Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 100) – Janine Shepherd

Ten days ago, I asked for your help in choosing the speaker of the 100th quote for public speakers on this blog. The results are in: over 300 votes on four questions to help narrow down the search. Thank you to all who voted.

In the end, a significant majority asked for a motivational quote from a living female with English mother tongue. When I saw the results, one person immediately came to mind.

Janine Shepherd
Janine Shepherd – Australian Athlete, Pilot and Motivational Speaker 

“If you never have a go, you never, never know.”

Janine Shepherd

Janine Shepherd is a champion athlete, pilot, author, mother and motivational speaker who hails from Australia. But that hardly tells her story. From her website:

Janine Shepherd’s story reads like the plot of a hollywood movie. A champion cross country skier in training for the Winter Olympics, her life was irrevocably altered when she was run over by a truck during a training bicycle ride to the Blue Mountains.

Her neck and back were broken in six places, and her right arm, collarbone and five ribs fractured. Her right leg had been ripped open, she had sustained head injuries and massive internal injuries. She had severe lacerations to her abdominal area and had lost five litres of blood. The bleeding alone was enough to kill her.

Doctors warned her parents that she was not expected to survive her ordeal. Even if by some small chance she recovered, she would never walk again.

Coming to terms with her shattered Olympic dreams, refusing to believe what expert medical staff were telling her about her chances of any kind of recovery, Janine focused every sinew of her being on healing her broken body and crushed morale.

Her fighting spirit was rekindled watching small planes flying overhead. She made a decision: “If I can’t walk, I’ll fly.” And fly she did. While still covered in a full body plaster cast, Janine was lifted into an aircraft for her first flight. That moment changed her life forever.

Within a year she had her private pilot’s license. Despite remaining a partial paraplegic and with many physical challenges still ahead, she battled on to gain her commercial pilots licence, her Instrument rating, her twin engine rating, and her Instructor’s rating. She then went on to become a fully qualified aerobatics instructor.

And all the while she pushed her body to mend itself, forced her legs to walk again, step by painful step. Although doctors said she would never have children, Janine says her greatest achievement is the three young children she now has. She has since gone on to finish her University degree in Physical Education.

Today, Janine is much in demand as one of Australia’s most sought after motivational speakers. She travels extensively in Australia and overseas sharing her story with others.

Janine has inspired countless people with her courage and indomitable spirit. Said Deepak Chopra, “She has an extraordinary ability to ignite people’s spirits and move them to find the real potential of their lives; her story inspires people around the world.”

I first “met” Janine on Twitter. We have since kept in touch via different social media fora. She is warm and engaging, and never fails to respond to a message.

When it comes to public speaking, Janine’s focus is 100% on her audience, just as it should be for every speaker. About her speaking career she said:

“I feel so fortunate and privileged to hear from people who have heard me speak. I have many letters from participants telling me how they have come away from the talk, thought deeply, and actually transformed aspects of how they live. People have made changes to their jobs, travelled, studied, learned to fly, or simply decided to behave differently in their significant relationships with those around them. That makes me so happy, so proud. It’s the reason I speak and write. I know that every single person has the strength and the spirit within to do what I have done, I truly believe that.”

And so, it is with great pleasure that I present the 100th quote for public speakers. It is a very simple, very colloquial quote with a distinct Aussie ring to it. But it is terribly important. It’s about trying things and having faith in yourself.

Speaking in public can be daunting. So much can go wrong. But if we never try—if we never have a go—we’ll never know just how much of an impact we can have on the lives of others. Thanks for the reminder, Janine.

Photo courtesy of Schmiebel

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  1. Oh my gosh, what a beautiful, inspirational story! Reading about this remarkable woman gave me goose bumps. We can ALL learn so much from her.
    God bless you – and I know He does.

