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A Man with a Story

When Jim speaks, what he says rings true with the deep authenticity of having been there.

When you meet Jim, you recognize someone who has looked harsh fate in the face without flinching. He not only looks the part of a rugged adventurer – at six foot five, 215 pounds, strong features – he is the real McCoy.

A Man of Achievement

Jim’s leadership of Everest Light made him one of the rare recipients of the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation Award of Recognition.

Jim has been climbing mountains for the past forty years, tackling new routes in Nepal, Canada, Peru, Pakistan, and China.

Jim worked with a major financial institution, helping them establish a transformational environment. A massive cultural shift took place, unifying the 1500 employees, who effected a $3 billion dollar turnaround within a year, more than doubling the share price.

Jim and his company have the history to imbue mere concepts with meaningful experiences that impact people at a fundamental level:

I had the pleasure to attend a leadership session with you . . . I was green, and very scared the first two days. Checking in now 12 years later I feel the need to say "Thank You" for these days. I am now VP of Schaeffler Group Industrial for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Once again, thank you and your team
- Thomas Pubanz VP Schaeffler Industrial Group

For more than 20 years, Jim has made a significant difference globally with leading companies in every sector, ie Chevron, Bayer, Bank of Montreal, Mercedes Benz.

Connecting To The Working World

Jim’s gripping stories of challenge and success on Everest stimulate meaningful learning opportunities.

The mountain and its hazards act as a compelling metaphor for the day-to-day challenges of today’s organizations.

Preview: 2 Everest Keynotes

Path of The Heroic Hearts

speaks to teamwork, leadership, solidarity, synergy, movement and the dynamism of the human spirit.

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The Heroic Hearts spirit speaks of Teamwork, Leadership, Solidarity, Synergy, Movement and the Dynamism of the Human Spirit.

After four deaths on his first expedition to Everest, Jim was determined to return to the mountain with a radically new approach – a value alignment that would knit together a committed group of individuals into a resilient, creative team that could respond dynamically to the constantly changing conditions of the extreme environment of Everest. A team of heroes, in fact.

The heroism Jim speaks of is not particularly his own; it is the authentic heroism of each of the members of his team who not only mastered their roles but continually found new ways to help fulfill their expedition’s vision, pushing beyond their perceived limits, even when they knew they themselves had no chance of standing on the summit.

This is a deeply engaging story of teamwork and unparalleled success, presenting a style of leadership that does not grab for the spotlight, but effectively draws almost superhuman performance from the entire team.

The title of this presentation is drawn from the famous closing lines of Tennyson’s poem, Ulysses:

“. . . that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Drawing out a code of values and behaviors that remind everyone of what it takes for ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results, the lessons of Everest easily translate to the world of business, revealing what it takes to be a great leader and an engaged team member.

Seven essential leadership and team principals are explored through the Everest lens:

  1. Vision: never lose sight of the summit; focus energy on short-term milestones;
  2. Creativity and Flexibility: leaders must define goals then redefine them when the situation calls for it;
  3. Point of No Return: to achieve the extraordinary you will have to go beyond your point of no return;
  4. Principle Leadership Competency: enlistment through common ground;
  5. Accountability: everyone shares responsibility for the team’s success;
  6. Value Teaming: values and vision are equal partners; values are more sustaining under pressure;
  7. Teamwork: keep people informed, engaged, and thinking about solutions.

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Triumph and Tragedy On Everest

Safety Lessons from the Grand Arena

speaks to safety culture, safety leadership and safety behaviors

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Built on the foundation of Jim’s DVD series Create It-Embrace It-Believe It-Live It

Themes: Safety Behavior, Safety Culture, Safety Leadership, Safety Teams, Values, Beliefs, Attitudes

“None of the summits I have reached compare to the satisfaction of my accomplishment of leading a tight-knit team that set the standard for the highest safety objectives in the most seriously hazardous environment.” – Jim Elzinga

Emotionally and dramatically engaging, Jim’s keynote is a different approach to speaking about safety – this is a tale of high adventure, with a powerful message offering a down-to- earth practical approach to influencing safety behavior.

“Walking away from the devastating experience of losing four lives in Canada’s first Everest expedition, my friends and I were determined to return with a new style of climbing, a new style of leadership, and an unswerving commitment to the safety of everyone involved. And we succeeded! That experience taught me that it is possible to pursue the most demanding goals and still keep the values of trust, integrity and safety intact.” – Jim Elzinga

Shifting Safety Behaviors

Jim’s keynote delivers a powerful message about the importance of integrating leadership, individual responsibility and mutual accountability in the combination of choices and actions that we call safety behaviors. The sum total of these behaviors along with the values, beliefs and attitudes that underlie them make up a safety culture.

These gripping stories of challenge and success on Everest stimulate meaningful learning opportunities. The mountain and its hazards act as a compelling metaphor for the day-to- day challenges of achieving great things in the workplace while maintaining the highest safety standards

The importance of values in an effective safety culture is a well-worn truism in our business – Jim’s story of his team’s return to Everest is a demonstration of putting those values into action, staying aligned and committed through very challenging circumstances, and ultimately achieving great things safely.

Sign up for our newsletter and get a fully illustrated transcript of Triumph and Tragedy on Mount Everest

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Testimonials

  • “I kept an eye on our audience during Jim’s presentation – they were riveted by the stories and energetic and engaged in the interactions. He got extremely high ratings on the feedback forms.” – Safety Manager, Constellation Brands USA, Safety Leaders Offsite 2016
  • “I have had other speakers come in, and they just deliver their regular speech, take it or leave it. The difference with Jim was he spoke with me several times ahead of the date and made sure his talk included issues that were important to us. That attention to our needs on the floor made a huge difference.” – David Schultz, Plant Manager, Sonoco Products Company
  • “The Toronto Transit Commission held a one-day conference for its 45 Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC). Jim Elzinga was our keynote speaker. He delivered an exhilarating multimedia journey of how an expedition team assesses risk and brings everyone home alive. The key takeaway for the JHSC members was the same risk management principles and team dynamics can apply to the shop floor or to track level.” – Christine Triggs, Health and Safety Manager, Toronto Transit Commission
  • “Our goal was to create and facilitate an interactive learning activity as part of our annual leadership event that would provide participants with real “learnings” aligned with our CEO’s strategic direction and vision. Team Everest - Jim Elzinga and Tim Dixon - did an excellent job designing a combined keynote leadership simulation, leveraging Jim’s incredible Everest story, that exceeded our expectations and really engaged our leadership team!” – Harvey Foote, Senior VP, People, Saint Elizabeth Health Caren
  • “. . . excellent and very interesting, especially coming directly from the leader of the Canadian Everest Light Expedition. . .It was a great experience . . . sparked quite a bit of positive discussion when we got back to work. . . I enjoyed discussion . . . and the group sharing touchstones and experiences.” – VP and Head of Information Services, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
  • “We all came away feeling thoroughly motivated, encouraged, more experienced, more knowledgeable and empowered to act. In large part this was due to the Team Everest challenge and the way you worked with us to link that into our particular business challenges.” – VP Sales and Marketing, Festo Inc.
  • “. . . a tremendous capacity for taking complex organizational issues . . . and get to the heart of the personal behaviours and team processes that will support us in executing our business strategy.” – CFO, The Home Depot
Audience comments from Jim’s keynote at the 2016 Indiana Health and safety Conference

excellent message ... teamwork ... good message ... message about responsibility resonated ... Inspiring ... what an amazing story ... loved the story ... highlighted leadership issues ... entertaining ... compelling ... awesome!