Dec 6, 2017
Mike Pierce, better known as Antarctic Mike, connects the
drivers and principles of Antarctic expedition history stories to
the real world of finding, engaging and keeping great people in
today’s business world. Mike reveals what drives him to take on
ridiculously difficult goals. His advice: Don’t make assumptions
about what others will find challenging. Understand what their
prize is. Everyone, every day, is called on to be a
[2:22] Mike’s program, “Leading
at 90 Below Zero,” began when Mike was teaching a four-day
leadership course and found inspiration in the book,
The Shackleton Way.
In a few minutes, he realized there
would be many lessons for the real world in the account of
Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition.
[7:02] Ernest Shackleton picked
the best people. He started by publishing an extraordinary
recruitment piece. More than 5,000 applied. Selection comes down to
character. Assuming you pick the right people, you have to make
sure they want to go all in. The leader’s job is to be the catalyst
to get the team, individually and collectively, to push all the
chips into the center of the table.
[14:03] One of the challenges of
hiring is to find the right people. Mike thinks character is not in
short supply, but it is time-consuming to find. You have to look at
people one at a time. An organization needs to offer an opportunity
that’s compelling and challenging enough for a candidate to say
they want to learn more about it.
[16:27] Most good companies have good
opportunities, but they don’t showcase them very well. Don’t let
your company drown in the sea of similarity. Mike uses an example
to tell how a compelling story can put your company
Mike considers how the introversion of an endurance athlete, with
their long periods of uninterrupted hours of training, is
advantageous in a team member. Each member has to perform at the
highest level. You can’t allow circumstances to become excuses. You
have to overcome them or go around them to go forward. This
requires the level of discipline that an endurance athlete
[25:36] Mike’s book, The Penguin
Principle, was born out of his frustration about mass emailings
that had no bearing on him or his needs. The emperor penguin
survives the Antarctic winter in teams. Each penguin is more
concerned about their mate and their chick than for themselves.
Mike would like salespeople to think more about him and his needs
than their needs when they contact him.
[28:25] Mike discusses the
historical background to Shackleton’s planned Antarctic crossing.
The South Pole had already been reached by a competitor, but no one
had gone from one side of Antarctica to another. Ego was a big part
of their setting out on an extraordinary two-year expedition. None
of them lost hope and they all came back alive. Shackleton played
the role of the leader very well.
[34:12] Mike reveals what drives
him to take on ridiculously difficult goals. He likes to do what no
one else has done. He’s a disruptor. Everyone defines ‘challenge’
in a different way. Don’t make assumptions about what others will
find challenging. Understand what their prize is. Everybody’s in
the race for a reason. Wake them to their reason. Mike says that
everyone, every day, is called to be a leader.
LinkedIn: Antarctic Mike (Mike Pierce)
Everybody’s in the race for a reason. Wake them to
The companies that get and keep
the best employees and customers are the ones doing things no one
has done before.
“People have to want to go all
“The advantage of being by
yourself is that the discipline has to be self-imposed.”
“The best teams … almost don’t
need a manager … if all the team members have an inherent sense of
“Every person, every day is
called to lead. Every employee ... has to think on their feet. They
have to make decisions.”
Mike Pierce, better known as Antarctic Mike, works with
organizations that want to find, engage and keep the
best-performing people. Mike’s background professionally started in
the recruiting business in 1997, working specifically to show
managers and leaders exactly how to identify and recruit the best
people. He now speaks across the U.S. and Canada to executive
teams, organizations, associations and sales teams about how to
lead people so they are fully engaged in what they do.
Mike is an avid fan of polar
expedition history and is an endurance athlete. In 2006, Mike
became one of 9 people to run the first ever Antarctic Ice Marathon
and a year later became the first American to run the Antarctic
100k, a grueling 62 miles on an ice shelf 600 miles from the South
His flagship program, Leading at
90 Below Zero, connects the drivers and principles of Antarctic
expedition history stories to the real world of finding, engaging
and keeping great people in today’s business world.
Mike has a BA from the
University of Colorado, Boulder, and resides in Encinitas, CA with
his wife Angela.
Books mentioned in this episode
Shackleton's Way: Leadership
Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer, by Margot Morrell
The Penguin Principle: A Little
Story about True Teamwork, by Antarctic Mike Pierce