I met Dan at WhiteWave Foods in 2015. Our relationship began like so many others did with Dan—he was my mentor in marketing. Over the course of many years, we formed a beautiful partnership that spanned three companies, four-plus brands and several teams. Dan’s special sauce was both creative and human. He was a creative’s creative, channeling his own passions of music, art and life into putting “the coolest shit” into the world. He also created a sense of family and belonging at work that was unmatched. His teams would follow him through fire. Because they were a family—that was the Dan effect.
In our last campaign together at Ocean Spray, Dan brought forth a piece of creative that—true to his spirit—required bravery to put into the world. After some spirited discussion, we agreed to launch it. I will never forget his message to me—his job was to ride unicorns and chase rainbows. Mine was to slay dragons and conquer armies. He knew the power and beauty that came from a partnership forged in building a brand and business together. I will forever miss my marketing mentor and partner in crime.
When Dan wasn’t helping others realize their creative visions, he was making magic of his own, playing guitar in his band The Spookfloaters. Music was ingrained in his very being because, like life, he felt it was without rules. The rawest form of expression emotion and humanity. And like Miles Davis, he firmly believed that “it’s not about playing what’s there, but what’s not there.”
Dan would often ask people, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” believing that we are no one person, but rather multiple people over the course of our lives. In pursuit of his own ongoing growth, Dan was passionate about teaching and coaching others, transmitting knowledge he’d accrued over his years in the industry and receiving knowledge back from his team, his peers and (most recently) students in marketing at Boston College.
Dan’s stated ambition, professionally, was to “put a dent in the universe.” In his all-too-short time on this earth, he made a super-massive hole. It will be impossible to fill.