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Tips From The Top: One On One With Ryan Murphy, Three-Time Olympic Gold Medalist

I spoke to three-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy, world-record holder in the men's 100-meter backstroke, about his path to the top and his best advice

Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to go inside your unique journey. First things first, though, what are you currently working on?

Ryan: I just finished my University requirements, and am competing as a professional swimmer. I have a BS in Business Administration from UC Berkeley. On the swimming front, I am trying to implement improvements into my training and get to the next level.

Adam: Can you describe your upbringing and the role it played and continues to play?

Ryan: My parents have played an instrumental role in my success. Growing up, they always preached and exemplified balance, faith, and hard work. They showed me that it was never ok to be complacent, but to celebrate accomplishments when you achieve your goals. I identify myself by these ideals.

Adam: So how did you get “here”?

Ryan: There is so much work that goes into becoming an Olympic athlete, and so many people help along the way. I had to commit to a lifestyle of success in order to make jumps in my swimming career. This meant being strict about sleep hours, diet, and recovery. I had to prepare for the unexpected, be able to adjust in less than ideal situations, and perform when a lot of eyes were on me. All of this takes an immense amount of preparation.

Adam: What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?

Ryan: As an athlete, I fail every day. Part of the appeal to swimming for me is that it is so hard to be perfect. There is always something I can do better with my diet or recovery, and I can always refine my stroke technique a little bit more. I realize that I can always learn more, and that realization has been instrumental to my growth.

Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?

Ryan: I believe that it takes a different qualities to lead different groups. Setting a corporate culture is different than leading a group of 18-22 year olds to a successful season. However, I believe in all cases, a leader is confident without being arrogant, willing to create relationships and listen, a hard worker, and empowers those he/she is working with.

Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?

Ryan: I am a passionate sports fan, and I’m beginning to follow the stock market more closely. As a pro athlete, I am living my dream life right now. I was motivated by watching my favorite athletes perform at the highest level.

Adam: How do you pay it forward?


Ryan: I run swim clinics and teach kids some of my
secrets to swimming fast. I talk to them
as a peer, and try to make them feel comfortable enough to ask me
questions. I hope to continue to expand
on my platform as my career progresses.

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