US Navy SEAL Lt. Commander, 6x Paralympic Medalist

Dan Cnossen
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Dan Cnossen At A Glance:

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. Over the next six years, Dan was deployed and became the officer-in-charge of a SEAL platoon, but tragically lost his legs in an IED blast. Not one to shy from a challenge, Dan became a Paralympic athlete and won 6 medals for team USA.

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.

Dan currently resides in Massachusetts and is training to compete for Team USA once again, at the 2022 Paralympic Games.

  • Inspiration Keynote: 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 Keynote: Key Principles in Action

    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: Workshops

    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.
“Thank you” just doesn’t seem to cut it. It’s hard to find the words to express my gratitude to you as a patriot, as a speaker, as a leader of men and as a contributor to the Blackhawks. I just wanted to pen a quick note of appreciation and let you know how impactful I find your presentations. Beyond your inspiring stories of perseverance, your insights on improving human performance vis a vis preparation and execution is pure gold. Our prospects would be wise to heed any and all advice you provide. Implementing even one of your recommendations would mean improving as both an athlete and as a person. Again, thanks for being a return contributor to the Blackhawks and we hope to see much more of you in the future.

— Ian Gentile, Senior Manager, Player Development, Chicago Blackhawks

Wow, wow, wow! Dan was an amazing person to feature, and what an inspiration! A true patriot and a warrior in every sense. I hung on every word – incredible! Thank you for putting this program together and the time and energy you’re spending on it – what a wonderful way to spend time.

— Christy Chapin Bellina, Amazon

Apologies for the late follow up but 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, really brought your unique and special life stories back to lessons to take away (perspective, one step at a time, goal setting, having a plan, etc.)....all of which resonated great with our crowd. Many thanks again, and good luck in all your endeavors. I hope we can connect again!

— Dan Dickinson, Chief Executive Officer, HCI Equity Partners

To any company or organization seeking to motivate its employees or clients, ignite new thinking or shed thoughtful perspective on leadership topics, mental toughness, resiliency, grit, and team effectiveness – Dan can weave together an authentic and unique narrative to draw people in and will leave you feeling inspired, motivated, and committed.  I give him my highest recommendations.

— Jim Citrin, Partner, Head of CEO Practice, Spencer Stuart

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