Former Major League Baseball Pitcher & Gold Medal Winner in the 1988 Olympics
Born without a right hand, Jim Abbott is a former MLB pitcher who led Team USA to a Gold Medal in the 1988 Olympics. He was an All-America hurler at Michigan and won the Sullivan Award in 1987. Jim threw a 4-0 no-hitter for the New York Yankees versus Cleveland on September 4, 1993. He played for 10 seasons on 4 different teams and ended his big league playing career in 1999.
Abbott has worked with The Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) on several initiatives encouraging businesses to hire people with disabilities.
Today, in addition to often being a Guest Pitching Instructor during Spring Training for the Los Angeles Angels, Jim Abbott is a motivational speaker who shares his incredible story of overcoming adversity and achieving ultimate goal.
Inspiring story of leadership from former Commander of USS Benfold, and author of It's Your Ship
Mike Abrashoff's inspiring speeches challenge people to re-imagine their own leadership thinking and instill a renewed responsibility for results and success. At the age of 36, the Navy selected Abrashoff to become Commander of USS Benfold, at the time the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific Fleet. The immediate challenges that faced him on this under performing Naval war ship were staggering: exceptionally low morale, high turnover and unacceptably low performance evaluations. Few thought that this ship could improve. In many ways, the USS Benfold was actually an extreme example of the same problems facing many organizations today.
The solution was to establish a system of management techniques that Abrashoff calls The Leadership Roadmap. At the core of his leadership approach on Benfold was a process of replacing command and control with commitment and cohesion, and by engaging the hearts, minds, and loyalties of workers, with conviction and humility.
The most important thing that a captain can do is to see the ship through the eyes of the crew. According to Abrashoff, The Leadership Roadmap is a practice that empowers every individual to share the responsibility of achieving excellence. "
It's your ship", he was known to say. His former sailors to this day still remind him of it.
By every measure, these principles were able to achieve breakthrough results. Personnel turnover decreased to an unprecedented 1 percent. The rate of military promotions tripled, and the crew slashed operating expenses by 25 percent. Regarded as the finest ship in the Pacific Fleet, Benfold won the prestigious Spokane Trophy for having the highest degree of combat readiness. Most important this transformation took place with the same crew. What had changed was the ship's culture and Abrashoff's leadership style.
Abrashoff recounted the leadership lessons from the turnaround of USS Benfold in It's Your Ship, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, with over 800,000 copies sold to date. This extraordinary interest in Abrashoff's leadership journey and Benfold's organizational lessons led to two follow-up books - Get Your Ship Together and It's Our Ship. These books took readers deeper into ways these principles have been put into action by business leaders in their own organizations.
Prior to commanding USS Benfold, Abrashoff served as the Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. He also helped draft the air defense plan for naval forces in the Persian Gulf in 1990, coinciding with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait; and served as the Executive Officer of the Cruiser Shiloh, where he deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of United Nations sanctions against Iraq.
Mike Abrashoff is the founder of GLS Worldwide, a consulting firm which works with and supports leaders as they address leadership, talent and business challenges within their organization. The firm challenges leaders at all levels to re-imagine their leadership thinking and create new ways to elevate individual, team and organizational performance.
For Jeff Adams, a wheelchair is a vehicle for success. This five-time Paralympian and six-time World Champion in wheelchair sports is living proof that focus, determination, and spirit are the keys to achieving “gold medal” dreams. Combining his unique understanding of life’s challenges with his experience as a world-class athlete, Jeff synthesises his experience in sport, government, and business into messages that show how the path to success is often the same, regardless of the goal that is being pursued.
A rare breed of athlete, Jeff successfully transitioned from sport to business. Over the last decade, he founded and sold two companies, Marvel Wheelchairs and Icon Wheelchairs, raising over $6 million dollars in private equity funding for the startups. Marvel underwent an acquisition in 2010, and Icon was acquired in 2015. Jeff is currently the Executive Director of the ArtsGames Foundation.
Jeff started using a wheelchair at nine years old; the radiation therapy that saved his life while battling cancer in infancy had, by nine, permanently damaged his spinal cord. Since then, he has faced this monumental challenge admirably, competed in six consecutive Summer Paralympics, from 1988 to 2008, and winning a total of three gold, four silver, and six bronze medals.
Jeff has appeared in television commercials, acted as a global spokesperson for multinational corporations, and worked as a journalist and commentator for media. He served as Chair of the Accessibility Committee for the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid Committee, and is Chair of the Ontarians with Disability Advisory Council. He is a recent inductee into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame.
First American woman to climb Mt. Everest, author and inspirational speaker.
Stacy Allison has climbed the world's most famous mountain. Now she's helping organizations across the globe scale their own monumental challenges. Stacy understands mountains: she has been climbing mountains and leading expeditions for more than 20 years in remote regions around the world, including Tibet, Pakistan, and Russia. She also understands business: Stacy is president of Allison Construction, a residential building company in Portland, Oregon.
At the age of 21, Stacy began major alpine climbing in earnest and achieved rapid success. Within a year, Stacy reached the top of Alaska's Mt. McKinley, the highest point in North America, and was part of the first successful women's ascent of Ama Dablam, the 22,495 foot peak known as Nepal's Matterhorn. These accomplishments provided the groundwork for much greater accomplishments.
Stacy was the first American woman to top Pik Communism (now known as Ismoil Somoni Peak), at 24,600 feet, the tallest peak in the Russian Pamir Range. On her first attempt on Mt Everest, Stacy did not summit, but she returned to Mt. Everest with the Northwest American Everest Expedition. On September 29, 1988, after twenty-nine days on the mountain, Stacy became the first American woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, the world's highest mountain at 29,028 feet. Stacy then went on to become the leader of a successful K2 expedition, the world's second highest mountain, considered to be the most difficult peak on Earth to climb.
