Bruce Kirkby


Bruce Kirkby

Award-Winning Explorer | Writer | Photographer

A wilderness writer and adventure photographer, Bruce Kirkby is recognized for connecting wild places with contemporary issues. With journeys spanning around the world, his accomplishments include the first modern crossing of Arabia’s Empty Quarter by camel, a descent of Ethiopia’s Blue Nile Gorge by raft, a sea-kayak traverse of Borneo’s northern coast, and a coast-to-coast Icelandic trek. Encouraging audiences to get out of their comfort zones, think creatively, and take calculated risks, his belief in human potential is contagious.

A celebrated writer, Bruce is a regular columnist for The Globe and Mail, the author of two bestselling books, and a multi-National Magazine Award winner. His work has appeared in The New York Times, EnRoute, The Huffington Post, Explore and Canadian Geographic, among other esteemed publications.

As a photographer, his clients include Patagonia, Lululemon, Time, Outside, NG Adventure and Maclean’s. Winner of a prestigious Western Magazine Award, his photographs were selected by National Geographic as among “the most compelling adventure images of the decade.”

He is the former host of CBC’s No Opportunity Wasted, and the creator, producer, and star of Travel Channel’s television series, Big Crazy Family Adventure.

New! Cleaning Your Cluttered Brain: A Field Guide to Productivity and Performance in a Hectic World

Bruce Kirkby’s interest in “the uncluttered mind” was sparked by his epic overland journey to China, Tibet, Nepal, and the Indian Himalaya, accompanied by his wife and their two young boys, where they lived for months amongst Buddhist monks in a remote Himalayan monastery.

Immersed in a lost Himalayan kingdom, with all forms of communication forsaken (phones, tablets, computers), this inveterate multi-tasker felt his mind begin to clear, his productivity and creativity soar. For the first time in years, came the odd and liberating sense, “Isn’t there something I should be worrying about?”

Upon returning home, Bruce began a major book project, and immediately noted marked increases in his clarity of thought, ability to focus, and productivity.  He also noted, with some concern, the speed with which these abilities began to dissolve amid the noise of our modern world.

His efforts to retain that clarity, by throwing himself into the latest neuroscience research, interviewing high performers, and experimenting with mindfulness strategies is what has lead to his newest keynote; Cleaning Your Cluttered Brain: A Guide to Productivity and High Performance in a Hectic World.

Achieving Breakthrough Performance Beyond the Comfort Zone

Do what you’ve always done, and one thing is certain: You’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.  

Seeking new results? Evolving business? Altered playing field?

Confronting uncertainty is the secret to growth. Facing fear, breaking habits and abandoning comfortable routines lies at the heart of innovation, transformation and success.  Those who succeed are those best prepared to leave the familiar behind.

But how?  

The greatest barrier to change is our modern comfort addiction. Of all the temptations, ‘comfort’ may be the subtlest.  It is unquestionably the most crippling; stealing opportunities and stifling success.

The most effective tool in combatting comfort addiction is to recognize that the opposite of comfort is never discomfort. Rather, stepping away from comfort means stepping towards a world alive with possibilities. This is the landscape of success; where routine is replaced by renaissance; where new perceptions and new perspectives make the impossible possible. This is where individuals accomplish the unimaginable. This is where successful organizations operate.

Drawing on a lifetime of wilderness experience, and illuminated with his stunning photography, Bruce’s keynote helps identify comfort’s unseen constraints  – both personal and institutional — and offers sound simple strategies that guide beyond, towards adventure and possibility.

One small step towards the unknown begins a massive shift towards possibility. Discover the power of doing things differently. Start your journey, right, now.


“I have seen plenty of keynote speakers over the years, and without question, your Comfort Zone address ranks among the very best. Perfect tone, perfect message, perfect presentation.”

–Global VP, OpenText Software

An Explorer’s Guide to Risk Management

Across the business world, Risk Governance has skyrocketed in priority- from the rapid emergence of EMR (Enterprise Risk Management) frameworks and CRO executive positions in corporate structure to zero-lost-time initiatives is industrial settings.  But within the increasingly complex models used to measure and mitigate modern risk there lurks an Achilles heel: the eternal uncertainty of human behavior.  An organization that fears the wrong things, focuses on the wrong vulnerabilities, or takes the wrong risks, will never reach its full potential.

Using helicopter crashes, hostage takings and Himalayan avalanches as a dramatic backdrop, Bruce establishes the universal precepts of Risk Management, then quickly moves deeper, exposing the inherent – and widely disregarded – blind-spots that exist within instinct and intuition.  From the tendency to overestimate exotic dangers (while underestimating mundane hazards) to the phenomenon of ‘risk creep’ (or the inevitable lowering of guard in familiar with environments), Bruce’s scenarios illuminate how to identify concealed vulnerabilities, control exposure, and ultimately help navigate any environment reliably and confidently.

Both entertaining and immediately applicable, Bruce’s keynote provides simple strategies that will help any audience remain methodically sheltered from crisis — yet open to opportunity.

“Yours was of the most effective explanations of Risk Management I have ever heard – from speakers within the industry or beyond.  It combined a solid explanation of principles with fascinating real-life examples, and was relevant for the entire spectrum, from risk neophytes to seasoned professionals.”

–Executive Director, Preparation, Planning and Risk, Government of Alberta

Full Throttle Storytelling: A Journey to the World’s Wildest Places

From horse rustlers in Mongolia to crocodile attacks on the Blue Nile, from a helicopter crash on Mount Everest to evading Myanmar’s Army in a tropical paradise, Bruce’s spellbinding stories will take your audience on a journey of exploration and joyful discovery.

Meet the Ethiopian orphan who changed the course of an African expedition. Crash through the icebergs of arctic rivers. Sit atop camels in the sands of southern Arabia. Peppered with exquisite photographs, and highlighted by an exuberant storytelling style that has won National Magazine Award Gold, this entertaining presentation is perhaps best-described as a National Geographic journey coming to life before your eyes.

In the words of a former client:

“I have listened to guys like Brent Butt, Kelly Hrudey and Stuart McLean, and would humbly suggest that Bruce rivals all of them in entertainment value. The ironic thing is I probably learned more from this presentation than if there was an explicit lesson for us.”

Mawer Investment Management Ltd.

As a regular Globe and Mail columnist, and former CBC television host, Bruce will take your audience on an unforgettable journey through the most remote corners of the planet.

Achieving Breakthrough Performance Beyond the Comfort Zone

Confronting uncertainty is the foundation of all growth. Those who succeed are the ones prepared to leave familiarity behind. The “Unknown” is the landscape of success, where routine is replaced by renaissance—and it is where all successful groups and individuals operate.

Many remain fearful of exploring unknown realms, where the line between unfamiliarity and panic can be thin. Instead, they retreat into the safe and predictable “Comfort Zones,” settling for the “same-old, same-old.”  Do what you’ve always done, and you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.

Finding the “sweet spot” on the spectrum of human performance—beyond the Comfort Zone but before panic, remains a little-recognized and under-utilized skill.  In his digital offerings, Bruce Kirkby provides the skills and strategies to help people find their own sweet spot and to help them form an enduring habit of success.