Homelessness to Olympic Medals

Bill Schuffenhauer, 3-time Olympian and Olympic Silver Medalist

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Bill is an American 3-time Olympian & Olympic Silver medalist with Team USA. His success is one of our history's most amazing stories of overcoming adversity going from homelessness to three Olympic Games and the first Olympic medal for Team USA in over 46 years! His story has been so impactful globally that the International Olympic Committee created the first and only documentary on his life called "Against All Odds"! Bill is a managing partner in 5 separate companies – 2 in technology and 3 in coaching and consulting. 

Bill Schuffenhauer is a three-time Olympian and Olympic silver medalist with Team USA. He joins us today to talk about his journey from overcoming homelessness to competing in three Olympic Games and the first Olympic medal for Team USA in a particular area in over 46 years. He is now the managing partner of five companies. Bill faced depression after retirement and has become a huge proponent of mental health resources.  

Talking Points:

{03:01} When you find yourself in a dark place.

{06:34} Tools to climb out of depression.

{11:16} The effects of transitioning out of negative space.

{14:17} Bill’s Journey to the Olympics

Welcome, welcome. Welcome my friends and thank you for tuning in to the Talent Empowerment Podcast. We're here to help you discover your true purpose, step up your game at work and live the happiest life possible. We unpack the tools and tactics of successful humans to guide you toward your own purpose. Find happiness and empower your career. I am your purpose-driven host, the real Tom Finn.

And on the show today we have a great friend of mine and an awesome human being. Bill Schuffenhauer. Welcome to the show.

Hey, Tom and all the guests. Thanks for having me with it. Is an honor to sit here and share the space with you and Everyone around the world.

Oh, my gosh. Bill, we are thrilled to have you. I cannot wait to get into this conversation. I am so fired up to have this talk with you today. And for those of you that haven't been introduced to Bill before, let me just touch on his background a little bit and we'll get into a ton of detail through our talk. 

But Bill is a three-time Olympian and Olympic silver medalist with the USA His success is one of our history's most amazing stories of overcoming adversity, going through homelessness to 3 Olympic Games. Yes, 3 Olympic Games and the first Olympic medal for Team USA in a particular area in over 46 years. We'll get right into that. Now his story has been so impactful globally that the International Olympic Committee created the first and only documentary on his life called Against All Odds. 

So, check that out against all odds. And if you want to know what he's doing now, well, he's simply just the managing partner of five separate. Companies two in the technology space and three in coaching and consulting. 

Let's get right to it. My man. You have got an impeccable history and you've been through some challenges as well. You're one of the most decorated athletes on the planet, but at one point you went through a suicide attempt. What led you to such a dark place?

Yeah, you know the whole suicide, depression, addiction. I never ever thought that something would ever come across my table, never in a million years, because it's a lot of stuff I witnessed also as a kid, right? But that all stemmed from when I decided to retire completely from sports back in 2010. 

The only thing I was excited about was retiring and not having to be away from my family and traveling non-stop, but where I failed is to do what I historically have done my whole life and come up with a game plan, prepare, and a plan of execution. I simply retired with zero expectations. I had zero ideas of what I was going to do coming home from, you know, being an Olympian that competed all over the world, and that was the expectation that was my identity if you will. And when I retired, I lost that identity, and it took me down a really dark path for a good part of eight and a half years.

Yeah, I promise to all the listeners. We're going to go back and go through all the sports stuff and all the work stuff and all the crazy stories. But we're starting with this piece because it's so important. A lot of athletes go through this transition of identity, my ego, my sense of being is wrapped in the sport. Pick your sport, right? So. How does that actually happen for an athlete? Bill, how do you get wrapped up in a way that you become the sport the sport becomes you?

I think it, I don't know if it happens to every athlete, every level, but even through my experience and with the coaching and stuff it also happens to, you know, executives, military people transitioning from one job position to another relationship. 

The way it worked for me. Do you know when I became an athlete and I was just good at it? That obviously became my identity. That's who... When people ask me, "Who are you? What do you do? I'm Bill Schiffhauer and I'm a track and field athlete for Team USA. In the sport of decathlon I'm Bill Schiffhauer and I'm an Olympian and bobsled Olympic silver medalist for Team USA. So, over the years, that's always what I talked to and told people. 