Stacy combines her business acumen and her spirit for adventure to show her audiences how to thrive in their organizations through courage, leadership, vision, teamwork, risk taking, and personal accountability. Stacy's high content, tailored, dynamic presentations will encourage and inspire you to take a visionary look at opportunities and move beyond your limits. The future will never look the same!
Stacy's first book, Beyond the Limits: a Woman's Triumph on Everest, is a suspenseful, triumphant adventure story. Her second, Many Mountains to Climb; Reflections on Competence, Courage and Commitment, is an exciting anecdotal account of climbing challenges practically applied to help you plot your way more surely to professional and personal success. Stacy also contributed a chapter on Leadership in the book, Upward Bound.
Best-selling Author & Inspiring Speaker on Leadership, Creativity and Diversity
John U. Bacon has worked the better part of two decades as a writer, a public speaker, radio commentator, college teacher, and high school hockey coach, winning awards for all five.
He has authored or co-authored eight books on sports and business, including Walgreens: America’s Corner Store, Cirque du Soleil: The Spark, Bo’s Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership, which hit The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal’s Business Best Seller lists. He then researched and wrote a trio of books covering big time college football from the inside out: Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football, Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football, Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football. All three were New York Times best sellers.
His latest book, Playing Hurt: My Journey from Despair to Hope, coauthored with ESPN’s John Saunders, tells Saunders’ life story in dramatic detail.
Bacon delivers speeches on the themes in his books — including leadership, creativity and diversity — to corporations, universities and other groups around the country and the world. In 2011, the Michigan Chapter of Meeting Planners International (MMPI) named him “Speaker of the Year.”
Bacon earned an honors degree in history (“pre-unemployment”) from the University of Michigan in 1986, and a Master’s in Education in 1994. In 2005-06, the Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship named him the first recipient of the Benny Friedman Fellowship for Sports Journalism.
He started his journalism career covering high school sports for The Ann Arbor News, then wrote a light-hearted lifestyle column before becoming the Sunday sports feature writer for The Detroit News in 1995. He earned numerous state and national awards for his work, including “Notable Sports Writing” in The Best American Sports Writing in 1998 and 2000.
After Bacon covered the 1998 Nagano Olympics, he moved from the sports page to the Sunday front page, roaming the Great Lakes State to find fresh feature stories. He left the paper in 1999 to free-lance for more than two-dozen national publications, writing stories on Formula One racing in Australia for The New York Times, on Japanese hockey for ESPN Magazine, and on Ernest Hemingway’s Michigan summer home for Time.
Inspiring adventure speaker, deep sea explorer who discovered the RMS Titanic.
I grew up wanting to be Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Best known for his 1985 discovery of the TITANIC, Dr. Robert Ballard has succeeded in tracking down numerous other significant shipwrecks, including the German battleship BISMARCK, the lost fleet of Guadalcanal, the U.S. aircraft carrier YORKTOWN (sunk in the World War II Battle of Midway), and John F. Kennedy boat, PT-109.
While those discoveries have captured the imagination of the public, Dr. Ballard believes his most important discoveries were of hydrothermal vents and black smokers in the Galapagos Rift and East Pacific Rise in 1977 and 1979 along with their exotic life forms living off the energy of the Earth through a process now called chemosynthesis.
In addition to being a National Geographic Society Explorer-In-Residence and a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, Dr. Ballard is the president of the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET).
Ballard was born June 30, 1942, in Wichita, KS but moved to California at a very young age and grew up exploring the shore in San Diego. Dr. Ballard has a Ph.D. in marine geology and geophysics from the University of Rhode Island. He spent 30 years at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where he helped develop telecommunications technology to create "tele-presence" for his education initiative, which allows hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren to accompany him from afar on undersea explorations around the globe each year. In 2001, he returned to the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island where he is presently a tenured Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Center for Ocean Exploration.
Dr. Ballard has 21 honorary degrees and six military awards. He was also a Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving in the Navy from 1967 to 1997. He received the National Geographic Society's prestigious Hubbard Medal in 1996 for extraordinary accomplishments in coaxing secrets from the world's oceans and engaging students in the wonder of science. In 2014, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Ballard has published numerous books, scientific papers, and a dozen articles in National Geographic magazine. Dr. Ballard also has been featured in several National Geographic television programs, including the record-breaking Secrets of the TITANIC.
His discoveries also include sunken remains of ships along ancient trade routes in the Mediterranean Sea; two ancient Phoenician ships off Israel, the oldest shipwrecks ever found in deep water; and four 1,500-year-old wooden ships, one almost perfectly preserved in the Black Sea. Dr. Ballard's Black Sea project seeks evidence of a great flood that may have struck the region thousands of years ago.
His 1997 best-selling book, Lost Liners, tells the story of the great transatlantic liners through memorable wrecks he has visited. Dr. Ballard was also a special advisor on Steven Spielberg's futuristic Sea Quest, DSV television show.
An explorer, discoverer and historian, Dr. Ballard's fascinating journeys can teach us a great deal about our past, and they have encouraged others to take tremendous strides in the survey of the undiscovered mysteries of the deep sea.
Inspiring speaker and APOLLO XII and SKYLAB II astronaut, one of the first people to walk on the moon.
Alan Bean, one of the first Americans on the moon, was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12 and Spacecraft Commander of Skylab Mission II (SL-3). He has helped establish 11 world records in space and astronautics, and was awarded two NASA distinguished Service Medals. In his 18 years as a NASA astronaut, Alan saw sights that no artist, past or present has ever seen first hand. Today, as an accomplished painter, he creates paintings that record his explorations into the world of outer space.
Rocky Bleier’s story - a gripping tale of courage on both the football fields of America and the battle fields of Vietnam - has held audiences in rapt attention for years. Yet, the motivational message behind it, detailing how ordinary people can become extraordinary achievers, defines success in the new American century.
With the same optimism, sense of humor and steadfast determination that were his trademarks as a Pittsburgh Steelers running back, Rocky Bleier takes audiences from his early years through his professional career and talks about the lessons he learned along the way….lessons that we can all benefit from.
