In the latest episode of Peak Performance Leadership, host Scott McCarthy welcomes wilderness leadership expert Shawn Stratton. With his extensive experience as an outdoor educator and leadership consultant, Shawn offers a treasure trove of insights on team dynamics, risk management, and the essential qualities of a great leader. The episode dives deep into Shawn’s riveting experiences in the great outdoors, showcasing life lessons drawn from thrilling expeditions in challenging terrains. Join us as we unravel the wilderness leadership secrets shared by Shawn Stratton.

Meet Shawn

Shawn Stratton is a seasoned wilderness leader, professional speaker, and corporate leadership consultant. With a background in outdoor education and vast experience with leading expeditions, Shawn has transitioned into a role where he imparts valuable leadership lessons to individuals and teams. His career trajectory from leading outdoor expeditions to becoming an influential leadership consultant is a testament to his diverse expertise and passion for inspiring others to achieve peak performance.

Timestamped Overview

– 00:02: Shawn Stratton discusses the “hire slow, fire fast” philosophy and the importance of swiftly addressing negative impacts within a team to prevent disintegration.

– 07:35: The podcast delves into Shawn’s gripping Mount Logan expedition, highlighting the challenges faced, the significance of teamwork, and the necessity of clear stand-down criteria in pursuing ambitious goals.

– 18:19: Scott shares an intriguing cold weather experience, emphasizing the vital role of teamwork in adverse conditions.

– 20:45: Shawn illuminates his transition from leading expeditions to becoming a prominent leadership consultant and speaker, underscoring the importance of being a role model as a great leader.

– 30:08: A sneak peek into Shawn’s upcoming book, “Forerunner,” and his impactful work with corporations on team building and keynote speaking.

– 35:50: Scott announces a forthcoming special episode on June 20th, promising an exceptional listening experience for the audience.

– 38:15: Insights into Shawn Stratton’s past experiences, including his association with the National Outdoor Leadership School (Knowles) and his early involvement in outdoor education and recreational activities.

– 43:10: Shawn shares a profound anecdote regarding a critical medical emergency during an expedition and emphasizes the significance of effective risk management strategies.

– 48:40: A compelling narrative on addressing disruptive behavior on an expedition, showcasing the transformative impact of intervention and setting clear behavioral expectations.

– 55:12: Shawn’s revelations on encountering and effectively managing challenging situations during expeditions, emphasizing the importance of openness and managing mental health challenges within a team.

– 1:01:30: A fascinating glimpse into Shawn’s past, growing up in Newfoundland, and his journey towards pursuing a career in outdoor education and leadership.


Guest Resources

If you are interested in learning more about Shawn and what he has to offer be sure to check out his resources:

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The following is an AI generated transcript which should be used for reference purposes only. It has not been verified or edited to reflect what was actually said in the podcast episode. 


Scott McCarthy [00:00:08]:
It is only an adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves, in finding themselves. Andre Gidd said that once. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Newton For Leadership podcast episode 14, lessons from wilderness leadership with Shawn Stren. Hey, everybody. It’s Scott McCarthy, your host and founder of the Moving Forward Leadership podcast. And welcome welcome back to yet another great episode. I got a really cool and interesting episode lined up for you guys today. But before I dive in to talking about that episode. I wanted to actually talk about a future episode. And I normally don’t talk about future episodes, ever really, but this one’s different because today, we’re at episode 40. And in just, you know, 10 Ten more episodes, and we’re gonna be at episode 50, which is pretty incredible. I’ve never expected to get to episode 50 when I kick this off. In fact, I had no idea What to expect when I started the podcast? But, nonetheless, here we are now, you know, come dialing into episode 50. So Episode 50 is going to be something special, something different than what I’ve had thus far on the show. I don’t wanna dive into too many details yet because episode 50 hasn’t been recorded yet. But, just to say, it’s gonna be a lot of fun. It’s gonna be interesting, And I know you guys out there are gonna love it. So if you want to go ahead and mark your calendars, you can mark your calendars for the 20th June. That’s when episode 50 will go live at, 0 600 EST. But you shouldn’t really need to know that or do that because I’m sure you’re subscribed to guess. Right? If you’re not subscribed to the podcast, well, maybe you should just go ahead and do that. And I make it easy for you if you’re not subscribed. If you just go to moving forward leadership .comforward/subscribe. All of the options are there for you to subscribe. So if you’re an iPhone user, it’ll be there for Apple Podcasts. If you’re an Android, just subscribe on Android. If you like it through RSS feeds, there’s a way to do that as well. Nonetheless, episode 50 will be special, so can’t wait to release it and for you all. Anyway, let’s dive into today’s episode, though. My guest today, Sean Stratton. Sean and I met through a, a Facebook group we’re both in. And lo and behold, we started talking, And we found out we have a lot in common, actually. First off, we’re both Newfoundlanders yet again. He’s actually the 1st new flyer I interviewed, but the second one for their episode to be released just due to the way the scheduling worked out. But, nonetheless, Sean’s also a, leadership coach much like myself. But, you know, in terms Today’s episode, though, Sean used to work for the National Outdoor Leadership School, Knowles. And what Knowles does, it Basically takes young adults and and adults alike and runs courses across the world on outdoor, survival skills and outdoor skills themselves such as trekking through mountains, kayaking, canoeing, you know, long term Camping, backpacking camping type things. And Sean was one of the instructors for the school. So, Since he finished working for them, he’d he wrote a book. And, when we were talking, I said I had to have him on the show. Sean agreed, and he was gracious enough to provide me a copy with the book. And in the book, he’s got a number of different leadership lessons, which he’s taken out of his experience with Knowles. So during the episode, we talked with 3 specific, instance that are in the book, and we have a conversation based off of And just a heads up, our conversation, no trouble tell. We’re both new because our conversation went over an hour long. Pretty incredible. But there’s so many great Stories, so many great lessons in there that you can take and and pull out and and apply to your everyday That, you know, there’s no reason not to listen to this episode because it’s absolutely fantastic. So that’s pretty much it for today. Again, I don’t want to keep these intros too too long because You want to get to the goods. You don’t wanna listen to me just blab. You wanna hear about the true, reason why you’re listening to the episode. So, nonetheless, I will hit the music down a minute, but sit back, relax, and enjoy my episode with Sean Stratton talking about wilderness leadership. Hey, Sean, brother. Welcome to moving forward leadership podcast, man. It’s great to have you here.

Shawn Stratton [00:05:14]:
Yeah. Thanks for having me. It’s, I’m looking forward to this.

Scott McCarthy [00:05:17]:
So, You know, for all listeners out there, I’m gonna do a fair warning right now. We have 2 Newfoundlanders talking about leadership. This this could get dicey quick. Not to mention, you know, the accents might come back out.

Shawn Stratton [00:05:33]:
Absolutely. I’ll have to turn it on.

Scott McCarthy [00:05:35]:
I’ll have to watch. I’ll just give you actually, I’ll give you a quick funny story for everybody. Yo. When I first left home, I introduced myself to a guy, and we’re both on basic training. And he he completely stops dead in his tracks, looks at me with a blank stare, And the words of his mouth were, I’m sorry, but I don’t speak French.

Shawn Stratton [00:05:58]:
No way. Yeah.

Scott McCarthy [00:06:00]:
That’s how bad my accent was when I first left home.

Shawn Stratton [00:06:03]:
That’s fine. You’ve come a long way.

Scott McCarthy [00:06:04]:
Yeah. Yeah. Well, you you just get tired of what? Excuse me? Pardon? Can you say that again? Can you say that again? And so but, you know, a couple when I go home or get a few buddies around and then or a couple drinks and

Shawn Stratton [00:06:16]:

Scott McCarthy [00:06:16]:
She comes right back out again. Right? So

Shawn Stratton [00:06:19]:
Yeah. So you just step off the plane.

Scott McCarthy [00:06:21]:
Yeah. Exactly. Right? Oh, anyway, Sean, the first thing I always like to do with my guests is the for them to give a quick background. You know? Tell them, you know, Who they are, how they got to where they are, and then we’ll we’ll start talking about a bit about your your your interesting experiences and how they relate to your leadership after.

Shawn Stratton [00:06:41]:
Sure. Yeah. I, from Newfoundland. I was actually born in Ontario, but I don’t like to tell people that because, I was like,

Scott McCarthy [00:06:48]:
oh, no. You’re dead to me now.

