Sports Stars Making a Social Impact: Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin helps to uplift people on the most dreaded day of the week

Attack the day, don’t let the day attack you. We all have a little bit of monster motivation in us, it just depends on how we use it.

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Currently my most effective method is my “Monster Mondays” on my social media platforms. I look to empower my followers on the most dreaded day of the week. Attack the day, don’t let the day attack you. We all have a little bit of monster motivation in us, it just depends on how we use it.

As a part of my series about sports stars who are making a social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Justin Gatlin. Justin is a track and field Olympic gold medalist American sprinter currently the reigning as the 100 meter World Champion. Justin is famous for beating former world champion Usain Bolt.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?

I just stumbled into my sport so my passion grew with my curiosity. I set 1 to 2 years goals at each level: high school, college, professional. I tried many sports like football, baseball, and swimming. I even played saxophone and piano. Track, to me, was just a social gather where I left school early, ate pizza and watch the girls in shorts run. Then, I found I was abnormally fast and started to fall in love.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

In 2004 after winning my first Olympic gold medal I was featured in magazines as an eligible bachelor. Soon after I started receiving unique and odd fan mail, mainly from female prisoners. I’ve gotten prison art and love letters throughout the years.

What would you advise to a young person who wants to emulate your success?

My wisdom to young athletes looking to follow a similar path would be to always believe in yourself, no matter who doubts you. There will be tough times, but keep pushing through to your goals.

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

There was this young girl in 6th grade that I met in 2005. For two years, I mentored her. Then we lost contact. We reconnected in 2016 when she made the Olympic team. I asked her what kept her going, and she mentioned she remembered my words of wisdom when times got tough. Now she’s an Olympic gold medalist.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

I truly enjoy working with young athletes. I started the Justin Gatlin Foundation after working with so many in the past. My initiative is to empower the youth and guide them through their athletic career as well as their life.

What methods are you using to most effectively share your cause with the world?

Currently my most effective method is my “Monster Mondays” on my social media platforms. I look to empower my followers on the most dreaded day of the week. Attack the day, don’t let the day attack you. We all have a little bit of monster motivation in us, it just depends on how we use it.

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

I find that as an athlete, we don’t get to speak our mind often or share our hearts. So I chose motivational speaking to help make a difference. Not just in sports, but in all fields of work that need a push of reassurance and empowering.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

A 16-year-old boy contacted me asking why I stopped making my Monster Mondays. I told him I didn’t. He said good because my Monster Monday posts have inspired him ever since his father passed away two years ago. His father was a big fan of mine. He said he asked his father why does he like me so much because I don’t always win. He told him that it’s not always about winning, it’s about not giving up and I never did that. That I always find a way to bounce back and push forward. He also mentioned that his father said that was the mark of a true champion, win or lose. His father was his coach. He said his dad wanted him to make it to college through the sport of track and field. Soon after the date of his father’s passing I started making Monster Monday videos which brought back the memories of his father. So every Monday he waits for me to post. Waits for me to give an inspirational lesson on life, so he can use that lesson to motivate him to get the track and field scholarship his dad always wanted him to have. So far he has three school offers.

What are your 3 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

3 things I wish I was told:

– Keep your inner circle small and loyal: when you’re going into world championships and the Olympics, so much going on, so many people trying to give you advice and the people who you came in with stay close with them. Your family, your coach, your agent. Those are the people who are going to have your best interest at heart, which is something I learned day one from the 2004 Olympics. Everyone wants to ride your coat tail to success but the people who you came in with are the people you keep.

– Always compete like it’s your last: When you compete like it’s your last, it turns on something inside of you. It brings out your inner monster. It’s almost like life or death. Like you have to go out there and make a point. If you go into a competition thinking “oh, I have many other races to run. Many chances to win.” you will never completely give this one race your true all.

-Leave all outside issues off the track: Whatever you’re dealing at home, at school, or with love ones you have to leave it off the track. Anything that has nothing to do with track and field, leave it behind because it will start to distract you from what you’ve come to do. If your mind is not focused your body won’t respond the way it needs to respond and you could get hurt.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My movement would be to fight negativity and bullying in sports. Being an athlete is tough already but the pressures of being judged for actions outside of your athleticism is like being told to be silent preforming robots for the masses. We are humans too. We have emotions. We sometimes fail. We’re held at this unbelievable high standard, which makes it impossible for athletes to just be human.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

“In a game, nothing should be given away. A player should be stronger, smarter and faster. Most of all, a player must be passionate, they must bleed love and spit fire.”

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I have a list of people of influence I’d like to meet. Breakfast with Oprah, brunch with Jay-Z, late lunch with Denzel Washington and dinner with Steve Harvey. The reason for this group is because they all re-invented themselves and their careers to become even more successful. When they achieved their dreams, they dreamed even bigger.

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring!

About the Author:

Edward Sylvan is the CEO and Founder of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc., a publicly traded film and television marketing and distribution company with offices in United States Canada and Asia. Edward is focused on helping independent films find their audience while at the same time assisting high net worth individuals and private equity funds access to alternative risk mitigated film investments. As the owner and operator of Lawndale 10 multiplex cinema in Chicago, Sycamore Entertainment is uniquely positioned in the independent film distribution space by providing films unencumbered theatrical screenings which leads to broader awareness and enhanced digital pick up. Edward is often quoted and featured in the television and news media such as the New York Times, CBS News, and Fox Business Television. Edward is also a keynote speaker on the Alternative Investment conference circuit. Prior to founding Sycamore Entertainment, Edward worked as an investment advisor and trader for leading investment houses Scotia McLeod Inc. and TD Waterhouse.

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