Leadership Stories: Gabby Douglas as Role Model and Celebrity

Hereʻs an interesting interview with Gabby Douglas about her experience with bullying.

It may be that one of the best ways she can be present as a leader is to share her story about how she developed the discipline to accomplish so much with her gifts. Leading by example.

Sheʻll be visible enough to do that! Gossipy Madame Noire notes that sheʻs been recruited by Spelman College, is fielding numerous endorsement offers, and will set out on a 40 city tour (linked to her Kelloggʻs “Breakfast of Champions” job).

All this for a 16 year old, disciplined athlete, leaping into the limelight after her Olympic triumphs. In the Madame Noire article, Douglas is quoted as saying,

“People were like, ‘Gabby’s going to smile all the way to the bank.’ I remember reading that, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, I have to stop. I’m going to foam at the mouth with all this money,’ I just have to learn how to save it and control myself. “I wasn’t the richest kid on the block and my family struggled a little bit. We went through some very tough times. … But I’m so happy that I stuck with it and can bring my family out of the financial situations.”

Source: CNN News

I love that — “foam at the mouth with all this money!” Thatʻs the madness of instant celebrity seizing the day! And Douglas seems to be trying to keep her feet on the ground, amidst all the excitement, talking about saving money and helping her family. Sheʻs off to a good start.

Once the stardust clears, weʻll see what kind of role model she decides to be. I hope she has a good leadership/celebrity coach to help her and her family find a way to be strategically authentic amidst the glitz and glamour, as long as it lasts. Thatʻs whatʻll make the difference. Douglas is a gifted athlete, now facing two possibilities:  igniting a flash-in-the-pan, get rich quick, balance-beam-brief stardom or creating a lasting impression that will make a place for Douglas as a real leader.

In many ways, itʻs up to her. Either way, she fills her bank account (with or without frothing). If sheʻs able to make her mark as a leader, not just as a celebrity, then sheʻll build a foundation to support other disciplined, visionary young people as well.


  1. […] written about talented athletes as role models, from the sparkling and lucrative rise of Gabrielle Gabby Douglas to the disappointing and much criticized Lance […]


  2. […] a mostly dignified, charming celebrity. She’s climbed nimbly up on the Olympic pedestal, and balances there with aplomb. Lifetime could do […]


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