Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Business Lessons from Hiking

Business Strategies

2011.10.04_GroupOfMenAs you may know from the posts about Climbing Mount Whitney, I’m preparing for a single day, 21 mile round trip hike to summit Mount Whitney next year.  I’m now 10 weeks into a 16 week training cycle.  The training has already reminded me of lessons that universally apply to our personal and professional lives. 
Here are three recurring themes and their associated lessons:
  1. Think One Thought at a Time
    No kidding, right?  This should be obvious for everything we do, but demanding schedules, the want to complete six things at once, and peer pressure guide the best of us into filling every moment with noise and perceptual input.

    Hiking has reminded me how easy it can be to find calmness, to clear your thoughts and find direction.  Walking any distance, even if it’s just for an hours, forces you to clear your mind.  Of course, I assume you avoid taking your phone or mp3 player and just let the nature sink in.  Almost at the beginning of every walk, I find myself thinking about all the things I have to do AFTER I finish the walk.  I used to tell myself to stop thinking about those things, but that only made me think of them more.  So, instead I let the list roll through to the end.  I may even linger on a few items to think through how to get them done. 

    My thoughts eventually come back to the walk.  This usually takes about 5 to 10 minutes. I begin to think about what I want to accomplish that day, the goal of hiking Mount Whitney, what challenges I may have, whether our team should consider doing it in two days instead of just one, how much food will I need, how can we save on total carried weight of equipment by sharing the list of navigational tools and some of the burden, and what new challenges would we take on after hiking Mount Whitney. 

    The point is that giving yourself freedom to think and focus on one item at a time has two important benefits.  First, you don’t have to work as hard in AVOIDING other thoughts.  Second, you gain in-depth insight about the idea at hand.  In essence, you’re giving yourself the freedom to deeply think through your task at hand, whether it’s how to successfully break into the pet food market, or to hike Mount Whitney.
  2. Avoid Never-Ending Marathons
    When I first started planning the Mount Whitney hike, I chose to train for 52 months without any breaks.  In other words, I looked at it as a year-long marathon that ended with…a marathon, namely the Mt. Whitney hike.  A friend reminded me that even marathon training is completed in cycles. The cycles can be intense and with intermittent goals.  Otherwise, the body’s too exhausted to actually complete the marathon.  In fact, when training for a marathon, you’re even supposed to take time off before the race so that you’re fully rested.

    The same holds true for hiking and work.  Intense preparations or projects certainly bring focus and clarity.  However, a project that never ends will demoralize you and your team, as well as deliver mediocre results at best.  This is especially true when the team gets closer to the end of the project when you may need a big push or effort from the team members.  They may need to put in longer hours or avoid all other distractions. This can’t be possible when the team has continuously pushed hard for one to two years. So, give yourself and the team a break between each big endeavor or project to enjoy the rewards of your accomplishments and prepare for the next big adventure. 

    You may want to consider short project cycles that deliver intermittent results.  These can be four to six week cycles with an extra day or two off in between, giving team members time to recuperate before coming in to tackle a new part of the project and pushing harder for the challenges ahead.

    In our case of hiking preparation, I created three cycles of 16-week training with two week breaks in between.  What’s more, each cycle becomes gradually more challenging, with a finale for each cycle that consists of a 12-16 mile hike in the local mountains ranging from 5,600 ft. to 12,000 ft. in altitude.  After the finale for each cycle there’s a two week rest period with very little to no physical activity.  This means that before the Mount Whitney hike, there’ll also be a two-week rest.
  3. Consider Your Team Mix as Dynamic
    We started out preparing for Mount Whitney with two people, increased to six, then dropping back down to two, and not the same two we started out with.  The current team consists of two people with a third that may join us.  Nevertheless, we keep moving forward.

    Often times people join a company, team, or adventure with the shared group goal, such as to introduce a new product to the market, provide better home elderly care, or assess needs and recommend products and services to people with special needs.  Team members may join in, then realize life circumstances prevent them from continuing with the rigor necessary to accomplish those goals.  You have to not only account for it, but accept this outcome as part of the process. 

    The team will go on so long as they remain focused on the mission and vision. There should be no blame, nor hurt feelings for those that can’t accompany you.  Often times, life circumstances that prevent someone from continuing now only mean they’ll join you again later with more focus and vigor.  So, you not only want to avoid alienating the individuals, but understanding their specific wants and needs, then supporting them at least through words and, if possible, through deeds.

What Do You Think?

I never ask you to agree with me, but just to share your ideas and opinion.  Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Weeks 8 and 9: Equipment Check

Climbing Mount Whitney

2011.09.14_OldTimeHikingI started this series about the goal and reason to climb Mt. Whitney.

First, here's who's going to be in our hiking party: We’re now a group of three people: Christopher T, Ron T, and me.

The dates of the intermediate climbs, as well as the rigor of the preparation have meant some folks can’t make one or more of the climbs before the big mother hike (BMH), or the BMH itself.

Second, as to the preparation, I’ve been busy with the program from the last post, Getting With the (New) Program.  Having finished Weeks 7 and 8, I’ve now completed a 6-mile hike locally.

Week 9, this week, I’ll be walking 8 miles at Chapparosa Park in Laguna Niguel on Sunday.  The hike is 7 miles round trip.  I’ll add a mile by walking the street leading to the park as well. This should be a fun walk since it takes me from Laguna Niguel and end on the beach by the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel which is really in the city of Dana Point.

