Our Features Editor, Sherlyn Gomes, had the privilege of interviewing Dave Crane, a BBC-trained international motivational speaker with over 30 years of experience. He has delivered captivating keynotes, moderated panels, and hosted large-scale events for prestigious entities like ICC T20 World Cup Cricket, NASA, Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7s, and many more.
1. What ignited your passion for public speaking and coaching in your early years?
From being the only colored person in town as a young black man, I discovered the power of engaging and entertaining people. My entertainment journey began with talent competitions, including winning second place in ‘Search For A Star’ in Scotland when I was 11. Despite my early successes, my parents remained cautious of the industry. However, driven by my personal choice and determination, I found my way back to the entertainment world in later years. My parents always supported me at every stage and came to see me in action almost every time.
My journey evolved as I held various roles, from being part of a band to becoming a DJ, driven by a lifelong ambition to be on the radio. The prospect of interacting with rock stars and bringing them onstage for massive crowds became a reality in Dubai decades later. This ability to establish an immediate connection with live audiences emerged as a superpower during my 20-year tenure at the Dubai Rugby Sevens, where I entertained over 50,000 people and a global viewership estimated at 200 million annually.
This fits into what I do best and want to do forever. These are three things.
1) Engaging and entertaining people.
2) Helping others to grow.
3) Getting paid for it.
Most days, it feels like I have won the life lottery. Not because of the cards I have been dealt but because of how I have played the ones I got.
2. What were the defining moments that shaped your career trajectory?
Life, when seen in reverse, reveals a narrative of deliberate ascension. I have constantly been punching upwards; I’ve never been ‘discovered’ with no ‘rags to riches’ story. As an entertainer, I toiled diligently at my craft, evolving from a child performer to winning UKTV’s Blind Date Xmas Show and collaborating with major stars and prestigious events.
The stage widened as I hosted rock festivals for a constellation of music legends, from Kanye West to Iron Maiden. Additionally, I hosted an electrifying performance at the Dubai Rugby Sevens, orchestrating a 45,000+ crowd rendition of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ Dissatisfied with previous radio DJs, Organizers recognized my unique ability to engage and promptly enlisted me for a fruitful collaboration spanning many years.
In this narrative, it’s not just about the events that transpire; it’s about the choices made in their aftermath. Success isn’t passive; it’s about being prepared to hit the ground running when the world discovers your distinctive brilliance.
3. Share memorable experiences from major events and collaborations, such as the ICC T20 World Cup Cricket.
One of my most cherished memories is my inaugural stage hypnosis show in Dubai on New Year’s Eve. The odds were stacked against me – only 25 attendees, most of whom were friends due to the venue’s decision not to sell tickets. Despite the daunting circumstances, I persevered. In a year marked by personal setbacks – a broken engagement, job loss – I saw an opportunity for reinvention. Determined to prove my ability to turn things around, I leaped into the unknown, growing wings on the way down. The result? A hilarious show that marked the end of a challenging year just before midnight. The following year, armed with newfound resilience, I took the show worldwide.
Reflecting on the ICC T20 World Cup Cricket, life threw another curveball. Woken at 4:30 am after the first match, I received news of my father’s critical condition due to COVID-19. Urged to say goodbye, I rallied my family via Zoom, grateful for the chance to have closure with my hero. Three days later, I went back and hosted another seven matches. How did I enjoy the cricket? Like I said, it’s not what happens; it’s what you choose to do next.
4. As the CEO of “The Game Changers,” you lead a global community of high achievers. What inspired you to create this community?
Most people don’t know that many entertainers, like me, are massive introverts. The pandemic deepened my privacy, but financial challenges spurred action. With my wife Azizah, we birthed an online accelerator for thought leaders, evolving into “The Game Changers,” because I realized that I was suffering from anxiety, depression, and isolation and nobody was going to help me. If I was going through that, then many others were too. I wanted to create a nurturing community that could give them purpose, life skills, and a chance to become more successful.
With over 400 members growing, the impact on individuals starting businesses and achieving six-figure incomes in the first year is remarkable. I don’t know what makes us so different, but I know that it makes me very proud to see the impact we’re truly making.
5. As the founder of Speak Onstage, can you share a success story or transformational moment from one of your students?
I’ve tailored exceptional speakers, ranging from politicians to CEOs, each with distinct needs and outcomes. My focus spans across their message, brand, and voice—what they convey, what lingers in others’ minds, and the shared inner narrative. This comprehensive approach not only cultivates effective speakers but also opens doors to online courses, retreats, books, podcasts, community building, product licensing, joint ventures, affiliate product sales, and coaching, fostering a cascade of success.
Last week, one of my “Game Changer” community spoke on LinkedIn and shared how, since working with me, he had found the courage to leave his challenging job as CEO of a tech firm and launch his one side hustle, which has now grown from 2,000 USD per month to 30,000 USD per month. Typically, it yields significant ROI. Another client now opens for Marshall Goldsmith onstage, one receives weekly 7-figure real estate offers, and yet another is fully booked and paid to speak on international stages for the following year. Creating Industry Icons is incredibly fulfilling—they’re all legends, and I couldn’t be prouder.
6. Recall a particularly memorable or life-changing experience during your global speaking engagements.
Launching my Comedy Stage Hypnosis Tour in South Africa, the inaugural night at Caesar’s Palace in Johannesburg took an unexpected turn. With a sold-out show and media professionals in attendance, the atmosphere was electric until about 40 minutes into the performance, when an unforeseen power outage cast the entire theater into darkness. Faced with managing the situation without immediate solutions, I quickly assessed the audience’s ability to hear my voice without a microphone. Leveraging the venue’s acoustics, I invited everyone to close their eyes, take a deep breath, and enter a hypnotic trance, turning the blackout into an impromptu and captivating experience. I took them into a trance to experience future successes, end past challenges, and believe in their well-being. Thirty minutes later, the lights hadn’t returned, so I counted to 10, asked them to switch on their phone light and applaud themselves, then left.
This way, everyone would snap out of it, including my volunteers, who had been happily baking in hypnosis for over an hour. When the exit doors opened, light and music flooded in. Every experience is an adventure!
7. What advice do you have for aspiring public speakers looking to make an impact in their respective industries?
My advice to aspiring public speakers is: Find your unique voice and message and be authentic and passionate. Your words shape the future—aim to transform, not just inform. Use your influence to help others grow economically and spiritually. In the social media landscape, focus on positivity, as anger and humor often dominate. Remember, Generation Alpha seeks global unity; our duty is to build a harmonious future. Let’s do better than our predecessors, fostering a world our children can proudly embrace.