Business lessons from Olympic Women’s Hockey

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 1.53.43 PM








There is always something special to be taken away from sports and the 2014 winter Olympics have provided plenty of examples that translate into great life and business lessons.

The latest is the result of the USA Vs. Canada women’s hockey gold medal game.

It was a close, hard-fought instant classic between these two rivals. The two sides have now accounted for all five gold medals in the event since Women’s hockey was introduced back in 1998.  The US won that first match up, and since then, the Canadians have won four straight Gold Medals.

The Gold medal streak was about to end as the U.S. led 2-0 and had an empty-net chance from mid-ice clank off the post late in the third period.  Most teams would have given up at that point.  But Canada scored two goals in the final four minutes of regulation and completed the stunning comeback with a goal from Marie-Philip Poulin in overtime to shock the United States, 3-2, in the women’s hockey gold-medal game.

I was inspired by this game – and even though I was rooting hard for the US team, the inspiration came from both sides of the ice.

From Canada’s perspective:  You never give up…

We all have moments in our lives – both personally and in business, when everything feels stacked against us. And sometimes, the feeling of being up against the world can feel overwhelming.  I’m sure the Canadians felt that way as the clock ticked down in the final period.  But they pressed on.  They scrapped and clawed.  And they found a way to do the impossible.

From the United States’ perspective:  You can never feel comfortable…

This lesson is a much more difficult one – being in the lead is never a safe place to be.  Because there is always a target on your back and there is always someone trying to out-work, out-smart and out-prepare you and your team.

Twenty-two-year-old Marie-Philip Poulin has been taught that the best players rise to the occasion in big moments.  And after the game, she said, “This win is a result of preparation.  We have a culture on this team that demands excellence and we push ourselves to prepare at a level that we believe is necessary to win the gold and I couldn’t be prouder of my teammates and coaches because it took every one of us and every second available to allow us to be just a little better than our competitor”.

Even though “my team” didn’t win this game, I do love the lessons and the inspirations that the game provided.  Here’s to all of us out-working the competition to help our client’s win their version of the gold.

Paul Shapiro is a Managing Partner at vie™. Visit or email to start a discussion about how vie can make a remarkable difference for your sales organization.