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Michael J. Tougias


Leadership, Teambuilding
Stress Management, Inspiration, Motivation


NY Times Bestselling Author

A passionate decision-making expert and author of several national bestsellers, including The Finest Hours, which the Disney Corporation turned into major motion picture.

Several of the author’s books are gripping non-fiction accounts of aviators. Tougias’ book Above & Beyond tells the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis through the eyes of the pilots who flew the U-2 Spy Planes and Navy Crusaders over Cuba.  Few people know that Major Rudy Anderson was shot down and killed by the Russians. The book also chronicles a lesser-known aviation incident during the crisis that put the world within seconds of nuclear war.

His book A Storm Too Soon is a harrowing tale of pilots of a Coast Guard Jayhawk Helicopter and a C-130 who enter a storm that produces hurricane winds and 80-foot seas in a daring rescue of three survivors clinging to a life raft 200 miles out to sea. The mission was so dangerous that even the rescue swimmer had to be rescued.

He is currently working with the pilots of a Coast Guard helicopter that crashed into the Bering Sea as it was air-lifting survivors from a sinking freighter.

Tougias shares what he has learned from survivors and aircraft pilots about decision-making, goal attainment and resilience.  Below are four of his presentations, one of which he often presents with the actual survivor, Loch Reidy, from his bestselling book Overboard!

Tougias has spoken in most US states to Fortune 500 companies, Associations, Colleges, and annual conventions.

  • Author and co-author of 31 books, including Ten Hours Until Dawn, Fatal Forecast, King Philip’s War, Rescue of the Bounty, The Finest Hours, A Storm Too Soon, and Extreme Survival: Lessons From Those Who Have Triumphed Against All Odds.

  • A frequent guest on television & radio such as Fox & Friends, The Weather Channel, National NPR, and ABC’s 20/20.

  • Recipient of the American Library Association’s Editor’s Choice, and the Independent Publisher’s “Best Book in its Class”


Speech Topics & Categories

  • Leadership, teambuilding, management

  • Inspiration, motivation

  • Stress (Harnessing it into action)


14 Steps to Strategic Decision-making: President Kennedy and the Pilots Who Saved America during the Cuban Missile Crisis

In this multi-media presentation author and keynote speaker Michael J. Tougias provides you with the information you need to make winning decisions. The author first chronicles the thirteen harrowing days of the Cuban Missile Crisis and then outlines the steps President Kennedy made to reach a decision on a course of action. The information is based on Tougias’  book Above & Beyond about the daring reconnaissance flights of the pilots of the Navy Crusaders and U-2 spy planes.

Kennedy’s deliberate method of decision-making is a worthy case study for all those who face rapid change, increased competition, career choices or a significant personal challenge. JFK’s leadership and the manner in which he demanded teamwork during the crisis were spot on, and Tougias explains why. Equally important were the decisions made by the pilots who risked their lives over the deadly skies of Cuba protected by Soviet surface-to-air missiles. (Booklist singled out this book in a starred review, calling it “Superb, a real page-turner.”)

A Storm Too Soon

In this riveting slide presentation, Tougias tells the story of an incredibly dangerous aviation rescue 200 miles out to sea. He first chronicles how the pilots of a C-130 managed to go into the heart of the storm and locate three men clinging to a life raft being battered by 80-foot waves. The story continues with the arrival of a Jayhawk Helicopter with a four man crew arriving on scene. In this edge-of-your-seat presentation, Tougias shares the secrets of the rescuer’s teamwork and decision-making that led to one of the most incredible aviation rescues in Coast Guard history.

Overboard!: A Survivor’s Story

Survivor Loch Reidy and author Michael Tougias give this joint presentation about one of the most harrowing and inspiring survival stories of all time. Learn the mindsets that Loch (“an ordinary man”) harnessed to become an extraordinary survivor, enduring three days and two nights treading water 300 miles in the middle of the storm-tossed Atlantic Ocean.  When Loch’s sailboat first capsized, he was with his injured captain in the water, and he did everything he could to keep him alive. The captain died, but Loch vowed to bring his body back to his loved ones.  Using slides from the actual storm and rescue, Reidy and Tougias put the audience right into the action.  Crucial to Loch’s survival was the search efforts of the pilots of a C-130 during the night. There will be tears, gasps, and astonishment from the audience.

Extreme Survival: Lessons From Those Who Have Triumphed Against All Odds

Having interviewed approximately 100 people whose survival stories are seemingly miraculous, Tougias has unlocked the mindsets and decision-making that allowed them to make it to the other side of life’s most daunting challenges. His book Extreme Survival features fourteen different techniques and mindsets important in avoiding accidents and, should the worst happen, how to survive. The presentation includes mariners, mountain climbers, holocaust survivors, and pilots such as John McCain, Eddie Rickenbacker, and others.

Tougias wows audiences with his multi-media presentations of survivor stories and the lessons learned that we could all use in our day-to-day lives for peak performance under pressure and overcoming adversity. 

Michael has spoken to the majority of Coast Guard Air Stations in the U.S.

Client Comments

  • “Mike and his presentation were fantastic. We could not have asked for a better person to speak at our college.  Can’t say enough superlatives.  Hope we can have him back someday!” ---- Brent Philips, Dean of Cloud County Community College (KS)


  • “Fantastic, absolutely fantastic!” – Doug Nelson, President Acadia Insurance


  • “A wonderful and riveting presentation…”—Charles Michel, General Dynamics


  • “The program was awesome and feedback has been great.  I’m going to spread the word!” – Ted Clark, Center for Family Business at Northeastern University


  • “You were great.  The applause was as powerful as your talk.” – Briana Silvio, Axial Financial Annual Employee Meeting


  • “I’m getting great feedback about your talk, and we broke a new fundraising record that day.  Hope we can work again soon!” – Carolyn Read, Habitat for Humanity


  • “It was a great session, and you hit just the right points!” –Taryn Washkowitz, Manulife


  • “Tougias gave an inspiring presentation and the slides he used were awesome.  I’m recommending him to my contacts around the country.” – Margaret Carty, Annual Convention of Maryland Library Association


  • “Thank you so much for delivering a wonderful talk.  Feedback has been great!” –Kim Miele, Gulf Coast CEO Forum (Presented at their annual meeting--3 years.)

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