The long Bio

L. David Van Dyke

World-class manager, entrepreneur and consultant; business-oriented techie; creative and well travelled; highly-networked, accomplished (yet hungry) and compassionate.

In my youth I spent more time looking at maps, memorizing the names of capital cities and reading about ancient explorers than just about anyone I knew. If I met a native of a foreign country I’d ask them to write my name in their language. I dreamed about living and working abroad.  I was determined to discover the wider world on my terms. 

My passion led to a joyous 20 some years abroad, living and working in six countries and traveling and exploring in many more. I was able to have personal success - learn languages, meet interesting people, lead cool projects - because I kept it simple and stuck to three rules of behaviour: be humble, be patient and be quick to adapt.  

I discovered that humility - assuming you really don’t know the answer - enhances one’s ability to listen to both verbal and non-verbal clues. I’ve closed contracts in Tokyo and Manilla, where detailed discussions are held in the local language, just because I was able to identify and resolve sticking points with careful observations and humility. Patience helps keep one safe; when one waits for the situation to play out, it is never as bad as you imagine. Once, a local skier was poking at my tall for his age son and a mob was forming. My fatherly inclination was to intercede and push back hard. Instead I pulled my son to me and my daughter jumped in front of me. They saw that my son was just a boy and we were a family and the situation de-escalated and the mob dispersed.

Flexibility and adaptability is helpful because there are things you cannot change.  My America roommate had flawless Chinese speaking skills and knew Taiwan like a local.  But he couldn’t accept the car driving culture in Taipei. There cars not pedestrians have the right of way at intersections. If you didn’t learn this you could get hurt. My roommate refused to accept this, choosing to ‘be ugly’ and pound on the hoods of cars that cut him off or came too close.  I adapted and learned to get out of the way of cars lest I get hit.

I was raised in the border town of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on the other side of the river from Detroit, Michigan.  A couple days after I graduated from the local university, I flew to Taipei, Taiwan with $800 dollars in traveller’s checks in my pocket and a tape cassette with Mandarin Chinese lessons on it.  I didn’t have a job and only had a five day hotel reservation. I had no friends or real prospects. I survived but I did eat white rice for a month when a thief stole my pay packet. Fewer than 20 years later, I managed a $140M regional P&L for a Fortune 250 multinational - things change, and they often get better.

From Taiwan, I returned home and worked in Toronto for 4 years.  Then came Hong Kong (5 years), Tokyo (1), Silicon Valley (3), Singapore (3.5) and Beijing (7).  My status changed along the way too: from single, to married to father to empty nester. I’ve worked mostly in technology - software and wireless -  and have been a management consultant for major firms, including the US Department of State, and a multiple award-winning entrepreneur. Along the way I became proficient in Mandarin Chinese and somewhat of an expert in body language.

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