Shawn Stratton [00:06:51]:
My my my father was transferred there for 2 years up to Toronto for 2 years. So, me and my brother were born in in Ontario, but moved back. So I moved back to Newfoundland or moved to Newfoundland for me, I guess, when I was about 1a half and, stayed there until I I finished high school. And, yeah, growing up, I am very kind of athletic, very active kid. Played just about every sport imaginable, kinda stuck with, water polo, and, triathlon ended up being my kinda big sports in high school and grew up in the boy scouts and, as well get into my, Most of my adult career, I’ve been in in adventure travel, but, people think that I grew up camping with my parents all the time and traveling with them. And and, actually, I think I’ve camped once in my life with my parents. Oh. And and it wasn’t a great experience for the whole family. I think, it was up in the Northern Peninsula near Lansing Meadows, and it was a, you know, a 5 degree rainy July afternoon. July

Scott McCarthy [00:07:52]:
Sounds Sounds perfect like home.

Shawn Stratton [00:07:55]:
That’s right. And, we just got soaked that night, and I think my dad wasn’t interested in doing that again. But, Fortunately, I had the scouts, the boy scouts, and, grew up with that and had some great groups, and that was kinda where I got my adventure and camping fill.

Scott McCarthy [00:08:08]:

Shawn Stratton [00:08:08]:
Been ringing that and, Got my travel fill from playing water polo. I got to travel, every year ago, a couple trips across the country, playing nationally in that. And yeah. So Great childhood. Really really good, really great parents and 2 brothers. Yeah. I grew up in Saint John’s, Newfoundland, the big cities compared to where, you grew up. And So

Scott McCarthy [00:08:32]:
for the audience out there, there’s a bit of a rivalry. Right? Like, I come from a very small town. Sean comes from the main the capital of the province, and you either a townie or you’re a bayman. I am a. Sean’s a townie, and and, you know, it’s like oil and water. Right?

Shawn Stratton [00:08:49]:
That’s right. We’ll leave it there. No.

Scott McCarthy [00:08:50]:
The other side of the tracks.

Shawn Stratton [00:08:52]:
I think half the townies wanna be Bayman, half of the Bayman wanna be Townies. Pretty much. You’d never admit it. Most most counties have a cabin in the bay anyway.

Scott McCarthy [00:09:02]:
Right by my house, actually.

Shawn Stratton [00:09:06]:
Yeah. Did a couple years in memorial and university in in Saint John’s Memorial University and didn’t really know what I wanted to do and ended up going to Dalhousie and In Halifax, Dehauser University, and doing a I was gonna do phys ed, and I was gonna do business, and I didn’t know what. I found out about a recreation management program, and I I was like, oh, it seems pretty good. Couldn’t blend the both and do kinda sports management, maybe professional sports management. And in that program in at Dalhousie, I I did a course on called adventure based experiential education. It’s a mouthful, but I remember it. And, of course, changed my life, and, that was kind of in that course. I had a light bulb moment, I call it, Where, I learned about a whole new career. I had no idea, and a career in outdoor education. And, basically, getting paid to travel the world and Take people in the wilderness and use the wilderness as a classroom for personal growth and development. No. So not only was I getting an adventure and have an adventure, but I was helping and supporting people along the way and, teaching leadership, along with a lot of other kind of soft skills as we learned and taught Outdoor skills. So once I learned that there was a whole industry and a whole world of this, I learned about Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School, kind of the 2 Top, organizations in outdoor education probably in the world, but definitely in North America. And, in that year to housing that Class, I’d kinda vowed that I’m gonna work for them one of these days. One of those schools, one of these days, and and just kind of dreamed and dreamed about it, and then spent the next 3 or 4 years kind of

Scott McCarthy [00:10:37]:
Chasing that dream.

Shawn Stratton [00:10:38]:
Chasing that dream, working at summer camps, working at come team adventure programs in Alaska and out in the Rockies in Alberta, and, Built up my resume eventually to apply and did an internship, but I were bound in North Carolina my last year at Dalhousie, and, eventually got on to work, with the National Outdoor Leadership School, which is a big, $30,000,000 outdoor leadership school based in Wyoming, but has programs all around the world and mainly with, American college students, but Other adult programs as well doing, month to 3 month long expeditions, mountaineering, sea kayaking, backpacking, by water canoeing, rock climbing. You name it. They pretty much do it. And Yeah. Yeah.

Scott McCarthy [00:11:17]:
It’s cool. Super cool. Actually, you know, it’s funny. We kinda have a bit of a similar background in in childhood and stuff like that. I will give you a buy in being, you know, born in Ontario because my my, my best friend growing up was actually born in the Yukon. Every now and then, we give them a rough time, but, yeah, same same thing. Right? And, you know, I joined the cadet organization. That’s kinda where my my feet got wet with everything. So so yeah. Very similar to boys’ scouts, but army cats.

Shawn Stratton [00:11:47]:

Scott McCarthy [00:11:48]:
Getting my feet with with camping and leadership and all that jazz. So that’s kinda my start Point there. So Yeah. Yeah. No water polo, though. No water polo right away.

Shawn Stratton [00:11:57]:
It’s funny that we had those outlets to to get our our fill of camping in that you know, in Newfoundland, it it’s coming around slowly, but, you know, the the wilderness in Newfoundland for, you know, centuries was used for work and use for cutting wood to heat your house and trapping, you know, animals to to feed your feed your family through the winter and And people didn’t didn’t use wilderness for recreation, and Yeah. It’s bizarre to them to think about it. And I I used to after I’d go camping for a weekend in high school, I’d come back and tell my grandfather, Father, you know, went out camping this weekend, had a great time, and we just go and, you know, go for a hike and boil up and have a have a dinner and camp, sleep overnight in the tent and hike out the next day. And and he would say, well, well, what did you get? What did you get? Like, what what do you wanna get?

Scott McCarthy [00:12:49]:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You

Shawn Stratton [00:12:50]:
get a moose? Did you did you get some rabbits, some partridge? Did you cut a quarter wood? What were you doing out there? And, I couldn’t figure that out at all.

Scott McCarthy [00:13:00]:
No. No. No. Beyond there. That’s awesome.

Shawn Stratton [00:13:03]:
Yeah. Yeah.

Scott McCarthy [00:13:04]:
What I’d like to do is, like, for you to dive in kinda, you know, how you got into the whole Knowles organization because that was a bit of a a bit of adversity for yourself. You know? I just finished reading the book, The day, actually. So why don’t we just start off with that? You know, fast forward, you’re you’re there, and you’re starting to do your your first courses and and how you actually managed to get in and, you know, basically achieve your dream at that time.

Shawn Stratton [00:13:29]:
Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. I didn’t, didn’t take the easy road. Like most things, I seem to achieve. I don’t take the easy road. Yeah. Knowles, the National Outdoor Leadership School is, kinda, like I mentioned, the kind of the premier, Organization in the industry of outdoor education, and, it’s it’s so premier and so, sought upon that They to become an instructor there, you have to do a month long instructor course, which is essentially a month long interview that you have to pay. Oh, it’s probably up to $5 now. It’s $3 when I did it, back in the late nineties, which is which is unheard of in the industry that, like, you’re paying to an interview to take a month long course and but at that point, I I could care less. I was like, well, that’s what I gotta do. Let’s do it. And, I applied for their instructor course kind of not really on a whim, but, like, thinking that I heard that if you apply for the instructor’s course, you don’t get in, Then they’ll send you a letter saying, you know, we liked your application, but these are the things you should improve on. And I really had no idea. I didn’t had no background. Most of the people I found out after the fact that end up working there or taking the instructor’s course. Most of them have taken a course as a student beforehand. So kinda knew the inside story, and I’d only known 1 instructor in my life. And, Anyway, I applied for the instructor’s course and surprised that I got on the wait list. And I was like, alright. That’s pretty cool. And at the time, I was going off to New Zealand To travel for 3 months on my own, just kinda backpacking around New Zealand. Not really thinking

Scott McCarthy [00:14:56]:
Isn’t that amazing country, by the way? I love New Zealand. Yeah. It’s definitely Fantastic.