And that's all I knew, because that's also what I did day in and day out as I represented, you know, my family, my friends, my country, my state. At, you know, Nationals, Olympics on TV, whatever it was, so that truly 100% became my identity of who Bill Schiffenhauer was and how it was and what I did day in and day out. And when that all came to a screeching halt, I didn't have the tools and or the resources at the time to address that. And that obviously led down that negative dark path that took, sadly enough, 8 1/2 years, but a lot, a lot of lessons learned in that.

So, Bill, you know this about me? I'm a huge proponent of mental health, mental health resources, people speaking out on the topic so that we can get this out in the open and have these real candid conversations and people may not be on the spectrum as far as you went, right? They may be just more depressed. Slightly depressed, not happy with their life, not feeling driven or empowered or happy, right? I mean, happy is the word that we tend to use. 

So, when you think about mental health, what were some of the things that helped you climb out of this environment that you felt really stuck in?

So yeah, what a great question, Tom. So, when I retired, I honestly felt like I had to reinvent the wheel. And so, I took all the success principles, all the experience, all the knowledge that I had gathered over years and years and years from coaches, athletes, and teachers and I literally threw it out the window, 


yeah. Don't ask me why, I honestly don't have a good answer, I just you know, I thought oh this is the next chapter. None of that stuff applies, so I need to refigure all this stuff out. And so again, obviously, we talked about how long that lasted, but when I kind of got to my end again and I was like I needed some help. I've got to figure this out. And that's when I first got involved with coaching. 

And so, part of it was literally going back, I had this thought to myself because I was like, so lost, completely lost, and people out there that are doing that... They understand what I'm saying. That super dark completely lost and I had to think to myself, OK, at what point in my life was I at, you know, at my very best or at least much better than I am today? And what is that? The architecture of my life looks as well. We all know, right? Surrounding myself with great other athletes surrounding myself with great coaches, doctors, a great support system and didn't include the things that I was doing at the time, isolating myself dependent on alcohol and pain pills and all these different things. 

And so, I realized that I had to go back to the Drawing board and declutter the architecture that I had created and that's one thing I really want people to understand. I was 100% accountable and responsible for the negative architecture I created for myself. And I had to go back to that and declutter all those things that I've created that weren't serving me for the purpose that I wanted and exit that stuff out of my life and almost kind of start back on, like, Ground Zero and rebuilding that architecture by design. 

And you know, first and foremost, the one thing you know, I will talk to you about coaching. You know, I have an opportunity to coach with Jack Canfield and one of the first lessons that I learned from his coaching program was taking 100% accountability: because at that point in time when you're in that dark space. You are a victim mentality all the way. You're blaming everyone and anything, your friends, your family, your fiancé, husband, wife, whatever you're blaming God for all your problems. 

And so, when I took a look at everything that was going on in the architecture, I finally realized like, OK. No one's going to come and save me. God's not going to come and save me. The only thing that can actually happen right now is me taking 100% accountability for where I am right now and being vulnerable. Right 

Past Olympians, 6 foot, 260-pound vulnerable athlete and saying I need some help and it was. It was definitely the hardest thing for me to do asking for help, but I realized based on what had been happening for a half year, I didn't have the tools. Of the knowledge of how to fix it on mine.

Look, if you're listening to this and you're thinking holy cow, you should be, because the way that Bill is unpacking this, he's talking about the architecture that we create within our lives that can be positive in his terms, was during his sports environment, right. There were positive structures built around his world. People, resources, time, energy, and quite frankly, mindset. 

And then when that ended and he discarded it all, he then went to create a new architecture, but it was mismanaged, and he created a negative architecture of isolation, self-pity, victim status, and then drugs and alcohol and that kind of stuff that sort of tends to play in when we. When we take that mindset. And the clarity here, Bill, and the reason that I admire you so much is because of your ability to explain the clarity of the high point, and the not-so-high point and distinguish it is really like a black and white man. I mean it is so clear to me what that looks like and I hope it is for the audience as well, 

When you transition from this negative space. And you start to grow a little bit, what did that feel like?

