SPEECH TITLES AND/OR TOPICS
Adventure | Inspiration | Leadership | Motivation | Sports | Teamwork
Battling perilous seas around Cape Horn was easy compared to fighting off creditors and winning back her reputation after a massive dispute with the Qatar officialdom forced round the world yacht hero Tracy Edwards into bankruptcy.
Ms. Edwards, a national heroine, who won public acclaim after being the skipper of the first all female crew to round the world sailing victory has been informing business audiences for the first time how she has weathered the latest storms in her life and how her sense of humour and fighting spirit has been an essential ingredient for survival on land and sea.
Tracy Edwards candidly admits her ill-fated venture in Qatar was a gamble that didn't pay off. She admits to failure--one of her key business lessons.
Despite creating a "hugely successful" event with $46 million worth of press coverage Ms. Edwards was "scuppered" by a refusal from Middle Eastern backers to pay her £8million she had borrowed as well as the massive prize pot of $1 million.
Tracy Edwards hit an especially low point being held for 28 days against her will whilst the Qatar authorities tried to force her to sign a waiver exonerating them from sponsorship responsibilities.
Ms. Edwards refused to sign, exhibiting the strength of character, fearlessness and tenacity that have characterised her winning performances in the past. Her refusal ensured that legal action against Qatar could commence in the hope that she, her team, and event suppliers can one day be compensated for personal losses including her home valued at £1.2million. She won her first case in Qatar and the case continues.
All this seemed a lifetime away from the celebrations in 2003 when Tracy Edwards launched Quest International Sports Events in a wave of euphoria and became the envy of the sports world, signing a £6 million sponsorship deal with the Crown Prince of Qatar to create two round-the-world races and a marina complex.
Ms. Edwards was already on an international high after sporting glory winning the Whitbread round-the-world yacht race and being hailed as Sportswoman of the Year. Life was good when she was presented with an MBE for her sailing and leadership abilities, and, wrote a best selling book called Maiden that was number one in the book charts for 19 weeks and still regarded as a motivation bible.
On reflection Tracy Edwards said: "It is all very well to talk about commitment and motivation but one of the most important business lessons I learned is that if your 'trust' is misplaced or you misjudge the competition, they mean nothing."
Always unconventional, Ms. Edwards took to the sea as a cook following expulsion from school at 15. Remarkably for an acclaimed sailor, she suffered chronic seasickness and had to overcome the disability to become a professional sailor. There were many other obstacles to success before she entered the record books--tales that enthral and amuse audiences around the world.
Tracy Edwards is always funny and devastatingly truthful about her personal abilities and failures. "I hear myself preaching good communication but when things got tough, I kept the bigger problems from the team in an attempt to protect them. Of all people I should have known better."
Optimism has been her strength and Ms. Edwards adds: "It is true what they say about hitting rock bottom. I have been there more than once. I have always fought against the odds and looked to the horizon for comfort. There is always a journey's end and fortunately for me and my team, we have worked out a winning formula."
Tracy Edwards regularly gives her time for charity work and is working with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP), One Parent Families, as well as Lady Taverners and The Prince's Trust.
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