What do you do when it's do or die?

Learn from the past to make better decisions in the future.
Insights for your life, career, business and well-being.
Listed in the Top 100 Best Decision Making Books of All Time.

"Imagine Ernest Shackleton or Theodore Roosevelt giving you advice."

When Your Life Depends On It

Extreme Decision Making Lessons from the Antarctic

Grab an ice pick. This book puts you right into the action of the life-and-death decisions made by early Antarctic explorers.

In When Your Life Depends on It you’ll discover:

  • 11 of the most thrilling survival stories.
  • True tales of courage, resilience and even humor in the most risky  circumstances.
  • Heroic situations where life literally hangs in the balance.

All set in the most hostile environment on Earth, where split seconds determine who gets out alive.

Audacious Goals, Remarkable Results

How an Explorer, an Engineer and a Statesman shaped our Modern World

When others exclaimed, “It can’t be done,”  three extraordinary people repeatedly proved it could. 

Audacious Goals, Remarkable Results profiles these game-changers and their larger-than-life endeavors:

  • Roald Amundsen — the Norwegian explorer
  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel — the greatest engineer the world has ever seen
  • Theodore Roosevelt — the cowboy turned statesman

Audacious Goals reveals the outsized risks and setbacks each faced in their epic quest to change our world.

1st Place

Chanticleer International Book Awards: I&I Non-fiction category

Wishing Shelf Finalist Medal


Wishing Shelf Literary Awards: Non-fiction category


Voice Arts Awards: Best Audiobook - History Category

Listed in the Top 100 Best Decision Making Books of All Time

As determined by Book Authority

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any reader of their latest book that Audacious Goals Remarkable Results is shot through with what is rapidly becoming the authors’ trademark - high octane excitement in learning lessons from great people.

Stephen Scott-Fawcett

Historian, Adventurer. Quote from a review in the James Caird Journal

My grandfather was Reginald Skelton, Chief Engineer and principal photographer on Scott’s first Antarctic expedition in Discovery.

I’ve never forgotten the excitement of visits to the Discovery ship, with its display of polar clothing and equipment, while it was moored on the Thames Embankment when I was growing up. This keen interest in South Polar exploration led me in later life to publish the entire text of Skelton’s Antarctic journals as well as collaborating with David Wilson on Discovery Illustrated.

When Your Life Depends on It shows that these expeditions were not just history, but that they have modern day relevance. We can all benefit from using the decision strategies that made these expeditions so successful. We don’t have to be knee-deep in snow in the midst of Antarctica in the early 1900’s to take away key learnings. I am happy wholeheartedly to recommend the book to people of all ages, in all walks of life.

Judy Skelton

Grand-daughter of Reginald Skelton who served on Captain Scott's Discovery Expedition 1901-1904

Brad Borkan’s talk about life lessons we can learn from the early Antarctic explorers, given at Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival, was absolutely riveting. For the first time, I really appreciated what those men were up against, and how incredibly difficult their journeys were.

The combination of a fascinating talk and excellent slides showing maps and photographs of the men themselves was excellent.

I can’t praise the talk highly enough. If you ever get the chance to hear Brad speak, seize it. Not only will you hear a spellbinding account of some of the toughest journeys every undertaken, you’ll also come away feeling challenged to make courageous choices in your own life.

Clair Jones


I thoroughly recommend When Your Life Depends on It. Thanks to this remarkable book, you won’t need to face extreme Antarctic weather to learn effective decision making techniques that will help you in modern life.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes

The greatest Polar explorer in our lifetime

I recently had the pleasure of listening to one of Brad’s talks, and I have read the book too. It is inspired and written not to tell the reader what to think but instead make him/her think. It gets you to ask the questions in a different way all together. It’s clever, informative, extremely well researched and a must for all Polar history enthusiasts. It is not just for the bookshelf, but for reading and enjoying.

Barry (Baz) Gray

Explorer, Mountaineer, Member of the 6-man team that recreated Shackleton’s boat journey. In 2019, Baz completed a solo, unsupported journey to the South Pole.

Here is an excellent book. Plenty has been written about the ambitions and grit of the Polar explorers of the early 1900s; so it is refreshing that this book takes a different angle.

Brad Borkan and David Hirzel cleverly analyse decisions made in extreme polar circumstances (where communication was ‘as far as you can shout’). Their trick is to pull out the universal and timeless lessons, and they really do make you think! It’s things like; making the best from a bad decision; reframing what success looks like when you need to; and nobility under extreme pressure… which give these stories the ability to reach through time and resonate if not to jolt us today.

