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EO 360°, a podcast by Entrepreneurs’ Organization, explores entrepreneurship with a wide perspective, moving beyond business to those insights not often shared by high-profile thought leaders.

Host and serial entrepreneur, Dave Will, leads in-depth interviews, whose featured guests include: Gazelles founder and CEO, Verne Harnish; popular podcast host and founder of Genius Network, Joe Polish; award-winning entrepreneur, Zahra Al-Harazi; and more. Tune into this top podcast made by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs.

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Mar 20, 2018

Paul de Gelder is a navy diver, shark attack survivor, author, motivational speaker, and lifelong adventure seeker. Today on the EO Podcast, Paul dives into details as he recounts the attack, his recovery, and the choice he had to make. Tune-in to learn how Paul decided to choose his best life over being a victim of his circumstances, how he believes his history prepared him to overcome the attack, and how he wouldn’t trade anything for the life he has now.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:20 – Paul’s history and background
  • 01:27 – Paul is a speaker, author, and TV show host; he was a “hoodlum teen” with a drug and alcohol-fueled stint when he worked at a strip club
  • 01:54 – He went into the Australian defense forces as an army paratrooper and navy clearance diver
  • 02:10 – In February of 2009 during a routine training exercise, a bull shark attacked Paul and took his lower right arm and leg
  • 02:34 – In the near 10 years since the attack, he left the military, traveled the world as a motivational speaker, practiced environmentalism, and adventured
  • 02:46 – He is a mentor to schoolkids and wrote a book called “No Time for Fear”
  • 03:14 – He’s been a guest on every major talk show, starred as a guest trainer on The Biggest Loser Australia, co-hosted documentaries for Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, he hosted the behind the scenes for the hit movie “The Shallows”
  • 03:36 – He’s part of an anti-poaching team in Africa to hunt poachers and film rangers for “Fearless”
  • 04:53 – What Paul offers someone who is going through a devastating experience
  • 05:08 – A shoulder to lean on or a kind ear; it’s doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture to change someone’s outlook on life and make them feel appreciated
  • 05:55 – There was a point when he wanted to end his life; did anyone/anything make him feel better?
  • 06:30 – There was nothing to make him feel better; there was pain, fear, and heavy medications that made him trip out
  • 06:58 – The pain management team couldn’t get his pain under control when he had the rest of his leg taken out; they took him to general and he could hear other people
  • 07:20 – He couldn’t see anyone but he could hear everything; he was tripping on medication, felt like his life and career was going down the drain, and he felt disabled
  • 07:48 – He felt like he had nothing and was in agony; he wanted to die
  • 08:08 – After 20 hours the pain stopped and he had a choice to make
  • 08:14 – What was the choice?
  • 08:20 – He realized that his only power was the power of choice; he asked what he should do with his life
  • 09:01 – He spent the first 4 years in the military as a paratrooper, he was a peacekeeper then he was a clearance diver
  • 09:52 – Australia’s defense isn’t as big as other countries, so they take a multifaceted role; clearance divers do many complex tasks like underwater battle damage repair, maritime tactical operations, attack swimming, reconnaissance swimming, land-based EOD, etc.
  • 11:11 – The attack: He was doing counterterrorism training in 2009; they were testing new technology that could detect attack swimmers
  • 12:10 – He got in the water with a black wetsuit and fins to see if the equipment could detect him
  • 12:30 – The water was murky and cool, he was in the water for 5 minutes when he felt a “whack” on his leg
  • 13:04 – He turns back to look and his brain can’t comprehend what he sees; a shark head was attached to his leg
  • 13:48 – His brain turns on, survival instincts kick in, and he realizes his hand is also in the shark’s mouth; he recalls the row of teeth, gums, and eyes of the shark
  • 14:30 – He tries to release himself from the shark’s jaws, but it shakes him and its jaws act as a saw; it was excruciatingly painful
  • 15:25 – He is plunged underwater and shaken; he is completely powerless and realizes that he is going to die
  • 16:15 – His mind was working in hyper drive; his main thought was if he had any regrets and he felt like he didn’t have any
  • 16:42 – He relaxed and suddenly popped to the surface; he realized he was missing his hand but still tried to move towards the boat
