Simone Biles on transitioning from the doormat to the business world – WWD

Simone Biles knows a thing or two about perseverance. The decorated Olympic gymnast took the stage at the National Retail Federation convention Monday morning to share some advice on how to overcome adversity — both in athletics and in business.

“Growing up in the world of gymnastics and going through a lot of trials and tribulations taught me to never give up – always push forward,” she said. “Sometimes, if you make decisions, you may be the only one who believes in yourself. In those moments, you really have to dig deep and think about why you’re doing it, who you are, what you stand for, what you want to achieve.”

She said that growing up, her mother would call her and her siblings into a room in January and ask them to write down their goals for the year. When she was young, it was easy, but as she got older, she realized that “failure is an option.”

“So I kind of changed my perspective on how I looked at it,” she said. “OK, there’s plan A, then there’s plan B if that doesn’t work – and then there’s the rest of the alphabet.”

As it turns out, Biles achieved success at a young age — she was just 19 at her first Olympics — but instead of resting on her laurels, she developed new goals. “What do you do when you make your dreams come true at the age of 19?” she asked. “That’s a really good question. So I said, this will be just the beginning. And I’m going to build a platform, and I’m going to do everything I can to be happy and confident and hopefully inspire people.”

As she embarks on the next phase of her life outside of gymnastics, Biles said she will continue to use the skills she learned on the mat to excel in business.

“I was a persistent child,” she said. “If someone told me I couldn’t do something, then I had to prove that I could. And that continued throughout my career. I look at other athletes and their paths from the athletic world to business and try to follow a similar path.”

Acceptance of teamwork both in athletics and in business is also the most important, she believes. In gymnastics, she owes her success in part to her doctors, therapists, parents and teammates. “It takes a village and I think people forget that, especially in athletics,” she said.

She said she was actually barred from competing in the last Games because she wasn’t mentally fit and could injure herself. She said there was a lot going on behind closed doors that people didn’t know about, like a stalker who was outside her gym every day for seven months and other issues that took a toll on her mental health.

But by going public with her struggle, Biles brought the issue to the fore and made a previously taboo subject “something normal that everyone can go through at some point in their life. It’s okay not to be okay.”

“I think as an athlete you kind of learn to manage and search your brain and turn it on and off. And I realized that there can be happiness outside of gymnastics.”

One of Biles’ first moves outside of the gym came in 2021 when she signed a long-term partnership deal with Athleta with a special focus on Athleta Girl, which is aimed at children ages six to 13. She said she wanted to work with the company because it is “by women, for women” and offers choices for all sizes and shapes. And the company didn’t just endorse Simone Biles, the gymnast, but “just Simone,” she said.

The Athleta Girl initiative is especially near and dear to her since she codes special capsules for this young customer. The collection features inspirational sayings in hidden places on garments, such as belts, including: “Because I can” or “Courage is your superpower” as a way to empower these girls, she said. “It’s like having a little Simone on your shoulder.”

Will that Simone be in Paris at the next Summer Olympics? Biles said she’s “just trying to figure it out right now. Obviously mental health comes first. I’m still in therapy and still doing everything to be the best version of myself. So I’ll be in Paris, but I don’t know if it’s on the floor with those girls or in the stands just cheering.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *