Emily Bell


Emily Bell is the first girl to kayak the length of Britain as the crew captain on Sean Conway’s record-breaking swim. Stand-up paddle boarded 1001 miles down the Missouri River as the writer on Dave Cornthwaite’s big swim.

Back in London, she is Deputy Editor of new adventure magazine, Avaunt. With many other adventures up her sleeve.

My Definition Of Success | Growing up I was always so confused about what I wanted in life. I was always told I lived in the clouds because I wanted everyday to be amazing. I wanted to be outside, living life and doing something exciting every single moment – not sitting indoors wishing away the hours. After years of wondering, I finished university with no better idea. So what did I do? Well I went to London with all my friends, rented a house with two of my bestest and got a job in financial headhunting because I was told I might be good at it. Fast forward two years and I was miserable. I couldn’t sit at a desk bored for eleven hours a day. And on top of that, I wasn’t very good at wearing makeup, dresses or heels. I’m not saying this was a bad life. I was very lucky and doing well and surrounded with amazing friends and things but I needed to feel more inspired. And while this would be inspiring for some people, it just wasn’t working for me and I suddenly realised that I was wasting away each day trying to get to the weekend. So I walked into to the office on the 2nd January and quit. That was it. I didn’t think about anything. I didn’t make any plans. I just quit. And suddenly success was about to mean something totally different. I had no idea what I wanted to do. But I knew that I wanted to be able to wear trainers everyday, manage my own time, work intensely hard, be inspired, be challenged, be scared and experience the world while doing it. I gave up my flat, my good salary, my belongings to lead a more minimal life. And I’ve never looked back. Now after six years of sleeping on a floor, working for free and even cleaning for friends, saying yes to new and scary opportunities, pushing myself and slowly working out what I want, I feel that I have finally reached my own personal point of success. I work for myself doing things I love and I try to get outside as much as possible around that!

My Highlights | I think that quitting my job was a major turning point for me so I am proud of myself in that moment for manning up and doing it. I was very excited to reach St Louis after stand-up paddle boarding 1001 miles down the Lower Missouri as I’m scared of the water and had never SUP’d before. My most challenging expedition to date was kayaking the length of Britain last year. Again I was terrified of the water, had never kayaked before and it was the toughest thing I’ve ever done. It didn’t help that it took 4 ½ months instead of 2 so I was pretty happy to reach the end!

A Key Talent | Stubbornness. I am very stubborn. If you want to achieve something enough or you want to take hold of your life and change something – whether that be reach the end of an expedition or change your career – you have to be prepared to work hard and continuously to reach your goal. It’s going to be a rollercoaster and there are going to be some serious ups and downs and you have to be prepared to work through them to get where you want. Also with big trips or life plans, I don’t put much thought in. I just wing it, go for it and see what happens! I should probably think about things a bit more. But I feel like if you commit you can work out everything else later. Also make sure you don’t take yourself too seriously! Even if you’re sleeping on the floor and scrubbing friends loo’s to make a bit of extra, you’re working towards your dreams so just keep going.

Lessons I Have Learnt | Keep plugging away. It will all work out in the end if you keep working hard. And keep giggling. A constant supply of Mini Cheddars helps too.

Dealing With Doubt | I am scared of the water. I know it sounds silly when all my expeditions have been water based. I absolutely love the water but I’m absolutely terrified. It annoys me that I’m scared and so when the SUP and kayaking expeditions popped up, I thought I had to man up and face it. I couldn’t say no to something incredible just because I was scared. So again, I guess I commit and then just man up and try to ignore the fear until I’ve made it through. Kayaking Britain was absolutely terrifying. We would be on the water at night, I was sleeping on a tiny boat doing night watches on my own, fins would pop up next to the kayak and scare the c*ap out of me! It was my idea of hell but I just had to breathe, control the fear and appreciate where I was and how incredibly beautiful it was. I just had to remember sitting at a desk and then I would man up!

The Meaning Of Life | Loving every minute of it.

