Episode #9: Roni Sasaki – How To Get A Leg Up On Life

Episode #9: Roni Sasaki – How To Get A Leg Up On Life

In today’s episode, I sat down to talk with Roni Sasaki, a paralympic gold medalist, entrepreneur, and speaker, to discuss how athletes can prepare for life after sports. We also discuss how Roni went from being born with one leg and becoming a world-class paralympic skier.

Roni’s story, including her transition into entrepreneurship after sports, is a MUST listen for anyone wanting to successfully overcome adversity and find success.

To learn more about Roni Sasaki, make sure you follow her here:

Website: Roni Sasaki
LinkedIn: Roni Sasaki on LinkedIn

Personal Innovation: Building A Brighter Future After Sports

Personal Innovation: Building A Brighter Future After Sports

The world we live in is changing rapidly as it pertains to how we will experience politics, culture, sports, and, equally as important, our work and professions. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, and now COVID-19, to name a few, are all driving what the future of work will look like for athletes after they transition to a profession after sports.

Athletes cannot, regardless of their chosen sport, hide from the technological innovation that is happening in the industries that are waiting for them when their career ends. This technological change not only shapes how athletes will work after sports, but when combined with political, social, and global demands, will impact where they work, how they will be compensated, and their ability to succeed within their desired profession. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, McKinsey Global Institute estimated that between 400 million to 800 million individuals would be displaced by automation by the year 2030 and would need to find new jobs. These shifts in technology all contribute to what has been called Industry 4.0, or rather The Fourth Industrial Revolution, which was first introduced by Klaus Schwab, the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

The Challenge

The major disadvantage many athletes face when it comes to achievement planning is using old-world methodologies and frameworks of thinking without considering the threats that may prevent them from reaching their desired outcomes. As the pace of technology continues to change professions, the approach to crafting a successful life after sports within the new world economy also needs to change if athletes want to reach their professional potential.

Understanding The Future

One thing that is essential for every athlete, regardless of your level of competition, is being aware of the thought leaders within the industries you have an interest in participating within on any level. If you are an athlete planning to enter the eSports sector after your sports career, what are thought leaders saying about the trends you need to follow that are impacting eSports?

If you are planning to build a real estate business, what are the future needs of buyers and sellers as it relates to the real estate transaction or real estate assets? What shifts are happening within the market surrounding your collegiate or professional team?

If you are planning to work in the restaurant or hospitality sector, what will the future demand of the hospitality sector? What emerging technologies, driven by the pandemic, can you invest in to be part of shaping the future of hospitality?

Each of these sectors has thought leaders that forecast the direction of these industries.

To position yourself as a leading candidate for the role of your dreams, or as a leading entrepreneur in your chosen sector after sports, it is important to understand who the leading thought leaders are in your current and desired sector, what they are thinking, and what leadership are they providing your potential clients, business partners, or employers.

Personal Innovation

As you seek opportunities that are in alignment with your personal and professional goals, you must consider ways to differentiate yourself as a candidate or entrepreneur. Being a former athlete can be a differentiator in certain respects, but doesn’t always translate to being an advantage. This differentiation, I believe, cannot rely exclusively upon traditional education or your previous experience as an athlete, but should also include your ability to build human capital, understand technological change, and operate within a philosophy of work that enables you to thrive in Industry 4.0.

To begin your journey of personal innovation, here are a few questions to consider as you determine the direction you want to go personally and professionally:

What are your values?

How will you integrate your values with your work?

Who do you want your work or values to impact the most from a professional perspective?

What industry or industries will you pursue, and what direction is that industry going?

How will you integrate the people you want to have an impact on into your work?

What skills do you need to strengthen to prepare for technological change?

What type of professionals do you need to add to your network?

What former athletes do you respect and what industries are they operating in after sports?

Answering these questions will help you not only gain clarity on why you’re pursuing your chosen profession, but will allow you to gain the knowledge, skills, and differentiation needed to thrive while also achieving your most important outcomes and goals beyond sports.

If you are an athlete that has questions about designing your Philosophy of Work, let’s talk!

The #1 Key To Success In Life After Sports

The #1 Key To Success In Life After Sports

In April of 2006, I finished my college basketball career and embarked on my first job as a loan officer. By the end of August, I was already searching for another job and found myself selling gym memberships for 24 Hour Fitness. I initially thought, because of my athletic background, that selling gym memberships would be a great fit and I was completely wrong. I quickly found myself upside down financially and sleeping in my friends’ attic for several months. I finally applied for a job as an insurance agent and was hired, but never started because I failed the insurance exams. The next job was cold-calling realtors and selling them ads over the phone. That job lasted 4 months and ended with me getting fired.

As you can tell, my transition from college athletics and education to the professional world was quite rocky. It would continue to be rocky for almost a decade. In 2017, in the midst of what appeared to be another failed attempt in trying to build my own business, I sat in a parking lot frustrated with the results I was having in my first few months of entrepreneurship. Instead of getting out of the car to make my cold calls, I decided to call one of my mentors to get his perspective on what I should be doing with my career. With tears streaming down my face, I listened to him explain all the challenges he faced when building his business. This conversation spurred me back into confident action as I realized that the frustration I was experiencing wasn’t uncommon, and is the story for many young entrepreneurs trying to get their business off the ground.

