David Miln Smith

He's made a career out of accomplishing “impossible” feats, swimming from Africa to Europe, trekking the Sahara solo, and kayaking 2000 miles down the Nile.


Adventurers, Change, Empowerment, Health & Nutrition, Motivation, Sports/Athletics

Full Bio

"David Smith is unique. Of all the superb athletes I've met, none has combined fitness with imagination in quite so impressive a manner." -- Cover Story May 11, 1970 – Robert F. Jones, Senior Writer, Sports Illustrated

Athlete, adventurer, author, explorer, teacher, and speaker. It was a sign of things to come when David Miln Smith became the youngest Eagle Scout in history at the age of twelve and a half. He'd already won his first race at age eight. He was undefeated in the 50-yard freestyle at Washington High School, and was Most Valuable Player on the swim team. At Menlo Junior College he was an All-American 4x100 yard relay member. Yet he stopped swimming for seven years and became a young entrepreneur, owned a bar in San Francisco, sold and owned real-estate, day-traded in the stock market, drove fast cars, played golf at the Olympic Club, drank and smoked. Finally, he threw away the Camels, traded it all away, and went into training. On his 26th birthday, he swam the Golden Gate, beginning a journey of personal transformation that would lead him down undreamed-of paths. He began to swim long distances – 30 miles down the Russian River, 63 miles down the Sacramento River. In Turkey, he crossed the Hellespont and the Bosporus, and he represented the USA in races at Capri, at Lake Ohrid in Yugoslavia, and The Suez Canal. In 1966, he was the first person to swim from Africa to Europe (Morocco to Spain). Life Magazine called this crossing “the Everest of marathon swimming.”

He challenged bulls in the rings of Spain, and rhinos in the bush of Kenya, he jumped 60 feet into the Mayan Well of Sacrifice at Chichen Itza, ran marathons across the sands of the Sahara Desert, over mountains in Haiti, through the infamous Khyber Pass and down the Haleakala volcano in Hawaii. He ran with Masai and Samburu warriors on the plateaus of Kenya, climbed the Matterhorn, kayaked the Nile River from Khartoum to Cairo, and traveled to Hunza, the real-life Shangri-La in the Himalayan-Karakorum Mountain Range. From paddling a dugout canoe in the Amazon to bicycling over a 16,000 foot mountain in Peru, to walking blindfolded through the labyrinthine alleys in Tangiers, David is an American original. The Today Show called him “the King of the Risk Takers.”

In 1970, David designed and was the sole participant in one of the first multi-sport events (eight years before the first Ironman Triathlon). Sports Illustrated did a cover story entitled “Super Hippie and The Peace Pentathlon.” David transformed the warstory model used for the Modern Pentathlon in the Olympics into a romantic athletic adventure. He jumped out of a plane over St. John in the US Virgin Islands, swam to St. Thomas, scuba-dived around a point, ran five miles, then took a trail-bike to a mountaintop to meet an awaiting young lady. Years later, he landed on the cover of Tri Athletic Magazine when he swam from St. John to Tortola, British Virgin Islands, mountain-biked for five hours over the mountainous island, then kayaked around another island for the final event. He called it Triathlon in Paradise.

He is the creator of events for NBC SportsWorld ‘Survival of the Fittest' and designed and director Le Tour de sanFRANCEcisco Bicycle Event for 10,000 bicyclists through the streets of San Francisco. He's been a guest on many talk shows, including the ‘Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.' In the Costa Rican Pacific, he survived an attack by a twelve-foot crocodile.  The Adventure Sports Journal cover story on David stated, “This man inspired the whole movement. He is the original adventure athlete...Smith burst on the national scene in a way that inspired millions to take a fresh look at the concepts of adventure and personal challenge.”

David graduated summa cum laude from the University of West Florida. He holds a Ph.D. in Health and Human Services dealing specifically with risk-taking and its affects on human behavior. He has authored numerous articles and three books: HUG THE MONSTER: How to Embrace Your Fears and Live Your Dreams; HEALING JOURNEY: The Odyssey of an Uncommon Athlete; The East/West Exercise Book.

Two recent films he has produced are “Freedom Over Fear,” in 2001, a remedy in reaction to the events of 9/11, and “It Takes a Team to Fight Cancer,” in 2002. David lives in Santa Cruz, California. His son Daren is a mechanist and artist. His daughter Chelsea is a filmmaker.

The Spirit of Adventure for Continuing Education
The Spirit of Adventure lies within us.  In connecting with this spirit, each of us is capable of extraordinary feat of creativity, cooperation and courage.  As a keynote speaker, David Miln Smith sets the tone for the conference and shows people how to overcome fear, navigate through unknown territory, take risks and manage change.

