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…award-winning author, round-the-world solo racing yachtsman, international speaker

Neil Petersen

In these challenging times of uncertainty and insecurity, many feel like solo sailors grasping for survival. Neal Petersen provides validity for direct correlations between perseverance and determination to achieve any goal using his real-life adventure story.

Neal has completed two amazing journeys: a single-handed yacht race around the world, 27,000 miles, nine months at sea, around notorious Cape Horn, alone, and in the smallest yacht he designed and built himself. And an even more arduous trip of overcoming racial prejudice during the Apartheid era in South Africa, poverty, and a childhood physical disability, just to make it to the start line!

An award-winning author of Journey of a Hope Merchant and the subject of a PBS documentary, based on his first book, No Barriers. Neal empowers audiences with his stories of courage, isolation and adversity, relating it to their challenges and ambition. The results are consistent extraordinary reviews and rousing standing ovations. His journey provides a foundation for diversity, leadership and the importance of a support team to achieve the impossible together.

When Helsinn, a global pharmaceutical company, wanted to launch a new drug in 2014 and were in the midst of major changes, they needed a keynote speaker who could weave their messaging of “Making Waves” within a brilliantly told story. That choice was Neal Petersen.

PNC Bank needed their senior team motivated to navigate a growing future as their organization expands in spite of banking reform. They turned to Neal's leadership experiences of life and death choices he made on the high seas.

In 2015, Neal addressed Qlik’s annual Summit inspiring their international team to believe that with sacrifice and incremental success, the impossible can be made possible -- and that no dream is too big or too far out of reach.

Neal is the first black man to have raced solo around the globe and demonstrates how to turn baggage into treasures and set-backs into opportunities, through innovation, balancing risk against rewards and being flexible enough to adapt to constant shifting winds.

Neal’s uniquely delivered story of hope, resilience and accomplishment is truly inspiring and reflects powerful messages that inspire others to make substantial changes both personally and professionally.

Neal’s impressive client list includes MDRT, AIG’s top three leadership summits, NASCIO, National Governors Conference, multiple international keynotes for YPO, IBM, Intel (10 events), Microsoft-World Trade Summit, Beckman Coulter, Mass Mutual, Prudential, Citigroup, Genentech, Brandes Investment Partners (three events), JP Morgan Chase (two events), National Governor’s Conference, Lenovo, Cisco, HP and 100’s more in healthcare, insurance, finance, government and associations. His program is great for spouses too.


Petersen with Large Screen

"There are No Barriers-Only Solutions!"

In these challenging times of uncertainty, fear and insecurity rise, many feel like solo sailors, adrift, grasping for survival. Neal lays out the importance of a clearly communicated vision and direction, followed by detailed planning, preparation, passion and execution using his riveting personal story.

He uses audio-visual images during his programs that bring his compelling story to life. For larger shows, Neal has “thunder, lightning and fog” rolling on-stage.

Neal's life-story addresses adversity, diversity, leadership, team work, motivation, crisis, innovation, change, planning & preparation-then execution and the courage to embrace fears.

Take away values:
*Neal carries a treasure chest on-stage and in it are examples of how he turned barriers into opportunities to achieve his dream and empowers others to turn baggage into treasures.
*Innovate - how to capitalize on ever changing winds storms.
*Change - adapt to wind shifts and stormy seas by knowing when to alter course.
*Leverage economic challenges to your advantage - keep pumping, choose a winning course and navigate to your advantage.
*Attitude adjustment - refresh your vision - There are No Barriers ~ Only Solutions!
*Elements of success include determination, perseverance and hard work.
*With hope and planning, a dream can become a reality - anything is possible.
*Life is about choice, with choice are consequences ~ choose your course wisely.

Extended Presentation:
“The Shakleton Leadership Program”

Based on the polar explorer, Ernest Shackleton, who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic and became a role model for leadership as one who, in extreme circumstances, kept his team together in a survival story described as "incredible”! Neal challenges guests to ask themselves--“Why would someone follow you to the end of the world?”

