Johan Ernst Nilson: how to conquer mountain tops, business heights and women’s hearts


With Johan Ernst Nilson, explorer and business coach

Several years ago in Skolkovo I saw the announcement of a speech that was named “Everything is possible, the impossible just takes more time”. The title of the speech really inspired me, so I chose to go to this event though I didn’t really know the speaker. I found out later that his name was Johan Ernst Nilson.

His 1,5 hour speech was really motivating to me. Johan was sharing his real-life stories on how he’s gone through extreme experiences in his life as a traveler and an explorer, climbing mountains, walking deserts, that he always did with some kind of cause: to raise money for charity or to make some other difference in the world.

At the end of the event I really wanted to meet him but there were too many people also trying to talk to him, to get his signature and to ask him questions. Eventually a few security guards came and accompanied Johan to a room next door. They wouldn’t let anybody in saying there was something special going on. So I waited and waited very nervously since I was very keen on connecting with the guy.

About 20 minutes later the door opened and I saw Johan walking out of the room with Dmitry Medvedev. They shook hands and walked off in different directions.

Then I realized that I only had a few seconds to come up to Johan and try to introduce myself because there were several groups of people waiting to talk to him. One remarkable group of people consisted of tall beautiful women. They were after Johan because he mentioned during his speech that he was single and looking for his wife.

At this stage I understood that I would never hear from him again. So I immediately started thinking of a back-up plan on how to reach Johan”.

I understood that I really didn’t have many chances compared to these beautiful women, so I quickly walked up towards him with a lot of passion and energy and just put my hand in front of me and said: “Hi Johan, my name is Gil. We represent incredible people just like you. We’d love a chance to invite you back to Russia soon so that you could share your story with a few other people”. And he said, looking at these girls: “Wow, that’s very interesting, maybe we could talk another time”. So I said: “Johan, may I have your card, can I follow up with you, so that we could meet up before you leave Moscow?” He said: “I don’t have my cards, but if you give me one of yours, I’ll follow up with you”. At this stage I understood that I would never hear from him again. So I immediately started thinking of a back-up plan on how to reach Johan.

When I came home that evening I was telling my wife the story about how inspiring he was and how I’d love to have him as a mentor. And while I was speaking to my wife he called and said: “You mentioned you were representing outstanding people. Who are they?” I named a few like Brian Tracy, Robert Kiyosaki and Tony Robbins and he said: “I know Tony. What have you done for him?” I told him what we’ve done for Tony and he said: “That’s very interesting. How about we meet tomorrow morning?”

Of course I confirmed the meeting. He asked me to come at 8 AM because he had a flight at 10, so he could only give me 15 minutes of his time. That kind of disappointed me but I still showed up. During the first 15 minutes I asked Johan questions and tried to inspire him about the things that we do and what we could do for him. 20 minutes later I said: “Johan, I don’t want you to miss your flight”. He said: “Yes, the flight is important but this is more important to me”. He called his secretary to reschedule his flight, so we ended up speaking for much longer.

Now Johan and I stay in touch. Every once in a while we talk on Skype about what we could do together. He invited me to a few very special events and he introduced me to some really incredible people that have changed my life. In July 2014 he was planning to come back to Russia and climb Mt. Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, with a man in a wheelchair. He called me before doing this and asked me if we wanted to get involved. Even though we didn’t really know anything about climbing mountains we said yes very quickly.

Within a couple of months we organized a very special event for him with 300 executives and got him dozens of interviews with the press. We even managed to celebrate his birthday on the day he came down from the mountain top and it was a very special experience. Ever since Johan has stayed my friend and my mentor. And he continuously introduces me to people who are truly changing the world.

Get inspired by this video review of 28 expeditions that Johan Ernst Nilson has been to in the past 15 years:

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