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Overcoming challenges through the pursuit of excellence

Dream big, achieve more.

Cam Calkoen dreams of a world where everyone is inspired to embrace their opportunity and our physical being is no barrier to succeeding in our dreams and aspirations. It is dreams that have brought the world to what we see today and our aspirations that will propel it into the future.

No one can walk and talk at birth. Some people like Cam, are presented with this likelihood for the rest of their lives. He chose to defy the odds, and now showcases what can be achieved when we identify a challenge, leverage our opportunities and uniqueness, and indeed live for awesome!

Born with Cerebral Palsy Cam was told that his biggest challenges would be the way he walks and talks, he dreamed big becoming an athletic gold medalist, highly effective charitable fundraiser, social entrepreneur and now a globally renowned inspirational speaker who ignites a connection and clarity between inspiration, dreams and people.

Through strength of human attitude and potential Cam chose to embrace the challenges he was born with, and harnesses his gifts to live in the pursuit of excellence and make life as awesome as it can be.

He is a living example that life is what we make it, and the values needed to achieve awesomeness are simple - we need to believe! In doing so, we leave no stone unturned. Through charisma, stories and artistic flair Cams presence sees people identify the unturned stones on the path, he ignites, inspires, enlightens and delights others by modeling what it looks like to dream big and achieve more!

Additional Credentials:
- CSP (Certified Speaking Professional)
- Charitable fund-raiser (at 21 years of age Cam had raised NZ$4 million to build a disability Resource Centre).
- New Zealand Champion in the 100 and 200 meter sprints for athletes with a disability.
- Winner of Australian Championships in the 100 and 200 meter sprints for athletes with a disability.
- Winner of Canadian Championships in the 100 meter sprints for athletes with a disability
- Fourth in the 100-meter sprints at world championships
- Paul Harris Fellow recipient x2 (Highest award within Rotary for service to the community)
- Finalist in Kiwibank young New Zealander of the year
- Podcast host - interviewing awesome people from New Zealand and around the world who dream big and achieve more!
- Ambassador for Toyota New Zealand
- Ambassador for North Harbour Club (awarding world class excellence from New Zealand. Recipients of this award include Grammy Award winner Lorde and Former World No.1 Golfer Lydia Ko.
- Ambassador for the YES Disability Resource Centre

Talking Points

Dream Big Achieve More (Goal setting - Confidence - Resilience)

Often when we start a dream we think that our most desired outcome is the ultimate outcome and while that’s certainly something to celebrate it often leads us to so much more. At the time I set the goal of representing my country in sport it seemed so distant and that when accomplished it would be the ultimate accomplishment, but through doing so I gained strength, confidence, the ability to travel, friendships, networks, sponsors... which all morphed into creating a new dream, a bigger dream, something I could have never imagined if it hadn't been for the athletics dream. It is often through the process of attempting the seemingly impossible that the most extraordinary outcomes are achieved!

Bend Perception and eliminate assumption (Diversity and Inclusion)

There is a well-known Maori Proverb which translated is says, “What is the most important thing in the World? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people!”

In having Cerebral Palsy Cam could have been a victim of exclusion on all levels but chose to look for what is common where most people look for what is different. Cam shows that difference is an important and wonderful thing once we connect on similarities, we can appreciate the value in difference, and use that value to improve our businesses and personal lives.

Live For Awesome (Excellence - Attitude - Giving back)

To exceed expectations we need to be stepping outside of our comfort zone and striving towards a personal best each and every day.

By standing on the shoulders of giants - the people that we look up to - we can see something that we can (and should) all strive to become!

When you become a giant yourself, you get the opportunity to reflect on your own journey. Often, journeys are so future-focused but it’s through reflection that we gain great strengths and our success in life.
Cam’s story shows that it is not about what we achieve individually, but from how we can learn from others so that we can continue to inspire and maintain excellence.

