Cathy O’Dowd is South African and was the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest climbing from both sides. She wrote a best selling book about her experience called, “Just for the Love of It“. Cathy, shares about the expedition in a way that may surprise people. The title for the book came to her because she was tired of hearing men write about “The Death Zone and Killer Mountain“, she says it is actually really fun.
Her focus is on the importance of team work and relationships with the other climbers and how the experience gave her a much greater insight to human behavior. This is where, Cathy says, business and mountain climbing intersect. Many times the “Type A“, leaders in the world are not the best at communicating with their teammates. They are more focused on the competition and being the first one to the top. This is not the most effective way to deal with big challenges when climbing a mountain or running a business. The success of any mission depends on communication and who can endure and collaborate together to get over the finish line. This is where women shine and yet many times we are greatly underrated by ourselves and others. She learned to step up, value her own opinion and accept failure. “As a mountain climber, you have to know when to turn around and realize the failure of an expedition which can have dictate a life or death outcome.” Cathy says even though she made it to the summit, the expedition was a failure in many respects as 3 team members walked out shortly into the climb and one climber died.
Cathy’s Everest experience and her success to the summit, to her surprise, paved the path to a career in motivational speaking. She speaks to groups and corporations around the world on how to build a strong team and work environment.
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In this Episode...
We discuss the difference in the way men and women assert themselves. Why do women lack confidence when it comes to giving their input but men, who may have little to no expertise, are far more forthcoming with their opinions and advice? Cathy tells us how she and only one other woman ended up on this expedition with the South African team and is candid about her reservations to join the group. It did not take long to learn, as she kept expecting the men to open a space for her to give her input, that it was not going to happen. “Although uncomfortable, a woman has to step into the noise, put her elbows out and push a space for herself.”
Cathy continues to climb all over the world and has so much to share from her mountain and rock climbing expeditions. She has turned her experiences into a wealth of human understanding and knowledge you won’t want to miss.
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