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MICHAEL HINGSON

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR
Internationally Recognized Keynote and Seminar Speaker
  • Trust & Teamwork
  • Human-Animal Bond
  • Inclusion vs. Diversity
  • Strategies for the Future
  • Adapting in Challenging Times

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Blind since birth, Michael’s life was dramatically changed on September 11, 2001, when he, his guide dog, Roselle, and a small group of co-workers descended 78 floors of Tower One of the World Trade Center. Passed by fire fighters ascending the stairs, unknowingly climbing to their deaths, the group struggled for breath amidst the ash and blinded by the dust. Their survival depended on holding onto each other, and to the trust Michael had in Roselle’s ability to guide them to safety.

Michael takes audiences step by step down the smoke-filled stairs, leaving them inspired by the bond of trust that can exist between humans and animals. Smashing through the limitations we often place on ourselves, or allow others to place on us, Michael’s powerful presentations empower listeners to see life from new perspectives and hold onto hope, trust and teamwork in a changing and challenging world.

 

Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author and international lecturer. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.

Hingson gives over 100 annual presentations around the world, speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. Hingson is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.

In countless TV and radio appearances, feature articles, and speaking engagements, Hingson does much more than simply tell his own 9-11 story; he continuously explores the broader lessons of his life and experiences inspiring and motivating audiences to reach beyond their perceived limitations and create new expectations for themselves in a changing world.

BIO

“Who would have ever thought?” is a question Michael Hingson thinks about and discusses in every speech he delivers. Michael Hingson’s life changed dramatically on September 11, 2001 when he and his guide dog, Roselle, escaped from the 78th floor of Tower One in the World Trade Center moments before it collapsed.

Soon after, Michael and Roselle were thrust into the international limelight where Michael began to share his unique survival story and 9-11 lessons of trust, courage, heroism, and teamwork. Michael and Roselle became recognized experts of the strength of Teamwork and the human-animal bond, and have been successful in communicating the power of Trust in countless media interviews and public presentations.

Michael’s #1 New York Times best-selling book, THUNDER DOG: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero was released in August, 2011 and gives readers an unprecedented look at how a guide dog team works and how blind people can be just as successful as our “light dependent colleagues”. A harrowing story of trust and courage, Thunder Dog reveals how blindness and a bond between dog and man saved lives and brought hope during one of America’s darkest days –September 11, 2001.

Although blind from birth, Michael has an indomitable and fearless spirit that first emerged when he began to spread his wings as a boy, first by riding a pedal car inside the house, without assistance, after he learned to “hear” the coffee table. Then he shocked the neighbors by graduating to riding his bicycle, alone, through the streets of Palmdale, California. Raised with a can-do attitude by parents who refused to send him away to “a home for the handicapped”, Michael’s father taught him to do math in his head and his mother taught him Braille. Michael is no stranger to discrimination. When he was a high school student, the school district refused to allow Michael to board the school bus with his guide dog. His father, who had an eighth-grade education, did his own research and fought the system, eventually getting his son a seat on the school bus.

Michael earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America and flourished in school. During college at the University of California at Irvine, he became an on-campus radio personality, drove a car around campus at night, and even had his guide dog, Squire, stolen in a dorm prank. Michael took a master’s degree in physics and is a lifetime member of the Physics Honors Society, Sigma Pi Sigma.

Michael went to work for Quantum, a high-tech company that manufactures tape backup systems. Quantum occupied a suite on the 78th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center.  On September 11, 2001, Michael and his guide dog, Roselle, had just arrived and settled in to work when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into their building in the terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Center. They survived the initial impact and, after descending 78 flights of stairs, Michael and Roselle were just 100 yards away from Tower Two when it collapsed.

After sharing his survival story on hundreds of TV and radio programs, Michael decided it was time for a change. After a 27-year career in high tech computer sales and management, Michael joined the San Rafael, California based Guide Dogs for the Blind team in 2002 as the National Public Affairs director, sharing his 9-11 story throughout the world on behalf of the school.