Oh man, well, you know, first off, I want to make sure the audience knows this was a process that took time, right? It wasn't something that happened overnight, but you know from day one having a clear understanding that I could still fix the issues that I created was monumental. I literally when we were having the conversation with, you know, his name's Chad Lefever. He's one of the guys I'm a partner with as well through an organization called TMC. I literally said. So, you're telling me it's not too late for me to go back and start over fresh. And rebuild exactly what I wanted by design. Yeah, if you commit. Right. And we take that 100% accountability and literally you know part of the problem is a lot of us still continue to a lot of us sometimes will try to build you know a new architecture, but they try to do it within the walls of the old architecture and that just never works, right. 

So I just took massive powerful action from day one and started decluttering the things in my life that didn't serve me, but that initial realization that I still had an opportunity was amazing and you know, now I get to look back, and see and pay attention and acknowledge and appreciate the little steps and people along the way that helped me get to where I am today.

Bill, how old were you when you hit the reset buttons?

Oh, this was back in 2018. So, I'm turning 50 in June, so. 48ish. Yeah, 46/46/47.


Yeah, so look, mid-40s and you completely hit the reset button and said all of my architecture to use your words that have been designed is not working for me. And I got to break this stuff down and build a new house. It's super impressive and you know, we're all cheering you on and rooting you on because I think it's just awesome how you went through the challenges and came out the other side. Now you're a business guy. You're leading in your community. You're sharing your story so that others can evaluate their own lives. And start to rebuild their own architecture. So, kudos, brother. I think it's awesome what you are doing.

Thank you, man. I appreciate it.

So, all right, sports fans. I know people are probably like, look, man, can you just get to the cool stuff about the Olympics? Because I want to know the back story. 

So, you are an Olympian. But you started in the decathlon. So, tell us the story of your Olympic journey, where it started in the decathlon. And how you ended up winning Olympic medals.

Yeah, I mean, obviously it starts off way back when you know as we talked to Tom and before you know, I grew up with drug-addicted parents on and off the streets in 17 foster homes. And so, I was used to as a youth bouncing all over, getting in trouble with the law, running from cops, and so on and so on. And another point in time in my life I was getting ready for 7th grade and my mom got in trouble for drugs again. So, the state intervened and said OK, I guess you're going to go to another foster home.

And honestly, my family was fairly well known here in Salt Lake because of my mom. She was considered like the street mom around here. And they said, hey, you're either going to go to another foster home or we're going to call your grandma and see if she's willing to take you. And thankfully, my grandma was willing to take me on, and I moved from Salt Lake to a very suburban type town called Roy UT.

Back then, I was the only kid of color at the school, so I didn't fit in. I was raggedy. Those big Afro and I just walked into the school and for the first time, I noticed a different energy of the kids there. And it was something that I wasn't used to. I'd never experienced and long story short, I noticed one kid, in particular, is named Jake Schultz. He's OK with me saying this. I talked about him even in my documentary, but he was like the All-American kid, clean-cut everyone liked him, played all the sports. Great student. And I was like, I want to. Know what that feels like? And do I have the tools and the resources to achieve it? And I didn't know at the time, but again, as a 7th grader I'm making big boy decisions without even realizing it. 

so, I literally just started following this kid around after school and one time followed him out, you know. To the sports field and I saw all these other kids and they're handing stuff off to each other and jumping over stuff and running around. And the first thought in my head is like, well, I'm really good at running from cops and jumping fences. I think I could do this. 

And of course, you know, it was track and field and I went out my 8th-grade year and was, you know, kept trying all the events and making the cut. The coaches were excited. Other athletes were excited and in my head I was like, well, gosh, I'm doing good at this. I'm going to try baseball because that's what I see on TV. All the time. Right.

So one day I leave for baseball practice. And had a great time coming back to track tracks the next day and the coach was like, hey, you know, ask me where I was and I said, oh, I want to go try out baseball. And he says, OK, we have to understand. This is a team. We were going to do handoffs and we were going to have you on the relay team, but you were gone. So next time let us know like, you know what's going on. 

