A View From The Top: What I Learned from 14,000 Feet

Mount Rainier

Last summer, I was invited to climb Mount Rainier by Ben Zimmer, CEO of Entrata, a fast growing property management software maker. Mount Rainier is the third most prominent mountain peak in the United States. With a summit of 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier is not only an active volcano, but it is also the most glaciated peak in the country.

This climb helped me put some very important business philosophies into perspective.

If you have ever prepared for a rigorous activity-whether it was climbing a mountain, running a marathon or competing in a sport-you know that preparation and stamina are necessary components to participating. When it came to climbing Mount Rainier, I found them to be critical to reach the summit.

Here some things I learned that I thought I would be valuable to share on our blog.

Plan The Work, Then Work The Plan

I had more than six months to plan for the biggest climb I had ever made, and used that time to prepare myself as best I could. In those six months I hiked halfway up Mt. Charleston, then all the way up to Mt. Charleston’s 11,916 feet. I backpacked 32 miles in three days to climb the 8,800 foot Half Dome in Yosemite National Park and continued mountain biking twice a week to maintain my cardio endurance.

All of this preparation led me to a successful climb. In my group of eight climbers to attempt to summit Mount Rainier, two did not make it to the summit.

What do you need to prepare for when it comes to achieving something difficult? Are you spending more than necessary should at some properties because you haven’t spent the time to prepare a meaningful budget? Are you prepared to handle a sudden increase or decrease in your property portfolio? At Ascent, we dedicate time and resources every year to thoroughly analyze the properties we work with and prepare the budgets for the coming year.

Some Terrain Is Easier Than Others

I’ve hiked and climbed in many places throughout the world. Climbing in snow is easier than hiking on rock. Climbing when the snow is hard is easier than climbing in slush.

After hiking all day on the first day of the climb, we set up camp and were asleep by 6 p.m. We left camp at midnight that night because the snow freezes at night and provides a more stable footprint. We roped together and continued our climb to the top. We reached the summit around 7 a.m. and spent about an hour enjoying the views before we began our descent.

Also, the path of progress is not always a forward path.  Sometimes to make progress we need to step to the side or back to find the best decision.

Part of our climb was crossing this crevice. Scary!

Applying this to business, know what is the easier terrain and work then. Many of our clients know that they are best at the real estate transaction or management part of the business and they leave the back office administration to us. They realize they make their best money when out of the office doing deals and visiting the properties.

Have Confidence In Yourself

In business and life, believing you can accomplish a goal is the first step in achieving it. When climbing Mount Rainier, I found that those who had a healthy sense of self (not ego) and believed they could do it were the ones who actually did. Those who began to doubt their abilities were most often the ones who gave up and turned around. When was the last time you doubted your ability or talent to complete a major project? Don’t let those doubts take over and sabotage your success!

Coaches Make A Difference

The people whom you surround yourself with in business, and in life, is extremely important to your success.

In climbing, like in business, a guide can significantly impact the outcome of a project. In my case, I was fortunate to have one of the world’s most celebrated mountain climbers by my side to climb Mount Rainier, Ed Viesturs.

Viesturs has successfully summited all 14 of the world’s 8,000 meter (26,246 feet) mountain peaks without supplemental oxygen. He is the very best at what he does and it made a real difference in our experience. He gave me plenty of advice before we started and on the climb. He assured me when I made good decisions and barked at me when I made a mistake.

When you are trying to reach your goals, having an experienced coach can be invaluable. Who is the Ed Viesturs of your industry? In the world of multifamily accounting, most of our team has been working for more than 20 years to become one of the best at what we do. We’ve worked with some of the best clients and have seen many new best practices. We seek to share with our other clients the best practices and guide them to success.

There Are No Shortcuts To The Top

Left to Right: Andrew Dabell, Baxter Gillespie, Ed Viesters, Peter Whittaker, Scott Seegmiller and Jack O’Connor.

While this was not my first time climbing a mountain, it was my first time climbing a glacier. The only way to the top was through preparation, hard work and perseverance. Had I not laid the groundwork with preparation for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, I would have never made it.

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