In June of 2008 Michael left Guide Dogs to form The Michael Hingson Group, Inc. to travel the world speaking about the importance of teamwork and trust in our professional and personal lives, along with serving as a consultant for corporations and organizations that need assistance with Inclusive and Diversity training as well as adaptive technology training.

Michael is a former member of the California State Guide Dog Board and has served on several other prominent agency boards throughout his career. Presently he serves as secretary to the Marin County Senior Coordinating Council and is a member of the board of directors of the Colorado Center for the Blind and of the National Federation of the Blind of California. In November, 2008, Michael was appointed a National Ambassador for the Braille Literacy Campaign of the National Federation of the Blind.

On October 1, 2011 Michael and Roselle were honored by the American Humane Association with the 2011 Hero Dog Award in a star-studded gala in Beverly Hills, the program aired on the Hallmark Channel on Veteran’s Day, 2011 with an encore screening on December 23, 2011. Michael is an Ambassador for the American Humane Association.

Michael lives in Northern California with his wife, Karen, who is in a wheelchair. Their household includes Africa, Michael’s seventh guide dog, and Fantasia, Africa’s mother and a retired breeder dog for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

TOPICS

OUT OF THE ASHES: Learning to Survive in a Changing World

“Change”, says Michael Hingson, “happens to all of us each and every day”. “However, no matter how much we say we embrace change the fact is that when it happens to us personally we tend to regard it as a negative thing and wonder why ‘God has let it happen to us’.” Michael Hingson knows how to face and embrace life-changing events in a constructive way. Using the compelling account of his harrowing journey out of the World Trade Center to safety on 9/11, Michael captivates audiences and challenges them to access and strengthen their skills, trust, teamwork, risk-taking, and creativity, to ease their way through changes in their work and personal lives. Mike uses humor his personal stories and life lessons and concrete examples about change to give his audiences tools that they can begin to use immediately to help cope with change on all levels. During this presentation he teaches his audiences the overriding secret to dealing with change and how following one basic lesson will help anyone who has to deal with expected and unexpected obstacles in their lives. Book Michael now and discover why his audiences say that he is “the most inspiring and meaningful speaker they of ever heard”.

LABRADOR LESSONS FROM A CANINE HERO: Michael and Guide Dog, Africa/ Ultimate Trust and Teamwork

Meet Africa, a six-year-old Labrador retriever guide dog who travels the world with her partner, Michael Hingson, talking about Trust, Teamwork, and Life. Yes, you will meet Michael Hingson as well. He will tell you and your audience about working with guide dogs and the many lessons he has learned from them. In fact, Mr. Hingson will tell you very honestly that “I have learned more about team building and management from working with seven guide dogs that I have learned from Brian Tracy, Ken Blanchard, and all the other experts combined”. Mr. Hingson will share and discuss the 10 lessons of “Guide Dog Wisdom” presented in his number one New York Times best-selling book, “Thunder Dog” and he will show the audience how to apply these same lessons in their own lives. He will use his story of survival and escape from the World Trade Center on 9/11, 2001 as a backdrop to show how each of us can become a better team player and team builder. Audiences take from Mike’s talks lessons and ideas they can immediately apply in their work and home environments to make life more fun and build stronger and richer relationships with the people around them. Mike says, “there’s a lot to be said for thinking more like a Labrador”. “Don’t knock it till you have tried it.” Mike promises that you will be enthralled and captivated and won’t miss a minute of his speech unlike Africa who has heard it all before and will probably sleep through most of it.

THINKING INSIDE THE BOX: Preparing Your Lifeskills Toolbox

What tools do we already possess that when used creatively in tandem with others’ strengths can make us more effective? This question is part of the conundrum every employer, team leader, teacher and manager faces whenever two or more people are involved in getting something done. The fact is that we all have inner tools available to us which we have not learned to use to their full potential and which, if employed in our lives, would make us more productive and invaluable to others, and which will help us be more self-reliant and more confident in our own abilities. Michael Hingson has had to use and grow his personal inner toolbox to adapt to, survive, and succeed in a world in which he is often considered an outsider and an individual incapable of being considered a “normal human being”. Mr. Hingson happens to be blind.

