Explorer, innovator & collaboration catalyst
Mark Pollock Biography
Mark helps people to build resilience and collaborate with others so that they achieve more than they thought possible.
Unbroken by blindness in 1998, Mark became an adventure athlete competing in ultra endurance races across deserts, mountains, and the polar ice caps including being the first blind person to race to the South Pole. He also won silver and bronze medals for rowing at the Commonwealth Games and set up a motivational speaking business.
In 2010 a fall from a second story window nearly killed him. Mark broke his back and the damage to his spinal cord left him paralysed. Now he is on a new expedition, this time to cure paralysis in our lifetime by exploring the intersection where humans and technology collide.
As a speaker, Mark is best known for his 2018 TED Talk focused on resolving the tension between acceptance and hope delivered jointly with his fiancée, Simone George. It gathered over 1.5 million views in its first 6 months online and has been translated into 12 languages. He has inspired millions of people in hundreds of organisations and is a Davos, World Economic Forum, InnoTown, F.ounders, EG and Wired speaker.
Co-Founder of the global running series called Run in the Dark, Mark has been selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and is a former member of the Global Futures Council on Human Enhancement. He is a UBS Global Visionary, is on the Board of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (USA) and is a Wings for Life Ambassador (Europe).
In addition, Mark is the subject of the acclaimed documentaries ‘Blind Man Walking’ and ‘Unbreakable – The Mark Pollock Story’ , he has been awarded honorary doctorates by The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and also from Queens University Belfast. And, he holds a diploma in Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century from Harvard University, degrees from Trinity College Dublin and The Smurfit Business School.
It is tough to build resilience and collaborate with others. Your people won’t do it by chance. With a high-impact catalyst you can help them act with the courage to make it happen. Mark Pollock is that catalyst.
Using his hard-earned expertise, Mark has inspired millions of people to achieve more than they thought possible in hundreds of organisations worldwide as well as at TED, Davos, the World Economic Forum, F.ounders, InnoTown, EG and Wired.
As a speaker, Mark is best known for his 2018 TED Talk focused on resolving the tension between acceptance and hope (go.ted.com/markandsimone) delivered jointly with his fiancée, Simone George. It gathered over 1.5 million views in its first 6 months online and has been subtitled in 12 languages.
Acknowledged as an expert in resilience, innovation and collaboration, Mark says “The reason to bring in a speaker is to move the audience emotionally. It can never be about the speaker, rather it must be about engaging the audience to help them achieve more than they thought possible – that is what I aim to do every time.”
Topics covered include:
- Adversity & Challenges – Maintaining a Resilient Mindset Under Pressure.
- Leadership & Motivation – Leading Through a Crisis and Developing Intrinsic Motivation to Move Forward.
- Mindset & Performance – Challenging Expectations to Perform at a Higher Level.
- Collaboration & Teamwork – Creating and Motivating Dispersed Teams Across Disciplines and Geographies.
- Human Enhancement – Exploring the Intersection Where Humans and Technology Collide During The 4th Industrial Revolution.
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Testimonials for Mark Pollock
“It was a privilege to have Mark address both our customers and our Management Team at Google. He delivers that rare combination of inspiration, perspective and practical insight that forces his audience to really reflect on how they rise to their personal challenges and set goals that seem unachievable. He delivers his message in a deeply personal, humorous and memorable way that lands with his audience. It was a pleasure for all of us to spend time in his company. Inspiring.”
“Mark presented at our Global Sales Partners Conference in Twitter and was exceptional. His ability to link his personal story to people’s everyday life and work challenges was excellent. The session was not just about listening to an incredible story, it was a chance for everyone to really think about themselves. There is something in this talk for everyone.”
“Mark opened our global launch meeting in Rome. His motivational speech on “Mindset” really captivated and
helped to motivate the entire launch team!
Mark’s inspirational story about mindset and perseverance linked directly to the launch plans and his three themes (e.g. competitor vs. spectator, realist vs. optimist, and collaborator vs. soloist) made the talk very relevant to our journey ahead with the product launch.”
“Mark spoke at our first ever global managers meeting at Dr Martens in London. Mark’s powerful talk around
perseverance, teamwork and collaboration really resonated and mirrored our own brand values. Mark’s
delivery connected with our entire team and was continuously referred to over the whole event. We would
absolutely recommend Mark as a truly inspirational individual who encouraged us all to re-frame our thinking
“Mark was a speaker at National Geographic’s Extreme Explorers dinner in Davos in January 2016. His personal story and insights were incredibly powerful, and clearly had a profound impact on everyone in the room. He embodies the spirit, resilience and determination that are the hallmarks of what it means to be an explorer.”
“An amazing, humbling experience. Mark held a room of over 400 people and you could not hear a pin drop – his messages on continuously reinventing yourself and using challenges to define your future was done in an engaging, perceptive, inquisitive and humorous way. His insights truly connected with the audience on so many levels and left them with one enduring quote “…sometimes you do not choose a challenge, it chooses you…”. Mark is proof that it’s one thing to read the theory but quite another to live it.”
“Mark’s contribution was a perfect fit at our global conference at CDB Aviation. His experiences of creating
multi-national teams aligned perfectly with our international audience. And, Mark’s insights into innovation, collaboration and leadership informed many of the discussions across our teams from Europe, Asia and theUS for the rest of the conference and continues to do so during our day to day work.”