Not falling within the ideal of what a running back should look like, Bleier had to run harder and play smarter to be able to stand out. Despite his drive and ability to make the big play, the Pittsburgh Steelers only considered him a late round pick. But before the season ended that first year, he was drafted again - this time by the United States Army. At the height of the Vietnam War, Bleier was thrust into combat early and was seriously wounded when his platoon ran into an ambush. Receiving wounds from both rifle fire and grenade fragments in his legs, he was barely able to walk and his professional football career seemed to have ended before it began.
For more than two years, he drove himself. Little by little, he overcame obstacles and fought his way back. He not only made the Pittsburgh Steelers, but also eventually became a starting running back on a team that won four Super Bowls and became the greatest football team of the 20th century.
The hard lessons Rocky Bleier learned early in his life, and that helped him overcome adversity and reach his goals, have paid off after football. These lessons are seen between the lines in the popular book on his life, Fighting Back.
Mr. Accountabilitybecause of his ability to inspire, engage and entertain audiences with his stories that will touch every emotion.
Walter has catapulted as one of the world's most preeminent thought leaders on personal and corporate accountability with a presentation style that is in a class all by itself. Through his keynotes, training systems and product resources, he travels the world transforming organizations into a culture of accountability. Walter teaches how accountability creates engagement, assists in teamwork, and increases productivity which ultimately drives results.
Walter is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP). Walter has received many accolades within the professional speaking industry such as: Speaker of the Year by Minnesota Meetings and Events Magazine, Program of the Year by Meeting Professionals International's Dallas/Ft. Worth Chapter and more recently listed by Meetings & Conventions Magazine as one of meeting planners' favorite speakers listed alongside speaking legends such as: Colin Powell, the late Stephen Covey and the late Zig Ziglar to name a few. Speaking.com listed Mr. Accountability in their top 5 for motivation.
In 2013 Walter appeared as the host on The Food Network's Giving You the Business. This franchise competition show was broadcast in the United States and Canada.
Before developing a training and development company, Walter enjoyed an 8 year career in professional basketball. Walter played college basketball at The University of Minnesota and professionally for the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz and Detroit Pistons. He also enjoyed stints throughout Europe in Greece, Italy and Germany.
Walter's vast life experiences have made him an expert in the development of strong teams and personal success and development. Walter lives with his wife and business partner Antoinette and their 3 children, Wesley, Kendall and Cori. Their family splits time between Minneapolis, MN and Palm Beach Gardens, FL.
As a renowned author, speaker, television and radio personality, Les Brown has risen to national prominence by inspiring others to shake off mediocrity and live up to their full potential. With no formal education beyond high school, Les has distinguished himself as an international authority on harnessing human potential.
Born a twin in low-income Liberty City in Miami, Florida, Les and his twin brother were adopted when they were six weeks old by Miss Mamie Brown. As a single woman with a big heart, Miss Brown had very little education or financial means. With young Les' inattention to school work, his restless energy, and the failure of his teachers to recognize his potential, Les was misdiagnosed as educable mentally retarded. Suffering for years by the label and the stigma, Les was nevertheless driven by his passion to learn and his hunger to achieve his goal as a radio disc jockey.
In a humorous twist of fate and cunning, Les rose from a hip-talkin' morning DJ to a broadcast manager; from voracious reader to author; from community activist to community leader; from political commentator to three-term state legislator; from a banquet and nightclub emcee to a premier keynote speaker for Fortune 100 companies.
In 1986, Les entered the public speaking arena on a full-time basis and formed his own company, Les Brown Enterprises Inc., aimed at individuals and organizations, the company provides motivational products, personal development programs, speaker development workshops, keynote presentations and interactive business trainings.
In 1989, Les received the National Speakers Association's highest honor: The Council of Peers Award for Excellence (CPAE). In addition, he was selected one of the World's Top Five Speakers in 1992 by Toastmasters International and became the recipient of the Golden Gavel Award.
Commencing in 1990 and recording the first in a series of six PBS specials, Les launched You Deserve which was awarded a Chicago-area Emmy. It became the leading fundraiser for pledges to PBS stations nationwide.
In 1993, Les became the host of his own nationally syndicated daily television talk show, The Les Brown Show, in which he focused on solutions to the day's challenges rather than the problems.
Recognized internationally, Les is the author of three bestselling books: Up Thoughts for Down Times, Live Your Dreams, and It's Not Over Until You Win. With his Sunday morning radio talk show, Chicago Speaks with Les Brown, Les' outreach embraces the homeless and the world's most powerful leaders.
A leading authority in understanding and stimulating human potential, Les' electric and powerful delivery, stage presence and personal insights have built his international brand of "What's Possible". Les' customized presentation is driven by his approach to each unique audience. Before he gives a speech, he builds a speech. The end result is that Les teaches and inspires each audience to new levels of awareness and achievement.
Inspiring story of adventure from Captain of the Coast Guard ship that performed two dramatic rescues during the real Perfect Storm
Captain Larry Brudnicki is the Captain of the Coast Guard ship that performed two dramatic rescues during the real Perfect Storm. These unbelievable rescues are a small part of a thirty-year career assessing risks, making decisions and inspiring teamwork.
Captain Brudnicki retired from the Coast Guard in March 2002 after thirty years of active duty. He reported to his last assignment as the Chief of Operations, 11th Coast Guard District, Alameda, CA in August 1997 where he supervised more than 15,000 Search and Rescue cases, which saved 1,600 lives. He also supervised the search for survivors of the Alaska Air Flight #261 tragedy. He had tactical control of ships and aircraft that seized more than 150 tons of cocaine, including the ten largest cocaine seizures in the year 2000 and again in 2001.
Using experience gained from leading successful high-risk missions with international visibility to deliver messages of leadership, teamwork and risk management, Captain Brudnicki shows how to achieve success. Looking at what he learned investigating accidents of others who were not so successful, he also demonstrated how to avoid pitfalls.
