Bruce Kirkby

acclaimed explorer, writer, photographer

Bruce’s adventures have taken him all around the globe – from Everest to Arabia, from Ethiopia to the Arctic. Bruce's expeditions have made him the authority on change leadership and risk management. He was the former host of CBC’s No Opportunity Wasted and is the bestselling author of two travel books, and his work regularly appears in The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, Outside, and EnRoute.

Bruce Kirkby, Acclaimed Explorer, Writer and Photographer, shares one of his most memorable expeditions and gives insight into how his adventures have given him perspective on how to battle the daily distractions of today’s technology. 

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With journeys spanning more than 80 countries and 2000 days, from the first modern crossing of Arabia’sEmpty Quarter by camel, a raft descent of Ethiopia’s Blue Nile Gorge by raft, sea kayak traverse of Borneo’s northern coast, and a coast-to-coast Icelandic trek, what was your single most memorable trip and why?

Picking one journey above others is kind of like asking ‘What was your best day of skiing?’ or ‘Which is your favorite child?’ We love them all deeply, and individually.

But admittedly, one trip stands out; a recent journey I undertook with my wife and two boys (aged 3 and 7 at the time.) Departing from the back door of our home in Kimberley, BC, we traveled halfway around the planet, to the high Himalaya, without using a single airplane – instead traveling by canoe, containership, rickshaw,riverboat, train and foot. Upon arrival, we spent three months living in a remote Buddhist monastery, with a community of monks.

Beyond the precious time spent together as a family – witnessing wonders from the stormy Pacific, to the temples of Tibet and elephants in the jungles of Nepal – the trip was a reminder of what really matters in the life; people and places, not things.


You talk about how to strengthen focus and attention in a digital world full of distraction. Can you a share a few examples of how your adventures have given you perspective on how to battle the daily distractions of email, texts, social media, etc.?

 I think we all have experienced coming home from a wonderful vacation to an avalanche of emails, traffic jams and grumpy people, and thinking, ‘How can I bring more of the peace I just experienced into my hectic life at home?’ Our family’s journey to the Buddhist monastery was driven by a simple moment at the breakfast table one morning when I caught myself scrolling through Facebook instead of talking to my boys. I realized I had lost control of my own attention and I knew in order to be a better father (a better husband, a better writer, even a better skier) I had to reclaim it.

While the Buddhism’s practices are the perfect antidote to modern distraction, I’m very judicious about how I suggest audiences apply such ancient wisdom. Since I studied engineering at University, I have a chronic resistance to any whiffs of ‘fruitiness.’

The first step is clearly understanding the challenges our modern mind faces. Then, just a few daily training exercises – think of these as a burpee for your brain; like a skier might do planks and squats in the preseason – can have a profound effect, and this is what I share with audiences.


How do you compare your adventures to the journeys that we experience every day in our personal and work lives and what will you be sharing with us at MTS about this?

 The essential ingredient that bonds wilderness journeys with challenges beyond – from running a successful business to personal growth – is discomfort. If we want to be successful in any undertaking, we must be able to confidently navigate the uncertainty and disequilibrium that surrounds growth. And sadly, that is a fading skill amid a society addicted to comfort and certainty.

My presentation explores the universal challenges that can divert us from the journey of growth and offers simple strategies for overcoming these archetypal roadblocks.


Tell us what MTS attendees can expect to hear and learn about the universal obstacles to change and growth — fear, failure, judgement, crisis, and paralysis.

 There will be plenty of stories in my presentation – from wilderness journeys to ski slopes -- each illuminating a simple, repeatable strategy for moving past the fundamental obstacles mentioned above.


Why are you looking forward to being the featured keynote speaker at MTS this year in Heavenly – South Lake tahoe? We are looking forward to having you!

This event is very special to me, and I can’t wait to get to Heavenly. Sharing a common love for mountains and skiing with the audience means that telling stories from stage will feel more gathering around après table with a group of new friends – and that is the very best type of presentation I could imagine!

Don’t miss Bruce's Keynote at the MTS Forum, April 11, Heavenly Lake Tahoe. To get more info about the Forum, click here.