Shawn Stratton [00:15:00]:
Very nice. Yeah. At that point, that was 99. I think I hitchhiked for 3 months. I think I took 1 bus in 3 months, and, It was, Yeah. That was it was quite the adventure. I wouldn’t probably recommend doing that now, but back then, it was good. And, yeah. So I got a call, and once I was kind of 3 quarters of the way trip through my 3 quarters of the way much up to New Zealand that I got a spot on this instructor’s course, and it was gonna be starting in 2 weeks in Arizona. And I had to decide in the next hour if I was gonna take it or not, and I’d already had it, and then then I had to agree that this was gonna be in the spring. I had to agree that I would work for them this summer if I got the job or did well on my instructor’s course. So I’d already committed to a company that lead expeditions in Alaska that summer, and, I didn’t really wanna say no to them. But at this I didn’t wanna pass up this opportunity, and they were pressuring me. And I was in the middle of my trip to New Zealand. I’d had to end it short. And so there’s a lot of things going on in that moment. And, through the end of it, I decided to say, yeah, I’m coming. I’ll I’m not sure how it’s gonna work, but I’m gonna get there. And, I used to get to Arizona in in 2 weeks time and Started my instructor’s course and, yeah, I was, you know, shell shocked, I guess, is a is a way to look at it once I started that course. I didn’t have a background with Knowles, and I didn’t really know how their how they operated and know their systems. Like I said, most people on this course. I’d already already done a course with them and just kinda jibed with their whole procedures and plans and and systems. And, Anyway, the course didn’t go that well for me. It was kind of like an interview. It was pretty stressful. People didn’t get along that well and God must put a sour taste in my mouth and then by the end of it, it really didn’t go well, but like the 2nd last day, the team that I was on ended up getting a bit turned around and Little lost on a navigational error in a challenging area to, navigate, but I think I was kind of blacklisted at that point in the course. And, Anyway, day or 2 later, we did our final evaluations, found I didn’t pass the course, which I think 85% of the people generally pass the course. And this was, like, Like, just a shock to the system to me, like Yeah. Devastated. I’d just taken a loan out to take this course, my 1st loan in my life, and I’d already given up my summer job, but this ex excellent organization I really liked. It killed me to say no to them. And anyway, so I did it was definitely a lot of adversity and, I end up, going back to that company for the summer, but Knowles had offered me another take a shorter course, a shorter instructor type course, in the fall and to prove that my navigation was fine and that I don’t know. I had a couple bad days in the course or whatever. And, anyway, I did that in in the fall and eventually got got on to start working courses with them in the following summer. I led my 1st expeditions in the Wind River Range in Wyoming and then Went on from there for the next 10 years. As I the years went on, I got more and more courses because it’s not like you go full time, start off, you do summers, and then Start going year around and yeah. That’s how I got got into it.

Scott McCarthy [00:17:58]:
So what would you say was the biggest lesson you learned through the adversity and and, you know, finding out that you failed that that initial course.

Shawn Stratton [00:18:08]:
Yeah. I think it’s, I think it’s perseverance. You know? Yeah. You know, Some people say perseverance is being too stupid to know when to quit, but

Scott McCarthy [00:18:18]:
There’s a flat line there. Right?

Shawn Stratton [00:18:20]:
It is. Yeah. In this case, you know, it got me in my dream job, and I remember one of my instructors said to me like that that time when I found out that I hadn’t passed and I was gonna have to Kinda come in the back door. He’s like, you know, one thing I tell people, like, don’t get through. It’s like, if you really want this job and you really wanna work for this organization, you will, and you’ll find a way to do it. Mhmm. And I was like, alright. You know, I can take that. Yeah. And, you know, I just kept pushing and pushing and Call the right people and was persistent and, Yeah. And it paid off because because I I knew in my heart of heart that, like, this was the job for me and that I could do well at this and, could do really well and could thrive in this this area, in this industry, in this position, and I really, really wanted, and so I kept pushing and eventually gone. So that that’s probably the biggest thing I’ve learned. And, Yeah. Just, you know, adventure is you know, I said the first line in my book, teams on the edge, which you mentioned, it’s, it wouldn’t be an adventure if you knew the ending.

Scott McCarthy [00:19:18]:
Yep. For sure.

Shawn Stratton [00:19:19]:
And, you know, that’s why we jump into these things. And I definitely knew they didn’t know that was gonna happen at the end, but you you push through and chalk it up as an adventure and and Keep moving forward.

Scott McCarthy [00:19:28]:
Yep. Absolutely. And, you know, just mentioned the book. What I’d like to do is to go through, 3 of the you know, you got the 6 chapters there, each each basically a story of your time. Right? So what all I have to do is go through 3 of them, 3 which really stood out to me. Right? And, you know, talk you talk about the background of the story and then the leadership lesson which you you took out and explained in the book. So the first one was the the $30,000 blister For that poor girl, that was so why don’t you just give a quick overview of that that story, and then, you know, we can talk with the leadership lesson that you pulled out of it. Mhmm.

Shawn Stratton [00:20:02]:
Absolutely. Yeah. Being in the army, I’m sure you could, relate to a few of

Scott McCarthy [00:20:05]:
the stories. Just a couple just a couple blisters. Yeah. No $30,000 ones, though.

Shawn Stratton [00:20:10]:
Well, I don’t know. You guys you guys don’t see the bill obviously for all the all the machinery that comes around for you guys. But

Scott McCarthy [00:20:18]:
True story.

Shawn Stratton [00:20:18]:
True story. We we did see the bill when it comes to the medical when it’s privatized. Yeah. This happened in in the Yukon in, in the tombstone range, which is North of Dawson, just below the Arctic Circle. Incredible, incredible area, incredibly remote. Beautiful spot. We were in a 30 day backpacking trip and, in the old Golgi Mountains And, you know, didn’t see another human besides a helicopter pilot bringing in our groceries every 2 2 weeks or so, every 10 days. Yeah. And this student, she was a really good student, natural leader. One of the older girls on the trip, they’re all high school or university students, I think, high school or university. And, yeah. She’d, we knew that she was vegan, which, which is really funny now that I think back on it because, For the last 3 years, I I’ve on a vegan diet. And at the time, it was probably 15 years ago, 10 years ago, I didn’t have a clue what a vegan diet was. But, learned about it, and and, you know, we brought the foods that that she could have and and, you know, told her that she needs to keep up and eat eat these foods because, obviously, there’s a limited supply that what we have out there, but it’s important, obviously, our health and to keep it up. And, Yeah. And so towards the end of the expedition, I noticed she was getting or she kept telling us, like, her her toe was hurting, and she started getting blisters, which is, you know, it’s pretty normal, and we treat them and We teach them how to treat them as well, and, you know, self care is a big thing and kinda we teach you how to do it, and then you take care of yourself for the rest of the way. And, Getting up to the end of the expedition, one of the unique things that Knowles does is, lets their students go from 3 to 5 days on backpacking trips, on their own with small groups. So they’re not going solo, but if we have a group of 12, we’ll break them up into groups of 5 or 4, And and send them off for 3 to 5 days on their own. So everything they’ve learned over the last 3 weeks, they can get a chance to really practice. And That’s a pretty unique thing with Knowles, and it’s it’s been not challenged in court, but questioned a lot because there’s been, you know, there’s a lot of risk management, Yes.

Scott McCarthy [00:22:26]:
Some of the gala days there for sure.

Shawn Stratton [00:22:27]:
Issues that could come up and, so just before we’re about to send our our groups off on this, we call it the independent student travel Expedition. I checked out her feed and noticed that her her kinda toe was still kind of red and localized infection, and we’re like, okay. You know? You gotta Take care of that. You gotta wash it. You gotta soak it in warm water and, do all the proper dressings and that to maintain it. Like, yeah. No problem. Like, it wasn’t an issue. And So me and the instructor team we hiked on. Typically, when this happens, we’ll do their say they’re gonna go out for 4 days. We’ll do it in 2 days or a day and a half Just go fast to get to the where we’re gonna meet at the end, and we’ll start our paperwork. We’ve gotta do a written formal evaluations and, tons of paperwork to do, and so we’ll we’ll get there and start our paperwork and hang out until the students show up in a couple days. And, you know, they have they have Basic first aid training that we’ve done over the course. They’ve got first aid books. They’ve got their emergency procedures. They know where we are all the time to come and get us, basically. It’s a we tell them, you know, don’t make it worse and come and get us. Come get us. Come get us.

Scott McCarthy [00:23:29]:

Shawn Stratton [00:23:30]:
And, yeah, that that night or after 2 days, we weren’t expect to hear him from for another 2 days, and, We’re sitting around having having some tea, I think, at at our camp, and we start here and they’re like, hey, bear. Hey, bear, which is Typical, conversation as we’re hiking in these mountains for months upon our weekdays weeks on end. We’re constantly Other having loud conversations with each other or just shouting out, hey, bears, because it’s very active area. And, you wanna let them know you’re coming. And that we were like, it had to be their students because we haven’t seen anybody else. I’m like, what’s going on? And for me, I just kept thinking through my head, like, who died? Like, how could they have died? What happened? Like, Yeah. You just go to the worst. And, they finally catch up to us and, get to our camp. And I was like, what’s going on, guys? What’s happening? What’s happening? What’s going on? And they said, oh, it’s it’s Sally. Her toe. Her toe is really hurt. I was like, her toe. Okay. Great. And, Yeah. Then, you know, we go through, like, what’s wrong with her? And it’s like, oh, she’s really slow, and she’s, you know, aches and pains and malaise. And Like, okay. Yeah. That doesn’t sound very good. Like, anything else and just before, like, they’re about to finish, they’re like, oh, and she’s got this one red streak from her toe to her knee, and I said, woah.

Scott McCarthy [00:24:44]:
Yeah. Yeah. Red flag.

