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Speaker Bio

Kevin Biggar was a strategy consultant with The Boston Consulting Group when I decided to take part in the world’s toughest endurance event – the Trans-Atlantic Rowing Race.

This requires rowing a 7m plywood dinghy, 5000 km between the Canary Islands and Barbados. An unusual choice for anyone but particularly someone who had never rowed before and was prone to sea sickness.

Day 1 of the trans-Atlantic rowing raceI like to think I used my business skills to great effect, analysing and innovating on the most critical elements of the preparations. However, plans went awry just six weeks before the start when my rowing partner pulled out and 22 year old Jamie Fitzgerald signed on as a last minute replacement.

 

 

We encountered storms, curious whales, sleep deprivation, breakages, hallucinations, stinging jellyfish and were dramatically thrown out of our boat in a night time capsize just 130 miles from Barbados, leading to a desperate and thrilling sprint to the finish. In the end, our rookie crew not only won the race we also set a new world record.

Throughout the preparations and the journey I learned valuable lessons about goal setting, determination, teamwork under pressure, persevering through adversity and maximising performance.

The incredible story of my transformation from couch potato to world record holder is told in ‘The Oarsome Adventures of a Fat Boy Rower’ published by Random House and awarded the Sunday Star Times ‘Sports Book of the Year 2008′.

Kevin Biggar & Jamie Fitzgerald at the South Pole

I then took on an even more ridiculous challenge – the first ever unsupported trek from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back. Starting with very limited experience (Jamie had never seen snow falling) we spent months researching, consulting with their patron Sir Edmund Hillary, training in the Arctic and rehearsing the skills they would need to survive in the highest, driest, windiest and coldest place on Earth.

 

Kevin Biggar

 

The skills learned in the Atlantic were tested again and this time taken to another level. Pulling loads that started at 160kg and temperatures as cold as -40C, we battled frostbite, injury, whiteouts, crevasses, gear failure and slow starvation. In the 52 days it took to get to the Pole I lost 50 pounds. Find out more about my adventures here

Then I landed the best job in the country – being the co host (together with partner in crime Jamie Fitzgerald) of the TVNZ documentary series ‘First Crossings’ and then ‘Intrepid NZ’.

In these shows we recreated some of the hardest parts of pioneering adventure stories in New Zealand. (If you haven’t seen it before it’s like ‘Man vs Wild’ with waistcoats.)

My professional career has included working in problem solving, consulting and strategy roles at The NZ Treasury and large multinationals like The Boston Consulting Group, as well as small businesses and more recently as the CEO of a software startup.

This varied background combined with the universal appeal of his adventure stories means that I’m able to relate to a wide variety of audiences, ages and at all levels from the Board, to CEOs to frontline staff.

Whether it’s to a small group of senior management at an executive retreat, a team off-site, or a keynote to 1800 sales staff, my advice about how to unleash your potential – shared in highly visual and entertaining presentations or dynamic interactive workshops that have made a lasting impact on thousands of people.

Keynote # 1

TAKING PERFORMANCE TO THE NEXT LEVEL

IS YOUR TEAM STUCK IN A RUT?

ARE YOUR PEOPLE TAKING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ACHIEVING THEIR WORK GOALS?

ARE YOU LOOKING TO REINVIGORATE YOUR CULTURE?

Every organisation faces times when performance plateaus, when the work force is firmly within their comfort zone. At these times what is needed is a bit of a circuit breaker, something to knock the problems and challenges back into perspective, something to get people excited about how much more there is to achieve.

This presentation confronts unspoken doubts head-on, and provides tips, tools and realistic strategies to help refocus team members on what they can control. It helps them build resilience, create momentum and achieve success.

WIN? OR JUST TAKE PART?

When I was preparing to row across the Atlantic I had an incident that illustrates the difference between simply turning up and taking part, and true high performance.

I went in to see my coach one day to get an update on my training plan. He looked up from his desk when I came into the office and said ‘Kevin are you planning to win this race, or just take part? It doesn’t matter which it is but I need to know.’

I said, ‘Well I hadn’t really thought about it, I guess I’ll just try my best and see what happens.’ Which makes sense right? After all, all you can do is your best. But his response was ‘No, no, no! If you want to win this race you have to decide now, because everything about your preparation will change if you decide to win.’

So I thought for a moment and then said, ‘Okay, I’ll win’.

He was right. Everything did change. From the amount of money that I spent to shave a few grams of weight off the boat, to the quantity and quality of my training, to the effort that went to seek out experts and develop innovations for the boat, everything changed. I know that if I hadn’t been committed to winning there would have been hundreds of decisions where I would have chosen more ‘sensible’ options and with the best of intentions it would have resulted in a completely different boat being wheeled down the ramp at the start-line.

Your staff or delegates will leave this presentation with fresh tools and a new approach for taking on their challenges and lifting their game.

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN

  • Why performance requires a goal, what the real point of a goal is
  • How to uncover and deal with the doubts that limit performance
  • The winning attitude – how to get it, why it’s important, how it can backfire
  • How to get the best out of your team mates
  • How to improve your ability to persevere through adversity
  • How to navigate through the mid-challenge ‘slump’
Keynote # 2

FEARLESSLY FACING CHALLENGES

IS YOUR TEAM UNDER PRESSURE TO DELIVER MAJOR RESULTS?

ARE YOUR STAFF DAUNTED BY THE SIZE OF THE CHALLENGE THEY HAVE BEEN ASKED TO TAKE ON?

