Brad Borkan has a graduate degree in Decision Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania and has a fascination in how people and businesses can make better decisions. He is based in London and was recently made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
Antarctica – the early 1900’s – life and death decisions
Americans vividly remember where they were when 9/11 happened or, if older, when JFK was shot. I remember those events too. Another significant event I remember is where I was when I picked up my first book about the early Antarctic explorers. My mother volunteered part-time at the local public library, and at the age of 8, I would have to go there after school. It was quite boring until, by chance, I picked up a book about Captain Scott’s expeditions to the South Pole. I was hooked. Brave people doing dangerous things in the most inhospitable place on earth -- exciting stuff for an 8 yr old!
Over the years I read a few more books about these explorers, expeditions to other cold regions as well as books about mountain climbers. Cold, ice, snow, danger and mountains intrigued me. Early in my working life, I had the lucky experience to move to England for my job in software. I vaguely knew there were some Antarctic societies in the UK, but didn’t really pursue them until I discovered there was going to be a 100th anniversary conference commemorating Captain Scott in 2011. During the 3 hour train journey from London to Plymouth I was thinking this might be the dumbest thing I had ever done.
Through a stroke of luck I shared a taxi from the Plymouth train station to the hotel with two Antarctic experts who kindly introduced me to many people – descendants of the early explorers, historians, authors of books I adored, Antarctic experts, and modern-day explorers. All were incredibly friendly and welcoming.
Over the years I attended more Antarctic events and conferences and realized something is missing. There are lots of biographies of the great explorers like Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen and Mawson, and lots of accounts of their expeditions, but no one had looked across the 6 major expeditions made in the early 1900’s using the framework of the life-and-death decisions. I thought about this for several years, and decided what was possible was not just a book retelling these incredible stories, but one that could actually put the reader into their situations, and encourage the reader to think what they would have done. (e.g. would you leave a colleague dying of scurvy alone on the ice to save yourself, even if he asked you to). Also, I realized there are many great lessons to be learned from the early explorers that can help us today in our modern lives. We all hit patches of adversity, challenges and bad luck – the early explorers did too, and for the most part they survived. These lessons could help people today.
I had one other goal – the book had to be intelligent like a Malcolm Gladwell book, fast reading like a Dan Brown or John Grisham, and helpful like a Tony Robbins book. It also needed to be historically accurate. I knew I could not achieve this without a co-author who was both an experienced author and an Antarctic expert. Fortunately I met David Hirzel at an Antarctic conference in May 2015, and despite living 8 time zones apart, our collaboration began.
Fast forward to today. Two years in the making, the book I co-authored has surfaced. It is called When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme Decision Making Lessons from the Antarctic. The book was vetted for historical accuracy by seven of the world’s leading Antarctic historians (many of whom I met at the Captain Scott conference in Plymouth years before), and the cover was designed my one of London’s leading book designers. The book has been endorsed by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the greatest modern Polar explorer of our lifetime. Jonathan Shackleton, a descendant of the explorer Ernest Shackleton has called it, “the Polar book of the year”.
I still live in England and work for a software company full-time. Writing the book has changed my life -- I now do book talks to business and non-business audiences and have appeared on cable TV and internet radio. My goal has always been to get the Antarctic stories into the common culture, and to hopefully show people that they can overcome challenges, adversity and bad luck just like the early explorers did.
Our website is www.extreme-decisions.com, and I am occasionally on twitter as @PolarDecisions. Our audiobook came out this month and was recorded by a world-renowned narrator, Dennis Kleinman. Dennis was so taken by the stories in the book that he made a 3 min video to help promote it.
The book was joy to write, and from it my co-author and I have developed a life-long friendship with the hope of collaborating on another book.
When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme Decision Making Lessons from the Antarctic
Antarctica -- Life-and-death decisions -- the early 1900's. The only communication is as far as you can shout.
How Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen and Mawson risked it all in their quest for the South Pole and beyond, and what we can learn from their situations to improve our modern-day decision making.
Grab a warm blanket. This book puts you right into the action of the life-and-death decisions made by early Antarctic explorers. It is filled with unforgettable stories about the challenges and decisions they faced on the ice.
While we might not be pulling sledges across Antarctica in the early 1900s, this book also reveals valuable lessons in leadership, team work, and sheer grit and determination that can help all of us make better decisions in our lives today.
In When Your Life Depends on It, you'll discover:
Co-written by a decision scientist and an Antarctic historian, When Your Life Depends on It is filled with tales of resilience that resonate with people who love travel and adventure as well as those seeking insights into human behavior. It reveals the mind-set of the brave men who risked, and in some cases gave their lives, for science, discovery and exploration.
Buy When Your Life Depends on It today to learn about one of the most remarkable periods of history and in the process learn new strategies to improve your own personal and business decision making.
Find Brad's website here
Find the 3 minute book trailer here
Find Brad on Twitter here
Where to Buy When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme Decision Making Lessons from the Antarctic
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.