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Paul Wood

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.


  • Culture
  • Mastering Leadership
  • Change Management


  • Creativity

Lifestyle & Wellbeing

  • Mental Health


  • Challenge & Adventure
  • Inspiring Stories
  • Resilience

Politics & Advocacy

  • Leadership
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
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