David Yeh Jr. runs the Destiny Research Institute, a coaching service specialising in helping family businesses.
What inspired you to get into relationship coaching?
At one time, my father owned the Universal Matchbox Group, manufacturers of die-cast toys. He’d managed a leveraged buy-out when the company went Chapter 11 in the early 1980s. I’d always envisaged following him into the business, so I was totally shocked one day when he took me to a smart office on Fifth Avenue in New York. A whole lot of suited gentlemen were sat around a table and he told them – and me – that he was merging the business. He told me I was too young and too inexperienced to take it on. While I realised that he was tired and really not up to running the firm any longer, I also saw my dreams flying out of the window.
I duly went off and got qualified, then got a job with BNP, the French national bank, where I stayed for about three years. I started at the ground level as a credit officer and later rose to be manager of the China desk. That job taught me an awful lot about global business and has set me in very great stead ever since. I even ran my own investment company for a few years.
I suppose it was the shock of my father not talking to me earlier and explaining his reasons for getting rid of the company that persuaded me to get involved in helping family businesses communicate better. I lost both my mother and my wife to cancer some years ago – it was a very challenging period in my life – and I wasn’t able to devote enough time to my business.
Tommy, a very good friend of mine, persuaded me to use my talents and put the experience I had in dealing with my varied problems to good use. I had been on several of the Tony Robbins, the US-based motivational speaker, courses and he became my mentor for some 10 years. In 2014 I decided to launch the Destiny Research Institute (DRI) and am very happy with what I am doing now and really enjoying the whole process hugely.
Crying – a sign of weakness or of strength?
I definitely think it is not a sign of weakness. Often, we have to express our emotions through sadness. Crying is one of our release mechanisms, a sort of safety valve. Keeping your emotions bottled up can actually be quite dangerous. People often oscillate between sadness and anger – they both get us into a vicious cycle. Actually, crying can be a means of expression in both cases.
What is your greatest indulgence?
This depends a lot on the time of my life you are talking about. I used to enjoy many of the finer things in life, nice fast cars, good wines, fine cigars and visiting all the most exotic places. Having been through what I have in recent years, though, that has all changed drastically. I am now far more concerned with spending really meaningful and magic moments with my loved ones – that is far more important to me. I now feel that time is one of the most precious of commodities. We don’t know what our lifespan is going to be or how long we’ll be around, so we must treasure all the moments we can. The loss of my mother and my wife certainly taught me that.
What has been your most extravagant purchase?
That would be my Maybach car, something I bought a few months ago. I’ve always been a bit car crazy. I seldom change cars but, whenever I do, it seems to be in the middle of economic downturn. I don’t know if it is some sort of curse that I have on me. Sometimes, I wonder if I should immediately sell all my stocks when I buy a new car. It is a great car, though, and I really like it. I’ve always been quite partial to Mercedes sedans and, now that the S class has morphed into the Maybach, I think it has made for a superb machine. It has lots of room. I feel that it’s actually the Mercedes equivalent of a Rolls Royce or a Bentley.
Have you had a near-death experience?
Well, not me personally, but I have watched two of my closest family members pass away right before my eyes. I can still relate to the last moments of both those people. For quite a time, I could still remember all those vivid images that I had in the hospital. That taught me to look at time in a very different way and realise how precious it really is. Sometimes, it takes awful things like that to actually turn you around and point you in the right direction.
What do you look for in an ideal partner?
I think I’ve been very fortunate in my life. I met my soul-mate when I was in my 20s. I only dated twice and then I met my late-wife and we dated for about eight years and we were then married for nearly 11 years. Those years were filled with beautiful moments. Throughout that time, I learned what real relationships are all about. I learned all about truly understanding people.
I have been single again for a few years now and have been dating again. Some of it has been fun and some of it has been painful. The other person must be able to understand your needs and has to understand what is impotant to you. You both have to share the same beliefs as two loving souls together, otherwise the relationship is doomed to fail. A very loving and most passionate relationship is very important, as is exploring new places together and meeting new people.
Having lost my soul-mate, I did question whether I would ever find that special person again. Luckily, I have surrounded myself with good and positive people. They’ve encouraged me, telling me that I am still young, at 39, and that I will find someone who is right for me. They encourage me to carry on.
Who is your favourite film star?
As a man, I have always liked James Bond. He’s a man that all other men look up to – always very stylish. Women want to date him and men want to be him. Of all the people who played James Bond, I think I liked Piers Brosnan the most. He also starred in the Thomas Crown Affair. He was really quite great in that too.
Is there a word that you think you overuse?
That’s a difficult one, but I think it would be the word “certainty.” Everyone needs certainty within their heart and without it they tend to lose direction. I actually tend to talk to people in my business by expressing that we need to have absolute “certainty” about where we’re going in life, what’s our purpose and so on. I think it is a word that I really do tend to use very often, maybe a bit too much. It is very much connected with what I do with my empowerment classes so it is quite difficult to get away from it.
What is your astrological sign?
Aries, my birthday is 15 April. I think that I am very typical of this star sign. There are some very prominent characteristics of Aries that I know I possess, but there are also some others that I want to aspire to.
Are you a good listener or good talker?
I was a very good talker in my younger days. I was always good at talking to people and socialising at events. More recently, I think, I have turned into more of a listener. Being a good listener is so important, especially for women. Men are much better at telling people what to do. When women feel that someone is listening to them and understanding what they need, they feel much safer and better appreciated. I think that I still need to talk a lot at work, but I think I have become a communicator rather than just a talker. There is a real difference between the two. You need to know your audience.
When did you last tell a white lie?
In doing what I do, I have to tell a lot of stories that illustrate a point that I am trying to get over. So, occasionally, I think there may be a white lie or two in there. I make sure that it doesn’t detract from the belief system that I am trying to explain. There’s certainly no malicious intent.
Korea or Japan?
I have never been to Korea. I go to Japan fairly frequently and am starting to explore it much more. I used to just go to Tokyo. Recently, I have been to Okinawa, Osaka, Kobe and a number of other cities. I have always found Japan very ordered, very neat and very tidy. The language barrier isn’t as bad as it used to be in the 1990s.
Which, in your mind, is the most over-paid profession?
This one is tough. I wouldn’t want to pick out any particular profession. Instead, I would say that anyone who is not giving their best in terms of the service they are offering is over-paid. Lots of people have a lot of talent but they charge far too much and are not good value for money.
Do you believe in the death penalty?
I feel everyone should be given a chance and an opportunity to consider and reflect on what they’ve done. If they can be incarcerated for a long time, then it is probably an even worse punishment. The death penalty doesn’t seem to be the deterrent that it once was.
What’s your favourite drink?
Just like James Bond, I like a martini, but I prefer a gin martini. It’s very much a man’s drink.
What do you think is the worst piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?
When my late-wife was suffering from considerable back pain, I was told that it was just a slipped disk. We took that as professional advice and so we put off seeking further advice. I now wish that we’d been more sceptical and had sought other opinions earlier. Would the outcome have been different? I am not sure.
What was your best birthday present ever?
My current girlfriend threw a surprise birthday party for me. She took me to a place where I didn’t quite know what to expect. The place was all decked out with balloons, which took me back to my childhood. We had a wonderful steak meal – my favourite – and a very good bottle of Bordeaux. It was very memorable for me.