Achieve the Outrageous is a new keynote by Scott Kress. This keynote is a new offering to add to his extremely popular Learning in Thin Air Keynote. The discussion below will give you insight into Scott’s latest adventure and the resulting keynote.
Q: What is Achieve the Outrageous?
A: Achieve the Outrageous is my new keynote based on my 2016 expedition to cross Antarctica on foot from the coast to the South Pole.
Q: Tell us about this expedition?
A: In November of 2016 I headed to Antarctica with three friends to travel on foot to the South Pole. Our plan was to follow in the footsteps of the early Antarctic explorers. We would start at the coast and travel by cross-country ski for close to 1000km to reach the South Pole. To make it as true as possible to the original explorers we would travel in what is called an unsupported and unassisted fashion. In other words, we would do it the hard way.
Q: What does unsupported and unassisted mean and why is this special.
A: Unassisted means that we would travel under our own power only. We would have no assistance from snowmobile, kite, sled dogs or any other advantage. Unsupported means we would have no support from the outside world to drop re-supplies to lighten our load. This means that all we would need for 50 days of travel we would start with and drag in sleds the entire distance. A supported expedition sled may weigh 30 kilos, ours would weigh closer to 130 kilos. An assisted trip would move fast because of the light weight. Unassisted we would need closer to 45-50 days. Why is this special? Because very few people have ever done it this way.
Q: What was the expedition like? Tell us about it?
A: The expedition was one of the greatest things I have ever done, but it was also one of the most difficult things I have ever done physically and mentally. Every day for 44 days we would pull our sleds across the extremely difficult terrain in sub-zero temperatures. Our bodies took a beating from the physical exertion and the repetitious nature of the journey. Our minds took a beating from the discomfort, the pain, the loneliness and the isolation.
Every day, regardless of the weather or how you were feeling, we would get up, make breakfast, break camp, put on our skis, hook up to our sled and pull. The days were long and hard, but we had no choice if we wanted to achieve our goal.
Q: How did you work together as a team?
A: We were a great team. I knew two of the members prior to the trip and knew we would work together well. The fourth member of the team was well known one of the other members so we all knew we were a solid team. We had to start with a team of people we felt could take it physically and mentally. If one person had to be extracted for any reason we would lose our unassisted and unsupported status so we had to work together and support one another physically and emotionally.
We spent time up front discussing our vision of teamwork and clarifying our roles and the style in which we wanted to complete the trip. We were all committed to this and it made decision making easy.
Q: What was the hardest part of the expedition?
A: At first it was difficult mentally. The isolation and monotony would tear at your mind all day every day. We all tried strategies from music to meditation to combat this and all found our personal coping strategies after about a week. As the trip went on it was the physical punishment that became most difficult and this contributed to the mental and emotional challenge. Blisters, muscle aches, pulled tendons, frost bite, sun burn, wind burn, polar thigh, sore backs, hips and shoulders were the norm. Every one of us suffered physically from the day-after-day non-stop physical beating. When the snow conditions were bad, the wind was raging, and the visibility was zero this made it even more difficult.
Q: How did you come up with the content for the Achieve the Outrageous keynote?
A: As I was skiing 8-10 hours a day I had a lot of time inside my own head. We could not easily talk to one another as we skied and at breaks, we were often too tired and too focused on fixing gear or self-care to talk. As I was skiing, I marvelled at how difficult what we were doing was. I began to wonder what allowed this to happen and I asked myself “how do you achieve the outrageous?”. In an almost meditative state, the ideas came to me. Those that did not fit, kept on going, and those that did fit stuck and I boiled it down to seven points that I felt allowed me to achieve the outrageous. Everyone will have their own, but I think my seven will connect with most people and when applied can help those people achieve the outrageous in their lives.
Q: Who would benefit from this keynote?
A: I believe anyone looking to achieve something big. This could be personal or in business, but if you want to achieve something big, something outrageous, I believe my story and my insights will help to inspire and motivate you and to give you focus in some specific areas to help you achieve your goal.
