Meet Robert Swan, OBE, BA, FRGS, explorer, founder of 2041, and the first person to walk to the North and South Poles.
A speaker at Oracle’s Modern Customer Experience 2017 conference, Robert sits down with Oracle for a Facebook Live session on his keynote speech, the role of technology on his expeditions, leadership lessons learned, and life experiences.
This is the first part of a four-part recorded interview series with Robert Swan from ModernCX. Hear more of Robert Swan’s story at SmarterCX.com/voices.
Krystal Rose: I’m Krystal Rose with Oracle and we are at the Modern Customer Experience conference here in Vegas. I am with Robert Swan, polar explorer. He’s a keynote at the Modern Customer Experience event. I had the privilege of attending your speech, but for those who were not present, can you please tell our viewers a little bit about what you talked about?
Robert Swan: Well Krystal, first, I am the first person in history ever to have walked to the North and South Poles and I came to tell a story to 5,000 people, which is quite frightening, I have to say. And I tried to tell a story that I hope was of use, because I’ve moved from being a dinosaur, literally, of technology. When we first walked the South Pole 30 years ago, there was no radio, no batteries, no equipment, no technology, nothing. Now, 30 years on, I am embracing all of this new technology that I believe can help our world in lots of different ways.
I told the story of walking to both poles. There were lots of lessons on leadership and teamwork. I think the most important lesson is that in our business, which is life or death, you truly have to trust each other, and I think trust in your business is a really important element. I think also, I tried to get across that idea that leadership – you can buy all these books on how to be a leader in three pages. Well, I’ll save you the money. You can be a leader, and a good one, if you think carefully before you make a commitment in life. And if you make a commitment in life, you should do it. I’ll tell you why. Because who’s going to listen to you twice? That trust, delivery on doing what you say you’re going to do, and also my whole thing of saying, well, when you walk to both poles, what are the poles made of? Ice. And guess what’s happening with climate change? That ice is melting.
We are definitely melting the ice caps. I’ve walked across them. I’ve nearly been killed and drowned, all kinds of things. So my third thing is to say, well, we do need to look after our world better, and the best way of doing that is possibly the use of more renewable technology and using your technology, because I’m now a modern customer, to make sure I get that message out to young people and business people around the world to really engage with saving ourselves here on planet Earth. I think that was really the gist of my message, with lots of fun, and hopefully making people think and feel inspired.
Krystal Rose: Yes, and that brings up another question that I’m sure many brands can relate to, or many businesses can relate to. In regards to your mission of making this journey twice and that to come after it, all the work that you’ve done, the clean ups within the different poles – how do you tackle the challenge of getting people who’ve never heard of you or aren’t aware of what’s going on with the poles to care about your mission?
Robert Swan: I think the most important thing is to, A, be positive. Open any newspaper, watch any TV show – except this one – it’s all negative. It’s all boring. It’s all like the world’s going to end tomorrow. How I engage people is to say, look, there is hope. We’ve fixed the hole in the ozone layer in the last 27 years. We can make differences. You can do something. People are sick of the inconvenient truth. I’m all about the convenient solutions. And that’s why I see your industry as being a really important industry in giving people a chance, because everybody knows there’s a problem. What they don’t know is what they can do about it.
I believe we’ve got to get millions of people around the world just to click with their mouse on making some choices about energy, the environment, sustainability. Make it easy for people to do things and we won’t have such a big problem.
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This transcript may be edited for readability.