Unfortunately, at the time they, you know, they say that you can take the kid out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the kid. And I had some choice words for the coaches, which ended up getting me kicked off. Not only the track team but also the baseball team. So, I had to kind of go back to the drawing board and reach out to my teachers and the coaches because I didn't have good enough grades, even if I would have made the team, I would have been kicked off. And realized and leaned on them for support to get my grades up and work on my mindset and my attitude and all that stuff. 

And finally made the track team in my 9th-grade year and I was doing all the events, hurdles, discos, Long jump relays, whatever I had time to do, I was doing all of it. And I just love the camaraderie of athletics so much that I realized that I found something that was going to help me change my stars to achieve something no one ever thought that I could ever do. I mean, you know, mind you, I was told by family members that I would never make it to the age of 16. I was a black sheep of the family and at the time, I just. Wanted to prove everyone wrong. 

And so, when I went into high school, the coaches were like, hey, we noticed that you were doing all these events. You're awesome. We'd love to have you do this event called the Decathlon. And I was like, OK, sounds cool. What exactly is that? And so they start naming off the events. And I'm like, man, I get to do more events. This is so amazing. And the coaches were like, well, you're the first one to practice and you're the last one to leave. And I was like, Oh my gosh, that's just way too much. And they, they said. One last thing they said a decathlete is considered the best athlete in the world. And I was. Like sold! Let's do it. 

So you know, I go through all of the high school state records, state championships, national records, national championships. I get recruited to every university across the country. I was guided by my coaches, and I ended up going to Weber State University. And it worked out and I had a really great career there. The goal was to make it to the ‘96 Olympics in the decathlon. You know, I’ve acquired the university record. I ended up after my senior year, moving to Moscow Idaho to train with one of the very best athletes in our history named Dan O'Brien, and with his coach. 

So I literally jumped on because we didn't have, you know, cell phones or Internet and stuff at that time. So I'd written a letter to them, said, hey, I'd love to come train with you. Weeks later, I get a letter back saying come on up, I jump into great. Down take the crazy long, horrible trip in the Greyhound to Moscow Idaho from Salt Lake City and I'm up in Moscow training with like literally the best athletes on the planet and

So you got to pause for a second. So, for our younger viewers and listeners, a letter is something you write with a pen, and then you put it in something called an envelope. And then you put this thing on the front of it, called a stamp, typically sticky. You can get them... They're like stickers now. Used to have to lick them. And you put an address there, not like an e-mail address. There's no @It's a physical address.

And then a greyhound. Just to be clear, as we're building our nomenclature here, that is a bus that goes from one location to another location, typically with stops in between and you can get on. Bus and offset bus, right? So at different locations. So I just want to make sure you know for my younger generation out there that we know what those things are.

Yeah, that's a good idea. Funny enough I didn't think about that but wow. Great, great, great point. So yeah, I got up to Moscow. I'm with some of the best athletes and having a great time. But I kind of lost my direction when I got up there too, right? I had an apartment with some. Other students were Going to school up there and it was right up. The row houses of all the sororities and fraternities.

And I found myself actually parting more than I was actually training and doing what I was supposed to do. Unfortunately, two years went by and the coaches eventually asked me to leave and I'm like, just devastated, so I jumped on, said Greyhound bus. And traveled back to Salt Lake City Utah. I call the coaches at the university and say, hey, I'm back. I know I left on not great terms. Here's what's happened, and this is what I'd like to do. Would you be willing to give me another opportunity? 

So, kind of with that, I just didn't leave it in anyone's hands for it to work out. I took the initiative, took accountability, reached out and I went and had a meeting with the coaches, and they said, Yep, if you're willing to do XYZ, we're willing to take you back on. 

And this was the year of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, so we started training. I stopped partying. Everything's going really, really well. We are going to do our first meet here in Utah and I scored something like 8083 points. I can't remember exactly the point, but I was the 51st American to go over 8000 points in U.S. history.

