Ep.006 Athlete Story Podcast

Valuable lessons and life skills from a life with sports at the highest level from Olympic Gold Medalist. Athlete story Joe Jacobi

As an athlete, you come across many concepts in your sports career that can help you navigate in life. In fact you gain valuable skills that are actually are transferable life skills.

Olympic gold medallist Joe Jacobi is a whitewater canoe slalom athlete turned executive business coach. He has made a whole framework for business coaching out of the images and physical concepts from his sport. He shares that with us in this episode of Athlete Story.

Joe describes the world of whitewater canoe slalom and how you try to maneuver your boat in a river with strong currents while trying to avoid touching the obstacles (poles) that have been placed in your path.

You have to paddle as fast as you can while avoiding these poles, since touching them adds penalty seconds to your time and the idea is to be as fast as you can. , He describes it as one of the most fun things you can do in your life.

‘’It’s that feeling of gravity and working with a force of nature that is so much stronger than you or I could ever be.’’ he says.

It’s almost like an art form because Joe describes successful people in canoeing as people who have learned to channel their energy into making the river work for them instead of fighting with it. More like a dance with the river, and this is a way we can choose to live life as well. When you position yourself so that you can take advantage of the currents in stead of fighting them – you don’t have to fight as hard.

You can also watch a video version of this interview here.

READ the transcript of full interview by clicking here.

Thumbnail Joe Jacobi 2-Self Awareness -ltransferable life skill


Course correction is putting yourself in the position to respond to what doesn’t go well. What I think happens in the course of doing whatever it is that we want to do well, whether that’s ski down a hill or navigate a river or run a marathon or launch a business it never goes as planned.

I use the navigation of a whitewater river as a metaphor for performing better and business and in life. And I would say that one of the most popular, if not the most popular breakout session among companies and organizations last year was this idea of course correction….

what I tell people that I feel like we did well was that we corrected mistakes and anticipated mistakes a little bit better than the competition did that day.”

Olympic Gold Medalist and Executive Coach, Joe Jacobi

About our guest

Joe Jacobi won the Olympic Gold medal in the doubles whitewater canoe slalom in 1992 together with his canoe partner, Scott Strausbaugh. After a 5 years as the CEO of the

After his athletic career he worked as a commentator for NBS before he landed his dream job – CEO of USA Canoe/Kayak, the sport’s Olympic and Paralympic governing body that supports America’s best competitive paddlers. After many years at the head of this organization he found out that he was heading for a lifestyle that he and his health didn’t like. He made did some soul searching and made some important changes in his lifestyle to regain his health and well-being.

Today he teaches what he has learnt from navigating whitewater river currents as a method to navigate your life to business leader and the corporate world – so that you can work with the forces out there in stead of fighting them.