“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.
In 1982 Michael met and married his wife, Karen, who uses a wheelchair. Later 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, Africa, Michael’s seventh guide dog, and Fantasia, Africa’s mother and a retired breeder dog for Guide Dogs for the Blind.
TURNING THE TALES ON TERROR IN OUR UNCERTAIN AND SCARY WORLD
Lessons from the Twin Towers
As a survivor of the 9/11 tragedy as well as person who lives without sight, Michael Hingson enthralls audiences worldwide with his unique perspective on life and relationships. He guides us to explore how we may sabotage our own efforts, and how fear, courage, denial, trust, beliefs and philosophies have a tremendous impact on our personal lives, on our organizations and our world.
Mike weaves the life lessons he has learned into an enthralling story of survival and perseverance that can help us all see that we can be much more than we are. Not only will he discuss his escape from the World Trade Center on 9-11, 2001, but he will also describe his life journey which brought him to the Twin Towers on that fateful day. Your audience will learn how to keep fear in check and survive even under the most adverse circumstances possible.
THE INVALUABLE POWER OF THE HUMAN-ANIMAL BOND
Lessons 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 effect on our physical well-being. As the human half of a guide dog team, Michael Hingson describes his own experiences growing and learning from seven guide dogs, and explores our responsibilities for socializing and caring for our wonderful animal friends. He shows us how to establish closer relationships with our pets and how those relationships can grow into human-animal teams that can even save our lives.
Audiences learn from Michael how love and commitment to our animal friends will take each of us further than we ever thought possible. Mr. Hingson’s successful experiences with guide dogs span more than 50 years. In this talk he uses the joys, sadness, successes and challenges of his own journey with guide dogs to teach us all how to enrich our lives by learning to understand and work with creatures who live, think, and communicate in different ways than we do.
"THINKING OUSIDE THE BOX” ISN’T ALWAYS THE BEST APPROACH
Preparing Your Life-skills Toolbox
What tools do we already possess that when used creatively in tandem with the strengths of others make us more effective? Most of us seldom take the time to look at ourselves to analyze the gifts we bring to our lives and to the world around us.
Drawing on a lifetime of experience developing the skills needed to navigate through a sighted world, Michael compels his listeners to believe teamwork is so easy to make happen. He shows us that each one of us can turn our strengths and weaknesses into opportunities for creative adaptation and team-building partnerships and success. He demonstrates how to look at our actions and learn how to better ourselves through a bit of critical thinking and self-evaluation. As Mr. Hingson says, “it is hard for each of us to look at ourselves especially in the way that others see us, but through a willingness to open our minds to self-evaluation with input from the outside we will become stronger and better”.
Mike shows how his own on-going self-examinations helped him survive the terrorist attacks on 9-11 and how he was able to move on and become a successful international lecturer and a #1 New York Times Bestselling author.
ETHICS: THE REAL BOTTOM LINE FOR SUCCESS IN LIFE
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.
GOING BEYOND THE ASHES OF CHANGE TO THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF SUCCESS
Learning to Survive in a Changing World
Most of us have experienced personal unexpected life-changing events and most likely had a difficult time moving on. Perhaps we have not been able to get past the traumatic change at all. This is because we never learned to prepare for unanticipated changes in our world even if we know that “change happens”.
Using the compelling account of his harrowing journey to safety from the collapsing towers of the World Trade Center on 9/11, Michael Hingson 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. He shows his listeners how creating teams at home and at work can give each of us tools to better cope with new directions and alternative pathways in our lives
HOW TO MAKE BETTER LIFE CHOICES
Strategies for Success in a Challenging World
"How did I get in this mess?" “Where did I go wrong?” How often have we asked ourselves those very questions or something like them? 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 terrorist 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.
LABRADOR LESSONS FROM A CANINE HERO
Michael and Guide Dog Africa: A Story of Ultimate Trust & Teamwork
Meet Africa, a seven-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 your 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 with his former guide dog, “Roselle”, 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.
LIVING A BETTER LIFE THROUGH UNDERSTANDING THE POWER OF TRUST & TEAMWORK
Lessons from 9/11
Michael Hingson uses his personal experiences of 30 years in high technology sales and management, more than 50 years with guide dog partners, and his survival of the twin towers terrorist attacks on 9/11, to address the issue of building a team based on trust. He captivates his audiences with stories and lessons about how he has created successful and high functioning teams wherever he goes. “The power of trust and teamwork is all around us if we but learn how to harness it and use its strengths wisely” Mike says. Mike’s audiences discover first-hand how he lived through the terrorist attacks by forming teams to keep everyone around him focused and to successfully work toward the common goal of escape from Tower One.
Mike’s thoughtful insights inspire his audiences to change the way they think about the way they live, work and relate to each other. Listeners learn about skills and methods Mike uses daily to create teams and how Trust and Teamwork enriches his life as well as the lives of those around him.
MOVING FROM DIVERSITY TO INCLUSION
How to change our perceptions about disabilities and overcome our own inner handicaps
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 including 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 disabilities. 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 for everyone.
President, Guide Dogs for the Blind
"He (Michael Hingson) was superb, both in content and presentation... Our lab school staff pointed out his ability to tailor the answer, even in the same session to the maturity level of a questioner, whether from a kindergartner or a sixth grade student.”
Lectures Chair for Adelphi University Student Activities Board
“If you are looking for a lecturer who can grab the attention of an eager audience through personal anecdotes and powerful stories, that teach life lessons and are inspiring, moving, entertaining, and amazing, then Michael Hingson is the type of speaker for you…Michael is an excellent and compelling speaker for all kinds of audiences, as well as a joy to work and arrange lectures with.”
M.D., University of California, San Francisco
“Michael Hingson provided us with a very special Grand Rounds lecture which captivated our audience from beginning to end. His compelling, presentation kept everyone on +the edges of their seats, and elicited insightful questions and comments from physicians and basic scientists alike…He is a talented, entertaining and engaging presenter, and everyone in the audience will come away from the experience with new insights and understanding gained from his perspective.”
Supervisor, Exxon Mobile
“People have told me that it was the best safety meeting they have ever seen. One man said, ‘at last a meaningful safety meeting especially the message on teamwork and you could have heard a pin drop in the room!’”
President, Scripps University
“Never before have I seen a presenter hold an audience for nearly two hours without anyone moving... Michael’s combination of seriousness, openness, humor and heart were amazing.”
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