From Everest to Every Business: Leadership, Teamwork and Partnership- Susan Ershler
History-Making Mountain Climber, Business Executive, International Speaker and Bestselling AuthorLeadership Sales Teamwork
How does a non-climber, mentally and physically prepare oneself to climb Mt Everest?
As I prepared for my Journey to the top of Mt. Everest, I had a very clear vision of myself
standing at the top of the mountain. I put together a detailed plan of what it would take to get to
the Summit. There were many challenges and setbacks on my journey, but I believe in
Teamwork and Partnership, so I relied heavily on my husband and Sherpa and we overcame
those daunting obstacles together.
How does this relate to business and its distributors and partners?
As a former corporate executive, I am uniquely aware of where you are today. I have been in
your seat and I understand what it takes to be successful in a Partnership environment.
Collaboration needs to occur in order to achieve success. Today, the economic climate can be
very challenging. There are many distractions and obstacles that may impact you globally.
As a leader you have implemented and executed programs together to help you progress up Mt.
Everest towards the summit. From Base Camp to High Camp, you have trained your
organizations to work in partnership with your business and your partners to achieve your goals
and objectives. You’ve made it from Base Camp to High Camp and you are now at one of the
most important legs of your Journey towards the summit, the Hillary Step. This is one of the
most challenging parts of the climb that requires strength and perseverance. The Hillary Step is a
60-degree slope, half rock, half snow, that demands as much courage and rock-climbing skill as
it does strength and stamina. By continuing to partner together and create common goals for
success, you will be able to stand on top of the Summit together. This is a journey that would be
so difficult to make alone, but in working together, you will realize significant awards and
satisfaction when you reach the top.
Together, you and your business will make this journey to the top of the world. When you stand
at the Summit, take a moment to look down the mountain and congratulate yourself and your
team for being the kind of partners who can weather any storm and overcome any obstacle.
Enjoy your journey to the Summit Together!
I keynote for many conferences per year globally, for the past 17 years. My big goal is to help
attendees at every event reach their seemingly impossible goals! And, I recently wrote the book:
Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales; From Everest to Every Business Achieving Peak
Performance. This includes all our Seven Summit leadership lessons.
Three Strategies to achieve Peak Performance!
How do you achieve your dreams in both your personal and business life — especially the ones
that seem impossible? I’m convinced that anyone can develop the skills and attitudes that lead to
peak performance if they follow my 3Ps: Project, Prepare, Persevere®.
In my career as a leader in Fortune 500 companies and a Seven Summits mountain climber, I’ve
developed a set of guiding principles that have allowed me to achieve seemingly impossible
revenue goals while simultaneously climbing the world’s highest mountains. Yet I don’t consider myself to be exceptionally gifted or unique. Anyone who is prepared to commit the time and effort can be equally successful if they: Project Prepare Persevere®. These are the bywords
to a systematic approach I’ve developed for achieving what some might consider to be unachievable goals.
To illustrate this, here are three lessons I learned from my most difficult and exhilarating climbs:
Project: During my year of intense physical training for Everest, I visualized myself and my
husband Phil standing together, triumphant at the summit. It was an image I would re-visit many
times every day until it was so vivid and real, I could almost reach out and touch the snowy
peaks and breathe the thin, frigid air. In 2002, my vision was realized when Phil and I stood atop
Everest’s highest peak, becoming the first couple in history to scale the Seven Summits.
I took the same approach as a business leader, consistently setting seemingly impossible goals
and then surrounding myself with images that, to me, comprised success. For example, I would
place placards showing my team’s revenue objectives throughout my office and visualize our
CEO congratulating us on having exceeded our numbers. After several months of this sustained
visualization, I found myself gradually changing my viewpoint about my goal. What was once
unthinkable became not only possible, but excitingly within reach. In my view, an extravagant
goal both focuses and energizes you, simultaneously expanding your sense of your own
capabilities and of life’s possibilities.
Prepare: I had been climbing for only two years when Phil and I set out to ascend Denali, the
highest peak in North America, which stands over 20,000 feet. The day was clear and cold when
our small plane touched its skis down on the ice-covered landing strip. Towering ahead of us, I
could see the massive bulk of Denali. I fell in behind the other climbers, carrying a very heavy
pack and pulling a sled weighted down with gear. The air was so thin I could barely breathe. As
we approached a deadly crevasse field, I found myself gasping for air and thinking, this is
ridiculous. I’m nowhere near ready for this type of expedition. If it’s so difficult now, I’ll never
make it to the top. I shouldn’t even be here.
As the guide, Phil shared with me, we’re not going to climb the whole mountain today. We’ll go
up in stages, from one camp to the next. In a few weeks, with luck and good weather, we’ll have
one day left and that will be the day we reach the summit. From then on, I concentrated on
reaching the next camp. When that no longer worked, I persevered in making it to the next rest
break. When that became too much, I focused on picking up each leg and then stepping forward.
In the end, we stood together on the summit, just as I’d imagined.
Phil’s advice applies equally well to achieving any business objective. As a leader, you must
create a detailed roadmap that breaks even the most daunting goal down into manageable steps,
with tangible benchmarks for success along the way. As a leader, I helped my team prepare for
success by creating activity, territory and account plans that generated $600 million in annual
revenue, exceeding our quotas 120-200 percent for 13 out of 15 years.
Persevere: After 63 days of climbing Everest, Phil and I had just one day left to make it to the
top. We began our final ascent at 2:30 in the morning, struggling against the bitter cold and
heavy winds blowing snow horizontally into our faces. When we were just 1,400 feet from the
summit—an elevation of about 27,600 feet—we stopped on an icy ledge and turned around and
began our descent, I suddenly understood the climb was truly over. After two months of tough
climbing, two years of relentless training and putting my personal life on hold, my dream of
standing atop Everest would not be fulfilled that day. A year later, we returned to Everest and
reached the summit. It was a moment I will never forget, a dream finally fulfilled.
This kind of perseverance is equally important in business. I’m a strong believer in the value of
hard work, dedication and disciplined teamwork within an organization. I taught my team to take
every “No” as a “Not Yet,” to understand every rejection as a challenge to improve, innovate and
persevere. And then, like ascending Everest, to return again and again until we reach the summit
and will achieve awards at work. In business, as in life, if you persevere and stay focused, you
will wake up one day and find yourself having achieved your loftiest ambition. When you do, it
will be time to project your next achievement and begin the whole amazing process once again.
Best Wishes to you from the Top of the World!
To book Susan Ershler for your next event, please visit her profile at https://premierespeakers.com/susan_ershler.
Susan is the author of Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales and Together on Top of the World. To order in bulk, visit Bulkbooks.com.