“An extremely powerful book. Each story cuts right into the heart of the seemingly impossible. It is absolutely inspiring. To me this should be required life reading.”

~ Jean Bartlett, longtime Arts and Features Correspondent, Pacifica Tribune, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury


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

The book is filled with incredible stories revealing the power of combining:

Team work,



and Sheer Grit & Determination

Endorsement from Sir Ranulph Fiennes

I thoroughly recommend “When Your Life Depends on It,” 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 in our lifetime

Endorsement from Jonathan Shackleton

I held up my copy of When Your Life Depends on It at the end of my talk and said it was my ‘Polar Book of the Year’.

Jonathan Shackleton --

author, Antarctic cruise ship lecturer, and descendant of Sir Ernest Shackleton

About the Authors

Brad Borkan, David Hirzel

Seeking guest speakers for your next event? Brad and David talk on the themes of leadership, teamwork, decision making and polar history. Click here for more information.

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.

About the Authors

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


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

Antarctic Photo by Katie Murray

More feedback

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Antarctic Photo by Katie Murray

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