Sell the Sizzle, not the Steak

30 May 2024, Thursday



Everest stands 29 029 feet tall. That’s 8848 meters, nearly nine kilometers above sea level – the highest point on earth.

It’s the same altitude that my neighbour and Mango pilot flys the Boeing 737-800 aircraft into Durban at.

He says the outside temperature registers minus 45 – and oxygen levels at that altitude are so low that they would render an un-acclimatized human unconscious within 2- 3 minutes.

For those who love adventure and the exploration of how far human beings can take themselves – Everest – the recently released 3D Imax movie is a must see . It portrays the May 1996 Mount Everest disaster, previously captured by journalist Jon Krakauer’s personal account of the expedition in his bestselling book: Into Thin Air.

The movie is crammed full of life lessons – as it’s always the mountain which has the last word.


New Zealand mountaineer and explorer Edmund Hillary is credited as the first climber to reach the summit of Everest in 1953, but many still believe George Mallory summited in 1924. This is based on the assumption that the photo of his wife, which he always carried, was not found on his mummified body when it was recovered 75 years later in 1999.

However, George Mallory can lay claim to something just as famous – his now legendary answer when asked the question: WHY?

He simply said:

Because it’s there. If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle of life itself is upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go’

In the 3D movie, Rob Hall the expedition leader asks the same question of his team before they commit to their final summit attempt in the Everest two week window period .The most compelling answer comes from Doug Hansen – a former mailman pursuing his dream –

to show the children back home that an ordinary person can achieve the extra –ordinary’.

His compelling answer was to ultimately lead to their ill-fated deaths , as Rob Hall agrees to continue to help Doug Hansen summit – way after the 2 pm critical turn around required to make it safely back to camp before nightfall .

His intuition emotionally swayed by Hansen’s powerful selling of ‘ the why, not the what’.

Many years before the 1996 Everest disaster, Viktor Frankl wrote in his book ‘Life’s Search for Meaning’, that if one has a big enough why, one will always find the how.

Put more simply it means human beings respond to human emotions – sometimes they do it to save their own and other’s lives – and sometimes they do it at their own peril.

Marketers, like mountaineers, use this to their full advantage – when they sell ‘the why, not the what’.

It’s more compelling.

They ‘sell the sizzle, not the steak’


  • Rob’s new book: The Game Changers: Good to Great to Greater is available FREE  as an instant digital download on his site :