Speakers With Comeback Stories To Inspire Action


When it comes to motivating a team, few things rouse the troops like a comeback story. They prove that change is possible, that success—however unlikely—can always be achieved, and that with grit and determination, the sky is the limit.

Check out nine of our favorite inspirational and motivational keynote speakers with comeback stories:

  • Chris Gardner
  • Shon Hopwood
  • Sarah Robb O'Hagan
  • Scott Harrison
  • Hector Monsegur
  • Laila Ali
  • Erik Weihenmayer
  • John O'Leary
  • Alex Gregory

Read more about each of these keynote speakers with inspirational and motivational comeback stories below and browse through their individual speaker profile pages to find out more about their expertise and speaking topics ans see their speaker videos. 


Inspiration for the movie The Pursuit of Happyness & Former Wall Street Stockbroker and Investor
If you’ve seen the Golden Globe and Academy Award-nominated movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, starring Will Smith, then you’re familiar with Gardner’s story of going from homelessness to Wall Street. But what you may not know is that in person, he is one of the most warm and impressive speakers I’ve seen in a while. He came by our office a week ago and talked about the 3 most important decisions he ever made, why Plan B “sucks,” and his belief that you can always turn things around. The team left feeling excited and inspired. Learn more about Chris Gardner here


Associate Law Professor at Georgetown University, Criminal Justice Reform Advocate, and Motivational Speaker
Shon Hopwood was sentenced to 11 years for robbing five banks in Nebraska. Inside the prison system he cultivated a passion for the law that resulted in an extremely rare feat: two certiorari he prepared with no proper law training for fellow inmates were granted review by the Supreme Court. After Shon’s release—despite being told by 300-400 lawyers he would never join their ranks—he became a licensed attorney and well-known law professor. In speeches, Shon talks about the importance of setting goals and abandoning instant gratification, persevering, and tuning out discouraging voices. Learn more about Shon Hopwood here


CEO of Flywheel Sports, Former President of Equinox Fitness, and Former President of Gatorade
Sarah Robb O’Hagan is one of the most powerful and successful women in sports today. But, in her late 20s, she was fired twice—back to back. High-energy and known for shaking up conferences, Sarah shares stories from her own life to illustrate why turning failure into fuel for success is the most powerful skill to have in business and in life and why taking risks and “crashing” more is what led to her vital personal development. Learn more about Sarah Robb O'Hagan here.


Founder & CEO of charity : water
Today Scott Harrison is known for remaking the concept of charity through his revolutionary non-profit charity : water. But in his 20s and early 30s, Scott was a club promoter in New York living what he has called an empty life. Tired of his dispassionate existence, Scott left the world he knew to launch charity : water and hasn’t looked back since. In speeches he talks about how he made that 180-degree turn, how he motivated himself past naysayers and near bankruptcy, and why getting to know your values can be the secret to reinvention. Learn more about Scott Harrison here


Former Black Hat Hacker & Director of Assessment Services at Rhino Security Labs
Formerly known by his online alias “Sabu,” Monsegur was once the technical expert behind the hacking collective Anonymous/LulzSec. As a black hat hacker, he highlighted critical vulnerabilities in numerous organizations, including governments, military organizations, and cyber security firms. After his arrest, Monsegur began working with the FBI to help identify key vulnerabilities and attacks against major federal infrastructure, including the US military and NASA. Since working with US government and commercial security executives around the world, he has helped prevent upwards of 350 cyber attacks against US government computer systems. He is currently Director of Assessment Services for Rhino Security Labs. Learn more about Hector Monsegur here.


World-Class Boxing Champion, Elite Athlete, Beauty & Lifestyle Brand CEO, & Motivational Speaker
As the daughter of famed boxing champion Muhammad Ali, Laila Ali grew up wanting to box. But her dreams were always confronted by naysayers who told her things like, "Women don't box," or "It will be too hard." Ali admits that her own father told her she shouldn't take up boxing. Regardless, Ali not only began boxing but went on to become a four-time undefeated boxing world champion. Her stellar record includes 24 wins (21 of which were "knockouts") and zero losses. Laila is heralded as the most successful female in the history of women’s boxing. In speeches, she talks about tapping into your personal power to defy any odds and how to be a champion in all that you do. Learn more about Laila Ali here


World-Class Blind Adventurer
At the age of 14, world-class blind adventurer, Erik Weihenmayer lost his vision. He remembers it as a very "sad time" during which he had to be led into school as a newly blind person. But he managed to push past the anger, frustration, and fear, and made friends with other blind individuals who went rock climbing. Knowing he had to move forward, Weihenmayer continued working on his craft and, at age 33, became the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Weihenmayer's incredible story of determination and perseverance has been featured on the Today Show, Oprah, Good Morning America, and more. In speeches he teaches audiences to follow his path and lead a "No Barriers" life, or a life without self-imposed limitations. Learn more about Erik Weihenmayer here


President of Rising Above LLC, Best-Selling Author, & Motivational Speaker
Expected to die, John O’Leary now teaches others how to truly live. John was a curious nine-year-old boy. Playing with fire and gasoline, he created a massive explosion in his garage and was burned on 100% of his body. Given less than 1% chance of survival, John is proof of the power of the human spirit. His unlikely recovery meant a journey of pain and loss that could have easily been insurmountable. However, far from being an example of someone who simply endured tragedy, John is a luminous example of thriving through adversity. His book, On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life, was an instant #1 national best-seller, has sold 100,000+ copies and has been translated into 12 languages. Learn more about John O'Leary here. 


Double Olympic Gold Medalist & Motivational Speaker
British rower Alex Gregory knows a thing or two about resolve; his Olympic success did not come easily. After a decade of failures and disasters, Alex was taken to the very edge of his belief, before making his way through to the other side and emerging as a world-class athlete and global champion. Alex takes his audience on an emotional journey through the highs and lows of top level Olympic sport. His relaxed attitude and emotive words allows the audience to live the journey with him while developing the qualities and skill set of a double Olympic champion. Learn more about Alex Gregory here.

Interested in learning more about these speakers, or need more ideas? Call 1-800-SPEAKER or live chat with a member of our team right now. 

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