People, people, people (Communication)

What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people. This is a Maori proverb I have adopted through growing up in New Zealand and couldn't be truer from my experiences in life. In having Cerebral Palsy, I could have been a victim of exclusion on all levels but I’ve always looked for what is common where most people look for what is different. Difference is a good thing once we connect on similarities (and to be honest we all have more in common than we think) we see value in difference. When communicating and building meaningful relationships it’s about looking for these similarities and not been afraid to ask and to share.

Gooder than good, greater than great (Excellence)

We must be wanting to exceed expectations and we get here by stepping outside our comfort zone and striving towards a personal best each and every day.

Choose to be awesome (Attitude and Experience)

There are words that can be over-used and lose their meaning, and ‘AWESOME’ can be tarnished with that brush. But as with everything it’s about the experience we create around it. We all do what we do but if we can look to create an experience well at that point we might just become unforgettable and / or give a new lease of life to something like the word awesome.

Be a giant, find a giant (Giving back)

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Giants are role-models, people that we look up to and something we can and should all strive to become. It’s through becoming a giant that we often get the opportunity to reflect on our own journey, journeys that are so often future focused but it’s through reflection that we gain great strengths and our success in life is not determined by what we achieve individually, but from how we learn from our experiences to move, to touch and inspire the lives of others.

Turn rejection into affection (Persistence)….I’ve heard it, you’ve heard it, we’ve all heard it, but just because the delivery of that word hasn't seen what we see doesn't mean we should give-up. Often it’s about being able to see things from different perspectives and repackaging a thought or an idea into their vision, not by changing or watering down our offering, but changing the positioning.

Why Choose Cam Calkoen?

  • Cam consistently receives standing ovations at events and 10/10 feedback.
  • He is skilled at tying a client’s key messages and making it relevant to the audience while also providing concrete takeaways.
  • Cam is an incredibly charismatic and engaging presenter – you can hear a pin drop when he speaks!
Cam was incredible - he not only has a powerful story to share but his passion, energy and humour are infectious. Our team was captured by Cam and he made many fans through his electrifying presentation. Yes we were awe struck - and as you describe it Cam, it was awesome! With many thanks from all at ChildFund New Zealand. ChildFund New Zealand

I had heard how motivating Cam Calkoen’s presentation at the Leadership Summit for Ministry of Social Development was and was looking forward to hearing him at the Managers Workshops in Auckland and Wellington. My expectations were far exceeded. The aftermath of Cam’s presentations was so positive, staff were lining up to meet him and obtain contact details for future speaking engagements.

Ministry of Social Development

Cam is a role model New Zealander who proves that any obstacle can be overcome if you are willing to dream big and back yourself with hard work and determination. Cam’s life story is awe inspiring. He is a powerful communicator who connects with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Cam is a regular presenter at Vodafone events and I am proud to recommend him as a speaker of the highest quality.

Vodafone New Zealand

Cam presented to over 400 of our residential salespeople at the Bayleys National Sales Conference. Cam is a truly inspirational speaker who engages his audience with his positivity, amazing smile and AWESOME personality. He is a great role model and ambassador for New Zealand, and certainly proof that any obstacle can be overcome if you dream big, are willing to work hard and have a determination to succeed. We have all been touched by Cam’s story… dream it, believe it, achieve it.


Cam Calkoen set us off with an ‘awesome’ speech for our conference. He hit the perfect notes, shared his most amazing story and had plenty of funny moments mixed in it. Having a peep at the audience, there was some puckered faces during the speech. Cam speech was unique as not only did it give an inspiring message and a lesson for us all, it pulled on your heartstrings given his journey. His delivered his speech with great tone, pace and humour. I had high expectations from Cam prior to hearing his speech, my expectations were surpassed with a truly inspirational story. I would recommend Cam for a keynote to anyone regardless of the industry, or background of the audience.

Latitude Financial Services

Let's talk, enquire with Courtney now

Courtney Timm

VP - Talent & Partner Relations

Let's talk, enquire with Courtney now

Courtney Timm

VP - Talent & Partner Relations

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