Brudnicki has been featured as commentator and guest expert on ABC, the History Channel, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, and a myriad of other programs. As a contributor to Real World Management Strategies That Work, he details the 7 Steps to Making the Right Decision Every Time.
Hearing-impaired comedienne, inspiring and entertaining speaker and author.
Gifted comedienne, award-winning actress, accomplished author, and renowned inspirational speaker Kathy Buckley is a force like no other. Billed as 'America's First Hearing Impaired Comedienne', Kathy Buckley is also a five-time American Comedy Award Nominee as Best Stand-Up Female Comedienne. As an actress, she is known for her guest starring roles on shows such as Touched by an Angel, and for her critically acclaimed one woman Off-Broadway show, Don't Buck with Me/Now Hear This!. As a motivational speaker, she inspires hundreds of thousands of people around the world, sharing her story of overcoming some of the most difficult obstacles one can imagine in life, and how she met those challenges with dignity, courage, and laughter.
Kathy's book, If You Could Hear What I See, will have you laughing and crying as you experience the amazing story of her life. She has received thousands of letters and emails of thanks and praise, regarding both her book and her original PBS special, No Labels, No Limits! She was awarded the CINE Golden Eagle Award as the writer and executive producer of the special, and the Media Access Award for Outstanding Television Special. Her highly acclaimed autobiographical theater play, Now Hear This! had its Off-Broadway premiere at New York's Lamb's Theater, and not only brought the comic actress a legion of faithful new fans, but a wealth of critical praise from New York media.
In record time, she became one of the most popular comediennes in the country with material based on, among others things, her hearing loss. That impairment, however, is only one of the many hurdles Kathy has encountered in her life. Her poor performance in second grade landed her in a school for mentally and physically impaired children. It took school administrators, psychologists, and audiologists nearly a year to discover it was just a hearing loss and not a lack of mental acuity that was impeding her speech and language development. Today, Kathy shakes her head as she quips to amazed audiences, '... And they called me slow?'
She was featured in the HBO Television Special, 'Women of the Night', shot on location at the U.S. Comedy Festival in Aspen, Colorado. She was included in the E! Entertainment Television Special, The World's Most Intriguing Women. Kathy was also the focus of I Can Hear the Laughter, an Emmy award-winning documentary.
Internationally recognized researcher, explorer, and New York Times bestselling author on longevity and National Geographic Fellow.
Dan Buettner is a National Geographic Fellow and multiple New York Times bestselling author. He has discovered, through multiple expeditions with teams of research scientists specializing in population studies, the five places in the world – dubbed Blue Zones – where people live the longest, and are healthiest and happiest. His New York Times Sunday Magazine article about these places, “The Island Where People Forget to Die,” was one of the Times’ most popular, as was his National Geographic cover story on longevity, “The Secrets of Living Longer.” A chord was struck, and thus subsequent books and a company which seeks to share the distilled wisdom of Blue Zones cultures with American cities and corporations were born.
Blue Zones, LLC, puts the world’s best practices of longevity and well-being to work in people’s lives at the community level. Buettner works in partnership with Healthways, municipal governments, and various insurance companies to implement the program in more than 20 cities so far, and has dramatically improved the health of more than 5 million Americans to date. Their strategy focuses on optimizing the local environment – walkability for citizens and kids, availability of healthy food options, social connectivity, pursuit of life purpose, and ongoing coaching and support for creating homes which effortlessly bring forth wellness and happiness.
Writing in Newsweek, Harvard University’s Walter Willet called the results “stunning.” In one project alone, Buettner and his then partner, AARP, applied principles of Blue Zones to Albert Lea, Minnesota, and lowered health care costs by 40%.
His books The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest and Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way have remained bestsellers, along with his new book THE BLUE ZONES SOLUTION: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People, and have appeared on The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, NPR, and Oprah.
Voted a top 50 Influencer in Aging by PBS, Dan also holds three Guinness Book of world records in distance cycling (and is possibly the only person to have cycled through the Sahara desert without sunscreen!) and has won an Emmy Award for television production. He resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is particularly proud to be the father of three (nearly) grown children.
Uses his powerful success formula: Vision, Mindset and Grit to inspire and motivate audiences.
Scott Burrows is living proof your life can change in an instant. By the age of 19, he was playing college football at Florida State University as a Wide receiver and a top-ranked kick-boxing champion, with his last fight broadcast by ESPN.
On November 3, 1984, Scott’s life took a dramatic and irreversible turn. He was involved in a serious automobile accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down and diagnosed a quadriplegic.
Despite his grim diagnosis, Scott refused to be sidelined. He made the decision to take action, to focus on the positives of the experience as opposed to dwelling on the obvious and overwhelming negatives.
With the tremendous clarity provided by his singular focus, Scott resolved to thrive in his life by using three principles:
Scott’s application of these innovative concepts boosted and enhanced his recovery, and he achieved results that astonished doctors, therapists, family and friends alike. After graduating from college, he qualified for the Million Dollar Round Table in the insurance and financial industry, a 100% commission-driven award achieved by fewer than 8% of agents worldwide. He also developed into a wheelchair athlete and became a best-selling author with his book, Vision Mindset Grit: How to Stand Up When Life Paralyzes You.
Employing his paralysis as a visual metaphor, Scott encourages his audiences to stand up to their challenges—regardless of circumstances—using the dynamic principles of Vision, Mindset and Grit. His presentations are inspirational, focused and enthusiastically received.
Scott has presented to hundreds of associations and corporations in the U.S. and around the globe. He has also shared the stage with iconic celebrities such as Rudolph Giuliani, Terry Bradshaw and Neil Armstrong. Speaking to more than 100,000 people a year, he influences the lives of millions as well through his keynote speeches, books, CDs and DVDs.
A pioneer in the frontier of commercial space sector, former astronaut and International Space Station commander Leroy Chiao captivates audience with his amazing stories on space exploration and brings unparalleled insights on leadership, innovation and technology trends .
