198: John Waechter: Private Equity Investor and the 58th person to ever climb the Seven Summits

April 16, 2021

John Waechter shares how he worked his way into this ambitious mountaineering goal and expanded that same preparation and drive into the business world.

Today’s guest John Waechter discusses beginning his journey climbing the seven summits in 1993, including meeting Richard Bass who is the first man to ever climb the Seven Summits. “I got to know Dick climbing Kilimanjaro in 1994. He went with us. So, that gave me the inspiration to want to do the seven summits and my mentor, climber Phil Ershler said, ‘You don’t even know if you can go high.’ That actually happened before 1994. But, I read the book, got inspired, and wanted to climb the seven summits. I had only climbed Mount Rainier, and he said you have to find out if you can go high, if your physiology will adapt. So, that is when the journey started, and I got to Mount Elbrus in 1993.”

On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with John Waechter about why mountains often serve as a symbol for achievement. “There is certainly a reason why the mountains have always served as the grand metaphor for goal setting. It is tangible. Climb your mountain, Emilia’s mountain. Find your Summit, because the summit exists. On any peak, we are going to go, and we are going to do our best to get to the top. So, it is so tangible, and it is easily related, I feel, to what we are trying to accomplish in our everyday lives.”

What You Will Learn:

What inspired him to take on the Seven Summits in the first place? “The mountains are almost easier, aren’t they MP, in that you are going to go 29,000-32,000 feet and when you get there you are going to know it, because there is nowhere else to go. In life’s journeys and endeavors, we have to create the summits. We have to create the steps along the way, basecamps, the camp 1, the camp 2, the camp 3 of our journey. So, I was motivated by the Seven Summits, largely Dick Bass and Phil Ershler, and other climbers like you are saying. I started to get to know all of these climbers climbing Rainier. I set that goal. But I tried it much like I have for much of my life of trying to define what the summit is.”

How does John Waechter define visualization? “Visualization, I think, is critical because it is not dreaming. There is a distinction in my mind. Dreaming, that is not going to get you off of the couch. In fact, you will probably stay on the couch because that is a good place to dream. You dream, all of us, how can life be better? I want to be this; I want to get there. But it is a dream. It is not tangible, and it becomes frustrating. Visualization, I talk about working backwards. So, what are we visualizing? The attainment.”

John Waechter addresses what it means to face your fears. “It is charging into the fear within that vision of reality. But you do want your goals to stretch almost through your own reality because you haven’t been there yet. But you do believe that with preparation and associating with the right team members and holding onto that vision that step by step, and again, the mountain being a great metaphor, it truly is one step in front of the other and then you are done.”

What does John Waechter look for in the right teammate? “Hands down, the attribute of a can-do positive attitude. I will take that anywhere. If it is a person on my rope or on my climbing team, that person that wakes up with ‘how are we going to get this done today,’ happy about it, and motivating. I absolutely think that is the most important characteristic in someone you want to associate yourself with.”

What was John Waechter’s greatest takeaway from climbing Mount Everest? “You’ve got all of these balls you are juggling. You’ve got your family, your career, and you’ve got your home, and boom boom boom, you’ve got all these balls. What I’ve noticed over time is when you focus on a goal, a challenge, what slowly starts to happen is the balls go away. You are left throwing up one ball. That one goal, you are throwing it up, catching, throwing it up, catching it. You achieve your goal and more balls are going to fall in your life. That is inevitable.”

Preparation Meets Opportunity

John Waechter presses the issue of being prepared so you are ready to hit the ground running when opportunities present themselves. “Preparation meets opportunity. When you got out of the weight room from UDub (University of Washington) and graduated, and had your opportunity with the Raiders, one thing that you did know was that if you weren’t in the weight room, and you weren’t putting in the reps, and you weren’t getting your body and mind in shape for your tryout with the Raiders, one thing you did know is it wasn’t going to happen.”

Finding Your Everest

During this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, John Waechter expresses the importance of knowing what your goal is that you are working towards reaching the summit of. “Keep finding our Everest. Because once you climb Mount Everest, I climbed it 20 years ago this May, May 25th, another great takeaway that I didn’t expect was, I have not had one day since then that in some form or in some capacity I didn’t think about it. I didn’t know the lasting effect it would have. I never contemplated that. I never thought about it. But the point is, we have to set our goals, visualize success, then do what is important to preparing and accomplish that., and should we accomplish it, that does stay with you. Like you said, it doesn’t have to be a mountain. Then keep doing it. Just keep doing the next thing.”

Links to Additional Resources:

Mark Pattison: markpattisonnfl.com
Emilia’s Everest – The Lhotse Challenge: https://www.markpattisonnfl.com/philanthropy/

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Please contact Mark if you are interested in working together and sponsoring the Finding Your Summit podcast.