About Dave

My Whole Purpose In Life Is Just To Make You Happy!

Dave Anderson is an Inspiring Speaker, Successful Entrepreneur, and Best Selling Author, whose “Against All Odds” story is living proof that the American Dream… no longer has to be just a dream!

Best known as the founder of Famous Dave’s of America, he became “Famous” with his storied backyard barbecues. His legend grew in 1994 after he opened up his first barbecue joint in Hayward, Wisconsin. The demand for “more barbecue!” grew too high for just one location and now—more than 200 restaurants later—Famous Dave’s was recognized as one of as one of the “Hottest Concepts in America” by Nation’s Restaurant News, reaching over $500 million in sales. The legend continues to grow every time Famous Dave’s adds to the 700 awards from the likes of the American Royal Barbecue Contest to the famous Silver Plate Award – cemented him as the America’s Rib King.

Dave Anderson has helped found several publicly traded companies on Wall Street creating over 20,000 new jobs and billions in sales. NASDAQ honored Famous Dave’s of America by ringing the NASDAQ Bell and featured Famous Dave’s on The World’s Largest TV in Times Square!

Dave Anderson holds nothing back as he shares his incredible real life story of overcoming tremendous odds, adversity, and failure to go to create one of America’s best loved restaurant companies, Famous Dave’s. With the spirit, energy, and enthusiasm that can only come from being in the trenches… Dave’s heartfelt story is the real deal. When Dave shares how he overcame his own personal challenges to become America’s Rib King… Dave connects directly to the spirit of every heart in attendance. The “Famous Dave Story” is inspiring, humorous, and motivating. Dave’s remarkable story gives hope to all audiences… that they too can achieve their dreams… but more than that… people get jumpstarted , rejuvenated, and re-energized… ready to take on life’s challenges.

Dave Anderson has shared his business success secrets and leadership insights with millions throughout the United States and Canada to Small Businesses, Fortune 500 companies, University Commencements, National Youth Organizations, Community Organizations, and Student Body Keynotes. Dave’s passionate inspiring story has caused four governors to ask Dave to be their keynote speaker for their state wide Governor’s Prayer Breakfasts. Dave has been the keynote speaker for the states of:, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Dave has appeared on all major networks NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX as well as many other networks channels and shows including: The Food Network, Regis and Kathy Lee, CNBC’s The Next Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, the Discovery Channel, FOX & Friends, and The Travel Channel. Dave’s life story was featured on a Special Oprah Winfrey Show honoring six individuals who made a special difference in the lives of others. Dave received Oprah’s Angel Award for his leadership work with at risk youth. In addition, Famous Dave has been on over 300 national radio shows.

Dave Anderson’s life story has also been featured in several best-selling books on the New York Times Best Seller List…Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur’s Soul features The Famous Dave Story as their first story in the bestselling book. Nationally recognized Leadership Guru John C. Maxwell uses Dave’s life story to sum up his book Failing Forward. Motivational expert Zig Ziglar features Dave’s “Against All Odds” story in his bestselling book on Success.

Dave’s own cookbook Famous Dave’s Rib-O’Licious won “Best Barbecue and Grill Cookbook” by The National Barbecue Association and his just released Famous Dave’s Barbecue Party Cookbook is already receiving high accolades and went into its second printing after just two weeks! After much demand from his audiences, Dave authored Famous Dave’s LifeSkills for Success which has received high praise and endorsement by Anthony Robbins; Mark Victor Hansen of Chicken Soup for The Soul; and Gene Kranz of Failure Is Not An Option, The story of Apollo 13.

Dave Anderson received a prestigious Presidential Appointment, which required a full Senate confirmation serving as Assistant Secretary for The US Department of Interior in Washington, D.C . Mr. Anderson has served several governors in advisory positions regarding community economic development and small business. Dave has also provided key testimony that has been used in Congress and several US Senate Select Committees.

Always tackling the impossible, this highly successful entrepreneur was in the bottom half of his high school class but has earned his Master’s Degree from Harvard University without an undergraduate degree and has received an Honorary Doctorate Degree for his life’s work. Today, Dave believes his higher purpose in life is to make a positive difference in his community and in the lives of others less fortunate. With a gift of $1.5 Million…Dave and his wife Kathy founded The LifeSkills Leadership Foundation, an incredible life-transforming leadership program. www.lifeskills-center.org

A highly sought after keynote speaker, Dave Anderson shares his heartfelt optimism using his life’s story to share valuable insight and life lessons in dealing with today’s fast changing and challenging world. Dave is an enthusiastic advocate of the American Dream, he stresses that no matter how tough things may seem today, if you never give up your dream and work hard tomorrow’s rewards will always come.