Catch a Second Wind - Gain Momentum
Today, we can't rest on our laurels.  Continual change dominates our lives and complacency is dangerous to both individual and corporate health.  Resistance to change stifles profits and paralyzes innovative strategies.  Catching a second wind renews a sense of purpose and releases energy for the required staying power to achieve goals.

Master the Tools of Change
Most of us will do almost anything to avoid admitting fear.  We procrastinate, delegate, delay, fan the flames of conflict or regret not taking action.  David translates his real life adventures into useful knowledge and greater rewards.  The audience recognizes the potential for deeper commitments, higher performance and leaves with the feeling of being fully active.

Break Personal & Professional Barriers
Motivational speaking and teambuilding come naturally to David Miln Smith.  His sense of humor, enthusiasm and an inexhaustible appetite for challenge captivates all audiences as he challenges them through a comprehensive, multi-step program - I DESIRE Model for calculated risk-taking - to facilitate participants to break through barriers and reach their goals.

Adventure Challenge
David designed customized programs to address unique challenges and issues that confront the group.  The fun-filled programs are a series of physical and mental events structured to challenge limits in a team setting.  During the program participants challenge each other, increase interpersonal communications, as well as, develop strategic planning, problem-solving and tools for high performance.  The staging area for the adventure challenge takes place in the hotel and on its grounds.

Journey to Shangri-La
What is the secret of Longevity?  Is a Shangri-La possible, a place of eternal youth? 

Do the fabled Hunzans know the answer?  They live in one of the four main pockets of high longevity that have been identified by modern scientists.  In the high, austere valleys of the western Himalaya, they regularly live active lives to age 100.  When going to the grocery store involves a trek with an over 4,000 foot elevation change, you're going to stay active until late in life.  The Hunzans enjoy strong family connections and a disease-free lifestyle with “compressed morbidity.” 

David is one of the few to have visited this remote locale.  By the end of this presentation, David reveals not only the secrets of the Hunzans, but the research he's done over the past thirty years as a doctor in Health & Human Services, finding answers to increasing “Quality of Life and Quantity of Years.”

Take a Risk, Reap the Rewards
Most of us will do almost anything to avoid admitting fear. We procrastinate, delegate, delay, fan the flames of conflict or regret not taking action. David translates his real life adventures into useful knowledge and greater rewards. The audience recognizes the potential for deeper commitments, higher performance and leaves with the feeling of being fully alive. 

The Joy of Risk – The Thrill of Reward
Mastering change means mastering ourselves - working with various inner dimensions known to all but not often named.  Most of us will do almost anything to avoid admitting we feel fear. We procrastinate, delegate, delay, fan the flames of conflict, or regret and fall into inaction. According to risk-taking expert David Miln Smith, fear can be a potent life-giving energy that gets us to our goals - if we understand what to do with our fear.  We can celebrate the greatest obstacles in our paths because they are the promise of even greater wins in the long run.  This is the spirit of adventure and the lifelong theme in the soul of this extraordinary man, who knows from personal experience that fear is a gift.  This is the perfect program to either open-up or wrap-up any conference, especially those presenting new ways of doing business, launching a new product, or rewarding excellence.  David spins captivating adventure stories framed for business audiences.  This substantive talk reveals the secrets of successful risk-taking and incorporates team-building as a key strategy.  An instructive look at how fears can hold us back, or launch us forward in any area of our lives - professionally, personally, physically, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually.  Motivating, instructive, and inspiring.  Lots of audience participation. Talks are customized for clients based upon corporate goals. 

Adventure Teambuilding Program – “Fun With a Purpose”
More than ever, you are expected to work in teams.  The essence of a team is shared commitment.  The best teams translate a purpose into specific performance-goals.  The team becomes a powerful unit of collective performance.  A team strives for something greater than its members could achieve individually.  Thus, an effective team is worth more than the sum of its parts. Teambuilding with David integrates leadership, problem solving, strategic planning, innovation, morale boosting and fun.  High energy, total involvement, competitive adventure-based challenges offer an engaging vehicle for key organizational messages.  The adventure games allow people to work/play with each other in an atmosphere different from the workplace.  Participants relate to each other in a entirely new and positive way and a team is formed. 

OBJECTIVES - Improved communication - Immediate results - change patterns of thinking by competitive, consequential fun activities- break down barriers between people - get to know each other 

FEATURES - fast - debriefing session follows the action - trust - encourage cooperation - A lot of fun, laughter and excitement - An addition or alternative to golf at a conference

Search Speakers


Contact Us