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8 Motivational True Stories To Lift Your Team Up

8 Motivational True Stories To Lift Your Team Up

We all face things that make us doubt our abilities from time to time. Whether your organization is facing a difficult operating environment, a tricky restructuring, or is simply stuck in a rut, setting aside time to come together as a team and hear from someone who has been there and come out on the other side can make all the difference.

These eight speakers move audiences to leapfrog hurdles in their own lives and their stories have the power to lift your team up and spark change.

8 motivational stories to lift your team up

  1. Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi, NASA Astrophysicist & Author of the Upcoming Book, Hacking the Stars: My Unlikely Journey Through Space and Time
  2. Colin O'Brady, 4-Time World Record Holder & 1st Person to Cross Antarctica Solo, Unsupported, & Unaided
  3. Dr. Erika Hamden, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Arizona & 2019 TED Fellow
  4. Robert O'Neill, Former Navy SEAL Team Six Leader & New York Times Best-Selling Author of The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior
  5. Col. Nicole Malachowski, America’s First Female Thunderbird Pilot
  6. Ben Saunders, World-Record Breaking Polar Explorer & Repeat TED Speaker
  7. Scott Harrison, Founder and CEO of Charity: Water
  8. Erik Weihenmayer, World-Class Blind Adventurer

Keep reading for more information about each of these individuals below and click on the links below to check out each of their speaker profile pages for more specifics about their background, their areas of specialty, and get a preview of them speaking to a large audience on stage at a recent event.

Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi

NASA Astrophysicist & Author of the Upcoming Book, Hacking the Stars: My Unlikely Journey Through Space and Time

Born into deep poverty in Mississippi, Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi grew up in some of the roughest neighborhoods in the country. He realized a love of science and space at a young age and, despite near constant discouragement, went on to obtain three degrees, 12 patents for inventions in modern computer chips, and to work on Nobel Prize-winning research projects. Funny, warm, honest, and inspiring, Hakeem moves audiences to never give up. A leading astrophysicist, educator, and humanitarian TED Fellow, Oluseyi trounced race and class to become an important contributor to computer technology and space research. Back on Earth, he's doing all he can to give young and underfunded scientists a chance to reach for the stars. Watch Dr. Oluseyi’s TED Talk where he explains infinity in three minutes below:

Colin O'Brady

4-Time World Record Holder & 1st Person to Cross Antarctica Solo, Unsupported, & Unaided

In 2008, while on a trip abroad, Colin O’Brady suffered a tragic accident and was severely burned in a fire. Despite being told he might never walk again, Colin went on to shatter two world records and a world first as a mountaineer and explorer. He is the first person to ever cross Antarctica solo, and he holds the record for the fastest climb of the Seven Summits (132 days) and the Explorer’s Grand Slam (139 days). In a presentation packed with stunning videos, he took himself at the ends of the Earth, Colin encourages audiences to dare to dream and embrace the growth mindset he has used throughout his life to achieve greatness. Watch Colin’s presentation about his journey to summit the seven tallest mountains after suffering severe burns and how he learned that by changing your mindset, you can achieve anything:

Dr. Erika Hamden

Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Arizona & 2019 TED Fellow

Dr. Erika Hamden is currently leading a team building a new UV space telescope called FIREBall for NASA. She recently delivered a show-stopping talk at TED 2019 and got real about the challenges that come with trying to create something new. “I’ve realized that discovery is mostly a process of finding things that don’t work, and failure is inevitable when you’re pushing the limits of knowledge,” Hamden said. She explains how she has persevered through the toughest failures of her life, and why–despite her telescope crash landing in 2018—she’s not giving up any time soon. Watch Dr. Erika Hamden’s TED Talk presentation below:

Robert O'Neill

Former Navy SEAL Team Six Leader & New York Times Best-Selling Author of The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior

One of the most popular speakers on the circuit, this former US Navy SEAL continues to receive rave reviews. In fact, one client said, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and Rob is the best public speaker I’ve ever seen. Ever!” With his captivating storytelling and motivating messages, as well as his humor and charisma, this comes as no surprise. Rob’s mottos—“Never quit,” “Complacency kills,” and “Don’t let your fears give way to panic”—resonate with any audience facing a big goal or a desire to be better. Watch Rob O’Neill’s talk at Google where he discusses what it takes to be successful in high performance teams using examples from his time as a US Navy Seal below:

Col. Nicole Malachowski

America’s First Female Thunderbird Pilot

Colonel Nicole Malachowski was a breakout star on the lecture circuit this year and we’re so happy to be working with her. It’s hard to watch her talk without getting emotional—she covers both her ascendance to become the First Woman Thunderbird Pilot in the Air Force and how she was ultimately forced to retire due to a medical condition. Nicole speaks honesty about drawing on inner strength and having the courage to say your goal out loud and ask questions like, “Why not me?”. Watch Col. Malachowski talk about the headwinds of change and how we can all turn headwinds into tailwinds below:

Ben Saunders

World-Record Breaking Polar Explorer & Repeat TED Speaker

Ben Saunders’s incredible feats of endurance challenge conventional wisdom and prove what can be accomplished through ambition, passion, and a refusal to quit. Best known for leading one of the most ambitious polar expeditions in a century, he was the first to successfully complete an epic, 105-day, 1,800-mile trek on foot to the South Pole. A speaker at three TED conferences, Ben uses stories and stunning visuals to illustrate and justify his beliefs that “No one else is the authority on your potential” and “Impossible is just someone’s opinion.” Watch Ben Saunder’s TED Talk about the hardest 105 days of his life, his journey to the South Pole and back:


Founder & CEO of Charity: Water

Scott Harrison launched his company Charity: Water with two huge goals: To turn the concept of what charity is on its head, and to eliminate the global water crisis in his lifetime. Today, he’s known for his innovative business model, which many investors said couldn’t work, and for funding water projects in 24 countries. He talks about making the change from being a night club promoter living a lavish lifestyle to becoming one of the world’s most-recognized philanthropists. He touches on why it’s never too late to make a change, how to solve problems with new ideas, and how to overcome obstacles with creativity and innovation. Watch Scott Harrison’s story of when he decided to turn his life around, why he chose water, the charity: water core values and the beginning of charity: water, why you should give up your birthday, and how we can end the global water crisis together:


World-Class Blind Adventurer

Despite losing his vision at age 14, Erik Weihenmayer is an accomplished climber, paraglider, skier, and kayaker who never allows blindness interfere with his passion for pursuing an exhilarating and fulfilling life. Weihenmayer sees his lack of sight as an opportunity, and he has managed to push past the anger, frustration, and fear. After making friends with other blind individuals who went rock climbing, he continued working on his craft and, at age 33, he became the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. His incredible story of determination and perseverance has been featured on The Today Show, Oprah, Good Morning America, and many more major media outlets. This year, an Award-Winning documentary about Erik and his latest adventure kayaking the Grand Canyon, entitled The Weight of Water was released. In speeches, he teaches audiences to follow his path and lead a "No Barriers" life, or a life without self-imposed limitations. Watch Erik Weihenmayer share his inspiring story of facing his greatest fears head-on, embodying his life motto of living life with “No Barriers,” and moving through darkness on his road to self-discovery:

For more information about these motivational speakers or to browse through our list of moving speakers with similar “unreal” true stories, visit our motivational speaker list page or explore our inspirational speaker list page.

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