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Medaling In Self- Employment

Lealem worked at NASA as the Project/Lead Scientist of NASA’s Digital Astronaut Project (DAP) where he directed a highly multidisciplinary and cross-functional team of scientists and engineers to develop and apply novel  technologies to analyze and mitigate the health and performance risks  of astronauts. He collaborates with the National Institute of Health (NIH), Food  and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Defense and several other governmental, academic and private institutions to translate his unique technical expertise to enable precision healthcare and explore the boundaries of human performance.

As a byproduct of his endeavors, he has published over  100 journal and conference articles and presentations. His education background consists of a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical-Aerospace Engineering and a Master of Science in Space Studies with a concentration in human spaceflight. He is also  a former competitive gymnast, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified Mental Coach (CMC), USA Gymnastics Coach, Firearms Instructor and an Advanced Open Water SCUBA Diver.

He founded Medalist Performance™ to translate his many years of experience in spaceflight, biomedical research, engineering, athletics and coaching to develop and administer individualized peak performance programs for astronauts, athletes, tactical operators and ambitious corporate professionals. He is also  one of the few gymnastic coaches in the country that offers specialized adult gymnastics classes to help people develop superior core strength, balance, body awareness, flexibility and power Like A Gymnast™.

When and why did you join the NASE?
Throughout my academic and professional pursuits, I clearly  understood for a person or business to have longevity in an aggressively competitive global market, it is crucial  to consistently demonstrate high  value to the market. Consequently, when I decided to establish Medalist Performance, I knew I had to keep this  lesson at the forefront of my business model. When the pandemic hit, I knew I needed to associate with like-minded organizations to increase my chances of survival. In my search for such entities, NASE kept on coming up as a reputable organization small  business owners should be affiliated with. So, in September 2021, I made the logical decision to become a member of NASE.

What  inspired you  to enter the field you are in?
Medalist Performance is really  a by-product of my life-long  experiences and pursuits.

Growing up in Ethiopia amid poverty and illness, I was  consumed by visions of moving to North America where I could live out  my dreams of becoming a gymnast, working at the cutting edge of space exploration and healthcare, and much more. Unfortunately, I often found very few people were as optimistic or supportive of my dreams. Even fewer had the knowledge or desire to guide me.  But that did not  deter me.  There were many struggles along the way, but  I accomplished and continue to achieve many of my ambitions. After my tenure at NASA ended in 2015,  I formed Medalist Performance to use my life-long  experiences and scientific expertise to give people what I didn’t have; a systematic  and scientifically informed process  to pursue and realize their ambitions.

When and why did you start your business?
I established Medalist Performance in 2016  with a clear goal to serve people by helping them achieve physical, physiological, and mental peak performance. Not just  to help them realize the best version of themselves, but  also  to teach them how  to live out their ambitions and be great assets to society.

It is in the same spirit  I decided to use Medalist Performance to launch the Medalist Scholars™ award to recognize and support individuals who clearly  demonstrate a drive  to be the best of our  society.

How do you market your business?
Given the unique niche market Medalist Performance serves, traditional marketing methods have proven to be ineffective. Therefore, I invested substantial time and resources in the R&D of a proprietary workflow that generates “self- sustaining” business. But broadly speaking, virtually all business generated is from referrals or personal interactions. There is nothing more powerful than genuine relationships when it comes to developing one’s  business reputation.

What challenges have you faced in your business?
The biggest obstacle has been getting people to understand the difference between Peak Performance coaching, and personal/fitness training. This was  especially a problem when I used the legal name of the company “Medalist Fitness LLC” in conjunction with traditional marketing strategies. I was  losing  a lot of time and money filtering out  poorly matched clients who  were seeking help with their broad fitness needs. Once I realized this, I rebranded to Medalist Performance, and shifted to a closed network marketing strategy that specifically targeted my core target audience: active or aspiring astronauts, athletes, executives and tactical operators. I also  carefully screen every client  to ensure we are  a good fit for each other. This made my work  more fulfilling and improved revenue noticeably.

Do you have any employees?
I currently do not  have employees. I have hired my student-athlete clients as interns in the past, and I plan to continue using this  mechanism to find full and part time employees within the next two years.

What’s your schedule like, what’s a typical day for you?
This is always a difficult  question to answer because I don’t have a typical  day. One  day I might be in an unconventional environment with SWAT or military operators. Another day may  be at a gymnastics competition or training facility. There are  also  days I am  working with executives in their homes or corporations. There are  times I am  at government agencies speaking on research topics I’m invited to contribute to. I also  spend time working with remote clients of all varieties via virtual coaching portal. The only common thread among all these activities is I get to work  with people who  are striving to be the very best in their respective endeavors.

What’s the best thing about being self- employed?
The best part about being self-employed is the liberty to do what I love while being compensated fairly and genuinely thanked by my clients. It’s priceless! I truly feel like I’m living my calling.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received from a client?
This is a very difficult  question to answer because I’ve been so blessed to serve clients who  truly appreciate what I do. But if I had to pick one that resonates across many of my clients, it would be the following: "Thanks  Coach!  Your influence on me  has been life changing. I have learned a lot about myself from this  whole experience and it has translated to other areas of my life. I am  forever grateful for all your  hard work  and patience with me  through this  process. It is rare when we come across those who  can  change the course of our  lives and I am so thankful that I have you.” -B. Smith,  SWAT and Physique Athlete

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to someone starting their own business?
You must ensure you’re bringing value to the market. It is not  enough to offer  a product and service people need. It is important to show you genuinely care by going  the extra mile for your clients. Especially if you’re attempting to bring something novel  to the market.

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Courtesy of NASE.org
https://www.nase.org/about-us/media-relations/News/nase-in-the-news/2021/11/24/medaling-in-self--employment