Motivational / Inspirational
He has been blind since birth…
Despite this Hein Wagner has many accomplishments to his name. He has completed the Absa Cape Epic, ran the Antarctica Marathon, the Two Oceans and New York Marathons, completed Ironman, competed in the World Triathlon Series in Cape Town, finished several Cape Town Cycle Tours, tackled the white waters of the Zambezi River, climbed the ten highest mountains in the Western Cape, completed the Cape to Rio Yacht Race, holds the World Blind Land Speed Record at 322.52 km/h, and more.
Wagner matriculated at the Pioneer School for learners with visual barriers in Worcester, South Africa. His parents made the difficult decision of sending their blind five-year-old son to boarding school a hundred kilometres away from their home in Durbanville. This was a decision the terrified youngster could not understand at the time, yet today he recognises this decision as the best one they could have made in their quest to prepare their son for the real world.
Hein’s first school report is testimony to his adaptive nature and early sense of adventure stating that he ‘is on a constant journey of discovery’. His teenage years proved to be more challenging as he dealt with the normal pressures of growing up and also struggled with the question of why he had to be born blind. Not finding the answers he desperately needed made him rebellious and he subsequently made life difficult for those around him. It took a couple of extreme adventures to make Hein see the light. Today he sees his blindness as the biggest gift he could ever hope for.
Hein started his career as a switchboard operator, but the rapidly growing technology sector soon inspired him to enter the IT industry. He worked for companies such as MWeb and Thawte Consulting, where he quickly worked his way up to international sales manager, managing a team of sighted individuals.
Hein’s unique experiences and out-look on life afforded him numerous invitations to share his story and in 2004 he decided to take up motivational speaking as a full-time career. His humorous approach to everything in life has illuminated the lighter side of living in darkness and resonates with audiences around the world. Whether he has his audience rolling with laughter or doing introspection, he aims to leave them with the realisation that they have the capacity to achieve anything they set their minds too.
As a motivational speaker, he holds audiences’ attention. His motto: “Anything you believe is not possible, but is actually possible; you just have to change the way you look at things. If you do that, the things you look at will change.” With so many accomplishments under his belt, he always states: “My excuse is that I’m blind, what’s yours? By opening my mind to turn the unachievable into the achievable, I moved myself from being filled with pain to being filled with joy, from negative to positive; from unhappy to happy, from uninspired to inspired, a taker to a giver, a loser to a winner, from unsuccessful to successful, from ungrateful to grateful and from just being blind to being blinded with possibilities.”
In August 2014, Hein received an honorary Golden Key award from the University of Stellenbosch for his ongoing commitment to social upliftment. He is also the brand ambassador for Kaleidoscope, a non-profit organisation based in South Africa with the aim of supporting the blind to reach their full potential.
He is engaged to Monica Sivertsson and they divide their time between Sweden and South Africa. Monica has recently given birth to their first child, baby daughter India Marlene.
Hein Wagner is living proof that despite the challenges that come our way, anything is possible. He does not allow his blindness to stand in the way of his dreams and people often refer to him as the blind man with exceptional vision.