Meet Dylan Sessler
Dylan lost his father when he was 6 years old to suicide. In the aftermath, he struggled through a number of difficult experiences to include domestic violence, bullying, and suicide ideation. At 18, he joined the military as an infantryman and deployed to Afghanistan by 22. Dylan's personal struggle with PTSD, trauma, and the difficulties during his childhood brought him to the brink of life at just 25. He built Invictus Development Group to help others overcome adversity and choose to live.
What is your message and the goal behind what it is that you're trying to do?
I'm writing a book that that pretty much states it. The title of the book is, “Defy the Darkness.” So many things that I've been through in my life have really just brought me to the brink of life, of happiness, of sadness. I've seen every emotion from the bottom to the top. And the one thing that I want to help people with is to find a way to move forward. To progress their lives and defy that the pain, the struggle, the suffering, the darkness, everything within and take that step forward.
What brought you ultimately to start Invictus Development Group?
It started with my book. The, the idea of writing this book has been in my head since probably eight or nine years old when I actually learned to start writing. I just felt like I needed to write down my story. Not necessarily for other people at that time, because it was it was really just me and my way of expressing myself was always through writing and I just felt like I needed to write that. So I did it here and there but I never really focused it on a book until about four years ago when I started. Invictus Development Group came from the necessity to want to build a platform for that book and for the message of giving people the information that I have, because I've overcome all of these things. I've overcome so many mental illnesses that I've struggled with that it's time for me to build something that can stand up to my message.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
My favorite is it started back in University of Wisconsin whitewater when I was going through my undergrad. I started just going to the veterans lounge to, you know, I guess I had just gotten home from Afghanistan, it was just like, I'm looking for a place that kind of fits me. I met a number of people there that had really changed the trajectory of what I'm doing now. I started undergraduate research on interviewing veterans about what they have encountered in terms of successes and failures of entering into college life and moving forward after they're in the military. I didn't know it when I was doing those interviews, but they changed my life because a number of those interviews got to a depth of talking about suicide talking about you know, depression, anxiety. PTSD, some very difficult stuff that that I didn't expect to actually go into in those interviews. Later it would come to come to a point where a number of those veterans called me later on, like six months down the road, two years down the road, send me messages years down the road talking about how I saved a couple of their lives from suicide.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture your network or your community?
Honestly, it's always tough, right? You can build a network, but the long times between connecting with people can really eat into that network because some people will forget you. But I think one of the biggest things that has helped me is the power of empathy. People will forget what you say to them, they'll forget what you can do for them. But people rarely ever forget the power of your story and the power of your ability to communicate with them, and the emotion that you gave to them. If you have the ability to be truly empathetic, and truly kind and of