From an early age Mike was taught by his parents to think on his feet and deal with the unexpected. He has seen firsthand how people can, when necessary, call on tools and strength they didn’t even know they had in order to succeed. When talking with audiences about their inner tools and capabilities Mike shares fascinating stories about growing up as a blind person and learning to use his inner tools. For example, he tells the story of how a high school superintendent known to be somewhat of a bully arbitrarily decided not to allow Mike to ride the school bus simply because he was blind and used a guide dog. Mike tells how his father with only an eighth-grade education went to bat on his behalf taking on the school board including enlisting the assistance of the California state governor to emerge victorious returning Mike to riding the bus with his friends.

Mike inspires his audiences with stories and lessons about how all of us can find and enhance our own inner strengths and tools in order to accomplish whatever we desire and need to do. He will captivate your audience with his personal story of heroism and inner strength escaping from the World Trade Center on 9/11. He will teach them how they can find their own inner tools and how to put them to use in their daily lives. Your audience will leave with lasting memories of a man who does not let obstacles stand in his way. They will leave their time with Mike pepped up and they will take away tools they can use for a lifetime to be better and stronger than they are today. No matter how good they are as managers, team builders, life coaches, leaders and followers or friends and colleagues every member of your audience will be enthralled with Michael Hingson and they will leave saying to themselves “if he can survive and thrive in today’s world than so can I.” Book Michael today.

TURNING THE TALES ON TERRORISM: Lessons from the Twin Towers

As a survivor of the 9/11 tragedy as well as being a person who happens to be blind, Michael Hingson enthralls audiences worldwide with his unique perspective on life and relationships. He describes himself as a person who has grown up, survived, and flourished in a world full of misconceptions about blindness and increasingly poor and distrustful attitudes toward people in general. On September 11, 2001 Michael Hingson was working on the 78th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center when his building was attacked by terrorists. Mike needed to use all of his life skills to escape and survive that day. As Mike explains it, “my story is not how I escaped the World Trade Center, but rather the story is how I got there in the first place”.

Because of Michael Hingson’s experiences living in a world where he was and is constantly told why blind people can’t be “normal” and succeed even though he and countless other blind people prove the misconceptions wrong daily Mike is in the best position possible to talk about how we can “turn the tables on our fears”. Michael Hingson shows his audiences through humorous and sometimes tremendously serious and sad examples how he has learned to turn his perceived liabilities into assets. “Sometimes”, as Mike explains during his talks, “the so-called liabilities are of my own making, but often they are perceived liabilities or misconceptions that other people have about me”. As he points out we all have perceived liabilities.

He teaches his audiences how to turn these challenges around to be successes. When you book Mike for your event he will take your audience on a roller coaster ride beginning with the time doctors told his parents to “put him in a home” because blind people couldn’t amount to anything to the dramatic escape from the World Trade Center of Mike, his guide dog Roselle, and others. He will describe the steps each listener can take to overcome their own fears and terrors – the same steps he takes every time he is spaced with a life challenge. Your audience will learn from Mike how to change their own perspectives about incidences that have occurred or are happening in their lives. The people you invite to listen to Michael Hingson will leave with renewed vigor and commitment and they will know with certainty that they can live and do better in our increasingly uncertain world.

