John Otterbacher
Author, Speaker and Adventurer

Contact Author and Speaker John Otterbacher

What Remains and Sailing Grace stand on their own as stories of survival and hope. They also summon up a mortality-heightened awareness for what matters – love, family, dreams, mission – and what doesn’t: a mind-numbing pursuit of conventionality and ease.

Image of John Otterbacher speaking
Although one of his most popular presentations is entitled “What Dying Taught Me About Living,” John’s emphasis is always on living with passion and purpose, finding adventure in the ordinary and opportunity in crisis. While conversant in corporate, political, educational, and health care systems, John’s focus always returns to the human dimension, the ingredients of a rich life. John’s history as a survivor, college professor, legislator, psychologist, and long-distance sailor, and motorcyclist gives him many topics about which he can speak comfortably:
  • What Remains: finding the adventure in aging
  • Sailing Grace: A true story of dying, coming back to life and going to sea
  • Sea Change: What dying taught me about living
  • Solo: Lessons learned sailing across the Atlantic alone
  • Living the Dream: The energizing effect of living out beyond our fears
  • Taking the helm: The chemistry of leadership
  • The bankruptcy of victimhood and the power of personal responsibility
  • The power of attitude: Why optimism and humor make sense
  • The value of slowing down and paying attention; doing less and experiencing more
  • The healing power of love and relationship
  • How we change the world
  • Slowing down and waking up

John tailors each of his presentations to the questions, interests, challenges and needs of the group he is addressing. However serious his subject matter, he delivers his story with a disarming and self-deprecating sense of humor.

Past Speaking Engagements

John has made hundreds of presentations in recent years, both here and abroad, including:

  • Mayo Clinic Annual Heart Conference, keynote (Rochester, MN)
  • National Association of Humanities (Chicago, IL)
  • the CPM National Nurses Conference, keynote (San Francisco, CA)
  • the United States Boat Show (Annapolis, MD)
  • the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Outdoor Writers National Convention, keynote
  • USA Book Expo (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Miami Boat Show (Miami, FL)
  • Midwest Association of Federal, State, and Local Auditors, keynote
  • Canadian Annual Cardiac Symposium (Toronto, Canada)
  • Pacific Boat Show (San Francisco, CA)
  • Printer’s Row Book Fair (Chicago, IL)
  • Great Lakes Singlehanded Sailors Society, keynote

Featurette about John

Awards for Sailing Grace

Best New Non-Fiction Book, National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist, Best Book Awards, USA Book News Winner, Michigan Notable Book Awards

Article about John

Blog Categories