DevLearn Day 2 Keynote – Alison Levine – Leadership Lessons From the Edge

We all deal with challenges, right?  Alison Levine’s story about overcoming challenges is inspiring.  She has survived sub-zero temperatures, hurricane force winds, sudden avalanches.  Surprisingly, Alison was born with a life threatening heart condition.  As a teenager her health was so unstable that she wasn’t allowed to do basic activities as drive a car or walk upstairs.  But, thirteen years after her initial diagnosis, she had surgery that changed her life.  Climbing stairs soon gave way to climbing mountains.  This passion soon led to her climbing some of the highest peaks… including Mount Everest.  


  • It’s always going to be easy for somebody to say “no” than to help you find a solution.  So you have to be persistent with asking the right questions.
  • It doesn’t do you any good to be up on Mt. Everest with the very best climbers if they don’t care about the team.  
  • Fear is okay… complacency is what kills you.  
  • It’s important to build relationships before the point of need.  Her team often comments about her being so social with other team members.  But, there’s also a strategic piece to it:  when you’re on Mt. Everest (as with business) and something goes wrong (God forbid), those relationships can be your lifeline.
  • Judgment.  It doesn’t matter the amount of your blood, sweat and tears.  If the conditions aren’t right… you turn around, cut your losses and walk away.  You live to fight another day.  It’s not a loss… the experiences gained are added for new projects, new challenges.  At the end of it, your resilience and capacity is much greater than it was before you started.
  • Ultimately… getting to the summit was… no. big. deal.  At the end of the day, making the summit isn’t where the value is.  The value is in the experiences gained, the lessons learned AND what you do with those experiences moving forward.  And, remember, nobody gets to the summit of Mt. Everest by themselves.  That’s part of climbing, that’s part of business, that’s part of life.

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