This stimulating and thought-provoking program can follow Neal Petersen’s “No Barriers-Only Solutions” keynote. The allotted time is customized to fit a client’s needs, between 1- 6 hours and is also offered as a two-day event.

Shakleton Leadership Program Content

  • Today more than ever we are navigating change and we need to be able to adapt. Join together to learn, to share and to better understand how to navigate into the future.
  • The goal of the program is to identify what the group or individual is hoping to achieve.
  • Development of their vision using Ernest Shackleton as an example of great leadership.
  • What are the steps to take in order to get there?
  • Discuss uncertainty, how to deal with rapid and ever changing winds, the importance of knowing when to tack, threats to the industry, alternatives to status quo and develop a philosophy that will help in achieving the vision.
  • What mechanisms are required today to find solutions to your barriers? What is failure, set-backs and how do you respond to achieve success?
  • How better to cope with the rate of rapid change and the anxiety that this brings.
  • Retaining the work force, rewarding people, reduction of cost in human capitol.
  • What is a sustainable culture for your business’s to thrive?

Leadership and Diversity
Today’s work force is ever changing and a new vision is needed in bringing workers of various backgrounds together for a common cause. But it is not just dealing with a diverse work force, this will demand cultural sensitivity as our world becomes more inter-related. Leadership and Developing Relationships for Creating a Legacy

  • Define, interpret opportunities for transformation, not only for today – but, for the next generation.
  • How to turn success into significance and the importance of creating your legacy. What is your impact on others and how will you be remembered.
  • The importance of solid communication to create sustainable relationships.
  • Relationships, work/personal – how to develop a solid foundation on which to build upon.
  • How to balance work, family and time to have fun!

The Power of Positive Attitude and How It Affects
Performance -
Neal has always defined himself by what he can imagine – rather than how others would define him and how he sustained his dream in the face of numerous barriers is compelling. Neal’s ability to apply his own attitudes, values and experiences to reflect on the values and mission of the guests will make this a powerful and meaningful experience for all.

The Importance of Realizing Goals: Perseverance and Determination - Overcoming fear, isolation and facing danger and the unknown has been central to how Neal approaches his goals and his life. Guests will explore how to balance risk and danger with good judgment; how Neal coped with the unknown when making life-threatening voyages and will empower guests to better tackle their tough challenges ahead.

Choose Wisely: With Choice There Is Consequence - Neal’s impact transcends age, gender, and race to promote the creation of leaders, life-long learners, and individuals who are mindful of the consequences their choices will have on personal, familial, community, and generational levels. Neal communicates the fundamental processes needed to create the foundation of a vision and provides validity for direct correlations between perseverance, determination, motivation, and dedication to successful outcomes. The choice is up to each one individually.

Change Is Constant: It’s How You Play the Cards – The group will understand that you have to address the possibility of failure if one wants to achieve great things. This may be explored, regarding challenges – sales quotas for instance – that may seem formidable at first – until imagination, innovation and passion are applied.

The Role of Social Responsibility in Corporate America - Establishing trust and personal responsibility is part of the foundation of leadership and achievement. In addition to Neal’s innovative use of technology and the plain guts and determination that drove his success, discussion about the values and ethics that frame his goals and achievements – and how these values power one’s achievements and ambition will be explore. Neal is an extraordinary thought-leader and global visionary, who empowers others to think globally and generationally with the highest ethics when making decisions –as to how those decisions impact you, your family, your community and ultimately the next generation. A most needed message for today’s future leaders!


