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


Devon Harris

travels from USA

Three-Time Olympian with the Original Jamaican Bobsled Team and Retired Jamaican Defence Force Captain; Leading Audiences to Visualize Success with an Olympic Mindset

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5 out of 5 stars

“I personally have your five key principles (Dream, Motivation, Discipline, Faith and Perseverance) embedded in my mind and heart. They are applicable in every area of life. You are an example of someone who has taken your role in life very seriously and uses it to help others along the way.”

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About Devon

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You may not know his name or recognize his picture.  Yet his grit and fortitude helped inspire a movie you likely have viewed more than once.  The 1990s feel-good blockbuster Cool Runnings sugarcoats the real story behind the original Jamaican bobsleigh team.  It introduces four Caribbean islanders recruited to participate in the Winter Olympics.  They had not ridden on a bobsled nor even walked on snow, never mind experienced the breathtaking cold of a Canadian mountaintop.  The entire world watched, waiting to mock and ridicule them.  Instead, the world came to embrace their determination and resilience.  Now, nearly 30 years later, Devon Harris – the "Yul Brenner” character in the film – is a widely acclaimed international speaker and mindset-resilient coach. 

Why you should book speaker Devon Harris:

  • The story Devon tells is far from a Disney fantasy.  He shares his journey of climbing out of poverty, risking personal ridicule and safety to succeed well beyond societal expectations.  Devon’s story is pulsating, palpable, and awe inspiring.  Most importantly, it’s rich in relatable “ah-hah” examples for how to persevere through physical and emotional challenges.  Of the many thousands who have heard Devon speak, many have adopted his message to “keep on pushing” as their personal mantra. 
  • Devon draws on lessons from his impoverished and endangered childhood, eight years in the military, and decisively different struggles to three Olympics.  We travel with him from Kingston, Jamaica to the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst England to the Olympics in Calgary, Canada, Albertville, France and Nagano, Japan.  Devon’s authenticity strikes home with all audiences.  Sales people, engineers, and top executives exit his presentations uplifted, more resilient, and with their inner-winner fully awakened and ready to rise!

When his childhood mates told him he couldn’t escape the boundaries of the daunting and depressing Waterhouse ghetto, Devon declared “yes, I can!”   

When the British training officers at Sandhurst told him that candidates from his background could never pass enough muster to lead men, he respectfully responded, “yes, I can!”   

When the elites of winter sports told his fellow Jamaican bobbers and Devon that they couldn’t earn the approval of real winter olympians, he promised them and himself “yes, I can!”

Defying the odds, Devon did “escape” his destiny of being a prisoner of poverty.  In fact, in 2006, he started the Keep on Pushing Foundation to provide supplies, computers and a breakfast program to his primary school in Kingston so more children could be ready when that rare opportunity knocked.   Today, the foundation has expanded its scope to provide practical solutions to enhance education in disadvantaged schools across the globe.

Despite discrimination, labeling and the low expectations of narrow-minded instructors, not only did Devon impress at Sandhurst, he went on to command over 120 soldiers, received a Queen’s Commission, and retired after eight years as a Captain in the JDF.

After literally crashing in front of the world, the Jamaican bobbers finished their first Winter Olympics with a valiant effort that earned the respect of their competitors and convinced a world of skeptics that the tropical island men did indeed belong.  Devon took part in two more Winter Olympics and helped create and nurture a Jamaican bobsled program that regularly qualifies for the Olympics!  

We all dream.  Some of us dream big.  But few have the fortitude to overcome the endless obstacles that enable big dreams to come to fruition.  

In a very engaging and relatable manner, Devon shares what it takes to find your unique vision no matter what your job or situation is;  how to focus, stay on track, and how to persevere past obstacles – get up after you fall and embrace the joy in your noble journey.  

Speaker Devon Harris is the author of the motivational children’s book, Yes, I Can! and the semi-auto-biographical writings on resilience:  Keep On Pushing: Hot Lessons From Cool Runnings.

