Achieving CEO Success and Happiness

In this The Faces of Business Episode, our guest speaker was Don Schmincke. Don Schmincke is the Strategic Growth Advisor, Author, and Keynote Speaker at Schmincke Research Alliance. Don is a highly sought after CEO advisor that helps CEO's unlock their talents to create incredible careers and companies. 

CEO success and happiness is something that eludes many executives. Therefore, our guest today elaborated on his experience after studying leadership. helping thousands of CEOs, and being one himself.

In this The Faces of Business Episode, our guest speaker was Don Schmincke. Don Schmincke is the Strategic Growth Advisor, Author, and Keynote Speaker at Schmincke Research Alliance. Don is a highly sought after CEO advisor that helps CEO’s unlock their talents to create incredible careers and companies.

After this, he mentioned that Don has recently won an award for being the only person who has interviewed over 10,000 CEOs. Moreover, this is why Don is aware of what CEO success and happiness are all about.

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Moving on Damon asked Don that if CEO success and Happiness are easy or not. To this, Don responded by saying that although it looks very easy, it is immensely difficult. Moreover, he also said that in one of his books, the first line starts with, “leadership sucks” which is very true in any scenario.

Later, Don also explained this further with the help of a dog analogy. After this, Don talked about the responsibilities of leaders and CEOs. He said that it gets very lonely for these CEOs at times because they have to make all the decisions and run everything with their own efforts.

Moreover, Don also mentioned how CEO success and happiness depend upon the success and happiness of their own business. Moving on, Don also talked about his company and how they help these leaders.

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He said that most of the time, these leaders know what’s the solution or the problem, but they don’t find it on the surface. This is where his company helps them out level with themselves. After this, Don also explained another term called the iceberg of ignorance or issues.

Furthermore, he said that with this he has observed that the people who are at the bottom know what’s really going on, but by the time it is filtered to the top management only 10-15% of it actually gets to them.

This is why, according to Don, CEO success and happiness depend on these factors of the iceberg as well.

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The conversation then ended with Damon thanking Don for his presence on the show.

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Damon Pistulka, Don Schmincke


Damon Pistulka  00:05

All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And with me today, I’ve got Don SHAMEKA from the saga research and growth Alliance. Don, thanks so much for being here today.


Don Schmincke  00:20

Thanks for having me.


Damon Pistulka  00:21

Well, it’s it’s, it’s quite an honor. Because I mean, I don’t I you you have trained or spoken to more than 7000 CEOs? Did I read that? Right?


Don Schmincke  00:33

Yeah, that’s probably that’s an old number. I think they gave me an award the other day for speaking to over 10,000. And that was about a year ago. So


Damon Pistulka  00:41

it’s always 10,000 now, so I can guarantee you, I have had no one on this show. That’s spoken to 10,000 CEOs. But thanks for being here. It’s just gonna be a conversation. And we’re gonna today we’re gonna talk about achieving CEO success and happiness. And I and I think I’m gonna, I’m just gonna throw something out there. As in, in my days of, of being that in the businesses, and I know other people that you’re working with. Most people don’t understand that being a CEO, while people go, Oh, you’re the boss, and you make all that money. It’s not that not that glamorous on the inside, is it?


Don Schmincke  01:20

No, no, it’s, it’s a secret, though. We, you know, we don’t let anybody know about it. Because everybody knew they wouldn’t want to be a CEO. Yeah, so we need more. So yeah, anyway, make them think it’s something exciting. Yeah. No, it’s It’s hard to lead. I mean, it’s, in fact, I think we opened the my, my last book, high altitude leadership, I think I think the first sentence is, leadership sucks. And, you know, it really does mean it’s hard to be responsible and accountable and then have to be the person that’s going to be the buck stops on your desk.

And it was interesting. I was I was studying different mammal grooming behaviors, and they get into dogs. And a couple of things came out of that. One was, I had a couple of corgis that one time I was dropping them off. And I started asking the universe, well, how do you said, so how do you figure out who’s the Alpha? You know, who’s the leader? And she said something interesting. She goes, I find that no dog wants to be the office. Why not?

Because it’s stressful. Because you got all these dogs following you around. It’s just like, they all try to avoid it. So they totally force someone to be out. And, and then I, like I would, I would go and do some dog sledding. Occasionally, whenever there’s company around, I can jump in. And it came up again, it was you know, it’s a lot of popular speakers are like, Oh, well, you know, if you’re not the lead dog, the views always the same. You know what I mean? Later, yeah. Again, this guy’s never run dogs before. Because, you know, if you’ve run dogs, you know, that’s not true.

I mean, the front dogs have the hardest frickin time. You know, because the dogs are behind them. They’re trying, they’re pulling them they’re supposed to be setting the direction. And they’re having a tough time because they’re there they’re plowing through the dogs behind on they’re going this way and that way and the views always changing for them. Yeah. And once I run a team and there was unbalanced Now the flip the sled almost one up on an edge, because the dogs are too. Anyway. So being the lead dog isn’t that isn’t what it’s cracked up to be? I think, you know, it really, it’s


Damon Pistulka  03:42

a lot of work. That’s for sure. I think that there is there’s a lot of that too. And like you said when we got started here it people think that being a CEO is glamorous and all that. But honestly, it’s it’s it’s stressful and lonely.


