Motivational Speaker



Ann Arbor, Michigan / DTW Airport









My story is one of tragedy, incomprehensible loss and triumph.

On Labor Day of 2003, my family and I were flying from northern Michigan to Ft. Wayne, Indiana. As we were preparing to land, the aircraft crashed and burst into flames. My dad threw me out of the plane to save my life. He went back into the flames to get my mom, Julie, my sister, Lindsay, and brother, Ian, but tragically, was unable to. My mom, sister and brother did not survive.

My dad and I grieved the loss of our family members but we found ways to keep living in the midst of the incomprehensible pain. We pushed each other to overcome, as we knew my mom, sister and brother would’ve wanted.

Eventually, my dad met a lovely woman named Kimberley, who had three kids of her own. They got married and together, we formed a wonderful blended family. Meanwhile, I worked hard on my basketball skills and began to have success on the court. My dream was to play for The University of Michigan. On June 15, 2011, Coach Beilein offered me a full scholarship to play basketball for The University of Michigan, which I accepted. It was a dream come true.

Nine days later, on June 24th, 2011, my father and “second mother” were flying to Northern Michigan to have a weekend of celebration. As we were preparing to land, the aircraft crashed, and my dad and second mom were killed on impact. I suffered severe injuries and was nearly killed myself. After being in a coma for over two months, I had to relearn how to walk, talk and basically how to live my life. With the help of many incredible doctors, therapists, my family and friends, I made a great comeback to take the place at The University of Michigan that coach Beilein held open for me.

Ten years later, I am a graduate of The University of Michigan and am a full time motivational speaker with a message about Grit & Thriving in the midst of adversity. I consider myself blessed to be in a position to add value to organizations across the country.

My message is about my journey from a coma, to a wheelchair to playing for Michigan. Yes a lot of things had to happen to Overcome It and achieve my goal, but more than anything, it took some Grit.

A lot of people have talked about Grit recently. It seems like a good trait for both people and for organizations to possess. It has been said that Grit is working hard for a long period of time. Grit is about consistency over the long term, not just intensity in the short term. That’s true, but how can we apply Grit to daily our lives? How can we use this idea to help us, not merely survive adversity, but thrive in the midst of adversity? How can we use Grit to help us achieve any goal we set for ourselves and for our organizations? I believe the following definition applies to, not only overcoming adversity, but to accomplishing any goal, as well.

There are four key components to Grit, but I believe Grit is driven by having a Greater Purpose for why we do what we do. If we are working just for ourselves, it is very likely that we will eventually face some form of adversity that will cause us to give up because we don’t have a driving force for why we do what we do. If we are working for something bigger than ourselves, I believe we will always do what it takes to get the job done, no matter the task and no matter the circumstances. Our Purpose drives Grit.

Growth Mindset, the first component of Grit. The Growth Mindset views every setback, every failure every adversity, is an opportunity. Adversity is opportunity in disguise. Even when we inevitably fall short of a goal, the Growth Mindset does not believe that is a permanent condition. We can use it as an opportunity to get better. Adversity does not define us. Adversity can refine us if we approach it with the Growth Mindset. The event will probably not be a source of growth, but I believe we can grow from how we choose to respond.

Resilience, the second component of Grit. If we make the decision to be Resilient, we take Massive Action in the face of adversity. It took Massive Action to go from a coma to playing for Michigan. I believe achieving our goals in the midst of challenges is the result of making the decision to be resilient, the result of taking Massive Action.

Integrity, the third component of Grit. In the context of overcoming adversity, or working to achieve any goal, I believe Integrity is about following through on our commitments, especially when our circumstances change. We owe it to ourselves, to the person we made the commitment to and collectively, we owe it to the team to always do what we said we would do, especially when there is a change in circumstance. Integrity is doing the common things in an uncommon way, consistently. The result of doing the common things in an uncommon way is we’ll leave people and places better than we found them.

The Team First Mentality is the final component of Grit. I believe we should always think about our teammates first. We should train ourselves to think We before me. Every person on every team has a role and that role is very important. If do our very best to fill our role to the best of our ability, the only impact we will have on our team is a positive impact.

I believe that part of the reason I survived two plane crashes, endured tragic losses and made a great recovery, is to help others. I have been sharing my story and message about Grit & Thriving in the midst of adversity to inspire others to overcome the adversity they are facing. We all face challenges every day, and I believe that it is my purpose to help others find ways to thrive in the midst of them.








Here is what others have to say:

“We ultimately decided his belief system, overcoming the adversity in his life, his grit and his mindset, align with our organizational beliefs. We thought his presentation would be deeply impactful for our staff, especially with all that’s going on in the world today between COVID, stay at home, social unrest. We did a live WebEx event with our team with Austin’s presentation as well as Q & A portion at the end. It really left an indelible, long-lasting impact on a lot of our loan officers, our management team and our direct lending sales group. I couldn’t recommend Austin more, not just for some sort of team event or speaking engagement but really for the human being that he is. I look forward to building a friendship with Austin and look forward to meeting him in person at some point when he’s out in Southern California, hopefully we can get together. He’s a wise man and his perspective and all he’s gone through in life has really taught me a lot in a short period of time. Any organization would benefit from hearing a man like him. Deeply inspirational and a very principled person.”

“In the space I serve, my goal is to assist clients and their families in preparing for what’s next. Absolutely no one could’ve prepared Austin Hatch for what was to come next in his life as a plane crash survivor as a young boy and again at 16-years-old that left him in critical condition. Austin has felt the pain of losing family members in an instant and the heavy grief that would be nearly impossible for anyone to overcome. Yet, overcome is exactly what Austin did. He battled back to recover from his physical injuries and drove himself hard to become a member of the University of Michigan Basketball Team. Austin taught those around him that a mindset like his cannot be held down. He channels this grit, focus and energy into helping others understand that life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s how you respond to adversity. Austin is a shining example that through the struggles and loss one might have, you are strong enough to overcome any challenge and help those around you to be better. It’s an honor to know Austin, see his exemplary character and I recommend him to the highest degree.”

“Austin Hatch blew us away with his powerful speech about his life experiences and his ability to persevere and overcome adversity. His message hit home with our coaches and student athletes. I recruited Austin in high school and his story of perseverance and determination is very inspiring. His outlook is motivating to many people and should be a defining message in how we should live our lives every day.”

“Over the 20 year history of the DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program, we have had many amazing speakers address our students. Austin Hatch may have been the most inspirational speaker we have had by encouraging everybody to overcome life‘s obstacles and work toward a positive future not only for himself but for society.”



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