Fred Harper and 3 of the Apple team on the way to the summit of Mont Blanc

The first time I ever heard the term ‘Life Coaching’ was way back in the summer of 1988 when the CEO of Apple UK, Keith Phillips, decided he wanted to climb Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe, as part of a team building exercise bringing together Apple employees from all over the world. 

Ambitious? Yes it certainly was, but then I guess that’s why Apple Inc. has become what it is today. 

So a team of Mountain Guides was assembled by Sir Chris Bonington and my husband Fred Harper, who lived in Chamonix. Fred wasn’t actually my husband at the time – it just so happened it was this event which brought us together… 

Sir Chris Bonington with Frank behind

Mont Blanc is climbed from the town of Chamonix, and that summer I was in Chamonix climbing with friends. Knowing most of the mountain guides involved in the Apple event, including Fred, I ended up being employed as the guide to the official photographer attached to the Apple team. 

As this was a team building exercise, Keith Phillips had brought along a Life Coach to debrief the Apple group at the end of each day. I had never heard of Life Coaching before and was intrigued. 

I sat in on the debriefs, one of which was very memorable. The Apple employees had a pretty hard time. Most of them had never even be hillwalking before, let alone climbed steep rock faces or traversed knife edge snow ridges. And at the end of one particularly hard day the coach asked the group what they had learnt about themselves.

Fred and Sue Harper with a client on the summit of Mont Blanc

A lovely Irishman called Frank, who I have never forgotten, stood up and said: “Today I found God!” The rest of the team laughed, but at the same time empathised, because like Frank, they too had spent the last few days being absolutely terrified and praying continuously!

Despite being so ambitious this was an enormously successful event which I know was life-changing for every single one of the Apple team, because they told me so. And in fact many kept in touch for years afterwards, including Frank! 

It was also life changing for me too, because instead of going home at the end of the summer, I ended up staying in Chamonix with Fred.

The Apple team descending the knife edge ridge after summiting Mont Blanc

We eventually married and lived there for 12 years.

And the other astonishing thing is that I eventually became a life coach myself…!

You can’t make it up… life never ceases to amaze me 🙂

Love Sue x

P.S. If you need help bringing your dream into reality or stepping through the door to face a challenge in your life, book a free call with me and we can talk through the process of getting you there.

Never give up on a dream and never believe a challenge is too great… I know from experience that everything is possible.