Adam O'Donnell

Adam O'Donnell has been charged by a herd of elephants, slept on by a yak and shared a trench with a large, and as-yet unidentified, snake - all in a days work for a soldier in the SAS. His service has taken him from peacekeeping in Bosnia to combat operations in Afghanistan, and from the freezing heights of Mt Everest to the scorching heat
of Africa. All this as he trained relentlessly to maintain the standards of excellence that are synonymous with the Special Air Service.

The role of the Special Forces soldier is complex - humble warriors, trained to the highest standards to carry out missions of strategic importance. They must be able to switch roles from war-fighter to diplomat in a heartbeat, making instant decisions in dynamic environments where mistakes can cost more than just a loss of revenue. During his 16-year career in Special Forces, Adam has resolved volatile stand-offs between armed militias without loss of life, survived driving through a minefield and falling from an aircraft flying 100 metres above the ground. Then, he and his team spent the night preparing to defend a remote desert outpost against 400 Taliban fighters whose sole intent was to wipe them out - all thirteen of them!

His life is testament to the resilience of the human spirit, of our ability to acknowledge the presence of fear and hardship and yet to carry on and to inspire each other to do the same. What keeps the SAS ahead of the competition is their relentless pursuit of excellence - the unquenchable desire to do better today what they did yesterday and to evolve new and innovative solutions to problems. This is the mind-set that Adam now brings to the corporate world, working with some of Australia's best-known companies to help them inspire their people to go the extra mile, willingly.

Adam uses hard-hitting real-life stories, told with his irrepressible sense of humour, to show what it takes to put excellence into action and create an organization that goes, just like the SAS, always a little further.


MAP, COMPASS & MIND-SET - The Keys To Survival On The Corporate Battlefield
Whether you're leading a team into battle or through an economic downturn, the fundamental challenges that leaders face are the same.  Leaders must find a way to turn
 their peoples' fear, uncertainty and doubt into courage, determination and confidence whilst achieving the objective. Leaders need to know where they are, where they're going and how to get there. Sometimes they'll need to make tough decisions and they'll need the inner strength to keep going and inspire their people even when they themselves feel totally spent.  This presentation will show leaders at every level how to stand up, step up and inspire their teams to go the extra mile, overcome challenges and achieve extraordinary results.

Learn from the SAS how to create leaders who:

  • Inspire confidence in their people
  • Tap into their inner reserves of strength and resilience to go always a little further
  • Do what's right, not what's easy

WHO DARES GRINS - Because Business Is Too Important To Take Seriously
In this hilarious, and at times irreverent, look at what has often been called 'big boys games played by big boys rules', Adam will entertain, amuse and inspire your audience.
Taking his audience on a journey of self-discovery, adventure and some of the worst toilets imaginable, Adam recounts stories from the world of the elite warrior with humility and a generous helping of humour.  His life in Special Forces has been a rollercoaster ride from mind-numbing boredom to mind-freezing terror and all points in between. Yet beneath the hilarity and never-ending practical jokes lies a deeper message of camaraderie and our relentless desire to live a life of meaning.

Light-hearted - Definitely. Lightweight- Anything but! A natural storyteller, Adam will take your audience to places they've not yet experienced that will change them forever as they learn to truly appreciate the priceless gift of simply being alive.  This unique keynote is the perfect ending for a dinner or when you need to regain perspective on what's really important in life.

CONTACT! Leadership Under Fire This is not a drill.

There are no second chances. No time outs. No 'infinite lives' cheat code. Just you and your team under fire, over a barrel or simply under the pump with them looking to
you for leadership. Now is not the time to appear decisive. Now is the time to be decisive.  The problem isn't always a lack of information; sometimes you'll have more than you can possibly handle. The challenge remains the same - to make the best possible decision with the information and time available and then deal with the consequences.
In this presentation Adam uses hard-hitting real-life stories, told with his irrepressible sense of humour, to help you prepare for the day when business is anything but usual.

Topics include:

  • Making crucial decisions when every second counts
  • Keeping the team focussed on the objective
  • Contagious confidence - how great leaders radiate courage



Adam is engaging with a 'smack you between the eyes' message. Easily one of the best people I have seen.
- InTouch Home Loans

If you are looking for a professional, easy to work with speaker, Adam is your man.
- TEDxMelbourne

Adam's thorough knowledge, insight and sense of humour made him the perfect MC for our event.
- National Emergency Management & Response Coordination Forum

Adam O'Donnell speaker

Speaker Video

Back to Top