Win at Life by Forming Alliances! (A Guest Post from Phil Macko)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching reality television competition shows, it’s that forming a good alliance is the key to winning. (If I’ve learned two other things, they’re that someone is going to throw you under the bus, and nobody is there to make friends.) In blogging, as in life, forming alliances is a great way to amplify the value of your own and your new friend’s resources.

While I was thinking about how forming alliances with other bloggers can be the rising tide that lifts all the boats, I was reminded of a great example I’ve been privy to recently outside of the blogging world. Businessman and writer Phil Macko formed an alliance with Everest pioneer Gary Guller that has resulted in an inspiring book (available today on Amazon) and that will likely lead to more great things. I asked Phil to share his story about partnering with Gary and how it’s been mutually beneficial, and I hope you’ll be inspired by him to look around for a good alliance in your own world… and that you’ll check out their book!

When 1 + 1 = 5

Phil Macko and Gary Guller

Phil Macko and Gary Guller

I first learned his story in January 2012.   On April 7, 2003 he led the largest expedition of persons with disabilities to ever reach the base camp of Mt. Everest. Then, on May 23, 2003, Gary Guller went on to summit Everest – becoming the first person in history missing an arm to ever do so.

Today, May 23, 2013, the book that Gary and I co-authored, Make Others GreaterFrom Mt. Everest to the Boardroom, is being released. It tells the tale of Gary’s incredible expeditions – and so much more – including stories of Sir Ernest Shackleton, IBM and of heroes throughout history and across the world.

How we met and decided to collaborate is a cool story on its own, I’ll save that for a future post. For now I’d like to celebrate the synergy that is our relationship today.

I come from the world of business, having enjoyed successful careers in four distinctly different industries (from medical diagnostics to music publishing for example…enough said). Through the years I’ve developed sales training courses, and trained sales people from around the world.

Gary, on the other hand, is a world-class mountaineer and adventurer. He’s survived a near-death fall (that claimed the life of his best friend) and had to make the unimaginable decision to volunteer his left arm for amputation. He’s led numerous expeditions to the peaks of the highest mountains in the world, and he’s led high-stakes negotiations with armed Maoist rebels. Most prominently, he’s summited Everest – and set a world record along the way.

Our collaboration united the corporate world with that of a world-class adventurer (who is now also a world renowned speaker).

make others greaterIn the book, I tell the story of Marv Weidner’s climb across the Cho La valley with Gary. During my interview with Marv, as he was describing the harrowing, life-and-death four-hour ascent, he told me that when he looked down to check his footing, Gary’s size 12 boot was always just behind his – ensuring that he wouldn’t slip. Marv told me that Gary saved his life literally every step of the way on that ascent.

And such is the synergy between Gary and I. Many times throughout the book writing experience I would begin a chapter without a full sense of its direction. It was at these times that Gary would step in with a story, or an insight or a quote that would illuminate the path ahead for me. From the first word through the final one I wrote, Gary’s size 12 boots have always been right behind mine, making sure that I didn’t slip along the journey upward.

Through this experience I learned the truth in John Maxwell’s first principle of leadership – “One is Too Small a Number to Achieve Greatness.” He states: “The belief that one person can do something great is a myth. Even the Lone Ranger wasn’t really a loner. Everywhere he went, he rode with Tonto.”

When Gary and I began to collaborate together, one person + one person didn’t equal two. It equaled five. We each brought our individual perspectives, experiences and contacts to the team (that’s the 1 in the equation) but once these forces met they created something exponential and unexpected (that’s the 5).

My advice: look for synergistic and mutually beneficially alliances whenever and wherever possible. Don’t go it alone; help others, and always make them greater along the way.

Win at life by forming Alliances! (A Guest Post from Phil Macko)

Mt. Everest Image by Prudek, via 123RF

Bio: Phillip Macko has had successful careers spanning four distinctly different industries; restaurant/ hospitality, distribution, medical diagnostics and music publishing. He has trained sales professionals from more than a dozen countries around the world and was an invited presenter at the World Congress of Physical Therapy. He’s worked extensively in Finland, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Colombia and (of course) the domestic U.S. as a trainer and consultant. He published his first book, Think your Age, Don’t Act It under the banner of Second Starters Publishing, a company he founded in 2012.

You can follow Phil on Facebook at, or on Twitter at @pmacstarter. Look for Make Others Greater and Think Your Age, Don’t Act It on You can contact Phil directly at

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