This 2010 post describes the chaos that almost derailed Melissa’s first trek to Base Camp.
As you may have heard, Melissa’s Mt Everest trek has been interrupted by a nasty bout of food poisoning in Kathmandu. Mere mortals would abandon the trek at this stage, but not our fearless leader. She just did what she does best: got on the blower to a friend. Fortunately, the friend was a Nepalese billionaire who promptly had Mel and her similarly afflicted brother transferred to the best private hospital in the country, which he owns. Natch. Hopefully, Mel and Simon will soon be well enough to rejoin their expedition (via helicopter!)
So, after months of online shopping and altitude training, it turns out the most useful preparation Mel did for the trek didn’t involve fitness or equipment. What actually saved her freeze-dried bacon was her astonishingly broad personal network. If you’ve got someone you can call when you get into trouble in Nepal – someone who can provide a bodyguard to sit by your bed ensuring you are given the correct doses of medicine – the world is a much smaller and safer place.
Mel wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth, and I can testify to that because I have known her since she was five when we lived in the same plastic-spoon street. She didn’t go to a posh school, join the Young Liberals or have a father who organised work experience at an investment bank. Mel has got where she is from having balls, working hard and leveraging her greatest talent: the ability to talk to anyone about anything. If you’ve met her, you’ll know what I mean. She’s as comfortable having a laugh with Richard Branson as the dude who cleans her car. And you can bet she’ll remember both their favourite sports teams.
We can’t all be as oh-my-God-did-she-just-actually-say-that engaging as Mel – or build a career around knowing the best and brightest in a range of industries – but we can mimic the effort she puts into building her international network of friends and colleagues. Because whether you’re looking for a job or a helicopter ride up a mountain, your friends really are your greatest asset.