Sebastien Sasseville


Sébastien Sasseville

Athlete | Change Management and Sales Specialist | Author

Sébastien Sasseville inspires organizations to create and maintain performance in changing environments. An endurance athlete, his extraordinary accomplishments—which include summiting Mount Everest, completing the mythical Sahara race, and running across Canada—are made all the more impressive by the fact that he lives with Type 1 Diabetes. Having held diverse sales roles in Fortune 500 companies and elsewhere in the corporate world, Sébastien  marries his extensive business experience with his inspirational achievements to deliver dynamic messaging on change management, teamwork, peak performance, and leadership. Supported by superb imagery, his concrete and actionable content is truly unique.

Whether in the elements or in business, Sébastien stresses the power of agility when it comes to being open to the power of change and transformation. When we face a transformation, he believes, we must sometimes accept that we don’t have all the answers when we start. By allowing the experience to unfold, we often find the answers lie in the road ahead, and realise that these answers are often counter-intuitive.

Sébastien raised over three million dollars in sponsorship proposals to fund his Mount Everest climb, his run across Canada, and their supporting global marketing campaigns. As he says, “when the mission is more important than individual success, you build an army.” In the sales trenches or on the peak of Everest, performance is about being unbeatable when it matters the most.

To date, Sébastien has spoken to hundreds of audiences across North America, for clients including CIBC, Johnson & Johnson, Bell, L’Oreal, Merck, Hewitt and EMC/DELL.

Fully bilingual, Sébastien has been featured in media including the CBC, The Huffington Post, CTV, Global TV, TVA, Radio-Canada and countless newspapers.

Inc.spiration: Change Management and Corporate Agility

From Mount Everest to the Sahara, Sébastien Sasseville had to transform to survive and conquer. Within companies and organizations, those who resist change don’t last. When confronted to the strongest forces of nature, great lessons are learned.

Supported by superb imagery and breathtaking stories, Sébastien helps his audience to understand that change is a culture, not an action. The most powerful step when he ran across Canada wasn’t the last step, it was the first step, even with no clue if he would make it. Change is a process, not an event.

To transform our organizations starts with finding the courage to cross our starting lines, embracing discomfort and by understanding that we don’t have to have all the answers to call for change.

Because if we had all the answers, it would be called execution, not transformation. Transforming ourselves and our organizations means losing control to gain control, it means that sometimes we must allow the experience to define the result. Even if the new way of doing things often feels counter-intuitive at the beginning.

Corporate agility is the goal. When we are agile, we utilize change, rather than being reactive and dictated by change. Successful businesses and individuals innovate. They embrace resistance and create energy out of complex challenges. They set the tone and force their competition to adapt. They also create a climate fertile for innovation by not punishing failure and celebrating the learning process instead. Organization were everyone can “fail successfully” always win.

Key messages:

  • Initiating change & crossing the starting line: You don’t have to have all the answers to start.
  • If you had all the answers it would be called execution, not transformation.
  • Selling change to your workforce and introducing a sense of urgency: If you aren’t transforming your industry, your competitors are doing it.
  • The power of the first step: committing to change. The hardest thing with your first marathon is not the marathon, it is to sign up!
  • 180 marathons in 9 months. It’s easier than you think: When you take the first step, the new reality becomes the new normality very quick.
  • It takes time: change is a process, not an event.
  • Change will not be as efficient at the beginning of the process.
  • Change doesn’t mean more work. It is new actions aligned with the new goals and destination.
  • Managing resistance to change: The cost of not trying is greater than the cost of failing.
  • Changing the plan early into the expedition: Flexibility is a strategy for success, not a response to failure.
  • Change & transformation imply losing control. Forget your expectations and allow the experience to define the result.
  • Everest, consistency and building a new culture for the long term: Always look for the next logical step.
  • Going up and down between camps on Mont Everest: Change is never a straight line.
  • Going down the mountain to get stronger and reach the summit, innovation & creativity: The new way of doing things often feels counter intuitive.
  • Change is the art of being in movement. Like the wind that can move a sand dune, you don’t have to do a lot, if you are always moving.
  • Forget the summit, in doesn’t last long. The process of transformation never ends, so enjoy the journey, not the result.
  • Harsh conditions and changing environments. There are obstacles we choose, and some we don’t. Adapt with poise and improve agility to always see the opportunity, turn all resistance into a vehicle and an accelerator.

Inc.spiration: Sales and Peak Performance

Imagine a workforce where all sales representatives set goals above and beyond the company’s expectations…and achieve them every time.

Athletes know well about peak performance. They understand the difference between busy and efficient. They understand that it is the invisible part of what we do that makes the visible part of success possible. Peak performance is about economy, it’s not about being good all the time, it’s about being unbeatable when it matters. And those principles could not be more relevant than in the world of sales.

Sébastien Sasseville is an endurance athlete, a former sales representative for Fortune 500 companies and a Mt Everest summiteer. To fund his adventures, he closed major unsolicited sponsorship deals. Today, he helps sales organizations to create and maintain performance in changing and challenging environments.

