Today’s guest is Alison Levine, a former investment advisor-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 get moving.
  • 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 time.
  • 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. Alison 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 summit.

“Standing 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 well. Listen on iTunes or in the player above, and if you enjoy the show, please consider clicking here to leave us a review.

Links from Episode 49 – Alison Levine:


Download a Transcript

Click to access the login or register cheese