Helen Thayer

National Geographic Explorer, best-selling author

National Geographic Explorer, best-selling author, international speaker and global athlete-gives audiences an unforgettable look into her record-breaking accomplishments in the four corners of the world.

"As Jane Goodall was to Chimpanzees, Helen Thayer is to Wolves." (Northwest Airlines World Traveler Magazine)

Video links:

Helen on Planning and Goal Setting

Helen's journey across the Gobi desert

What Sets Helen Apart:

  • Helen, in her mid 70s, continues to push the envelope of achievement and success in exploration. A lifetime of record-breaking expeditions and athletic championships has given her insight, credibility, and the authority to inspire audiences to their ultimate successes.
  • Helen is an ongoing inspiration to men and women of all ages to live life without limits and achieve the impossible.
  • After walking the planet's extremes from the Poles at minus 70 degrees to the Sahara (TWICE!) and Gobi deserts of 126 degrees, and kayaking the hot and humid Amazon, she and her husband Bill–well into their 70s!–took to learning Chinese so they could walk of 6,000 miles across China, Tibet, and Bhutan.
  • A world-renown explorer, champion athlete, team leader, educator, and bestselling author, Helen continues to live by her motto of…."make it happen, achieve your ultimate success."
  • In addition to adult audiences, Helen has lectured to over one million students in schools in the USA and internationally since 1988.

Helen is the first woman to walk solo to any of the world's poles, the first person to cross the full 1500-mile length of the Gobi Desert, the first to walk 4000 miles across the Sahara Desert, to walk across the 1,600 mile Gobi dessert, and the first non-Indian to kayak 1,200 miles of two remote Amazon region rivers-all while over 50 years of age.

 Helen inspires attendees to reach their personal and professional goals-against the odds-through courage, persistence and commitment to action. Helen's messages apply to any audience, any age, and in any field.

Helen's contagious energy and enthusiasm constantly push her and her audiences to new heights, allowing them to more effectively and passionately succeed. A global citizen, Helen proves through example that neither age nor gender are barriers, and shows how to overcome the blocks that keep us from reaching our goals. After hearing Helen speak, attendees will know instinctively they can move beyond limits and self-imposed boundaries.

Moreover, Helen's explorations do not involve additional guides. She is either alone, or accompanied only by her husband, or in the case of the North Pole trek, with just her dog, Charlie. Helen's speaking style is warm, focused, gripping-and modest. She keeps all her audiences on the edge of their seats-and regularly receives standing ovations, whether she's at the Kremlin, at Microsoft, or in front of a group of school children.

Top accomplishments include:

  • Named "One of the Great Explorers of the 20th Century" by National Geographic & National Public Radio
  • Honored in a White House ceremony for exploration and athletics
  • 2006 recipient of the Explorers Club Vancouver Award
  • First woman to travel alone to the magnetic North Pole
  • First woman to walk across the Sahara desert 4,000 miles
  • First woman to walk across the Gobi Desert, 1,600 miles
  • Kayaked 1,200 miles of two remote Amazon rivers
  • Helen has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and in National Geographic and Readers Digest.

Helen has made presentations to audiences from National Geographic, major corporations, non-profit groups, student and educational groups, to governments-including the Russian Kremlin. Listeners describe her speaking style as electrifying, dynamic, enthusiastic, yet warmly humble and down to earth. She can relate to audiences of all ages, both men and women.

Using her expeditions as metaphors, even the most dedicated corporate event is never dull as Helen inserts humor, gifted story telling, and dramatic images into the many lessons she has learned from years of exploration. Clients describe her speaking style as electrifying, dynamic, enthusiastic and humorous, yet warmly humble and down-to-earth.

Helen's Formula for Success

"My solo journey to the Pole was like life itself. We all have our metaphorical North Poles. We can reach them just as I did, one step at a time, never giving up on ourselves."

  • Take a visionary look beyond the norm, set your goals with a positive commitment to win.
  • Plan in detail before taking the first step. A goal without a plan is only a dream.
  • Perseverance overcomes problems, obstacles and the fear of failure. Sometimes it's one day or one step at a time.
  • Quitting is not an option.
  • Work in partnership with team members to shape success and lead with confidence.
  • Age is never a barrier to your ultimate success.