A performing team always starts with a mission that is more important than individual success. And how well do you understand your customer’s mission? Are you an active part of it? Sebastien will tell you that he sucked in sports as a kid. How did he reach the summit of Mont Everest? The same way that a good sales rep must reach his or her target: By forgetting the number and focusing on the right actions and simply just doing today well. The summit is not a goal, it is an outcome.

With a distinctive background combining robust sales experience and unique athletic accomplishments, Sebastien is the ideal fit for any sales team who desires to raise the bar and set higher goals. Sprinkled with humor and inspiration, using concrete examples from the business world and powerful visuals, this high-energy keynote is the perfect way to open or close your annual meeting!

Key messages:

  • Managing a team of sales representatives: reward behaviors, not just results.
  • Performance principle: the creation of irreversible commitments.
  • Succeed as a team: create a climate of psychological safety.
  • Selling an unsolicited $500K sponsorship deal. Selling is not to ask. Selling is to give the opportunity to be a part of something amazing.
  • Always serve the organization first. Numbers will come.
  • Peak performance is not to be good all the time. It is to be unbeatable when it matters most.
  • Everything I do when I am not running makes me successful when I am running. In sales, it is the invisible part of what we do that make the visible part of success possible.
  • Reaching the top of Everest: create a mission that is more important than individual success.
  • Are you busy or efficient?
  • No anti-inflammatory during the run across Canada. Need to feel the pain to know what hurts and how to fix it. In sales, feel the pain, be and humble leader, go in your worst accounts to listen to what needs to be fixed.
  • The stretch goal should be your only goal. The concept of anticipatory regulation: we are programmed for success. So why not raise the bar high.
  • Forget the summit, focus on growth habits.
  • Creating a culture of excellence: raise expectations and you will raise performance.
  • Succeeding/summiting as a team: sharing information.
  • 10 years of preparation for 5 minutes at the top of Everest. Making your number: success is not a goal, it is an outcome. Just do today well.

Inc.spiration: Leadership

Your ability to lead is directly connected to your ability to inspire.

Leaders know that what matters most is not how high they climb, but rather how many people they bring with them. They also know where they are going but they understand that success is only a point in time. After nearly 10 years of preparation, Sébastien stood on the top of Mt Everest for only five minutes. The most important lesson he learned from that? Victory is not a goal, it’s the consequence of our actions.

A 7,200 kilometer run. 5 marathons a week for over 9 months. A start in the worst winter Eastern Canada had experienced in 20 years. One ice bath after each run. It took Sébastien Sasseville almost a year to run across Canada. After each daily marathon, he found the energy and drive to work on what he affectionately called “the second shift” and lead a team comprised of a PR firm, a documentary crew, sponsors and ground logistics. Where was the energy from? “I had a strong reason why,” he simply says.

In our organizations, true leadership means to not only reward employees on numbers, but on the creation, implementation and nurture of growth habits that support the core goals and mission of the enterprise. Sales, finish lines, summits and results will inevitably follow. Help people grow, you’ll help your organization grow. Create a mission that is more important than the individuals. Make sure you understand what your customers mission is and help them change the world.

With inspiration as a backdrop, this keynote explores the key elements of corporate leadership, teamwork and the power we all have to help others grow.

Keynote preview:

  • Teach vulnerability, improve collaboration and teamwork.
  • The army behind the runner: A story of leadership driven by passion.
  • Create a sense of belonging: build a team who puts the success of the organization first.
  • Leading in challenging environments: Leaders provide safety.
  • Transforming “I have to” in “I want to”.
  • The summit after the summit: Become an industry leader.
  • Find a reason why bigger than the obstacle.
  • Forget about the summit. Focus on Growth Habits.
  • What we do isn’t important. What it means is.

One Step At A Time

My first run was about 250 meters long. I’m not a natural athlete, I actually suck in sports

This profound and uplifting Keynote is packed with inspiration and will energize your staff.

Sébastien Sasseville will take you on a journey of self-exploration, growth and discovery. Moving, thrilling, and insightful, this keynote takes you around the world. Teachings learned from the elements and the obstacles along the road are presented in a way that the audience can bring them back in their personal and professional lives. Because healthier, more grounded and more accomplished individuals are also better and more productive employees.

The power of the first step is at the core of Sébastien’s story. He candidly admits he was the kid who was always picked last in the sports team throughout high school. It’s amazing how far we can go when we do a little bit every day. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 22, Sébastien had to learn to overcome adversity. 15 years after the diagnosis, he says he would never give the disease back. The obstacle he didn’t choose became an opportunity, a vehicle for growth. Why overcome obstacles when we can use them to grow? He’s learned that if we do not chose the vehicle, we can at least decide where we are going to go with it. That we must seek experiences, not medals. While doing so, we learn that we are expandable emotionally, psychologically, intellectually. We then stop defining possible only based on what we are today. Instead, we include a future dimension of ourselves in the equation. The expanded version of ourselves that has learned the skills necessary to reach our goals and everything becomes possible.