You get the chance to walk in the meadows between homes, as well as past a couple of great golf courses.  If you’re interested, let me know and we’ll coordinate. 

I’ve taken to tagging along one or both of our pit bulls on the thrice weekly walks.  Jiggy, our male dog, loves the walks. He doesn’t seem to tire much from them.  Given his muscular build, I’m not really surprised.  I think he may just make it to the longer trips as well.  Who knows, may be he’ll be our new fourth team member.  I’ll just have to look into whether dogs are allows up to Mount Whitney.  If not, he can at least keep me company on the local hikes. The latter hikes on the circuits get up to 12 to 14 miles round-trip.  That’ll be good exercise for him.  I certainly love the company and his happy nature to keep trotting along.  He’s definitely a happy lug nut that keeps me motivated to walk!

L2011.09.14_TivaRiva-eVentast, I’ve researched what equipment we need for the hike.  It’s lead to a purchase of a new pair of hiking shows and the creation of an equipment list.

I’m especially fond of the new shoes, the Tiva Riva eVent. These shoes are comfortable and light.  What I love about them is that they’re stylish enough to wear as semi-casual dress shoes.  This way I can stick with taking a single pair of shoes when I fly out of town for work and still get my training in without a worry about ruining my dress shoes.  They’re also very light and easy to stow away in a carry-on luggage, if I need to take them as an extra pair on my business trips. 

2011.09.14_ColumbiaDillonRidgeI’ll likely wear my Columbia Dillon Ridge boots and the new Tiva Rivas interchangeably.  They’re both water-proof and have fantastic gripping soles.  I like the Columbia boots since they provide ankle support.  This’ll likely be important on the walks in the hills, around rocks and loose ground.  Time will tell as I continue to use both.

Now, back to the list.  You’ll find it below. It includes the (in)famous 10 Essentials:

Shoes Lip Balm (SPF 15+)
Gaiters Sport Tape
Socks Advil
Thermal Top Moleskin
Thermal Bottom Band-Aid
Pants (Hiking pants - convertibles) Bandage
Jacket (Wind Resistant) Sterile Gauze
Hiking Hat Tweezers
Wool Hat Antibiotic Ointment
Fleece Top Antiseptic Wipes
Gloves Antihistamine
Sunglasses Safety Pin
Sunscreen (SPF 30+) Latex Gloves
Headlamp (LED) First-Aid Book
Extra AAA Batteries Space Blanket
Two-Way Radio Map
Extra AA Batteries Compass
Whistle Altimeter
Bell GPS
Day Pack Extra Batteries for GPS
Wag Bag Food: 400 Calories / 2 hours + 500 Calories / meal
Toilet Paper Water: 0.75 Quart / Hour for 13-17 hours
Trekking Poles Electrolyte powder
Camera Water-Filter System
Inspect Repellent Small Cup for Water + Electrolyte

If you want the full list in a spreadsheet with my notes, email me.  I’ll be happy to share it via Google Docs or email you a copy. You can use this as both a packing and day-of-hike final check list. 

All of this preparation and research has only provided further lessons to use at work.  Stay tuned.  The business-lessons post is coming.

Photo Credit

Flickr Commons, Teva, Sports Authority

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Bully Breed Outrage

Random Thoughts

2011.09.10_PerplexedRecently I read a blog post on the Bad Rap site about a pit bull, Dusty, caught in the clutches of our legal system and slated for destruction.

Given our family lives with a tabby cat and two fantastic bully breeds, I was interested to read more. Even if you don’t own a bully breed, you should read the blog post, Dangerous Testimony in Monroe County Michigan, and judge for yourself how objective are the guidelines for destruction.  For that matter, ask yourself if the dog is any different than practically every puppy you’ve owned or ever met.

Below is the comment I posted on their site, with revisions only seen here:


Dusty is much better behaved than the majority of dogs I see EVERY DAY in my neighborhood. By these "standards", if you can call them that, there should be no dog left alive, regardless of breed.

Dusty just looks like a happy puppy that wants to play.

I'm upset, angry, and in tears. 

Dr. Houpt is a disgrace to her profession. She should have her license revoked. Her actions are similar to a medical doctor attending to her patients in a hospital, poking and prodding them, searching for ways to give them a lethal injection, instead of focusing for a [means and signs that prompt her action] to save lives.

The fact that the court is not allowing another group to train Dusty is upsetting and unsettling. We give more opportunities to rapists, serial killers, and daily criminals than this poor dog. Shouldn't we use AT LEAST the same standards for rescued dogs that we do for criminals, giving them second chances at rehabilitation?

I write AT LEAST since with dogs there's substantially better odds of being successful, given the right focus on training and socialization.  This is especially true for dogs since they tend to move on much easier than humans.  Perfect examples of this scenario are the Michael Vick’s dogs as told in the book, The Lost Dogs.

In Dusty's case, he just needs a loving home and human companions that'll give him standard, proper training. He needs nothing extreme and certainly should NOT be euthanized!

What Do You Think?

I hope you get a chance to read the original post Dangerous Testimony in Monroe County Michigan and comment there.  In fact, I encourage you to do so, instead of making any comments here.

Photo Credit

Yours truly (with a picture of our older Pit Bull mix, Lola)