Speakers Profile - John Cantor

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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 60, the constant threat of falling through ice on the rivers - he found his limit.

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 has also been a Beyondblue ambassador and speaks about his own bouts of anxiety and depression.