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Len Forkas | Extreme Leadership Series

Trust and Resilience: The Cornerstones of Leadership with Len Forkas


In an enlightening episode of the Extreme Leadership Podcast, Scott Kress converses with Len Forkas, a businessman, endurance athlete, and philanthropist behind the nonprofit organization Hopecam. Throughout this dialogue, Len shares his journey from coping with his son’s cancer diagnosis to embarking on endurance races and establishing a charity. The discussion pivots around the pivotal roles of trust, empathy, and resilience in leadership and team dynamics, drawing parallels between extreme sports and business leadership.

Highlights and Timestamps

[00:05] Welcome to Extreme Leadership: Introduction to the episode and guest Len Forkas, highlighting his background in business, adventures, and his nonprofit work.

[01:39] Len’s Journey: Forkas shares his personal story, beginning with his son’s battle with cancer, which led to the foundation of Hopecam, aimed at supporting children with cancer.

[03:13] Embracing Adventure for a Cause: Len discusses how his endurance challenges, including marathons and ultra-cycling, became a means to fundraise and expand Hopecam, ultimately assisting over 5,000 children.

[05:12] Insights from Race Across America: Len reflects on the lessons learned about positivity, team dynamics, and leadership during the grueling Race Across America endurance cycling event.

[08:23] From Endurance to Mountaineering: Sharing the experience of climbing Mount Vincent and learning to embrace discomfort and uncertainty as catalysts for personal growth and resilience.

[10:40] Leadership in Extreme Conditions: The conversation shifts to leadership qualities necessary in extreme environments, emphasizing humility, adaptability, and the importance of staying present.

[13:14] The Power of Positive Culture: Forkas stresses the difference between healthy conflict and negativity in teams, advocating for a culture where challenges are addressed constructively.

[17:50] The Essence of High-Performance Teams: The significance of caring for team members on a personal level to foster trust, empathy, and mutual support within the team.

[22:54] Building and Leading High-Performance Teams: Len offers advice on creating environments where team members feel valued, trusted, and empowered to take ownership of their roles.

[29:00] Navigating Change with Resilience: Sharing a pivotal moment of adaptation and reframing in Antarctica, Len discusses how leaders and teams can stay focused on what they can control.

[33:13] The Role of Trust in Leadership: Concluding thoughts on the importance of trust in leadership, highlighting how it enables autonomy, ownership, and ultimately, success.


Len Forkas’ journey from personal challenges to leading initiatives that touch thousands of lives offers profound lessons on leadership. At the heart of his message lies the belief that trust, empathy, and resilience are fundamental in guiding teams through adversity. As we navigate our professional and personal challenges, Forkas’ insights remind us that leadership is as much about supporting and empowering others as it is about achieving goals.

Interested in Creating Your Own Extreme Leadership Team?

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About The Extreme Leadership Series

The Extreme Leadership Series is a dynamic exploration of leadership through the lens of extraordinary situations. Hosted by Scott Kress, it features a mix of engaging podcasts and insightful written interviews with leaders who have thrived in some of the world’s most demanding environments. From the icy wilderness of polar regions to the towering summits of the highest mountains, guests share their stories of resilience, teamwork, and courage.

This series goes beyond mere adventure tales; it delves into the core principles of effective leadership such as preparation, adaptability, and the ability to cultivate high-performance teams. It offers valuable lessons for leaders in any field, aiming to educate, inspire, and equip listeners and readers with the tools to lead under pressure.

Whether you’re an emerging leader seeking motivation, an experienced executive aiming to enhance your skills, or simply intrigued by the intersection of leadership and extreme challenges, the Extreme Leadership Series provides a unique perspective on navigating adversity and achieving success. Join Scott Kress on this journey to uncover what it takes to lead in the most unforgiving circumstances, where every decision can make a difference.

Scott Kress

Scott Kress is an accomplished climber and adventurer. He’s completed the 7 summits and skied to both the North and South Pole. His storytelling based on his adventures is captivating, but what sets Scott apart is his ability to weave his stories together with his 20+ years of leadership and team development education and experience. Scott is the president of Summit Team Building, and is passionate about helping teams grow and companies flourish.

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