A veteran of four space missions and a fifteen-year career with NASA, Dr. Chiao most recently served as Commander and NASA Science Officer of Expedition 10 aboard the International Space Station. He has logged over 229 days in space – over 36 hours of which were spent in Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA, or spacewalks). From June through September 2009, he served as a member of the White House appointed Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee, and currently serves on the NASA Advisory Council.
Leroy holds appointments at Rice University and the Baylor College of Medicine, and is the special advisor for human spaceflight to the Space Foundation. He has worked extensively in both government and commercial space programs, and has held leadership positions in commercial ventures and NASA. Chiao has extensive experience as a NASA Astronaut and prior to that, as a Research Engineer. Dr. Chiao is a fellow of the Explorers Club, and a member of the International Academy of Astronautics and the Committee of 100. Chiao also serves in various capacities to further space education,
A native English speaker, Dr. Chiao also speaks Mandarin Chinese and Russian. He has flown space missions and worked closely with Russian, Japanese and European Astronauts and their affiliated space agencies. Dr. Chiao is uniquely qualified to speak about the United States, Russian, Japanese, European and Chinese Space Programs. A Space Station Commander and Space Shuttle Mission Specialist, Dr. Chiao was also a certified Co-Pilot of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. He is an expert in all facets of U.S. and Russian EVA hardware and operations and is EVA certified in U.S. and Russian spacesuits, tools, and training programs. In September 2006, Chiao became the first American to visit the Astronaut Research and Training Center of China. There, he met the first two national Chinese astronauts, Yang Liwei and Fei Junlong.
Dr. Chiao studied Chemical Engineering, earning a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1983. He continued his studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, earning his Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in 1985 and 1987. Prior to joining NASA in 1990, he worked as a Research Engineer at Hexcel Corporation. and then at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Inspiring speaker, once a Vietnam Prisoner of War, and author of Beyond Survival.
Captian Gerald Coffee is an inspiring example of the power of the human spirit to survive and triumph over the most adverse circumstances. Captain Coffee is a former Vietnam POW and author of Beyond Survival: Building on Hard Times. His speeches tell a story of human survival, focusing on the hero inside all of us and showing how each of us can overcome the obstacles to our success.
In February of 1966, while flying combat missions over North Vietnam, Gerald Coffee's reconnaissance jet was downed by enemy fire. He parachuted safely but was captured immediately. For the next seven years he was held as a POW in the Communist prisons of North Vietnam. After his repatriation in February, 1973, Jerry returned to operation duties. He retired from active duty in the Navy after 28 years of service.
His military decorations include the Silver Star, two awards of the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Bronze Stars, the Air Medal, two Purple Hearts, and the Vietnam Service Medal with 13 stars.
In his message of going Beyond Survival, Jerry draws not only from insights derived from the prison experience, but also from the perspective of his experiences since then: earning a Masters Degree in political science from Cal-Berkeley, studying at the prestigious National Defense University in Washington, D.C., Navy command and staff assignments, authoring books, writing a weekly political column, and his continuing interaction with hundreds of America's corporations and associations, military units, civic groups and schools as a professional speaker.
Million Dollar Round Table selected him as one of its top twelve most popular, highest-rated, main platform speakers for the past 20 years. His numerous civilian awards include the George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge.
Captain Coffee is a highly respected commentator on current political, economic, and social issues, seeing most in terms of opportunities yet to be seized by heroic leadership. He has appeared on Larry King Live (twice), Talk Back Live, NBC news, and numerous radio and TV talk shows. His book, Beyond Survival, condensed by Readers Digest, is on audio-cassette by Nightingale-Conant, and was made into an award-winning play called
Iconic Winter Olympic goaltender, and inspirational speaker on Teamwork & Leadership
Jim Craig is best remembered for his outstanding goaltending in the 1980 winter Olympics where the United States team beat the heavily favored Russians and went on to win the Olympic gold medal in what’s has been labeled the greatest sports moment of the 20th century. The picture of Jim with the American flag on his shoulders looking for his father is one of the most iconic images of all time.
Currently president of Gold Medal Strategies, Jim is this Boston-area based motivational speaking and sales training company. Over the past 30 years, Jim has inspired, instructed, and provided strategic and winning direction for employees and associates from more than 500 organizations and some of the world’s most recognized brands in the country.
Jim is in demand from coast to coast and internationally as a motivational speaker, spokesperson, marketing and sales strategist, and master storyteller.
Jim’s unique life experiences as an All-American goalie and NCAA Champion at Boston University, Olympic gold medalist, professional athlete, actor and highly successful business consultant enables him to provide his audience with insightful real life experiences like no other.
Jim is the author of recent business book, Gold Medal Strategies, Business Lessons from Americas Miracle Team, which focuses on his Gold Medal Strategies for Success.
Physically Challenged Tennis Champion, and Inspirational Speaker
Before Roger Crawford inspired others as a bestselling author and Hall of Fame speaker on Center Stage, he achieved phenomenal success on Center Court - despite a physical challenge affecting all four limbs.
Roger not only became the first and only athlete with four impaired limbs to compete in a NCAA Division I sport, he became a Hall of Fame Division I athlete. His compelling story of how he became a tennis champion communicates and demonstrates the power of an “I Can!” attitude to redefine the possible!
Sports Illustrated has recognized Roger as “one of the most accomplished physically challenged athletes in the world,” and in 2013 he was selected as the winner of the ITA Achievement Award, presented by The International Tennis Hall of Fame. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
After achieving immense success as a Hall of Fame athlete, Roger went on to inspire audiences worldwide, eloquently sharing the principles he has lived—perseverance, unshakable optimism, and overcoming adversity. His remarkable life story is a powerful example that “Challenges are inevitable, defeat is optional!”
