Dan Cnossen

Double Amputee, Former Navy Seal Lt. Commander & 7-time Paralympic Medalist
Dan Cnossen Speaker
  • Injured in a wartime IED explosion, Dan endured over 40 major surgeries to survive.
  • Recounting lessons learned from his time as a Navy SEAL and Paralympic Medalist, Dan’s inspiring story includes themes of resilience, leadership, overcoming adversity, grit and developing mental toughness.
  • 2022 TEDx Northwestern Featured Speaker
  • Named Best Male Athlete of the 2018 Paralympic Games, Dan is one of the most decorated Paralympic athletes in history.

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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. At the 2022 Paralympic Games he added another gold medal, making himself one of the most decorated Paralympic athletes in Team USA history.

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Speaker Video

Nave SEAL Lt. Commander, Daniel Cnossen

Navy SEAL veteran Dan Cnossen now eyes Paralympic medals for Team USA

Inspirational & Leadership Keynote Speaker - Virtual

Inspiration / Overcoming Adversity

If you’re looking for a keynote speaker to share 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.


‘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 principles Dan demonstrates in this presentation targeted to your company’s directors and team leaders.

How To Create Momentum Out Of Life’s Most Difficult Situations

Mass x velocity = physical momentum.  Physically cut in half by a bomb blast, and immobilized for months by his injuries, Dan found himself at his own personal Ground Zero, void of any momentum.  In this presentation he describes the two key elements necessary to create momentum in life when confronted with seemingly insurmountable adversity.

Mental Toughness / Grit / Goal Setting

Navy SEALs 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 how those tools translate to business and life.

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