When looking for a motivational speaker for our first virtual company meeting I have to say I was feeling slightly nervous about how a motivational speaker would work virtually - would we get the same presence, excitement and inspiration that we get from speakers when we meet in person? With Devon Harris I have to say the answer is YES! Devon is a fantastic speaker - his talk was motivating, engaging and humorous and most of all it was memorable
Three-Time Olympian with the Original Jamaican Bobsled Team; Helping Audiences Visualize Success with an Olympic Mindset
Three-Time Olympian with the Original Jamaican Bobsled Team and Retired Jamaican Defence Force Captain; Leading Audiences to Visualize Success with an Olympic Mindset You may not know his name or recognize his picture. Yet his grit and fortitude helped inspire a movie you likely have viewed more than once. The 1990s feel-good blockbuster Cool Runnings sugarcoats the real story behind the original Jamaican bobsleigh team. It introduces four Caribbean islanders recruited to participate in the Winter Olympics. They had not ridden on a bobsled nor even walked on snow, never mind experienced the breathtaking cold of a Canadian mountaintop. The entire world watched, waiting to mock and ridicule them. Instead, the world came to embrace their determination and resilience. Now, nearly 30 years later, Devon Harris - the "Yul Brenner" character in the film - is a widely acclaimed international speaker and mindset-resilient coach. The story Devon tells is far from a Disney fantasy. He shares his journey of climbing out of poverty, risking personal ridicule and safety to succeed well beyond societal expectations. Devon's story is pulsating, palpable, and awe-inspiring. Most importantly, it's rich in relatable "ah-hah" examples for how to persevere through physical and emotional challenges. Of the many thousands who have heard Devon speak, many have adopted his message to "keep on pushing" as their personal mantra. Devon draws on lessons from his impoverished and endangered childhood, eight years in the military, and decisively different struggles to three Olympics. We travel with him from Kingston, Jamaica to the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst England to the Olympics in Calgary, Canada, Albertville, France and Nagano, Japan. Devon's authenticity strikes home with all audiences. Salespeople, engineers, and top executives exit his presentations uplifted, more resilient, and with their inner-winner fully awakened and ready to rise! When his childhood mates told him he couldn't escape the boundaries of the daunting and depressing Waterhouse ghetto, Devon declared "yes, I can!" When the British training officers at Sandhurst told him that candidates from his background could never pass enough muster to lead men, he respectfully responded, "yes, I can!" When the elites of winter sports told his fellow Jamaican bobbers and Devon that they couldn't earn the approval of real winter Olympians, he promised them and himself "yes, I can!" Defying the odds, Devon did "escape" his destiny of being a prisoner of poverty. In fact, in 2006, he started the Keep on Pushing Foundation to provide supplies, computers, and a breakfast program to his primary school in Kingston so more children could be ready when that rare opportunity knocked. Today, the foundation has expanded its scope to provide practical solutions to enhance education in disadvantaged schools across the globe. Despite discrimination, labeling, and the low expectations of narrow-minded instructors, not only did Devon impress at Sandhurst, he went on to command over 120 soldiers, received a Queen's Commission, and retired after eight years as a Captain in the Jamaica Defence Force. After literally crashing in front of the world, the Jamaican bobbers finished their first Winter Olympics with a valiant effort that earned the respect of their competitors and convinced a world of skeptics that the tropical island men did indeed belong. Devon took part in two more Winter Olympics and helped create and nurture a Jamaican bobsled program that regularly qualifies for the Olympics! We all dream. Some of us dream big. But few have the fortitude to overcome the endless obstacles that enable big dreams to come to fruition. In a very engaging and relatable manner, Devon shares what it takes to find your unique vision no matter what your job or situation is; how to focus, stay on track, and how to persevere past obstacles - get up after you fall and embrace the joy in your noble journey. Speaker Devon Harris is the author of the motivational children's book, Yes, I Can! and the semi-auto-biographical writings on resilience: Keep On Pushing: Hot Lessons From Cool Runnings.
Raised in a violent ghetto environment in Kingston, Jamaica, Devon Harris is a graduate of the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England. He served as an officer in the Jamaica Defence Force, retiring as a Captain.
He is a founding member of the first Jamaican bobsled team which competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Their exploits inspired the Disney movie Cool Runnings. Devon also competed in and was captain of the 1992 and the 1998 Olympic teams.
He is a philanthropist, creating the Keep On Pushing Foundation which aims to support and enhance the education of kids in disadvantaged areas. At the heart of Devon’s message as a motivational speaker are the lessons he has learned of the power of persistence over all sorts of obstacles in order to live one's best life.
He is the author of the motivational children’s book, Yes, I Can! and the semi-auto-biographical motivational book Keep On Pushing: Hot Lesson From Cool Runnings.
Featured Keynote Programs
Hot Lessons from Cool Runnings - Coaching for Sales and Personal Success
In this program Devon Harris skillfully weaves the real life improbable inspirational story of the Jamaica bobsled team with the entertaining portrayal of the Disney blockbuster Cool Runnings. He highlights some of the powerful life lessons he and his teammates learned along the way – lessons the audience can immediately apply to both their personal and professional lives.
Suitable as an opening or closing keynote.
Some of these lessons and many more can also be found in Devon's book Hot Lessons from Cool Runnings.
Audience takeaways include how to:
• conquer fear
• employ the extraordinary power of visualization to achieve success
• build self-esteem and confidence
• define success on your own terms
• persist in the face of insurmountable odds
The Power and Magic of Teamwork
This inspiring message sees Devon drawing on his personal experiences as the Captain of the Jamaican Bobsled Team and a former Sandhurst-trained Captain in the Jamaica Defence Force, to show how working collaboratively facilitates group/team, individual professional, and personal non-work related success.