That qualified me for Olympic trials, qualified me at the time. Is the number one score in the world, and we're just having a great season. I mean, things are going so well. And we get to about two weeks before the Olympic trials and we're like, hey, let's just do another meet just to warm up meat doesn't have to be anything crazy, and so we're doing this meet here locally at Brigham Young University. That day, it happened to be raining, and in the second event of the decathlon, the long jump... I'm running down to do my first jump and my foot slips on the long jump runway. My heel rotates, my spikes catch, and I literally almost blew my ankle completely apart. 

So, you know, we honestly should have just stopped right then and there because we didn't qualify already met the Olympic standard, met the national qualifying standard. But we went into what most people do. We went into panic mode, and we numbed up my ankle and wrapped it up. I went to go try and do the 3rd event which is a shot put that didn't go very well. Went to try to do the 4th event which was the high jump and that was pretty much the nail in the coffin. There's just no way that I could jump off that foot. 

So, I literally packed up my bags, left all my gear at the track, and walked off and I was just done. Went home feeling sorry for myself and that lasted for probably about three or four months. Hobbling around on crutches, you know, realizing my whole career was down the drain and it's over.

What does that mean? What does that feel like? You're letting me just set the stage again. So, we're in Utah. We’ve blown all the records. We're getting ready for the Olympics, right? You're going to be on the Olympic team essentially in the decathlon. And you're going to go represent your country for the first time. And I mean, mentally, you're probably elated. And then you go into a practice meet in the rain. And rip your ankle apart, which I assume then leads to you not going to the Olympics in a couple of weeks. He's nodding his head for those of you that are not watching on YouTube. So, so Bill, so. Bill blows out his ankle and now we've got a couple of months of trying to figure out what's next.

Yeah, I was. I was. I was very. I was devastated. I mean the best way to put that was I was absolutely devastated because that's all that I had on my mind was to represent my country and make the Olympics. So, I didn't really have a plan for next, so I'm at home again, victim. You know, blaming the whole world for everything that happened, my problems.

Poor me. Little poor me time.

Yeah, 100% poor me time. And you know, you know the world works in funny ways sometimes. And I had a friend who reached out to me and said, hey… Do you ever think about doing bobsled? And I'm like, what? What are you talking about? They're like, you know, bobsled at the Olympics in Salt Lake. I'm like, no, no, no. The Olympics are in Sydney, and I've missed that cause of my injury and that's over and done with. They're like no Winter Olympics, bobsled. And I'm like, I don't even know what that is like. I have no idea what you're talking about. I didn't even know that the Olympics were coming to Salt Lake, where I live. And they said, OK, you've got to go to Blockbuster. For those who don't know.

Oh, I know where this is going, will you please explain Blockbuster for a minute?

Yeah, so, so Blockbuster used to be a store where we would actually go to the physical store, walk around and look for titles of movies that we might like, or just look and rent a VHS tape at the time.

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yep.

And to take it home you have to have a membership. Cost you… I can't remember how much it cost. Is, but you rent. This video, and I think back. Then you could only rent so many at a time.

Yeah, you can rent one or two if you are on the upgraded subscription you could rent three, you know, kind. What things would you like? 48 hours to bring it back.

Yeah, like, yeah, something, something.

And certain movies were like a week. You could rent them for a week before they started charging you fees.


Oh yeah, we're going back to old school right now, love it.

Old school and so. So, they're like you have to rent this movie called Cool Runnings. It's a movie about this Jamaican bobsled at. And I was like, OK, sure. So, I rented this movie, I took it home, I put it on the VHS tape, started playing it, and I watch this movie about the Jamaican bobsled team.

Great movie, by the way. Awesome.

That's great.

Movie and I was like oh man this is kind of cool. Like I don't know anything about the sport, but it looks. Kind of cool. So, I get done with the movie, and I rewind it for those.

There's a rewind fee if you don't rewind it appropriately.

And I go back to this person. I was like, OK, I watched the movie. Like, I want to know more. And they're like, well, now you've got to watch a video of Team USA actually competing in Saint Moritz, Switzerland.

Yeah, cool.

And when I saw that video of, you know, one of my former teammates, Pavle Jovanovic, competing as a brakeman, and the two men, four men, two men sled in Saint Moritz. I was like, yes, I need to do it. And so we literally just said, hey, you know what, let's strategize about this like. Why not me, right?