Q: How is this keynote different from your Learning in Thin Air keynote based on your climb of Mount Everest?
A: My Everest keynote is very much focused on high-performance team development, leadership and teamwork. In Achieve the Outrageous I focus more on the personal elements that one needs to achieve their goals. Yes, we were a team, but so much of the South Pole expedition was about personal determination, focus and perseverance. Yes, we did it as a team, but every person had to do it individually. We had to get up, fulfil our role, and persevere every day and nobody could do that for us. This is a much more personal story in many ways.
Everything is easier when you’re motivated. Lots of company heads and managers struggle to come up with new ways to motivate their employees, but the truth is it’s pretty simple once you figure out what matters to them. Many of these things are often very simple and stem from the old adage actions speak louder than words.
When you enlist the help of a motivational speaker it’s important to find someone that can truly engage your team through their own experiences, they don’t need to be a guru in your industry to inspire. In fact, more often than not someone from an entirely different walk of life can present a compelling narrative that taps into what’s most important – human connection.
Are Your Team Motivated?
Startups and small businesses tend to miss out the most when it comes to allocating a budget for team building activities with many assuming that just hiring the best people will be enough to keep motivation alive for the long haul. As well as inviting a speaker to your event, engaging in team building and training you can also check to see if you are fulfilling these ten motivational markers to boost morale and keep the foundation of your team strong. To really inspire and motivate the connection must be organic and this has to be initiated by leaders in order for it to have any positive effect on your employees.
Motivational Speakers: Inspiring People
So what makes a strong motivational speaker today? If you go by the top search results on Google then anybody can become a good professional speaker by watching a stack of Youtube videos or buying a punchy short-course, but deep down we all know it’s not that simple and it would seem that Forbes agrees, with a straight talking article titled there’s no such thing as a motivational speaker.
While it’s possible to find a motivational speaker with true talent and experiences their gifts are born from living and learning rather than trying to make a job out of tools and skills. Personality and strong values not only motivate others but show that the speaker is aware of their position and dedicated to guiding others rather than being driven to make a quick buck at the expense of your team’s personal development. Take a look at the main qualities all good motivational speakers should possess, so you don’t settle for anything less.
Keynote Motivational Speakers For Team Building
At Summit, our top keynote speaker Scott Kress scales mountains and uses tools and insight from his own journey to give others solutions and ideas they can incorporate into their personal and professional lives. While many of us are unlikely to literally scale mountains just the metaphor alone gets you thinking about every challenge you’re faced with and how you can overcome obstacles. Focusing on relationship will enable your team to reach higher levels of performance and reap the rewards, with many employees now expected to be experts in their job roles with clear passion and vision, all of us must reflect on what will help us do our best work and in this case a motivational speaker can ignite the spark that brings your team together.
At Summit Team Building we specialize in helping organizations and leaders build high performance teams. Sometimes we work organization wide on culture, collaboration and communication, sometimes we work with individual teams to help them figure out how to bring out their best, and sometimes we work with leaders and leadership teams to help them determine how to be a great leader and builder of teams.
In this blog I will focus on the development of a leader into someone that consistently builds high performance in teams and the individuals within those teams.
There are 6 elements critical for a leader to focus on to build high performance. Other elements will come into play, but this is the place where it all begins.
Step 1: Know how you lead. Each leader has their own personal style. It is created through a combination of their innate personality traits, past experiences, the organizational culture, and their training. Most leaders that are in touch with their own self have a pretty good idea of their style, but it is always a good idea to dig deeper through assessments, training, coaching, and reading. An assessment such as MBTI will help a leader better understand their inborn personality traits that drive so much. An Emotional Intelligence assessment will help a leader understand their strengths and some of their blind spots. Whereas the Life Style Inventory (LSI) will help them understand their default leadership style. Armed with this knowledge a leader can modify their leadership style and approach to the needs of the team.