T. Jarvis

Managing Director of a consultancy firm

Brad delivered a terrific, fascinating and extremely motivational session at the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum this year. His passion and knowledge about the great age of exploration is extraordinary, and this made for an excellent addition to our agenda.

The 150 marketing directors in attendance hugely appreciated hearing from one of their peers, and there was a lengthy queue of people looking to get a copy of Brad and David’s book, When Your Life Depends on It, signed at the end of the event. I’d thoroughly recommend him.

Joel Harrison

B2B Marketing - Editor in Chief

Quite simply, if it wasn’t for Shackleton’s leadership skills, I would not be here today. My grandfather, Alexander Kerr, was one of the youngest members of the Endurance Expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton. I was lucky to know my grandfather and hear his stories first hand. My wife Val and I both have a passionate interest in the Heroic Age of Exploration and the characters of that era, attending Antarctic conferences and lectures, reading original and new accounts of expeditions.

This book brings the life or death decisions of those often ‘ordinary’ men of the Heroic Age right up-to-date, breathing a whole new life into their adventures. The stories are no longer just my grandfather’s history, but now a living part of decision strategies that everyone can use in their own lives

Don Kerr

Grandson of Alexander Kerr, who was a member of the Endurance Expedition and one of the 22 men left under Wild’s command on a desolate Elephant Island awaiting rescue

I was riveted throughout the talk, listening to the adventurous and courageous stories of those amazing Antarctic explorers.

What was really interesting was how it made you think about what you would do in those circumstances — what kind of a person am I, would I leave someone else to die, how would I have survived?

Equally there were some extremely insightful lessons for business and leadership, I particularly liked the way that rather than failing when the original goal wasn’t achieved, Brad tells the story of how Shackleton, “ pivots” the goal, to keep everyone motivated (the team and staff) in order to come back with a success story for the outside world (shareholders). Overall a really interesting talk, the lessons for business I will remember more than other leadership sessions, because of the extreme and exciting stories from those simply amazing, brave men.

Jane Wilkinson

Global CEO and Board level Chief Marketing Officer

Reading When Your Life Depends on It provides a real treat for history lovers, action-adventure seekers, and those committed to making a real difference in their business enterprise.

Overlaying decision-making lessons of the early 1900 expeditions in the Antarctic with current day business decisions invites a shift in mind-set and action taking. Critical questions are posed, which are relatable, thought provoking and meaningful.

Grab a sweater and a warm drink as you discover the true stories of these heroic South Pole explorers.

Kathy Fairbanks

Director of Client Solutions at Klemmer Leadership Seminars, Inc

An excellent and compelling read, one that not only relates to the relentless extremities of life and death decisions in the Antarctic, but one that can be mirrored into your every day life at a trajectory where determination, resilience, purpose and focus is required to make life changing decisions, where learnings across perseverance through challenging adversity can be the only option.

Geoff Hudson-Searle

C-Suite Executive, Thought Leader, and Author of Freedom After the Sharks and Meaningful Conversations

Audacious Goals, Remarkable Results is a gripping work. One of the great things about this book is how it brilliantly employs storytelling to bring the reader into the fray. The work didn’t merely gloss over the great achievements it highlights, but pulled me down from a mile-high view to ground level (and in the case of the railway tunnels, below ground level),  making me feel like I was striding next to Amundsen, Brunel and Roosevelt, struggling with them. Conquering with them.

The second noteworthy feature of the book is that it draws lessons from the stories and achievements that can be used today by anyone looking to achieve great things. A man or woman looking to follow in the tracks of great people of the past has to learn how they did it, and Audacious Goals, Remarkable Results delivers on that front. Hats off to Borkan and Hirzel.

William Myers, Jr.

Best-selling author

Brad Borkan

Brad Borkan has a fascination with how people and businesses can make better decisions. He has a graduate degree in Decision Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Brad has presented at business and Antarctic conferences, appeared on US-based cable TV, and on numerous historical and business-focused podcasts. Brad’s expertise is in leadership, teamwork, and decision making especially as it applies to people, teams and businesses striving for epic achievement.

David Hirzel

David Hirzel’s passion as a maritime historian and author is best expressed in his books on Arctic and Antarctic exploration history. His Sailor on Ice polar biography series brings the story of the explorer Tom Crean to life. David also created a small, independent publishing company called Terra Nova Press which publishes polar-focused books as well as the Borkan-Hirzel co-authored books featured on this website. When not writing or publishing, he can be found designing residential architecture from his home office “Sky Ranch” overlooking the sea in Pacifica, California.