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Keynotes on personal success, persistence, diversity and teamwork in the workplace


Devon Harris

travels from USA

Expert, author of motivational books and former Olympic athlete who is a three-time Jamaican bobsled Team Olympian

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About Devon

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Three-time Jamaican bobsled Team OIympian Devon Harris’ message to “keep on pushing” inspires the rejected salesperson to rediscover his or her mojo, the stumped engineer to find a better solution, and the overloaded executive to see a new path forward. Keynote speaker Devon Harris' story of persistence combined with his powerful presence as a motivational speaker has positively impacted audiences everywhere.

Expert, Author, and Speaker

Born on Christmas Day, 1964, this future motivational keynote speaker, Devon Harris was raised in a violent ghetto environment in Kingston, Jamaica. The greatest gift Devon  ever received was the belief that a positive attitude and a never say die philosophy would carry him farther than a sense of injustice and a heart filled with anger. A graduate of the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England, Devon received a Queen’s Commission in December 1985 and served in the officer corps of the Jamaica Defence Force until December 1992 when he retired as a Captain.

At the heart of Devon’s message are the lessons he has learned of the power of persistence over all sorts of obstacles in order to live one’s best life. His mission is to bring this message of how everyone can keep on pushing and working for their dreams every day of their professional as well as personal lives. Encouraged by his commanding officer, Devon tried out for and was selected to the first Jamaican bobsled team which competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada.

Their exploits inspired the Disney blockbuster movie Cool Runnings. Devon also competed in and was captain of the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France and the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan. The Keep On Pushing Foundation which he founded in 2006 aims to support and enhance the education of kids in disadvantaged communities around the globe by providing practical solutions to the challenges that are preventing them from getting educated.

Through the Keep on Pushing Foundation, Devon also works with Right to Play as an athlete ambassador, supporting Right to Play’s efforts in using sports and play in refugee camps around the world to enhance child development and build community capacity. As an ex-serviceman, Devon understands the commitment, sense of duty and sacrifices made by those who volunteer to serve. As a private citizen he is cognizant of the fact that the freedoms he enjoys are paid for by the courage and sacrifice of these men and women. As a result he has also devoted time to visit the troops serving in the Persian Gulf.

He is the author of the motivational children’s book, Yes, I Can! and the semi-auto-biographical motivational book Keep On Pushing: Hot Lesson From Cool Runnings.

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    Keynote by Speaker Devon Harris

    Hot Lessons from Cool Runnings – Coaching for  Personal and Professional Success

    • Suitable for an opening keynote or closing presentation, this motivational program draws from the powerful experiences of the real life Jamaican Bobsled Team as immortalized in the Disney blockbuster movie Cool Runnings.
    • This dynamic presentation is as poignant as it is light hearted.
    • The audience will leave laughing, inspired and with a better understanding of what it takes to achieve the impossible.
    • The audience will learn how: To defeat fear by taking action. To improve personal effectiveness and performance through visualization. To create a healthy self-image. To reframe failure.

    Keynote by Speaker Devon Harris

    The Power and Magic of Teamwork

    • This program is suitable as an opening keynote and addresses the powerful role teamwork plays in both your personal and professional life.
    • A high level of team work has been responsible, in part, for a great home environment, miracle drugs, breakthrough technologies, Olympic medals, and conquests of space and sea because these teams have the ability to synergistically harness their members’ talents and energy.
    • As the Captain of the Jamaican Bobsled Team and a former Sandhurst-trained Captain in the Jamaica Defence Force, Devon knows what it takes to develop, inspire and direct a winning team and translates the challenges and triumphs of the first Jamaican Bobsled Team into easily applicable lessons for today’s managers and tomorrow’s leaders.
    • The audience will learn how: A clear vision allows the team to remain motivated, become remarkably efficient and control the direction of change. To identify their noble purpose-the far reaching benefits of the mundane things they do daily. To transform their organization by growing their capacity to lead. Through constant self-evaluation they ensure that they don’t become a victim of their own success.  

    Keynote by Speaker Devon Harris

    Out of many; One: An Olympic Athlete’s View of Diversity in the Workplace

    • A fresh look at how diversity in the workplace is not just a legal mandate or corporate ethic – it is fundamentally practical, and brings the best teams to the playing field.
    • Devon brings a creative and inspiring look at how at work, as in the Olympics, what really matters is performance, attitude and teamwork.
    • With humor and understanding that comes from living what he believes, Devon delivers a compelling message to groups of all sizes about how to be more bottom-line successful by embracing and applying the innate strengths of a diversity philosophy.
    • This program is suitable for an opening keynote or closing presentation.
    • The audience will learn how: A clear personal vision will supercede the associations and assumptions that society makes about you. Attracting the best talent regardless of labels and creating an environment for them to perform at peak levels will allow the team to soar. Differences when maintained and valued instead of discarded create a more fulfilling, powerful experience.  

    Keynote by Speaker Devon Harris

    Keep On Pushing™: An Olympic Athlete’s Message of Persistence

    • Suitable for an opening keynote or closing presentation, Devon brings his entertaining and effective message of how to ‘keep on pushing’, how persistence is a key catalyst in any success formula.
    • Devon’s presentation blends the need for every part of an organization to have the ability to persist, but not without good doses of wisdom, preparation, talent, teamwork, humor, passion, hard work and smart planning.
    • Devon illustrates his presentation with his improbable story of a road that took him from the violent ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica; to Sandhurst; to the Olympics; to the hit Disney film Cool Runnings.
    • With humor and compassion and real-life how-to guidance, Devon inspires the audience to ‘keep on pushing’ – his distinctive phrase when asked how he gets that bobsled down that run.
    • The audience will learn how: Investing some time to clarify both your personal and team vision will give them the edge and keep them motivated. To embrace change. To demonstrate faith in their teammates abilities and create a more synergistic environment. To persist. Be relentless in finding the solutions to their challenges.

