When did you start climbing mountains?
The first mountain of any size that I attempted was Mount Everest in 1996 when I was fortunate enough to reach the summit shortly before my 40th birthday. It was intended to be just a one-off project but I guess life had different ideas and I’ve since been back to Everest on four further occasions, reaching the summit again in 1999.
So you never looked back?
Although climbing mountains takes up a huge amount of time in its planning and execution, unfortunately it has never been a full-time activity. It took me eight years to save up for my last expedition in 2007, and I’m already into my fourth year of fundraising for my next Everest expedition, hopefully in 2012.
What made you decide to share your experiences with managers?
Shortly after my first Everest expedition, I was invited to tell my story to business and management institutes and associations. During the Q&A sessions, audiences drew parallels between issues of personal inspiration and practical leadership on the mountain. The Tao of Everest event involved combining emotional storytelling with lessons relevant to all business managers.
What can members expect from you?
Some of the fun and excitement of attempting big projects, and practical leadership advice – such as taking ownership of a problem (sometimes we may not be the best person but the only person for the job), and how to recognise others’ efforts. I talk about personal integrity as the basis of all leadership – it is the way we respond when no one is watching.
What’s the most valuable thing you have learned on your expeditions?
It’s never too late to make one more memory. Personal wealth is not measured just by the balance in our money bank, but also by memories in our memory bank. We can look back and say, “and to think, I did all that!”
How do the qualities relate to management in general?
Climbing big mountains is very much an individual activity. It is everyone’s personal responsibility to get themselves as far up the mountain as possible, and then, most importantly, back down again. No member can climb the mountain for another. So everyone must take responsibility for their own actions and/or limitations – a sentiment I would hope would relate to all managers and, dare I suggest it, to our society as a whole!
You also have a book…
It was difficult to condense four Everest expeditions and the vast subject of personal inspiration and practical leadership into a 60-minute presentation, so The Tao of Everest book and DVD expand on both the story of the expeditions, as well as offering an additional 20 insights into personal inspiration and practical leadership. All proceeds from book and DVD sales will go to our 2012 Everest expedition; we hope to bury three climbers who have been lying exposed at 26,000ft on the mountain for the past 15 years.
Find out more about The Tao of Everest here