Yeah, why not? You are exactly right.

We only had a year and three months before the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake and of course, everyone's like, there's no way you can do it. You've never been in this sport. Like, what are you thinking? But my internal team, we're like, how cool would that be if we could actually create a story of going from homelessness to the Olympics In your own city? And we were just like wow. That would be really cool. 

Like, honestly I grew up homeless in Salt Lake City. Turn your life around to then compete in the Olympics in your own hometown. And we just said, you know what? Why not me? We've got absolutely nothing to lose. Let's just take all the mindset and training that we had in the track and field bucket, and pick It up, dump it over into the bobsled bucket and just go for it and see what happens. And you know, for three months I got introduced to this bobsled driver named Bruce Rosselli, still a great friend of mine at Indianapolis. And I would just drive an hour every day from where I live to Park City, and I just became a student of the sport at first. 

So, for three months I just watched, and didn't push a slide. I didn't do anything. I just watched the athletes and the coaches. And one day they called me up. They said, hey, would you be willing to come back up to Park City and I was like, yeah, sure, it's kind of normal at that point in time and I get up there, they said. Hey, we want you to. Go down in the sled today, of course. I'm excited... Nervous, all at the same time. You know, they say, OK, we want you to actually go from the brakes on the floor, man, which is probably 1 of them. The harder positions because you're the last one in. 

And so I'm just like, OK, just take all the information that you've consumed watching all these other athletes and. Just apply it. 

And so we went up to the bobsled track in Park City and we went down and we did our, you know, our three runs, and every time we did a run, my teammates were super excited and I had no idea what's going on. I'm like, Oh my. Gosh, that was just the greatest ride I've ever had. An opportunity to do that was fun. And we get done and my teammates are again just ecstatic. And I'm like, what am I missing? They're like that is literally the best we've ever done in a competition. And it was like a competition? They're like, yeah, that was World Team Cup trials. And I was like, my first experience in a bobsled as a World Team Cup trial. And we’ve won, we've done better than they’ve ever done before. And then of course, I get a permanent place on that team and on that sled at the time.

Well, I would think so. I mean, if you're, if you're crushing records and it's your first day on the job, I would think maybe we'll bring you back right for day 2.

So, we go to Calgary, Canada, and do what we call America's Cup. So, America’s Cup consists of Calgary, Canada, Park City, and Lake Placid. And you're competing. And it's the lower tier of teams at that point in time, but you're still competing. 

so, we won gold in two men and four men in Calgary. We come to Park City again, win gold in two men and four men. We go to Lake Placid, win gold in two men and four men, and at this point in time, it's literally less than a year from the Olympic Games. Other teams USA 1USA2 we happen to be USA about 5 at the time, start taking notice and you can start hearing some of the whispers, but I'm like this is my team. I'm staying with them. 

Another year goes by. We're getting ready now for Olympic trials and bobsled, and we're still Team USA 5. And I got a call from a good friend of mine named Gia Johnson. And she says, hey, Todd Hayes, the driver for USA One, wants to see if you have time to meet with him. And I'm like, OK. And she's like, you just need to take this meeting and go see what he has to say. 

So, I went over to the hotel in Park City. He's there. His whole team is there and they're like, hey, we've noticed that you're, you know, just killing it, doing phenomenal. You're obviously very athletic, but because we're Team USA, we have a buy. And we also have a choice on who our team alternate gets to be and we would like you to consider being our team alternate, which would mean an automatic bid to the Olympic team. You're an Olympian, you're going to be on the best team in the world. And funny enough, you. Would think so.

Yeah, I would.

I was so committed to my team, I Said. Well, let me go talk to my teammates and see what they think and I'll get Back to you.

OK, fair.

And it's funny. As I recall, I like seeing their faces. Like what? Like we just offered you the Golden Willy Wonka ticket and you need to go think about it! So, I go back and… 

Let's unpack that for a second. Let's pause for a second because this is the Town Empowerment podcast, and that is a pro move. So here, here's why you get offered the Golden Willy Wonka ticket, whatever that looks like in your life, right? In this particular case, it's the ticket to the Olympic Games, right? The whole that has been in your soul since you rolled your ankle, right? You get to fill that back up with this Olympic opportunity. 

