Mar 27, 2018
Today’s guest is Alison Levine, a former Goldman Sachs
investor-turned-mountain climber who has climbed the highest
mountains on every continent. She’s the author of the NY Times
bestselling book On the Edge, and is the executive
producer of The Glass Ceiling, a documentary about the
first Nepali woman to climb Mt. Everest.
Takeaways from this Episode:
- You don’t always have to be “better” than others to achieve
something; you can simply be different. Alison found a way to stand
out from the crowd while seeking an internship with Goldman Sachs
and doing what she loved (climbing mountains). Play where
no one else is playing.
- Show up. We put a lot of emphasis on preparation, and while
preparation is certainly important, if you never show up you’ll
never accomplish your goal. Sometimes taking the leap and figuring
out how to make things work in the moment is the only way you’ll
- The journey is often worth more than the destination. A
mountain is just a pile of rocks, but the journey to the top can
change your entire perspective on life.
- Don’t be afraid of failure. If you’re going to take risks, you
need to allow yourself and your team room to fail. Failure is one
thing you did at one point in time, so it doesn’t define you.
Similarly, rejection is one person’s opinion at one point in
- There are some weaknesses we may never overcome, but if we are
willing to be creative we can find ways to compensate (whether for
ourselves or for others).
- Let your constraints become a tool of creation. Allison is a
fabulous example of a textbook disruptor: born with a heart
condition, instead of resigning herself to a sedentary life she
dreamt of becoming an adventurer. Being absolutely relentless, she
did it. The next time you find yourself allowing your constraints
to hold you back, ask yourself how is this an invitation to become
a great adventurer in your own life—then act on it.
Born with a heart condition, Alison is not a person you would
expect would be renowned for leading the first team of American
women to climb Mt. Everest together. After her second heart surgery
around age 30, Alison found a renewed zest for life and wanted to
do something she couldn’t do before. Remembering stories of
adventurers that had captivated her in her youth, Alison used
frequent flyer miles to hop on a plane to Tanzania and climbed Mt.
Kilimanjaro, reaching the summit with a pair of heavy hiking boots
and equipment borrowed from friends. The experience was difficult,
yet exhilarating for Allison, and as she continued to climb
mountains she realized it was about more than just reaching the
“[S]tanding on top of a mountain isn't going to change you and
isn't going to change the world. It's really about the lessons you
learn along the way.”
Alison didn’t allow her constraints to stop her from achieving
the life she wanted, and her story has inspired some unexpected
insights within me. Perhaps she’ll inspire some within you, as
Show Notes: http://whitneyjohnson.com/alison-levine