Interim Managers Write Their Own Success Stories


SMW provides great leadership for interim managers who write their own success stories. The basic elements of adventure in everyone’s personal experiences can inspire others.

Interim Managers Have Unique Opportunities to Sell Skills Through the Power of Storytelling

When a speaker offers to illustrate a point with a story, we all tune in and listen a little more closely. Interim managers often find themselves in the position of how best to market their services and communicate their brands. When doing so, they might want to consider placing themselves at the center of their own great success story.

A Business Case Study

Mike Pierce, well known as Antarctic Mike, is an author and dynamic leadership and sales speaker. His story epitomizes the power of self-determination and overcoming great obstacles. In his book Leading at 90 Below Zero, he relates the history of Antarctic expeditions and his own polar adventures to the world of business.

In 2006 Antarctic Mike became one of a handful of people to run a full marathon on the Antarctic continent. He returned the following year to become the first American to complete the grueling 62.1 mile (100K) Antarctic Ultramarathon. For Pierce, running these events was not so much about sports and fitness. It was more about following in the footsteps of heroes like Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen, the first explorers to have reached the South Pole.

Since his first two journeys, Antarctic Mike has completed several other marathons in the coldest winter climates on the planet.

But Pierce didn’t start out with these goals. In fact, he was very much like any of us. He graduated from college and went to work in sales, starting out in the insurance business.  He found it tolerable and made some money, enough to keep a roof over his head. However, he never loved it enough to find it fulfilling.

In Pierce’s early days at the insurance company, he was on his own. The company expected him to pound the pavement and make sales. They also charged him $52 for his phone line.

Seeing the Way

Soon, Pierce began to reason that one of the most expensive problems companies had was not hiring new employees, but retaining them. Before long, he found that he was not consistently or fully engaged on a daily basis.

Once, during a 2001 business trip to Bakersfield, California, Pierce picked up a book at the local Barnes & Noble. The book, Shackleton’s Way, spun the perilous tale of Ernest Shackleton’s bold trek across the Antarctic continent on foot. The book struck Pierce to the quick. Instantly, he saw the aptness of polar adventure as a metaphor for leadership and success.

This metaphor opened his mind to a more exciting vision for his day-to-day work. For meetings, he trashed the canned company PowerPoint and replaced its dry contents with captivating visuals of Shackleton’s adventure. These photos framed points for his company’s training courses in a more interesting way. It wasn’t long before he saw a clear opportunity to bring this powerful story to many companies, not just his own.

His talks outlined how companies can learn from Antarctic expeditions. He shared the lessons about finding, engaging, and keeping the highest performing people. Soon, he had transformed from a frustrated insurance agent to an author and speaker who travels internationally, telling his story and inspiring corporate leaders and sales representatives.

Antarctic Mike’s message is simple and clear: “Everybody has an Antarctica. Keep conquering.”

The basic elements of adventure in anyone’s story–insurance salespeople, inspirational speakers, and interim managers alike–all provide lessons that can inspire others. SMW‘s interim managers are generally the type of people with this kind of mindset.

Interim Managers Who Market: Get the Word Out

What is the number one priority for aspiring interim managers? Ensure that everyone with whom you speak is clear on what you do best and what opportunities you seek. Opportunities and positions can pop up almost anywhere. Everyone you meet should have a clear understanding of what you can do and what you hope to do. They should know your story so that your skills are personalized and relatable. It is likely that personal connections will lead to opportunities.

Getting the word out also means keeping up on sending emails, writing blogs, and posting updates on your latest endeavors. Sometimes it will take multiple emails for the receiver to remember who you are and what you can do. Stay persistent. It’s what Shackleton did. It’s what Antarctic Mike did.

Stay relevant by keeping social media posts current and authentic. Interim managers are in a unique position to move between CEOs in a way that allows for open discussions about their needs and goals. A good network post for an interim manager might say, “Excellent client meeting today at an exciting young company. Worked on great insights for next growth strategy.” No need to disclose the company or CEO name. Your network will learn much more about you this way than it will from a single email announcement.

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Christian Hvashøj

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