Few people on earth have fit more into a life than Don Mann. A former Navy SEAL Team Leader who was twice captured by enemy forces and lived to tell his story, Mann has played a crucial role in some of America’s most daring military missions for more than two decades. Most recently, he trained the SEAL Team Six warriors who assassinated Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
Mann, who’s also a New York Times bestselling author and accomplished endurance athlete and mountaineer, recently has focused his attention on inspiring others to achieve goals they never imagined they could. As a sought-after motivational speaker around the U.S., Mann addresses a wide range of audiences — from major corporations to universities, to professional sports teams. He takes crowds inside a gripping underworld of risk and courage, while relating tales from the battlefield as well as from grueling sufferfests like the Hawaii Ironman, which he has completed twice.
His message includes equal doses of inspiration and strategy. As he likes to say, “Anybody with the proper mindset can achieve anything imaginable.” The key, which he relates in his “Reaching Beyond Boundaries” presentation, is to “turn macro goals into micro goals.”
Mann explains how to do that with what he calls a “combat mindset,” the foundation of his wartime survival and success beyond the military. Put simply, the combat mindset is one’s ability to screen out distractions while under great stress. As a SEAL, Mann used that approach in more than 20 countries, many of them the world’s most dangerous places, including Colombia, the Philippines and Yemen.
In his presentations, Mann speaks candidly about his failures but also regales crowds with stories from a world few will ever experience. He talks about living in a hole for days while eating snakes and frogs, and how he was captured and held at gunpoint with AK 47s, unsure if he’d make it home alive.
Mann details the inner workings of the SEAL mentality, renowned as one of the toughest on earth. Ever wonder what it’s like to “go hungry so others can eat”? Mann explains it as only one who’s lived it can. He also breaks down the SEAL doctrine and how it relates to everyday life: “A small number of people, carefully selected, well trained and well led, is preferable to larger numbers of troops, some of whom may not be up to the task.”
Mann also uses sports to communicate his message. He has climbed some of the world’s tallest mountains and has competed in over 1,000 endurance competitions to include the world’s most difficult human endurance competitions. Among his many other impressive athletic achievements, Mann serves as the Director of Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Race which is known as “The World’s Most Challenging Human Endurance Competition” and was selected as Richard Branson’s North American Medical Coordinator for his Trans-Global Circumnavigation Balloon voyage. He also designed the world’s longest adventure races for Warner Brothers and IMAX – from Ecuador to the North Pole and Ecuador to the South Pole.
Shortly after the mission that left bin Laden dead, Mann published the bestseller Inside Seal Team Six: My Life and Missions with America’s Elite Warriors. He incorporates many of the same lessons and stories into his presentations, which often leave attendees inspired to change how they live.
Mann has been featured on practically every television network from ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN and FOX to radio including NPR. Articles on Mann can be found in: Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Men’s Fitness, Runner’s World, and National Geographic Adventure just to name a few.
Mann received a Masters in Management from Troy State University, a B.S. in International Relations & Criminal Justice, from Florida State University, and a B.S. in Liberal Science, from State University of New York. He lives in Virginia Beach, VA.