How Van Life Taught Eclipse CEO Dave Dyson About the 'Soul of Our Channel'

"I’m a firm believer that soul still matters, maybe more now than ever," Dyson told Channel Futures.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

March 27, 2023

4 Min Read

For Eclipse CEO and chief strategist Dave Dyson, living in a van disrupted his life and career in the best way possible.

Dyson, who leads Chicago-based consultancy and technology advisor Eclipse Telecom, has been taking his show on the road for the better part of a year. About a year ago, Dyson announced to the world that he had bought a Sprinter van and would be traveling the continental U.S. in it. He did so in part because many of his employees had relocated from Chicago over the course of the pandemic.

Dyson, who had promoted remote work among his employees, found himself sitting alone in the Eclipse office for two years.

“I believe in putting my money where my mouth is, and I am going to prove that I can run Eclipse from the road,” he wrote on LinkedIn at the time. “I am willing to make mistakes and adjustment as I go, but my hope is that I get real work experience and field notes about the opportunities and challenges nomadic living and working provide.”

Dave Dyson is one of more than 150 channel visionaries and experts speaking at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo. The event also features more than 375 ICT companies in the massive expo hall. Register now for the world’s largest independent channel event, May 1-4, at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

A year later, Dyson says the van experiment fundamentally altered his view of leadership. He will share his experiences on the road during a presentation at the upcoming Channel Partners Conference & Expo. The session, titled “Leadership Lessons from a Guy Who (Sometimes) Lives in a Van,” weaves in his stories with his observations on larger channel trends.

Dyson fielded some questions to preview his keynote and about what he sees occurring in the industry.


Eclipse Telecom’s Dave Dyson

Channel Futures: Could you share one takeaway you learned from going on the road? What’s one way that you are different now?

Dave Dyson: One that’s really important is that I have relearned how to work. Like many Gen X’ers, I learned to work in a very clock-punching fashion, It took a lot of unlearning on my part, but working in a less rigid fashion actually improved my results. I became more focused on applying myself to big-picture items that were strategic to the business and our growth. There are many more strategic and profound lessons that I’ll be sharing in Las Vegas.

CF: You mention in your session preview, “Building a business for the long term is about one thing and one thing only: the people.” I wonder how that sentiment lands for most agencies, who often are a smaller collection of managing partners. Many agencies stay at only one or two people for years for fear of diluting their hard-earned MRC with payroll. 

DD: When I talk about the people, I mean all people. That means teammates, partners, our customers, and most importantly, our families. I have so many friends that run businesses large and small in this industry and they are for the most part, obsessed with taking care of people and making them know they are valued. You can commit to running a single-person business, but you are not going to get far without taking care of your customers. People like me decided to build a team, because we love to build, solve problems, and help. You can get to a heck of a lot more when you surround yourself with an amazing team, like I have been fortunate to do.

CF: What do you see happening in the channel these days? I know we see a lot of M&A, but are there any cultural shifts behind what we’re seeing?

DD: [Facetiously] Why do you ask? Is there anything new and different happening in the channel? I hadn’t noticed.

The space is heavily focused on money right now. So many conversations are based on EBITDA, building the sale value of your agency, etc. We have lost sight of what made us all successful in the first place: solving problems for businesses large and small by understanding technology, business, and most of all people, and connecting those dots in ways that leave customers thrilled. I talk a lot about the soul of my business and the soul of our channel. I’m a firm believer that soul still matters, maybe more now than ever.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email James Anderson or connect with him on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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