An Interview With Jake Meyer
What was going through your mind when you reached the summit of Everest and conquered the last of the 7 Summits?
‘What next’?! No seriously – it was an amazing moment – a huge myriad of emotions – relief, exhaustion, elation – a very special shared moment with my team. Although visually it was exactly as I had imagined it, I never imagined the power of that feeling of achievement.
How did you get into corporate speaking?
Whilst I was climbing the 7 summits (even before Everest), I had a couple of climbing clubs invite me to come and give a talk, which I really enjoyed. After I got back from Everest, I realised that there were so many analogies from climbing to motivation, risk awareness and general personal/management development. Now working as a Management Consultant specialising in Individual, Team and Business performance improvement, I use my experiences of being part of and leading High Performing Teams in extreme environments every day when working with clients.
Which recent event has been your favourite, and why?
Every event is special in its own way. I particularly enjoy speaking at schools, where I can help inspire young people to climb their own personal Everest. The personal satisfaction of taking a client’s brief for a corporate event and then building a presentation that encompasses their objectives is also something that I find incredibly rewarding. If I were to pick a few standouts: Speaking to 1300 graduates and their families at a London Borough HE College Graduation Ceremony, a day with the Board of one of the largest Financial Comparison Websites in the UK, or running an afternoon of development for the UK team of one of the world’s largest Toy Manufactures.
Why do you enjoy speaking at corporate events?
I enjoy being able to give people an opportunity to think about how they might apply themselves to their own personal challenges. Those who’ve met me would agree that there is nothing ‘physically special’ about me – I’m just an ordinary person who happens to have set themselves some ‘extraordinary challenges. My presentations may be focused on my experiences on Everest, or other mountains, but what I really want is for people to walk away thinking ‘if Jake can achieve that, then what can I achieve if I put my mind to it’.
When you are on an expedition what bit of kit that you couldn’t be without?
My Bremont watch – there are many high-tech digital climbing watches out there, but I love having a mechanical automatic (an indestructible) timepiece on my wrist. The whirring of the oscillating weight or the ticking of the escarpment is like listening to a heartbeat, and something that I find incredibly comforting.
What can a corporate audience learn from your experiences?
In simplest terms, that you need to be responsible for every decision that you take (or don’t take) – The way that we behave is voluntary, and by increasing our self-awareness, we can take greater control of our place in the environment around us. I may not be able to influence the weather on a mountain, but I can influence how I act and behave in relation to that weather – it’s the same in business (although exchange ‘weather’ for ‘markets’ or equivalent). Visualise success, maintain the aim, be as an effective leader/follower/partner as you can be, and do it with a sense of tenacity, determination and humour, and we’ll stand the best chance of success.
What do you do to ensure your presentation has a lasting impact?
Show what success and failure look like – people must be able to visualise both in order to appreciate where they want to get to, and what they want to avoid.
What personal ambition must you fulfil before you die?
It’s impossible to just have 1 for this… other than be able to look back at my life and be confident that I lived it to it’s fullest. This year, I turned 30, and I set myself 30 challenges for the year… Embrace opportunity with open arms – you never know where it might take you, who you might meet, and what experience you might have.
What’s your favourite way to spend a Sunday?
Looking back fondly on what I did on the Saturday, and dreaming of the possibilities for Monday. If I can do this with my wife, with family, with friends, good food etc, then so much the better!
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
Attempting K2 – the second highest mountain in the world, and one of the most difficult and dangerous. After over 75 days, we turned back within hours of the summit due to poor snow conditions – it was a huge shame, but at the same time reinforces the importance of having a clearly defined aim and desire to maintain that. For me, the aim of climbing is always about a safe return from an amazing experience – the summit is just the bonus. From that, I can justify that not summiting is not failure, but the importance of making the right decision on a difficult day.