Just launched on Amazon worldwide - a new book...

providing ways to improve your modern-day decision making ...

based on epic, true stories from the heroic age of Antarctic exploration

'When Your Life Depends on It was a great read ... The stories of the struggle of the human spirit against unbelievable odds were very uplifting.' Andrew S., Chiswick, England


The harrowing life and death decisions made by early Antarctic explorers reveal insightful ways —

not just for surviving in extreme environments —

but for improving 21st century personal and business decision making.

When Your Life Depends on It examines unforgettable, epic stories from the days when Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen and Mawson battled the most isolated environment on earth.

By placing you in their life and death situations, the authors encourage you to assess how you might have responded.

Filled with compelling lessons in team work, leadership, camaraderie and sheer grit and determination that are as useful today as they were 100 years ago, this book reveals methods that you can immediately put to use in your personal and business life.

From 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 2013. In 2018, Baz is embarking on a solo unsupported crossing of Antarctica, which would be a world-first. www.challengeantarctica.com

About the Authors

Brad Borkan, David Hirzel

This is what happens when you combine an interest in decision making with an interest in Antarctica…

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, 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).  Sailor on Ice: Tom Crean with Scott in the Antarctic has been optioned for a documentary due for release in 2017.

Both are experienced public speakers and available to give book talks, presentations and lead workshops.  

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

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


A wonderful book.  It is an entertaining, fun read, especially if it speaks to you as it did to me. The key messages are simple yet very powerful.

I felt really positive and motivated after reading each chapter.  As a hiker, myself, I was fascinated by the adventures told in this book. This not only came alive through the maps, pictures provided by the authors, furthermore, it was the very precise words chosen throughout this book that made it so special.

Even though the authors use the term “extreme decision making lessons from the Antarctic” on the cover, I feel I can use the key messages in my everyday life as well in business settings. A fantastic investment in myself!

J. Engelhart, Bath, England

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

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Excerpts from the book

Antarctic explorers encountered crevasses like these

It may seem like a hyperbole to say that men would follow these leaders to the ends of the earth, but in fact, they did.

… an impossible task, an unbreakable commitment, and with many lives in the balance, including their own, all depending on the decisions they made.

… it was a massive roll of the dice; the dangers were tremendous. But they never gave up believing they would survive. Despite all the bad luck, they never gave in. They never said, “We can’t do this.” They believed they could do the impossible, and they actually did.