Dave Liniger’s life was a dream. The co-founder of real estate powerhouse RE/MAX had spent most of the past 40 years growing his company, leading a huge, diverse team and enjoying adventures the world over. Then in January 2012, a staph infection along his spine threatened to take it all away.
Resting in a Denver hospital after first assuming his back had gone out again, Liniger slipped into a nap that became a drug-induced coma. When he regained consciousness four months later, he began the long road back to some sense of normalcy.
“It’s none of this movie stuff, where you click your fingers and you’re back to normal,” Liniger says during our interview, some 15 months into his rehab. “It was a long time before I could say what was going to happen to me.”
Liniger and his family share the story of his recuperation and seek to inspire others fighting through personal tragedies in the new memoir My Next Step: An Extraordinary Journey of Healing and Hope. When his hospital stay seemed interminable, Liniger simply went to work on the step-by-step plan for his recovery, methodically relearning to think, function and walk under his own power again.
“I said, ‘I’m going to walk out of this place’—it was a day-in, day-out process,” Liniger says. “I hope people understand that no matter why they’re in despair, there is a future.… What’s the step-by-step plan of picking up the pieces and getting on with your life?”