Born and bred in the Argentinean Patagonia, global exploration was as dream of Gus’ since he was eight years old when he told his family he was going to stop his studies and travel the world.
By the time he was 17, he had started his own cake business and had won a scholarship to study in Byron Bay, Australia. He spent one year in Australia … the trip forever changed his life.
During this time he met the woman who would become his wife, and he also had an epiphany that guided his life from that point on: traveling is a state of mind before anything else.
With this new philosophy, a small backpack and his hitchhiking thumb, he crisscrossed South America racking up to 40,000 km without spending any money. During that time he enjoyed countless hours speaking with other travellers and dreaming about helping travel guide companies make better products: “This content is so old, I can help you fix this,” he would suggest.
After his trip to South America, he packed up and came back to OZ to chase the girl he fell in love with during his first trip to Australia. For work, he picked macadamia nuts, led a tennis school and started a company which imported and exported goods. One day, however, he saw a newspaper ad for a position with a travel company. It was too enticing to ignore.
Armed with the quintessential Aussie 'give-it-a-go' spirit and his family’s encouragement, he applied. Even though the odds were against him, he managed to secure a designer role at Lonely Planet, the most influential travel company in the world.
For Gus, he just landed the job of his dreams!
It didn't take long to start looking through the information and trying to fix and correct processes and systems in order to improve Lonely Planet's products.
Fast forward to 2014: Gus was running Lonely Planet after eight different jobs with the company, hundreds of hours of flying and a master’s in Business Administration. Gus became one of three executive directors of LP and the chief technology officer for 18 months before hanging up the boots and ending his career with Lonely Planet.
He had done what he wanted to to do. He launched e-books, new apps, strengthened by 50% the membership of the internet’s oldest travel forum and brought the company from millions of dollars in losses to profit. Together with a team of extraordinary colleagues, he transformed 500 years of momentum in the book industry, and 40 years of inertia in the travel guide business to re-invent the velocity of travel content, the velocity of product creation and the agile mindset of what is now a travel tech company and no longer just a book business.
The information, the battles and the challenges faced under various shareholders – Lonely Planet founders, the BBC and a billionaire from Tennessee -- have taught Gus the incredible challenges of innovation, technology, business transformation and human condition.
He has worked alongside some of the biggest companies in the world – Google X, Nokia, Apple, Amazon -- to develop cutting-edge technology and products.
Gus will amaze you with his common sense, energy and insights into the transformation, struggles and successes of one of the most loved brands in Australia and the world.
His experiences with technology and business make him an excellent choice for your next guest speaker or keynote speaker at your upcoming symposium or conference.
Gus was amazing with his energy and his message/content. He used content from the prior session from our CEO and incorporated it into his message; showing a consistent message. All attendees have been raving about Gus’ presentation, his message and his energy. Additionally all attendees thought they could listen to Gus again straight away given how great a presenter he was with an amazing story and message. Thank you.
Gus is such an engaging speaker and always well received. Love that he always does that bit extra to try and engage whether this be with the delegates directly or via social media.
Gus was a very good fit for our leadership programme and his topic resonated very strongly.
Engaged the audience, high energy, made people laugh. Appropriate content. Provoked thought and conversation.
Cobden & Hayson
Gus has an infections positive energy, he read the room, was able to build a rapport/trust quickly with our members which lead to a highly engaged audience - he nailed our conference theme, and really challenged people in their thought processes to be more adaptable and be able to keep ahead of the curve. One member commented "seeing Gus present alone was worth coming to the conference". I particularly think Gus is authentic, and this was important for our members. Gus went above and beyond, he also was open to media which was greatly appreciated by Hospitality NZ.
Hospitality New Zealand
Gus—where do I start! He has enough energy to power the whole of Australia. His infectious personality made for a fabulous end to our conference. Attendees had been out partying the night before and he was worried when he came off stage that the audience were flat, but they couldn't stop talking about him on social media. He was the perfect choice to end the event. He was generous with his time afterwards, giving us video quotes and also mingling and chatting with guests. He also texted me a few days later to say his inbox had blown up with positive feedback from attendees and thanked me again for the invitation to speak. I must admit, I was a little worried about the amount of expletives in his talk (not that the audience weren't up for it, but rather we had a few members of our senior leadership team there from the US and I wasn't sure they'd be so casual and accepting of it), but it wasn't an issue in the end. Gus was a blast and we were delighted to have him at Interactive.
