Expert Spotlight: D.J. Vanas

With a name like D.J. “Eagle Bear” Vanas, it’s no surprise to learn he’s an extraordinary speaker that entertains audiences with his Native American wisdom and traditional storytelling, and also motivates and empowers participants with timeless lessons originating from his tribal leadership experiences.

And remaining true to form, D.J. enlightens us with accounts of his experiences, professional and personal background, and choices that define his role as a professional speaker.

What’s your favorite topic(s) to present on? Why?

Warrior Leadership – developing leaders who are resilient, confident and willing to fight for a greater purpose in their lives and organizations. Leadership is one of the most powerful forces on Earth and has changed the planet dramatically throughout history and continues to do so today!

Three words to describe your presentation style:

Dynamic, fun, empowering.

What are your favorite groups of people to work with?

People who are fighting to raise the conditions of others.

What’s the most unusual location (or circumstances) you’ve presented in?

The White House and Disneyworld.

What are some things that surprise you or inspire you about your interactions with clients/participants?

That sometimes the ones you think you connected with least (based on facial expressions, body language) are sometimes the ones that are most eager to interact with you after the program, offer the most profound compliments and insights and become die-hard supporters and fans. Much of what we do is a faith-based exercise – do our very best, speak the truth from our hearts, offer the gems we’ve collected and let the chips fall where they will!

Tell us about a presentation experience that went wrong:

Had a gang fight break out before a program… good times…

What are your most popular presentation topics? 
All of my programs are designed to inspire others to use the traditional warrior spirit principles found in our Native American traditions to work smarter, lead better and enjoy the journey more. My two most popular sessions right now are “Keeping the Fires Lit” (focuses on staying resilient in chaotic times, managing our stress and staying balanced) and “Tip of the Spear” (increasing our leadership influence and impact).

Do you have any pets? Kids? Unusual hobbies?

Have two children, Gabrielle (10) and Isabella (5) – unusual hobby is that I’m an orange belt (level 3 practitioner) of the martial art Krav Maga – Israeli Contact Combat – that focused on self-defense, fighting multiple targets, disarming people with guns and knives and eradicating threats by any and all means. That being said, I’ve still never won an argument with my daughters or wife…

Do you have a favorite quote? What/why?

From the movie Braveheart – “Every man dies. Not every man lives.” It deals with the fragile and fleeting nature of our lives and is a reminder to live NOW and enjoy the gift we have been given.

Tell us a recent book you’ve read and would recommend:

“A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller. I got this as a hand-me-down from my buddy Mark Sanborn and absolutely loved this book. It focuses on making the most out of our journey, appreciating the little, precious things we take for granted and getting our heads (and hearts) right about our values and what we treasure most.

What are you most grateful for in life?

My wife and children – they are my deepest joy and greatest treasures.

What’s one thing on your “bucket list” you hope to do in the next year? 
Get my next book, an inspirational novel, into print!

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