View testimonials from our speaking events and books, as well as the awards we’ve won.
Chanticleer International Book Awards: I&I Non-fiction category
Wishing Shelf Literary Awards
Voice Arts Awards: Best Audiobook - History category
Book Authority Awards:
Winner in Book, eBook, and Audiobook categories
One of the best books I have ever read.
This book tells real stories about what good and marvellous things might happen when we find that endless willpower inside of us.
Adventurer | Entrepreneur | CEO
Actor, Playwright, Theatre Director
I have just finished reading your book in sunny Portugal — where despite the heat I have found myself shivering while following the travails of the frostbitten and half-starved …
I think you’ve got a great book. It’s really well-written, keeping a good pace and bringing home the realities of the situations you’ve described. I think people will love it.
I have been telling my family about the most amazing stories: depots prepared but never even used; risking lives for emperor penguin eggs…They are now looking forward to reading it themselves once published!
Congratulations on an excellent book — well constructed, clearly laid out, very readable treatment vividly linking the leadership, team work and crucial decision making by Amundsen, Mawson, Scott and Shackleton and their companions on their historic Antarctic expeditions to important issues of leadership and decision making in our lives today.
The chapters and their “punchy” headings lead the reader through key issues with well and succinctly told stories from that era. The authors succeed very well in engaging the reader to relate them to their present day lives by asking very pertinent questions getting the reader to think for themselves about what decisions they would have made. These stories are a rich part of the history of human nature and endeavour, which still resound in our world today.
The summary tables and appendices at the end are most useful, showing the ships, huts, key people and teams, and recommended reading. I like the way you have added stars for your personal recommendations!
I have recommended this book at a talk I gave in Dublin in May to managers in Dropbox’s European HQ in Dublin and again two weeks ago when I gave a talk at the Good Life Festival at Gladstone’s Hawarden Estate in Wales where I held up my copy at the end of my talk and said it was my Polar Book of the Year.
Descendant of Sir Ernest Shackleton
…was immediately captivated. I found the stories of Scott, Shackleton and other brave explorers incredibly inspirational and admired how they chose to put themselves through such challenging conditions all in the name of discovery and progress.
The authors have presented these wonderful stories in a very digestible way that is both easy to follow and fascinating to read. They also really encourage you to consider how you may have responded in those situations and to think about how the lessons learned from over a hundred years ago can be applied to help tackle making difficult decisions today. I was pleasantly surprised how much this book has helped me in my own decision making. A great read.
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.
C-Suite Executive, Thought Leader, and Author of Freedom After the Sharks and Meaningful Conversations
Your book is a good one to read while warm in bed, and I got about 50 pages into it. I like it...it's very engaging and has your readable style to it
I was privileged to read this book pre-publication and it was eye-opening. A great book for executives, extreme athletes or really anyone in a position that requires tough decision making.
William Myers Jr
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
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.
Director of Client Solutions at Klemmer Leadership Seminars, Inc
Absolutely inspiring. To me this should be required life reading.
longtime Arts and Features Correspondent, Pacifica Tribune, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury
This book brings to life a time when ordinary people faced extraordinary challenges as they pushed forward the boundaries of human knowledge against powerful forces in a hostile environment.
The stories and the decision making lessons derived from them will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Author, Historian, and Descendant of Dr. Edward Wilson
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
Grand-daughter of Reginald Skelton
First, big congratulations on your wonderful book again! I’ve read it in the plane back home and it is brilliant! Also a great gift for future senior leadership meetings.
You definitely should send copies to our entire executive board!
VP at a Fortune 500 company
Just finished reading your book - such incredible, gripping, inspiring accounts of Antarctic explorations from 100+ years ago, the current time equivalent being journeys to Mars, perhaps. And a compelling context for one's own inward explorations of personal ethics, values, priorities and other factors and variables in decision making. Kudos to the authors!
Audacious Goals, Remarkable Results captivated me from the very first page. The stories are packed with drama and tension, which made the book really exciting to read and I found myself not wanting to put it down! The accounts of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the challenges he faced and how he overcame adversity were my favourites.
Well written, easy to read, inspiring, motivating - there are many adjectives I could use to describe Audacious Goals, Remarkable Results, but don’t just take my word for it – read it for yourself. A well-deserved five stars!
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) Grey
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.
Incredibly engaging …
… immerses you into the amazing world of polar exploration—full of larger-than-life adventures.