Gus was amazing – by far the best speaker we have had over the five years we have been running the Gippsland Small Business Festival. Gus was engaging and relevant with a cracking sense of humour and was more than happy to take the time with attendees at our events. Thank you so much!
Gus challenged our thinking in an amazing manner by showing his own experienced (sic) with what’s happening in the industry at the moment. His content was extremely engaging and his personality is magnetic.
Gus was amazing – many people said he was the best presenter we have ever had!
Marshall White Real Estate
Gus is so compelling as a speaker. His message is quite simple but the effective way he delivers his message of adapting to change and disruption is such a strong takeaway for our delegates. Everyone has commented on how great his keynote was and we are always looking for an excuse to have him back!
National Vet Care
Gus was fantastic, his experiences in business / life were just the right fit for the audience. So many synergies for where we are taking our mass market division.
Gus is a truly inspirational speaker with great insight.
Housing Industry Association
Having worked across the professional event space for the past 6 years, I would have to say that Gus has been the most refreshing presenter I have come across. He presents in a way unlike no other, and in addition to clearly being very knowledgeable, he has a wonderful presence and draws in the crowd with his natural ability to entertain.
Australasian Promotional Products Association
Gus admits upfront that his forthright views and strong opinions surrounding his theme of managing business disruption will challenge his audience. It’s often said that ‘comfort is the enemy of progress’ and Gus makes you positively uncomfortable.
Engaging and thought provoking speaker dealing with the contemptuous subject being disruption.
Gus was great, quite different in his view which challenged our audience.
We knew that Gus would be able to inspire and energise Wyndham’s Senior Leadership Team. He surprised us by his ability to authentically challenge us and our sector to do more and learn more by doing.
Wyndham City Council
Gus delivered a terrific keynote presentation and delivered the perfect message on transformation with humour and high energy.
Gus knows how to shake things up and get everyone in the room thinking about life and work in a different way! His genuine and authentic passion is what makes Gus so memorable.
He was the conference highlight, delegates have not stopped raving about his session. He was engaging, challenging and set the tone for the day - everything you want out of a keynote.
Gus was very engaging, funny, but importantly delivered a message that all of us in business must take seriously.
Boutique Financial Planners Group
Gus was energizing, thought provoking and entertaining.
BAE Systems Australia
Very energetic, various age groups in the room could relate.
Data Action Pty. Ltd.
Vibrant, switched on, engaging, energetic, shared his experiences and ability to make his messaging relevant to the Financial Planning industry. Open in taking questions and encouraging audience participation.
AMP Financial Planners Association Ltd.
Gus delivered workshops for our business with such energy and enthusiasm that everyone walked away from them with positive feedback. His innovative ideas coupled with charismatic personality and engaging delivery meant our staff had the thought-provoking workshops I had requested. Gus was brilliant; I’d love to consider him for future talks at Prospa, and would also happily recommend him to other companies.
Prospa Advance Pty. Ltd.
Thought provoking, Energetic, Innovative, Inspirational, Engaging, Charismatic, Generous with his time engaging with clients.
Gus is an amazing presenter who brings a great deal of energy, enthusiasm and passion for all things change, leadership and common sense!
Quite simply OUTSTANDING! Rated as “best ever” by numerous delegates.
Leagues Club Australia Ltd.
One of the best speakers I have seen in my over 20 years of being in the business!
to A T Productions
Gus was brilliant!!! Really nailed our brief. His style is spot! He delivered a clear message in an entertaining and personable way.
On point, inspiring, energetic, approachable would highly recommend.
SG Fleet Group Limited
His overarching message was particularly relevant given the stage of business growth our business is currently in. Very accommodating and willing to go above and beyond on the night.
All our delegates loved Gus’ manner and felt that it was a really natural, unscripted presentation.
BT Financial Group
Gus was perfect for our conference. His topic of disruption was timely as our industry is on the brink of possible disruption. He was young, edgy, and engaged the entire audience – he did a second more casual session over Dinner and people were genuinely interested in everything he talked about – he could also consider stand up comedy! . Not only did our younger delegates rave about him but we also had comments from several of our older seasoned high-level delegates and sponsors that he was the best speaker they had seen in ages.