But you also got to that spot because of a group of other people that supported you, loved you, cared for you, taught you the game, and taught you how to do it right. And there is a level of loyalty that I think is expected between humans that are helping each other, you know, up and down. And along the way and along the path. 

So, for those of you that think why didn't you just say yes? Take a step back and actually think that Billy's decision to say, let me go chat with my group here, was a pro move, really a pro move and you could do that in business, your personal life. You can do it over and over and over again. It's always OK to take time now if they had said you tell us right? Now on the spot. That's probably not the team you want to be on, right? If they're going to say yeah, man go talk to your folks and let's see if we can get you on the team. You've got a pretty level-headed group that you're working with now. I don't know how this story went, so the next part it's up. 

OK, so now you go back to the team and your team 5. We're back at team five and you're saying. Hey guys I got an opportunity to be at the Olympics.

So, I let him know, and of course, I'm saying, you know, I'm committed to you guys and I and I you know, I feel bad and I literally said let's put it to the discussion. Do you know what you guys think?

And I, you know, I honestly expected them to be like, no way you got to stay with us. And I was shocked when they all said, you know what, this is literally your story that you talked about a year ago. This is your opportunity to be an Olympian; and as much as we'd love to do this journey with you, like the universe is saying, this is where we need you or where they need you, and they literally just gave me their blessing. And you know, you have 4 grown men in tears. It was the most unselfish experience I've had with human beings in my entire life. For them to sacrifice their opportunity to even have a chance at making the Olympics and giving me their blessings to go. 

And so, we did. And again, you know, we cried and. And hugged each other and they gave me their blessings. And so, I called Team Hayes back the next day and said, hey, so, you know, I'm good to go. Where do you want me? You know, so I hopped ship switch teams and at the time, you know, mind you, I'm just an alternate. 

So, I’m carrying bags. I'm again watching the team and Todd Hayes, our driver. Since another meeting up with me and I was like, hey, like, am I getting kicked off the team now? Or what's going on, he said. Hey, listen. All the coaches and all the athletes who have been here for the longest time are super ****** *** because we chose you to be our team alternate and like you haven't been in the sport, he says. We don't have to compete in the trials, he's like, but I want to make sure that we prove to everyone that I made the right decision. 

So, I'm going to have you push in the four, man team trials with my team. So, he took one of his guys off the sled and put me on the sled. We ended up breaking the track record and just demolishing everyone and just kind of proving in an athletic way that we made the right decision. And again, I end up becoming the team alternate. 

So, I will travel with them to Europe and finish off the World Cup season. And we come back from Europe about two weeks before the Olympic Games and at this point in time, the media has got a hold of the story that I'm on the team of an Olympian kid from Utah here in Salt Lake City, UT. And you know, I was just playing my role at the very best I could as a team alternate. And one day we were at the Olympic Training Center in San Diego, and one of the coaches came to me and said, hey, I want you to be 100% prepared just in case we have to put you on the sled for the. 

And I was like, well, I am. He's like, well, I got to give you some inside information. One of your teammates tested positive for a banned substance and we don't know what the outcome is going to be yet. So just, you know, get your mindset ready, make sure you're physically ready to go. And I said OK and literally the next day they came back to me, they said OK, they’re going to kick him off the team and you're up and then again like just a mixture of emotions, right? Because the guy who got kicked off was literally the first guy, I had an opportunity to watch in a video competing in Saint Rick, Switzerland. He also became a mentor of mine to help me, like really understand what does it take to be? High caliber athlete and Olympic level. 

So as excited as I was, I also had mixed emotions because he was losing everything, but I just had to kind of attach myself to the good part of it and move on and focus on what I had to do. You know, I ended up starting to realize like, Oh, my gosh, I had this dream a year and a half ago of trying to make the bobsled team in Salt Lake City and now I'm here.

And you know we go, and we compete and then, you know, we were favored too. Win a medal. Not sure exactly which one, but there was a little bit more concern because now this new guy himself is on the team and they're OK… is he going to actually be able to perform at an Olympic level with billions of people watching all around. 

