Over the last four years I have had the privilege of having friends, old and new, participate in my Conversations With Hilary. I enjoy learning more about these friends and appreciate when they share tidbits of their lives, as well as their honest, funny, and personal stories from their past. It has been a thrill and honor to share these conversations with all of you; however, the following Conversations with Grant Korgan is different.
On March 5, 2010, just months after he married his wife Shawna, the girl of his dreams, Grant suffered a life altering spinal cord injury while snowmobiling in the Sierra Nevada back country. Grant Korgan was told he would never walk again. Yet despite his prognosis, he and Shawna focused on the goal of 120% recovery and on January 17, 2012, along with two seasoned explorers, Grant attempted the insurmountable, and became the first spinal cord injured athlete to literally PUSH himself ~nearly 100 miles (the final degree of latitude) to the most inhospitable place on the planet – the bottom of the glove, the geographic South Pole.
With all that is going on in the world today, Grant’s story of overcoming the impossible is uplifting, positive, and hopeful. His journey is now being made into a feature-length documentary film titled THE PUSH and it couldn’t be told at a more perfect time. The film is produced by my husband, Geoff Callan, and his partner Jeff Allard.They are currently in post production and they need our support – Please donate to the Kickstarter campaign which ends September 17th.
What do you believe to be your greatest accomplishment? Meeting my wife, Shawna. I am proud of many things, but none more than being conscious, aware and appreciative of my ever-growing connection to Shawna through all of life’s challenging chapters. With this angelic beacon of positivity, it would seem that when the going gets tough, the tough chooses love, connection and togetherness… All that said, I do not see my wife as an accomplishment; However, all the greatest things in my life stem from the heart and mind of the graceful, inspiring and overwhelmingly giving truth in which she stands, each and every day.
What qualities do you think others love about you?
If I had to guess what qualities others love about me, my response would probably come from the fact that I yearn to see people smile. More specifically, I get head-to-toe goosebumps when I see others standing in their greatness and rising up to give the world the highest versions of who they truly are. I am loyal (sometimes to a fault), I like a rad group dynamic, and I love cultivating and curating positive energy at all points.
If you could do anything other than what you currently do, what would it be?
I would be a helicopter pilot. Since I was a young man, being an EMS Care Flight pilot has been my occupational dream. In early 2010, after being the President of Nanoscience firm, publishing research in dream publications such as Nature and establishing a strong IP portfolio of international patents, I was transitioning out of active operations with my company and into flight training to fulfill my life-long dream of helping others. Days later, I was the patient laying on the floor of an EMS helicopter looking up at the pilot, as I was being rescued from the worst day of my life. To this day, my eyes mist up when I see a medical helicopter up in the sky, helping others survive the unthinkable, giving lives the chance to go from shattered back to miraculous.
What do you like most about what you do for a living/career?
The breakthroughs…As a professional speaker, my life revolves around helping individuals unlock the power of positivity in their lives, via turning attitude into action. I live to see others break the old bonds controlling them, to step into their authentic truth and live a truly unbreakable life.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Stretch. Well…drink coffee, then stretch. After recovering from a spinal cord injury, I am living in a body that does not want to move. Being committed to my physical forward movement routine begins with a pre-workout stretch regimen. Truth be told, I wake up somewhere in my 90s. After stretching I’m in my 60s. Coffee (or a Hi-ball organic energy drink) gets me into my 40s, and after a workout and shower, I am back to my natural state (the age my mind thinks I am) in my early 30s.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Friday night?
Depends on the season…In the summer, my favorite Friday night would be an evening wake surfing session on Lake Tahoe, followed by dinner at Sunnyside via boat (for three decades, I’ve been sustaining a mild addiction to their zucchini sticks). In the winter, the ideal Friday night lands me at PlumpJack Cafe in Squaw Valley after an all-time day skiing on the mountain with a large group of friends. Lastly, in the spring and fall, the best Fridays consist of being on the road – speaking, traveling, working, exploring, and progressing.
What were you passionate about in your younger years growing up?
The movies Rad, Spaceballs, and Swiss Family Robinson; ski racing; nature; moving water; stand-up jet skiing; jeeping; camping, and BMX biking. Regarding the movie watching, this is not to say I was indoors glued to the screen all the time, but the magic contained within these three films shaped my youth as an adventurer growing up on Lake Tahoe’s north shore. As a kid, I was outside from sun up til way past dark. I had no curfew, I lived in Incline Village, Nevada, and the zest of life was daily around every corner. This freedom allowed me to ride my bike, ski, explore, socialize and live a life that was full to the rim with zest and appreciation.
What are you passionate about now?
I am passionate about my wife’s happiness, my dog’s health, speaking to crowds, plus adding value to lives via new mindsets, tactics, beliefs and achieving perspective-driven breakthroughs. I love sunsets, big-weather events, aviation, film making, skiing powder, Centurion wake boats, spending time on the water, spending time in the snow, Yosemite, nature, surfing ocean waves which are just a shade beyond my comfort zone, travel, reading with hot coffee in my hand, Hiball energy, island life, creating media, capturing memories, adventure vans, regaining feeling, stoking sponsors, and of course doing the work to achieve a full recovery from my 2010 spinal cord injury.
What’s your favorite season and why?
As a whitewater kayaker, my favorite season used to be Spring, due to my endless pursuit of the perfect waterfall – which the Sierra Mountains produce with each passing snow melt run-off cycle. Today, I am a summer lover! From surfing behind the boat on Lake Tahoe, to experiencing magical mini road trips which are close to home in our Sportsmobile camper van, the warm months in Tahoe are spectacular.
If you were a cocktail or a drink what would it be?
A Hiball organic energy drink with Titos vodka, garnished with multiple fresh lime wedges, served in a chilled a pint glass with a positive message of personal forward movement etched into it (think Pinterest). If we are talking about a non-alchoholic drink, I am probably an Arbonne protein shake with all the nutritious supplements and enzyme-rich, plant-based proteins my wife packs into our Vitamix.
What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?
Ever since my injury in March of 2010, I have been feeling those island dubbin’ reggae vibes from artists like Stick Figure (set your Pandora to that channel and let the corners of your mouth rise), Rebelution, and others in that genre. When a high number of calories need to be burned in physical therapy, I drop into the empowering beats of The Glitch Mob. That said, I always have a soft spot in my heart for the melodies within my teenage years, which shaped my love and understanding of music – artists like Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, and The Doors to name a few.
If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Listing to some of the legends that are no longer with us: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Tom Crean, Shane McConkey, Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, Steve Jobs, Jim Morrison, and Amelia Earhart.
If your life was made into a movie what would it be called?
The Push, a South Pole Adventure!! This film premiers this coming winter, 2018!! Check it out at thepushison.com
Do you have any regrets?
I have one regret in life. The moment I met my wife Shawna, I should have said, “Hi, I’m Grant, I love you, let’s spend our lives together.” Instead, I approached, took in a deep breath, and let out an awkward, “hiiiiiieeeeeeeyyyy.” And…all is well that ends well. She smiled, went in for the hug, and we were married a few short years later!
All lives devoid of paralysis – spiritually, emotionally, environmentally, geopolitically, humanitarianly and physically.
What are your personal core values?
Kindness, truthfulness, goodness, living with passion for progress, being conscious, considerate, contributing in every moment, harnessing personal volition, staying hungry, pushing for personal achievement, lifting others up, giving heartfelt energy, being present, dreaming, and living my authentic truth. In a nut shell, choosing Possibility Through Positivity each and every day!
What three things would you bring with you on a deserted Island?
My wife, my surfboard, and a journey-capable helicopter to fly home when we run out of Champagne!