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Upward Bound: Nine Original Accounts of How Business Leaders Reached Their Summits Hardcover – September 16, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
This collection of essays from nine executives who are also experienced mountain climbers shows the similarities between this extreme sport and the business world. Certain qualities-patience, perseverance, a talent for teamwork-are important in both the boardroom and the outdoors. Contributors include Michael Useem (the director of Center For Leadership and Change at Wharton), Jerry Useem (a senior writer at Fortune), Asel (a venture capital advisor), Jim Collins (author of the bestseller Good to Great), Stacy Allison (one of the most experienced woman mountain climbers) and Al Read (the executive vice chairman of Geographic Expeditions); essays focus on their authors' mountain experiences, analyzing the decisions and challenges of their more difficult adventures. Reviewing a failed effort to climb the Himalayas, for example, Allison writes that "a leader's job in such an extreme setting is to balance drive with caution, but it's every climber's responsibility to recognize the true limits of survival-to know just how far you can push yourself before inviting disaster." She goes on to suggest that "many companies have also faced much the same consequences when dealing with the absence of a strong leadership team at the top." The other contributors all share Allison's belief that the skills and confidence that are critical to their success as climbers are equally important in the business arena. This book will appeal to hard-charging, type-A readers who are dedicated both to their professions and to their individual athletic pursuits. The essays preach essentially the same message about teamwork, loyalty, hard work and commitment, though, and the mountain climbing stories compel far more than the business lessons.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Inside Flap
Your team has faltered at a critical moment. A key member says he can?t continue, requiring you to make a snap decision: Do you write him off? Or do you risk the whole venture by trying to get him back on his feet?
It could be a scenario straight from the business world.
Yet this one occurred high on the slopes of the world?s deadliest mountain, K2, where lives, not just livelihoods, depended on the leader?s choice.
Decisions don?t get much starker. That?s why mountains?though seemingly a world apart from business?hold unique and surprising insights for managers and entrepreneurs at any altitude. More than just symbols of our upward strivings, they are high-altitude management laboratories: testing grounds where risk, fear, opportunity, and ambition collide in the most unforgiving of settings.
Upward Bound brings together a remarkable team of nine writers equally at home among the high peaks and in the corridors of corporate power, including Good to Great author Jim Collins, legendary climber and outdoor clothing entrepreneur Royal Robbins, and Stacy Allison, the first American woman to summit Mount Everest. Their riveting, often harrowing accounts, reveal
? Why rock climbers? distinction between failure (giving up before reaching the edge of your abilities) and what they call ?fallure? (committing 100 percent and using up all your energy and reserves) can help companies transcend their vertical limits
? What happens when a leader abdicates responsibility in the Death Zone of Mount Everest?and how a similar vacuum at sea level can corrupt corporate purpose
? How large climbing expeditions use exquisite organization and ?pyramids of people? to place just two climbers on top, making heroes of some from the sacrifice of all
? What ?ridge-walking? between deadly avalanches and the lure of Mount McKinley?s summit taught a venture capitalist about nurturing risky high-tech start-ups
? How a simple insight?using ?proximate goals??propelled a faltering climber up El Capitan in a seemingly undoable solo ascent, a ten-day lesson that would later jump-start a business
? Why more accessible peaks like Mount Sinai can exert a pull every bit as powerful as Mount Everest
? How to think like a guide
While most people will never find themselves in the thin air of the world?s highest places, Upward Bound brings those places down to earth for anyone seeking the path to his or her own summit. Whether it?s up the career ladder or toward a creative peak, Upward Bound addresses the fundamental question of why we climb, while capturing the power of mountains to instruct as well as inspire.
Top customer reviews
"Upward Bound" is a collection of stories told by nine writers from different backgrounds united by a common love of mountain climbing. The stories are organized according to themes relevant to business situations, e.g. Peak Performers, Scaling Up, and First Mover Advantage. The stories weave personal narrative and business examples seamlessly so that lessons become as clear as crystalline mountain air... and just as invigorating.
Lead author Michael Useem provides insight into what it takes to be a guide. All of us naturally think of leaders as showing their people the way, but what about guides? In mountain climbing, they are the professionals who help others to the top. In business, guides are the strategic thinkers and doers who lead by "seeing the whole," all the while building upon the ideas and contributions of others. Of note is an epilogue by author and business researcher, Jim Collins about becoming an expert beginner. In Collins' case he hired a climbing coach, after he'd been climbing for twenty?five years. This example serves as a strong metaphor for all of us who want to find new ways to keep fresh and creative so that we remain vital and purposeful. I strongly recommend anyone interested in finding out how to become a better leader as well as a better follower to read "Upward Bound." It's well worth the trek!