Executive Book Club

The book Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn thinks 'everyone should read'

Lindsey Vonn of United States of America during the Climate Austrian World Summit on Hahnenkamm Race Weekend on January 23, 2020 in Kitzbuehel, Austria
(Photo by Martin Rauscher/SEPA.Media /Getty Images)

Three-time Olympic medalist Lindsay Vonn admits that she wasn't exactly a natural when she first starting skiing professionally at age 7.

"I was never the most talented skier but I outwork people," Vonn tells CNBC Make It.

Vonn, 35, retired from competitive skiing in February 2019 after nearly three decades. During that time she won an Olympic gold medal, two bronze medals and racked up more than 80 World Cup wins.

Vonn says she learned throughout her career that the most successful people aren't always the smartest or most talented people in the room, but they are always the hardest working.

"Hard work is what allows anyone to successful in any field," she says. 

"It's the willingness and the determination to work harder than anyone else. You know, it's about being gritty."

In fact Vonn says her favorite book is Angela Duckworth's 2016 book "Grit."

She says she read the book a few years ago and really believes that "hard work beats talent every day."

"I think every one should read that book, especially athletes, but literally everyone."

In the book, psychologist Angela Duckworth uses scientific research and personal stories from dozens of high achievers (from JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon to Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll) to show that achievement is not just about talent but a blend of passion and persistence for a singularly important goal, which she calls "grit."

Vonn says while there are many naturally talented people out there, some of them are not willing to make the sacrifices and put in the work to be successful. 

"But there are people that are not as talented, who are willing to work much harder and they always come out on top," Vonn says.

Since retiring, Vonn has been spending time with her fiance, New Jersey Devils hockey player P.K. Subban, as well as working on a new makeup line and running her own production company. 

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Vonn has also teamed up with Under Armour to share her at-home workouts and meal plans to help inspire people to stay fit and motivated.

For the last few months, Vonn has been working out more to help her feel better mentally and physically. And quarantining with her fiance since March has taught her how important family and friends are.

"I know that when things open back up again, I'm going to appreciate even more the time that I get to spend with my friends and family and appreciate going out to dinner and to restaurants," she says.

"It's definitely given me a new perspective on life," Vonn says.

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