OntheGo Talks: 6 Questions with Dane Smith
Dane Smith Q & A
Dane Smith is an international professional basketball player, actor, model and entrepreneur. At the age of 27, Smith has been featured in numerous commercials for major brands such as Nike, Axe Canada, WeTheNorth and the Toronto Raptors. He also participated in the NBA’s first ever international campaign for NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto and in the 2016 Celebrity Game for team East.
Dane, a Toronto native, went to school in Scarborough at West Hill C.I. After graduation, Dane accepted an athletic scholarship from Kilgore College in Texas and later transferred to the University of Tennessee at Martin.
After university, Dane signed a contract with The London Lightning in London Ontario, where he went on to win the 2014 National Basketball League of Canada in his rookie year under the guidance of head coach and NBA Legend Michael Ray Richardson. Dane Smith is known for getting lead roles with popular brands, in addition to his independent acting and modelling career.
Smith’s memoir book is set to be released in April 2017.
Q1) What motivates you?
My mother and father provide me with lots of motivation, but I can get motivation from almost everyone around me.
My past also motivates me. I know where I came from, which was public housing. To see how hard it was for my family to get to where we are today provides me with huge motivation. It makes my journey worth while when I see the youth going after the same goal I once went for. Respect is key, and the surrounding of my childhood taught me that losing was not an option.
I gained a lot of motivation when I took a year off from basketball. It was a huge risk at the time, but if I didn’t take that year I doubt I would have been able to go on to pick up deals with Nike, begin an acting and modelling career, start a clothing line, star in the We The North Campaign, and participate in the celebrity game. The advice I got from my peer and mentor Dave East was to take a step back to take a few steps forward. I’m grateful I had this advice because now the Dane Smith brand has reached new heights.
Q2) What has made you a successful basketball player?
I think I’ve become a successful basketball player through my drive to become one of the greatest players before anyone believed that I was. I took a lot of risks, for every success in my career I have had at least 2-3 set-backs.
One of the main things that has helped me be successful is always setting new goals. Once you reach an existing goal, you need to set a new one. Success, especially in sports, depends on your ability to allow the uncomfortable to become your new comfortable.
To any young basketball players hoping to succeed in this sport, I would recommend following these 10 simple rules:
- Be on time
- Have strong work ethic
- Always give effort
- Be conscious of your body language
- Have a positive attitude
- Be passionate
- Allow yourself to take instruction and be coachable
- Always go the extra mile
- Be prepared
- Follow the motto: “why wait, just do it.”
Q3) Do you think your successful career in basketball has helped you as an entrepreneur?
Yes, I think the two go hand in hand. Due to my success on the court, I was able to tap into a new market of branding. After participating in the celebrity game my social media numbers went up, and my accounts began to get verified. By April, I was a household name in Toronto and I began working with different brands. The celebrity game was a huge platform for me to build off of by being the only kid from Toronto to play in the game. Within a week, Axe Canada called me to star in their new campaign, “Find Your Magic”, along with Grammy nominated John Legend.
My experience in basketball taught me to constantly strive to better my brand, learn new things about building my business and to take advice from those trying to guide you. For example, I got a lot of valuable advice from Snoop Dog, Don Benjamin, and rapper Asap Ferg about being unsigned and continuing to maximize your net worth.
Q3) What advice do you have for young athletes who may be interested in entrepreneurship?
My advice to young athletes interested in entrepreneurship is simple but important. Never take out a loan to start a new business, make yourself useful not used, and always enjoy the journey.
Q4) Who are your influencers?
The people that influence me most are my peers. To give a few names, Duke University Grad Lance Thomas, New York Knick Forward and Def Jam Recording artist Dave East, west coast rapper Nipsey Hussle, and T.V. Host T-Rex. Other huge influences in my life are Drake, Mark Cuban, Snoop Dog, my brother Dwayne Troy, James Johnson, N`Zye, Ahmed Ali and Top5.
Without these influencers, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. They keep me grounded in a lot of areas in my life. These people have really influenced me one way or another. I respect their crafts in what makes them who they are. I’m blessed to be in the same era as them.
Q5) How did you get involved with the We the North Campaign?
Someone from the production team We The North had seen me on a social media in a Nike ad and contacted me. At first I thought it was a joke that one of my friends was playing, but in the weeks to come I would find out it was not a joking matter at all. Later that week the people for MSLE called my head coach and requested my information. We spoke on the phone and I later auditioned for the part.
Q6) Regarding your fashion line Varna, how did the brand become such an urban trend for Toronto in less than 1 year? How is the brand strength?
Varna is a brand that started out as a group project in the community and then later became a brand. The brand is internally strong so it will never lose its value or social content. The Lawrence Height community has had over 12 student athletes that have received scholarships to continue their education at the university level for free. Varna’s strength is in the history of Toronto’s own jungle. Toronto is home to so much talent, for example in the last decade:
- Drake Co-Signed a 16 year old rapper by the name of Top5 from Varna
- Ahmed Ali scored 103 in a signal high school game
- 3 Toronto players won the Nike Crown League
- 3 Toronto players playing in the National basketball League of Canada
- 2 Toronto players winning the OVO Bounce Tournament in 2015
The main idea behind Varna was to put an image that represented all the great people from this area. Toronto has locked in on Varna Drive for talent.