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Keynote by speaker Devon Harris

6 P’s To Keep on Pushing with Olympic Vision

Three Time Olympian and Bestselling Author of KEEP ON PUSHING Devon Harris implements his powerhouse motivational energy, humor, compassion, and real-life how-to guidance to inspire audiences to Keep On Pushing, which is his distinctive phrase when asked how he gets a 650lb bobsled down a run.

Devon’s keynote builds on six guiding principles to keep on pushing, which focus on strategies for visualization, understanding your purpose, embracing personal development, building on teamwork, and persisting beyond any challenge. He illustrates his message with the improbable story of a road that took him from the violent ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica; to disciplined military life at Sandhurst; to the competitive world of the Olympics; to becoming a Bestselling Author and part of the team that inspired the hit Disney film Cool Runnings.

Audience takeaways:

  • Perception: How you perceive a situation will set the course for how you visualize your outcome. Olympic athletes use the power of visualization because they understand that if you go as far as you can see, you will begin to see even farther.
  • Purpose: Elevate your thinking beyond your job title. What is your deeper value in doing what you do?
  • Personal Leadership: We are all leaders in our own right. Successful leaders embrace change and are always looking for ways to learn and develop new skills, thereby making them relevant in an ever-increasing competetive marketplace.
  • Passion: Your passion and dreams will inspire and invigorate you to constantly push toward new levels of achievement.
  • People: Community is the essence of teamwork. Connecting with people in your organization, not just your direct teams will enable you to understand the collective strength that is integral to overall success.
  • Persistence: If you are someone who can Keep On Pushing, you see failure as a springboard – you do not see yourself as a failure, but rather the result as a failed attempt, and an opportunity to test new ideas and strategies.
Keynote by speaker Devon Harrris

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

This keynote is 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.

Audience takeaways:

  • 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.
  • Defeating 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 Harrris

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 teamwork 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.

Audience takeaways:

  • 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 Harrris

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. Speaker Devon Harris 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.

Audience takeaways:

  • A clear personal vision will supersede 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 Harrris

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.

Audience takeaways:

  • Investing some time to clarify both your personal and team vision will give them the edge and keep them motivated.
  • Embracing 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.
Devon Harris - video

Top Olympic Motivational Keynote by speaker Devon Harris

Watch speaker Devon Harris in action

Devon Harris - video

Keep On Pushing by Devon Harris

Devon Harris - video

Winter Olympics 2022 - True story behind the Jamaican Bobsled team with Devon Harris

Devon Harris - video

Rooting For Jamaican Bobsled Team In 2022 Winter Olympics on the Kelly Clarkson Show

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“Good speakers come and inspire – GREAT speakers understand the objective of the meeting and personalize their message to fit. The extra work Devon put in customizing his presentation really reinforced the goals of the meeting!”


“Thank you for the incredibly passionate and inspirational speech you delivered at our annual meeting. You had our attention from the start and we thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the insightful lessons you drew from your Olympic bobsled experiences.”

Db Shenker

“Devon Harris was the most well-prepared keynote speaker I have ever had the pleasure of working with for a user conference. He truly took the time to understand what our business and event were about, and he included many relevant details from our prep call into his highly engaging presentation.”


When looking for a motivational speaker for our first virtual company meeting I have to say I was feeling slightly nervous about how a motivational speaker would work virtually – would we get the same presence, excitement and inspiration that we get from speakers when we meet in person? With Devon Harris I have to say the answer is YES! Devon is a fantastic speaker – his talk was motivating, engaging and humorous and most of all it was memorable. His story is truly inspirational and the life lessons pulled through from his experience have stayed with us beyond the presentation. In fact he is often quoted by employees in other meetings since we heard him speak in January! The feedback from those that heard his presentation was amazing and I would absolutely recommend him to speak at any company engagement.

Events Director, Pharma Company

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.

See keynotes with Devon Harris
Non-binding request for Devon Harris

Send a simple request. You’ll get a quick reply with fees and availability

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Devon Harris
Devon Harris

5 out of 5 stars

“I personally have your five key principles (Dream, Motivation, Discipline, Faith and Perseverance) embedded in my mind and heart. They are applicable in every area of life. You are an example of someone who has taken your role in life very seriously and uses it to help others along the way.”

Keynote topics with Devon Harris