Her Singapore-based company builds leadership training around sustainable, continuing volunteer projects in Bhutan, with Google one of her largest clients. Mindful leadership, which includes compassion and empathy, can only be learned when people are immersed in situations where they are exercised, she said.
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It's an effort to bring a distinctly Asian experience to management training.
"For a long, long time, we always assumed that the only knowledge came from the West. All the management learning came from the West. But there's a lot of learning that's right here," she said. "Having been exposed to rich cultures and then having a global lifestyle has allowed me to see the value of the East and West. How do I bring the two together and learn from both?"
Recognizing a need
It was recognizing a need for training that led Zsuzsanna Tungli to star Developing Global Leaders Asia, which provides cultural training for both expatriate and local employees.
While working for Arthur Anderson in the early 1990s in her native Hungary, she recognized that technical expertise simply wasn't enough for employees to work together in a global environment.
"I still remember these feelings in my stomach when the otherwise very professional and technically capable – particularly English managers at that time -- would come to Hungary and would see Hungarian general managers and ministers," she said.
"Often what the English people would say wouldn't make sense," she said, noting the country had only made its switch from a planned economy to a market-based one in 1989.
"For us, words like stock exchange (or) shares -- they were all abstract words," she said. "Often the things they would say or suggest to companies were not possible because of the system."
But it was many years later, in 2011 that she left a position lecturing on executive education at the Business School of the Central European University in Hungary and Romania.
Across Asia, companies can face cultural landmines when employees haven't been trained, she said, citing as an example a company which gave a Chinese client a gift of clocks with the company logo. In Mandarin, the words for clock and funeral are similar, with the gift of a clock viewed as telling the recipient to "drop dead." The company ultimately lost the client's business, she said.
Taking the leap
To be sure, leaving behind the corporate world isn't an easy step.
"I could have given the advice to any entrepreneur before," said Tungli. "Executing what your advice would be is difficult," she said.
Dimbulah's Wanden agreed. "You've got to be pretty brave," to walk away from a steady job, he said. "You have to be prepared to go on a really tight diet for awhile and you have to learn to like it ," he said, adding "you always miss the salary."
—By CNBC.Com's Leslie Shaffer; Follow her on Twitter @LeslieShaffer1