Paul Gurney: learn how to realise your potential

Paul Gurney (Management Studies, 2001), is founder and CEO of BecomingX, which has created films with the likes of Bear Grylls, Roger Federer and Julia Roberts to understand the personal traits which helped them reach the pinnacle in their chosen careers.

Paul recently returned to campus as guest speaker at our first Live Talk event, part of your 'Connected we thrive' alumni programme, where fellow alumni, staff and students joined us to hear from the man himself about his inspirational life experiences and absorb his tips.

We caught up with Paul to hear first hand how his time at Nottingham shaped his career, as well as getting down his top three tips to realise your potential.

Paul Gurney

Paul Gurney: his life and times

After graduating from Nottingham, Paul spent 15 years working with the world's leading companies as a strategy consultant. Developing his skills as a Director in the consulting giant Accenture, he has worked with over 50 global corporates.

Paul then left Accenture and set up BecomingX – more of which later - a social impact company co-founded with Bear Grylls to ‘create a world where everyone can realise their potential’. Since then Paul has worked with some of the world's most inspiring and iconic people: presidents, Olympic gold medallists, CEOs, Nobel Peace Prize winners, Oscar winning actors, astronauts.

Paul's personal story is no less inspirational, he is one of only five people to complete the self-styled 'Fire and Ice Challenge', two 'toughest races on earth', in the same year – a 600km trek to the North Pole and the 270km Marathon Des Sables through the Sahara Desert.

Paul has also climbed some of the world's highest mountains, run 100 miles in a single day and helped raise over $5m for charity.

Paul's top three tips to realise your potential


1. Confidence

Having the confidence, the self belief, that you have the potential to do extraordinary things in your life is key. It doesn't matter what your background is, it doesn't matter where you are at the moment, you have the potential to do amazing things.

2. Know what it takes

Do you then know what it actually takes to do that? What does world class look like? What's the skills, What's the knowledge? What are the attitudes and relationships that people working in that field have? What do you need to learn? And to perfect.

3. Make it happen

You just have to get out there and do it! You just have to start. You never feel ready for these things but you just have to get going. You have to work day after day after day. You will fail a bunch of times and that's OK.

You've just got to get back up, learn from it, go again. And that really is the process of how the world's best performers become who they are today. Everyone has the potential to do that.

Sometimes it’s raining and you are cold, wet and miles from home. You can either be miserable about that fact or be positive and laugh about it. Which is better? Either way, you are still going to be cold and wet and it will still be raining, so you may as well smile about it. We can’t always control what happens to us in life, but we can choose how we respond, and it’s always better to be the positive person.
Paul Gurney

Who was your most inspiring interviewee? Exclusive Q&A video

As well as his inspiring talk, Paul submitted himself to perhaps his most gruelling challenge yet - a Q&A with you, our alumni audience!

He was asked a mix of pre-submitted and audience questions, including:

  • How do you build rest into your routine?
  • Where do you derive your motivation?
  • When you reach the point of quitting how do you carry on?
  • How do you stop being your own biggest critic?

He was also asked to share his most inspiring interviewee, which we're delighted to share with you - it also turned out to be the moment which inspired him to establish BecomingX.

See what else is coming up in your alumni programme

Enjoyed Paul's Live Talk? Check out our upcoming events, including our next webinar: 'How to grow your 'Growth mindset'.

Or keep up to date in your social media feed by following us - here's a behind the scenes reel from the event to see what you're missing!