Step 2: Have a Vision of High Performance. It is hard to achieve high performance if you do not know what it is. As Stephen Covey states – “Begin with the end in mind”. You can’t just say “let’s be high performance” as that has no real definition or measurement in it. As a leader you must have a clear definition of what high performance is and you must communicate it to your team. You cannot expect anyone to live up to your expectations if they do not know what they are. Do not just assume people can read your mind. Determine what high performance is for your team based on goals, responsibilities, customer service, cross-department teamwork and interpersonal relationships. Once you have this figured out communicate it to the team and reinforce it every chance you get.
Step 3. Build Real Relationships. Communication is critical within teams and from team to leader. Communication is built on trust and trust is created through relationship. I always say that relationship is the foundation of any high performance team. Make sure everyone has an opportunity to get to know and understand one another. This can be done through training and team building sessions that are facilitated to accelerate relationship development and through more organic events such as meetings and team dinners. A mix of both is best.
Step 4: Clearly Define Roles & Responsibilities. This is critical to avoid dropped balls and conflict. When everyone knows what to do everything gets done. It is that simple. If something is missed, you know where to look to find out why. Conflict often arises due to unclear roles and responsibilities when too many people think they are doing the same thing or nobody thinks it is their responsibility. If you do not have clarity on this it will become apparent very fast and you will need to fix it.
Step 5: Provide Proactive Feedback. To help everyone know how they are performing and to help them grow you need to provide proactive feedback and be a coach and a mentor. One of the strongest factors in determining commitment is the ability to learn and grow. Great leaders make the development of their people a priority and they are rewarded for their efforts in performance, loyalty, commitment and even promotion.
Step 6: Celebrate. Everyone likes to celebrate a job well done. However, don’t wait until the end of the fiscal year or the conclusion of a big project to celebrate. Find many small celebrations along the way. This will help build relationships, foster commitment and loyalty, and keep morale strong for when times get tough. A team that feels appreciated is more willing to go the extra mile when needed.
Building a high performance team is a complex task, but if you focus on these 6 elements you are well on your way to greatness. Take time to make a plan and give us a call at Summit Team Building and we can develop a training program to help you achieve greatness.
Leadership is often seen as a title bestowed on a person who has risen above the norm. These people are looked up to and guide their ‘team’ in good times and in bad. The challenge is that if we only look to people with the title of leader than we are missing out on the value that can be accessed from the vast majority of people who are not leaders in title.
Leaders are critical in helping others become high performance. They are our coaches and our mentors. They motivate and inspire us and hold us accountable. They are very important people and it is elitist to think that only people with the title of leader can help us in these ways.
If we look beyond leadership as a title and look at it more as a way of being it becomes much more universally attainable and empowering.
Generally speaking, leaders are proactive, analytical, and decisive. Followers (everyone who is not a leader) wait to be told what to do by their leader. The challenge in this is that the leader cannot be in all places all the time and many opportunities are lost and production (whatever this may be) is slowed.
Ideally you want to build a team of leaders. Yes only one person has the official title of leader, but if everyone in the teams sees themselves as a leader then there is far more power available for any task. Therefore, leadership is not just a title, but it is a way of being. It is an attitude. It is not bestowed upon anyone, but something you choose to be.
To be a leader you need to look at everything a little different. You look at it as though it is your responsibility and you can make choices and take actions without waiting to be told what to do. You are aware of the interconnectedness of all the moving parts and not just how you influence this, but how the others involved do as well. You consult with others and your titled leader when required, but you are proactive and make things happen.
So the questions is, as a leader, how do you create a team of leaders? First of all you need to set this as your vision and one of your values must be empowerment. You need to communicate this vision to your team so they know this is something you are expecting of them. After all, nobody can live up to your expectations if they do not know what they are.
This is all and good, but unless you empower people to be leaders they will not be. The challenge here is that you cannot give empowerment to anyone. Empowerment can only be taken and it will only be taken when people feel the environment is safe to do so.
What this means is that if you want someone to feel empowered, you need to be comfortable and supportive with the actions they take and the decisions they make. If what they do is not what they should have done you use this as a coaching opportunity and help them for the future. The first time you explode at someone for the action they took or decision they made is the last time they will feel truly empowered.