Shawn Stratton [00:24:45]:
Yeah. Like, a red streak is is for those who don’t know, is a severe sign of severe infection. That’s, you know, your localized infections now into your bloodstream. And, yeah. So we had to we had to act on that Right away, we got on our satellite phone and talked to our base in, in Whitehorse, and they end up talking to some emergency room. We’re talking to the doctor, and they end up getting their helicopter in, or sending their helicopter right away. But it was gonna be dicey because it was getting towards sunset, and the helicopter that was coming in wasn’t, you know, equipped for nighttime flying. And were gonna come and see if they could do it anyway, and they were like, but you guys better go and start hiking back there in case the helicopter doesn’t get in. And We started hiking, to get there to get to the camp to help treat her, and we ended up hiking till 2 or 3 in the morning. We had no idea if the helicopter came or not because It was coming from a different direction. We get into camp. I think it was 2:33 in the morning. We’re just exhausted. We’re like, hey, guys. You know, Sally here. I’m just, like, Just hoping she’d been gone because I didn’t wanna have to start dealing with her now, and I didn’t know what kind of shape she was gonna be in. And, Fortunately, the helicopter did get in just below sunset and, and picked her up and sent her off and, brought her to Dawson. Dawson, she saw was at the nursing station. They had a small station there. And right away, they sent for the private kind of the air ambulance jet that flew up from White horse to Dawson, put her in the private jet to get down to White horse to get in the hospital and and get treated for the severe severe infection. Yeah. She ended up being on in hospital for 5 days and on antibiotics, and, the doctors there said her protein level was, like, next to 0 and which, You know, help spread the infection, and, she’d, you know, you said it was well on its way there. Like, her lung, her hearts, They’re causing complete heart failure and, you know, if hours could have been could have been the the deal maker there. So

Scott McCarthy [00:26:43]:

Shawn Stratton [00:26:43]:
That was yeah. It was a very, very challenging situation, and we we fortunately managed to to pull it off. And, you know, the risk management plan is our own place, and and it actually worked.

Scott McCarthy [00:26:54]:
No. It’s yeah. Definitely. We always we always got what we refer to as the golden hour for us in in our our issues. Our our our usually, our issues are a little bit more life threatening at at initial, and we refer to as the golden hour. So, Basically, by the time someone gets, gets shot or gets blown up, we got 1 hour to get them on the helo, and then get the medevac back to whatever hospital we got set up for them. So but reality is it was much similar in her case as I read it as I read it. Like, if you think if you put it in context, right, of the of the resources available and stuff, it’s like, yeah, she does not have much time.

Shawn Stratton [00:27:32]:
Yeah. Yeah. It was little things like, you know, we if we’d called kinda 911 and went through the system, by the time they would have been ready To get their helicopter up with nurses on board and this and that on board, it would have been dark. Yeah. And so, fortunately, you know, our our, organization that, you know, relationships with the helicopter pilots in Dawson because they’ve been re rationing us, and they knew the area. And they just called the guy at home. It was like, hey, John. Can you go and pick them up?

Scott McCarthy [00:28:01]:
That’s awesome.

Shawn Stratton [00:28:02]:
And when they thought he was at home, he happened to be at the hangar at the time. He’s like, oh, yeah. I can I can be off the ground in 10 minutes? Yeah. So it’s, you know, it’s it’s okay to have those local contacts.

Scott McCarthy [00:28:13]:
So what was the big leadership lesson you you you pulled out of that For yourself.

Shawn Stratton [00:28:19]:
Yeah. So, you know, there’s there’s so many aspects of it. I think, one of the big things was, I talk about full disclosure and and, you know, this this, student great student, but she, we later found out, through the other students, which I haven’t brought up yet, is that she had been treated for anorexia up until, you know, a few months before the expedition. And, that was a jaw dropping moment for me when I found out about that. I wasn’t super shocked once I found out about it, but I wasn’t expecting it. And, You know, the there’s strict, rules that you can’t go on one of these expeditions until you’ve been a year out of treatment for these types of things.

Scott McCarthy [00:28:58]:
Makes sense.

Shawn Stratton [00:28:59]:
Yeah. Because, yeah, it’s very, you know, very physically demanding with, you know, just so many challenges in every way on these expeditions. And, and so she hadn’t disclosed that in her paperwork pre, pre course. And if she had, well, she probably wouldn’t have been allowed on the course, but and even if she told us, like, at the beginning of the trip, like, I’ve had other people have told us, you know, we could be a lot more supportive. And so, you know, I think it’s important with your teams that you’re working with is that you ask them And yourself disclose anything that may jeopardize the team. Yeah. Now I’m not asking you to disclose every dark secret of your life, but if there’s something That may jeopardize the goal of the team. This obviously, the safety of the team, you need to you need to disclose that up front, And, everybody will be more thankful for it. You know, I know it can be challenging if you obviously are just new to a team or you’re in a job hunt, situation, but, you know, this this could have been life and death, and and and that was a that was a big thing. The others and and all the stories in the book kinda come come back to risk management and having a quality risk management plan in place. And Yeah. Yeah.

Scott McCarthy [00:30:12]:
For sure. I find, you know, the that disclosure thing, it it’s always true. You know? If if you’re up front with people, I think they’re I think People are more supportive than what the person believes that they’re gonna be. Mhmm. And then they just kinda, you know, bottle up and hold it inside. Right? Vice actually saying, you know You know, by the way, I got this little little piece of history, but it’s all good or, you know, or I just need to take care of this or whatever. Right?

Shawn Stratton [00:30:39]:
Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Because the person you know, it’s their insecurity. It’s their it’s their issue, and and it plays a bigger game obviously for them than it would for anybody else.

Scott McCarthy [00:30:49]:
Yep. For sure. So let’s, let’s move on, to actually, it was probably my favorite chapter of the book. I don’t know. And it was, the facing team destruction in Baja. Baja. Oh, Baja. Sorry. Yeah.

Shawn Stratton [00:31:01]:
Baja. Mexico. Yeah. Yeah.

Scott McCarthy [00:31:03]:
Yeah. Yeah.

Shawn Stratton [00:31:04]:
That was, that was another challenging encounter. And, you know, I I have 6 main stories in this Book, and and it makes it sound like all my expeditions have some kind of epic epic endeavor that Yeah. It’s

Scott McCarthy [00:31:20]:
Don’t worry. You know, you did this for 10 years, and you only got 6 6 stories in the book. I don’t think we all ended in, you know, in in Yeah. Any type of destruction or failure or

Shawn Stratton [00:31:29]:
That’s right.

Scott McCarthy [00:31:29]:
Or anything of that nature.

Shawn Stratton [00:31:31]:
Yeah. You know, people are like, gee. Like, something happen every trip. And it’s like, no. No. No. Like, 1 no one wants to hear about the smooth trips. Here, here’s a couple pictures of some sunrises and some sets.

Scott McCarthy [00:31:42]:
I’m going with Sean. No.

Shawn Stratton [00:31:44]:
Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. So, you know, facing team destruction. And and this all the other stories had some kind of physical element to it whether it was weather or or personal injury. And this was almost more mental health, challenge in this situation and which I found so hard because it just plays on you, you know, on a lot of these other ones that are that are that are physical or that are first aid oriented. You know, sometimes it it the call is a lot easier to make. It’s like, Yeah. You got a red streak from your knee to your toe. We’re gonna call a helicopter and get you out of here. Like Yeah.

Scott McCarthy [00:32:23]:
You got you got No brainer. Clear signs. Right?

