Paula Reid

Paula Reid

Inspirational speaker, author and adventurer



High performance inspiration for leaders and teams drawing on the Global Challenge round-the-world yacht race.

As a core crew member of the Global Challenge World’s Toughest Yacht Race, Paula raced 35,000 miles the ‘wrong way’ around the world, competing against 11 other 72’ yachts. The race lasted for ten months, including 187 days at sea; 75 of which were spent in the notoriously freezing and dangerous Southern Ocean.

Paula, with two months notice and no sailing experience, was immediately in at the deep end with a Force 8 gale and a man overboard within ten hours of the race starting!

Then, in rounding Cape Horn, Paula and her crew had to perform two separate medical evacuations, spending a harrowing eight weeks battling the 40’ waves and icy storms in the Southern Ocean; four crew down. Three weeks late and 3000 miles behind all the other boats they were greeted with a heroes’ welcome in Wellington.

Paula experienced some huge highs and huge lows during the Global Challenge. Her crew won the most awards and came out of it the toughest and closest team out of the 12. Personally, she had to dig very deep during the challenge and developed an inner strength, a determinedly competitive attitude and massive resilience and mental toughness. All this with NO sailing experience!

Her book BOAT to BOARDROOM uses the Global Challenge as an extreme case study, referencing it to provide memorable and unique lessons, advice and practical exercises in high performance leadership and teamwork. Her second book: The 7 Racing Rules – Lessons for Winning in Business and in Life contains her top seven performance principles.

Paula combines extreme sailing stories and analogies with business expertise to create leadership and performance development that is unique, powerful and deep rooted. She influences and inspires at conferences, meetings and events as a keynote speaker and through interactive workshops on the following four themes:

1: The Big Picture: Vision, Mission, Values, Strategy, Goals
Why have them, how to get them and how to make them live within an organisation.

2: The 7 Racing Rules: How to win in business and in life
Seven winning strategies for high performance leadership and teamwork; principles for beating the competition and tips and lessons from extreme competition – the world’s toughest yacht race.

3: Stormy Waters: Leading and managing in difficult times
Crisis prevention and management; ‘Man Overboard’ practices; strategic solutions for weathering the storm; communication; post crises mop up and motivation.

4: Boat to Boardroom: Specific solutions
Talks and workshops tailored to specific organisational challenges or to fit within the current stage of the organisation’s evolution. Paula has covered a range of organisational themes – sailing around-the-world is rich in analogy, stories and experiences. Book her to speak or run a workshop on:
paula-reid-2– Various Leadership topics
– Personal Development
– Communication
– Motivation
– Teamwork & Team Evolution
– Strategy & Tactics
– High Performance
– Beating the Competition
– Excellence in Execution
– Working under Pressure
– Pure Inspiration / Motivation


paula-reid-3Paula is an adventurer at heart; pushing herself to the limit and living life to the full.
Paula talks about living life to the full and having a list of things to do before you die. Inspiring all sorts of people to do all sorts of things – no regrets!
In a ground-breaking expedition in 2001, Paula paddled 600 miles down the Mekong River in a dugout canoe which she bought off a tribal chief in rural Cambodia. She hit rocks and rapids, capsized, cooked all her meals on a fire and got arrested at gunpoint! She has also paddled down the San Juan River in Nicaragua and kayaked the Thames from source to sea.
Paula has been to 48 countries and achieved 93* of her ‘things to do before she dies’ including: fire walking; glacier trekking; Hadrian’s Wall; the London Marathon; walking from coast-to-coast; trekking in West Papua; bog-snorkeling; great white shark diving… and many more! Book her for inspiration, motivation and tips on how to live life to the full.
*93 so far!


paula-reid-4Paula’s recent book: The World’s Most Dangerous Jobs is a result of researching 21 dangerous – and cool – professions around the world including: astronaut, red arrows pilot, sniper, IED disposal chief, undercover cop, F1 driver, RNLI, ice road trucker and international search & rescue.
Out of the interviews she discovered many leadership, team, risk and communication tips and has converted these into ‘sorbet’ speeches – perhaps for inbetween courses of conference sessions.
15 tips, from 15 dangerous jobs with amazing photos.

In Business

Paula specialises in Leadership: influencing, inspiring, training, coaching, facilitating or stimulating them into thinking deeper and more meaningfully about what they do. She believes that leaders need to be inspirational, courageous, effective, innovative and visionary.