The Best Advice I’ve Received | My Dad once told me to stop worrying that I didn’t know what I wanted to do because the most interesting people he knows still don’t know what they want to do. I love that. I also find anything from Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild so inspiring (even though I wasn’t personally given this advice!) – “make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.”

My Future Dreams And Ambitions | I would like to do a polar expedition and climb a very big mountain. I love getting to the top of a mountain and so would love to learn to climb properly and attempt something quite big. Rowing an ocean would be my biggest challenge and I’ve spoken to a few people about joining them on that – watch this space. I would also love to live in America, Australia and a few other places over the next few years. I feel like the next ten years are to be filled with adventures and discovering abroad and then I would love to work from a cottage in the countryside with my boyfriend while travelling and adventuring at every moment possible around it. That would be the dream.

The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | Even if you are quite short, quite silly and have never done anything before, you can still achieve whatever you want to in life. Be confident in yourself because you are so much more capable than you realise. And make sure you experience as much of the world as you can, surround yourself with amazing loving people and enjoy life. I would like people to want to do all of those things and I try to encourage people to get out there and do something to scare themselves – however big or small.

Interview Questions

View further interviews.

The Legacy Project

Guy Ailion is one of South Africa’s brightest young architects. The winner of SA’s 2010 National Architectural Student of the Year award for his M.A.Thesis Everywhere is Here: Architecture and a Developing Information Society, his design is informed by a dual fascination with moving images and the urban environment. Not only is he revolutionizing the […]

The Legacy Project

Dave Foord serves as the Chief Investment Officer and Director of Foord Asset Management (Pty) Limited. Dave Foord founded Foord Asset Management in October 1981 when he was 28-years old together with Liston Meintjies. This month marks the companies 33rd birthday. My Definition Of Success | Success to me means having the independence to be […]

The Legacy Project

A legend in the music world with P!NK, Mark Schulman | The Legacy Project is an incredible musician, dynamic performer and a strategic business mind who has parleyed his success on stage into true business success. Unlocking strategies to help audiences Hack the Rockstar Attitude and Boost their R.Q. (Rockstar Quotient), your team will be […]

The Legacy Project

Ernie Els has 70 professional career victories to his name, including four Major Championships, two World Golf Championships and seven World Matchplay titles. He is ranked No.1 in all-time career earnings on the European Tour and is known as “The Big Easy” due to his imposing physical stature, along with his fluid golf swing. I […]

The Legacy Project

Mavericks is a surfing location in Northern California where storm-waves can top out at over 60 feet with many actually being recorded on the Richter Scale!! It is also the home of the Mavericks Big Wave International Surf Contest for a select few of the world’s best big wave surfers. Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker has won […]

The Legacy Project

As an experienced branding and marketing specialist Donna Rachelson is passionate about empowering entrepreneurs and women. Donna is a guest lecturer at Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) having penned three books. With a wide frame of reference, being a mother and an adventurer, here she generously shares her thoughts with us: Donna Rachelson, Definition […]

Penny Heyns

Penny Heyns TLP is, without doubt, the world’s greatest female breaststroke swimmer of the 20th Century. She is the only woman in Olympic history to win both the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke events in Atlanta 1996 and broke 14 individual world records during her career. Her achievements brought her personal audiences with Nelson Mandela […]

  • South Africa
  • Keynote Speaker
The Legacy Project

In 2009 Ntsoaki Phali decided to become the change she wanted to see — and so began Beyond Ability Talent Solutions, a self-sustaining recruitment agency for the physically disabled. As a former human resources co-ordinator, Phali struggled to meet her employment equity target when recruiting employees with disabilities. She knew it wasn’t for want of […]

The profiles and images embedded on these pages are from various interviews conducted by The Legacy Project.

These remain the property of its owner and are not affiliated with or endorsed by WeSpeak Global.

© All rights reserved 2024. Created by Hesketh Media LLC

1902 Wright Place, Carlsbad, CA, 92008