And again, I just like in my head, you know, I recall when I walked up to the first run of the bobsled and I could see thousands of people out there on the mountain. And I can hear the announcer saying. Here comes Team USA, One with a newcomer. They announced it on TV. If you go back and listen to the commendation, they're like this kid Bill Schuffenhauer straight off the streets of Salt Lake City is here at the 2002 Winter Olympics competing for Metal and I just let all that go. 

I just, you know, I kind of put myself in the mindset of like Reminding myself on the path of what it took for me to get there. Right and just focus. You know, you hear a lot in athletics that don't try to do anything more. Just do exactly what got you here. And went and did that on the first day we're in the first place and like what is going on here? And super excited. And of course, we have a bunch of interviews, and people are like that. You know you finally made it and tried to stay away from too many interviews because I had to get ready for the next day’s racing. 

The third day of the third run, it was snowing. If they get an opportunity, they could see this in the documentary as well, but we fall completely out of contention like back to 5th place or something like that. 

And instead of freaking out Todd gathers the team and says, hey, listen guys. We've worked really hard to be here and we're going to go ahead and finish this at the highest level we can, so we're going to go back up that mountain, get our minds together, get our act together, and go out there and put together the best run we possibly can and represent our country here 2002 Olympics. 

And we just all agree he was like, all right, let's go do this. You know what? We might not meddle, but we're here. But we're still going to compete at the highest level we can. And we go up there and put together the best run we can. It ends up turning into a silver medal for Team USA. And as you mentioned earlier, the 1st in over 46 years.

Just a kid off the streets of Salt Lake City.


Pushing a sled. I love it, man, I mean the story is so empowering for so many different reasons and so many ups and downs along your journey and the path that you took from being a being in the decathlon and thinking that was your path and then switching to a winter sport and watching Cool Runnings. I mean, it's like we just made this up.


But we didn't make it up and I think what I want people to hear is. Where we started. 

So where we started was there are architectures that we create for ourselves. There are frameworks that we live within, and we create those boundaries. And what Bill did is he tore those architectures down multiple times in his life. To rebuild a framework that worked for him. And I'm not saying that it's always perfect and Bill, I think, Bill, you would say it's not always perfect but If you look at your life, whether it's your career, your relationship with your partner, your friendships, your community, your educational status, whatever it is, right, just know that there's always something bigger, greater that you can move towards if you choose to do so. 

So, Bill, you're awesome. I was looking forward to this chat for a long time and I'm glad we got to hear not only the whole story about your Olympic journey but also the challenges afterward of transitioning from this superior athlete to sort of everyday Tom and Bill. Right. And trying to figure out your feet, you know, get on your feet like the rest of us. So, thank you for sharing your journey with us.

No, thank you, Tom. It's been a pleasure. You know, hopefully, everybody out there who is listening can find some good Nuggets that they can apply in their own lives.

Yeah, absolutely, man. And thank you for joining the Town Empowerment podcast. If somebody wanted to get in touch with you, how would they go about doing that?

Yeah, honestly, the two best ways they can go to my website is theolympianspeaks.com and if they want to see all the things that I'm into that'll show them, they could also just go. To my link linktr.ee/billschuffenhauer if you can't spell that, just look it up. 

A pretty good chance we can put that in the show notes for you, Bill. Don't worry, we'll put links in there for everybody to be able to find Bill. If you want to connect with him, watch his documentary. Check him out On LinkedIn, check out his website. The guy is awesome. Thank you, brother, for being on the show. Man, keep kicking it and keep reshaping that architecture.

Thanks, brother. I appreciate you so much and thank you for what you do. You're definitely an inspiration to several thousands of people around the world, and that's what it takes is people like you. And I am just now trying to do what we can one person at a time.

Make the world a better place. I feel a song coming on, but I won't sing.

Yeah, you don’t want me to sing!

Hey, look, my friends, thank you for tuning into the Talent Empowerment podcast. We hope you've discovered your true calling, find your dream career, and are living your best life. Get ready to dive back into career and happiness in the next episode. We'll see you then.

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