THE INCREDIBLE POWER OF THE HUMAN-ANIMAL BOND: Lesson from a Guide-Dog Team

Millions of Americans enjoy the love and companionship of their pets. Medical research is proving that the human/animal bond can also have a measurable and positive effect on our physical well-being. Meet Michael Hingson, a survivor of the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11, a very successful professional with 35 years of sales management and corporate management experience, a number one New York Times best-selling author, and a person who happens to be blind. As the human half of a guide dog team, who has worked with seven guide dogs over the past 48 years Michael is one of the world’s foremost experts on the human animal bond. Michael will share with your audience some of his life stories growing up with guide dogs and how developing a strong relationship with his furry colleagues has enhanced his tools for success throughout his career. During this presentation Michael will tell the story of his escape from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and how he and his guide dog not only helped each other but helped many others to remain calm and escape. Michael will share with your audience methods he has developed and uses daily to focus on the task at hand and how to keep from being distracted by outside influences. Through his stories laced with humor and wit as well as a serious side Mike will show how we all can learn from animals whether we encounter them on the job or not. He will leave your audience pondering the question of why they haven’t spent more time learning from some of the best teachers available to us – the animals in our lives. At the end of this presentation your audience will take away invaluable lessons and memories that will make them better workers, friends and colleagues, and better people to be around. Isn’t that what we all want and our associates on and off the job? Book Michael Hingson now for your next event and experience the wit, entertainment, wisdom, and unique experience that he brings to every presentation he gives.

IS THIS THE CHOICE THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE? Strategies for Success in a Challenging World

“How did I get in this mess?” How often have we asked ourselves that very question or something like it? In this presentation Michael Hingson, blind since birth and a survivor of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks talks about how the choices we make direct our lives. He discusses choices that he made that brought him to the World Trade Center on 9/11 and choices which helped him and others survive and escape the attacks. Your audience will learn firsthand how to think about the ramifications of the choices they make each day. They will learn from Mike’s firsthand experiences why a little forethought can help make a wiser choice than having a knee-jerk reaction to a situation. They will discover that strategizing about the choices they make will greatly reduce stress and help make them happier people. They will discover, like Mike, how they can come to believe that there is no such thing as the “no-win scenario” and that even though a solution to a problem may not come right away they can go on without panicking and over stressing in their lives.

ETHICS: THE REAL BOTTOM LINE: Bringing Principles Back

During Michael Hingson’s more than 30 years in sales and senior management positions he was confronted many times by ethical choices concerning doing what was best for the customer and doing what would maximize profits for his companies, including companies he owned personally. In this talk Mike discusses ethics and how our basic life principles should always be the guiding light that determines our actions. Your audience will learn how Michael Hingson developed the strength to sometimes make unpopular decisions in the eyes of company bosses and how and why those same choices propelled Mike into those same senior positions later in his career. Your audience will learn how they to can make decisions based on their own basic ethical principles and they will learn how and why those decisions can be the most important and best ones they ever make.

MOVING BEYOND DIVERSITY: Going from the Status Quo to Inclusion

Companies and organizations are jumping on the bandwagon to become more “diverse”. Some have even developed whole departments to roll out and implement “diversity plans”. Unfortunately, these plans do not necessarily include everyone. How many times, for example, have we seen or experienced discussions of Diversity which include naming “minority” groups such as women, different races, and different sexual orientations, but there is little or no discussion of how to include persons with disabilities? In this talk, Michael Hingson, who happens to be blind, a survivor of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and a number one New York Times best-selling author, shows us that Diversity is not enough. He illustrates why it is time to move from Diversity to real Inclusion on the job and in our lives. Mike uses stories and lessons from his own life growing up as a blind person, successfully working in professional sales, management, and leadership positions, and as an entrepreneur to teach his audiences how a few simple attitude adjustments can open jobs for persons with disabilities or who are different in some other way than those people normally discussed when talking about Diversity. Your audience will take away ideas about how to gain loyal and hard-working employees as well as how to help make the existing workforce more welcoming to those who are different than they. People will leave their time with Mike Hingson with a different perspective of diversity and how to create full inclusion of all people in their lives. Mike will use a mixture of humor and serious talk to help audiences realize the value of inclusion and how any one of us could in an instant unexpectedly join the ranks of persons with a disability. Mike reminds us that we are all walking down the same road of life and that if we work together we can create a smoother path.

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