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Nando Parrado Featured Survivor & Hero of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571; NYT Best-Selling Author; Portrayed in Oscar-Nominated Film "Society of the Snow" and "Alive"
As a keynote speaker, I have never NOT wanted to take the stage. For example, just last week I had to follow Jordan Peele and Seth Meyers at an event...No problem. Yes, those guys are funny, but I can also do funny. Hand me the mic. However yesterday, for the first time in my life, I did not want to take the stage. Not because I didn't want to deliver a valuable speech for my client and their audience (of course I did!), but because I needed time to process what I had just heard from the speaker before me. Unfortunately, there was no time for that, because as he was walking off stage I heard, "And next up--please welcome Alison Levine!" As I took the stage I wasn't 100% sure I could even get words out of my mouth. I was choking back tears. I needed time. I couldn't see the crowd as the tears had blurred my vision. I couldn't hear their welcoming applause as the previous speaker's words were still in my head. The most amazing, inspiring, courageous person I have ever heard speak: Nando Parrado. His presentation, hands down, impacted me more than any other in my life. If you saw the movie, ALIVE, then you know his story. But to hear him tell it was just...well...there are no words. He was part of the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes. Nando's mother and sister were on the plane too (as they came along to cheer him on). They did not survive. The surviving team members were stranded in the mountains for 72 days. They had to do the unthinkable to stay alive (google this if you don't know the story). And their eventual rescue will make you believe in miracles. HOW DOES ANYONE GET PAST THIS KIND OF TRAUMA? At the end of the speech, Nando reminded all of us that the past is the past...and that's where it should stay. He knew that the best way to honor his deceased teammates and family was to live the best life he could live in the present. We must move forward and live life for today, as the future is not guaranteed. Make today matter. Tell the people you care about how important they are to you. And most importantly--when your situation seems dire--do not ever, EVER give up. Believe in miracles. I thought the biggest speakers at this event were going to be Magic Johnson and Damon John. Wrong. The biggest speaker was Nando Parrado. What a gift to have heard this man tell his story.
It would be easy to think you know Nando's story if you've read or seen Alive. But, hearing it straight from the source was an experience no one at EO Dallas will ever forget. Nando is the quintessential hesitant hero, and his story of survival focuses less on grit and determination, and more on the power of the human spirit. During these tumultuous times, his simple message of how he survived will stay with me for a long time: “Love and trust saved us, not courage and cleverness."
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This was the best lecture of the series. He was genuine and inspirational; natural and open with his thoughts. The visual accompaniment was very helpful. A very high note to end the series this year.
Without a doubt I would rate him as the most outstanding speaker of this year's series! Of course the story of survival in the Andes was fascinating, but what captured the audience was his sincere philosophy of and appreciation of life. He seemed very touched by the audience's standing ovation.
Nando Parrado's presentation was absolutely top-notch. His underlying message of encompassing devoted love and inspiration behind the nearly unfathomable story of determination and survival held reverberations in me as it nourished my sense of what life is both in its essential character and in its fullness of meaning.
Fantastic. Inspiring. Emotional. Raw. True. Thank you.
Nando, was FANTASTIC! The best speaker we have ever had at one of our events. The team was speechless after he spoke and he is the incredibly inspiring. Such a humble man. His speech was full of emotion and inspiration. Truly incredible. We also loved his message on "life" and the importance of resiliency in the midst of adversity.