Sir Edmund Hillary (the first person to summit Mt. Everest) on Helen's solo trip to the magnetic North Pole…"Helen Thayer's enthralling story is that of a woman who at the age of 50 took an extraordinary journey that brought her to the edge of emotional and physical survival-an epic undertaking that few people of any age or sex could have achieved. Helen faced sub-zero temperatures, rough and cracking ice, fierce Arctic storms, frostbite, and menacing polar bears. It was her discipline and unwavering motivation that kept her going despite all obstacles until she reached her goal."

"Our group unanimously agreed that your compelling presentation and amazing photography were both inspiring and thought provoking. Your impressive message convinced us that we can all live a life without limits." Dan Crestwell, Merrill Lynch

Speaking Topics and themes include:

* Achieve your ultimate success

* Goal setting

* Planning for success

* Quitting is not an option

* Live life without limits

* Reach for the sky – make your dreams come true

* Problem solving

* Excellence in leadership

Achieve the Impossible–Helen's signature keynote.

At 50, Helen made history when she became the first woman to travel alone to the magnetic North Pole in an epic journey of courage and survival. "My solo journey to the Pole was like life itself. We all have our metaphorical North Poles. But we can reach them just as I did, one step at a time, never giving up on ourselves. Take a visionary look beyond the norm, set your goals with a positive commitment to win." Hear how detailed planning, perseverance to overcome obstacles, and a "quitting is not an option" attitude overcame adversity. This dramatic and inspiring story tells of Helen's struggle to reach her goal through storms, a tent fire, breaking sea ice and polar bears, and how a dog named Charlie saved her life from these dangerous animals. Accompanied by a back-drop of spectacular images her program shows the beauty and power of the Polar Ice Cap, and the polar bears that live there. Helen wrote the best selling book Polar Dream (Simon & Schuster, NewSage Press, second edition) about her historical journey.

Additional programs include:

Quitting Was Not an Option.

At age 63 Helen is the first woman to walk the entire 1,600 miles across the Mongolian Gobi Desert in 126-degree temperatures. After a serious car accident she was told she might never walk again. She refused to give up! Struggling through pain and rehab. she recovered enough to walk across one of the most forbidding deserts on earth to realize her childhood dream of crossing the entire desert on foot. Although still recovering from her injuries she kept going for 81 pain-filled days of sand storms, life threatening thirst and killer heat. This is a story of a vision that became a goal. Helen tells of the detailed planning, a total commitment to win, courage, perseverance and the fight to rise above adversity that finally won the cherished prize. This story will motivate any audience to new heights of endeavor and determination to cross their own symbolic deserts in spite of obstacles and setbacks. Helen's third book Walking the Gobi Desert (Mountaineer Books) was published in Fall 2007.

The Arctic Wolf Challenge: I Lived a Year with Wild Arctic Wolves 

Three Among the Wolves (Sasquatch Books) A fascinating story of Helen's year living with wild wolves and their pups. This story illustrates the need for detailed planning and a constant need to adjust the plan at a moments notice. Problems and obstacles were a daily challenge. It was only through dedicated commitment to the success of the wolf study that the outcome was enormously successful. Audiences are treated to an inspirational, endearing story that opens up a whole new world of information. Audiences are left wanting to take this wolf family and their two mischievous pups home with them. This is a display of rare photography of not only the life of a wolf family but many other Arctic animals such as grizzlies, moose and the elusive lynx and the great tundra plains of the far north. All this in addition to lessons learned from the experience made this presentation National Geographic's most popular seasonal program. Helen's book Three Among the Wolves was a finalist at the Banff Mountain Book Festival.

The Amazon, Exploration of the World's Greatest Rain Forest

Chronicles a kayaking expedition of 1,200 miles in a remote area of the Amazon seldom seen by outsiders. Surviving a swarm of killer bees, fending off crocodile and piranha, enduring sweltering heat and humidity, living with Indians and discovering three species unknown to science are only part of this fascinating story. Once more a vision became a goal; only after three years of planning was the first step taken. Pressing on in the face of extreme adversity became the daily norm-whether the uncertainty of an unfriendly Indian tribe or being shot at by illegal gold miners. Helen uses the expedition to illustrate the need to plan and problem solve while keeping an absolute commitment to a goal in the face of adversity. The presentation includes magnificent photography of seldom-seen wildlife including: blue, gold, and scarlet macaws, parrots, monkeys, and other creatures of the forest.

Travels from Seattle area