Cam Calkoen - Dream Big, Achieve More
When Cam Calkoen was born with cerebral palsy, his parents were told that he may never walk again, let alone talk, or live a normal life, But Cam has never let that hold him back. In fact, when someone says something is a ‘possibility’ Cam sees it as an ‘opportunity’ and the only reason for one to miss out is by not being competitive enough. Competition comes in many forms but Cam believes that our biggest competitor is the one looking back at us in the mirror.
Cam has gone from doubting his ability to run, to representing New Zealand in athletics, winning championships in New Zealand, Australia and Canada, and now taking his winning attitude into diverse environments that encourage others to achieve their personal best. From projects that enhance relations amongst people of the world through to continually pushing through personal, physical and emotional barriers Cam ensures each day is lived to the max!
Cams philosophies, values and dynamic vision has led to him to working in Japan, building a Tuberculosis Ward and School Library in Vanuatu, speaking as far as New York and London and regularly having his leadership recognized in the form of awards and scholarships.
In 2006 Cam became one of the youngest recipient’s worldwide to receive a Paul Harris Fellow from Rotary. As a 21 year old this prestigious award (which he has since received twice) recognised the significant contribution he had made in turning a communities dream (the Yes Disability Resource Centre) into reality. As the Ambassador Cam was the figurehead to a NZ$4 million project and learnt what it took to make a dream into reality. During this time he saw the potential in linking his ever-growing network together with young disabled people so they to could develop tools and processes to realise their dreams, from this Cam founded the Carabiner Mentoring program.
Through the journey to make it into the top ten in the world for his sport Cam started to see the world as his playground and exited near the peak of his running career. Wanting to leave a much bigger impact on the world he didn’t want to compete in an environment governed by the abilities of his Cerebral Palsy but determined by the abilities of himself as a human being where he could encourage more people into their top ten, the top ten of their business, job, sport or school, the top ten percent of who they can be through striving toward a personal best.
Today Cam inspires people with universal backgrounds to dream big, because with big dreams comes a big life. With over ten years experience in fundraising, social entrepreneurship and inspiring the motivation of others Cam has packaged himself into a unique brand for those looking to create a lasting impact.
Cam doesn’t hide from the fact that he is still on a journey and his Everest is yet to be conquered. But perhaps it is his uniqueness as a speaker to be sharing an awesome journey in the pursuit of an awesome outcome that sees audiences connect with his message and absorb an energy that inspires them to dream big to achieve more.
Some key quotes from our conversation include:
- had the best childhood. I wouldn't change anything (6:42)
- I was aware that I didn't want to be left out ( 7:02)
- Because I was different, it was MY responsibility, no one else's responsibility to build connection and rapport (7:06)
- rom a very young age, I was a dreame (7:55)
- I saw a world, where from a really young age, I wanted to contribute to it in the most awesome way (8:06)
- Instead of seeing it as an impediment, I saw it as an accent (9:18)
- If that's how my dictionary sees me, then how does society see me? (11:43)
- It led to a real low low point in my life (12:11)
- If you are different in any way, you need to embrace every opportunity that you are to showcase who you are, and what you have to offer this world (15:19)
- It's recognising that difference really can be a good thing (17:43)
- Having that ability and strength to dream is really important (18:25)
- One of the biggest challenges is managing the way that I operate, but at the same time having the confidence that what I have done in the last 34 years has worked pretty well (20:33)
- Believe in the power of your dreams! (23:53)
- You've got to keep educating yourself (27:47)
- Expanding that mindset is one of the most rewarding things you could ever do (32:25)
- We can look at things from so many different perspectives, and we just need to make one of those perspectives work for us (33:15)
You can find more of Cam at: