coming to this country not speaking the language, not having a single dollar to his name, having to struggle and still struggling, but still gets after it every single day,” Ohno said.

Apolo Ohno. photo by Oliver Endahl

The Los Angeles resident also encourages people to “get comfortable showing their vulnerability.” He said as an athlete, he had to maintain a “poker face” for many years. He hopes to help people who are struggling with their mental health.

“Part of my purpose is to help people realize their own inner strength and also de-stigmatize talking about them — to know there’s a lot of people like that,” Ohno said.

Ohno, a New York Times bestselling author of “Zero Regrets,” is working on another book, “Hard Pivot,” which addresses “the absolute need for reinvention during phases of losses of identity adaptation in a world that is becoming so radically accelerated through the digital transformation.” The book’s release date has yet to be determined.

“What has worked for me as an Olympic athlete, how we can harness the power of our own personal and unique gold medal mindset in order to live the life we’ve always wanted to live,” Ohno explained.

Ohno hopes his new book will inspire the next wave of Olympic athletes to find their purpose after they retire from their sport.

“I think that starts with the gold medal mindset. That starts with your own unique vision of identification, planning and putting it into action,” he said.

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