As the first American–and first woman–to row across the Atlantic Ocean solo, Tori Murden McClure is no stranger to challenges.

In June, McClure spoke to a group of 400 at the University of Louisville’s Speed Art Museum who had gathered for CreativeMornings, a monthly meetup for artists and entrepreneurs. The theme: Survival. During her cross-ocean journey, McClure was hit by a hurricane, and capsized five or six times. What got her through? A sense of humor.

McClure is now the president of Spalding University, and her day-to-day job is decidedly less dangerous. Yet her leadership role still requires many of the qualities that made McClure successful in her outdoor ventures.

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The most important takeaways? McClure said that a “comfort of uncertainty and tolerance for adversity”–which she picked up from the National Outdoor Leadership School, are central to being a good leader. So is the ability to bounce back.

“It’s all about endurance, persistence, and resourcefulness,” said McClure. “My brain doesn’t think hierarchically,” she added, but what makes Spalding work as a school is a “spread out spirit of collegiality.”

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