Shawn Stratton [00:32:26]:
Yeah. But when you have, a student that that’s totally disruptive and, yeah, the kind of the backstory is was we had this 1 student in in Mexico. I was leading a it was gonna be 3 month expedition, 3 sections of hiking, sailing, and kayaking. And, Yeah. I I was excited to lead this expedition, but early on, this this 1 student was, it was pretty clear that he just wasn’t Fit fitting in with the group. And, you know, all that being said, I try my best to get everybody to fit in, and these are these groups come, no one knows each other. Typically, every now and then, you’ll get a friend, but most times they’re people are coming out of the blue. They don’t know anybody, and they’re fairly, you know, They’re not not normalized, but they’re usually typical typical US college students, kinda upper middle class college students that are, you know, up for an adventure of a lifetime. Very motivated, very bright, very excited to be there. And, yeah. So early on, this this 1 guy was, Just cause a lot of friction within the team. You know, I talk about team dynamics a lot and and the stages of group development and, you know, usually, it’s the honeymoon phase that you Start off with and then, you know, he moved into the storming and that, but this was like storming from the start. Like, he just skipped the honeymoon right off. And, And so, yeah, he was just a really disruptive teammate. His his smaller teams that he was on, his cook groups within, the groups that he cooked with within the Expedition small groups of 3 and 4 were just complaining how he wouldn’t do anything. He was very selfish. His language is really poor. He was, like, calling people names and Just like juvenile behavior on an expedition when at essentially starting off, you’re supposed to be in the honeymoon. So that kind of put up some red flags for me for sure. And really make a point when I’m working with new teams to within the 1st 72 hours, meet with everybody individually 1 on 1 and just do a quick check-in of, like, hey, how are things going? Like, there’s been a lot of changes for you to be on this expedition from where you were at home. I know. You obviously had a lot built up in your mind and expectations. Like, Where are you at? How are things going? And and I think meeting with, people in the 1st 72 hours of any kind of team development, you can, You can quash a lot of, you know, issues that might come up because they, if if, you know, if things are bottom, they’re gonna they’re gonna let you know pretty quick because they’re, you know, they’re probably thinking, how can I get out of here? And and a lot of times, it’s easy fixes. And, and so I met with met with the student and and tried to, like, just get into a little bit and try to find out what was going on, find a bit about his background, try to connect with him in some level of kind of buddy buddy and, see what we can do. And, You know, I I slowly started peeling away the onion and peeling away the story a little bit as we went on, but It was, it was clear that, anytime we talk that, you know, I gave him suggestions on behaviors that are expectations. And that’s, You know, another clear leadership lesson is at the beginning of any time, you have a group is setting clear expectations. And then and, essentially, for us out here, it’s just Behave you know, not just, but it is behavioral expectations. It’s not just passing reports on time and this and that. It’s, these are behaviors that are expected on on this trip. And And if you’re not meeting him, you know, there’s gonna be consequences. And and so I started, you know, pretty quickly once I realized he wasn’t responding to, you know, the behaviors that I was, You know, asking him to change and alter to to fit within the group. It’s pretty quickly clear that, know, I’m gonna have to try to intervene some here, intervene somehow, and, yeah, as as it went on, as As a week went on, this is gonna be 3 months now. And as a week went on, like, nightly, I would get other students coming over to our group, going over to the instructor tent, and just like Whether breaking down crying or just, like, totally distraught of things that he would say to them. There’s one day. This is a leadership school that this young lady was leading the group that day, and and he stopped. I think the money got a little lost, but she was getting him back on track and he, like, broke down. He was like, This is why women shouldn’t be leaders, and this is why women can’t make decisions. And he was saying all this stuff to her. Like, I just couldn’t believe it once I heard the story later. Like, there’s just no place for this. Like, you can tell when people just don’t fit with your group, you know, and Yeah.

Scott McCarthy [00:36:42]:
Yeah. For sure.

Shawn Stratton [00:36:43]:
Not that I wanna, like, kick anybody out right away or anything. I wanna, you know, try to make this team blend, but every now and then, there’s just a thorn. It’s like, listen. You’re not in the right place. But because this is, you know, almost a mental health challenge and a mental issue and a behavioral issue, I can’t just, Like, call up out of the satellite phone to our base and say, like, this guy’s on people’s names. Can we kick them off? You know, they’ve paid $10,000 to be on this course. And, And so we’re we’re kind I’m I’m kinda working through my behavioral checklist, my, basically, disciplined checklist that we do when we when we have these types of students. And I hadn’t really gone as ever with a student before in terms of having to write behavioral contracts. It got to the point where I had to get, like, right out of behavior contract. These are the behaviors we need to see going forward. You need to sign here and and these are the consequences and, you know, the ultimate consequences that he’s gonna be removed from the expedition. And and unfortunately, that’s what it came to after about 3 weeks, two and a half weeks. It got to the point where, You know, I’m using my emergency satellite phone that I’m really only supposed to use when there’s a medical emergency. I’m using it almost daily to update our base, You know, on his behavior, which is it’s horrible. I’m spending an hour each night whether debriefing other students, writing notes, copious notes because, you know, you’ve you’ve gotta back up yourself. And I knew I couldn’t just get on the phone and say, like, yeah. He’s not he’s not behaving well. We need to get rid of him. I need to back it up with some written

Scott McCarthy [00:38:09]:
written notes. Sol solid

Shawn Stratton [00:38:12]:
Yeah. You gotta build your case. You know? And, I knew that once if we did, get him get him out, get him evacuated from the expedition, there’s still a chance he could come back because, You know, it’s not really a decision for me to make. I can suggest that it gets removed from the expedition, but ultimately, it’s, you know, the director or, you know, one of the senior people back in Wyoming that’s gonna eventually make decision, probably after talking to his parents. And and in this case, he’s, like, telling me about his lawyer, and he’s, like, threatening to get his

Scott McCarthy [00:38:38]:
I laughed out loud when I read that The how did the lawyer card?

Shawn Stratton [00:38:41]:
Yeah. He had he had his lawyer’s business card with him. So I’m like, this guy is a piece of work, and, you know, it turned out that he’s, you know, Come from extremely, extremely wealthy family, but, had a very disruptive childhood, and parents weren’t around. He was raised kinda by his grandfather and lawyers and been kicked out a couple different military high schools. And turns out this was like his last straw, which, again, Knowles is not a place for people to come on their last trods for, you know, motivated leaders that, you know, maybe wanna find themselves a little bit, but people that are looking for an adventure that are Up for the challenge. It’s not it’s not a juvenile delinquent, you know, hoods in the woods type program. There’s a lot of those out there and they do great things, but that’s not what this is.

Scott McCarthy [00:39:20]:
Yep. So definitely a recipe for failure out of the gate there.

Shawn Stratton [00:39:24]:
Yeah. Yeah. So eventually, you know, unfortunately, it did get to the point where we We had to get him removed, from the expedition, and, and, you know, things changed overnight once once he left. Like, just the energy in the in the group just skyrocketed. And, yeah, it’s, it was unfortunate, but at the same time, like, this was gonna be a 3 months expedition. And at one point, Some people are coming like, I can’t go on if he doesn’t leave, and it was, it was getting pretty grim at one stage there.

Scott McCarthy [00:39:53]:
Yep. No doubt. So, you know, clear expectations up front would be fair to say is, one of the key takeaways for you from from that experience?

Shawn Stratton [00:40:02]:
Yeah. For sure. Like, clear expectations, but also, like, just being aware of when there’s not a good fit. You know?

Scott McCarthy [00:40:08]:

Shawn Stratton [00:40:08]:
I think I used the term weed your garden early. Yep.

Scott McCarthy [00:40:11]:
Yeah. Yeah. Actually, yeah. Yeah.

Shawn Stratton [00:40:13]:
The common term that we use on these expeditions, which which, you know, doesn’t doesn’t come across as very nice, if you’re a parent looking to come into this, but, or if a kid or you’re looking to do trip but but on teams, like, you know, the other people say is what is it, Higher, slow, fire, fast. And, and so, yeah, when you feel there’s just not a fit on this group or on your team, there’s someone that’s just not And you’ve done, you know, all you can to to help them fit in with the group. Like, the best thing you can do for yourself, your team, and for that person is have them removed. And I think teams wait far too long to to remove somebody, and and so many stories of of 1 person bringing down a team and, You know, getting them other people on the team to turn against the leadership, and and so we wanted to kind of squash that before any of that happened. And

Scott McCarthy [00:41:04]:
We deal with that on a daily basis. Oh, really? Well, I’m saying you and I. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean those stories

Shawn Stratton [00:41:11]:
on Yeah.

Scott McCarthy [00:41:12]:
And they lose it. Yeah. 2 things came to my mind when I was reading this chapter. I was like, the first one is, like, just, you you know, the the expectation type thing is, like, The identification to the individual when they’re not doing what they should be doing. You know? And and people just wait too long for that part I find sometimes, and I’m saying that you guys did or you didn’t, but it’s just, like, why it was coming to me. It’s just like Yeah.

Shawn Stratton [00:41:33]:

Scott McCarthy [00:41:33]:
I remember I had a case, and it was like, oh, this person’s not showing up to work on time. Great. Has anyone talked to him about it? No? We’ll talk

Shawn Stratton [00:41:41]:
to him about it.

Scott McCarthy [00:41:44]:
Right? Step 1, identify the problem to the individual.

Shawn Stratton [00:41:48]:
Right? Yeah. And, you know, and so many times and and don’t get it mixed up because so many people will think that it’s, oh, it’s just the personality. It’s the personality. Yeah.

Scott McCarthy [00:41:57]:
Yeah. Especially when

Shawn Stratton [00:41:58]:
this guy someone. Like, their personality is to be late. They wanna and they wanna ask someone to change the personality or change it. And and I really, you know, teach about you gotta really separate behavior and personality.