“Neal Petersen delivered one of the most inspirational talks I ever heard at a corporate event. He had the whole audience enthralled as he talked about his life and how he set himself what seemed to be an impossible challenge. Impossible that is, unless like Neal, you believe there are ‘No Barriers’.”
Peter McQuade, Vice President, Qlik

“Neal is so unique to all other speakers as 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.”
Axis Capital

"If you want to hear an inspirational story that will motivate your employees to reach greater success in both work and life then I highly encourage you to hire Neal Petersen as a motivational speaker at your next conference. Recently, I had the opportunity to hire Neal to speak at my annual 2013 Sales and Marketing conference. Neal's presentation ability to take his life story and connect it to our health insurance business was remarkable. Our annual survey results of the conference rated Neal as one of the three highest keynote speakers we've ever had and our group gave Neal a rousing standing ovation at the conclusion of his keynote.”
Vin Capozzi, Senior Vice President, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare

"I have been very fortunate to work with Neal Petersen-we brought him in to speak to 3 of our top producer meetings. He is a great speaker and he has found ways to help financial advisors take Neal's experiences and to apply it to their practices in such a way to grow their businesses through the tough times and enjoy the good times."
Larry Roth, CEO , Advisors Group, AIG

“Neal presented at 3 Top Producers Summits receiving "rarely given” standing ovations at each one and evaluations marking him as exceptional.”
Bonnie Sherer-Hererra, CMP, AIG Advisors Group

“Neal, AMAZING, your story and how you integrated it so well into our organization. I actually thought you were trained to do what we do. Your story obviously was very well received by the standing ovation you were given. Wonderful!”
John Hancock Financial Sales Managers Conference

“It is rare that I am asked by my senior management at IBM to immediately hire a keynote speaker when he is barely off the stage to give another keynote speech the following week - but that is in fact what happened with you Neal. And I want to thank for the extraordinary presentation you gave in San Diego to 8,000, but for the follow up presentation you gave in Barcelona to 5000 with virtually no prep time as well. I truly was in awe of the spirit you drove into the audience and how you made your own journey so very relevant to every person in both locations. You were nothing short of a genius! You generated some of the highest ratings and most positive feedback I have seen in many years of running WW events in this division.”
L. Benway, IBM

“Neal you have received our highest ratings ever for a keynote speaker, and this covers hundreds of events over more than a decade. Before you, we had never had a single standing ovation, yet I can't remember a time, that you did not get one! We couldn't have made a better choice for our thirty conferences this year.”
J. Mortimer, Government Technology Summits

“I stepped into the General Session to listen to the featured speaker, Neal Petersen. Quickly, I was riveted to his dynamic delivery of inspiration, hope, and excitement. Neal is one of the most inspiring, dynamic and thought provoking speakers you will ever witness, he is mesmerizing. His presentation takes you on a journey from his personal struggles and childhood, of just being able to walk, to becoming the first black man to race solo around the globe, and in doing so breaking down every barrier put before him. Neal's story of conquering political issues and the oceans of the world will challenge your association, opening the mind, with new hope and a determination to break down the barriers, real or perceived, that now exist and to take adversity head on and demonstrate that with determination and hard work you can achieve your goals.”
K. Braaten, NACo, Past President

“Neal has been the silent force of inspiration behind this business when we operated as BSSBU (Blade Server Switch Business Unit) within Nortel and the inspiration behind my starting Blade Network Technologies. I met Neal in San Diego when I was at the lowest point in my professional career. His story left more than a lasting impression on me; it changed my life. I’ve had the opportunity to hear this great man and friend tell his story three times; and I’ve read his autobiography twice. On every one of these occasions I’ve walked away with many valuable messages.”
Vikram Mehta, CEO, Blade Network Technologies

“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.”
Linda Cote, JNR Corporation, Beckman Coulter-Hawaii Leadership

Neal Petersen No Barriers
Used as source material
for a PBS documentary
Winner, National Outdoor Book Award

To book Neal for your next event, please contact:
Tony Colao
MasterMedia Speakers Bureau
14 Laurel Drive
Easthampton, MA 01027-2577
800-453-2887 Phone (USA)
413-529-1769 Phone (Outside USA)
888-359-1647 Fax (USA)
413-529-7120 Fax (Outside USA)

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MasterMedia Speakers Bureau
14 Laurel Drive, Easthampton, MA 01027-2577
Phone: (800) 453-2887 - Fax: (888) 359-1647

Outside the USA Phone: 413-529-1769 and Fax: 413-529-7120

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