Disability Didn't Stop Michael McGrath - Inspirational Achievements at GBS

10th March 2018

Michael made history in 2004 by becoming the first disabled person to lead expeditions to both the north and south poles – what makes this achievement all the more remarkable is that in 1984, aged just 18yrs, Michael was diagnosed with the muscle wasting disease muscular dystrophy (md).

The journey gave rise to a new life plan, inspiring Michael to embark on a career as an internationally recognised motivational business speaker. He has built an enviable list of clients, providing carefully tailored speeches for organisations including HMRC, PwC, Shell, Hilton Hotels and the NHS.

Whilst Michael’s talks are always individually crafted around different client objectives and by default different themes, his talks are laced with anecdotes from his polar achievements (including life lessons) and insights from his own life experiences are used to reinforce key business messages – Michael also takes time to actually speak to and learn about an organisation as part of the briefing process which underpins his own research and presentation preparation – this is one of Michael’s key points of difference and something that clients value greatly

The Word:

Keynote topics:

Something Michael prides himself in is his bespoke approach to speaking. He works together with clients to meet their needs for each event, so his keynote topics are subject guides rather than off the shelf talks.

Michael's talks can last anywhere between 1hr to 1.5hrs (to incl film), although he is perfectly capable of giving a 30 mins presentation or a 3hr masterclass.

Popular topics include...


At the heart of failure or success, in the face of adversity (difficult circumstances), is something called resilience, an attribute that Michael possesses in bucket loads. How is it that some people can develop their own personal ‘resilience’ strategies and as a result, respond better to, for example, the pressures that work increasingly throws at us?


Ever the optimist, Michael’s natural leadership style and the principles he strives for have in part been shaped by his hero, Sir Ernest Shackleton but also by his Jesuit education that today has profoundly influenced his understanding of: Values-based leadership, Taking personal responsibility and Helping others.


A daily occurrence for Michael; in his view, it builds personal resilience and character. Every difficulty we successfully confront in life serves to strengthen our will, our confidence and our ability to face head-on, process and conquer future challenges.


Learn how Michael’s single-mindedness, personal drive and obsessive focus on outcomes were critical success factors. From the role his support team played, the extensive research, sponsorship and contingency planning carried out to the sourcing of specialist advisers to help with his mental and physical training, Michael shares the tools that helped him address the multitude of risks (to himself, his team and the environment) that such expeditions attract.


Through compelling examples including what he refers to as his ‘Castaway’ moment, Michael shares how through circumstance, change was forced upon him and how today, he extols the virtues and benefits in establishing ‘Change Champions’ to help support and drive organisational change programmes.


Whilst most productive teams share common goals, even a common vision, Michael’s perspectives on teamwork reinforce the view that whilst the ends may sometimes differ, the means by which one gets there are the same. A colourful account of teamwork with the occasional Noel Coward reference around ‘mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun’ give a unique insight into how the impossible was made possible.


Find out what it’s taken for Michael to build a multi-award winning charity with national reach. From Michael’s observations of ‘entrepreneurialism’, why is it that some charity leaders are increasingly fatigued by the term and unsure how to embrace it. Learn why combining a passion for one’s cause with an eye for where a charity could get the best return is vital. In Michael’s view, charities must play to their strengths in leveraging their assets whilst also recognising their weaknesses. In today’s world of immediacy driven in part by technology, nurturing that entrepreneurial spirit is something that Michael strongly advocates.

To book Michael contact Jane Farnham at Great British Speakers 01753 439 289 jane@greatbritishspeakers.co.uk