Gus was entertaining yet very definitely got the point across. Gus' presentation was very on message for the strategies we are encouraging our business owners and operators to embrace.
Fantastic speaker on a range of subjects and very personable and engaging. The audience loved him.
Crowne Plaza Adelaide
Gus Balbontin delivers a clear message about focusing on your customers’ needs, not your own. He is engaging, authentic and very ‘light on his feet’. We have had tremendous feedback from conference delegates.
Gus' message really set up the day's agenda for us. It delivered content consistent with what we were trying to achieve for the day. The idea that you have to be ahead, and not be complacent.
Gus delivers a dynamic presentation based on his own experiences. The presentation has a general approach which is suited to all walks of life.
Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia
Gus was down to earth, interactive and had some good new ideas / concepts that were presented in a new way. We appreciated his willingness to be fully engaged in the event, spending time with participants, offering assistance and generally being wonderful. We love presenters who are fully ‘there’ for us and Gus was definitely one of them.
Gus was fantastic! Highly engaging and lots of energy. We had many comments on the day about how interesting and engaging he was and also how his presentation was so aligned with our strategy and how much his messages resonated throughout the team. The examples and real life experiences he told really brought to life his key messages.
BT Financial Group
Intelligent, Interesting, Inspirational. A great partner to our process that has help broaden our thinking and engage people in debating the opportunities contained in diverse opinions. We will definitely work with Gus again and use him to help sharpen our view of our own potential and refine the possibilities of the market place.
Gus was very accommodating and went out of his way to keep me updated with the flight delays from the Sydney weather. He made every effort to get there as soon as possible. His presentation was excellent and our key stakeholders and the delegates themselves thoroughly enjoyed it. The verbal feedback from delegates throughout the day following his presentation was nothing but fantastic. I’ll definitely be recommending to our team to use him for other events.
BT Financial Group
Your presentation was a high light at our conference. Your passion and enthusiasm was infectious as you addressed the challenges of recapturing our relevancy in society. You provided a number of reference points that my team returned back to on a number of occasions throughout the strategic planning as well as post conference in our leadership team meetings. The innovation chart that you provided has been a helpful tool in my team understanding that we need some 'crazies' as well as 'sensible' people in the innovation process. We are a conservative organisation and as such we attract conservative 'sensible' people but we do have a few 'crazies' amongst us. One thing your presentation has done for us is the 'sensible' people have captured the need to embrace and empower the ideas of the 'crazies' and understand that they need to give appropriate support to assist in the framing and implementation of new ideas. Thanks so much for giving of yourself at our conference. It was a flag in the ground moment that has reinforced my message to step outside of what we have already done and consider new ways that we can address the problems we are trying to solve.
Territory Public Relations Secretary
The Salvation Army
Your ideas were profound and your delivery mesmerising. You have reinvigorated my spirit of curiosity and desire to effect change. Thank you again.
Gus did brilliantly considering we were running behind on schedule and had some issues with the AV at the venue. His presentation was a little rushed, but I don't think it's because he wasn't prepared or a good presenter - he had a late time slot to contend with so did very well. Also, very appreciative of him spending the afternoon with our members to ensure he had the one on one time.
Entrepreneur's Organisation (EO)
Your presentation and then the workshop went brilliantly thank you. Your key messages were very relevant to an organisation in the midst of major transformation and they flowed freely from all delegates throughout the remainder of the conference. We received feedback from Managers and everyone that we spoke to found you engaging and inspirational. I am therefore confident that we will be seeking you out in the future to do more work together.
Queensland Country Credit Union
Gus’ ability to ignite enthusiasm from the audience coupled with the ability to keep the topic real and authentic brought rave reviews from those who attended. Can’t wait for the next Gus Balbontin instalment.
Gus managed to energise and engage our attendee's right from the start. He discussed his business journey and the major challenges he faced with such as rapidly changing market place. The whole session aligned perfectly and we were surprised at how many of our suppliers asked for his details so they could use him within their own business networks.
General Manager Northern Region
Australian Liquor Marketers