GINNY GILDER

“Pay now or pay later with interest” is the mindset Ginny Gilder needed to succeed as an Olympian, an owner of the Seattle Storm WNBA franchise, a three-time All-Ivy Champion rower, and writer of Course Correction.  Despite these successes, Ginny was cut from teams more times than she can count and was told repeatedly that she was too small to make it. But she learned to confront challenges and naysayers head on – it’s only by addressing challenges can they be overcome. Ginny has championed the philosophy that women should enjoy equal access to competitive opportunities at every level – a company mission that harkens back to her work ushering in the post-Title IX era back in college.

The Lesson That Changed My Life

Ginny: What I say is pay now or pay later with interest.

I grew up in New York City on the Upper Eastside. I was actually a Park Avenue girl. I started rowing as a freshman in college. I actually was not much of an athlete before then. I tried out for three national teams, 1977, '78, and '79 and got cut every year. In 1979, I had graduated from college. My father, stockbroker, said to me, "Ginny, the market is telling you something. You're not good enough." And my college coach reaffirmed that for me when I finally told him a couple years later that I wanted to be on the Olympic team. He told me, "You'll never make it. You're too small." But I loved it so much, I decided I had to try. I just had to try for the Olympic team in 1980.

I got pregnant in '85 with my first child. I figured I could have a baby and go back. Unfortunately, she died two days before she was born and it was really pretty devastating. It took me two years to kinda get back to the point of feeling like there was a reason to go forward. And that whole experience really put a period on my racing career. For a long time, nothing seemed important and certainly racing didn't seem important. When my daughter died, it was definitely the most painful experience of my life so I had to learn to deal with loss and disappointment.

And of course, there's really only one way, which is you keep going. You just take one step forward and another step forward and you just live through it. And whatever washes over, washes over and you will make it through as long as you don't give up on yourself. I think the lesson there that changed my life was that I was a lot tougher than I thought I was. What I say is pay now or pay later with interest.

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