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D.J. Vanas
D.J. Vanas

D.J. Vanas

Native American Speaker and
Motivational Storyteller

Travels from:

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Inquire about D.J.

Challenge: When obstacles and tough conditions sap the strength of your people, robbing them of vision, drive, and derailing success for your organization. The whole tribe flounders, fear and doubt set in, expectations are lowered, and all the resources in the world won't substitute for the one that's missing – a warrior spirit, a will to win!  So how do we get it back?

Solution:  Get D.J. – now.

The Messenger

Enduring the extreme conditions of traditional ceremonies and rights of passage, D.J. Eagle Bear Vanas has had the values of the warrior spirit burned into his core. A tribally-enrolled member of the Odawa Nation and a former U.S. Air Force officer, D.J. inspires others to practically apply the power of the warrior spirit in business and life to stay resilient, lead with courage, and thrive in tough, changing environments. He has used his dynamic programs to build warriors in 49 states and internationally to over 3,000 audiences to "strengthen the tribe" of organizations such as IBM, Walt Disney, NASA, the Secret Service, the American Cancer Society, and hundreds of tribal communities. He has also been invited to The White House to share his message – twice.  Now he's ready to deliver his powerful high-energy message to you! After all, both business and life can often seem like a battle – and you can win! 

The Message

In our Native culture, warriors served and defended our people. Today, they are those in uniform that protect our nation. But they're also found in the manager doing what's right vs. what's easy, the executive navigating her company through chaos, the health provider doing more with less, or the engineer creating a product that serves society. In essence, a warrior is a person who develops their ability to become an asset to the tribe they serve – and it transcends race, gender or age.  Today, that tribe may be your organization, company, or customers – anyone you serve.

D.J. ignites the warrior spirit in organizations by... 

  • Creating a tribe of resilient people who thrive in tough environments
  • Inspiring a commitment to victory regardless of circumstance
  • Developing courage to defeat the enemies fear and doubt
  • Building fearless leadership that maintain clarity in chaos
  • Growing leaders that are strong in character, grounded in values and balanced in battle

And what will that mean to your organization's bottom line? 

  • Strengthened commitments to serving company and clients
  • Increased results
  • Decreased turnover
  • Enhanced morale and motivation
  • Resilience in the face of change and challenge
  • A new sense of purpose, passion, and performance

D.J.'s Journey

Born to teenage parents in desperate poverty, D.J. has come far by any measure.  He truly walks his talk when it comes to understanding the power of a warrior spirit – going from sleeping in a bureau drawer as a baby to speaking at The White House. His formal education took place at the United States Air Force Academy where he earned a B.S. in Management and at the University of Southern California where he earned a M.S. in Systems Management.

D.J. served his nation for over a decade as a decorated officer in the U.S. Air Force and gained priceless leadership training and experience, led six different teams, and worked in the Air Force Space Program hand-in-hand with companies such as JPL, Aerospace, Hughes Aircraft, Aerojet and TRW.  He also served as a national representative of the U.S. Air Force Academy as Chief of Minority Enrollment.

A motivated entrepreneur, author, and professional speaker, he started Native Discovery Inc. in 1999 to "build the warriors of tomorrow...today." D.J.'s celebrated book The Tiny Warrior (Andrews McMeel Publishing) has sold over 50,000 copies in the U.S. and has also been printed in Canada, Japan, China, Korea, and the UK.

D.J. has achieved success in two worlds. In addition to his business and military accomplishments, D.J. has also served as a leader in Indian Country for over two decades, been a role model to youth, is a veteran of traditional ceremonies, and has been honored with the name Mato Wambli (Eagle Bear) in traditional ceremony.

D.J. was one of only 38 Americans selected to be a distinguished German Marshall Fellow, and traveled to Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, and Romania to improve relations between the U.S. and the E.U. Representing the U.S. and Native America, D.J. has a transformed perspective on global dynamics. He is also a professional member of the National Speaker's Association, the International Federation for Professional Speakers, and the American Indian Science & Engineering Society where he is a Sequoyah Fellow. D.J. was inducted into the American Indian Graduate Center's Council of 100, which is composed of scholars, leaders, and traditionalists across Indian Country. D.J. was selected for this honor for his "contribution as a leader in the Indian community." In 2006, D.J. was selected as co-chair of this esteemed organization. In 2007, D.J. was awarded Educator of the Year by the Native American Resource Group and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

To keep his warrior spirit sharp, D.J. is a belted practitioner of Krav Maga (Israeli Contact Combat) and trains at Peak Krav Maga.

D.J. is blessed to be married to Arienne and they have two beautiful daughters, Gabrielle and Isabella.

  • Spirit on the Run: How to combat fear, defeat doubt, and re-establish clarity
  • Victory by Design: Use traditional Native American warrior spirit principles to create success
  • The Warrior Within: Ignite the warrior spirit in your people and organization
  • Tip of the Spear: Leading your tribe to victory
  • Keeping the Fires Lit: Reignite your spark of purpose, passion and performance
  • Tribal Tune-Up: Create resilience and empowerment in your team

D.J.'s Articles

Expert Spotlight: D.J. Vanas

February 28, 2011