Chris Waddell is a phenomenal motivational speaker. His resilience message, “It’s not what happens to you. It’s what you do with what happens to you,” will push your team to find opportunity in tragedy, mishap, fear and insecurity. The strongest, smartest and most accomplished among us will struggle. The successful just do it better. Chris knows struggle and victory. As a college freshman ski racer, his binding popped off in the middle of a turn. The resulting fall broke his back and left him paralyzed from the waist down. Less than a year later, his first turns started a career that defined the sport of monoskiing. He’s credited with making the first carved turn in a monoski. Over four Paralympic Games he won more medals than any male monoskier in history and often achieved the seemingly impossible. Also a track athlete, he won a World Championship, a Paralympic medal and competed in three Paralympics in his summer sport.
We climb metaphorical mountains every day. Chris will bring you to the summit of a real mountain—19,340-foot Mt Kilimanjaro—and point out the landmarks to success. In a hand powered, four-wheeled cycle, he became the first “nearly unassisted” paraplegic to reach Africa’s highest point. Twenty-three years of speaking and over a thousand presentations have sharpened his skills the way that years of training honed his athletic ones, but for your audience, each presentation will have the spontaneity of the first. Every person will believe that he spoke just to him or her. Sport gave Chris the opportunity to change perspective. With his One Revolution Foundation, he has been changing the world and turning perception of disability upside down. Over the last eight years, he has donated more than 600 presentations to over 210,000 schoolchildren and given voice to aspiring storytellers and filmmakers, empowering both the disabled and able-bodied communities to find their best.
Chris is one of four disabled competitors enshrined in the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Paralympic Hall of Fame. The Dalai Lama celebrated his impact on the world by naming him an Unsung Hero of Compassion in 2005. NPR put his Middlebury College 2011 Commencement Address on its list of The Best Graduation Speeches, Ever. People Magazine included him as one of its 50 Most Beautiful People in 1998. 1Revolution, the documentary of his historic climb, has won numerous awards throughout the world.
The son of a teacher, Chris’s genuine, personal and considerate delivery aims to connect and instruct, something he sought even as a competitor. He and a teammate started a monoski instructional ski camp because they wanted others to avoid the pain and difficulty that they had had to endure to make it to the top of the world. Coaching offered the fulfilling challenge to find the key to open someone’s potential. Numerous members of those camps went on to win National, World Championship and Paralympic medals.
Acting brought Chris to speaking as he felt the power of the audience and the desire to communicate. During secondary rehab for his spinal cord injury, he was the lead in a play produced by Manhattan Class Company, an off-off Broadway Company. Later, he continued to study acting and appeared on five episodes of the soap opera Loving. In 2015, he published his first book Things I Want to Remember Not to Forget, which was inspired by his Middlebury graduation speech. He is also working on two other books and a series of children’s books that will follow his speaking themes. He has appeared on “Dateline”, “Oprah” and “20/20” as well as providing color commentary for the Paralympics on NBC.
A popular keynote speaker, Chris helps audiences become champions of their businesses, their worlds and themselves. He has spoken to nearly every industry and kind of audience—from Fortune 500 Companies to non-profits, from sales groups to venture capitalists and engineers. He inspires audiences to consider how ordinary people can achieve the seemingly impossible.
- It’s Not What Happens to You, It’s What You Do with What Happens to You