Scott McCarthy [00:42:08]:

Shawn Stratton [00:42:08]:
And and personality, you know, starts being formed when you’re when you’re probably in the womb. Your personality is being formed and and grows throughout your whole life. And Personalities can be changed, but it’s not gonna happen in a week or 2 weeks or a year. And so separate the personality and and the behavior. Focus the behavior. And instead of just chalking it up to it’s the personality thing, what what behavior do we need to see altered and changed? And any more important, what behavior do we see that need them doing? And and so focus on this is the behavior that we need to see from you. And if it you know, if they’re not providing that and showing that behavior, that’s when, you know, you can get into grounds for removal.

Scott McCarthy [00:42:48]:
Yep. For sure. And the the the second thing that was coming to my mind was have we have a saying in the military. It’s it’s the 90, 10 rule. 90% of your time taken up by 10% of your people. Right? And it’s Right. You know, it’s a Clear cut example right there in

Shawn Stratton [00:43:01]:
this one. Definitely the case for that for sure. Right. And I didn’t wanna let that to go on any longer.

Scott McCarthy [00:43:06]:
No. And and the the other thing of that is you can’t like that because the other 90% are gonna implode. Right. The person who doesn’t deserve your attention is getting all your attention. I always try to push the 90.90 rule. The 90% of your time taken up with 90% of your people. The other 10%, you know, if they’re gonna work, they gotta work to get in that 90% zone. Right? Right. Yeah. And earn that earn your attention. So that’s what I always say. Yeah. I I I enjoyed that chapter. I was like, Yeah. Take my head. So the last thing I’d like to discuss quickly would be the, lessons from, Climbing the largest and coldest mountain in the world. You guys found, faced some severe adversity there during that time for sure.

Shawn Stratton [00:43:53]:
Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. So that that largest and coldest mountain in the world is is surprisingly not Mount Everest. It’s It’s actually Mount Logan in in Canada, in the Yukon. It’s Canada’s highest mountain, the 2nd highest mountain in North America, 19,500 Feet and change. It’s, we say it’s the largest mountain because it’s the biggest chunk of rock in the world. It’s like 25 miles diameter Around the bay. Whereas, obviously, Mount Everest is the highest. But, yeah. I didn’t even really find out or No. It was called the coldest mountain until we were flying into the mountain. It’s so remote that you have to fly in on a on a bush plane with skis on it, which is a whole Awesome experience in itself just flying in. And, Yeah. When the pilot looks over, he’s like, I hope you guys got some warm clothes. This, you know, it’s the coldest mountain in the world. And, I think that, that cold really comes from, From being so close to the Arctic and then so close to the Gulf of Alaska and so that ocean storms come off and and just pound that mountain. Yeah. You know, we had a great expedition. It was myself and 2 women, Andrea and Nicole. They were both co instructors that I’ve worked with at Knowles before and and incredible teammates, incredible very strong women, incredible skiers. Actually, Nicole was a snowboarder. She was The 1st person ever snowboarded down Mount Logan. She had a split snowboard. And, yeah, we were Excited. We’ve been planning this expedition for 7 months or so. I planned most of it when I was in Mexico and in Guatemala, which is kind of interesting. Yeah. Trying to prepare for this cold. But, yeah, we we, You know, there’s lots of challenges getting up, but, eventually, we end up being the 1st team up kinda past a halfway mark. There’s a big icefall kinda halfway up and a bunch of teams. And icefall, you’d think of like, when you bend the Snickers bar, I tell people it’s the cracks in the Snickers bar. It’s like, a glacier is is frozen water. It’s ice, but, an ice fall is when that glacier would be, like, going over a waterfall. So a river is smooth, and then it goes over a waterfall. And so that’s where an ice fall is is basically, it was, I don’t know, 3 quarters of a kilometer of 500 foot crevasses all over the place. 500 and probably a 1000 foot deep crevasses that, you know, boulders of ice the size of houses that we had to navigate our way through. I think of it as, can you hear me still?

Scott McCarthy [00:46:31]:

Shawn Stratton [00:46:31]:
Okay. Sorry. I think of it as, Going through a corn maze. So you’re trying to find your way through a corn maze of ice fall ice the size of how boulders the size of the house that are always moving. They’re not moving as in like a river moving, but they’re they’re slowly shifting. Anyway, we had to put 3 days to try to find a way through there. We found a way through there, put the route in for the rest of the whole teams that were gonna be on the mountain that year. Got up high to our high camp Eventually, on the summit plateau. Mount Logan’s pretty unique. It’s got like 10 summits on the plat there’s a summit plateau and there’s 10 summits on it. Oh, that’s neat. And some years, people actually climb the wrong peak or the wrong summit. Oh. And, you know, they may be, like, at their limit where they’ve gotta, like, turn around. They get to the Top and they’re thrilled, and they look over and there’s, like, the real summit that’s higher than them, but they’ve run out of time and now have to leave. We didn’t want that to happen, But I could see how it happened because our, you know, our GPS unit froze up, and, the weather is notoriously bad up there. We were we were moving along pretty good. It Took us 22 days to get up there, so this is, you know, a major expedition. And we we still had some some food and fuel, but We’d, left all our supplies, all our nonessential supplies down at the halfway camp. So all kind of books and, You know, music and any kinda anything that we could leave that would lighten our packs, we left down low. And we ended up spending 3 days at the summit plateau just slammed in by a storm. We couldn’t Still had about another 3,000 feet to climb before we got to the summit. And we were so bored up there. Like, it was pretty fun. We were in the tent counting Counting the squares on the tent and just, like, so bored that we had a journal. It’s the only thing we had, and, we end up making a deck of cards out of the journal. And, instead of, hearts and spades and clubs and diamonds, we had, surfboards, suns, bikinis, and flowers.

Scott McCarthy [00:48:28]:
That’s awesome.

Shawn Stratton [00:48:29]:
We think

Scott McCarthy [00:48:29]:
we just warm thoughts.

Shawn Stratton [00:48:30]:
We just had warm thoughts. Yeah. It was it was regular to be minus 30 Celsius in the tent, that at night up there. And, and then finally, the day that was gonna be our last possible chance because we had to leave because we were basically out of food, and we had other We had to get down. We had a flight plane pilot coming back in a couple of days. It’s broke. We woke up, and it was a nice day, beautiful morning. And, There were some clouds building in the in in the distance, but we didn’t pay much attention to them. We didn’t really get out that early because in the Yukon, this is in May, And, it’s almost daylight, you know, 24 hours a day at that point, and so it wasn’t a big rush to get back before dark. So we got off probably Around 10 or 11 in the morning and and headed towards the summit. But pretty soon after lunch, soon after, like, kinda about 1 PM or so, the cloud started to Engulf us and and build and build, and our visibility started to get poorer and the snow started falling, and the wind picked up, and, Visibility just started going rapidly. We’re we’re cruising along to our, towards the summit. You know, I say cruising, I mean, inching our way because, No. Again, we’re at almost 20,000 feet here, and, you know, so oxygen deprivation is an issue. And we’re we we sound like we’re running, but we’re actually walking and we’re With every step. I know 20,000 feet doesn’t sound a lot for Himalayan standards, but there’s actually less oxygen at 20,000 feet Closer to the Arctic than there is in the Himalayas, for several different reasons. One, I think it’s centrifugal force of the earth, the way that, spins and the closer to the equator, the more oxygen is. But the biggest thing is that, you know, the Himalayas are surrounded by tropical rainforest. And so that provides, you know, more oxygen whereas Mount Logan is surrounded by the biggest nonpolar glacier ice field in the world. So there’s not a lot of oxygen production anywhere near that mountain. And so, yeah, the the altitude definitely was an issue. And, yeah, we ended up, stopping about 500 feet below the summit to To kinda gather ourselves in, I think Nicole called us in and and kinda had a heart to heart talk because the storm was just raging now. And, We are also worried. We had these wands. These basically bamboo sticks that you put in your garden, these 3 foot long bamboo sticks that we We put down every 50 meters or so. It’s kind of, it’s almost like the, birth of the handrail. Yeah. Exactly. The bread crumb trail Yeah. So we could get back to our tent with the zero visibility. And, we’d only had, like, 5 or 6 of them left. I think we started off with 90.