So to move into the area of building a team of leaders you need to start with some self reflection. Is this what you honestly want or are you just doing it because you were told to. If you are not doing it for the right reasons, your team will see through it instantly and there will be no benefit.
If, after reflection, this is what you really do want, make a plan to build it and put it into action. You will reap huge benefits in the future.
At Summit we build these philosophies into many of our Team Development training programs.
Well another spring Everest season has come and gone. And an exciting season it was as always. I have always keenly followed each Everest climbing season and even more so since I summited on May 21, 2008.
Today’s internet environment makes it much easier to keep tabs on what is happening on the mountain. Every team and every climber is updating their social media sites and sometimes multiple sites at once.
Although this provides a flood of information, it is not always accurate. I try and avoid anything posted for sensationalizing or personal bragging. I try and separate the wheat from the chaff. The following will provide a very minor overview of what transpired in April and May this year on Everest. This is by no means a complete overview. If you are looking for additional details the internet is full of them.
Everest is climbed by two main/standard routes. The Southeast Ridge in Nepal and the North Col in Tibet/China. Nepal issued 371 climbing permits to foreign climbers (Sherpas are not included in this number and usually account for a similar number). China issued approximately 136 permits, but the numbers are not as available from China so this is somewhat of an educated guess based on gathered information.
These numbers represent a big year for Everest. The number of climbers is up for several reasons including the re-use (therefore no payment required) of climbing permits from the 2014 and 2015 seasons which saw the climbing season cut short due to avalanches and earthquakes. The Nepal government said they would honour these permits at no extra fee until the end of 2017. We are also seeing a large influx of climbers from India and China as the middle class expands in those countries. Along with this comes budget price guiding companies based in Nepal and India to support this new emerging market.
Overall, the large number of climbers did not seem to create any real issues of crowding and traffic jams on the mountain. Everest is a huge mountain and can accommodate a lot of people. Patience is required however, if you happen to get stuck behind a slower moving team of climbers.
As the numbers indicate, Nepal is much more popular than Tibet/China for climbing. There are several reasons for this, but the primary one is the unpredictability of the Chinese Government and the changing policies, permit dates, and restrictions. Many established guiding companies are not comfortable with this uncertainty and choose to go to Nepal where, although not perfect, the system seems to be a little more predictable.
The climbing routes, mountain conditions and weather are often very different (as was the case this season), but this is not a huge factor in deciding which route to climb.
Early in April the route through the Ice Fall in Nepal was established making climbers optimistic for an early summit window. This was quickly shut down as high winds moved in and stuck around for much of the season greatly hampering the ability of climbers to move on the mountain. One strong positive in Nepal was the allowance of helicopters to ferry loads of climbing gear up the Western Cwm to Camp 2. This reduced the number of Sherpa loads that had to be carried through the very dangerous Ice Fall.
As the Nepal side dealt with high winds and difficult climbing conditions, over in Tibet things were moving quite well. The weather was uncharacteristically good and the ropes moved further and further up the mountain. For some reason, the team fixing the ropes to the summit decided to stop about 700m short, but the other climbing teams stepped up to the task and the first summits of Everest from Tibet came on May 11 (quite an early date statistically speaking).
With her 8th summit Lhapka Sherpa set a new record for the most summits by a woman. Several other interesting ‘events of note’ also occurred this season. We saw the second blind climber to summit. A Sherpa guide from Nepal set a new record for the most summits at 21. An Indian woman summited 2 times within 5 days. There were 5 summits without oxygen (a very difficult and dangerous task). And a speed climber set a new record for climbing from below base camp in Tibet to the summit and back again in 29:30 (and this was his second summit of the season – crazy).
As with any sport the ability of the participants grows every year as we push athletic and technological boundaries. More and more records will be broken in future years, and what we once thought was impossible will become commonplace.
