Dan Cnossen

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A true patriot, raised on the farmlands of Kansas, early on Dan knew he wanted to serve his country. Upon graduating high school, he was accepted at the U.S. Naval Academy and spent the next four years relentlessly pursuing selection for SEAL training. One of only 16 members of his class given the opportunity to enter Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL training as officers, Dan successfully completed the grueling process in the fall of 2003. Over the next six years, Dan was deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan and rose in rank to become the officer-in-charge of an 18-man SEAL platoon. In 2009, Dan was deployed to Afghanistan, into an area of heavy combat. There, on a night mission in the mountains, he stepped on an IED, losing both legs in the blast. He would later be awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star with Valor. For the next two years, Dan fought for his life, enduring over 40 different surgeries, while readjusting to civilian life. It was during this time, as part of his rehab, that he was introduced to the sports of cross-country skiing and biathlon. Never one to shy from a challenge, he eventually earned a spot on the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team. In 2015, Dan returned to graduate school, earning two degrees from Harvard University. At the 2018 Paralympic Games, Dan stole the show, remarkably winning one gold, four silver, and one bronze medal over a period of eight days, earning the honor of Best Male Athlete of The Games.


As a speaker, Dan shared his remarkable story, and the inspiring insights he has uncovered along the way, to corporations, military audiences, professional associations, charities, and schools across the country. With captivating stories from his time in SEAL training, his numerous military deployments, and his pursuit of athletic excellence at the Paralympic Games, Dan will leave your audience both in awe of one man’s will and inspired to take on any personal or business challenge in their own life. His popular keynote and workshop themes include:


Inspiration/ Overcoming Adversity

An astonishing story of survival, grit, and resiliency in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity. Dan’s personal journey from the battlefields of Afghanistan to the podium at the Paralympic Games is sure to inspire your audience to confront any challenge head-on. Dan’s tone is that of a humble warrior who isn’t bragging about his remarkable accomplishments, but rather sharing his hard-earned lessons learned through some incredibly difficult life experiences. When he shares the story of being dragged off a craggy, mountain peak in Afghanistan, through a live minefield, with his legs blown to shreds, racing to get to the evacuation helicopter before it runs out of fuel, it’s like listening to a Tom Clancy novel come to life… but this is not fiction. It’s intense, inspiring, and not soon forgotten.


Leadership: Key Principles in Action

'Servant Based Leadership’, ‘Constantly Improving Your Tactical Position’, ‘Succession Planning’ and the counter-intuitive, ‘Not Knowing Is A Position of Strength’ are some of the many principles Dan demonstrates in this presentation targeted to your company’s directors and team leaders. Dan believes some leadership principles come naturally to certain people, other principles can be learned, and all principles can be continually developed. Dan Cnossen considers being put in charge of a Navy SEAL Platoon, being directly responsible for the lives of other men, to be his most significant military accomplishment. The lessons he learned during his military career, both as a soldier and as a Lt. Commander, are the basis of this insightful presentation.


Mental Toughness & Goal Setting

Navy SEALs and gold medalists don’t tolerate inefficiency, excuses, and mediocrity. If you’re looking for a speaker to not only inspire your team, but to equip them with tangible steps to set and achieve far-reaching goals while navigating any obstacle, this is the presentation you’re looking for. Dan shares the mental tools that got him through the most grueling military training in the world and to the highest levels of athletic competition, and how those tools translate to business and life. Under Goal Setting, Dan takes a deep dive into how to formulate a long-range plan for success, utilizing and breaking down the very same Personal Performance Plan he employed to win six Paralympic medals. In Mental Toughness, he defines and teaches the mental skills needed to weather the storms that inevitably accompany the pursuit of any meaningful achievement.

Dan Cnossen's Experiences

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Virtual In-Person

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You CRUSHED it at our event last week. Our group clearly couldn’t get enough and would have enjoyed more time with you, as evidenced by them lining up to meet you. The only downside is I have NO idea how I can top you as a speaker at our next annual meeting ...and everyone acknowledged that. You were super comfortable, well-spoken, genuine, and detailed...and most of all, you really brought your unique and special life stories back to lessons to take (perspective, one step at a time, goal setting, having a plan, etc.)....all of which resonated great with our crowd.

Dan Dickinson

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