ISP: Industry Sherpa Program

Beginning at ICAST 2019 (Orlando, July 9-12), I am recommending that our industry create a Sherpa program.

You’ve heard of the Sherpas — natives of the most rugged and mountainous regions of Nepal made famous as mountaineers. They’ve led most of the major expeditions to the peaks of the Himalayas. Sir Edmund Hillary famously became the first to summit Mount Everest in 1953, but Sherpa Tenzing Norgay (who was just a few steps behind) likely deserved much of the credit. He and other Sherpas led the way.

Time magazine named Norgay one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Hillary is not on that list.

Sherpas have reached the tops of Everest and K2 far more often than their more illustrious employers. One Sherpa, known as Apa, has reached the top of Everest 21 separate times. His nickname is “Super Sherpa.”

As I walked the aisles of ICAST this year, I realized the show can be pretty treacherous. No, you’re not going to disappear into a crevasse or freeze to death like so many have in the Himalayas, but your business could certainly trip up, go down the wrong path or even suffer a fatality.

What if you could hire a wizened old tackle industry “Sherpa” who could recommend booth options, suggest promotional materials or quite literally walk you down the aisles offering sage advice like “That wholesaler is on thin ice!” or “Watch out; they’ll steal your whole catalog!”

That would be pretty valuable, right? I think so, too. When you’ve seen as many rookies crash and burn or watched as many veterans wither on the vine as I have, you’d know this service is long overdue.

And it’s time we started offering it at ICAST. It may be the only way to avoid the industry tragedies we see every year.

Want a successful summit of ICAST? Better bring your personal industry Sherpa to show you the way.

But if you leave home without him, you’re not doomed. We should have a dedicated industry Sherpa booth just inside the main entrance to the show floor. There you could pick up your guide and begin your journey.

If you need me, I’ll be in the booth, wearing a traditional Sherpa kitycow robe and kara sash, alpenstock in hand. I should be pretty easy to spot.

Prices start at roughly the cost of an Everest summit.