  • 18:20 – His buddies in the boat got him and he passed out while the team worked together to get him to the wharf
  • 19:30 – They thought he was dead at first; they found a major artery that needed to be stopped in the back of his leg, and that saved his life
  • 20:20 – Paramedics came and took him to the hospital; he went into emergency surgery and used 300 donations of blood, 150 liters
  • 21:40 – Without those donations he wouldn’t be alive; he donates blood regularly now
  • 22:05 – He woke up two days after being stabilized and saw his family and friends
  • 22:55 – He weighed 180 pounds and was 6 feet; sharks are perfectly designed to be a predator and he had no chance
  • 24:05 – Sharks don’t like bone; the big femur wasn’t what the shark associated to be food
  • 25:00 – The shark removed flesh but didn’t want bone then swam away
  • 25:35 – He had relieved a newbie from the job when he jumped in the water; that same guy is the one who pinched his artery and saved his life
  • 26:15 – He doesn’t have PTSD, flashbacks, or nightmares; the other guy has had some issues since
  • 26:57 – Going back to the choice Paul made while lying in the hospital bed
  • 27:06 – He was envisioning where his life was going to go and it was terrifying; he was a troublemaker as a teenager and saw that lifestyle coming back as a disabled veteran
  • 27:49 – He saw himself getting addicted to pain medication, drinking, and running out of money; he wasn’t ready to quit so he had to make the choice to live a good or bad life
  • 29:40 – Why do some people consider ending their life in moments like that?
  • 29:46 – Sometimes it feels like it’s easier than dealing with life; sometimes life tries to take control, but it only will if you let it
  • 30:36 – He was taught that killing yourself is the worst thing you can do; it’s throwing the gift of life back in your creator’s face
  • 31:11 – It may be bad now, but you could have the best days of your life coming up; make life simple, work it out, and do what you love
  • 32:40 – Paul doesn’t understand why people get comfortable in their misery
  • 32:52 – Paul uses his story to help people get perspective; to reach Paul go to his website and watch the documentation of his experience and recovery
  • 34:46 – If you have to rebuild all over again; you just need to start
  • 35:00 – Paul’s speaking is an adventure; it’s emotional, shocking, and nasty
  • 36:10 – He shows surgery photos; 53 people have passed out
  • 38:15 – His hand was removed entirely and they placed his calf muscle in the back of his leg where his hamstring was; an old shin injury is now on the back of his leg
  • 39:53 – This allows his upper leg to be able to swing the prosthetic
  • 40:11 – Paul doesn’t live a shy life; he shakes with his prosthetic hand (a $90,000 arm)
  • 41:29 – He’s getting a new hand that is waterproof and stronger; he has a bunch of prosthetic legs
  • 43:00 – He has the best in the world but has learned how to utilize it to its maximum ability; he spent a lot of time to train himself how to walk more naturally
  • 44:20 – Was Paul ever an addict?
  • 44:50 – He never considered himself an addict; he was smart enough to know he didn’t have to go down that route
  • 45:30 – A friend was being deported for criminal activity and was being deported; that was the final straw that inspired him to change his lifestyle
  • 46:20 – He drove 12 hours to a new city and started over; you aren’t a victim of your circumstances, you choose your own adventure and can get away from what brings you down
  • 46:52 – He started working in a strip club and the music industry; they opened for Snoop Dogg in 1998, their hit song was “Smoke and Hydro”
  • 47:50 – He had financial trouble, the group disbanded, he had no money; he found a job 4 hours away
  • 48:58 – He was well-read so he knew there was a better adventure out there; that’s when he went into the army as infantry against his brother’s advice
  • 49:35 – Paul’s book “No Time for Fear”
  • 49:46 – This podcast is an abridged version of the book
  • 49:55 – The book tells the story about his face getting ripped off by a dog, getting into trouble, getting out of trouble, and how those things prepared him to survive the attack
  • 50:16 – He learned to thrive after the attack and now he wouldn’t take it back
  • 50:35 – Now his life is amazing because he pushes boundaries and puts fear aside; he has no desire or need to hold on to that mortal coil, and that has set him free
  • 51:55 – Paul is accessible and available through his website

Key Points:

  1. You aren’t a victim of your circumstances, you choose your own adventure.
  2. You always have a choice; choose a good life and make it happen.
  3. Your life’s journey and adventure, no matter how rough or difficult, can prepare you to deal with and thrive after traumatic experiences. 

Resources Mentioned: