Paul de Gelder


About Paul de Gelder - Army Airborne, Navy Bomb Disposal Diver, Shark Attack Survivor, Author: 

IMPROVISE...ADAPT...OVERCOME... These three words – a mantra Paul de Gelder learned in the Australian Army as a young Paratrooper – resonated with him the first time he heard them. Paul de Gelder chased adventure wherever he could find it, from his wild ride as a teen and his whirlwind lifestyle working in clubs and the music industry to hauling his way up to the elite echelons of the Australian Defense Forces as an Army paratrooper and then Navy bomb disposal diver.

In February 2009, Paul's adventurous life took a dramatic turn when a 10-foot bull shark attacked him during a routine Navy dive, severing his hand and leg. Rather than succumbing to despair, Paul channeled his indomitable spirit, fought through excruciating pain, and reclaimed his life. Drawing on everything his eventful life had taught him, Paul left nothing to chance, conducting his own rehabilitation. He fought through excruciating pain, smashing challenge after challenge whilst excellent the medical staff and the public with his will to succeed, and returned to full-time Navy service after only six months.

His journey from trauma to triumph is extraordinary, marked by resilience and determination. His inspiring story, vividly chronicled in his autobiography "Uncaged," takes "Never Say Die" to a new level.

In the years since the shark attack, Paul's life has changed in every aspect. Having left full-time Navy service in August 2012, after continuing to instruct Navy Divers for a further three years, Paul has traveled the world as a top motivational speaker, passionate environmentalist, adventurer, and mentor to school kids. He has spoken at venues across the globe, from the United Nations in New York to conferences across the U.S., China, London, Vietnam, and New Zealand.

Paul has also been a guest on major TV talk shows and starred as a guest trainer twice on the Biggest Loser Australia. He has hosted over 25 documentaries for Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, where he learned to hand-feed bull sharks, hammerheads, and blue sharks and dive with tiger sharks and even Great Whites without the protection of a cage. Megastar Will Smith featured Paul in his Facebook series “Bucket List” as his shark diving mentor, UFC Hall of Famer Ronda Rousey was taught how to hand-feed bull sharks by Paul, and most recently, Iron Mike Tyson became Paul’s shark diving student. Paul also became part of an anti-poaching team in Africa to film the excellent work the Rangers did for FEARLESS, which aired on NatGeo.

Paul has been touted as one of the top 15 inspirational Australians and top 10 speakers, and now, based in Los Angeles, he is preparing to film yet more documentaries. Looking to expand his repertoire, Paul completed a lead acting role for a six-part miniseries for a major cable network and has since appeared in several commercials and short films.

An incredible life and an incredible story.


What Paul de Gelder Talks About:

Never Say Die: Turning Pain into Power
Paul de Gelder shares his powerful story of resilience, emphasizing its critical role in personal and professional growth. Through his experiences, including overcoming a life-threatening shark attack, Paul demonstrates how embracing uncomfortable change can catalyze growth. He draws lessons from his military background, highlighting the importance of discipline, teamwork, and adaptability in high-risk environments. Paul provides insights into recovery's psychological and physical challenges, offering strategies for developing a resilient mindset, including the power of positive thinking and self-belief.

Key Takeaways:

  • Embrace change for growth.
  • Learn from adversity.
  • Apply discipline and teamwork.
  • Develop mental and physical resilience.
  • Cultivate positive thinking.


Courage Under Pressure: Leadership in High-Stakes Environments
From his diverse background, Paul de Gelder offers valuable leadership insights from extraordinary life experiences. He discusses how adventure and leadership intersect, sharing personal stories from his time as a military paratrooper and clearance diver. Paul emphasizes decision-making and problem-solving strategies in high-pressure environments, navigating change and uncertainty, and fostering effective teamwork through trust, communication, and mutual support. He underscores the role of courage in leading oneself and others through adversity, reinforcing key leadership principles that inspire courage and resilience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Master crisis decision-making.
  • Navigate change effectively.
  • Foster teamwork and trust.
  • Lead with courage and resilience.
  • Embrace adaptability.

Beyond the Surface: Discovering Purpose in Life and Work
Paul de Gelder guides audiences to discover their purpose and passion in life and work. He shares his journey of aligning personal and professional aspirations, emphasizing strategies for overcoming self-limiting beliefs and embracing personal growth. Drawing from his adventures as a Shark Week host, Paul highlights the importance of following one's passion, taking risks, and stepping outside one's comfort zone. He discusses crafting a fulfilling career path by aligning values with professional choices, continuous learning, and maintaining work-life balance for personal well-being and meaningful relationships.

Key Takeaways:

  • Overcome self-limiting beliefs.
  • Follow your passion.
  • Align values with career.
  • Pursue continuous learning.
  • Maintain work-life balance.

Uncaged: Thriving Through Fear and Change
Paul de Gelder explores the transformative power of facing fears and embracing change. He shares personal experiences with fear and change, highlighting their significance in personal growth. Paul offers strategies for managing fear and embracing calculated risks, drawing from his military experiences and encounters with dangerous waters. He provides lessons in courage and resilience from surviving a shark attack, emphasizing the importance of mental fortitude. The presentation encourages audiences to view change as an opportunity for growth, adapt to new circumstances, and step outside their comfort zones to unlock their full potential.

Key Takeaways:

  • Manage and confront fear.
  • Embrace calculated risks.
  • Learn courage and resilience.
  • Adapt to change.
  • Step outside your comfort zone.

 Recent Publications

    I have not seen a speaker of this magnitude & impact in my lifetime. Paul de Gelder is an Inspirational Speaker about determination, resilience, having a positive attitude in life and making good choices for your path forward! I’m not sure what else to say except it’s a true real-life story and hearing it firsthand will stay with me for years to come. It’s moving, it’s powerful and Paul is able to tie it directly to your audience."

    Senior HR Leader, Amazon

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