Testimonials, Endorsements and Awards

From modern Polar explorers, descendants of the early Antarctic explorers, business leaders, and others from around the world.

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.

Antti Savola, Adventurer | Entrepreneur | CEO


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

Antarctic sea

…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.

One of the reviews on Amazon.co.uk

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!

Kate Walters - London, UK

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.

Lily O'Brien - San Francisco

“Absolutely inspiring. To me this should be required life reading.”

Jean Bartlett --

longtime Arts and Features Correspondent, Pacifica Tribune, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury

Endorsements from modern Polar explorers

Endorsement from Sir Ranulph Fiennes – the greatest Polar explorer in our lifetime

“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.”

Some of Sir Ranulph’s many achievements:

  • First to reach both Poles (with Charles Burton).
  • First to cross Antarctic and Arctic Ocean (with Charles Burton).
  • First to circumnavigate the world along its polar axis (with Charles Burton).‘This 3-year, 52,000 mile odyssey took intricate planning, 1900 sponsors, a 52 person team, complex communications, meticulous planning and iron determination mixed with flexibility. The circumnavigation has never been successfully repeated.
  • Achieved world record for unsupported northerly polar travel in 1990.
  • Achieved world first in 1992/1993 by completing the first unsupported crossing of the Antarctic Continent (with Mike Stroud). This was the longest unsupported polar journey in history.

From Baz Gray 

“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.

Testimonials from descendants of the early Antarctic explorers

From David Wilson – author, historian, and descendant of Dr. Edward Wilson

“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.”

From Jonathan Shackleton, descendant of Sir Ernest Shackleton

“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.”

From 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

“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.“

From Judy Skelton, grand-daughter of Reginald Skelton.

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.

Testimonials from business leaders

From Steven Armstrong, Business executive, London, UK

“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.”

From M. Ras, VP at a Fortune 500 company. Martin is based in the Netherlands.

“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!”

From T. Jarvis, Managing Director of a consultancy firm in London

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.

From Geoff Hudson-Searle, C-Suite Executive, Thought Leader, and Author of Freedom After the Sharks and Meaningful Conversations.

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.


Finalist: Voice Arts Awards
Best Audiobook – History Category

Finalist: Wishing Shelf Literary Awards
Non-fiction category

Finalist: Chanticleer International Book Awards
Instructional and Insightful Non-Fiction category

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