Few things stay the same in business. Competitors get faster and smarter. Consumers want more for less. To take your organisation to the next level of performance will often require setting and achieving audacious commercial goals – be it dramatically raised sales targets or rapidly developing new products.

However, when a team is handed a challenge that requires them to step out of their comfort zone, they may not always react with delight. If they are not fully engaged their efforts may only be half-hearted, leading to a lack of progress and a self-perpetuating cycle of discouragement. Energy that could be spent on making headway is instead siphoned off into making excuses and justifying poor performance rather than taking personal responsibility for the things that can be changed.

This presentation confronts those unspoken doubts head-on, and provides tips, tools and realistic strategies to help refocus team members on what they can control. It helps them build resilience, create momentum and achieve success.

THE APPROACH THAT I TAKE

I focus on the questions and objections that take place during the various stages of a challenging project that if left unanswered will cripple motivation.

• Why do we need to do this?
• What about the risks?
• But I don’t know how!
• How committed do I need to be?
• What if we don’t get along? (for new teams)
• We’re not making any progress!
• Is it going to be worth it?

With each question I provide a technique, or a new belief that will assist team members to achieve more than they thought possible without sacrificing their sense of humour or sanity along the way!

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN ABOUT

• How to take action and break the grip of inertia
• How to deal with the perception of excessive risk once and for all
• Tips for getting along with other team members
• The secret to maintaining motivation when progress is slow
• The key to help ensure that you enjoy the journey

Keynote # 3

ENERGISING AND UNITING TEAMS

ARE YOUR TEAMS WORKING AS EFFECTIVELY AS THEY COULD BE?

ARE YOU LOOKING TO REINVIGORATE YOUR CULTURE?

There is plenty of evidence to show that teams produce better results than individuals – but only when a team is functioning well! Everyone has experienced the frustration, aggravation and productivity loss of being in a team that is dysfunctional. If the team dynamic is starting to turn sour it is best to address it early before problems become entrenched.

This presentation is about improving the culture within a team, about setting up the ground rules for behaviour and heading off problems before they become serious issues. It’s suitable for a team that’s just starting out, a team that is starting to show a few cracks or a team that wants to take their performance to the next level.

THE ‘TROJAN HORSE’ APPROACH

Often dealing with the issue of poor performance in a team and relations with other team members can be delicate. Sometimes the manager can find themselves too close to the personalities involved to intervene and having an external trainer in to address team behaviour can be pointed and confronting.

However, because I’m outside of your organisation and have a wide range of teamwork anecdotes from my adventures to draw from, I can, if required, present the messages without making it obvious that that was the point of the session. By including relevant teamwork incidents from my adventures and how they were resolved in the wider story, I smuggle in the message and leave a legacy of anecdotes that can be referred to should the problems appear again.

MY EXPERIENCE AND WHAT I BRING

An expedition team shares the same dynamics as a team set up in the business place. In both cases people of different backgrounds and varying abilities take on a common goal with limited resources and tight timeframes. So the insights from one environment are directly applicable to the other.

I learned about teamwork the hard way. I spent nearly six months trying to find someone else who wanted to row across the ocean (it’s much harder than you think), and trained together for nearly a year only to have them withdraw just three weeks before we were due to fly out to the start. As a result I rowed with his last-minute replacement, Jamie Fitzgerald. We barely knew each other before setting off on our 5000 kilometre journey. The Atlantic rowing race and expeditions to the South Pole have been absolute graveyards for teams. Relationship breakdowns are one of the main reasons why roughly a third of all attempts to row an ocean fail. It could have been a disaster, but it wasn’t. We developed some simple rules that helped us become a very effective team.

As hard as the Atlantic row is on teams, the Antarctic is even harder. Many high-profile expeditions have returned with the members barely speaking to each other. While down there I became convinced that Jamie’s habit of breaking things and losing vital equipment (like the stove lighter) would either kill us or end the expedition. There was a dramatic resolution to this and I share the insights.

THE APPROACH THAT I TAKE

If the presentation is to team members I focus on the behaviour expected from team players and the right attitude and expectation to bring to the team. If it is to managers I focus more on how to set up a team for success.

I start by focusing on the five things an individual receives from a team. To be a good team player these are the things that you need to contribute – it’s a lot more than just being good at your job. Then I go into what different personalities bring to teams, and why that diversity is crucial, how it can lead to problems and how these can be resolved. This presentation helps create a team that is competent, collaborative and committed. Each participant will be able to answer the question ‘What can I do to help the team function its best?’

Video
Video
Topics

TAKING PERFORMANCE TO THE NEXT LEVEL
FEARLESSLY FACING CHALLENGES
ENERGISING AND UNITING TEAMS
BOOST YOUR MENTAL TOUGHNESS
THE BREAK THROUGH WORKSHOP

Expert On:

So before any presentation I will always meet with you to understand the background and goals of the occasion, the size and demographics of the audience, and what content needs to be put across in what manner so that my presentation and delivery can be specifically crafted to meet your needs, and you get maximum value from having me.

That said – here is what I typically get asked to do:

• To help achieve peak performance in an organisation
• Entertain and inspire staff and clients
• Provide insight into outrageous (but achievable) goal setting
• Provide techniques for maintaining motivation and persevering through adversity
• To help create high performing teams

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  • 2 December 2021 10:53 am local time

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Contact Me:
  • Kevin@KevinBiggar.com

  • +64 (0) 27 282 4203

  • https://www.kevinbiggar.co.nz/

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