Scott McCarthy [00:51:06]:
Wow. We

Shawn Stratton [00:51:07]:
only had, like, 5 or 6 left, and we’re like, I don’t know if that’s gonna make it to the summit. And so Nicole called us in, and she’s like, what do you think of the weather? And we’re shouting at each other. Andrea’s like, ah, it doesn’t look very good. And I was like, well, duh. And, it was kinda my idea on this expedition. And we haven’t really really talked about, know, leadership roles, but I think they kinda looked at me to make the call, seen it was kind of my whole master plan. And, I just didn’t. I was like, oh, we’re so close. You know? And the storm broke yesterday about this

Scott McCarthy [00:51:36]:
time, and feet is not

Shawn Stratton [00:51:37]:
playing right. Yeah. I was like, we’re so close, and they’re like, okay. Reluctantly, they agreed to to push on. Actually, before that, I I asked Nicole for her weather meter. She this little weather meter called the and it’s measures the wind speed and the wind chill factor and the temperature. And I grabbed that and looked into it, put it in the wind. Could barely look into it. And, noticed it was minus 51. I was like, it’s minus 51. And we’re just Wow. I couldn’t believe. I didn’t know it could get that gold. And, but I convinced them to keep pushing. I was like, oh, let’s do it. Let’s do it. Let’s go. Let’s go. And they’re like, okay. Reluctantly, they kinda pushed on, and then I think we moved on for about 2 minutes before I tugged on the rope that we’re all tethered with. And I just kinda gave him the Put my hand across the throat and gave him the cut signal because we use a lot of hand signals up there because it’s just so hard to communicate verbally in the storms. And, They, like, tapped their head, which is the okay symbol. Like, good idea. And we turned around, headed back down, back to camp. And Next day, you know, it was bluebird day, but there was, there was no chance. We had we had to leave, and so that killed me as we skied away from the Summit. I was kept looking back. I was like, oh, you’re so close, but got down to, yeah. So close. Got down to the halfway camp and we So I had to camp there for the night. Now we’re skiing down. So it was like 21 days up, 2 days down, 22 days up, 2

Scott McCarthy [00:53:00]:
days down.

Shawn Stratton [00:53:02]:
And the, you know, the real lessons come like, there’s so many lessons on this expedition as you can imagine, but one of as you can imagine, but one of the big lessons came on this when we had it down and camped at this halfway camp at 14,000 feet at King Cole and, talked with some of the other teams, and they were, like, thrilled to see us because we were the only team that had gone up that far this year, and they didn’t know people knew we hadn’t it’s been 7 days since anybody had heard from us. Didn’t know we died in an avalanche or what. They’re excited to see us. And, but as we set up camp and that one after another would come over from these different teams. There’s probably a dozen or so teams staged at that half halfway camp there. And they would come over and they would just start, You know, complaining about the teammates and just venting and going on, and we’re like, that’s the last thing we wanna hear now. We just wanna Leap and get off our feet and and, you know, maybe give you some information about the route up. And and I realized that, like, They just had real, what we call, poor expedition behavior. And it was just you know, these people, They they they weren’t great teammates. That was one of the biggest lessons that, you know, we didn’t reach the summit, but we had had a great time. We became closer friends throughout it, and we just, you know, expedition behavior talk a lot about at Knowles, and it’s Basically, being the teammate that you wanna have on your team and and how do you do that? And it’s you know, I I call it the and then some, the ATS rule. Do your part and then some.

Scott McCarthy [00:54:27]:
Yep. Yep.

Shawn Stratton [00:54:27]:
And, and these these teammates just didn’t have it in them. And, and their and their their whole expeditions are being jeopardized. And so here’s some of these People were like some of the most talented climbers in the world, but there’s no way you’re getting through that ice fall by yourself. And, so I talk about, you know, it’s it’s not about having all the rock stars on your team. It’s not having the the the teammates that you wanna have that are gonna be you know, do their part and then some that are gonna get you through a nice fall.

Scott McCarthy [00:54:54]:
100%, man. 100%.

Shawn Stratton [00:54:55]:
Challenge. So it’s, you know, that that’s one of the biggest lessons. And then the other one is kinda knowing your line. You know, we all have goals in life, But you’ve gotta there’s gotta be a line that you’re not willing to pass to achieve that goal.

Scott McCarthy [00:55:07]:

Shawn Stratton [00:55:07]:
And so, you know, our goal is to climb the highest mountain in Canada, get to the summit. Our bigger goal was to get home safe, you know, with better friends. But, you know, I crossed that line. Fortunately, it was only for 2 minutes. But you got yeah. So you gotta know your line. It’s important to know your goals, but what are you not willing to do? A lot of people get it over their head when they, cross that line that they’re like, yeah, you know, go to an area that I shouldn’t be going to, but I really want this goal. And then then, you know, whether it’s your, you know, your family, your life, you’re at risk, whether it’s finances at risk. You know, a lot in the business community, it’s finances. And and you you put something risky and, and you you could lose, you know, 1,000, millions. So yeah. No. In that line.

Scott McCarthy [00:55:53]:
Yeah. We refer to a shutdown criteria, right, or stand down criteria. So Yeah. Stand down. Similar. Yeah. Yeah. Stand out criteria says it’s just like, yep. Here’s if we get to this, no. We’re not we’re not, we’re not carrying on or, you know, we’re gonna Look at a new plan or something. Right? So you just have those criteria set in your mind, and, and it and it actually helps make the decision easier because, you know, it kinda removes the emotion from it. Right? As you were feeling at that time, you know, the emotion, you’re so close to someone just, you know, 500 more feet now. Granted, I I I haven’t been in that type of expedition, but I think 500 more feet probably would take a bit longer than what I’m thinking in my brain right now. Yeah. Yeah. It would

Shawn Stratton [00:56:36]:
be at least another hour or 2. But

Scott McCarthy [00:56:38]:
Yeah. You know, you have those stand down criteria, and it just it just helps you Make

Shawn Stratton [00:56:43]:
Yeah. No. That’s a good point you said about taking the emotion out of it. And and, you know, we say, especially when in the avalanche train, we always say, like, the mountain doesn’t care that you wanna skew this run. You know, it’s like you got it to we call it the human factor. When you take the human factor out of it and, you know, do some good risk management session of that slope or, you know, of the weather conditions where we are on the mountain. And and so many times people get in avalanches because, You know, they don’t wanna be late for work or they gotta get back or their buddies are at the bar and they just wanna take this line or they’ve just hiked up this mountain to ski this line. And they get up there, and they’re like, I just hiked up here for 2 hours, and it’s like the whole emotion makes a decision, and that’s what gets them into trouble. So, yeah, that’s a good point.

Scott McCarthy [00:57:24]:
Yep. For sure. And the other thing is, like, we always say, it doesn’t matter what we do, where we go. We can do anything with the team we got. Right? Because it’s all about It’s all about the people, and you can get you can get through anything. I mean, I’ve been in some crappy situations, but because the guys I’ve been with and the gals I’ve been with is like, you know what? This isn’t so bad after all.

Shawn Stratton [00:57:41]:
Absolutely. Yeah. Especially when you’ve got the the right team with you. And Yeah.

Scott McCarthy [00:57:46]:
And I try to one up you, but I was in minus 56 at one point.

Shawn Stratton [00:57:50]:
No way.

Scott McCarthy [00:57:51]:
Yeah. Finis 56 exists. I can tell you. And I can also tell you, long before that, diesel will gel in trucks. Better.

Shawn Stratton [00:58:00]:
But when you’re in Monte 56, were you camping?

Scott McCarthy [00:58:03]:
Yeah. We’re in the field. Field exercise. Wow.

Shawn Stratton [00:58:06]:
Where was that? That would Cold bunk?

Scott McCarthy [00:58:09]:
In Wainwright, Alberta. So not even not even near the Arctic Circle. So I just got one last thing I’d like to talk about. And I guess it’s like your your whole transition in life eventually.

Shawn Stratton [00:58:19]:
Yeah. I mean

Scott McCarthy [00:58:21]:
you know, now you you You’ve you’ve moved away. You’ve since moved away from Knowles, and, you know, you tried some things. But now, you know, you got your your own business as a a leadership consultant and speaker. So How did that come about?

Shawn Stratton [00:58:35]:
Yeah. Yeah. So I you know, leading expeditions full time for for essentially 15 years. You don’t just you don’t just stop that and go to move to an office and show up at work for 9 to 5 one No.

Scott McCarthy [00:58:48]:
I don’t think so.

