Wednesday, September 24, 2008

High Altitude Leadership by Chris Warner and Don Schmincke

High Altitude Leadership: What the World's Most Forbidding Peaks Teach Us About Success
by Chris Warner and Don Schmincke
Release date: October 2008
216 pages

What led you to pick up this book? Both my husband and I were interested in reading High Altitude Leadership. He reads business books for work; I read them for fun and in order to stay current.

Summarize the book without giving anything away. The authors have created their own approach to leadership development by combining lessons learned from mountain climbing with basic business principles that have proven successful. In each chapter, the authors describe different dangers: fear, selfishness, tool seduction, arrogance, lone heroism, cowardice, comfort and gravity. The concepts are introduced via quotes and and then illustrated using stories of disaster and success in both mountaineering and business.

What did you like most about the book? Both my husband and I found that we could hardly bear the wait between mountaineering stories. My copy is an advanced reader, so please be advised that the text may have changed between galley and final published work, but I think the climbing stories are best illustrated with an excerpt.

Time: July 20 (Summit Day)

Location: K2 - Pakistan

4:45 a.m.: Vapor from my breath immediately freezes on my beard. At 25 below zero and 26,500 feet above sea level, I'm lucky to be breathing at all. We're not using bottled oxygen, and at this altitude, there is barely one-third the oxygen than at sea level. With so little oxygen reaching our brains and finger tips, we struggle to stay warm, think straight and climb higher. The list of reasons to turn back keeps growing. Hanging above us we can see the final summit climb: 2000 feet of twisting snow gullies, a nearly vertical traverse below a hanging glacier, and a knife-edged ridge line.

--Excerpt from the ARC, Chapter 1 - Danger #1: Fear

What do you think of the concept? Was it explained well? This was one of the topics my husband and I really enjoyed talking about. We agreed that the stories of mountaineering and its dangers weren't necessarily tied into their coordinating principles well, but the basic concepts made sense and some of the connecting business principles were more obvious than others.

Fear, for example, was straightforward. If you give in to fear -- whether you do so while climbing a mountain or leading an organization -- you will often make poor decisions that end up hurting individuals or your company, in the long run. Tool seduction, on the other hand, is a little tricky to connect to business. It makes sense that you can easily be seduced into relying upon a tool to save your life when you're on a cliff face or a sheet of ice, and when the tool falls off the cliff you're in deep doo-doo. How one applies that to a business setting, though, depends upon the "tools" involved. That was one chapter I had a bit of difficulty grasping.

Husband's absolute favorite part: The bit advising managers to "tell a compelling saga". He also thought it was fascinating that most deaths on mountain-climbing expeditions occur upon descent -- point being that a team needs to maintain focus to survive. That concept applies nicely to business, he said, as it's when a team loses focus that things fall apart.

What did you think of the characters? Those guys are crazy. But, aside from climbing mountains, a lot of what they said made sense -- it's a little harsh, but it's realistic.

Recommended? Yes, by both Bookfool and husband. Hubby is planning to buy several copies to pass around the office.

Cover thoughts: The cover suits the book and is extremely appealing to me. Hubby said he doesn't pay any attention to covers (True; he's not a visual person).

In other news: I'm still hovering at Death's Door, but I'm sick of being all Victorian, taking to my sick bed. Stupid doctor didn't call my medicine in. If it's not ready by noon, tomorrow, and I'm still alive, someone is going to get chewed out. The cat and I have, however, enjoyed some quality time together, sleeping and reading. There you go: I found the positive side of The Misery. Here's my napping companion (that's The Darcys and the Bingleys in the upper corner, along with a tube of lotion -- it's been dry, you see):

Coming up, next, assuming I'm not dead: Reviews of Walking Through Walls by Philip Smith, Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage and The Darcys and the Bingleys by Marsha Altman.

More good news: My sidebar problem has been (at least temporarily) resolved! Squeee! I updated as fast as my little mouse could run across the mouse pad.

On this day in Bookfool's Reading History: In 1998, I was reading The Story of My Disappearance by Paul Watkins.

Oh, heck, I missed this one: On September 20 of last year (2007), I finished Lottery by Patricia Wood. It was one of my favorites, so I had to mention it, even if I'm a few days late doing so. If you haven't read Lottery, you really should. It's available in paperback, in case you're interested. Perry is one of the coolest characters, ever.

That's all I can handle. I'm going back to bed. Sorry I'm falling behind on visiting my blogger buddies. Sitting up in front of the computer is amazingly tiring when you have the Creeping Crud. Hope to catch up with you during the weekend! Thanks for all the good wishes!


