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Dave Sanderson

January 16, 2015 by Speakers' Spotlight

Spotlight On: Dave Sanderson, Inspirational Survivor of the Miracle on the Hudson

Six years ago yesterday, on January 15, 2009, returning home from a routine business trip, Dave Sanderson survived what’s come to be known as “The Miracle on the Hudson.” When a bird strike hit US Airways Flight 1549 while the plane was in flight, there was no choice for Captain “Sully” Sullenberger and his crew other than to try to land the plane into the Hudson River–which they did in a remarkable feat of aviation. As a passenger on the flight–in what many would consider to be the wrong place and the wrong time–Dave knew he was exactly where he was supposed to be. Thinking only of helping his fellow passengers in the crisis, Dave made sure others made it out safely, and was the last passenger off the plane that fateful day. We’re thrilled to put Dave in the spotlight today:

What inspired you to want to be a speaker?

When I became the security director for Anthony Robbins and had the opportunity to travel with and see him impact so many people, I was inspired to become a speaker.  After the plane crash, I spoke for the first time at my church and had an interaction with someone in the audience, I resolved that I would do what it took to be a speaker who could impact someone’s life, it became my mission.

Any advice for aspiring speakers?

Once you decide that you want to be a speaker, go all in and make it your mission, make it must. I recently spoke with someone who speaks but is not happy that she is not getting a better response and I asked her if it was her mission or if it was something she enjoyed doing. Once she thought about that, it answered the question for her.

What do you like to leave audiences with?

I like to leave the audience inspired, knowing they can accomplish anything they desire when they have faith in themselves and never ever quit, even when the initial results look dire.

How do you prepare before a talk? Any special rituals? A good luck talisman?

I take the final 15 minutes before I speak and listen to my “go onstage songs” to help me get in the proper state. I say a prayer asking for me to be able to impact someone and glorify God in what I am about to do. Then I’m ready to go.

Do you have an especially memorable event you spoke at that you can tell us about?

I have had the honor to speak over 575 times, each one had a highlight but I believe the most memorable event was when I spoke at the US Supreme Court to help raise funds for the Tiffany Circle of the Red Cross. I had a 1/1 time with Justice Anthony Kennedy who sponsored the event. Unbelievable experience to be in such a place, meet one of the most powerful people in the United States and help raise over $6,000,000 in one day.

Any funny or embarrassing situations you found yourself in as a speaker?

I recently spoke in San Antonio, Texas for an entrepreneurial group. During Q&A someone asked me if I got more sex now that I am a “hero”. First I don’t think I am a hero, the real hero’s are the first responders and no, surviving a plane crash and helping others doesn’t guarantee you more sex. A little embarrassing since half the room were women.

Is there a charitable cause that you feel passionate about? Why?

I feel very passionate about the Red Cross. They impact an enormous amount of people and never run into situations where it is a positive event, usually it is a disaster and they have to act quickly while being compassionate.

If you had to choose a new career, what would it be?

I would love to be involved with a professional baseball team in marketing.

Desert island album?

Van Halen.

Best subject in school?

History and Government.

Last book you read?

The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny, by William Strauss.

Last movie you saw?

Captain America, The Winter Soldier.

Celebrity crush?

Carrie Underwood.