Shawn Stratton [00:58:49]:
It’s It’s a it’s a slow transition, and and I, you know, I I always knew that I’d do something. I wouldn’t be, like, a career, you know, after educator. And, You know, most people, their careers are probably 5 or 10 years now to education. There are some now that are you know, I know people that are that’s their lifelong career, but, Obviously, leading expeditions doesn’t lend itself very well to to family life and, you know, maintaining a spouse and and family and kids, and I knew that was important to me. And and, essentially, with the thing that started to move me out, I just started to get burnt out of it, and I was, You know, I was going to the most incredible places in the world, leading some awesome expeditions, but I wasn’t getting excited about it. And I was like, well, I’m not getting excited about this. Like, I need to move on, Because I’m not I’m not being fair to my co instructors. I’m not being fair to my students. I’m teaching and leading. And, and so that happened gradually. I I kinda felt that creeping on. And so, About 2007, I started doing less and less expeditions and, thinking about my next step. And I’ve always kinda been an entrepreneur at heart and knew someday I’d Start my own business, and, as I moved on from those, I tried to start an adventure travel business leading, taking high school students to India, Ecuador, and Kenya. And and that didn’t go so well for several different reasons. One, you know, you go to an insurance company and you’re looking for some business insurance, and they said, tell me your business. You know, like, well, adventure travel, third world countries, youth. And they’re like, yeah. He wanna talk to a guy down the street. And, so that didn’t go so well. And then, and then I realized, like, why am I trying to leave more trips? Like, I’m the whole reason I’m getting out of this is because I’m pretty burnt out. Now I’m gonna start a business leading more trips. And, But shortly before I I stopped leading expeditions, I worked a couple months or about 6 months in marketing and also did some recruiting and started doing, Slideshows, mainly about Logan, actually, that expedition to on recruiting trips. So I visited a bunch of universities and colleges throughout Canada and the US and schools and, would show Noel’s video, but do, slideshow on my expeditions. And that got me into speaking and public speaking. And, yeah, as I was coming out of of the expeditions, I I thought a bit more about, like, professional speaking. I didn’t really know much about it, and I had a friend that, you know, suggested I go to this conference. It’s a Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, and Went to that conference and learned about the industry of professional speaking. Wow. Like, the whole world out there is kind of another light bulb moment for me. It’s like, wow. People get paid to, you know, share their lessons with audiences from their from their interesting life stories. And I was like, oh, I got a few interesting stories. And so that really moved me forward into into professional speaking. And And along with the professional speaking kinda came the leadership training and, you know, I I would do some speaking, and then some of the people in the audience would ask me to, you know, do you do team building events? Come in and work with our team in our office environment or or take us, you know, on a wilderness adventure. And, and that’s kinda how it evolved. And so, yeah, I do kinda corporate leadership Consulting now, and, probably half my business is keynote speaking at conferences on leadership themes, utilizing a lot of my lessons and stories. You know, shortly after I left Knowles, I went and did a master’s in leadership. So I wanted to be able to blend that kind of masters, you know, that leadership theory, the academic side of it Along with my experience and not just, you know, just go straight from my experience, but, yeah, learn some of the histories and and Some of the models and foundations of of leadership theory and, yeah. And so that’s what I I I do now is, probably half my business says keynote speaking. The other half is working with corporations, on, on team building and some of that’s from teams that are, you know, brand new that that needs some kind of a kickoff to to, Start off on a good foot, so this kinda team building exercise. And then some other times, I work with dysfunctional teams that are, you know, on the verge of crisis, and they need kind of an external facility to come in and work through their challenges and issues. And, so a lot of it is the lessons that I, you know, that I would utilize on an expedition. I always say, like, surely, if I can Get a team to, you know, do incredible goals and achieve incredible heights on an expedition in harsh environments. Surely, like, we can get along if we’re working 8 hours a day, You know, behind our office doors and getting to go home at night.

Scott McCarthy [01:03:00]:
Yeah. Absolutely. No. It’s some pretty incredible story then, I must say. Sean, you know, thanks for coming out. You, taking your time to talk to myself and the audience there. I got 1 last question, which I asked all my guests, and that is Sure. What makes a great leader?

Shawn Stratton [01:03:19]:
What makes a great leader? Yeah. First thing that bumps in my mind and and, Obviously, this is a loaded question.

Scott McCarthy [01:03:27]:
Oh, I know.

Shawn Stratton [01:03:30]:
I think a role model. Yeah. Role model definitely jumps out, and I talk about that a fair bit, but just, just being a constant absolute role model. And, You know, on these expeditions, I tried my best to be a role model. And, you know, a lot of times I would say to students that when they would have these questions, I don’t know what to do here or there. What do I wear? What do I do this? What do I was like, just watch us. Just watch what we’re doing. You need me to ask questions. Just watch what we’re doing. You know, hopefully, listeners out there have good role models in their lives or are being role models. And, the other thing I talk about role modeling is that, a lot of times I’ll ask audiences, you know, you know, who who’s a role model that had an effect on you? And and Immediately, they’ll have, you know, 2 or 3 people in their life. And and, usually, some of those people, you know, are people that have they’ve never met, they don’t know, Or maybe they’ve crossed Pathways, but don’t know them. And, you know, whether it’s a Richard Branson or a Demberes or whatever, you know, Rocca Burchard or Marc Messier or whoever. And and so I I bring up that point, and and they’re like, yeah. Yeah. You know, they have no idea that I’m a role model for them. They they just don’t know. And and people think when they think role modeling, they think, oh, yeah. Like, my kids or my team below me, I’ll you know, they probably think I’m a role model, but There’s probably dozens, if not hundreds of people out there that are utilizing that are I believe you are a role model for them, and you have no idea.

Scott McCarthy [01:04:55]:
Yeah. 100%.

Shawn Stratton [01:04:57]:
You have no idea. So, you know, anytime you’re around people, especially in a leadership situation, people are watching every every move you’re doing. And and be the best leader, you need to you need to exhibit that that, behavior.

Scott McCarthy [01:05:09]:
I was saying couldn’t couldn’t find a better way to end the show, man, other than Flipping the mic over and giving you about 30 or 40 seconds for a shameless plug. How can people reach you? How can they find you? What are what are they gonna find? But I think we kinda covered that already, but, you know, Over here.

Shawn Stratton [01:05:24]:
Yeah. Yeah. Nothing too much to push. You know, the book team’s on the edge. I’ve got my 2nd book coming out shortly. Still untitled. Working title is forerunner, but, look for that. But, yeah, follow. I’ve got a blog, kinda regularly leadership blogs on my website, which is, Shoot me an email there. You can contact me through my website. But, yeah, you can also find me on LinkedIn, Booked, Twitter, all those places, but, happy to chat with you. And, yeah, if you need another speaker for your next event, I’m happy to talk about that too.

Scott McCarthy [01:06:00]:
Awesome, man. For the audits out there, I will have all those links for Sean’s, resources, his website, blog, Twitter, all that jazz, in the show notes. You just go moving forward leadership forward slash 4141. It’s gonna be right there for you. John, again, thanks thanks for your time. And for listeners out there as always, I got my key takeaways coming right up right next. Take care. Hey, everybody. Congratulations. You’ve made it to the end in the key takeaways portion of today’s episode. Just a touch longer than, what I normally like to have, but, it was well worth it. And I’m sure you totally agree with me because you’re listening to this part of this, Episode. Nonetheless, here are my 3 key takeaways from my interview with Sean today. The first one being perseverance. You’ll get what you want if you go for it. You know? We all come across struggles. We all come across, difficulties in achieving our goals. But if you keep at it, you know, you can’t just come up against a brick wall the first time and quit. You need to keep going, and that and that’s the way it is for, leadership. And not just personal goals, organizational goals, team goals, etcetera. You will come across times when it’s difficult and and you will have a difficult time achieving it. But if you keep persevering, keep fighting, You know, keep moving forward towards that goal. You will get there eventually. Or you may have a realization that Maybe the goal is just a little bit too difficult or not what you truly need in the end. So just keep those things in mind. The next thing is When you’re dealing with people, the you need the ability to separate the personality and the behavior. And, We’re talking about that when, Shyam was talking about his lessons there with the, the issues in Baja Baja. Sorry. During his time down there with with that specific individual. And, you know, people will have personality things, but they’ll also behave in certain ways. And you need to learn how to separate those 2 so that you can deal with the behavior. The behavior is is the thing that you can change. The personality, you’re never gonna change someone’s personality. Only they can. You can show them that the behavior that they’re Exhibiting isn’t correct, and it needs to change. Alright. And then the final one is, you know, set those conditions To quit. And that may be a tough pill to swallow at times, but you need to know when you’ve gone too far and you can’t Continue on, and you need to turn around much like, his last lessons there in climbing the, tallest and coldest mountain in the world. Right? So close to the summit. So close, but, continuing would have been detrimental to to their lives. Right? And sometimes as a leader, you need to set those conditions. You need to know that, You know, this is turnaround time. You need to set those conditions so that you know that once you hit those, it’s like, now it’s time to stop, reassess, reevaluate, and, decide a new way forward. Alright, folks. That’s all I got for you today. I hope you enjoyed the show. I hope you enjoyed my interview with Sean. We had a lot of great time, a lot of chatting, And, actually, we keep in touch, even off of the show. So, no. He’s a great guy. And, Feel free again to check out the show notes at the moving forward leadership.comforward/40. And, there, you’ll see all his resources That, that was mentioned throughout including the book and, where to connect with Sean and so on and so forth. Alright? So that’s all I got for you today. Again, I hope you have a great week. I hope you have a great week. And remember now, keep pushing. Keep trying. Keep moving forward. Take care

Shawn Stratton [01:10:10]:

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