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Dr Paul

A Powerful Story of Transformation

Stress is not a threat to be avoided, but a challenge to be embraced.

Would you have a Doctor of Psychology present at your conference? What if he had spent almost 11 years behind bars?

As an 18 year-old, Dr Paul Wood was completely off the rails. He wasn't coping with the impending death of his mother, he was dependent on drugs, and was an unemployed high-school dropout who was committing crimes to feed his habit.

Two days after his mother died he lost control when his then drug dealer attempted to sexually assault him. Paul was convicted of murder for this offence and then spent more than a decade in some of New Zealand's toughest prisons. During this period Paul became the first person in New Zealand’s history to progress through undergraduate and Masters degrees while in prison. He was also the first person to begin a Doctorate while incarcerated. Paul's educational pursuits dovetailed with a journey of personal exploration and change, both of which gave him a profound understanding of the ingredients required to successfully strive towards our potential, deal with the challenges of change, and build the mental toughness and resilience necessary to flourish in adversity.

On his release, Paul was able to translate this knowledge into strategies for improving leadership effectiveness and organisational culture. As a result, Paul rose rapidly through the ranks to become the senior manager responsible for Training and Development within the multinational professional services firm OPRA Consulting Group. Paul now runs his own practice and has served as a committee member and advisor to a number of boards.

Current work
Paul spends most of his time facilitating leadership and emotional intelligence focused programmes across the private and public sectors. He works with everyone from the Hurricanes to Central Agencies of government. His charitable interests see him visit prisons and act as patron for START Taranaki, which helps at risk young men turn their lives around. Paul is also a regular contributor to the media. For more on Paul’s thinking visit his Huffington Post blog or watch his viral interview on the AM Show.

Paul's presentation style is dynamic, humorous, and deeply authentic. He speaks to the human experience and provides practical insight on topics such as our capacity for change, how to cope with uncertainty, how to build mental toughness and resilience, the importance of self-reflection and personal accountability in growth, how to identify and maximize our potential, and how to turn adversity to your advantage.

If you're looking for a speaker who will challenge your audience and push the boundaries of the 'every day world we live in' look no further!

Dr Paul Wood - B.A. Philosophy & Psychology; M.A. Psychology; PhD Differential Psychology

Talking Points

Turning adversity to your advantage

The challenge of change

Ensuring that change is change for the better

Taking control of your development

Demonstrating courage in the pursuit of excellence

Living your values

Proactively building and maintaining the emotional fitness (i.e., mental toughness/grit and resilience) required to remain effective and rewarding to deal with.

Emotional Fitness

Emotional fitness covers both resilience (the capacity to bounce back) and grit/mental toughness (the ability to remain calm and effective in the heat of the moment). People will learn how to more proactively build and maintain their emotional fitness to help them more effectively deal with and recover from life's challenges and pressures.

Workshop: Being the best version of you

This workshop has participants identify their best and worst possible futures based on strengths and vulnerabilities. it then helps them explore and decide on the values they will need to demonstrate to ensure they reach the best outcome and experience greater wellbeing and confidence along the way.

Workshop: The challenge of change

This workshop helps people understand the beliefs and neuroscience of way change is hard. The then leave strategies to conceptualization change as a positive and to rewire their brains accordingly.

Workshop: The psychology of success

This workshop introduces participants to the habits, beliefs, and approaches that massively increase the likelihood of achieving their goals and experiencing success.

Workshop/Webinar: How to maintain wellbeing and mental fitness during current challenges

Paul delivers workshops and webinars on how to maintain wellbeing/mental fitness during current challenges (with tailored staff and manager versions). Versions for managers have the additional focus of helping maintain wellbeing/mental fitness for their staff and stakeholders.
The content of these workshops looks at the daily practices and thinking strategies that help build the mental toughness required to remain effective and flourish in the heat of the moment, and then the resilience to bounce back afterwards. Techniques explored include those used by the Special Forces and the All Blacks.

Webinar: Lessons from solitary confinement

How mindset, attitude and approach can help you flourish through the most trying circumstances.

Mood and Motivation

This talk focuses on the neuroscience of how to stop languishing, and is full of practical tips for increasing your sense of motivation, lifting your mood, and putting more fuel in your mental and emotional tank! It also deals with the issue of burnout, what it is, how it can be avoided, and how you can come back like a phoenix from the ashes!