Roger has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame in recognition of his highly successful speaking career spanning two decades. As a member of the Hall of Fame for People with Disabilities, he shares this prestigious distinction with fellow honorees such as Christopher Reeves, Helen Keller and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Roger has been featured on Larry King Live, Good Morning America, CNBC, and many other prominent television programs. His life was the basis for an Emmy award-winning movie entitled In a New Light. The print media has also acknowledged his amazing accomplishments and profiled him in publications such as, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Men’s Fitness, Fast Company, and Tennis Magazine. You may have read about Roger’s football exploits in the original Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Roger is also a best-selling author whose books have been translated into seventeen different languages. His most recent book, Think Again! Discover the Possibilities in Plain Sight, helps readers tap into their creative potential and reach new heights of inspiration and performance.
Iinspirational speaker, meditation teacher, and well-being expert
Pandit Dasa is an author, inspirational speaker and meditation teacher, on a mission to bring wellness into the workplace. He has conducted stress management workshops in organizations such as Google, Bank of America, Intel, Novartis, Columbia University and many other organizations. During these workshops, Pandit teaches healthy living habits and mindfulness meditation techniques to help individuals reduce stress and anxiety, increase their focus and productivity, and embrace work-life challenges with a greater peace of mind. Pandit has spoken at TEDx and has been featured on PBS, NPR, the New York Times and the Huffington Post.
Pandit created his company Conscious Living during his 13 years at Columbia University, where he taught the campus community to live more mindfully by teaching meditation sessions, techniques on stress management, and vegetarian cooking classes.
Before becoming a wellness expert, Pandit spent 15 years living as a monk in New York City. During his time as a monk, Pandit developed a deep knowledge and practice of meditation and gained insight into the nature of the mind. He traveled extensively lecturing on college campuses on health and wellness and now he shares the same knowledge with corporations. In his book, Urban Monk, he writes about the events in his life that inspired him to dedicate a portion of his life to the monastic order.
Emergency Medicine Physician, New York Times Best-selling Author, and Frequent Medical Expert on TODAY and CNN
Dr. Sampson Davis was raised as the fifth of six children in Newark, one of New Jersey’s poorest cities. As a child Dr. Davis grew-up in cramped living quarters, surrounded by fragmented families, crime, and drugs. Still, he was a good student, able to strike the fragile balance between being smart yet socially acceptable on the streets. It was this combination of skills, Dr. Davis says, that were most critical to his survival.
While attending University High School in Newark, Dr. Davis met Dr. Rameck Hunt and Dr. George Jenkins, two fellow students who together made a promise to become doctors. Dr. Davis and his two childhood friends each successfully fulfilled their pact and today Dr. Davis is a board certified Emergency Medicine Physician.
In February 2013 Dr. Davis released his newest book, Living & Dying in Brick City–An E.R. Doctor Returns Home In addition to discussing Dr. Davis’ riveting experiences as an ER physician, the book also offers preventative guidance as a means of supporting healthier communities.
Dr. Davis has appeared on numerous talk and radio shows including Oprah, Dr. Oz, The Today Show, The View, PBS News Hour, Tavis Smiley and NPR as well as print publications including but not limited to Readers Digest, O Magazine, People, Washington Post, NY Times, USA Today, Vibe and Black Enterprise.
Ms. Winfrey also delivered the highest honor naming Dr. Davis, “One of The Premiere Role Models of the World.”
Dr. Davis was honored in 2000 with the Essence Lifetime Achievement Award and also named one of their forty most inspirational African Americans in the country. He is the youngest physician to receive the National Medical Association’s highest honor, The Scroll of Merit, and was previously honored on the 2009 BET Awards.
Today Dr. Davis spends his time practicing medicine and traveling the country delivering keynote speeches with timely messages. Dr. Davis believes it is important to give education a sense of style and fashion. To glorify and glamorize education is the key. A face must be present, a concrete image that all individuals across America can draw inspiration from. Dr. Davis considers his 3 D’s, Dedication, Determination and Discipline, as the necessary ingredients to success.
Graduating with honors, Dr. Davis received his bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University, his medical degree from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at the same hospital where he was born, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.
Today, Dr. Davis is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician at St. Michaels Medical Center in Newark NJ. He has been a weekly correspondent on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and a frequent guest on CNN where he focuses on prevalent and life-changing medical topics. Dr. Davis has also co-authored New York Times best-selling books, The Pact, We Beat the Street and The Bond.
In 2000 during his residency, Dr. Davis along with his best friends felt the burning need to give back to communities in need, and together created The Three Doctors Foundation. This non-profit organization offers a series of free public programs focused upon health, education, leadership and mentoring.
Anthropologist and adventurer, a powerful storyteller who takes audiences on inspiring journey.
Wade Davis is an Explorer-in-Residence at National Geographic Society. Named by the NGS as one of the
Explorers for the Millennium, he has been described as
a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet and passionate defender of all of life's diversity. Davis' work as an anthropologist and botanical explorer has taken him throughout the world from the forests of the Amazon to the mountains of Tibet, from the high Arctic to the deserts of Africa, from Polynesia to the grasslands of Mongolia. Widely recognized as one of the most compelling storytellers of our times, his presentations, illustrated by his exquisite photographs, are a wild and moving celebration of the wonder of the human spirit, as expressed by the myriad of cultures he has encountered in a lifetime of travel, exploration and ethnographic research.
Davis is the author of 17 bestselling books including The Serpent and the Rainbow, which was later released as a feature film, and Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest, which won the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize, the top literary award for nonfiction in the English language. Davis has written for National Geographic, Newsweek, Outside, Harpers, Fortune, Conde Nast Traveler, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other international publications.
Grand Canyon Adventure (IMAX 3D), and Earthguide, a 13 part series on the environment produced and written for Discovery. As a photographer Davis has curated several major exhibits including The Lost Amazon, Museum of Natural History Smithsonian, and No Strangers: Ancient Wisdom in a Modern World, Annenberg Space for Photography. His own work has been widely published and exhibited.
A professional speaker for 25 years, Davis has lectured at more than 200 universities and captivated corporate clients such as Microsoft, Shell, Fidelity, Bayer, Bristol-Myers, Hallmark, Bank of Nova Scotia, MacKenzie Financials, and many others. His many TED talks have been seen by millions of viewers. In 2009 he delivered the Massey Lectures, Canada's most prestigious public intellectual forum.