  2. Congratulations Janine!

    Your story is amazing and you are an inspiring ambassador for Motivational Speakers in Australia and worldwide.
    Warm regards,

    ~ Sandy Moore

  3. John… I just posted your link onto my FB wall with the following comment:
    “Janine’s story brought me to tears of humility, respect … and some shame at my own lack of courage, grit and determination that grips me from time to time. Janine’s recovery and the life she now leads is an inspiring reminder that whatever happens to break our bodies, the human spirit at its best is awesomely indomitable and wonder-full. Thank you John Zimmer of Toastmasters International for posting this on your Website. I urge you to read Janine’s story be inspired … and remember it whenever you feel life is getting you down!! ♥”
    Thank you John for selecting Janine’s quote and telling us her story … it came at a time when I was feeling somewhat low … it lifted me up and reminded me of what true courage and self-love and determination can achieve. Bless you both!
    PS Please give my best wishes to Janine – all power to her public speaking, her life and her shining example!

    1. Thank you, Michael, for the heartfelt comment. It is nice to see that there are still people who are willing to share their honest emotions with others. Thanks for spreading the word on Facebook. I will be sure to pass on your message to Janine.

  4. Thanks for being such an awesome and motivational person. I will NEVER complain about the problems I have! (not that I do it much anyway).

  5. Hi John
    Thanks for sharing Janine’s story, an inspiration to us all. Puts our own problems into perspective – well certainly mine.

    “Janine Shepherd’s story reads like the plot of a hollywood movie.” You are spot on there John, but knowing that her story is true, makes it all the more powerful.

    “If you never have a go, you never, never know.” — Janine Shepherd

    An inspired choice for your 100th Quote, John.

    1. Thanks, Keith. Much appreciated. When I saw the results of the voting on what kind of quote people wanted, Janine came to mind immediately – and I mean, immediately. She’s a great example for us on so many levels.

      1. Hi John,

        “She’s a great example for us on so many levels.” How right you are John.


        BTW – didn’t realise that you said “Cheers” in Canada. LOL

  6. Hey John,
    Thank you for writing and then sharing Janine’s story on your blog. It is true Janine’s story simply proves to us that you just never ever know how far we can go. It’s synonymous with something I am trying to employ in my life …”The only limits in life are the ones we choose.”
    Look forward to seeing you tonight.

    1. Hi Chris. Thanks very much for the comment. Great tagline for one’s life: ”The only limits in life are the ones we choose.” Perhaps the subject of a future quote for public speakers!

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John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

Karsta Goetze

TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

Andy Yen

CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

David Lindelöf

Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

Umberto de Pretto

Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

Thuy Khoc-Bilon

World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

Sara Canna

HR Specialist, World Health Organization

John is a genuine communication innovator. His seminars on gamification of public speaking learning and his interactive Rhetoric game at our conference set the tone for change and improvement in our organisation. The quality of his input, the impact he made with his audience and his effortlessly engaging style made it easy to get on board with his core messages and won over some delegates who were extremely skeptical as to the efficacy of games for learning. I simply cannot recommend him highly enough.

Thomas Scott

National Education Director, Association of Speakers Clubs UK

John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

Jon Lopez

General Manager Europe, Hayward Industries

Thank you very much for the excellent presentation skills session. The feedback I received was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the good mix of listening to your speech, co-developing a concrete take-away and the personal learning experience. We all feel more devoted to the task ahead, more able to succeed and an elevated team spirit. Delivering this in a short time, both in session and in preparation, is outstanding!

Henning Dehler

CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

Thanks to John’s excellent workshop, I have learned many important tips and techniques to become an effective public speaker. John is a fantastic speaker and teacher, with extensive knowledge of the field. His workshop was a great experience and has proven extremely useful for me in my professional and personal life.

Eric Thuillard

Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

John’s presentation skills training was a terrific investment of my time. I increased my skills in this important area and feel more comfortable when speaking to an audience. John provided the right mix between theory and practice.

Diego Brait

Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

Be BOLD. Those two words got stuck in my head and in the heads of all those ADP leaders and associates that had the privilege to see John on stage. He was our keynote speaker at our annual convention in Barcelona, and his message still remains! John puts his heart in every word. Few speakers are so credible, humble and yet super strong with large audiences!

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Senior Director and Talent Partner, ADP International