A common question I’ve received since announcing plans for my business is, “What’s the meaning of the name Metric Sherpa?” Here’s an explanation of how I got there. We’ll start with the easy part.
Metric: The Easy (to name) Part
Metrics, simply put, are how businesses define and measure success. Metrics can help predict better outcomes, catalyze teams into action, and validate strategies. A quick look at what companies report on, focus their efforts toward, and reward and recognize is a sure indicator of what matters most to them.
But, in many cases, metrics are misunderstood, misinterpreted, or misaligned with goals. I’ve experienced this throughout my career, especially regarding customer experience programs. It’s frustrating when you feel like what you measure isn’t getting you to where you need to go, or you’re met with resistance over making changes because you can’t validate that they would make a difference. Metrics are much more than numbers; without clarity on their meaning and often intertwined relationships, we’re left to make up stories or avoid telling them altogether.
Over the years, I’ve developed a knack for helping business leaders understand and implement improvements to how they define and measure the success of customer experience. Metrics became one of the topics I studied and worked on the most. When it came time to name a business, it felt wrong for me not to acknowledge metrics’ pervasive and critical role in all we do.
Sherpa: Conditioned to Thrive
Now, about the Sherpa part.
A few years ago, the phrase “built different” became popular on TikTok.
I first heard it from my pre-teen son, who ran up to me after a particularly successful weekend of soccer games, flexed his “muscles,” and lowered his voice to say, “Yeah, Dad, I’m just built different.” After laughing at him until my face hurt, I (often being all too curious) wondered what it would actually mean to be built differently. I first went to Wikipedia, where I learned the following:
Adjective: Able to do things which others cannot; extremely talented or unusual.
I thought about famous musicians, athletes, and other remarkable people that might come to mind when considering the highly talented or capable. My mind continued to wander and to make a long story short, I went down a path of research where I landed on a series of studies about the Sherpa.
Sherpa are some 150,000 mountain-dwelling people of Nepal; Sikkim state, India; and Tibet. The name Sherpa (sometimes given as Sharwa, which better reflects how the people pronounce their name) means “easterner,” referring to their origins in Khams, eastern Tibet. They migrated in the 15th century, making a living for many centuries as traders, herders, and farmers. The Sherpas of Nepal settled in the Solu-Khumbu district in the environs of the Himalayas. This area consists of two regions connected by the Sun Kosi River: the Khumbu region, at an elevation of 12,000 to 14,000 feet, with still higher pasturelands, and the Solu region, at an elevation of 8,000 to 10,000 feet.
Over the centuries of living at these elevations, the Sherpa were physically conditioned and (to the hypothesis of the studies I discovered) genetically transformed to live at extreme altitudes without apparent health consequences. They became capable of not just surviving – but thriving – in a place where others could not. The Sherpa are a remarkable example of what it means to be built differently.
For me, identifying with the Sherpa is recognizing that everyone comes with a unique background of life experiences, abilities, and exposure to circumstances that condition us each to thrive in specific environments. It’s acknowledging how we’ve each been built differently and finding the place best to leverage our gained experiences, skills, and beliefs.
As I planned the launch of a business and decided what it would be about and how we’d serve others, it meant a lot of reflection on my experiences, skills, and beliefs. It meant time to think about how I, and those going on this journey with me, were uniquely prepared to thrive in situations where others did not. The more I looked, the more I saw personal, demonstrated records of identifying and overcoming the obstacles often encountered when defining and achieving success in customer experience. As I met with business leaders, mentors, and trusted friends to vet the idea, it became clear that I was onto something, and Metric Sherpa was born.
We found a way to thrive in the diverse and sometimes harsh conditions of designing, leading, and improving customer experience. Most importantly, we can help others learn to do the same.