Learning In Thin Air: The Power of Storytelling

Scott Kress’ Learning In Thin Air keynote leverages the power of storytelling to change the way his audiences’ think about leadership and teamwork. Here’s how he does it. But first, let’s take a look at why storytelling can be one of the most powerful tools that a leader can have. Andy Raskin, a strategic storytelling expert who has worked with major corporations including Uber and Intel, says that any leader who achieves anything does so by telling a great, credible story. Dianne Booher, an expert in leadership communications, argues that stories carry emotion that connect with people, and drives ideas deeper into our psyches. Paul Smith, author and consumer research expert, suggests that stories inspire organizations, sets visions, teach important lessons, and defines cultures and values. Stories entertain, educate, and inspire. This is certainly true of Learning In Thin Air. Scott Kress is one of the handful of Canadians that have climbed the Seven Summits – the highest peaks of each of the seven continents, including Mount Everest. In his keynote speech, he shares numerous stories based on his climbing experiences to capture the essence of high performance leaders and teams. He begins by sharing an experience of failure – his 2001 climb of Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mount in the world. Led by an ineffective leader, his team ended up becoming stuck in the ‘storming’ phase of group development, and was unable to summit the mountain. Like any good storyteller, Scott shares the reason why the climb wasn’t successful – and what that tells us about teams. Guided by a leader who subscribed to an ‘old school’...

Everest 9 Year Anniversary

It is hard to believe it has been nine years since my summit of Mount Everest. Time sure flies when you are having fun. Even after nine years Everest still has a magical hold on me and a special place in my life. Everest has given me so much. I never imagined I would climb Everest one day. I knew as a climber that is was out of my league. However, as I gained more experience my comfort zone expanded and I thought that perhaps it was worthy of a try. After a failure on the 6th highest mountain in the world (Cho Oyu) in 2001 I put a lot of learning into future expeditions. Although I did not summit Cho Oyu, it became one of the greatest learning experiences of my life as failure often does (to those that are open to it anyway). We had failed due to a dysfunctional selfish team culture driven by an egocentric and abusive leader. We were not a team and we did not trust, support, communicate or collaborate with one another. Even though we had the skills, experience and fitness this was not enough to overcome the dysfunctional team environment and we failed miserably. After Cho Oyu, I applied my team and leadership learning to several other mountains and after many successes, I thought I was ready for Everest. In 2008 I went to Everest with my climbing buddy Angus and three others I did not know. We worked hard to build strong, trusting, supportive relationships because I knew that relationship was the foundation of a high-performance team. Our original plan...