‘I have no arms and legs that weigh me down,' How a man born without arms or legs learned to swim, surf, skydive – and speak in front of thousands

The man standing before the stadium-sized crowd held the attention of thousands, in part because of humorous, yet moving, speech about the power of hope. But also because he was standing there at all.

Nick Vujicic, the 32-year-old president of motivational speech marketer Attitude is Altitude, was born without arms or legs. Though he struggles with some practicalities of everyday living (brushing teeth, for example), he has become an in-demand inspirational speaker.

There is no medical explanation for Vujicic’s physical disability, an extremely rare congenital disorder known as tetra-amelia syndrome. He has a small foot on his left hip which helps him balance. He can type, pick things up between his toes and even kick a ball. The self-confessed adrenalin junkie regularly swims and has gone skydiving.

Confidence didn’t come naturally to Vujicic. Growing up in Melbourne, Australia, he struggled with depression and was bullied at school. When he was just 10 years old, he attempted suicide. Over time, Vujicic worked on adopting a positive attitude, and, at 17, an encounter with his high school janitor inspired him to go into public speaking. The charismatic Australian now travels the world addressing huge crowds, including business groups and schoolchildren. He has visited more than 50 countries and given thousands of talks. 

The author of memoir Love Without Limits now lives in California with his wife, Kanae, and their 2-year-old son. They are expecting another child later in 2015. Vujicic runs a non-profit ministry, Life Without Limbs, as well as Attitude is Altitude, which markets his motivational speeches and campaigns against bullying.

Please click on the arrow above to see Nick Vujicic speak with BBC Capital about his extraordinary life and his recipe for success in the corporate world. 

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