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Paul Deegan      

Motivational and Leadership Expert, Everest Mountaineer and Award-Winning Author

Paul's passion for remote and wild places began on April 20, 1985 when he was thrown through the back window of a car in a high speed crash. Luckily, his head broke his fall.

Hours later, whilst he was trying to remove a shard of glass lodged in his back, a policeman came up to Paul's hospital bed and said, "You should have died today." With these words ringing in his ears, Paul vowed that at the end of every subsequent day, he would do something that would enable him to say that he'd had a great day. (Over the past 25 years, Paul has at times struggled to keep this promise. After all, he supports Fulham Football Club.)

Two years later, when he was 17, Paul proposed and subsequently co-led a 47-strong team which cleaned up three decades of rubbish that had accumulated at the base of Mount Everest. Whilst picking up used medical equipment, discarded plastic containers, and empty tins of caviar, Paul looked up and wondered for the first time what the view was like from the summit.

Turning his back on a promising career in refuse collection, Paul went on to climb, trek and explore many of the world's most popular -- and also some of its more esoteric -- mountain regions. He also traveled to some decidedly non-mountainous destinations such as the Galapagos, Antarctica, and Mos Espa. Magazines and newspapers have published over 250 of Paul's stories.

Everest remained at the core of many of his adventures. However, after becoming embroiled in the infamous "Into Thin Air" tragedy on Everest in 1996, Paul gave up his dream to reach the top of the world, and vowed never to go back to the mountain.

But the dream refused to die. After a hiatus of eight years, Paul decided to return to Everest to make a final attempt to reach the summit. And 15 years after first looking up, he looked down on the rest of the world on a really great day.

An award-winning author and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Paul is an ebullient speaker. He has accepted invitations to speak to audiences ranging from Motorola and GlaxoSmithKline to Cirque du Soleil and the Do Lectures.

Paul's aid and environmental policies include donating a minimum of 1 percent of his gross income to charitable causes, delivering a minimum of 20 percent of his talks pro bono, and carbon offsetting all his air travel.

Paul has been interviewed on the BBC, ITV, C4 and Sky, and was one of 10 finalists from 2,500 applicants in the BBC's nationwide search for new television experts. The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Baghdad Times have all covered Paul's expeditions. Paul has also been featured in The Sunday Times' popular 'Life In The Day' column.

Since reaching the summit, Paul has returned to the Everest region to thank the Sherpas who helped him realize his dream, assisted scientists studying ocean acidification on a slab of floating sea ice in the Arctic, and worked on the set of Tim Burton's "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory."

Paul loves trying new food. He has eaten raw chicken in Tokyo, curried yak stomach in Zangskar, and 10-year-old boneless pig in Yunnan. Paul acquired a taste for fermented mare's milk whilst on an exploratory expedition to the Pamirs, but found that the horse hairs and lumps of fat had a tendency to catch in the back of his throat. When he's not writing in private or speaking in public, Paul is most likely to be found in the kitchen attempting to recreate an exotic dish from his most recent journey.

Speech Topics


Into The Unknown: Leading Your Team in an Uncertain World

At the turn of this century, most people thought there was nowhere left on Earth to discover. Then Paul Deegan organized an expedition to an unexplored range of mountains. Members of his team made ascents of previously unclimbed peaks, saw snow leopards and camels and encountered nomadic communities who had never met people from outside the former Soviet Union. To prepare for this groundbreaking enterprise, Deegan drew on his experiences as a leader and team member on expeditions to Alaska, the European Alps and the Himalayas. In this presentation, Deegan explains why he ensures that every member of his team is more talented than he is, illustrates his philosophy of invisible leadership and describes why there can be no room for passengers on any team.

Overcoming Disaster: Drivers of Individual Determination on the Roof of the World

The 1996 Into Thin Air storm claimed the lives of 11 climbers and was the worst catastrophe in the history of Everest. Paul Deegan, who was on the mountain when the storm struck, vowed never to return. Yet eight years later, Deegan broke his promise and made a final attempt to reach the top of the world. Why did Deegan go back? How did he overcome extreme self-doubt about his chance of survival? And after such a long hiatus, would he be able to fulfill his lifetime ambition? During this presentation, Deegan reveals a trick of the mind to reduce the fear of failure, how a rocking chair can help you make your next big decision and why the best way to achieve an ambition is to forget about it.

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