Client Testimonials

Many thanks – you were absolutely brilliant and inspiring yesterday. What a story you had to tell, and you told it beautifully. I could almost hear the guys in the audience revving up as you talked! PS You were right: your ‘big wave pix’ were way better than mine!
Paul Boissier, CEO, RNLI

paula-reid-5Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the presentation last night by Paula. The talk was exciting, interesting, and very well presented through an excellent speaker and backed up by wonderful video clips and photographs (and appropriate music!). Please continue with these excellent choices of speakers. I learnt a lot about how these epic events carried out by these individuals and the experiences and knowledge they gain can be passed on to others to improve their leadership skills in the NHS.

Attendee, Leadership Forum, Plymouth Hospitals

I heard you talk at our success day in Leeds last year. I was impressed by your talk…….However your book OMG the best management book I’ve ever read. Thank you so much, I’ve learnt loads. You are without doubt a most clever insightful, thinker and writer. I’ve not finished it yet, as am a very slow reader. But there is sooo much to think about! With gratitude and respect,
Attendee, Forever Living Products

I have seen quite a few sportsmen/adventurers as business speakers now, but Paula was amongst the best at making her experiences relevant to the business needs of the members present. The group loved it and gave the session an overall score of 9.5 (four 10’s!) – a great result.
Chair, Academy of Chief Executives

Absolutely fantastic. Very, very inspirational. Take away from it – focus, goal setting, relevant to running my business, determination… absolutely brilliant.
Attendee, Forever Living Products

Paula was excellent & her presentation perfectly met my requirements.
Chair, The Corporate Finance Network

Stupendously brilliant!
A delegate


We would like to thank you for your excellent contribution to the BEF World Class Development Programme Biannual Cross Discipline Event … Your knowledge and experience within this complex industry will really help to support their development as ‘professional’ riders. I know that the riders appreciated your involvement and input on the day and will have learnt a lot from it… Thank you so much. You were fabulous.
World Class Development Manager, British Equestrian Federation

(What did I take from the speech?) Just don’t quit. Just don’t give up at all. One little thing could happen in so much adversity…really inspirational. It covers so many aspects, that’s why I bought the book!
Attendee, Forever Living Products

It was absolutely brilliant! So inspirational. And it gave me some real thoughts about actually writing my list of things to do and then making them happen. Brilliant. Absolutely fantastic.
Attendee, Forever Living Products

Thanks a million. Just a quick line to thank you for your hard work in setting us on the right tack on our leadership voyage. I’m sure there will be a host of discoveries along the route to our paradise island. Feedback this morning has been excellent – everyone’s buzzing! Look forward to the next session. Many thanks.
Head of Operational Risk, RBS UK Retail

I asked for some feedback for you first and this is it:- – Refreshingly different – Fantastic – Knew her onions – Motivational There was nothing said at all even when I pushed them for some constructive criticism. So again a big thank you – I really hope we can work together in the future. HR Manager, MediaTrust
I really enjoyed Paula’s talk. It was inspiring; she held the audience… I bought the book because I just want to find out more. It was a lovely, lovely inspirational talk and I really do take my hat off to her. Life is short and if you’re not careful your dreams will have passed you by so you really have got to plan those challenges but then just get up and do them because otherwise time has gone.
Attendee, Forever Living Products

You’ve just got to go for it. Very inspirational. Really loved it. I think anything like physical challenge that is demanding takes a lot of mental toughness to achieve. It’s just fantastic. Also you do only live once and you’ve got to go for it – that’s the main message, but we forget it in everyday lives. So, fantastic!
Vox pop testimonial from Forever Living Products Conference

Many, many thanks for such a brilliant session this morning. I’m in the middle of writing an article for our website and it has motivated me to try and make it more inspirational!! I really hope that we can get to work together again.
Head of Recruitment Advertising and Design

“Lively, relevant and interesting.”
“I really enjoyed the reactive leadership section.”
“It was nice to be around people who had “been there, done that!”
“I feel really motivated now. I now believe I can achieve anything I want.”
“The session was very different from other “motivational” sessions of past experience. It kept me really focused and interested.”
“I thought it was a very different way to convey a very strong message. It worked brilliantly.”
“Very inspiring “
“I particularly enjoyed the Global Challenge talk – it was fascinating and inspiring and put into context the challenges we face in our business “
“The Global Challenge video was really interesting and I found the link between sports analogies/business clear “
“The Global Challenge story – a fresh, inspiring way of looking at teamwork“
NHS leadership workshops

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