Dakota Meyer: The Way Forward
Sergeant Dakota L. Meyer is a United States Marine Corps veteran and recipient of the military’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor. He is the New York Times best-selling author of the book, Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War. Meyer earned his medal for his actions during the Battle of Ganjigal, which was part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He is the first living Marine to have received the medal since 1973 and one of the youngest. Humble and propelled by a respect for his fallen comrades, Meyer insists that he is not a hero, and that any Marine would do the same thing. Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau for lectures, he addresses inspiration, motivation, courage, leadership, believing in yourself, doing what is right, and what happened that day in Afghanistan. Meyer is a successful entrepreneur who also currently serves in the Individual Ready Reserve of the US Marine Corps Reserve.
The Attack. In September 2009, three US Marines, a US Navy corpsman, and Afghan soldiers went missing in Afghanistan after being ambushed by 50 insurgents. Defying orders, Meyer went into the “killing zone” to help. Through five successive missions over the course of six hours, he helped save the lives of many American and Afghan troops. Meyer also found the bodies of the four missing men, and, with the help of friendly Afghan soldiers, moved the bodies to a safer area where they could be extracted. Meyer suffered shrapnel wounds to his arm and, in a testament to his heroism, did not expect to survive the battle. “I wasn’t really thinking I could die, it was just a matter of when,” he said. “I never thought I was going to come out…[but] that’s what Marines do.” He was 21 at the time.
The Award. During a ceremony on September 15, 2011, President Barack Obama awarded Meyer with the Medal of Honor. Obama called Meyer incredibly down-to-earth, noting that when he tried to tell him that he would be receiving the award, Meyer originally didn’t take the call because was working a new job in construction. Obama jokingly recounted that Meyer said, “If I don’t work, I don’t get paid.” The president called him back during his lunch break and thanked him for taking the call. The two later talked over beers the day before the award ceremony and, according to President Obama, “Dakota is the kind of guy who gets the job done.” Meyer was also inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon and honored with a parade.
Civilian Life. With his return to civilian life, Meyer has become an advocate for American veterans. He partnered with the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation to raise $1 million and issued the “Dakota Meyer Scholarship Challenge to America” to match his efforts. He worked with Toyota and the US Chamber of Commerce to launch the Personal Branding initiative of the Hiring Our Heroes Program to help military veterans and transitioning service members better market themselves to employers. Meyer also wrote a book, Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War, which details his journey from a young man raised on a cattle farm in Kentucky to a true American hero. It tells the full story of the chaotic Ganjigal battle for the first time in a compelling and very human way, revealing it as a microcosm of our recent wars. He is also the creator of the podcast Front Toward Enemy with Dakota Meyer and co-author, alongside Robert O'Neill, of The Way Forward: Master Life’s Toughest Battles and Create Your Lasting Legacy – an in-depth, fearless, and ultimately redemptive account of what it takes to survive and thrive on battlefields from Afghanistan and Iraq to our daily lives, and how the perils of war help us hold onto our humanity.
The Way Forward: Mastering Life’s Toughest Battles and Discovering Your Purpose. Following an attack on his comrades in Ganjgal, Afghanistan, Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer showed the ultimate level of courage and determination by entering the “killing zone” and saving the lives of many Afghan and American troops. In this talk, Meyer draws from his military memoirs and lessons learned in his post-military experiences to lead a candid conversation on what it takes to survive, thrive, and tackle your biggest obstacles — whether in combat or in everyday life. As he reveals to audiences, the first step in moving forward is to learn from the past, but not let it define who you are or what you’re capable of in the present or the future.
Showing a rare willingness to be vulnerable, Meyer shares paradigm-shifting lessons on the pivotal role of hope in achieving your mission, understanding the difference between a problem and an inconvenience and the impact of each, acting out of love vs. acting out of hate, and helping people on the path to achieving something much bigger than yourself. Outlining the importance of purpose and actionable steps each person can take to discover their own, Meyer shows audiences the way forward when it comes to putting life’s toughest battles into perspective, defining what matters most, and creating their legacies.
Own The Dash: Create A Life Worth Living. Dakota Meyer launched the "Own the Dash" campaign, a movement designed to inspire others to take ownership of their lives. As Meyer explains, “Own the Dash is about living a life filled with purpose, leaving a legacy, and giving back more than you take.” With this talk, Sgt. Meyer talks about the experiences in his own life that have led to his dedication to make each day count, as well as the steps he takes every day to ensure he is owning the dash. An inspiring and honest look at the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, Meyer moves audiences to fill their lives with meaning and give 100% to their relationships, jobs, and experiences.
Accountability and Achievement. In his presentations, Medal of Honor Recipient, Dakota Meyer, talks about taking advantage of the opportunities life gives you, holding each other accountable to achieve our potential, striving constantly for the best possible outcome, and creating a support network. His life underscores these themes in this moving and motivational talk, and his stories are full of detail and imagery. From growing up in a small town in Kentucky to joining the Marines, Meyer elaborates on courage, leadership, and what happened that day in Ganjigal Valley with humor and gripping anecdotes. He believes that anyone can achieve greatness, and he inspires his audience to do their best. His humility, sincerity, and courage are what make him one of Leading Authorities’ most popular speakers.
His speech was compelling, poignant, and excellent. There were several moments you could have heard a pin drop. He pulled you into his world, and, you experienced his feelings, thoughts, and emotions. He was kind and gracious before, and after dinner. I received many compliments concerning his remarks, and his kindness during the book signing.
Dakota was even better in person than he is on television and social media. I marveled that he was 20 years my junior and had such an impeccable sense of self. His presentation gave our audience great hope for the future of the United States. He spoke their language and he “walked the walk” of a true American hero, however difficult and trying that might be for him at times. Dakota is a solid 10 when it comes to a motivational and impactful presentation on how to live your life. He definitely received the “thumbs up” from our audience.