Raised in Portland, Oregon, Colin O'Brady spent his childhood exploring the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and cultivated a passion for adventure in the outdoors. Colin was an active kid and excelled at sports, competing in both swimming and soccer. By the time he reached high school, he was nationally ranked in both sports. Ultimately, he was recruited to swim at Yale University where he graduated with a Bachelors in Economics in 2006.
The resources to travel internationally weren’t there growing up, so Colin started painting houses in the summers to earn money. After college graduation and before settling into his career, he took a backpack and surfboard and set out to explore the world. In 2008, while in Thailand, Colin suffered a tragic accident and was severely burned in a fire; his injuries covered nearly 25% of his body, primarily damaging his legs and feet. Doctor’s warned him he might never walk again normally. With the encouragement of his mother, Colin was determined to beat the odds. He set himself a seemingly impossible goal: to complete his first triathlon after recovery.
A mere 18-months after his accident and after extensive rehabilitation, Colin amazed the sporting world when he not only completed his first triathlon, but he placed first overall at the Chicago Triathlon. After winning his first race, sponsors took note and signed on to support his future. Colin went on to become a professional triathlete and raced in 25 countries on six continents, representing the United States in international triathlon competitions.
Six years of professional triathlon was the exact preparation Colin needed when he and his fiancée, Jenna, came up with an audacious plan. Colin would attempt to complete a prestigious mountaineering challenge – The Explorers Grand Slam – in world record time. Without the resources to personally fund the expedition, Jenna and Colin spent 18-months raising the money and gathering the support they needed.
On May 27, 2016, the world record project came to a victorious end. Colin conquered The Explorers Grand Slam in a world record-shattering 139 days. Colin summited the tallest peak on each of the seven continents including Mt. Everest and skied the last degree to the North and South Poles. Fewer than 50 people have ever completed this staggering achievement and only four in under a year. With grit and perseverance, Colin became the fastest person to complete the mountaineering challenge, and in the process also broke the speed record for The Seven Summits in 132 days.
Colin became the first person to ever Snap from the summit of Everest and attracted over 22m viewers. A grassroots global media campaign ensued. His world record feats garnered over 500m earned media impressions and over 50m social media impressions.
Colin and Jenna established a non-profit, Beyond 7/2, before Colin set out to break the Grand Slam world record, all in an effort to raise awareness and funds to inspire kids and their communities to lead active, healthy kids and pursue their biggest dreams. Colin’s efforts have impacted hundreds of thousands of children across the country since launching Beyond 7/2.
Knowing first-hand what it takes to overcome a serious setback, and the grit and perseverance required to achieve peak performance, Colin shares his story around the world speaking at the likes of Google, Samsung, Mashable’s Social Good Summit, P&G, and other influential Fortune 100 Companies. In the spring of 2017, Colin was invited to deliver a TED talk in Portland, OR. Nearly 1 Million people have viewed his talk online. It was the fastest growing talk that summer, globally.
The buck doesn’t stop here. Colin continues to pursue his passion for pushing his limits while speaking all over the world, encouraging others to do the same. His next athletic pursuits are on the horizon, and his commitment to doing good remains.
What’s Your Everest?: Goal Setting and Overcoming Obstacles
Striving to reach the next level? What is it that holds you or your team back? What’s your Mt. Everest and what stands in the way of you achieving it? What is the motivation you need to perform at the highest level? These are the questions that many of us struggle with at work and in our personal lives. Colin will bring you and your team on his harrowing journey from being told he might never walk normally again to climbing the highest mountain on each of the seven continents and becoming the world’s first person to cross Antarctica solo, unsupported, and unaided. Prepare for your audience to be inspired, amazed, and energized as they are empowered to discover and define what their personal Everest is—and receive the tools they need to conquer it.
Be Possible: Change Your Mindset, Achieve Anything
There is a quote Colin continually shares: “He who says he can, and he who says he can’t are both usually right.” Building high-functioning teams and high-performing leaders always begins with mindset. Colin has been on adventures that have taken him around the world to some of the harshest and most remote environments on the planet. At every step, Colin was confronted with hardships, both internal and external. It was in the face of that adversity that he found that the impossible was possible. This keynote isn’t about the achievements of Colin, but instead about showing how ordinary people have the capacity to do extraordinary things. Find out what it takes to be a leader, to overcome self-doubt and closed-mindedness to reach peak performance, and how anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
Stronger Together: Harnessing Leadership & Collaboration
Colin O’Brady’s whole life has led him to world record success, but unlike his solo journey across Antarctica at the end of 2018, he hasn’t been alone. Whether he was walking across the unpredictable frozen tundra of Antarctica or taking his first step to walk after a tragic accident, he has always had a team supporting his efforts. Colin knows that in order to succeed, you need a high-performing team that understands how to work together and seamlessly conquer the challenges that are sure to arise along the way. In this talk, you will learn how to build effective teams and strengthen the ones that already exist. Colin dives deeper into success principles by illuminating the benefits of teamwork, team building, leadership, and risk management to ultimately achieve success, whether you’re at the top of the world on the summit of Mt. Everest, at the bottom of the globe in Antarctica, or anywhere in between.
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