Robert Swan

Adventure / Travel, Corporate Team Building, Leadership, Motivational Speaker, Sustainability, Team Building

Travels from London, United Kingdom

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Robert Swan Profile

The first person ever to have reached both the north and south poles on foot, explorer and adventurer Robert Swan knows what it takes to motivate both himself and others. When his extraordinary walks were completed he was invited by world leaders (meeting in Rio de Janeiro at the inaugural World Summit for Sustainable Development) to spend the next decade undertaking global and local environmental missions with the assistance of industry, business and young people. Once this mission was complete, Swan recommitted to another decade of service, inspiring young people to become sustainable leaders and also promoting the use of renewable energy.

Swan’s company, 2041, is the first to offer corporate entities meaningful opportunities to improve teamwork and leadership on genuine Antarctic missions. His Inspire Antarctic Expeditions teams were intimately involved in the design and construction of the first-ever Antarctic education station (The E-Base).

Swan’s achievements have been recognized with appointments as UN Goodwill Ambassador for Youth, Visiting Professor of the School of the Environment at Leeds University and Special Envoy to the Director General of UNESCO. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has invested him with the Order of the British Empire.

  • View Extended/Alternate Bio

    Robert Swan, OBE is a polar explorer, environmental leader and the first person ever to have walked to the North and South poles. He is an exceptionally gifted communicator and is regarded as one of the world’s top motivational speakers.

    In 1992, on completion of the walks to both poles, Robert Swan was charged by world leaders at the first ‘World Summit for Sustainable Development’, held in Rio de Janeiro, to undertake a ten year global and local environmental mission involving industry, business and young people.

    Upon the successful completion of the missions, Swan reported back to world leaders at the second World Summit in 2002, held in Johannesburg. Here he committed to a further ten-year mission to inspire youth to become sustainable leaders and promote the use of renewable energy for a sustainable future.

    Swan’s unique insights and lessons learned have enabled him to educate and stimulate young people and business leaders all around the world. He compares his icy experiences to boardroom maneuvers and his inspirational addresses on leadership and teamwork have received acclaim from discerning audiences worldwide.

    His contribution to both education and the environment have been recognized through his appointment as UN Goodwill Ambassador for Youth, a visiting Professor of the School of the Environment at Leeds University and in 1994 he became Special Envoy to the Director General of UNESCO. He was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1995.

    During 2003 Robert and his company, 2041, delivered the first corporate Antarctic Expeditions on teamwork and leadership through positive participation and real missions. Throughout these five years, the ‘Inspire Antarctic Expeditions’ (IAE) teams have helped design and build the world’s first education station (The E-Base) in Antarctica.

    Robert Swan has an extraordinary ability to inspire those around him into action. His presentations continue to thrill, uplift and stimulate audiences worldwide.

Robert Swan Speaking Videos

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Robert Swan's Speech Descriptions

Over a quarter of a century exploring some of the most inhospitable environments in the world have made Robert Swan one of the most compelling and exciting motivational speakers around today. He knows what it takes to achieve seemingly impossible goals, and how to take others with him on that journey.

Swan has set himself a 50-year mission of creating operational business strategies to help sustain human life on the planet. He can speak with great authority on the importance of flexibility and setting short-term milestones.

As an environmentalist, Swan has been recognized by being invited to give a keynote address to the United Nations’ inaugural Earth Summit, and he speaks with immense authority on many aspects of environmentalism, particularly the damage which global warming has done to the polar regions.

Robert Swan is regarded as one of the world’s top motivational speakers. His experiences from the past 25 years have evolved into an exceptional and dramatic story of success, failure, the ability to learn from one’s mistakes and ultimately, inspiring others to pursue their dreams. Robert has an extraordinary ability to thrill, uplift and inspire from his experiences.

The Communicator

Robert Swan is not only a polar explorer, an environmental leader and the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles, but he also an exceptionally gifted and natural communicator. Audiences are left with key lessons that include the importance of humor, diversity, communication, teamwork, and inspiring leadership.

The Visionary

Robert Swan understands the enormity of a 50-year mission, and has created operational and business strategies over the years to sustain such an undertaking. Swan’s flexibility towards external factors and his unmistakable enthusiasm for short-term milestones enable him to work tirelessly towards his vision.

The Strategist

After returning from the Poles, Robert Swan needed to mobilize world opinion and influence business and political leaders to succeed in his mission. Through a combination of diplomacy, action and determination, Swan successfully transitioned from intrepid explorer to global motivator, and displayed a natural grasp of the importance of solid strategy to reach one’s desired goals.

The Environmental Leader

After witnessing firsthand the damage to the Polar Regions due to global warming, Robert was invited by the United Nations as a keynote speaker to the first Earth Summit for Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. During the conference he was challenged to “Think Global, Act Local”. His commitment has resulted in the removal of 1,500 tons of waste from Bellingshausen Station on King George Island in Antarctica, and the creation of the worlds’ first education station in Antarctica, the E-Base.

Robert Swan on Speaking

I want people to walk away with hope, perspective and some lessons on doing the impossible.

SPEAKING.COM: What do you want people to learn / take away from your presentations?

