Royal Canadian Geographical Society Explorer-in-Residence George Kourounis travels to the most remote and inhospitable places on Earth to document extremes of nature and climate. He frequently finds himself up close to the world’s most fearsome forces: vicious tornadoes, the eyes of hurricanes, and inside erupting volcanoes. Best known for his international TV smash, Angry Planet, Kourounis is a fantastic speaker and a vivid storyteller.
George Kourounis is an award-winning explorer, one of the world’s most active storm chasers, television presenter, and freshly-minted Explorer-in-Residence with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Based in Toronto, his efforts to document nature’s most extreme conditions have taken him all over the globe, into places most normal people are fleeing from. Whether it’s a tornado outbreak in Kansas, a monster hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, forest fires in Alberta or Australia, or descending deep inside an active volcano in the Congo, he’s typically in the middle of the action—with his camera rolling. His adventures have been seen around the world on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, BBC-TV, CNN, Science Channel, and of course, his own adventure TV program, Angry Planet, which has been broadcast in over 100 countries on The Weather Network, Travel Channel, and others. As an RCGS Explorer-on-Residence, Kourounis provides education and outreach, helping the Society to promote geographical education across Canada.
His unique and unbelievable explorations have fascinated audiences worldwide, and have often resulted in accomplishing world’s firsts. While leading a scientific expedition for National Geographic, searching for microbial life forms in extreme places, George became the first person to ever set foot at the bottom of the Darvaza flaming gas crater, a fiery pit that has been burning for over 45 years in the Turkmenistan desert. More people have stood on the surface of the moon.
Kourounis started chasing tornadoes and other storms over 20 years ago and has continued to expand his explorations to include all types of extreme natural phenomena. By sharing these adventures with the world, his goal is to inspire people to embrace their own curiosity and break out of their routines and do something that they consider a little bit scary.
Kourounis is a regional director for The Explorers Club. He is also a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, a member of the Canadian Council For Geographic Education and the Society Of Environmental Journalists. He was nominated for Gemini awards for his work hosting Angry Planet. In addition, George has given 4 TEDx talks and has addressed the United Nations Environmental Emergencies Forum. In 2014, he won the Stefansson Medal from the Explorers Club Canadian Chapter for his “outstanding contributions to science and to public education.” Recently, he was named one of Canada’s greatest explorers by Canadian Geographic magazine.
“George came to Trinity College School as part of the Mac Campbell Lecture series and enthralled a full house of students, faculty and parents with a dazzling audio/visual display and exciting and gripping tales of his encounters with nature. The audience was captivated by George’s presentation and his theme of always following one’s true passion resonated with many students. The question and answer session that ended the formal part of the evening was thought-provoking, but George’s willingness to speak with a number of students informally afterwards also went a long way to making this evening a very special one for many!”Trinity College School, Port Hope ON
“We were pleased with George's presentation and impressed with his ability to capture the audience’s attention. There was never a dull moment as George kept everyone engaged as he spoke about fear to our audience of 4200+.”Andy Hafer, CEO of Dynamic Communities, Inc.
“George proved to be the most gracious presenter we have had the privilege to work with. Everybody was absolutely stoked to have been there. We really appreciate all the effort he put in.”Edmonton Chapter Director, Construction Specifications Canada
“Thank you for making such an incredible and gripping presentation. It was an amazing experience watching the stories being told in person! It was thrilling to see the pictures; to hear the stories behind the pictures was jaw-dropping! Our audience was hanging on every word, and sometimes the edge of their seats.”Federation of Alberta Gas Co-ops Ltd.
“What a delight to have such an inspiring presentation kickoff the conference; the photos and film clips were truly amazing. I always wondered who was standing on the edge of the hurricane or other disaster, documenting the action. Now I know, and I’m grateful for that.”Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture
“We recently had the privilege of having George present at our conference for Emergency Management professionals. George’s passion for nature was clearly evident throughout his session and kept the audience engaged with his stories and images. How he tied his experiences in to meet the needs of this particular audience was excellent. Despite having celebrity recognition, his modest approach to his experiences drew the audience into his adventures. His session was ranked one of the best by the audience of the three day conference. I would strongly recommend George to be part of any Conference or as a public speaker at an event. While being engaged as an audience, people will walk away with a greater appreciation for the forces on this planet and the delicate balance we as people share with nature.”Canadian Red Cross
“I have been the fortunate recipient of a steady flow of very appreciative comments about the Spring Speakers Series, some saying that it was the best talk that they had heard in years. Over and above the fascination that so many people have with the extremes of nature, you have a rare ability to connect with the audience and draw in each person as if they were sharing the adventure with you.”The Royal Canadian Geographical Society
“George was simply an outstanding motivational speaker who went well beyond his speaking role to assist our Conference Team throughout the entire conference. He was well received by delegates and made a special effort to connect with each and every individual in attendance. If you have the opportunity to work with George, I know you and potential clients will be the better for the experience.”Alberta Teacher’s Association
“Working with George Kourounis at our recent TEDxMilton event was a pleasure and an honour. George fixates the audience with his tales of exploration and danger. The TEDxMilton committee was elated that George would take the time out of his busy schedule to come out to our Inaugural TED Talks event. We wish him well as his future engagements unfold and hope to see him back for a future TEDx event in Milton again.”TEDxMilton
“At the Ontario Science Centre, our “Meet the Stormchaser” program featuring George Kourounis was a huge success. The multi-media, the stories, the interaction with our visitors, all far surpassed our expectations. George wove excellent science content into his presentation and worked well with our staff, visitors and media. We look forward to having George back for special programs in the future.”Ontario Science Centre
Using Curiosity to Make Fear Disappear
Some consider George Kourounis to be fearless, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, it takes a certain kind of person to drive into the eye of a hurricane, to dangle from a rope over a steaming volcano, or jump into a pond with thousands of hungry piranhas. And although Kourounis has done all these things (and much more), he’s not without fear. By understanding why we are afraid to do something—and by analyzing the possible outcomes of our decisions—he shows that fear is not only something that can be managed and controlled, but it’s a vital element to accomplishing anything worthwhile.
Whether in business, with personal challenges, or even extreme exploration, fear is what gives us an edge. It’s that force that keeps us in check—and without it, we’re prone to making reckless decisions. In this inspiring keynote, Kourounis teaches your team how to harness their fear, and use it to their advantage. His secret weapon? Curiosity. It’s the antidote to fear that we all used to have in abundance when we were children, a trait that tends to get squeezed out of us as we enter adulthood.
George Kourounis’ experiences facing down extreme weather and natural disasters is unparalleled. In this presentation, he describes his scariest and most rewarding experiences and how they have sculpted his outlook on the world. It is an inspiring, personal chronicle of his quest to encounter and study some of the most awesome and powerful forces of nature. With a colorfully-detailed multimedia presentation, featuring actual video clips from many of his adventures, Kourounis will demonstrate how and why he tests his own physical endurance to pursue and understand the forces of nature that affect our planet and the life inhabiting it.
Supplemented with thrilling video and stunning photography, your audience will be swept up and brought along on a worldwide thrill ride from the depths of erupting volcanoes to the path of oncoming tornadoes, from the beachfront of a hurricane landfall to the hottest and coldest places on Earth. Awe-inspiring, educational, inspirational, and entertaining, Kourounis’ unique experiences, and his zeal for sharing his adventures will have you audience on the edge of their seat one minute, then laughing at his equally epic misadventures the next.