When Your Life Depends on It

— breaking news: just endorsed by Ranulph Fiennes —

Harrowing life and death decisions made by early Antarctic explorers

Not just for surviving in extreme environments

but for improving your modern-day resilience and decision making

Endorsement from Sir Ranulph Fiennes

I thoroughly recommend, “When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme Decision Making Lessons from the Antarctic,” and thanks to this remarkable book, you won’t need to face the extremes of Antarctic weather to learn effective decision making techniques that will help you in modern life.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes --

the greatest explorer and adventurer alive today

An adventure book revealing useful decision making strategies for modern life


Life-and-death tales from the days when Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen and Mawson battled the most isolated environment on earth.

One reader said it reads… “like a Bruce Willis movie with all the boring bits cut out and just the action scenes left.” The book is filled with valuable strategies in:

Team work,



and Sheer Grit & Determination

that are as useful today as they were 100 years ago.

From Baz Gray — a modern-day Antarctic explorer

“I recently had the pleasure of listening to one of Brad’s talks, and I have read the book too. It is inspired and written not to tell the reader what to think but instead make him/her think. It gets you to ask the questions in a different way all together. It’s clever, informative, extremely well researched and a must for all Polar history enthusiasts. It is not just for the bookshelf, but for reading and enjoying.”

Barry (Baz) Gray -- Explorer, Mountaineer, Member of the 6-man team that recreated Shackleton’s boat journey. In 2018, Baz is embarking on a solo unsupported crossing of Antarctica, which would be a world-first.

About the Authors

Brad Borkan, David Hirzel

Looking for guest speakers at your next event? Brad and David are experienced presenters talking on the themes of leadership, teamwork, decision making and polar history. Click here for more information.

About the Authors

Brad Borkan  — His interest in polar history started when he picked up an Antarctic exploration book at the local Public Library at the age of 8 years old. He has a graduate degree in Decision Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania and has a fascination in how people and businesses can make better decisions. He is based in London.

David Hirzel, a Californian native, is an author, historian and small business owner.  He has written a three-part polar biography of the Irish explorer Tom Crean, a key player in Scott’s and Shackleton’s expeditions.  The final book of this series, Antarctic Voyager, was launched at the South-Polesium conference in Scotland (May 2015) where he first met Brad.  David’s book, Sailor on Ice: Tom Crean with Scott in the Antarctic, has been optioned for a documentary.

Please check out our blog on how we wrote this book when living 8 time-zones apart.

Antarctic Photo by Chantal Cooke

From a descendant of one of the early Antarctic explorers

My grandfather was Reginald Skelton, Chief Engineer and principal photographer on Scott’s first Antarctic expedition in ‘Discovery’. I’ve never forgotten the excitement of visits to the ship, with its display of polar clothing and equipment, while it was moored on the Thames Embankment when I was growing up. This keen interest in South Polar exploration led me in later life to publish the entire text of Skelton’s Antarctic journals (‘Another Little Job for the Tinker’), as well as collaborating with David Wilson on ‘Discovery Illustrated’.

I am excited that Brad Borkan and David Hirzel, in ‘When Your Life Depends on It’, have brought new life into the story of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration by presenting the life and death decisions faced by the men who went South at that time in such a way that readers are drawn into the heart of the action and are challenged to ask themselves what they would have done in response.

Brad and David show that these expeditions were not just history, but that they have modern day relevance.  We can all benefit from using the decision strategies that made these expeditions so successful.  We don’t have to be knee-deep in snow in the midst of Antarctica in the early 1900’s to take away key learnings.  I am happy wholeheartedly to recommend the book to people of all ages, in all walks of life.

Judy Skelton, London UK

Antarctic Photo by Katie Murray


Reading When Your Life Depends on It provides a real treat for history lovers, action-adventure seekers, and those committed to making a real difference in their business enterprise.

Overlaying decision-making lessons of the early 1900 expeditions in the Antarctic with current day business decisions invites a shift in mind-set and action taking. Critical questions are posed, which are relatable, thought provoking and meaningful.

Grab a sweater and a warm drink as you discover the true stories of these heroic South Pole explorers.

Kathy Fairbanks, Director of Client Solutions at Klemmer Leadership Seminars, Inc

Antarctic sea

& endorsements

I have just finished reading your book in sunny Portugal — where despite the heat I have found myself shivering while following the travails of the frostbitten and half-starved …

I think you’ve got a great book. It’s really well-written, keeping a good pace and bringing home the realities of the situations you’ve described. I think people will love it.

I have been telling my family about the most amazing stories: depots prepared but never even used; risking lives for emperor penguin eggs…They are now looking forward to reading it themselves once published!

Kate Walters - London, UK

Incredibly engaging …

… immerses you into the amazing world of polar exploration—full of larger-than-life adventures.

The stories—and the settings—are gripping, exhilarating and inspiring.

But this book is also about something much larger—the deep, true, higher nature of all human beings. These men displayed highly heroic and compassionate morality in countless situations where supreme sacrifices were required. They made difficult decisions based on core values such as loyalty, devotion, commitment, friendship, love and more.

Along with being an immensely enjoyable read, When Your Life Depends On It will inspire you to contemplate your own values, and help you to shine an inner light on how you make decisions. We can all learn a lot from these heroic men, and in turn can incorporate these precious lessons into our own much-more-simple everyday lives.

Lily O'Brien - San Francisco

Some of our recent blogs

Re: What About the Bad Decisions?

There are no bad decisions, only bad results.” Decisions quickly made under extreme circumstances in the face of sudden unforeseen hardships or opportunities cannot be faulted for inattention to preparation or willful disregard of reality.

Hindsight, as they say, is always 20/20. The results of decisions—polar and non-polar, extreme and ordinary—are known by their outcomes. The roads not taken lead to obscurity.

read more

More testimonials & endorsements

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Online reviews

Review by Andy Walsh for TomCreanDiscovery.com

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