Worklife Blend

This looks at how to thrive in the new world of work and life through your worklife blend. It dispels the concept of worklife balance and provides practical tips for how to achieve the right mix of personal and professional integration to maximise wellbeing and productivity.
Paul connected with the crowd very quickly and had them captivated with his remarkable story. His deep knowledge of psychology and coaching was woven through his presentation which appealed to the audience. The true testament to his keynote is not so much that I was more than happy with it, but the amount of unprompted feedback I received from delegates both in person straight after the presentation and then after the conference closed via email. I cant recommend Paul highly enough. Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership

What a fantastic presentation Paul Wood did for our team. We have received extremely positive feedback. In fact Paul got the most favourable feedback from any speaker I have ever used at Conference. I totally recommend him to other prospective people as an inspiring motivational speaker, his message and his experience really struck a chord with our team. They will never forget that story and just how much he endured to reach his end goal. He was a pleasure to work with so a big thank you to you all for helping us organise this.

Camelot NZ Limited

Paul was brilliant, he had clearly researched us and listened to our story and desired results from his talk and tied in what he said beautifully with our message. Paul was personable and stayed and chatted with our guest who all wanted to talk to him. His talked was totally engaging but also had some comic relief and an overall key message that came through loud and clear.

Pathway Charitable Group

Paul was fantastic, he is a gifted story teller and related incredibly well to the mixed audience of students and teachers. He understood the brief perfectly and related his talk back into the purpose of our event. There was audience interaction and the students were completely engaged. He stayed for much of the morning, so also gave the audience time to talk to him during the break, which many wanted to do. I also appreciated being able to talk to him prior to go over the brief as this was the first event of its kind, so it was very important that our key note got it right. Thanks Paul!

Workchoice Trust

Paul was fantastic, friendly, funny and had an amazing story which he told from his heart. It was really motivating and he was the highlight of our conference. Thank you.

Auckland Council

Really inspirational. The most credible and authentic speaker I have perhaps ever heard.


Dr. Paul Wood was an absolute hit, a lot of people mentioned him as the highlight of our programme. He is an incredibly gifted speaker, delivering a powerful message in a very effective and engaging way. And to top it off, he’s a great guy to deal with leading up to an event, by being very approachable and having a clear understanding of the brief given

Waikato Regional Council

Paul was absolutely brilliant in his delivery of his presentation. He had a strong message mixed in with enough humour to keep everyone engaged. He also held engagement by telling enough of his background to get a full appreciation of where he has come from and more importantly where he is heading. He had some really powerful messages for people on a professional and personal level. A truly dedicated man with a very secure path in front of him…He was excellent.

New Zealand Sterile Services Association

We highly recommend Paul Wood. Paul exceeded expectations and left staff with a wonderful long-lasting sense of appreciation for themselves as they are, yet the motivation to do more and achieve more. A very real, entertaining and inspiring character. A+++


Paul was a great way to finish our conference. He was energetic, interesting and made great references to what we had been talking about throughout the day.

Fire and Emergency

Highly recommend Paul Wood. Extremely professional and really relatable as well. The audience loved Paul Wood and they thought he was an amazing speaker. We have in our feedback that they are wanting more of Paul Wood so that is a good sign.

Association of Local Government Information Management (ALGIM)

He was a great presenter, very confident along with authentic, honest and genuine - I liked where he took his story and what he focused on.

Green Cross Health

I had previously experienced Paul’s magic as a keynote speaker; highly motivating and ‘real.’ His change facilitation and workshop management are at a whole higher level. Paul had our group of 35 hanging off his every word and 100% engaged in thought provoking activities. Every motivational speaker gives a ‘buzz.’ Paul is into infinity and beyond! Days later I still have participants telling me about their old comfort zones and their new fearlessness, both professionally and personally. If you want to effect change in the resilience, courage and mojo of your people…Paul is your man.


Everybody in the room walked away with something useful from Dr Wood's presentation. They were moved and inspired. Many said he was the best speaker they have heard, and that they could have listened to him all day!


Absolutely fantastic presenter. Very engaging.


Paul was super engaging and friendly as soon as he walked in, he has a way with people that makes you feel like an old friend seconds after meeting him. His talk was raw, engaging and had a good dose of humour. He engaged the audience well, and one of the attendees was lucky enough to win one of his books. Paul dealt with some difficult topics with grace and honesty and was humble in his approach. I left feeling inspired and have thought about his lessons many times since regarding the choices we make.

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