Neal Petersen: Biography highlights

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!

Known for:

Adventurers and Explorers

Based in:

North America

Languages spoken:


Full biography of Neal Petersen

Neal Petersen’s background

World-class, history-making extreme adventurer, Neal Petersen completed two amazing journeys in his life: a single-handed yacht race around the world, 27,000 miles, 9 months at sea, alone, around Cape Horn, and in the smallest, least funded, yacht he designed and built himself. And an even more arduous and eventful trip of overcoming racial prejudice during the harsh Apartheid era in South Africa, poverty, and a childhood physical disability, just to make it to the start line!

Neal inspires organisations to foster innovation, build stronger teams, adapt under pressure, and cultivate a mindset that focuses on solutions!

Petersen brilliantly connects his remarkable story to audience’s unique challenges, a theme or vision with dramatic stories of adversity, sheer determination and triumph. His presentations redefine courage and human potential.

With high energy and fully engaging presentation style, Neal audience’s are spellbound from the moment he walks onstage, until he departs – leaving them with a fresh perspective on turning disadvantages into advantages.


Neal carries a treasure chest on stage, and in its symbols of how he reached his dream by always turning barriers into opportunities, then into solutions.

Using examples of how he overcame insurmountable barriers is compelling and highly entertaining. Neal demonstrates how success is realized through innovation, balancing risk against return and being flexible enough to adapt to constant shifting winds. In these challenging times of uncertainty, fear and insecurity, many feel like solo sailors, adrift, grasping for survival.

Neal lays out the importance of a clearly communicated vision, followed by detailed planning, preparation, passion and then execution. Neal has challenged global audiences to prevail against their own formidable barriers and setbacks while igniting passion as they navigate forward.

This story of hope, resilience, and accomplishment is truly inspiring and reflects a powerful message that “in life, there are no barriers, only solutions!”

Neal projects stunning images during his keynote and a 1 ½ minute intro and a 4-minute powerful self-filmed video of Neal rounding Cape Horn solo – his dream!

He has thunder built into his presentation lightning and fog are easy options for larger productions, dramatically bringing his story to life.

Faced with huge challenges and rapid changes in today’s world, it’s easy to get bogged down in the negativity and uncharted waters. Striving for goals and success helps us to remain positive and to remember what’s really important.


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Available for:

After Dinner Engagement

Watch Neal in action

1/1 videos
No barriers: Neal Petersen at TEDxUniversityofNevada
No barriers: Neal Petersen at TEDxUniversityofNevada
Brandes Investment Partners

Mr Neal Petersen gave the opening speech for the Brandes Investment Partners conference of institutional investors (450) from around the world. Neal is an inspirational and dynamic speaker who I would recommend as a featured speaker. He also makes considerable efforts to relate his speech to our particular company or group audience. Our group was delighted with his presentation.'

Charles Brandes
Axis Capital Holding

'Neal is so unique, he is so much more than a keynote, he is the 'best of the best'. Neal not only delivers a unique, captivating and memorable life-story, filled with valuable content, but he masterfully weaves in his audiences challenges and he does it seamlessly because he is PREPARED! He digs deeper and goes out of his way - to gain an in-depth understanding of where they are as a group, where they want to be and what it will take to get them there. Neal is truly a leader and teaches genuine leadership, by example in all aspects of what he represents. He is so much more than just a keynote speaker.'


'Neal Petersen's powerful presentation was the perfect keynote for our Global Inclusion Summit! His dramatic storytelling ignited and captivated our audience. With high energy and fully engaging presentation style, Neal captured the audience's attention and left us with a fresh perspective on turning disadvantages into advantages. Neal's inspirational 'No Barriers' presentation brought our Summit theme to life!'

Chief Global Diversity Officer
Government Technology

'Neal Petersen has received our highest ratings ever for a keynote speaker, and this covers hundreds of events over more than a decade. Before him, we never had a single standing ovation, yet I can't remember a time when he did not get one! He also goes out of his way to spend time with attendees afterwards. He has a magical way of inspiring people. We couldn't have made a better choice for our thirty conferences this year.'

JNR Corp

'I have spent hours and hours reviewing motivational speaker options for my corporate clients. But this is the first time that I have felt so strongly about a speaker and the success that he will bring to your events, that I felt compelled to pass the information on. Neal Petersen's message is current and very significant in today's current times. His energy is contagious. The group is sure to give him a standing ovation and participants will take away messages that will indeed be life-changing.'

AIG Financial Advisors, Inc.

'Neal - I just wanted to thank you for the great message you shared with our top producers and senior management team at the Leaders Summit. Your entire presentation was right on point with the goals of the meeting and was extremely well received and you were given a rare standing ovation. Several advisors commented on how much they personally got from your unique story, how effective you were at incorporating relevant elements to this group, and how enjoyable it was to spend time with you throughout the meeting.'

Les Helm
Vice President, Education, Training and Marketing Communications

'Based on the numerous people who commented, 'Wow - he was unbelievable!' and the long line that formed after your talk to purchase a copy of your book, your story obviously hit a chord with our insurance audience! There is no doubt that our participants left the event inspired and ready to 'tackle the world', which is exactly how we wanted them to depart. It's amazing how important that closing presentation is. To a large extent, it determines how people rate and recall the entire event. Secondly, your delivery is magnetic. You establish rapport with the audience instantly, as your energy 'zaps' through the crowd.'

CMP for IBM event

'Quite frankly, I've never worked with a speaker who puts so much effort into customizing the message to fit the specific needs of the audience. And it paid off tremendously! As these folks go through the transition from an independent software company to becoming part of IBM's sprawling software unit, you helped them understand that they can successfully navigate the uncharted waters ahead as long as they stay focused on solutions, not barriers.'

Patricia Iannucci
BMC Software, Inc.

'Neal did a great job for our event. We were very pleased that some of the key points that Neal made in his presentation became part of our language in the group - a real sign of the presentation being spot on, and useful in its purpose. (For example, we now use the phrase, 'I don't need a new boat, I just need two feet' when we need to be more practical and to make it work with what we have at hand. It is new shorthand speak for 'get it done simply' as well as 'look at this a different way.') Many of our attendees mentioned Neal's presentation as a key highlight in the event on our feedback form. I was honoured to meet Neal and would recommend him for other events.'


Neal's speaking topics

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