This past Tuesday evening, my friend Bruce Dan passed away after a lengthy battle with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a fairly rare blood and bone marrow cancer. He had been receiving treatment at Johns Hopkins over the past year-and-a-half. During this last journey, he persisted in his passion: story-telling in health care. Except this time, he was the subject. I was introduced to Dr. Bruce B. Dan in the mid-1990s by another friend and former boss, Ken Rabin.
At the time, Ken knew Bruce to be an outstanding media trainer, and it was Bruce’s unique brand of health care media counseling skills that I relied upon over a stretch of more than 15 years. For real “heavy lifting,” in other words, when we figured we would need a double shot of TLC to render articulate the driest medical expert or bombastic pharmaceutical company executive, we called in Bruce.
During any session, Bruce kicked things off with his characteristic big smile, and quiet, engaging style that within minutes put everyone in the room at ease. The man would roll onward, keeping one step ahead with anecdotes, witticisms or piercing questions as he led captive audiences through his training sessions, usually flanked by a medium-sized stack of VHS tapes he used to depict horrific and then good examples of television interview behavior. (Clients always got to keep their own tapes.)
Anytime I called on Bruce, I always tried to carve out extra time with him, to learn from his experiences and get his feedback on my business situations or ideas. Bruce was generous.
Not only did he sincerely care about your point of view, and in his patient style give you all the time you needed, he demonstrated the very best in teaching skills: You learned without even realizing it, Bruce was knowledgeable, interesting and persuasive.