Levine Delivers Closing Keynote for the Network of Executive Women

Closing keynote from high atop the cliffs

Posted By Anna Curtis, Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Closing Keynote: Leadership Lessons from the Ledge
Alison Levine, Mountaineer and Founder, DareDevil Strategies

Wow is the first word that comes to mind when hearing all about Alison Levine‘s adventures. Exuberant and ready to share, Levine makes great parallels between risking it all to climb the highest snow-peaked mountains in the world, and scaling the hierarchal ladder of the professional world.

“It’s a matter of asking the right questions,” she says. “It’s always easier for someone to be able to tell you no, rather than to help you find solutions, with the way you approach them.”

Like when she agreed to be team leader for the first American women’s Everest expedition (hello?! That mountain’s almost 30,000 feet high). Once she found the funding (Ford gave the team all the money, coinciding the adventure with the release of its newest ‘Expedition’ SUV) and got to Nepal, she had to plan how to get up the mountain safely.

“I broke it down into tiny parts,” she says. “First, get to basecamp. Second, get to Camp #1. Then Camp #3… And so on. I couldn’t think about the whole thing or it made my head spin.” She encourages people to take that one-foot-in-front-of-the-other approach in business as well. “One piece at a time.”

One tactic she uses when climbing is to get to know other climbing teams in case anything goes awry. “Just like in life, forming relationships and partnerships, and being proactive about it, can make all the difference.” Though her team’s first attempt at summitting Mt. Everest fell short of success by about 180 feet, her subsequent expedition, several years later, proved successful indeed.

“There are risks on mountains as in life and business. Don’t let fear stop you from doing the things you want to do. Fear is OK,” she says. “Complacency is what will kill you.” 

A strong closing message–perfect–for the end of NEW’s own Summit this year.