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Neal Petersen speaker

Neal Petersen

History-making extreme adventurer, award-winning author, international motivational and leadership development speaker

Transform your organisation by turning setbacks and barriers into opportunities. How do you navigate forward, deal with constant wind shifts, sudden storms, conquer fear, isolation, while dealing with an ever-present changing world? Neal Petersen will take you on a personal journey around the world and show, There are No Barriers ~ Only Solutions!

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Neal Petersen's videos

What Neal Petersen's clients say

Here is some of the feedback from audiences and clients who have worked with Neal.
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Languages: 

  • English
Click the button below to check Neal’s fees and availability for your event.
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Check Neal Petersen's availability for your event

Complete the form below to check Neal Petersen's availability. If you prefer, you can also send an email directly to our head office.

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Neal Petersen's 2024 biography

Neal Petersen: Extreme Adventurer, Award-Winning Author, international keynote speaker

A Voyage of Resilience, Leadership, and Inspiration

Neal Petersen, a name synonymous with adventure, resilience, and inspirational storytelling, has become one of the most sought-after speakers for corporate, government, and association events worldwide. Born in apartheid-era South Africa, Petersen’s journey from the racial and economic divides of his homeland to the elite world of solo yacht racing is nothing short of extraordinary. His compelling life story, combined with his insights on overcoming adversity, leadership, and environmental stewardship, makes him a transformative figure capable of impacting citizens across all walks of life.

“You were nothing short of a genius by utilizing our event theme and messaging within the context of your presentation. I particularly admire this given that you spoke to over thirteen thousand attendees ranging from America, Canada, Europe, Latin America to Asia Pacific – the feedback across all the geographies was equally compelling. I can tell you that you generated some of the highest ratings and most positive feedback I have seen in many years of running IBM WW events. Your book-signing was well over a thousand books, a record! Unplanned, a week later you spoke to another 5,000 in Barcelona!”

A Challenging Beginning

Neal Petersen was born in Cape Town, South Africa, during one of the most oppressive periods in the country’s history. Apartheid, the institutionalized system of racial segregation, meant that Petersen grew up in an environment of significant social and economic barriers. His early life was marred by discrimination and limited opportunities, compounded by the additional challenge of a physical disability—Petersen was born with a hip defect that required numerous childhood surgeries and left him able to walk again.

Despite these formidable barriers, Petersen developed an early love for the sea. Fascinated by the stories of sailors and the adventures they embarked upon, he dreamed of one day sailing around the world. His passion for the ocean became his escape from the harsh realities of apartheid, providing him with a sense of freedom and possibility.

Breaking Barriers

Petersen’s dream of sailing was not easily attainable. The cost of boats, equipment, and training was prohibitively high, especially for someone from his background. However, his determination and resourcefulness knew no bounds. He taught himself the necessary skills, often relying on books from the library and self-study. Petersen’s ingenuity was exemplified by his decision to build his own yacht, a feat that required not only technical knowledge but also an immense amount of patience and perseverance.

In 1998, after years of preparation, Neal Petersen set out to achieve what many deemed impossible. He completed a solo circumnavigation of the globe, a 27,000 mile, yacht race competing against some of the best sailors in the world, an endeavor that placed him among the elite in the world of yacht racing taking 9 months to complete. His journey was fraught with challenges—treacherous weather, mechanical failures, and the isolation of the open sea. Yet, it was these very challenges that solidified his resolve and showcased his extraordinary resilience.

The Power of Storytelling

Petersen’s accomplishments at sea are only part of what makes him a remarkable speaker. His ability to convey his experiences in a way that resonates deeply with his audience is what truly sets him apart. His book, “Journey of a Hope Merchant: From Apartheid to the Elite World of Solo Yacht Racing,” offers a profound narrative of his life, filled with lessons on overcoming adversity, setting and achieving goals, and the importance of maintaining hope and determination in the face of overwhelming odds.

As a speaker, Petersen’s style is engaging and motivational. He draws from his personal experiences to deliver messages that are universally applicable. Whether he is addressing corporate leaders, government officials, or members of associations, his themes of resilience, strategic thinking, and leadership are relevant and impactful. His talks are not merely about sailing; they are about the human spirit’s capacity to endure and triumph.

