Meet Tom Whittaker
"When I say I climbed Everest what I really mean is … my team climbed Mount Everest."
Tom Whittaker is an Extreme Adventurer, Mountaineer, Motivational Speaker, Teamwork and Leadership Trainer, University Professor, Human Achievement Specialist, Author, Philanthropist.
Whittaker’s authenticity and his ability to engage his audiences ‘hearts’ and ‘heads’ in profound ways make him a sought after corporate speaker. IBM, DELL, Merrill Lynch, NASA and National Geographic are all companies he has inspired to embrace change, take responsibility for outcomes, and drive forward with integrity and passion in pursuit of their vision.
Tom Whittaker rocked conventional wisdom when, as an amputee, he created a world first by becoming the first person with a disability to climb Mount Everest. Now he is aiming for a new world record; to become the first amputee to conquer the highest peak on each of seven continents.
Tom Whittaker, a world-class mountaineer, has pitted himself against the North Face of the Matterhorn in winter, Mt. McKinley, and the nose of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. On Thanksgiving Day of 1979, a car accident shattered both his legs. Emergency surgery saved his life but required the removal of his right kneecap - and the amputation of his right foot. Tom Whittaker’s life had changed forever but his adventures had just begun. Nineteen years later, Whittaker made history and stunned the world when he became the first ‘disabled’ climber ever to conquer Mount Everest.
This was his third attempt on that mountain. In 1995 he came within 1,500 feet of the summit before being beaten back. On returning to base camp, teammate Greg Child gave Tom a stone saying “I picked this up on the summit and I want you to put it back where I got it from”. The gauntlet was cast.
Three years later, after overcoming a lung infection, and medical opposition, Tom’s perseverance and determination paid off. On May 27th, 1998, Whittaker made a footprint on Everest and climbing history by stepping onto the 'Roof of the World'. He returned the stone, he redefined the possible, but more than anything his achievement stands as a beacon to all who aspire to take a dream and turn it into something great.
All this was captured in CBS’s documentary film, "Footprint on Everest", which won the Teddy (Roosevelt) Award for best adventure documentary. The film was re-tooled for “48 Hours" with Dan Rather as “Against All Odds.”
Tom Whittaker’s experiences have taken him on a remarkable journey of adventure and self-discovery. He proved to the world – and himself – that the mind is more powerful than the body. He has battled to raise awareness of diversity and the real abilities of people with disabilities. Tom is convinced that the best way for people, no matter who they are, to achieve their destinies is through well defined values, self knowledge, clear goals and the ambition and drive to make it happen. Whittaker’s wining formula has worked for him and his teams in the most extreme environments on Earth. Of this you can be absolutely certain; it will work for your people - Guaranteed!
MAKING IT HAPPEN - Managing For Results In A Depressed Economy
Following his star, Tom Whittaker came to the United States to become a world famous mountaineer, until a drunk driver shattered his legs and crushed his dreams. The story of how he reinvented himself to become an agent of positive change is outstanding. Add to this, taking a ‘never walk again’ prognosis to the summit of Mount Everest; you have the caliber of this man and the potency of his message.
Tom Whittaker uses three short video clips that transport his audience into the heart of the Himalayas and place them on the summit of the world’s tallest mountain. With the passion of a man deeply in love with life and humor that resonates from within, Tom Whittaker takes us on an emotional roller coaster that makes any adversity we face seem like a bump in the road.
Whittaker’s presentation is not about falling down but about getting back up and finishing the race, no matter how lofty the goal.
His focus is not about disability; it is about ability. The ability we all possess to learn from experience and turn adversity into triumph.
Whittaker’s message is about being part of a vision that is bigger than one’s self and making it happen.
REACH FOR THE STARS - Motivating Your Sales Force
Tom Whittaker's Inspirational TalksUsing the same classic ingredients and combining a compelling life portfolio with award winning video, Whittaker takes his audience on a roller coaster journey to the roof of the world. Although your sales force may not experience bone chilling cold, crossing bottomless crevasses, and fight gale force winds, they do face the challenge of consistently doing more and working smarter, and faster in the face of a severe economic climate. Under your leadership and direction, the motivation and confidence of your sales team play a critical role in your companies success.
Tom Whittaker works with you to understand your unique needs and weave your messages seamlessly into his presentation so that your people hear your themes and values in the context of his rich life portfolio and his lofty achievements.
RIDING THE AVALANCHE - Motivation for Business that have been Reorganized, Merged or Downsized
At 31, Tom Whittaker was coaching a nationally ranked rugby team, climbing extreme rock and ice and redefining the possible in a kayak on whitewater rivers in the wilds of Canada and the US. In a matter of seconds, all this changed. With destroyed knees, broken legs and an amputated foot, Tom had to reinvent himself.
It would have been too easy for Tom Whittaker to make excuses and settle for less. Instead of focusing on what he had lost, he focused on what he still had. Whittaker was determined to rebuild himself as a more focused and potent individual than he had been before the accident. Tom Whittaker's journey took him from a 'never walk again' prognosis to stand on the summit of the most unforgiving mountain on earth. Going to the mountain, Whittaker knew that one person perishes for every six successful summit bids. He also knew that for Westerners, the probability of success is one in thirty. In other words, you are five more times likely to perish that you are to succeed in your goal. However, rather than daunting him, he went to this mountain three times spending a total of six months in its icy clasp. Finally his persistence and focus paid off!
SEEKING YOUR SUMMIT - Discover your Purpose—Leave a Legacy
Tom Whittaker believes that the key to achieving satisfaction and a sense of inner peace is to discover your passion and pursue it relentlessly. His personal message is to "Live an Important Life" by seeking a balance between Success (status, power, material wealth) and Significance (making a difference and being admired and valued by those you touch.)
Whittaker explains how the old Tom Whittaker perished on a frozen highway in Idaho and how, out of the broken bag of bones he reinvented the new Tom Whittaker. A person that doesn't do things because "That's the way they're always done" but does them because "It's never been done before."
As a school boy he was “written off” by an educational system that, at the age of 9, streamed him into a vocational training backwater for non academic children. Despite this damming indictment, the new Tom Whittaker earned two masters degrees, pursued a PhD at Colorado State University and wrote a book. And again, at 31 This world class mountaineer was written off by the climbing community but despite having both legs crushed, his knees destroyed and right foot amputated he proved them wrong by taking a ‘never walk again’ prognosis to the Roof of the World.
It was this Tom Whittaker that was honored at a Royal Investiture by Queen Elisabeth II at Buckingham Palace for his service to mountaineering and people with disabilities. It is this Tom Whittaker that will speak to your people and, as Christopher Reeve said, will "Knock down barriers of limited expectations. "His story is a testament to courage, drive, and the power of the human spirit. It's for anyone who's ever faced a challenge, who's ever had his or her mountain to climb. He will inspire you, no matter what your ability, to be better than you thought you could be."
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