Dominique Dawes Motivates Luxury 2023 Attendees


Before three-time Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes took the stage for Thursday morning’s Luxury keynote at the Venetian Expo in Las Vegas, the room went dark. Then a video whisked the audience back to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, where a young Dawes meticulously executed a floor routine. That was a historic year for American gymnastics, when the USA’s ­“Magnificent Seven” won gold as a team—for the first time ever.

However, “sometimes I show my Olympic fall for speaking engagements,” said Dawes, now 46 and owner of a gymnastics academy owner in Maryland. At the Luxury keynote, you could still see a flicker of the leotard-clad teenager she once was: She wore a lilac jumpsuit paired with a gold lariat and, because she had forgotten earrings, a borrowed pair of hoops by Lika Behar.

Dawes’ “Olympic fall” was just a slight stumble during another floor exercise, also at the 1996 Games. But it meant she would not win the individual gold medal in the all-around competition that year. She shows the moment, Dawes said, to illustrate that “life is full of setbacks, challenges, and struggles. That’s part of your journey—and part of your success if you choose to learn from that painful experience and continue to persevere.”

Throughout her remarks, Dawes returned to a theme of success being a journey, not a destination.

“My journey as an athlete was that of an individual—gymnastics is an individual sport. But in 1996, all of us knew that if we wanted to be the first-ever [U.S.] women’s gymnastics team to win gold, we had to lean on one another,” she recalled. There would be no fame, no glory, no Wheaties box for the Magnificent Seven “if we didn’t take our large egos and put them off to the side.”

The takeaway for jewelers? Hire the right people, trust, and delegate. “Each and every one here is part of a team, something bigger than yourself.”

Dawes also urged the audience to abandon “the world’s definition of success: money, fame, power, prestige. Success is making an impact in someone else’s life.”

She compared the piles of fan mail she has received over the years to thank-you notes a jeweler might receive. “When was the last time you really thought about the impact that you not only made with that one person but that person’s family and its generations to come?”

You might be wondering—where does she keep that gold medal? In her kitchen junk drawer (“So I always know where it is,” she explained). But she makes exceptions for special events: At the close of her Luxury speech, Dawes posed for photos while holding her Olympic gold “jewel” and all that it symbolizes for her, for all of us.

(Photograph by Camilla Sjodin)

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Amy Elliott

By: Amy Elliott

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