“Thank you for your presentation at our 2018 Partners’ Conference. The story, your response and the manner
in which you have turned such adversity into a positive is awe-inspiring enough. But the real message for me
lies in your delivery which is laced with humour, warmth and humility. As you may have detected, building our community is very important in the business we’re building and the characteristics you displayed, coupled with your inspiring messages, will serve as model behaviours for everyone who heard you.”
“I was honored to meet with Mark Pollock in Ireland this year, where we engaged with teachers and students
at St. Patrick’s College to discuss the ways technology is changing how students learn.
Mark is an extreme adventurer and athlete who has raced to the South Pole — and even more incredibly, he
was the first blind man to ever do so.
Mark is a brilliant example of the fact that we can always achieve more than what we think is possible.”
“During our recent away day in Belfast, Mark spoke to our team who had travelled from across the UK. He was
truly inspiring, sharing insights into resilience and adaptability while showing how important it is to be both
competitive and collaborative if you want to succeed – a powerful message for the challenges and constant
changes we face in our business. The entire team were not only fully engaged on the day, but since Mark’s
talk, we have reflected on what he said and has undoubtedly shaped how we think about what we do at all
levels of the team. Truly inspirational.”
“The rule of seven is one of the oldest concepts in marketing, the rule states that you must hear something seven times before you act. Mark is a rule breaker in so many ways, but most importantly his message to be a competitor or spectator, realist or optimist, collaborator or soloist was a onetime hit with our team at LinkedIn. I have heard Mark speak many times and each time I come away with a renewed sense of purpose and willingness to act. Mark’s drive to build radical collaboration hubs is one of the most important efforts in his drive to find a cure for paralysis however it’s also the biggest lesson he has for those he interacts with.”
“At the European Investment Bank, we have a clear understanding of our mission to improve the state of EU countries through strategic investment. And, Mark joined us in Luxembourg to help our employees face the challenge of implementing that vision. His insights into resilience, innovation and collaboration were powerful, emotional and uplifting in equal measure, an excellent contribution to our event.”
“Mark’s fascinating contribution was a perfect fit at our global conference to celebrate 30 years in business.
His experiences of making decisions in difficult circumstances aligned with the challenges faced by our
Brunswick people and our clients. Mark’s insights into resilience, innovation and leadership prompted action
across our international team at Brunswick. He is truly an inspiration and a fantastic example of what we can
all achieve through sheer hard work, determination and imagination.”
“Whenever we gather our demonstration team together, we seek to motivate and inspire them to each
personally impact the business when they are back in the trade environment. We took the opportunity to
bring Mark into the meeting to deliver a powerful message, that we hoped would resonate with the team
throughout a key trading period. We certainly got the reaction we were looking for thanks to the compelling
way in which Mark delivered such a personal experience, blending moments of real pain with great hope and
at times humour, ensuring the team left the meeting with a renewed enthusiasm and belief to think differently
and approach their challenges head on – Thank You Mark!”
“Mark spoke to our global team during our sales development conference at LinkedIn. His experiences of remaining resilient when faced with challenges and creating collaborations that have never been done before was exactly the message that we were looking for. Mark connected with everyone in the room, despite the multiple nationalities involved and his messages filtered into many of our discussions over the remaining days at the conference.”
Mark Pollock‘s Topics
Collaboration & Teamwork — Creating and Motivating Dispersed Teams Across Disciplines and Geographies.
Galvanising a disparate group of people around a common goal is not easy. Yet when it happens,
when we collaborate, that is when major breakthroughs happen. Mark Pollock’s keynote on
collaboration and teamwork provides your people with insight into how high-performance teams get
things done when others can’t.
Mindset & Performance – Challenging Expectations to Perform at a Higher Level.
It is tough to deliver world class performance. Your people won’t do it by chance. With a high-impact
catalyst you can help them act with the courage to make it happen. Mark Pollock’s keynote on mindset
and performance is that catalyst – it challenges your people to examine expectations of themselves
and others to perform at a higher level.
Human Enhancement – Exploring the Intersection Where Humans and Technology Collide During the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Exploring the intersection where humans and technology collide is essential for businesses to
maintain their competitive edge. By raising the consciousness of your people to the human
dimension of the 4th industrial revolution, you will empower and encourage innovation at the edge.
Mark Pollock’s keynote on human enhancement provides your people with insight into the
transformative intersection of technology and humankind as he explores a cure for paralysis using
robotics, neuro-modulation, AI and VR/AR.
Adversity & Challenges — Maintaining a Resilient Mindset Under Pressure.
Sometimes we choose our challenges, sometimes our challenges choose us. What we decide to do
about them is what counts. Deciding to be a competitor, a realist and a collaborator offers your
people a chance of maintaining a resilient mindset under pressure. Mark Pollock’s keynote on
adversity and challenges uses the power of active decision making to deal with challenges,
regardless of where they come from, to help your people become more resilient.
Leadership & Motivation — Leading Through a Crisis and Developing Intrinsic Motivation to Move Forward.
Uncertainty and change typify a crisis and it’s difficult to lead in such circumstances. By providing
your people with insights into the resilience, attitude and decisions of others facing extreme
circumstances you will help them to develop the intrinsic motivation to move forward, Mark
Pollock’s keynote on leadership and motivation delivers deep insights for leaders to navigate
through the crucible moments they face and lead others to achieve more.