  1. Not sure what the Creeping Crud is, but it sounds awful! Hope you're feeling better soon.

  2. Trish,

    It's an infection, actually, but the term "Creeping Crud" is something my crazy dad used to say. He was such fun. Thank you; I hope so, too! I'm so tired of being sick!!! :)

  3. Anonymous8:51 PM

    Get better soon!

  4. Thank you, Lynne. :)

  5. Awww, what a sweet nap partner. I hope you're feeling better soon, and I'm more worried about the doc's mortality if he doesn't get your meds called in!

    The book sounds oddly appealing. Not my usual bag, but compelling for sure.

  6. Awww: I've been bed-ridden a lot this week too, and it really is too Victorian for words.

    Today, I have finally succumbed to the historical fiction of it all, and now I have Jamaica Inn and a Georgette Heyer laying next to me.

    Feel better soon, and that doctor deserves a calling out!

  7. I want your cat. Well... I want A cat and yours looks really snuggly. At least you have some company with the crud, even if it is furry company.

    Get well soon!

  8. Sick is bad, but reading is good! As is having some furry, feline company. :)
    Hope you feel better very soon!

  9. Hope you are better soon. The mountaineering book sounds interesting. I have a sister who is a mountain climber, I wonder if she would like it.

  10. Hope you're crud-free soon! I was just thinking about Lottery and Perry this morning - I have a friend who just finished the book and we were talking about it.

  11. Andi,

    Thanks. She's a sweet kitty. :)

    Yep, that doctor should keep his eyes peeled for crazed sick people hiding in the shadows with a pen and a mission.

    I can't imagine risking my little neck climbing a mountain, but the book was really interesting. Maybe someday I'll get back into the working world and then I'll be ready to step over the bodies of those who arrived unprepared. ;)


    Oh, no! Sorry you've been sick, too. It's ridiculous having to just lie around sleeping, isn't it? Are you swooning? Referring to the possibility of going mad? Very important, since we can't get a dose of laudanum, anymore, I do believe.

    Jamaica Inn is one of my favorite Du Maurier books -- perfect for when The Misery strikes you down. If I didn't already have 5 books going, I'd pull out one of hers. Heyer is perfect, too. You have some fun reading ahead of you!

    There's no accounting for doctors. He was in a hurry -- running late, he said, because he got stuck at the hospital. Sigh.


    You would like my cat. She's very talkative and far too big to get stuck behind a refrigerator. I think she's been an excellent companion. Too bad she can't cook or clean. I'd put her to work between naps.

    Thank you!

  12. Nat,

    I agree on both counts. Furry company is also very soothing, if not curative. Thank you! I'm going to try to write another review if I can sit up long enough. Stupid doctor. A pox on him.


    You have a mountain-climbing sister? Coolness! I'm far too cautious to risk my neck climbing mountains, although I've been to the top of a mountain called "Flat Top." Yep, that suited me well. I liked the flatness bit.

    I would really love to read a book that focused only on Chris Warner's mountaineering adventures, but the book was really quite interesting and I'd definitely recommend it. There are some pretty amazing stories.

    Thanks for the wishes!


    Oh, fun! I'd love to foist Lottery on a few local friends, but I only know a few big readers, one of whom is my doctor. See if he gets to borrow my copy of Lottery. Hmph. Isn't Perry the coolest character? He's really stuck with me in a way that very few characters manage, after a year.

  13. Anonymous7:16 PM

    ==>"Tool seduction, on the other hand, is a little tricky to connect to business."

    Just depends on what biz you are in, methinks. But maybe cuz it's Friday night, my mind is in the gutter.

    I'm looking forward to your Far World review.

    AND... I've bestowed upon you the ILOVEYOURBLOG award but have been too quick-at-PC (alas, this means NO TIME) to link it properly...

  14. Care,

    Exactly. The tools are probably a bit more varied in the business world than in mountaineering. I guess it's a matter of figuring what the tools are in a specific business and which of them employees rely upon too heavily.

    Far World is what I'd call "an awfully big adventure". It's fun. :)

    Oh, coolness! Thank you for bestowing another award upon me. I've seen this one everywhere and was feeling kind of unloved, actually. :)

  15. I find I enjoy reading business books more these days than any other type of non-fiction. I hadn't seen this one before so will definitely be checking it out based on your review.

    One I recently finished that you might enjoy is Noble Enterprise by Darwin Gillett. He talks about how to make your business more successful by making your employees happier. It's kinda like "The Secret" but for business, and is a really uplifting read.


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