Award Winning Certified Professional Speaker

I’m Cam Calkoen. My life has been my version of “normal” since birth. Born with cerebral palsy, I knew that my life was going to be what I chose to make it, and I was lucky to see the support and possibility that surrounded me.
I believe in a world where everyone is inspired to see their opportunity and through doing so, dream BIG! It is dreams that have brought the word to what we see today, dreams will also propel the world into the future.

Who is Cam Calkoen


After one talk, I was driving back to my hotel, and I saw people falling from the sky with brightly coloured parachutes. As I followed them, I passed a sign on the side of the road that said, “Live More, Fear Less.”

And I thought, Why not? Within half an hour, I’m 15,000 feet in the air, leaping into the sky. 

When I tell people about my skydiving adventure, their first question to me is always “Was it scary?” 

We often have moments in life that are ‘scary’. Like when a massive bug landed on my lip when I was speaking at an outdoor event in front of over three hundred people. Or the first time I spoke to an audience of five thousand people. Or when I was halfway through a speech and my nose exploded with snot from the biggest sneeze. (This was scary and mortifying)

I’m no stranger to ‘scary’. In fact, I’ve found myself in many scary situations, because my dream - ever since I was a kid - was a life where I could travel, entertain and connect. This is what I’m living, and it’s taken me on some incredible journeys. I love that I’ve been able to connect people with inspiration, people with dreams, and people with people.

As a teen, I was a full-time athlete aspiring to represent Aotearoa New Zealand at the Paralympics. I won gold medals, and made it into the top ten athletes in the world for the T36 category of athletes with cerebral palsy. 

People wanted to hear my story, and at first schools found it especially inspiring for other students – also teens – to hear. I was competing in Sweden when my manager called and asked me to speak at his local school. I was terrified of public speaking – the perception I had of myself was that “I talk funny.” 

That wasn’t just my perception, either. Other people had told me that too. But my manager reiterated a line from my favourite song at the time. He said: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” 

Leading up to the speech, I got an awful flu. By the time I went on stage, I wasn’t feeling great. I was there though and doing it – and it was all going relatively well until about halfway through when I felt an almighty sneeze coming on. I did all I could to keep speaking – screwing my face into all kinds of shapes, yet avoiding the sneeze was impossible. All of a sudden my nose exploded! Snot everywhere. And my handkerchief was still at home, underneath a note that said ‘Cam: DO NOT forget your hanky.’

I was caught on stage, with snot swinging from my nose, looking like I was an extra in Ghostbusters. I heard my manager walking up on the stage behind me – not with a hanky or a tissue, as I suspected, but his very own shirt for me to blow my nose on. 

People say that support is the foundation to our success. I would still say that allowing someone to blow their nose on your shirt is the ultimate in support. It took me from the emotional I can’t believe this is happening, I can’t continue, I need to get off the stage, to the physical I can do this

This embarrassing experience underscored several important points to the students that saw me speak that day: about resilience, support, adversity, not worrying about what people think, and being real. I didn’t know it at the time, but this experience became a signature story for me – one that’s now been told to thousands of people all over the world. 

Having nailed this speech, I thought I could handle just about any stage and – from then – I took every opportunity to speak. It was a hobby for me to begin with, but one I was committed to turning into a profession. 

A few years later, I was given 40 minutes to speak at a national conference. I turned up to see celebrities and professional emcees. The world-class venue was full to the brim with the best of the best – and there I was, a 24-year-old, with no real industry experience, but with a dream, a strategy, butterflies, and shaking knees.

I was the only speaker at that conference to receive a standing ovation. I was ready for the world. 

Now I’m represented by the biggest bureau in Australasia and am one of their most frequently-booked speakers. I’ve spoken throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Europe, and the Pacific, with brands and businesses from Toyota to AMP, Heineken, McDonalds, KPMG, Harcourts, TEDx, Microsoft, The Icehouse, and more.

Hear Cam Speak ABOUT...

Life with Cerebral Palsy

Turning aspirations into reality

Unleash your potential