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Naked at the Knife-Edge

What Everest Taught Me about Leadership and the Power of Vulnerability

Published by Forefront Books
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

Naked at The Knife-Edge, Vivian James Rigney’s compelling and often harrowing true account of summiting Everest, offers a unique window into lessons on leadership and what it takes to succeed in any circumstance.

Only a relatively small group of individuals has climbed the highest peak on each of the planet’s seven continents. Known as the Seven Summits, it is a feat that typically takes years and an enormous amount of planning, training, and effort, in some of the most inaccessible places on earth. But Vivian James Rigney was determined to do just that.

An executive coach and globally recognized authority on leadership and teamwork in business, Rigney relied on skills learned in the corporate world in addition to physical training to attempt these summits. Everest, his seventh and final peak, almost broke him. There, he and his team confronted wild storms lasting for days, near-vertical walls of ice, and a knife-edge ridge with fatal drops on either side. They endured avalanches, sub-zero temperatures, and tragedy unfolding around them. The roller coaster of pain, self-reflection, questioning, and above all, loneliness left Rigney with ego in tatters. It was then he discovered an awakening of what real purpose and legacy actually is.

This unique and powerful journey reveals critical wisdom for individuals and leaders in any circumstance, including how to:

  • Overcome the ego trap and get out of your head
  • Triage what you can and cannot control
  • Harness your intuition
  • Create shared purpose and real followership
  • Tap into the power of vulnerability and authenticity

In Naked at the Knife-Edge, Rigney uniquely combines the hands-on and reflective approach of one of today’s most respected executive coaches with adventure and a raw and revealing personal story.

Vivian James Rigney is President and CEO of Inside Us, a boutique executive coaching consultancy, operating throughout five continents. He has helped implement leadership development initiatives for some of the world’s leading companies and their executive teams.

As an executive coach for some of the world’s most successful leaders, he is known for building strong rapport with people and asking tough and incisive questions, with an uncanny ability to help them reveal and become their best version of themselves.

A graduate of École Nationale Des Ponts et Chaussées in Paris, he is a renowned speaker and expert on mindset and behavior, whose talks and presentations have inspired audiences globally. A native of Ireland, he has lived in the U.K., Germany, South Africa, France, Finland and currently resides in New York City.  

“The hardest challenge for leaders is stripping away the distracting inner noise of our own foolishness. Vivian’s episode is a lesson for us all. It speaks to how to go up and down the mountains of our lives safely—setting pride to the side and leaning forward on curiosity and trust. Even more, it creates space to think about why we climb in the first place, and how we can climb together.”

– MARC ALLEN, Chief Strategy Officer, SVP Strategy and Corporate Development, Boeing Co.

“As Vivian surmounts Mount Everest with captivating detail, he shows what it means to be a complex human being, full of inner demons, childlike wonder, grit, and doubt. He reminds us how the personal and professional are completely entwined. He models a modern leadership style fueled by vulnerability, humility, intuition, and compassion.”

– SEAN MACDONALD, Global Chief Digital Officer, McCann Worldgroup

 

“One of Vivian’s greatest talents as a coach is helping you understand your true core as a leader—confronting your vulnerabilities, celebrating your strengths, and emerging stronger. Vivian’s story of summiting the highest mountain offers profound lessons for all of us in our constant quest to simply be the best we can be.”

– MICHELE PELUSO, Chief Customer Officer, CVC Health

“Vivian raises critical insights needed for today’s leaders to succeed in an ever-changing environment. Through life and death situations, he illustrates the importance of being decisive while trusting your intuition. A great read.”

– LISANDRO CHANLATTE, Head of Investments, Citi Global Wealth–Latin America

“A fresh and original take on the incredible and absurd challenge of climbing Everest. Vivian takes us on the inner journey that accompanies the outer journey, offering a new perspective on discovering one’s own ‘meaning of life,’ told in an easy, page-turning style.”

– PHILIPPE SCHAUS, Chief Executive Officer, Moët Hennessy (a division of LVMH group)