  • 1971 – Anderson starts first selling business at age 18 and promptly fails.
  • 1977 – Anderson participated in President Carter’s Task Force to study “The Problems of Minorities in Small Business,” and participated in round table discussions sponsored by the Small Business Administration.
  • 1979 – Anderson joined the sales force of a major Fortune 500 company. In one year he took the last place territory of 12 states to Number One by bringing in over $1,250,000 in sales.
  • 1982 – Anderson was hired to put together a team responsible for turning losing businesses into profitable and stable businesses for the Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa Reservation. Under his leadership, gross revenues were increased from $3,9000,000 to $8,000,000. This effort was recognized by President Reagan’s Commission on Indian Reservation Economies.
  • 1983 – Anderson was named to a National Task Force on Reservation Gaming by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C.
  • 1983 – Anderson was appointed to The Council on Minority Business Development for the State of Wisconsin by Governor Earl.
  • 1984 – Anderson was appointed to The Wisconsin Council of Tourism by Governor Earl.
  • 1985 – Anderson was named a Bush Leadership Fellow by the Bush Foundation, St. Paul, Minnesota, recognizing him for a lifetime of outstanding achievement.
  • 1986 – Anderson earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. (Without having an undergraduate degree!.
  • 1989 – Anderson formed a management and investment company specializing in emerging gaming markets. In the March, 1997 issue of Fortune Magazine, this company was recognized as “The Fastest Growing Company in America.”
  • 1994 – Anderson was an original investor in The Rainforest Café and served on their board of directors, a highly successful restaurant company that was recognized as one of the “Hottest Concepts in America.”
  • 1994 – Pursuing his life-long passion, Anderson opened his first Famous Dave’s BBQ Shack in Hayward, Wisconsin. The restaurant was an instant success, serving 5,000 people a week in a town of 1,800!..
  • October 1995 – Famous Dave’s BBQ was awarded the Blue Ribbon “Best BBQ Sauce in America” in the mild-sauce division at the prestigious American Royal International Barbecue Contest.
  • October 1996 – Famous Dave’s of America, Inc. announced its Initial Public Offering, opening at $6.25 on the NASDAQ market.
  • May 1997 – Nations Restaurant News recognized Famous Dave’s restaurants as one of the “Hottest Concepts in America” for originality, and innovation in menu, décor, service, as well as strong consumer approval.
  • June 1997 – Ernst & Young(sponsored by NASDAQ and USA Today) Minnesota and Dakota’s Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year. The Entrepreneur of the Year program honors and recognizes entrepreneurs who have demonstrated excellence and extraordinary success through innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their business and community.
  • March 1998 –Mpls. St. Paul MagazineRestaurateur of the Year
  • April 1998 – Zig Ziglar, world-renowned motivational speaker and author of “See You at the Top,” dedicated his “Success for Dummies” book to Dave Anderson. Dave’s “Against All Odds” life story is featured in this best-selling book.
  • January 1999 – The Anderson Family established The LifeSkills Center for Leadership with a $1,400,000 gift. This fund was created to help at-risk Native American youth.
  • March 1999 – Famous Dave’s recognized for being in the “Top 10” restaurants out of the “Super 1000” restaurants in Minnesota Mpls/St. Paul Magazine
  • March 1999 – Anderson’s new cookbook, “Famous Dave’s Backroads&Sidestreets”, was released with all proceeds being donated to help disadvantaged Native American children.
  • December 1999 – “Famous Dave’s Backroads&Sidestreets” wins the National Barbecue Association’s “Award of Excellence” for being the “Best New Barbecue/Grill Cookbook!”
  • 2000 – Dave’s success story of overcoming major adversities and failures is featured by New York Times best-selling author on leadership, John C. Maxwell in his newest book “Failing Forward”
  • 2001 – Nominee for the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Award.
  • January 10, 2002 – Honored as an Olympic Torch Carrier for the 2002 Winter Olympics held at Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • February 2, 2002Big Brothers Big Sisters’Odyssey Award for significant contributions to his profession and the community in mentoring and service to youth.
  • April 1, 2002Oprah’s Angel Network Award for continuing leadership development work with at-risk Native American youth.
  • July 3, 2002¬ – President Bush appoints Dave to the President’s Board of Advisors on Tribal Colleges and Universities
  • May 2003 –Nightingale-Conant “Acres of Diamonds” Award for Dave’s personal commitment to helping others find their own “Acres of Diamonds!”
  • December 2003President Bush appoints Dave Anderson as ninth Assistant Secretary for the US Department of the Interior for Indian Affairs and confirmed by a full US Senate vote. Dave is responsible for a $2 billion dollar budget and over 10,000 employees.
  • May 2004 – Northland College, Honorary Doctorate Degree for Dave’s commitment to public service
  • 2004 – Famous Dave’s LifeSkills for Success is published with all proceeds being donated to the LifeSkills Center for Leadership.
  • April 2005 – The Boys and Girls Clubs of America appoints Dave to the Board of Governors
  • May 2005 – Board of Trustees, Northland College
  • 2005 – 2006 – Board member, Minnesota Teen Challenge
  • March 2006 – Keynote Speaker, Montana Governor’s Prayer Breakfast
  • December 2006 – Minnesota Entrepreneurs’ Entrepreneur of the Year Award
  • January 2007 – Northwood University Outstanding Business Leader Award
  • April 2007 – Featured on the cover of the Twin Cities Business Magazine
  • March 2008 –Urban Financial Services Coalition’s Living LegendAward
  • September 2008 –BBQ Pitmaster Secrets Revealed! DVD released
  • January 2009 ¬– Keynote Speaker, South Dakota Governor’s Prayer Breakfast
  • June 2009 – Famous Dave’s is honored by Ringing the Opening Bell for NASDAQ
  • August 2009Dave Day is declared as Famous Dave’s celebrates its 15th Anniversary
  • October 2009 – Johnson & Wales University,Presidential Distinguished Visiting Professor
  • December 2009 – Indiana Wesleyan University, Presidential Citation for Dave’s work in leadership
  • February 2010Famous Dave Anderson’s Recipe for Success book is released
  • April 2010 – National Indian Gaming Association’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award
  • October 2010 – Dave releases his college success book Report Cards to Paychecks
  • May 2011 – Minnesota Business Journal, Diversity in Business Award
  • September 2012 – Inducted into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame
  • December 2012 – Inducted into the National Entrepreneur’s Hall of Fame
  • February 2013 – Regional Vice-President, National Barbecue Association
  • June 2013 – Dave’s second cookbook Famous Dave’s Barbecue Party Cookbook is published

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