The stories—and the settings—are gripping, exhilarating and inspiring.
But this book is also about something much larger—the deep, true, higher nature of all human beings. These men displayed highly heroic and compassionate morality in countless situations where supreme sacrifices were required. They made difficult decisions based on core values such as loyalty, devotion, commitment, friendship, love and more.
Along with being an immensely enjoyable read, When Your Life Depends On It will inspire you to contemplate your own values, and help you to shine an inner light on how you make decisions. We can all learn a lot from these heroic men, and in turn can incorporate these precious lessons into our own much-more-simple everyday lives.
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.
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
This book is a page-turner that teaches resilience and leadership in one unforgettable package. I told one of my friends it is like a Bruce Willis movie with all of the boring bits cut out and just the action scenes left.
Business executive, London, UK
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.
Managing Director of a UK consulting firm
A wonderful book, especially if it speaks to you as it did to me.
I felt really positive and motivated after reading each chapter. As a hiker myself, I was fascinated by the adventures told in this book.
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.
Thank you for an amazing presentation. It was the best the group has had in years.
Kettering Executive Network
Informative and entertaining… Brad Borkan’s enthusiasm for the subject shone through and the excellent photographs added drama. His tie-in with decision making, which is so much in the current interest thanks to Daniel Kahneman, added a unique touch to the subject. Compared to the explorers, our own decision making seems mundane.
Attended the Princeton talk
A highly engaging presentation set in the historic surroundings of the Scott Polar Research Institute theatre.
Brad Borkan delivered a talk filled with a series of captivating, high-risk, hostile environment story lines to the audience, setting the scene and asking the audience ‘what they would do’? What made the diversity of responses even more fascinating was that the scenarios had actually occurred during early Antarctic expeditions, with Brad explaining the outcome of each situation.
His final summary contained ‘Seven lessons from the Antarctic’, an invaluable framework of strategies employed in the heroic age of polar exploration. Brad described each one detailing how they were used 100 years ago, and how they have timeless relevance in improving decision making processes. Lesson #5 (‘Never ever give up’) is the one that has resonated throughout my life, especially during my personal experiences in the high Arctic and in the military.
I would highly recommend both Brad’s presentation and the book that he co-wrote.
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’s book, ‘When your life depends on it’ signed at the end of the event. I’d thoroughly recommend him.
B2B Marketing - Editor in Chief
Brad Borkan is a well spoken, confident and inspirational speaker. A man that clearly knows his subject and whom has done his research thoroughly, which in turns gives an air of confidence that leaves the audience relaxed and wanting more. Brad is not a one way speaker, he wants to engage the audience, make them think, ask them questions and draw them into his talk. The whole audience becomes engaged and from the best Polar scholar to the relative novice, everybody will leave feeling completely satisfied.
a modern-day Polar explorer. In 2019, Baz walked solo, unsupported to the South Pole.
It gives me great pleasure to write this letter highly recommending Brad Borkan. Brad was the guest speaker at the Present Day Club in Princeton. He shared the amazing stories from his book, about the challenges faced by the Antarctic Explorers in the early 1900s.
Catherine Judd Hirsch
President, The Present Day Club, Princeton, NJ
What a fascinating presentation and it really made me think about the decisions I make both professionally and personally. Brad’s knowledge on the expeditions is brilliant and left me totally captivated as he relayed the stories.
Attendee at the Customer Experience World Conference
Thank you so much for your talk tonight. Really passionate and inspiring…. exactly what I needed to help my own decision making.
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.
Global CEO and Board level Chief Marketing Officer
Brad Borkan is a charismatic, natural and engaging speaker, and we were pleased to welcome him both as keynote speaker in our opening ceremony and for his illustrated talk on Lessons Learned from the Early Antarctic Explorers.
Brad has the knack of making his expert knowledge and insights accessible and interesting to the many kinds of people – our audience at the Literary Festival ranged from young executives interested in the business and management to retired folk keen on the historical angle. His pleasant, gentle manner makes him very approachable for Q&A and outside of the lecture hall, and he continued to contribute to the success of the Festival throughout the day by being ready and willing to chat informally to fellow speakers and audience alike.
His fresh enthusiasm for his subject was infectious, and he left us wanting more. Fortunately his excellent book, When Your Life Depends on It, being the perfect follow-up purchase or gift for those at the event.
Organizer of the Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival
… an enthralling and engaging session, packed with insights and thought-provoking points.
Business Conference Producer