The wind finally let up a bit in Nepal allowing for climbers to squeak in summit attempts. With summits in Nepal came the staggering news that the famous Hillary Step was gone. Climbers speculated that the earthquake in 2015 had dislodged the rock formation forever changing the face of Everest. This news hit the media and the internet like a raging fire. It turned out, however, to be fake news. It seems that perhaps a few boulders had shifted changing the wind patterns and how the snow collected on the Hillary Step making it look different. It is still there, it just looks different now with a new coating of snow.
There was a high attrition rate on both sides of the mountain from illness (the flu hit the Nepal base camp especially hard this season), injury and just plain frustration. Some climbers smartly left because they realized they were in over their heads. Other pressed forward regardless of their level of preparedness. Some threaded the needle and were successful and some paid the ultimate price.
Overall, the number of fatalities on Everest was normal with 7. Some of these deaths were from falls, but the majority seems to be from heart attack as older climbers struggle with the immense pressures placed upon their bodies at high altitude.
There were also two interesting stories of rebels on the mountain who felt they did not need to pay the permit fees as all the other climbers had. Interesting enough, both these climbers were telling the world about their exploits through social media and that made it pretty easy for the authorities to capture and arrest them. There is much more to these stories if you are interested in digging through the internet to find them.
Overall, it was another great and interesting climbing season on Everest. Many people realized their goal of standing on the highest point on our planet.
So that is my summary of the 2017 Spring Everest climbing season. Yes there is a fall season, but due to many factors very few if any people attempt to climb Everest at this time. I hope you have enjoyed this review and as I have stated, this is just a brief overview as seen through my eyes. Much more detail is available for those who wish to seek it out.
We’ve all worked somewhere where the idea of team building activities are met with a collective groan. Not everyone feels comfortable participating and many employees fail to see the point, even if you feel like getting out of the office and already like your co-workers, this sort of thing usually isn’t your idea of fun!
Here at Summit, we understand that every business is different and for everyone to get the most out of our programs they’ve been designed around the key skills that power success.
In many businesses creativity is left to certain teams but it’s a skill everyone should be work on and with the combination of the right activities you and your team will be in a better position to think creatively and innovate. Creativity is no longer just for the chosen few or the gifted, research from The Harvard Business Review on the subject shows these two areas are not one and the same and that employees are more productive under the guidance of innovative superiors and work more cohesively when they’re in an open environment that values their opinions and desires.
Our creativity packages include culinary challenges to see if your team can think fast and create dishes. When a moderate to high level of pressure is attached to tasks it fosters greater levels of creativity, it’s worth keeping that in mind when you’re working on future projects and setting targets.
We also run the Art Of Team program in which all team members have to contribute ideas and add creative flair to make a creative masterpiece. While this exercise may seem simple, it pushes boundaries and really tests communication.
Your team’s finished article represents diversity and those who can appreciate diversity and a shared vision end up with a higher quality result. The program is built on the basis of Daniel Pink’s: A Whole New Mind, which showcases the positives that come from a more holistic and person-centered perspective which can often be challenging for those with more logical minds.
The crux of all team building activities is teamwork, our programs work on the basis that every individual has a natural comfort zone so team building activities should encourage you to work together with your co-workers while playing to your strengths and help you identify your weaknesses on your own through the use of high energy challenges.
There’s now a lot of research on teamwork, with conclusively evidence across both technical and creative professions alike. Teamwork plays a key role in producing positive outcomes and meeting deadlines, as task complexity rises so does the need for teamwork. Everyone knows teamwork is important but what areas matter most?
The answer varies from person-to-person and the companies they work for but it seems that corporate businesses see the biggest benefits in staff morale, flexibility, and innovation. Where many employees are hired for their skills and experience, those in leadership roles sometimes lack knowledge in specialised subjects so when co-workers can negotiate hierarchy they’re more likely to tackle problems head on.
In smaller businesses solid teamwork aids delegation, increases ideas and allows for a more supportive environment. When your team has a better understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses it’s easier to reach targets, ask for assistance and overcome challenges.