Davis is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Gold Medal of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society; the Explorer's Medal (the highest award of the Explorer's Club); The Lowell Thomas Medal; the David Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration (the most prestigious award for botanical exploration) and the $125,000 Lannan Foundation Prize for Nonfiction.
Sahara Desert Adventurer, Change Leadership and Engagement Expert
Change your narrative and you can change anything. That’s why Steve Donahue is in global demand as a speaker, consultant and thought leader. He has worked with over 500 organizations to accelerate change, transform culture and energize teams from the inside out.
Steve is a pioneer in the emerging field of Narrative Intelligence and its application for individual and organizational renaissance. He has delivered over 1,000 presentations on 4 continents. Some of his clients include AT&T, Boeing, Pepsico, UPS, Ford, Hilton Hotels and The World Bank.
Steve’s first book, Shifting Sands, has sold over 100,000 copies. An international bestseller, it uses his harrowing journey across the Sahara Desert as a metaphor for personal growth and corporate change. He also co-produced the highly acclaimed documentary film, Take My Advice, I Can’t. The film chronicles his 3 year-72,000 mile search for a new story and a reason to tell it. It was on this quest that Steve discovered how narratives drive change and revitalize engagement.
Donahue is known for insightful presentations that are both heart touching and hilarious. He is a spellbinding storyteller with a special gift for inspiring international audiences. All of Steve’s presentations are deeply researched to be industry specific, immediately relevant and packed with actionable content.
As a history-making mountain climber, business executive and author, Susan Ershler inspires audiences to challenge their perceived limitations and reach new heights of business and personal success.
Susan has won worldwide renown for climbing the Seven Summits—the highest mountain on every continent—while leading sales organizations at some of the nation's largest corporations. For more than a decade, she has been inspiring professionals and executives at Fortune 500 companies to reach peak performance by striving for their personal and professional best. In her popular keynotes, Susan shares her Project · Prepare · Persevere® methodology, which can transform any business organization into a dynamic force for revenue growth. Having risen through the ranks to corporate leadership, Susan keenly appreciates the challenges business professionals experience at every stage in their careers. She “walks the talk,” explaining the Seven Summits principles that everyone must master to reach Peak Performance and illustrating how to apply these techniques to overcome real-world work/life challenges. Whether focusing on leadership, achievement, sales performance or meeting personal goals, Susan inspires her audiences to take the next step in achieving their own vision of success.
In her first acclaimed book, Together on Top of the World; The Remarkable Story of the First Couple to Climb the Fabled Seven Summits, Susan shared her remarkable Everest adventure and the life lessons she learned on the mountain. Now, in her latest book, Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales: From Everest to Every Business, Achieving Peak Performance (published by HarperCollins), Susan examines the habits of success anyone can master to achieve peak performance in selling, business and leadership, using the same techniques and determination that empowered her to climb the world’s highest mountains.
Award-winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, Teacher and Strategist
Jonathan Fields inspires possibility. A New York City dad, husband, award-winning author, serial entrepreneur, teacher and strategist, he founded a number of game-changing wellness-companies, taught thousands of students and led workshops around the world on everything from yoga and mindfulness to conscious entrepreneurship and innovation.
His new book, How to Live a Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science and Practical Wisdom, offers a gateway to a life of meaning, connection and vitality.
Now, working with his wife and a world-class faculty, he runs mission-driven media and education venture, Good Life Project®, where they produce a top-rated podcast channel and video-series with hundreds of thousands of followers and millions of views and downloads. Good Life Project also offers in-person and online events and trainings, including their annual 400+ person Camp GLP gathering.
Jonathan regularly keynotes at events and has been featured widely in the media, including The New York Times, USA Today, People, O Magazine, Vogue, Elle, Yoga Journal, SELF, Allure, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, FastCompany, Inc., and Entrepreneur.
Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Speaker, and the inspiration for the film The Pursuit of Happyness
Chris Gardner is an Entrepreneur, Author, Philanthropist, and single parent whose work has been recognized by many esteemed organization.
Gardner is the author of the 2006 autobiography, The Pursuit of Happyness, a New York Times and Washington Post #1 bestseller that has been translated into over forty languages. Gardner is also the inspiration for the acclaimed movie The Pursuit of Happyness for which Will Smith, starring as Gardner, received Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award nominations for his performance. Gardner’s second bestselling book, Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, was published in May 2009.
In the fall of 2010, Gardner was named the Ambassador of Pursuit and Happyness for AARP, which has nearly 40 million members worldwide. Always hard working and tenacious, a series of adverse circumstances in the early 1980’s left Gardner homeless in San Francisco and the sole guardian of his toddler son. Unwilling to give up Chris Jr. or his dreams of success, Gardner climbed the financial industry ladder from the very bottom. He worked at Dean Witter Reynolds and Bear Stearns & Co before founding the brokerage firm Gardner Rich in Chicago in 1987.
Chris Gardner’s aim, through his speaking engagements and media projects, is to help others achieve their full potential. He is a passionate philanthropist committed to organizations combating violence against women, homelessness, financial illiteracy and providing access to medical care and treatment; issues of the utmost importance to Gardner.
Chris Gardner resides in Chicago.
Inspiring speaker with a story of adventure, survival and overcoming extreme adversity.
Yossi Ghinsberg is a
keynote speaker with a strong,
inspiring message of
adventure, overcoming adversity and keeping the dream alive. A philosopher of life, Ghinsberg is a man of passion, fixed resolve and a connector of people. He believes that nothing promotes growth more than an unexpected experience and unconventional thinking. In these times of great challenge and change, his
Power to Survive message is timely.
Ghinsberg was born and raised in Israel and served three years in the Israeli navy on the Red Sea. During this time, he befriended the Bedouins of the Sinai Desert whose wholesome philosophy and nomadic lifestyle greatly influenced his life's path.