    Keynote by Speaker Devon Harris

    Half-Day Seminar – Get In, Sit Down™

    • This half day seminar is suitable for all levels.
    • Through open discussions and team building exercises, participants will be entertained, educated and motivated.
    • They will emerge with a renewed sense of purpose and thorough understanding of the techniques which they can draw upon in their work environment.
    • They will be equipped with the essential tools necessary for them to truly function as an Olympic caliber team.

    Keynote by Speaker Devon Harris

    Master of Ceremonies

    • As an accomplished speaker with a naturally effusive stage personality, Devon can add a professional flair to your meeting by serving as your Master of Ceremonies.
    • In this role, Devon will allow you to relax and let your hair down as he – Establishes a consistent tone for your meeting. Ensures continuity and manages timelines. Fills in those awkward dead spots that can occur between sessions. Introduces your speakers and sessions graciously and professionally. And simply makes everything flow better and more fun for everyone!
    • Using Devon as your Master of Ceremonies is particularly effective when he is also one of your meeting presenters.

    Keynote by Speaker Devon Harris

    Company Spokesperson or Product/Service Personality

    • With more than twenty years of experience working with every form of media, Devon makes the ideal spokesperson for your company, product or service.
    • The ease and grace with which he handles himself during live camera interviews, his affable personality, the incredible name recognition and public appeal of the Jamaican Bobsled Team and his captivating people skills makes him a valuable asset to any marketing campaign.
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Top Olympic Motivational Keynote by speaker Devon Harris

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Interview with Devon Harris

What is the message you hope people take away from your presentations?

Neither their past nor current circumstances should dictate their future. If they keep on pushing with a clear vision they can always take their game to the next level and achieve the success they imagined.

Do you have a favorite experience from your speaking career?

The thing I enjoy most about my speaking career is feeling on purpose—feeling like this is what I was meant to do.  When someone in the audience comes up and tells me how much my remarks mean to them personally…..comments like, “ I feel like you were talking to me” or “ That’s just what I needed. Thank you” ; it absolutely makes my day.

How do you prepare for speaking engagements?

I really zero in on the theme of the meeting to fully understand the goals the client has set for the meeting and how best I can I can draw on my experiences-the anecdotes , the lessons, and the analogies;  to help the client achieve those goals. The pre-program questionnaire that I ask the client to fill out or a conference call with them is invaluable in helping me understand the audience, company culture, the challenges  they are facing in their company and the industry  at large and of course, the client’s expectations of me. I also spend time browsing through their website. All of this helps me to put together a presentation that is customized and relevant to my audience.

Can you give 3 tips for effective teamwork?

1. The team needs to have a clear vision. Everyone on the team needs to understand what the expected outcomes are. They also need to buy into the vision as this raises their level of commitment, gets them excited about the opportunity and motivated to work through the difficulties.

2. There must be good communication. This includes;

  • Articulating the vision clearly—not just intellectually but emotionally and with passion.
  • When people are excited about where they are going, they eliminate the obstacles that stand between them and their goals.
  • Ensuring that information is passed on in an accurate and timely manner.
  • Team members are listened to.
  • They are treated courteously and not just as instruments of production.

3. Effective leadership. Every successful team has a good leader- a person who:

  • Empathizes with those he/she leads
  • Understands and appreciate the potential of the individuals on the team and does everything he/she can to develop it.
  • Constantly work on improving their capacity to lead

How much does humor factor into your keynotes and other speaking engagements?

I don’t go out my way to “crack jokes” but I think humor is very important and I always use it in my presentations.  Some of my humor is self-deprecating but I have no problem with laughing at myself. More importantly, humor helps to break down the barriers between me and the audience, allows them to relax and allows me to simply have a conversation with them as opposed to feeling like I am talking at them . Humor also helps me to bring attention to the points I am making. My best gauge that it is effective is when an audience member repeats one of my jokes to me afterwards.

Who inspires you the most?

I am inspired most by human stories of triumph over adversity.  So whether it is the story of a famous person I am watching on the television or the anonymous person  I am sitting next to on a plane; I really get pumped up when I hear how they were able to endure through tremendous difficulties and were still able to succeed. Those stories always remind me that I can overcome my challenges as well, no matter what they may be.

How are your keynote presentations unique?

I am able to take my audiences on a journey from Olympic Gardens-a tough ghetto environment in Kingston, Jamaica, to the prestige of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England to the excitement of competing in three Olympic Winter Games. It’s a wild ride with as many twists and turns as you would find on a bobsled track but one which demonstrates to the audience that they too can make the journey from their Olympic Gardens to their Olympic Games.

How do you relate your experience in sports to the business world?

The principles are the same. You begin by being clear about what you are working to achieve. In sports we devise a training program which we follow diligently. In business we also need to create and follow a plan of action.

In sports I am able to constantly evaluate my progress based on my times in training, how much weight I can lift in a particular exercise or my performance in a competition. The results dictate the corrective actions I need to take. In business, I am always involved in this process of self-evaluation as well as this helps me to identify which actions I need to take in order to reach my goals. This includes finding ways to persist through the challenging times and even recreating some of those intense passions and emotions I would feel when I was preparing for and actually taking part in a competition.

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