Grow Your Company 10X in 2 Years with MIT and John Hopkins Researcher Don Schmincke

4 Minutes Read

Episode 139

Is your business dying a slow death? Or are you wanting to grow a company? Maybe you don’t even realize the mistakes you are currently making in your business that are leading it to its demise. You’re in luck!

Don Schmincke is the author of the Best-Selling book The Code of Executive and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. He is an Award-Winning Speaker, Researcher, and Founder of the SAGA Leadership Institute and delivered over 1,700 speeches.

Don’s latest course, How to Slay Dragons, talks about the most horrifying problems that stop us from achieving success and happiness.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the complete episode:

  1. You will learn more about why Don uses how humans evolve, organize, and lead and apply it to industries.
  2. Don shares how and why he performs corporate autopsies.
  3. Find out the real power behind disruptive leadership.

Episode Highlights

Who is Don Schmincke

    • Don is a planetary physicist and biomedical researcher from John Hopkins and MIT.
    • His studies revealed why traditional management theory fails at such a high rate.
    • He has trained over 700 CEOS annually and shares his unique methods through his keynote speeches and implementing his strategies with clients. 
    • He's one of the acclaimed top 10 speakers for the world's largest CEO organization. 
    • Best-selling author of The Code of the Executive and High Altitude Leadership with Emmy-nominated climber Chris Warner.

What kind of businesses does Darrell’s agency help

    • His agency does not have a threshold.
    • He typically works with small to midsize companies that have gotten off the ground and hit the half-a-million to the a-million mark.
    • His agency is not a vendor and does not work with large marketing teams that need to outsource one-off tasks. 

Don's backstory

    • Thirty years ago, he left MIT and studied human grouping behaviors at Hopkins.
    • He is fascinated with how humans organize.
    • Don became interested in what was causing the failure of management theories and how to fix it.
    • He presents a workshop about 70 times a year for CEOs and entrepreneurial groups to test his teachings.

What a planetary physicist is

    • Planetary physicists study how universes and planets form and the evolution of star systems.
    • Don is fascinated with how small we are, yet, we can look at a planet or star millions of light-years away and be able to tell what it’s composed of and what its lifecycle will be.

Don's Expedition to a Tribe in the Himalayas

    • The tribe he visited in the Himalayas was a lost civilization.
    • He wanted to see how they ran their companies to see if it was biological.
    • Don wanted to study how they organized and evolved and if they’re similar to us to determine it’s probably not an accident.

What Don learned working back to forward

    • Don wanted to learn how to grow a company ten times its size.
    • He knew he had to go into regions to drive performance results based on biological mechanisms, not theories of the week.
    • Don learns how humans are evolving, organizing, and leading and brings it back to apply to industries.

The story behind High Altitude Leadership

    • The idea for the book came before the expedition.
    • The organized climb was on the world’s highest active volcano.
    • Don wrote the book live as Chris Warner was climbing K2.
    • Chris and Don learned a lot about studying the death of climbers and companies.

Defining the Tools of Seduction

    • When we stop using tools and the tools start using us, that’s a problem.
    • When companies start using tools as salvation, they lose control of the tool.
    • Instead of throwing a tool at the problem, you must learn how to alter beliefs to survive and scale.

Study of the Failure Rate of Strategic Planning

    • Most companies have tactical plans that are not strategic.
    • He was fascinated by small entrepreneurial companies that dominate an industry by ignoring and violating the advice of experts.
    • The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig explains the statistical studies of why everybody’s either praising a CEO then demeaning the CEO, or vice versa.

Southwest Airlines' Strategic Advantage

    • Herb Kelleher, the CEO of Southwest Airlines, was not trying to compete with other airlines.
    • While the other airlines were trying to figure out what Kelleher was doing, he was obtaining Greyhound’s customer base.

Leadership that Disrupts

    • People are not following you as a leader; they are following the story you represent.
    • There are books written on the successes of great CEOs; however, the power was in the losing.
    • Don is currently writing a book on the power of losing.

Complex Thinking

    • Dr. Elliott Jaques discovered that the human brain has a complex thinking capacity.
    • The bulk of humanity has a one-week to maybe a year thought process.
    • Dr. Elliott Jaques doesn’t believe everybody has the potential to improve and grow.

Being rigid to what you think you believe

    • To shift your thinking, what you currently think is true, must die to give birth to the new thought.
    • You will never move if you keep hanging on to the old belief.
    • Don has a course called Becoming Samurai, full of ancient leadership secrets for success in the modern workplace.

What Don would want to be remembered for

    • Don would like to inspire new thought, no matter how small it is. It just needs to be a new thought in your life that would help you make civilization a better place before you follow him into death.

Episode Highlights

21:03 – “When we stop using the tools, and the tools start using us, that’s a problem.“

26:28 – “That’s where entrepreneurs need to live. Don’t try to copy, and don’t try to analyze. If you’re going to outmaneuver the competition, you must out-intuit their moves.”

33:05 – “They weren’t there for the suffering, the mistakes, and the failures. When you pull back the curtains on that, it’s much more powerful. It is how they failed that made them great.”


About Don Schmincke

Don is a planetary physicist and biomedical researcher from John Hopkins and MIT.

So how did he discover why traditional management theory failure rates are so high?

The journey began when entrepreneurs, CEOs, and business owners vented frustrations with the high failure rates of management theories, experts, and programs that many of them listen to and follow today.

They didn’t realize that the primal, genetic triggers he’d unearth would grow their companies faster than traditional methods. What else would you expect from an MIT and Johns Hopkins researcher who was nearly arrested as a capitalist spy in the Soviet Bloc, got shot off an aircraft carrier, survived in the Kurdish capital as the Ayatollah held hostages in Tehran, and developed missile inertial guidance systems while his frat brothers took Vegas (later portrayed in the movie “21”)?

As a best-selling author, Don trains 700 CEOs annually and can be found sharing his unique methods at keynote speeches or implementing them with clients. His scientific methods make him the thought leader in applying genetics, evolution, and anthropology to strategic growth. The industry agrees, finding it a refreshing alternative to the trendy theories and “programs-of-the-month” that frustrate senior executives:

– Acclaimed as a Top 10 speaker for the world’s largest CEO organization.

– Author of best-selling books “The Code of the Executive” and “High Altitude Leadership” (with NBC Emmy-nominated climber Chris Warner).

– Published in over 14 languages


Connect with Don Schmincke




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Picture of Darrell Evans

Darrell Evans

Darrell Evans is a serial entrepreneur, investor, and Co-founder/CEO of Yokel Local Digital Marketing Agency. He and his teams have helped businesses generate over $300M+ in revenue online. Every month, he leads virtual workshops teaching actionable strategies and tips from his experience helping companies market, grow, and scale.