He studied Jewish Philosophy and Business Administration at Tel Aviv University, followed by a comprehensive study of the 'Kabala' in authentic environments. A truth seeker by an inner calling, Ghinsberg continues to study the religions and philosophies of the past and present - including the Ancients, the Classics, Eastern, Contemporary and the Shamanic path.
Ten years after almost losing his life in the Amazon, he returned to the river valley that was the site of his remarkable adventure and made it his home. During this period, he was instrumental in the creation and construction of Chalalan, a model eco-tourism village that inspires the Amazon basin and the world to this day. His work with indigenous Amazon tribes contributed to the creation of the Madidi National Park, the largest biosphere conservation belt in the Amazon.
The next phase of his life was dedicated to the treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration of opiate addicts throughout the world as Vice President of The Center for Investigation & Treatment of Addiction (CITA). Ghinsberg promoted a new approach to the treatment of opiate addiction, establishing 12 treatment and research centers around the world from Mexico to China. He also founded 'The Alma Libre Foundation' based in Australia, dedicated to assisting opiate addicts in their re-integration to society.
Since that time he has initiated several different business ventures and published two books, Jungle and Laws of the Jungle, and two albums of original music. He has been involved in grassroots efforts for reconciliation and healing in the Middle East. Today he is the founder of a new interior and landscape design label, C
ollectEco, which represents his never ending roaming of the planet, his commitment to ecology, his connection to nature and his respect for indigenous cultures.
Named “One of the Most Interesting People in LA” by the LAWeekly, Dan Goods is passionate about creating moments in people’s lives where they are reminded of the gift and privilege of being alive.
As the “Visual Strategist” for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Dan has created installations about finding planets around other stars, including one where he drilled a hole into a grain of sand.
Dan shepherd an amazing team developing creative ways of communicating, and working to transform complex concepts into meaningful stories that can be universally understood. His work is seen in public spaces, art museums, and is in outer space.
In 2002 Dan graduated valedictorian from the graphic design program at Art Center College of Design. He was given a silver “International Design Excellence Award” for the eCLOUD sculpture at the San Jose Airport.
Paralympic swimming champion, inspiring speaker on achievement, performance and goal-setting.
Just like all of us, peak performance expert Andrew Haley has had his share of ups and downs. As a child Andrew had cancer twice and each time was given a 35% chance to survive. Even though he lost part of his right leg, Andrew never let it dictate his life.
Andrew is a living reminder that no matter what negative things may happen in your life, you can always try and turn it into something positive. Take control of your life and always try to learn and be better next time. We each have the power to be amazing. The only question is, are you ready to take it to the next level? To control your own destiny?
Andrew’s real and inspiring views cover three decades of real-life in-the-trenches sport and personal experience. He appreciates and shares with his audience that being a champion and turning pressure into performance is a moment-to-moment choice and is able to relate and inspire each listener that success is more than title, tenure or position. Excellence is for everyone, everyday. It's how we should live our life. In his talk, Andrew’s fusion of real-life stories and his conversational techniques connect with his audience at an intimate, intense and individual level.
Andrew is a former world class World Record setting Paralympic swimmer having won, among other competitions, gold medals at the 1998 World Championships and the 2000 Paralympic games. He has served as his swim team’s captain and is a recognized leader in Paralympic sport. He is also a successful businessman who works for the Toronto Blue Jays. He continues to work with the best and brightest in the performance excellence field.
Andrew also finds time to give back to his community. He is involved with the charity RIGHT TO PLAY and also visits schools in Ontario and his native Nova Scotia. In addition he volunteers his time working with AthletesCAN, a national group that supports athletes. He looks forward to partnering with you in the future.
Some companies that have partnered with Andrew include: HSBC, Re/Max, Manulife, Teva Pharmaceuticals, National Bank, Sun Life, Ontario Ministry of Energy, Childhood Cancer Society, Xerox Canada, Four Seasons Hotel, and various conference to name a few.
Andrew was inducted into Swimming Canada's Circle of Excellence in March 2015.
Inspirational and motivational speaker, Co-Creator of the Best-Selling Chicken Soup For The Soul Series
Mark Victor Hansen is Co-Creator of the Best-Selling Chicken Soup For The Soul Series. Recent years have seen Mark and his business partner Jack Canfield create what TIME magazine calls
the publishing phenomenon of the decade. With more than 90 million Chicken Soup for the Soul books sold in North America alone and over 100 licensed products in the marketplace, it is one of the most successful publishing franchises in America today.
Mark's energy and exuberance travels still further through mediums such as television (Oprah, CNN and The Today Show), print (TIME, US News & World Report, USA Today, The New York Times and Entrepreneur) and countless radio and newspaper interviews as he assures our planet's people that
you can easily create the life you deserve.
Mark is also known as a passionate philanthropist and humanitarian, working tirelessly for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, March of Dimes, ChildHelp USA and many others.
Chris challenges and inspires organizations and individuals toward Wild leadership, compassionate presence, and daring authenticity. Featured on The Discovery Channel's “National Geographic Today,” she brings decades of leadership experience indoors, to conferences and offices, working with teams and leaders, helping us recognize that leadership and teamwork doesn't have to be so complicated.
Selected as a Top Ten Speaker of 2014 by MeetingsNet, Chris was the highest rated speaker of Meeting Professional International's 2014 World Education Congress. She is out to create a Wild revolution in the workplace. A wilderness guide since 1984 and professional speaker since 2001, Chris has led and worked with a diverse array of teams, both canine and human!
With remarkable parallels to the work world, Chris shares hilarious stories from her sled dog team with their quirky personalities and from guiding whitewater trips, where successfully navigating obstacles (mostly) is part of the journey.
She sits on the board of the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center, is a Wilderness First Responder and a graduate of NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School). She holds a bachelor's degree in recreation and social work from George Williams College, where she recently received the Distinguished Alumnae Award. She is a poet and shares her writing and Wild Dares through her newsletter, Wild Thoughts.
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