There are days when running your business might seem like an Olympic challenge in itself. On those days, think of Ruben Gonzalez–who’s running a business while competing in the 2010 Vancouver games. Guest blogger Charlotte Jensen talked to Gonzalez (shown at right) about his strategies for excelling in both arenas.
By Charlotte Jensen
When high-speed slider and four-time Olympian Ruben Gonzalez is not competing at the Olympics or training for them, he’s running through airports and building his professional speaking business, OlympicMotivation.com. “In my life, I never know where I will be in two weeks,” says the Houston entrepreneur, who has authored two books and is working on his third.
In fact, this grueling schedule of travel, flying and losing sleep has actually rendered an unexpected payoff for Gonzalez: “[It’s been] training my body and mind to be able to handle what’s happening this week.”
The previous few days had been tough ones for Gonzalez and his fellow luge competitors, as he told me by phone the afternoon following the opening ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Since his arrival on February 9, he’d been averaging only four hours of sleep per night. Then, opening day of the luge track in Whistler had been marred by the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili.
“We’re a tight-knit group,” Gonzalez said to me just hours before a new briefing on track safety and his first two runs in competition. “We have to figure out a way to deal with it quickly.”
Keeping your business on track while training and competing in the Olympics may sound like a remarkable feat, but the balancing act doesn’t faze Gonzalez, who is representing his native Argentina at the games. “It’s a lot like at home,” he says. “I’ve created a lifestyle that allows me to do this.”
So in between all the Olympic excitement, tragedy and responsibilities, Gonzalez, who has no employees, still must find time to schedule upcoming speeches, make changes to his Web site, blog, write articles and try to garner as much media as possible. The media spotlight has been particularly intense following the accident. And at the end of a long day, it’s back to the hotel to work on the sled, removing nicks and polishing it up with diamond paste to reduce friction.
During the first few days spent training in Whistler, Gonzalez devoted 30 percent of his time to his business, which has a client base of Fortune 100 companies such as Chevron, Dell, Exxon and Xerox. Following his final run nearly two weeks ago (and the day after our phone call), he expected to increase that to 50 percent.
Mobile tech allows him to work pretty much when and where he likes—even when he’s not at the Olympics. “I don’t work 9 to 5,” says Gonzalez, 47, who started his business in 2002. “It’s all piecemeal.” Back home, a usual work day comprises four or five 90-minute intervals. “So here at the Olympics, I’m doing the same thing.”
Gonzalez’s dedication to his company means that in between training runs he was lining up a few speeches back in the U.S. for the week between his final run (where he finished last) and the closing ceremony. Those speeches now behind him, he’s flying back to Vancouver tomorrow to take part in the festivities. Following that, it’s five more speeches in as many different cities.
His family joined him in Whistler to offer support. And despite all the traveling for his business and sport, his flexible hours and home office allow him to spend a lot of quality time with his kids, who are home schooled. “I’m weaning them to be entrepreneurs,” he says. “We’re a different breed.”
Charlotte Jensen, an internationally published journalist, has been writing and editing for more than 14 years. Previously executive editor of a national consumer magazine, she specializes in business topics.