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Business Lessons from Antarctica: Getting Engagement

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” – Lee Iacocca

This week I’m sharing lessons from my trip to Antarctica with The Unstoppables. As covered in my last post we faced a number of challenges just getting to King George Island to board our ice-strengthened ship, the Sea Adventurer.

After our initial landing on the Antarctic Continent at famous Portal Point, weather conditions were such that another landing seemed unlikely for a while. Our expedition leader and the captain of the Sea Adventurer made the decision to set course for the Antarctic Circle (the northernmost line of latitude in the Southern Hemisphere at which the sun can remain continuously above the horizon for 24 hours in Summer). We were sternly warned that there would be some ‘initiation ceremonies’ when we got there, but no-one would disclose what these were! After more than 12 hours of rough seas, the ship neared the Circle and all of the crew gathered on the bow for a countdown to the crossing. Without warning, a band of salty sea pirates, brandishing cutlasses rushed us, forcing our powerless group back to the stern.

We were confronted by the imposing sight of King Neptune and his lovely bride and, one by one, each of us was ‘encouraged’ to kneel before the royal couple and pay homage. As icy-cold water was poured over our heads, we kissed a briny fish and had a trident stamped onto our foreheads with octopus ink, and then downed a shot of vodka to complete the ceremony.

Rough seas prevented us from completing part two of the initiation ceremony but, 24 hours later, we found ourselves ‘walking the plank’. The plunge into the frigid polar waters was both life and anatomy-changing!

As fully inducted members of the expedition, we soon discovered that the ‘rogues and royals’ were in fact a fascinating bunch of scientists, with interests in marine biology, ornithology and geology. When they were not inducting us into maritime traditions, they were delivering nightly lectures on climate change, wildlife, geology and Antarctic history. They set out to make this a special experience for us and their energy and passion was contagious. Teaching through game playing, whilst taking their ideas seriously (but crucially, not themselves) the expedition crew were able to transfer their passion for the Antarctic to us.

It was a great lesson in how to get engagement from a disparate group of entrepreneurs!

The inky trident stamped on my head has long since washed off and my anatomy has returned to its proper places and proportions, but the conviction, passion and devotion of the expedition team are indelible.

Top image: This incredible image was taken by Trent Clews-de Castella from