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Mountaineer Lei Wang Teaches Us “It’s All About The Climb”


“No matter how significant it may be, once a goal is achieved, it belongs to history.”


In all of my major interviews for THREAD MB, I conclude with the following question, “When all is said and done, how do you want to be remembered?” I do this because it is the quickest way to jog someone to think about why they are actually here -- the larger picture of which I find quite fascinating.


My own answer is, “To make the world a better place.” That is the catalyst to my entire life’s work, including all of the mountains that I have climbed. Some were more challenging than others but all were significant in adding meaning, wisdom and direction to my life, the very same rewards that Mountaineer Lei Wang received and now teaches through her books and talks.


Lei Wang is the first Chinese woman and the first Asian American who has successfully climbed the highest peak on each of the seven continents and skied to both the North Pole and the South Pole. If that doesn’t you an expert at evaluating the significance of your own life and able to help others do the same, nothing will. Her mountains have been both literal and figurative, folks, and everyone of them worth learning about in her interview below.  


What is your personal mantra?

Nothing is impossible.


Share a bit about you personal background and history.

I grew up in China.  Both of my parents are engineers. I hold a B.S. degree in Computer Science from Tsinghua University in Beijing, an M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an MBA degree in Finance and Marketing from the Wharton School. I’m a typical book nerd -- the gal who sat behind the desk until all this got started.


You are  the first Chinese woman, as well as the first Asian-American, to climb the highest mountain on every continent and to ski to both the North and South Poles. What compelled you to take these challenges on?

My curiosity and my desire to improve my health.  I wanted to see how far I could go. I wanted to show other people what an ordinary person can achieve.


Which mountain was hardest to climb and why?

Everest. It’s just physically, harder, longer. The mental part of climbing Everest was the hardest. There are so many reasons you should quit or not make it, from the natural terrain to the physical challenges.  


What has been the biggest metaphorical mountain in your life?  Explain.

Life.  “Not everything” you can control.  There are surprises along the way, in other words, challenges.  You are not always prepared for what lies ahead.  You just have to deal with it.


What frightens you most?

I don’t know.  


What do you hope others learn from your experience, especially women?

Nothing is impossible.  I want to encourage everyone, especially, women to “go for it.”  You never know what is possible until you’ve tried.


What's next for you?

Climbing this mountain called life. I just finished my second book, After the Summit: New Rules for Reaching Your Peak Potential in Your Career and Life, and I am teaching workshops to help women achieve their dreams. I want to inspire and enable people -- to eliminate the excuses and fear; to help make that step to reach their goals.


What's one thing you just won't do?

There is nothing I can think of as nothing is impossible.


Share a social cause or cause-based organization close to your heart.

I volunteer to help inner-city kids pursue entrepreneurial interests and endeavors.  I believe that doing so is so important.  I believe in kids and education.


When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered?

I hope people will say “Wow! Lei helped me achieve my goal.”  I want to know that I impacted and motivated them to reach their dreams.  


“2003 Kilimanjaro, 2005 Elbrus, 2007 Mt McKinley (Denali), 2007 Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya), 2007 Vinson Massif, 2008 South Pole, 2008 Aconcagua, 2008 North Pole, 2010 Mt Everest.”  These are the mountains Lei Wang has climbed. The lady makes ordinary look extraordinary and that annoying mountain that you have been stressing about lately, look like the molehill it actually is, don’t you think? I recommend you read her recent book, visit her site, and view the video I have shared. You will feel reinvigorated and ready to pull on your own moutaineering boots to readdress and summit your many personal challenges and dreams, I assure you.  


Many thanks to Lei Wang and Ed Tomasko for making this interview possible


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