The key ingredients for this power and magic elixir include:
• defining and owning a clear vision
• empowering leadership, and
• having a process of self-evaluation and persistence
Using humor, engaging stories and powerful insights, Devon translates the challenges and triumphs of being in the military and competing in the Olympics into lessons and insights that will inspire them to reach peak levels as a team. Suitable as an opening or closing keynote.
The audience will learn how:
• a clear vision allows a team to remain motivated, become remarkably efficient, and control the direction of change.
• to identify their noble purpose – the far-reaching benefits of the mundane things they do daily.
• to transform their organization by growing their capacity to lead.
• to use the process of self-evaluation to help them move towards their full potential.
An Olympic Athlete's View of Diversity in the Workplace
A fresh look at how diversity in the workplace is not just a legal mandate or corporate ethic - it is fundamentally practical, and brings the best teams to the playing field. Devon brings a creative and inspiring look at how at work, as in the Olympics, what really matters is performance, attitude and teamwork. With humor and understanding that comes from living what he believes, Devon delivers a compelling message to groups of all sizes about how to be more bottom-line successful by embracing and applying the innate strengths of a diversity philosophy.
Out of many; One
An Olympic Athlete’s View of Diversity in the Workplace
Devon Haris brings a fresh look at how diversity in the workplace is not just a legal mandate or corporate ethic. It is fundamentally practical to building the best team for international, national or local competition. With many cross-cultural experiences and understanding the authenticity that comes from living what he believes, the 3-time Olympian delivers a compelling global message to groups of all sizes on how embracing diversity can lead to greater bottom-line success.
Suitable as an opening or closing keynote.
The audience will learn how:
• A clear personal vision supersedes society's assumptions
• Attracting top talent regardless of labels and providing an open, nurturing environment enables peak performance for individuals and team/organization.
• Valuing and maintaining differences can create a more fulfilling experience and greater potential.
I would like to express our appreciation for your very informative and entertaining presentation. Your presentation was excellent and we received such positive feedback. We look forward to welcoming you back to speak in the future.
Excellent, motivational presentation. Entertaining and humorous. Devon Harris came across as friendly, approachable, non-biased, and energetic. Your valuable contribution helped make our conference a success!
Devon Harris was the most well-prepared keynote speaker I have ever had the pleasure of working with for a user conference. He truly took the time to understand what our business and event were about, and he included many relevant details from our prep call into his highly engaging talk. His keynote was the perfect ending to our busy conference, and he kept everyone laughing. In addition, our customers rated his keynote as excellent across the board in our post-event survey. Thank you, Devon!
Devon Harris was not only a wonderful person but an incredible speaker. He mixed humor, humbleness and inspiration all together - which made for a perfect combination for the audience. He spoke from the heart, and left the audience wanting more. Devon was a great choice for our event.
I asked you to try to inspire these young men and women as they begin their careers in health care, and you certainly did that. Your life story is remarkable and the positive reflections you make are very empowering.
You built bridges between our project and the problems we face, by showing our team how you handled similar challenges and how determination and goal setting were very instrumental in the creation of success.
We truly enjoyed having Devon as the speaker for our event. His warmth and passion really engaged the audience members. Most importantly, he was able to tie his expertise (athletics and sportsmanship) to what's important to our audience.
Devon Harris spoke to our church prior to our participation in a medical/dental mission trip in rural south Jamaica. His personal story, with his energetic and engaging speaking style, greatly increased the focus and personal ownership of the work.
Devon had the audience in tears and laughter almost at the same time. His ability to compare his story with a pattern for conducting our lives was outstanding. He received one of the few standing ovations we have ever given a speaker.
I want to personally thank you for your polished and incredibly motivating presentation at our annual meeting. The way that you wove our organization's mission and challenges into your presentation was uncanny.
Thank you so much for making our meeting a memorable event. When Devon started to speak the room became so quiet you could hear a pin drop! The audience was hanging on to every word he said. Everyone was so inspired and challenged by Devon's story.
As a principal for an event marketing agency hired to manage and host former Olympic athletes for one of the premier Olympic sponsors, I can report without reservation that everyone from the general public to the highest executives loved Devon.
Mr. Harris delivered an exceptional speech to our approximately 200 employees that was both motivational and inspirational. His speech transcended athletics and spoke to the broader issues of hard work and perseverance that make all things possible.
Devon Harris was a motivational dynamo! He researched our company and incorporated some of our acronyms and business practices into his keynote address. We found the story of his life moving and uplifting. His humor kept us laughing throughout his speech.
We were so impressed with Devon's ability to motivate our staff and incorporate our company goals within his inspiring presentation that we booked him to return the following year. Devon's a gold medal winner in our books!
"Devon Harris had everyone on their feet. Our entire workforce gained from his experiences and insights. I received nothing but praise for booking Devon - from our company president to the folks in the mailroom. We look forward to working with him again."
Devon's program was one of the highest rated presentations from this year's conference. He has an incredible story to tell and our attendees really enjoyed it. I would highly recommend him to speak before any crowd!
Devon's inspirational story of personal triumph and testament on the values of leadership were a perfect fit for our organization. His professionalism, positive attitude and friendliness served us well.
We had the pleasure of working with Devon Harris for our annual meeting of the top 50 executives in our company. Devon's keynote address provided the ultimate emotional and motivational send-off for our team members.