In March of 2021, I celebrated my 4th year in business. I’ve had the opportunity to work with extremely successful entrepreneurs and organizations in my local market, while also continuing to grow my network of clients and partners across and outside of the United States, something that I wouldn’t have been able to do if I didn’t make that call as I considered quitting on myself.

As I reflect on the obstacles I faced in finding my strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities as a former athlete turned entrepreneur, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the clients that believed enough in me to give me a chance to earn their business, and the close friends and personal advisors that have been there for me during the difficult times. I also recognize the decisions I made that led to tremendous amounts of pain and frustration.

The #1 Path To Success In Life After Sports

As hard as I’ve worked over the years to figure out what my strengths were and where I should apply them, nothing I’ve personally done has been the key to me finding success after sports. Every breakthrough I’ve had personally and professionally can be tied to a specific relationship I had with someone who I trusted that had an answer to the challenge I was facing at the time. Yes, I had to be humble enough to seek out help and advice. Yes, I had to build the relationship to have the opportunity to ask for advice. But, if I didn’t have the right relationship to call at that time of crisis in 2017 to seek guidance, I easily would’ve made the wrong decision as I did dozens of times prior. One of the best decisions you can make as an athlete looking to find success at any stage of your life is to build quality relationships with peers and advisors that can help you break through to higher levels of success in your personal and professional life. When I sit down with successful entrepreneurs from various sectors, this is often what they attribute to being their #1 path to success.

If you’re looking to create your version of success in life after sports, maybe you don’t need any new skills or opportunities, perhaps you’re only one relationship away from a major breakthrough.

If you’re ready to build a strategy that attracts the right quality relationships to your network, then contact us!

No Athlete, You Don’t Need A Plan B

No Athlete, You Don’t Need A Plan B

If you’re an athlete, you’ve had your friends, parents, and relatives tell you that you need to go to class so you have something to fall back on.

I don’t know about you, but when I look at the options available to most undergraduate students, I don’t necessarily see those options as worthy of distracting you by taking the focus away from athletics.

I was a D1 athlete, and I followed the rules by going to class and doing my homework.

During my sophomore year, I selected Sociology as my major, because at the time, I was genuinely interested in pursuing a career in social work.

The reality is, most colleges are failing their students by not providing the cutting-edge education needed to be successful in the current economy or prepared for the future of work.

This was the problem I faced 14 years ago, and millions of graduates across the United States have experienced the same.

In fact, it was a problem when your parents graduated from college too.

If you follow Ray Dalio, Robert Kiyosaki, or any other financial expert, they will tell you that if you rely solely on what is being taught in our traditional education system every year, you have no chance of achieving financal success, and you will not live life on your terms.

As a former athlete, struggling financially feels like losing in the first round of the playoffs when you were projected to win the championship. It’s flat out embarrasing.

I’m here to tell you one thing:


You will not achieve long-term success and fulfillment in athletics if you’re committed to making sure you have something to fall back on.

However, athletics alone shouldn’t exclusively be your Plan A.

How do you address that?

You need to design a Plan A that includes your athletic career and professional ambitions.

These ambitions should be integrated, not treated as two separate tracks.

You should be building a life strategy that includes all of your goals and then build relationships, opportunities, and economic models that will support your personal ambitions, interests, and values.

The reason most athletes fail after sports is because they didn’t plan beyond sports and therefore they missed their greatest opportunity to open doors that extend beyond sports.

You don’t want to wait until your sports career is over.

Define the opportunities you’re attracted to, and start building out your life strategy, NOW.

Think about how you might use your current athletic career to develop relationships in the industries you want to work or own businesses within. Consider where you might volunteer in the offseason so you can add value, while also positioning yourself to establish your professional image and brand.

Take the time to write down the values of the people you want to surround yourself with. Reach out to former athletes that are living the life you want to live after sports and interview them.

Ask yourself, what are your values? Who do you want to serve with your talent? What industries fit your interests, passions, and capabilities?

If you don’t take the time to define who you are, what you want, what values you want to live by, and what industries you want to participate in, your sports career will end and you will find yourself scrambling.

I played by the traditional rules and had my Plan B and it took me a decade to figure out how to build a career that fit my passions. The reality is my Plan B didn’t inspire me, and if I would’ve pursued it, I would have spend decades thinking about a few highlights of my sports career instead of being excited about the personal championships on the horizon.

It’s 2020.

You shouldn’t invest 10-20 years of your life into athletics only to end your career with a framed senior night picture and your practice jerseys. If you were a professional, your livelihood shouldn’t be hanging in the balance as you wait to “get the call” from your agent trying to get you an opportunity overseas.

That’s the old way of transitioning for athletes. One that has people shaming athletes for not finding something positive to do with their life.

You’re worth more than that, and it’s sad that people keep telling you to be happy and satisfied you got a 4-year Sociology degree. As a person that has fought for your team to win championships, you know that isn’t good enough for you, and it isn’t in the least bit exciting.

Athlete, you need to treat your education seriously, but you don’t need a Plan B.

You need a strategy for life that will allow you to build a life brighter and brighter, year after year, long after your athletic career is over. The only way to effectively do that is to first design the life you want to have and then leverage athletics, scholarships, partnerships, and relationships to achieve the results you want.

Don’t look for a Plan B.