Dan Macqueen – Baby Steps

Humor’s Role in Overcoming Crisis and Building Resilience

About the Guest(s):

Dan MacQueen: Dan MacQueen is a motivational speaker, brain injury survivor, and world traveler. Known for his compelling storytelling and authentic speaking style, Dan has inspired many by sharing the lessons he learned during his recovery from a life-threatening brain hemorrhage. Before becoming a professional speaker, Dan worked at Hootsuite, where his sense of humor and ability to connect with people stood out. His journey of resilience and perseverance offers valuable insights for both personal and professional growth.

Episode Summary:

In this gripping episode of Humor in the C-Suite, host Kate Davis welcomes the inspiring Dan MacQueen. As a brain injury survivor and professional speaker, Dan shares his incredible journey of recovery and how humor played a critical role. With captivating storytelling, Dan describes the life-altering experience of his brain hemorrhage, the arduous recovery process, and the humor that kept him going. His insights on using humor to navigate difficult situations provide valuable lessons for anyone facing adversity.

Dan’s journey began with severe headaches that culminated in a brain hemorrhage while living in London. His recovery involved relearning basic functions like walking, talking, and smiling. Throughout the episode, Dan emphasizes the importance of humor in maintaining a positive perspective and building resilience. He also shares anecdotes from his work life at Hootsuite, demonstrating how humor fosters team collaboration and innovation. The episode concludes with an exploration of how Dan’s recovery has shaped his career as a motivational speaker, underscoring the transformative power of humor.

Key Takeaways:

  • Humor in Recovery: Humor was crucial in Dan’s recovery, helping him cope with the physical and emotional challenges.
  • Building Resilience: Facing adversity with a lighthearted approach can significantly enhance resilience and mental strength.
  • Team Dynamics: Incorporating humor in professional settings fosters collaboration, innovation, and a positive work environment.
  • Living with Intentionality: Dan’s daily routine emphasizes the importance of structure and intentionality in maintaining focus and productivity.
  • Authenticity in Leadership: Modern leadership is moving towards authenticity and relatability, with humor playing a vital role in this transition.

Notable Quotes:

  1. “You get a choice to like how you wanna face this. You wanna have a face with like, woe is me mentality, like you know what, let’s just kind of build this up and try and take this on.”
  2. “Humor makes life just more tolerable.”
  3. “Play loose, look tight is a life mantra in four words, right? Play loose, joie de vivre, have fun, live life with a bit of fun in your life.”
  4. “If I didn’t laugh at this stuff, you’re not going anywhere.”
  5. “You gotta push the boundaries to know where the boundaries are and to fall off those boundaries from time to time will happen.”

Stay tuned for more enlightening content from Humor in the C-Suite, and don’t miss this inspiring episode featuring Dan MacQueen. His stories and insights could very well change your perspective on using humor to overcome life’s greatest challenges.

 

 

Embracing Humor in Adversity: Lessons from Dan MacQueen’s Journey with Severe Brain Hemorrhage

The Power of Humor in Overcoming Adversity

Dan MacQueen’s story is nothing short of miraculous. In 2014, Dan faced a severe brain hemorrhage that left him unable to walk, talk, or even smile. A situation that could quickly consume anyone in darkness. However, Dan’s recovery wasn’t just a medical triumph; it was a humorous adventure. As he humorously puts it, referring to his red four-wheeled walker, “I called my Ferrari… You’re not moving that fast, bud.” Through humor, Dan navigated the complexities of his recovery, teaching us the powerful role that humor can play in facing life’s challenges.

Dan emphasized humor’s role in his recovery, particularly saying, “If you can’t find the light in it, man, you’re gonna have a tough time.” This sentiment underpins much of his philosophy. By refusing to drown in self-pity and instead embracing humor, he found a unique way to cope. Whether it was the playful term “naked walks” to describe walking exercises or wearing his eye patch upside down and dubbing it “my confused pirate look,” Dan constantly kept the atmosphere light-hearted. This playfulness wasn’t just for him; it was a beacon of hope for those around him, showcasing the strength humor can provide in dark times.

Building Resilient Teams through Playfulness

In the corporate world, humor has often been sidelined as unprofessional. However, as Dan’s experiences illustrate, humor and playfulness are essential for fostering a thriving team environment. Dan’s time at Hootsuite exemplifies this. He fondly recalls how the playful environment at Hootsuite promoted team collaboration.

Recalling an incident where he stood up in the office and shouted “King of the North” in reference to Game of Thrones, even when met with crickets, Dan felt the light-hearted failure brought the team closer. “If you don’t take a stab with funny and you mess up from time to time, you’re not being funny,” he said. This mindset shows how crucial it is to push the boundaries to encourage creativity and connection within teams.

Another poignant example of team bonding through humor is Dan’s anecdote about gifting his colleague tickets to a live Fast and the Furious show. It started from a casual conversation and playful ribbing about her supposed favorite movie, culminating in a thoughtful, albeit humorous, wedding gift. “The whole office is like laughing that I went up this bit so hard and it failed so amazingly,” Dan recalls. Yet, this willingness to engage and share laughs built a bond that transcended the typical office camaraderie.

Integrating Routine and Humor for Personal Well-being

A major part of Dan MacQueen’s routine includes integrating humor into his daily life alongside other structured activities. His regimen, from workouts to meditation, is imbued with a sense of intention. Dan’s ability to blend humor into these activities showcases that taking life seriously doesn’t preclude enjoying it.

Dan remarks about his daily cold plunging routine, which borders on the ritualistic. Simplifying this rigorous practice with humor, he jokes about the fickle nature of health trends, “Can you imagine if we find out… in 10 years it’d be like, do not cold plunge?” This playful skepticism not only makes a seemingly grueling routine more approachable but highlights the balance he maintains between discipline and play.

Additionally, Dan emphasizes managing energy and maintaining a sense of humor to avoid burnout. His methodical approach, from taking naps before high-energy events to his morning workout routine, demonstrates how critical structure is for someone recovering from severe brain trauma. By weaving humor into these routines, he normalizes the challenges he faces, making them easier to tackle.


Reflecting on Dan MacQueen’s journey, the power of humor shines through in his story of recovery, resilience, and routine. By embracing humor in the face of adversity, Dan not only found a pathway to healing but also inspired others to find light in their struggles. His ability to integrate humor into professional and personal life teaches us that laughter is not only a coping mechanism but an essential component of living fully and authentically.

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