SWAN: I want people to walk away with hope, perspective and some lessons on doing the impossible, the things other people say you cannot do.

SPEAKING.COM: What kind of special prep work do you do prior to an event? How to you prepare for your speaking engagements?

SWAN: I take the opportunity very seriously, knowing that people have invested valuable time coming to hear me, so I think very carefully about who is coming and to not give out the ‘same old talk’ and make it custom, meaningful and personified.

SPEAKING.COM: Have you had any particularly memorable speaking engagements / unusual situations arise while on the road?

SWAN: I’ve had many memorable engagements and of course the odd situation. For example, being asked to close TED Global in Rio de Janeiro was not only an hounor but quite nerve wracking!

Having to deliver a lecture in shorts, due to my luggage being lost in transit, was fun to explain to an audience.

SPEAKING.COM: What types of audiences would most benefit from your message?

SWAN: Anyone in business that wants to go that extra step.

I like challenges and they’re a real part of life.

SPEAKING.COM: Which of your keynote speaking topics are your favorites and why?

SWAN: My favourite topics are: delivery against the odds with minimum resources, and making a success of working with diverse people who perhaps don’t get on well. I like challenges and they’re a real part of life.

SPEAKING.COM: What inspired you to start doing speaking engagements?

SWAN: In a world dominated by instant communications, to be able to deliver ‘our’ story in person is my honour and privilege. I really enjoy doing it.

SPEAKING.COM: How much do case studies, personal stories and or humor factor into your keynote speech content?

SWAN: 100%. No one is inspired by negativity, by dry, non-humorous stories. But people need to have a balance of reality.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the successes you’ve helped clients make?

• Underlined and supported the senior leader’s messages, and brought the messages to life.
• Helped teams realize that a stretched goal is still an achievable one.

• Drove home relevant messages on efficiency, communications and trust, with real stories that people remember. Exclusive Interview with Robert Swan
Exploring Business Leadership with Robert Swan
In this interview Robert Swan discusses:
  • How it felt to reach the north and south poles.
  • His ten-year global environmental mission.
  • Improving teamwork and leadership through his company, 2041.
Read the Full Interview

""I certainly didn’t feel that we had overcome the Poles... by reaching them, the Poles let us through and it was a ‘WE’ celebration, not a ‘ME’ celebration.""
- Robert Swan

What People are Saying about Seeing Robert Speak

Rating Entries

    How can I thank you? Your talk on Tuesday night was the smash hit of our meeting. You are a one of a kind, wonderful person. Not only are we lucky to have had you, the Antarctic is lucky and so are kids from around the world. I would love to be a reference to anyone, anywhere who is considering you to talk. Thank you again. Let me know if I can ever do anything for your foundation. Everyone asked me if you wrote a book and could they buy it. Think you might have an audience out there!
    An entertainment guide

    “Robert Swan doesn′t just talk; he is involved on a hands-on level and his positive, inspiring example provides a workable model our employees can actually use in their daily roles and responsibilities.”
    Chairman, CEO, a major beverage company

    “Robert’s presentation is very powerful and very applicable to any business. It makes it clear that success is about leadership: defining a clear direction, taking the appropriate risks, having the willpower to get it done.”
    President and CEO, a major cosmetics company

    “Robert Swan′s successful ventures have been nothing less than extraordinary. What is truly important though, are the principles by which he achieved this success.”
    Vice Chairman, a major beverage company

    Feedback from a computer company on Swan — All went very well, marvelous presentation, everyone really enjoyed him, he added a lot to our program. Very pleased with the outcome.
    A Fortune 50 computer company

    I just want to reiterate how exceptional “Our Story” was and how engaging Robert was as he told the story from his heart and helped paint a picture of the experience he and his team went through. It truly was exceptional and I′d be happy to be a reference for any of the Leigh′s clients who are considering using him. Robert, thanks for joining us and caring so much for the environment we all live in. It′s individuals such as yourself, and those you inspire, who make a significant difference in the world in which we live.
    A major softdrink company

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Books by Robert Swan:

    Antarctica 2041: My Quest to Save the Earth′s Last Wilderness

    Adventurer turned environmentalist Robert Swan illuminates the perils facing the planet come 2041—the year when the international treaty protecting Antarctica is up for review—and the many steps that can be taken to avoid environmental calamity.

    In 1985, when Robert Swan walked across Antarctica, the fragile polar environment was not high in his mind. But upon his return, the earth’s perilous state became personal: Robert’s ice-blue eyes were singed a pale gray, a result of being exposed to the sun’s rays passing unfiltered through the depleted ozone layer. At this moment, his commitment to preserving the environment was born, and in Antarctica 2041 Swan details his journey to awareness, and his firm belief that humans can reverse the harm done to the planet thus far, and secure its future for generations to come.

    Despite the dire warnings Swan raises in Antarctica 2041—exponentially high greenhouse-gas levels; rising seas; massive species extinction—he says there is much we can do to avert looming disaster. Ultimately an upbeat call to action, his book provides the information people need to understand the world’s crisis, and the tools they need to combat it, ultimately showing us all that saving Antarctica amounts to saving ourselves.

    Order Here

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