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Lighting Fires of Desire Through 50s on Fire; A Founder’s Story with Val Jones

Val Jones is a professional figure skater who competed at an elite level. While her Olympic dreams never materialized due to an injury, the elements of becoming a peak performer remain. Val has dedicated her career to coaching world-class athletes, executives, and entrepreneurs on those peak performance elements. Today, Coach Val hosts “50s on Fire” retreats and programs that reignite the fire of desire for people in midlife. She says that being a coach runs through her veins and her mission in life is to help as many people as she can reach their podium of awards and trophies!

 

Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?

“I grew up in Sacramento, California, the youngest of seven children. I’m not sure if being competitive is nature or nurture, but being competitive isn’t what I do, it is who I am. I moved from our family home to the Bay Area at a young age to train with Olympic-level coaches along with Brian Boitano. My Olympic dream was right in front of me. I never could have imagined that the sudden end of that dream would turn into what it is today. My 18-year-old self would never have believed that I get to speak in front of people, coaching individuals and organizations to reach higher levels of performance and influence people in their lives. This is what I was meant to do. Everything I know about peak performance, I learned on that freezing cold ice at five in the morning. The principles of peak performance span every person, job, and ambition. My Dad once told me, “Every check you write to regret, you are going to have to cash in one day, and it is going to hurt.” I live my life with that truth. My mission is to help as many people as possible to write a few checks to ‘regret’ as possible.”

How did you get started as an entrepreneur?

“After my ice skating career came to an abrupt end through a serious knee injury, I went to college. I was a corporate trainer for years until I had my children (coaching and training were born in my blood). In 2007, I found CrossFit. I loved it. It allowed me to still be an athlete. The next year, I became a certified CrossFit instructor and owned my own gym. I fully understood that a coach can’t just develop the athlete, we have to first develop the human. I was fortunate. I had great coaches who did this for me. As part of my CrossFit coaching, I honed into the human behavior of my athletes and engrained the principles of peak performance. One day, one of my athletes said, “Wow Val, you should be a motivational speaker,” and asked me if I would give a talk to his management team. I said yes. I guess the rest is history as they say. That one speaking gig turned into world travels, more coaching, and now today, launching ’50s on Fire.'”

What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?

“Launching a business isn’t dissimilar from training for the Olympics. Let me explain. It isn’t like I showed up for practice one day and my coach said, “Ok Val, today we are learning the double axel,” and I went out there and landed it perfectly the first time. That isn’t how it happens. It took thousands of hours and thousands of falls to figure out what I was doing, where I was in time and space, how high to jump, how fast to rotate, etc. Time and time again, I failed. And landed on my behind. But I never viewed it as a failure, I viewed it as feedback. And one glorious day, I put all the feedback together and landed on my feet. Then finally, I could get to work on perfecting it. Starting a business is the same way. You will not land on your feet on the first iteration. You just won’t. So, I recommend my students chase after failure. I know. It isn’t a popular cultural belief. But trust me, all the greats fail. All of them. But fail – and here’s the catch – learn – then go again. The magic is in going again. The quicker you can pop up after falling down, the better. I would also recommend getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Because life is uncomfortable. Marriage is uncomfortable. Running an organization is uncomfortable. Being successful is uncomfortable. If you want to do easy things, life will be hard. If you do hard things, life will be easy. Now, get to work!”

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