Who am I?

About me

Cathy ODowd.jpg

I'm Cathy O'Dowd, a South African climber who now lives in the tiny mountain principality of Andorra. I'm best known as the 1st woman in the world to climb Everest from both sides. I've made my living as a motivational speaker for over twenty years, and been paid to speak in 44 countries so far. I use my Himalayan experiences as case studies to talk to corporate clients about leadership, team dynamics, goal achievement and motivation. 

My main income comes from corporate speaking but I have experience with many of the key fundings streams for adventure. I've published books, both self-published and with a traditional publisher. I've raised corporate sponsorship for expensive Himalayan expeditions. I've also had to cancel projects, because I couldn't find enough money. I've dabbled in photography and film but with little financial success. However, I make good use of photography for social media content. I've received grants for expeditions. And I've watched the market change over the years. I, like every adventurer, am faced with building up my social influence. I've done minor brand ambassador work. Crowdfunding is something I've never tried. 

My personal website, focused on my speaking business, is cathyodowd.com. You'll find story of how I got started in my book Just For The Love Of It, the story of my four Everest expeditions. I'm @CathyODowd on Instagram and Twitter, and also active on Facebook and LinkedIn


Looking back over three decades of adult life, I'd like to reach out to my younger self and shake her. Stop being embarrassed and half-hearted and uncertain. Stop feeling like an imposter for daring to want to do these unusual things with your life. I cringe thinking about the number of opportunities I squandered, some I failed to recognise in time, others I didn’t follow through on.

The explosive growth of social media brings far more putative adventurers into my orbit than ever before. I want to help you all do a better job of taking your adventure dream seriously, treating it like the (wonderful, unusual, fascinating) business project that it is. 

I'm still active in this world myself, doing adventures, finding funds, giving speeches, building my social networks. Join me in the journey. Let's work out how to do this efficiently, effectively and for the long-term. 

why this project?

Who are you?


Perhaps you dream of doing an adventure one day but have no idea how to start. Perhaps you are very happy to stay at home, but are just curious as to how on earth adventurers fund their lifestyle. Either way, you'll find answers here, as we ask successful adventurers nosey questions about where the money comes from. 



You're a self-starter, you've had some success. Perhaps you did an adventure that got a bit of media coverage. You gave a few speeches about it or gained a few thousand followers. You're a brand ambassador but find that free kit still doesn't pay the costs of the adventures you hope to do. You have a sense of opportunities but don't know how to make the most of them, how to raise your game or find the money to do this full-time. 



You're living the Adventure life. Perhaps you've had a book published by a big publishing house. Or you've been asked to talk to companies about your experiences. You've raised hard cash for a project. You're a brand ambassador, maybe even a sponsored athlete. But that still doesn't mean you have much money coming in. Or that it will keep on coming. 

How do you keep the book selling? How do you get more speaking gigs? How to you build a long-term relationship with financial sponsors? How do you take success in one of these funding areas and leverage it in others?

You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.
— Alan Alda

Find me on instagram @cathyodowd