The Power of Self-Disruption with Daniel Gagnon · ShiftWorkPlace

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Ep105 The Power of Self-Disruption with Daniel Gagnon


Where would you be without self-disruption?

Bio for Daniel Gagnon

Daniel is an organizational agility adviser who co-founded the Agile Leader Academy, a boutique training, coaching, and consulting firm, to help leaders develop progressive team-building skills in dynamic and adaptive work environments—while avoiding the traps of naive over-optimism or simplistic positivity. 

Episode highlight

Sometimes self-disruption diverts us to where we are meant to be. Daniel Gagnon is among the people who have become the best versions of themselves through self-disruption. In junior college, Daniel’s dad got him an opportunity to work at a TV station. He met many people from different walks of life, and he had to learn adaptability. After a couple of years working as a stagehand, he got into post-production editing and won a Gemini. After winning the Gemini, Daniel experienced his first self-disruption. He quit his job at the TV station and partnered with a local entrepreneur to set up his studio. Daniel had 15 employees, and looking back, he feels like his managerial skills were wanting. After the dot-com crash, Daniel ended up working for Bell’s Internet Service for three years, then he was laid off. He decided to try his hand at being a stock market trader since his brother was doing it and was successful. 

Daniel took his Canadian trading courses and joined his brother at his firm. Eight months down the line, he quit because he wasn’t doing a good job and didn’t want to wait until his brother fired him. Looking at the person Daniel is today; it is evident that his self-disruption was meant to sail him to his purpose. Listen to Daniel’s story.



  • “Rejection is as painful as physical pain to the brain.”
  • “One-way friendships become very tiresome for the person always doing the reaching out.”


Childhood Incidents:

When Daniel and his family moved to Mont Blanc, his father’s job dried up, and he decided to move to Sudbury in search of greener pastures. Daniel missed him terribly since it was the first time, he was separated from him for a long time.

One day, there was a book fair in Daniel’s school, and his mother gave him 25 cents to go get a book of his choice. To Daniel, the money he had in his pocket felt like a lot, but little did he know it was so little. When he got to the book fair, the first book that caught his eye was one with a rocketship to the moon. He picked it up and took it to the cashier, who happened to be the principal of the teacher. He told Daniel the book cost $25, yet he only had 25 cents. The principal pointed him to a bin with cheaper books. Daniel took a book with a little chick, and it only had 17 words. 

When he got home, he cried and told his mother what happened. A few months later, his dad sent for them, and they moved to Sudbury. One day as he came home from playing, he found some books on the table. Daniel asked his mother where the books came from. Daniel’s mother had told his father what transpired during the book fair, and he promised to always get books from the library for Daniel. The experience created a reading culture in Daniel and his brother, and today he still reads.

As children, sibling rivalry is only natural, and Daniel’s family was no exception. Daniel always thought his little brother was annoying, but that changed one day when they visited the beach. The two boys were playing when Daniel realized that he couldn’t see his brother. He then saw his head above the water, and he tried to get him in vain. Because they were only children, they didn’t know how to swim. Daniel started shouting for help. Their mother dived in and saved him. Daniel’s mother congratulated him for saving his brother’s life and going forward, it made Daniel protective over his brother.

Influential Groups:

Daniel Gagnon grew up with a dual heritage in cultures and languages in Montreal, Canada, mastering French from a French-Canadian father and Irish Canadian mother. His parents always insisted that they had to learn the two languages and become good at them so that they could get accepted wherever they went. Daniel and his brother went to different schools, and they were quite adaptable. 

The dual heritage in cultures made it easy for Daniel to adapt to other cultures. For instance, he went to Germany, learned German, and his accent was good for a Canadian.

Groups Daniel Chose to Belong to:

When Daniel and his family moved to Montreal, his best friend asked him if his parents were sending him to the college on Rosemont Avenue. His friend’s parents were sending him there, and he didn’t want to go without Daniel. The school was expensive and needed good grades, and Daniel had the grades. When he talked to his parents about it, his dad said they would do everything in their power to send him there. That was a lot of sacrifice for them. Daniel joined different groups in school that made him feel like they belonged. He even had a girlfriend for two years who gave him his first chance to go on vacation.

Personality and Temperaments

Growing up, Daniel was introverted and self-reflective. Despite being an introvert, he understood the survival imperative of being gregarious and outgoing. Currently, Daniel has attained a balance on when to say no, make a move, and when to reach out to people.

Cultural Epiphanies 

In 1984, Daniel visited a friend in Munich, Germany. During the family dinner, Daniel realized that people were looking at him because he kept transferring his fork from the left to the right hand. In Germany, that is looked at as a waste of energy. Since that day, Daniel adopted the German way of handling the fork.

What Brings out the Best in Daniel?

Daniel believes in genuine commitment, and it’s the first thing he looks at before working with a client. His goal is to have the highest possible impact and serve the highest possible purpose with organizations or individuals he has the honor and the privilege to work for.

Soapbox Moment

Daniel and his business associate, Bruno Collet, started Agile Leader Academy to offer training to leaders on vertical development. He invites us to check out his LinkedIn page under features; he has webinars, talks, and conferences that he has been to over the years, which gives a clear image of his approach. He also invites us to check out his website, Agile Leader Academy.


Daniel Gagnon grew up with a foot in two cultures and languages in Montreal, Canada, mastering English and French from a French-Canadian father and Irish Canadian mother. His childhood memories showed an early awareness of social class and of the importance of protecting those you love. From a variety of hands-on jobs to technical and computer IT jobs, Daniel honed his skills at managing projects with the people skills he learned in childhood-based learning how to belong to different groups. At one point, this skill took him to learning German, going to Germany, and finding a German wife! Priding himself on being able to create rapport with anyone, Daniel now heads the Agile Leadership Academy where he helps leaders of organizations create real change based on practical tools to build a truly safe workplace culture.”


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