Dr. Dan O’Brien: “Never give up”

Never give up: Often people quit too soon because they could not push through the difficult part of striving to achieve their goal. Success is like hiking up a mountain it’s never linear, you have to take different paths/obstacles to achieve your goal of reaching the top of the mountain. As part of my series […]

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Never give up: Often people quit too soon because they could not push through the difficult part of striving to achieve their goal. Success is like hiking up a mountain it’s never linear, you have to take different paths/obstacles to achieve your goal of reaching the top of the mountain.


As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Dan O’Brien.

Dr. Dan O’Brien is a physician, public health expert, business-savvy consultant, podcaster, and author. Business leaders look to Dr. Dan as a “next generation” health and business expert, and make critical decisions based on his insights and perspectives.

Dr. Dan brings cutting edge experience in research, academic teaching, scientific writing, new product launch, medical presentations and clinical work. What makes Dr. Dan different is his ability to evaluate critical issues and devise solutions using both a medical and business mindset. Executives are able to leverage his multi-dimensional expertise to make the right choices, solve problems quickly and deliver the best outcomes.

A skilled national media commentator, Dr. Dan’s relaxed communication style reflects his no-nonsense, straight-talking Midwestern upbringing.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My father worked in healthcare, and he told me that if I want to get involved in healthcare the best route would be to volunteer at local hospital in the ER to see if I would like it. I absolutely fell in love with the profession at that moment because it was a perfect fit that I knew that the healthcare space is where I needed to be. I wanted to learn more and understand more about healthcare technology and how these clinical tools could help improve long term outcomes for patients.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

Companies who get results through individual and organizational accountability are most successful. With that stated, the most interesting story is often where companies want to point fingers on the project lead for failure of a project or find out who is responsible for a mistake. Successful and sustainable companies instill a culture of accountability across all levels of an organization and that is key to building a sustainable business.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake you often make early in your career is not knowing who exactly you will be meeting as you prepare for an important appointment. You thought you were meeting a different person within the organization only to find out it’s the other person and you did not fully prepare. This is important because in my book I talk about the importance of critical connections and preparation are key to establishing a relationship with a potential customer especially early on in your career.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

The social impact is from a public health standpoint. The key is being on the right side of science with public health as we battle not only COVID, but future pandemics. Keeping the communities educated and up to date with accurate information is important. In my book, Camel Resilience Dr. Dan’s Guide for turning surviving into thriving the social impact to public health is important because I talk about perpetually adapting with challenges. This is impactful because as a community everyone of us had to adapt during COVID whether it be remotely working from home, employers having to adapt and build a COVID task force, or even at home where families had to adapt. It was not about the survival and recovery mindset, but this mindset of perpetually adapting which has made the most significant impact.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

My parents were very influential in my life as they taught me to be a genuine and kind person. This is important because often egos and status get in the way in the medical professional space and people lose sight of the importance of patient care.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Navigating the healthcare system is often confusing for individuals. The community and politicians need to help individuals navigate health insurance, and how to prepare to meet with your physician and what questions to ask during their visit. There is a huge unmet need here with navigating the healthcare system as we try to improve the quality of care, cost, and access in healthcare.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

In my book, I define leadership as you need to have “Camel Leadership” meaning you must have resilience and be able to adapt like a camel. A camel has been around for 45 million years and think about its ability to perpetually adapt. This is like how humans have to quickly adapt in certain situations. Take for example, a coach who must lead their players on the field, think about the in game substitutions of players the coach is managing to try to win the game.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Never give up: Often people quit too soon because they could not push through the difficult part of striving to achieve their goal. Success is like hiking up a mountain it’s never linear, you have to take different paths/obstacles to achieve your goal of reaching the top of the mountain.
  2. Critical connections and building relationships are key: In my book, I talk about the importance of critical connections. The healthcare space is a small world so every interaction you make is important because your reputation is incredibly important.
  3. Be Kind: This often goes unnoticed because this is an incredibly important principle I implement at my house. Companies often forget this because of the daily pressures and performance expectations that need to be met each day.
  4. Preparing: In the medical and business world being prepared is key whether that being prepared prior to a patient visit, or in the business setting understanding who you are meeting with and why as this allows you to easily connect to the person you are meeting with.
  5. Trust: People like to do business who they trust and have integrity. This is important in medicine and business.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Bring an intuitive telemedicine platform to the healthcare system that improve access to care for everyone involved. Telemedicine is an incredible innovation we just need to fine tune it some more.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“A winner is a dreamer that never quits” This shows the importance of resilience and having a goal and pushing through to achieve it. I always wanted to go to the University of Notre Dame and through goal setting and resilience I was able to achieve that.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Michael Jordan: His competitive nature and always putting in the time to be the best at his craft and pushing his teammates to always be better. It’s not easy to do what he did to push your teammates and also maintain a high level of play for yourself, but that is what made him so great. He revolutionized the game of basketball. It would be great to meet him in person one day.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

drdanmd.com is my website. drdanmdmba is my LinkedIn

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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