John Cantor

Australia - NSW

Not many people experience failure on as grand a scale as John Cantor has time and again, yet he continues to return for more.

In 2012 adventurer John Cantor achieved a six-year dream of traversing the Brooks Range solo, a 1,600 km expedition across Arctic Alaska. Considered one of the toughest solo expeditions on earth, John completed the traverse in just 31 days, 10 days faster than any previous attempt.
With no previous experience and only blind self-belief, this young surfer from Noosa Heads, Queensland, set himself a near-impossible goal. There were only four documented solo traverses of the range prior to this, all of whom were Americans. After failing on three successive attempts in three consecutive years, John realised he was banging his head against a brick wall, so took 2011 off and adopted a completely different approach to the expedition. He broke it down into little battles and worked on perfecting each element. John finally completed the expedition in 31-and-a-half days, setting a speed record for the traverse.

During this time John also battled with chronic knee and back injuries as well as severe anxiety. John's expedition was featured on the ABC's Australian Story and was the most downloaded episode for 2012.

The next goal John set himself was a Winter Traverse of the Brooks Range. This expedition has never been done and is seemingly impossible, but John felt he had to try. In January 2014 with fellow adventurer Evan Howard, they began the trip but had to abort on the 10th day due to frostbite.

John's initial goal had been to find his limit, and as hard as the summer traverse was, he knew he had more in him. With the winter traverse, the continuous darkness, winds so strong John was knocked off his feet, temperatures past minus 45, the constant threat of falling through ice on the rivers - he found his limit.

These experiences have only made him stronger and his next trip is already in the making. In June 2014 John will return to Alaska to climb Denali, North Americas highest mountain.
John Cantor has inspired companies, sports teams, organisations and schools with his adventures and the lessons he has learned from them. His presentations focus on determination, resilience, turning failure into a positive, goal setting, overcoming adversity, positive self-belief, earning the desire to achieve something remarkable and understanding fear and anxiety. He is also a Beyondblue ambassador and speaks about his own bouts of anxiety and depression.


Thank you for your time and contribution to our North Queensland regional roll out of Ongoing Service Seminars for Commonwealth Financial Planning. The feedback received from our client's for you as the lifestyle speaker at both Cairns and Townsville functions was positive.We enjoyed your humour and motivational words. We suffered in your agony and felt your disappointments. You spoke to the audience with passion and kept us engaged throughout your autobiography of accomplishing your dream. You have inspired others to keep on trying but most importantly to plan and prepare. Your ability to make your journey and learning's relevant to our clients and business was appreciated. We wish you all the very best in your next mad adventure!
- Financial Planning Manager, Commonwealth Bank Financial Planning

John's story is an inspirational tale of adventure and tenacity. He is well spoken, funny and very open about the trials and tribulations he faced during his many attempts (and eventual success) to traverse the Brooks Range solo.
- Explorers Club

We enjoyed your humour and motivational words. We suffered in your agony and felt your disappointments. You spoke to the audience with passion and kept us engaged throughout your autobiography of accomplishing your dream. You have inspired others to keep on trying but most importantly to plan and prepare.

I thought in particular you use of media, including the Australian Story material, was of a very high standard and made the subject matter particularly approachable for our clients. We will not hesitate to use your services again for similar groups.
- Managing Director, Lexis English

Your informative and inspirational talk about your successful Brooks Range traverse at our annual 'Adventure Showcase' was undeniably the highlight of the day. The event’s theme was skillfully woven throughout your presentation and your approachable personality made it easy for all the attendees to connect to you and relate to your ability to triumph over adversity.
- Trek & Travel

We found your presentation very professional and extremely informative. Our entire team were amazed at the level of commitment you showed to cross the Brooks Range in a record time and found your story very inspirational and motivating.
- Berghaus

Importantly, you reminded people that only through trying can we achieve; and that success is measured in multiple ways.

John's adventure was not only inspiring but testimony to what you can achieve if you prepare and persist. His presentation was clear and entertaining and he connected well with his audience. Much of his journey was spent paddling into the wind but he reached his goal in the end. This is very true of life, hence the lesson is there for us all.
- Newington College

On behalf of the players and staff of the North Melbourne Football Club, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the recent presentation provided by John Cantor. John’s story of how he managed to conquer not only the Brooks Range, but also the personal challenges that he overcame through determination, perseverance and resilience was a truly inspiring experience for all involved. John tells his story in an honest, open and engaging manner and even in some of his most trying moments of the expedition, he seems to find a way to find the funny side of what are seemingly incredibly daunting situations.Our players and staff are still talking about the presentation and what they got out of it individually and collectively. As an elite sporting team with a strong focus on developing mental resilience and personal resolve, John’s story has been a terrific example of what can be achieved when you truly set your heart and mind on something. We will be following John’s next expedition to the Brooks Range with great interest and hope to invite John and Evan back to share their latest adventure upon their successful return.
- General Manager, Football Operations, North Melbourne Football Club

John is a shining example of what can be achieved with true grit and determination. He is very willing to work within the time frames required of the organiser and as an inspiring speaker he is engaging, informative and adaptive to his audience. Someone who is definitely worth listening to.
- DanceSport Australia

All of our guests loved his story and said it was one of the highlights of the day. We loved having John speak for us, he has inspired us all to never give us and follow your dreams even when times get really tough.
- Belinda Carusi, Viver Fitness

John delivered a powerful and poignant presentation with a beautiful blend of humility and humour. There was a rich balance of personal anecdotes, audio-visual material and evidence-based scientific research. Our entire Goal Setting unit was framed around John's speech with a viewing of the ‘Australian Story’ episode and subsequent lessons about learning from failure. John's honesty, sincerity and authenticity ensured a strong connection with his audience.
- Coordinator of Student Wellbeing Programs, BGS

Thanks so much for sharing your story with our members at our recent National Professional Development Day series. The feedback at the event was very positive and the formal ratings of your sessions in our post event survey were excellent. Your message around resilience and mental toughness is delivered in a very relaxed style and your use of videos really adds to the delivery. Very best wishes for the winter traverse ... looking forward to hearing the stories.
- CEO, PLAN Australia

John Cantor presented at our annual industry conference, to a group of electrical contractors. Johns presentation was both entertaining, and informative. He presented our delegates with key insights into the processes that he undertook to overcome adversity, and I think that all of our delegates were able to take something away from that. There was certainly a lot of discussion generated later amongst delegates about how much they enjoyed his presentation.
- Events Master Electricians

John spoke to more than 160 students from across our region for our annual School Leaders’ Breakfast. I was impressed by his honesty and willingness to talk about topics such as anxiety. John is a living example that success can come from failure and hardship. He was inspiring for students who are about to embark on further studies or enter the workforce. John’s experiences exemplify the need for resilience when it comes to achieving goals.
- . Cessnock City Mayor.

John Cantor speaker

Speaker Video

Fear is your best friend John Cantor TEDxNoosa

Fear is your best friend John Cantor TEDxNoosa

Keynote Presentation to PLAN Australia

Keynote Presentation to PLAN Australia

5 Minutes with John Cantor

5 Minutes with John Cantor

John Cantor's Alaska expedition

John Cantor's Alaska expedition

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