“I was completely impressed with your presentation, and specifically liked the way you wrapped in commentary about teams and individuals which made it feel like you were part of my organisation.”Microsoft
Paul Deegan’s passion for sharing the risk-taking, decision-making, leadership and teamwork lessons that he has learnt the hard way in remote and wild places began in the 1980s when he proposed and subsequently co-led the first environmental expedition to Mount Everest at the age of 18.
Paul’s 47-strong team cleaned up three decades of trash that had accumulated at the base of the world’s highest mountain because at the time there were no ecological regulations in place on Everest. Whilst picking up shredded plastic tarps, discarded medical equipment and empty tins of caviar, Paul looked up at Everest and wondered for the first time what the view was like from its summit.
Turning his back on a promising career in refuse collection, Paul committed himself to a voyage of discovery after the Everest clean-up. He undertook a winter journey through the Indian Himalaya in a gorge deeper than the Grand Canyon, worked at a scientific research station on the frozen skin of the Arctic Ocean, and led an expedition that made first ascents in an unexplored range of Central Asian mountains: more people have stood on the moon than on the summits that Paul’s team climbed.
Along the way, several hundred of Paul’s stories were published in newspapers and periodicals, and he was interviewed by national media on both sides of the Atlantic. To the astonishment of his high school English teacher, Paul’s first book was recognised by the National Outdoor Book Awards.
Everest remained at the core of many of Paul’s adventures, and in the 1990s he made two attempts to climb the mountain of his dreams. However, after becoming embroiled in the greatest tragedy in the history of Everest, Paul gave up his dream to reach the top of the world. He vowed never to go back to the peak that claimed a dozen lives in a single month. But the dream refused to die. Eight years later, Paul finally overcame immense self-doubt and set off on a final attempt to climb Everest.
At the culmination of two mentally and physically gruelling months, Paul enjoyed the privilege of spending 15 minutes looking at the view from the top of the world. Each of those minutes represented one of the years that he had tried and failed and tried again to reach the summit.
Today, Paul relishes opportunities to help individuals and teams to climb their own Everest, whatever it may be.