Ben Saunders: How To Get Seemingly Impossible Things Done
World Record-Breaking Polar Explorer and Repeat TED Speaker
- Second person in history to reach both Poles solo and unassisted
- Completed the longest ever polar journey on foot
- Three-time TED speaker and a “TED Master Story-Teller”
- Utilizes spectacular visuals, a commanding stage presence, and funny stories
- Enthralls audiences as he explains why “Impossible is just someone’s opinion”
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Polar explorer 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—equivalent to running 69 marathons back-to-back. Of his expedition he said, “We can all accomplish great feats. If you dream something hard enough, it does indeed come to pass.” In 2017, he became the second person in history to reach both Poles solo and unassisted, after 52 days and six alone in Antarctic conditions described as “The worst in 25 years.”
A speaker at the 2005, 2012, and 2014 TED conferences, Ben was labeled a “master story teller” by TED. Believing that “No one else is an authority on your potential” and “Impossible is just someone’s opinion,” Saunders combines the allure and nostalgia of 20th century explorers with the ingenuity of today’s modern adventurers. His presentation takes you to the ends of the Earth and back and showcases spectacular visuals, a commanding stage presence, a winning smile, and funny and relatable stories. He enthralls audiences as he touches on themes including challenging the status quo, pushing past self-imposed limits, the disconnect between ideas and action, communicating with your team, and managing change (the landscapes he travels are in constant flux). Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, he jokes that he makes a living by dragging heavy things in cold places, but his message is one of inspiration, empowerment, and boundless potential. Saunders has also developed innovative methods that allow him to live blog his adventures, and he is known for his incredible pictures and video.
Ben has five North Pole expeditions under his belt and has accomplished some of the world’s most impressive polar expeditions. He is the youngest person to ski solo to the North Pole and holds the record for the longest solo Arctic journey by a Briton. He also holds the record for the longest human-powered polar journey in history and is the third in history and the youngest by 10 years to reach the North Pole alone and on foot. Since 2001, he has skied more than 4,300 miles (or 164 marathons) in the Polar Regions. A powerful advocate for the natural world, Saunders has seen first-hand the effects of climate change, and his expeditions are raising awareness for sustainable solutions. He has also climbed in the Nepalese Himalayas, worked as an instructor at the John Ridgway School of Adventure, raced bikes at a national level, and run seven marathons and three ultra-marathons.
Ben was featured in the 2016 New York Times best-seller, TED Talks: The Official Guide to Public Speaking, which was published by TED chief, Chris Anderson. In the book, Ben is described by Chris as a “powerful storyteller” with a penchant for surprising audiences.
Staying Motivated, Connected, and Resilient in Times of Uncertainty and Isolation. The third in history to ski solo to both the North and South Poles, Ben Saunders has spent many months in complete isolation on his expeditions – thousands of miles away from his colleagues and support team and in environments that were often unpredictable and always harsh and unforgiving. In this talk, Saunders takes audiences inside his polar adventures to demonstrate how to develop and sustain determination, tenacity, and grit when working alone. When faced with variables outside of your control, he shares his mission-proven strategies to focus on “controlling the controllables,” while also maintaining effective and transparent communication with stakeholders – especially when apart. In a two-decade career working remotely and often in complete isolation, Saunders shares hard-won lessons on sustaining resilience and emotional wellbeing when the chips are down, in a story that emphasises the importance of honest and frank communication – and knowing when and how to ask for help.
Achieving The Impossible. Showcasing spectacular visuals, a commanding stage presence, and funny stories, Ben Saunders enthralls audiences as he looks at why “Impossible is just someone’s opinion.” Taking audiences with him on his treks across the North and South Poles, he shares the keys to beating the odds and staying motivated even through challenges, risks, and setbacks, and how to maximize output and performance in a place where there is no one else with you, no one physically checking up on you, and no audience. Stating that “No one else is an authority on your potential,” he unravels the mysterious roots of perseverance and share insights about the traits we all possess that can allow us to tap into our deepest store of tenacity. His message is one of inspiration, empowerment, and boundless potential.
Thriving In Challenging Environments. Business Insider succinctly summarized Ben Saunders’ infamous journey to the South Pole as “A Polar Expedition that Killed Everyone the Last Time It Was Attempted.” Believing that “we can all accomplish great feats through ambition, passion, stubbornness, and refusal to quit,” Saunders shares stories about how to rise to the challenge in front of you and thrive in the most challenging environments. From pushing past mental and physical barriers to exploring your innate inner strength, Saunders shows audiences how to embrace adversity and challenge in order to reach their true potential. When your body says quit, what makes your mind charge ahead? When the stakes are high and things go wrong, how do we remain calm and moving forward? This modern day Shackleton takes audiences on an expedition about endurance and determination that is applicable to us all.
Turning Ideas Into Action. Ben Saunders explores the disconnect between ideas and action, touching on themes like challenging conventional wisdom, communicating with your team, and testing your sense of self-belief (which he believes gets stronger the more you use it). Through his transformative journeys across the North and South Poles, he shows audiences how to fully commit to a vision in order to maximize their chance of success and offers tips on training, preparedness, and teamwork.
Managing Change & Adversity. The landscapes of the North and South Poles are constantly in flux, making the dangerous terrain one of the most difficult to manage in all the world. Saunders takes audiences on his high-stakes expeditions and helps them apply his hard-won lessons learned. From mental toughness and the importance of choosing the right team to understanding when to ask for help (halfway through his South Pole journey, he had to call for a resupply flight, which meant his expedition was no longer “unsupported”), he highlights the right way to keep sight of your goals, manage change, and approach adversity.
I wanted to personally thank you so much for that talk! Everyone was smiling, laughing, texting, emailing, you name it – just saying how fantastic that was. I know you have probably heard it a million times, but you really are a great, super articulate, and engaging speaker. It was a real pleasure to listen to you speak to your journey and the personal insight gained through the years. I have a feeling next time we have a live meeting (hopefully sooner than later, after these lockdowns!), everyone is going to want to fly you in just to hang out with us!!!
It has been the most inspiring talk ever by any speaker I have listened to. Thank you so much. It has been very motivating
Thank you very much for joining us yesterday and delivering your outstanding talk against Achieving the Impossible. Really good presentation, lots of humour, down to earth and good life lessons. I’ve had fabulous feedback from across the organisation – both relating to the stories you told, things that people learnt about polar exploration history, and frankly that you were such a nice guy! A highlight of the day.
One of the best presentations I've experienced. Ben's talk was absolutely brilliant. I was riveted to my seat just listening to him.
As a company we have come across many inspirational and entertaining storytellers and Ben Saunders is among the best. Adventure, humour, thrills, despair, achievement and success all packaged into a highly compelling and very well delivered speech.
Personally I was completely absorbed, but more importantly, I have rarely seen this audience so captivated by a speaker before. When we booked you I was a little apprehensive about how you would be received by our diverse, demanding audience, but my doubts were immediately allayed by both the content and the delivery. Your talk was the highlight of our event.
I just wanted to convey my thanks to Ben for speaking at our Ambition Nation event yesterday morning. It was great and we have had some amazing feedback. I personally got some great takeaways about self belief and simply the power of that alone.
You gave us all a wonderful start to the day and your story and experiences resonated so well with the nursing leaders in the room. You have inspired so many of us to understand our own selves and be in charge of our own potential. Whilst reinforcing the significant value of team work based on trust, even when it is a team of two along with the passion to reach your goal amongst all the odds.
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