Leadership and Strategic Thinking

Neal Petersen’s solo circumnavigation required exceptional leadership and strategic thinking, skills that are highly valued in any organizational context. He had to plan meticulously, anticipate and manage risks, and make critical decisions under pressure—often with limited information. These experiences have equipped him with unique insights into effective leadership and strategic planning.

In his keynotes, Petersen often draws parallels between his sailing experiences and the challenges faced by businesses and organizations. He discusses the importance of having a clear vision, setting realistic goals, and being adaptable in the face of change. His emphasis on strategic thinking and leadership resonates particularly well with corporate audiences, who can apply these lessons to improve their own performance and decision-making processes.

Advocacy for Diversity and Inclusion

Growing up under the oppressive system of apartheid has made Neal Petersen acutely aware of the importance of diversity and inclusion. His life story is a testament to breaking down racial and social barriers. Petersen’s journey from a marginalized background to international acclaim serves as an inspirational example of what can be achieved when individuals are given the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their race or socio-economic status.

Petersen’s advocacy for diversity and inclusion extends beyond his personal story. He actively promotes these values in his keynotes, encouraging organizations to foster a more inclusive environment. He highlights the benefits of diverse perspectives and the importance of creating opportunities for all individuals to reach their potential. His message is particularly powerful in today’s world, where issues of diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of social and corporate agendas.

Environmental Stewardship

As an adventurer deeply connected to the ocean, Neal Petersen has a profound appreciation for the environment. He has witnessed firsthand the effects of climate change and environmental degradation, and he uses his platform to raise awareness about these critical issues. Petersen’s advocacy for environmental stewardship is a natural extension of his life’s work and passions.

In his keynotes, Petersen often discusses the importance of sustainable practices and the urgent need to address climate change. He shares his observations from his global voyages, highlighting the changes in weather patterns, the health of marine ecosystems, and the broader implications for our planet. His message is one of responsibility and action, urging individuals and organizations to adopt more sustainable practices to protect the environment for future generations.

Impact on Citizens

Neal Petersen’s story and messages have the power to inspire and transform. His life is a powerful example of what can be achieved through resilience, determination, and strategic thinking. His advocacy for diversity, inclusion, and environmental stewardship addresses some of the most pressing issues of our time.

By sharing his experiences and insights, Petersen helps individuals and organizations to see beyond their immediate challenges and to understand the broader context of their actions. He encourages people to think strategically, to embrace diversity and inclusion, and to take responsibility for the environment. His impact extends beyond mere inspiration; he provides actionable insights that can lead to meaningful change.

In conclusion, Neal Petersen is not just a speaker; he is a beacon of hope and a catalyst for transformation. His unique blend of personal story, practical insights, and passionate advocacy makes him one of the best speakers for any audience. Through his words and his example, Petersen inspires us to overcome adversity, to lead with vision and integrity, and to take bold steps toward a more inclusive and sustainable future.

Neal Petersen's 2024 talks & topics

The Power of Positive Attitude & How It Affects Performance

Neal has always defined himself by what he can imagine – rather than how others would define him and how he sustained his dream in the face of numerous barriers is compelling.

The Importance of Realizing Goals: Perseverance & Determination

Overcoming fear and facing danger and the unknown has been central to how Neal approaches his goals and his life.

With Choice There Is Consequence

Neal’s impact transcends age, gender, and race to promote the creation of leaders, life-long learners, and individuals who are mindful of the consequences their choices will have on personal, familial, community, and generational levels. His keynote provides validity for direct correlations between perseverance, determination, motivation, and dedication to achieve any goal.

Change Is Constant: It’s How You Play the Cards

Audiences will understand that you have to address the possibility of failure if one wants to achieve great things. His message will connect with audience members’ experience facing challenges – sales quotas for instance – that may seem formidable at first – until imagination, innovation and passion are applied.

Neal Petersen’s Shackleton Leadership Program

Based on the polar explorer, Ernest Shackleton, who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic and became a role model for leadership as one who, in extreme circumstances, kept his team together in a survival story described as ‘incredible’!

Neal Petersen's 2024 speaking fees

Neal travels from:
  • United States

Specific fees fall within the ranges shown. These are presented as a guide only and are subject to change without notice.

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How would Neal Petersen deliver their presentation at your event?
Please provide details of your budget for Neal Petersen's speaking fee, including currency.