Susan's Blog

The Seven Summits Dream Born in Antarctica

Today, a while ago, we left Seattle to climb Vinson Massif, 16,067 feet, the highest mountain in Antarctica! Just getting there was an adventure: flying first to Punta Arenas, Chile, the very tip of South America, and then, in a C130 cargo plane, 2,000 miles more to Patriot Hills, just 600 miles from the South Pole.

I’d seen pictures of the endless ice and the midnight daylight, and I was eager (if a little nervous) to see them for myself. But I was also excited because Vinson would be our fifth of the Seven Summits.

I had told Phil my hope of doing all seven, and he’d rolled his eyes the way he does when he thinks I’m chasing a pipe-dream, but after Aconcagua, I didn’t think it was that unreasonable. He, himself, admitted that I’d done fine at 22,841 feet, and that he believed I could climb higher.

Happy Anniversary Memories!

Our happy Anniversary today with great memories of the first year we met. We started dating in January 1992. Phil was guiding in Ecuador and when he arrived home he received a voicemail from me at my office. First date, Chandlers for dinner in Seattle, the night progressed positively enough to consider another date. In February, he guided in South America and I received a Valentine card from him, loved it. In March, we had our second date at Sun Valley to join our past friend, Frank Wells birthday, and snow skied. In April, we started water skiing together on Lake Washington. In May, he could not join my dinner with several girlfriends because he was guiding on Denali. August, we did our first climb together, summit of Mt. Rainier, my first climb ever. September, we climbed to the summit of Kilimanjaro in Africa together. In December, Phil was unable to join my dear friends at the holiday party where we met because he was stuck on the ice while guiding in Antarctica. End of December, we went to Snowbird ski resort, owned by our past dear friend Dick Bass, and snow skied. One of the best years of my life!

Everest Summit

Today, May 16, 2002, at 10:20 a.m. Phil and I stood on the Top of the World Together! 29,035’ above sea-level on the summit of Mount Everest. What’s next?

The Geneva Spur


Today on May 15th, 15 years ago, Phil and I were near the top of the Geneva Spur heading up to the South Col. So hoping this would lead to success!

How Teamwork Helped Us Survive a Windstorm on Everest

You can endure extreme environments when you have a team you trust. In this video, you’ll see me at Camp 2 on Mount Everest, bunkered down with extreme wind blowing down the mountain and all around us.

This is an excerpt from the book that I wrote with my husband Phil, Together on Top of the World.

“Camp 2 is advanced base camp, so a lot of tents were set up there: a cook tent, a storage tent, tents for guides and Sherpas, a tent for me and Sue…We were just settling into our own tent…

The next morning, despite the forecast, we woke up to good weather… then, fierce wind higher up had made it impossible to climb. With this second warning, we took down the tents of climbers who were not currently at Camp 2 and put additional guy lines on all the others. I took some comfort from the fact that there were a lot of us in camp to tie things down if the wind turned out to be stronger than we expected. In early afternoon it began to blow. Sue and I hung out in our sleeping bags and talked and read. By mid-afternoon it was getting hard to hear each other over the wind. It must have been blowing at around at 60 mph. Fierce wind storms are common in the mountains but are usually short-lived, so I was surprised, as the day wore on, to feel the wind increase. In late afternoon I poked my head out the tent door. About twenty feet away our two dome tents—the cook tent and storage tent—were straining against their ties. There was no way they would make it if we didn’t fight the wind together to reinforce the guy lines.

Through the night the wind howled. Over and over we were awakened by the tent wall slapping our faces and pumice and ice battering the walls. When light came, the wind was as fierce as ever. The cook tent went down and we knew if the storage tent went, our expedition would be in a world of hurt.

Finally, around two in the afternoon the wind began to calm. When it was clear that the worst was over, I went outside to inspect the damage. Remarkably, the cook tent was the only one damaged. One of the Sherpas suggested that we use blue tarps to cover the ripped sections and we radioed Eric at base camp to send some up. Then we congratulated ourselves on our teamwork. It was only because everyone had pitched in that we hadn’t suffered potentially expedition-ending damage.”

Top of the Yellow Band

Here’s a special but challenging memory at the top of the Yellow Band, 25,000 feet, on Mt. Everest our first year. The Jet-Stream winds set in on our way up to the death zone.

Perseverance In the Face of Obstacles on Mount Everest

Perseverance is like a muscle that becomes stronger with exercise and practice. It’s a habit that enables you to approach every personal or professional challenge with focus and determination. We believe that perseverance is the key to a successful and rewarding life.”

In this video, Phil narrates as I climb up the ice flow—it was a much tougher session that we’d anticipated because of a collapse at the top. Tough or not, there was only one thing to do. Keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, take lots of little breaks, and keep moving toward my goal. 

“Perseverance is the singular quality that Everest summiteers and professional leaders have in common. They both recognize that pain is temporary. They persevere through thick and thin because they have an inner beacon of confidence to draw upon when the going gets tough. They also choose their teams with care. As Sue’s husband, Phil, often said, “Surround yourself with people who won’t let you quit.”

This is an excerpt from Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales: http://amzn.to/1QjlY9G

Use Teamwork to Reach the Top

In sales, it’s important to realize that being a part of a team is a major benefit and can lead you a more successful career path; in order to achieve your full potential as a top sales performer, you must grasp the strength that comes with being a part of a dependable group and take full advantage of it.

For most climbers, going it alone is neither the safest nor the most efficient way to reach the summit. Inevitably, soloists run smack up against the limits of what they can achieve on their own. Without the support and experience of a team, they can expose themselves to extreme risks that reduce their chances of a successful outcome.

In sales, too, lone wolves can leave themselves vulnerable when they fail to forge the long-term relationships, teams, and networks they need to achieve at the highest levels throughout their careers. They may find intermittent success thanks to their great instincts, confidence, and drive to achieve. But these attributes will only serve them well for a while. Inevitably they will experience a major setback, such as a lost sale caused by their failure to consult with colleagues to confirm the technical feasibility of a proposed solution.

Top sales performers refuse to be stymied by their personal limitations. They set lofty goals and find ways to achieve them on an ongoing basis. Because they recognize that they must rely on others, they establish partnerships with influential members of their civic and business communities to acquire industry knowledge and client access. They invest in building strong relationships with their company’s leaders to secure the organizational resources they need to mount successful sales campaigns. Then they leverage these relationships to recruit and lead cross-functional teams to the summit of sales success.

On Everest, climbers rely on Sherpas to help them reach the summit. In Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales, Susan Ershler shows you how to build and lead your own “Sherpa Team.”

Remember to follow these tips and invest in your relationship with your colleagues and team; this will inevitably help you advance in your career as a top performing salesman or saleswoman down the line.