Quitter, Camper, Climber: Who’s on Your Team?

14 Jul
July 14, 2017

I met Doug Tomkins when we were both in our 30’s. He was building successful business including North Face and Esprit. He was selling several hundred million dollars of merchandise.

I had built five women’s boutiques, struggling to manage my success and fearful of growing further beyond my skills. Eager to learn and curious as to how he had accomplished his success, I asked a lot of questions. Where do you get your ideas? How did you get started? How did you finance your growth? What made you…?

He answered my questions with stories, examples and personal insights. They revealed something important about personal interests that had a major impact on his business success. It turns out that Doug was a world class mountain climber.

As he explained it, high peak mountain climbing looks like an individual sport but it is really a team endeavor. You pick your team with great care because you are actually tied to one another with a rope.

Doug’s hired his management and leadership team the same way he assembled an expedition team for his high peak climbs. He wanted people who he could depend upon to share a lifeline with him as he built his business.

  • Everyone has to be in great shape, be mentally prepared, and have the right equipment.
  •  Each team member had to be exceptionally qualified for his or her role (porter, photographer, medic or climber).
  •  There had to be absolute trust and reliance on honest, open dialogue.

I don’t climb mountains but I’ve adopted Doug’s methods. When hiring I sort candidates by attempting to discern whether someone is a quitter, camper or climber.

Quitter: Sometimes you have to ask a lot of questions to uncover the quitter’s true nature. They will probably start well… initiating a raft of projects and plans but somehow they always ending up quitting before achieving true success.

Camper: The camper seems like a great hire. They are enthusiastic, strong, clear-eyed and great to have around. In mountain climbing terms, they stake out a nice flat meadow with a beautiful sunrise and running water. They have plenty of supplies. There’s no hurry. They’ll cheer you but somehow they never make it to the top. If you’re counting on them for some heavy lifting, they can be very disappointing.

Climber: The climber has all the attributes, skills and behaviors to make it on Doug’s team. They are tough standards; but, then, as he said you’re tied together by a lifeline.

2016 Copyright - LEVERAGEDWISDOM™