At 11.30 am on May 29th, 1953 two men, a Kiwi and a Nepali became the first recorded humans to stand on top of the world, some 29,028 feet above sea level. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s feat in climbing the planet’s highest peak is a story of perseverance, bravery and incredible teamwork.
However, what is often less mentioned is the strategic sacrifices that the British team made in order to have two of their team members be the first to summit Everest.
The Hunt expedition that recorded this historic first comprised over 400 people, all with one goal in mind – set the first feet on the top of Mount Everest. To do that, they strategically sacrificed one climbing team in order that the other – the Hillary/Tenzing team – could make the top. And, along the way, they sacrificed many components of the expedition in order that others – critical to the success of the venture – could survive.
When two adult Salmon return to their birth-place to breed they have survived incredible odds. As two of 4,000 eggs laid, their odds of even becoming Fry are one in five. Of then reaching the sea, one in four. Of then reaching adulthood, one in twenty. Of then returning to spawn, one in five. For them to pass on their genetic code and to continue the species, 3,998 other potential adults had to be sacrificed.
What nature and mountain climbers show us is that for great things to happen, we have to sacrifice many, for the few to shine. The exceptional never happens without incredible focus.
Challengers accept this, they relish it even.
In order for our best ideas to reach fruition, we have to sacrifice. Sometimes that means letting go of the good ideas, sometimes even the great ideas, in order that the best of the best can survive.
Since the adoption of our Schwab’s Brand Platform and the launch of the ‘Own Your Tomorrow’ advertising campaign, we in the Advertising and Brand group have seen countless fabulous ideas.
But the hardest part wasn’t the development of the ideas – although that took perseverance, creativity and genius from a small army – it was the sacrifice of many, many good ideas so that a few great ones could see the light of day.
These are the ideas that Schwab overcommitted to, in marketing. The ones – like Hilary and Tenzing – that we built a team around, in order to ensure that they saw the light of day, were measured, and continued to evolve our learning and our brand.
Two examples are shown below:
- Why This Road. https://vimeo.com/channels/ownyourtomorrow/157967716 This series of videos, developed by Vimeo’s top producers, creatively brought to life the concept of how pursuing your dreams always leads to a better life road, building on the first series about ‘positive change’; the reality that sometimes you have to leave an established relationship in order to make great things happen. A truth paralleled in the world of finance, where breaking up with a broker you have known for years is hard – but may be essential.
- http://www.ownyourtomorrow.com. A fast-developing platform that showcases a wide array of lifestyle content that mirrors and adds to the values of Schwab’s clients, and extols the value of taking ownership of your future by making small sacrifices, and smart decisions, today.
This is what Challengers do. They sacrifice and overcommitt. They focus energy, people, passion, time, money, metrics and partnerships - and in so doing achieve and create the unlikely.
Is it crazy to sacrifice over 100 ideas, to ensure that the best six survive? Maybe, but it’s better odds than the chances of ascending Everest in 1953, and much, much better odds than any Salmon ever gets!