Don Schmincke  03:55

Very lonely. Lonely is already here a lot. Yeah, I’m putting together a sort of a group coaching cohort coaching system that will probably hopefully will release in a couple of weeks, where I can have CEOs join this group, and I’ll go through this education and our research and then have them work with each other. Yeah. Because it’s, you know, who else can you talk to? That really, you know, does that and I do a lot of speaking for CEO group organizations that are live and yeah, it’s very helpful for them. Yeah, it


Damon Pistulka  04:26

  1. And you know, I like again, when we’re working with clients doing what we do, helping them grow their businesses or helping them through an exit transition. It you know, it comes up all the time. Who makes the decision it’s them looking in the mirror that’s who makes the decision that right and it’s tough. It’s tough doing that every day and second guessing yourself if you don’t have someone at least to bounce some things off and I can I can imagine that helps an awful


Don Schmincke  04:52

lot. Yeah, what we try to do when we work with companies is try to get the the truth or the authenticity of what’s really going on. Because a lot of our a lot of our work is just fundamentals are really going on. And a lot of times people know the answers or they know the problems, but it doesn’t surface. I, I developed this one thing that was a spin off of something called the iceberg of ignorance, I think.

But I thought, wow, it should be called the iceberg iceberg of issues. And we literally calculated from various research sources around the world and our own experience that the people at the bottom know what’s going on, by the time it gets filtered up through management. Yeah, only knows maybe 10 or 15%, of what’s really happening.


Damon Pistulka  05:35

That’s awesome. Because it’s so true. Because it’s like, you know, you get to one low management, and they go, Oh, that’s really not a problem. But this one is, because that’s their their problem, too, you know, and they move that up, and it just a few drop off all the way. So yeah, yeah. Well, that’s, that’s awesome. Done. So, you know, let’s, let’s back up a little bit. I always like to give everybody a little bit of background. And this is where I think is interesting and has come up a couple times already in the conversation.

You don’t hear many people with a bachelor’s degree in Planetary Physics from MIT, deciding to coach CEOs, and helps the lows, CEOs, but I hear it in the way you’re speaking, you’re speaking about research. So let’s talk a little bit about your background. You know, MIT, that’s awesome. Tell us a little bit about that. And then what really triggered you to go wow, I should I should be helping CEOs or thinking about leadership and researching it and setting up your your saga research and growth Alliance. Yeah, that


Don Schmincke  06:38

was it was a totally unpredictable event. I mean, I you know, I like almost dropped that icicle. So I was like one of those kids that was playing hooky. And yeah, I was bored out of my mind. I just and I, until the police said I had it finished my senior year, I got to repeat it. And this is like, I guess this might have been like, April. Like, wait a minute, I go through this again, what do I get to do and they said, You got to complete the entire year. And I only had like, two or three months left. So you know, the teachers rallied and stuff.

And I actually did a whole year with him two or three months and got out. And then you know, and then I was working on my uncle’s gas station. And I noticed that, you know, I was in rock bands at the time and what I wanted to do, and it was a lot of guys with the fancy cars had an education of that, well, you know, I better I better get an education. So yeah, there was a community college up up the street, and Essex and I, as this community college, so I went there. And I don’t know what happened. I started getting involved with student activities and exploring computers and yeah, various sciences and anthropology. I was just good tasting it right.

Because you know, I was just getting started. Anyway, there was a professor there physics, who has retired from MIT and, and then there was also a woman and student activity. Sue’s came at a BU and her husband went to MIT. And this is your plan MIT. I don’t know what they saw. I really to this day, I don’t know what happened. But I thought I don’t know when MIT was at that was at a trade school. I mean, what it was it was and so. So that’s awesome. So I applied, and I had to go through all this testing and testing and retesting. And I got it, I got it. I was like, wow.

And that’s when things really just blew off. Because I got into so many just blew up. I mean, it just kind of went to, I started off in electrical engineering, computer science. And that’s when artificial intelligence was just picking up and then I got interested in Planetary Physics. So I did a joint degree with them. And then I had to make money to pay for my education. So I started working on some guidance system stuff for the tri nuclear missile. And then I automated Harvard, MIT’s biomedical lab. So I started branching out to Earth, and biology. And so that’s where that happens. So and then I got published in the Journal of Medical instrumentation, like back in the day.

So that was really I didn’t know where I was gonna go after that. Yeah, going to medical research. And I did do a little bit on medical imaging. And then I got, I got went to Hopkins. And that’s what did my graduate work and then start teaching there. And then they a Cathy Trower, who she ended up running program at Harvard. She She was there at the time. And she saw something in me, I don’t know, see. And I said, you know, I have been working with a number of people that had run businesses. I said, I don’t think what you’re teaching is what they’re looking for in an MBA.

And then she said, Well, what are they looking for? And so I put together this program. And then she said, well go teach it. I’m thinking what you know, and I just finished my graduate work at Johns Hopkins and I started teaching and then I started getting exposed to a lot of executives that were in the Executive MBA programs and I started hearing them complain about the high failure rate management theory and that’s when it took off. And they challenge me to see if there was a biological issue.

So we started going back 1000s of years and found out the executives, CEOs and sea levels, were complaining about the same thing that our sea levels were complaining about. And then I started going around the world and started doing these different expeditions in various regions like in, you know, lost civilizations and remote regions in Africa and Asia and start seeing similar patterns.

So really, that’s when I began to say, hey, there’s something about our species that we haven’t yet tapped into. So that’s what happened, I started doing that research and started applying it. And then companies started doubling, tripling their sales, some kinds of sometimes 10 times their sales growth. So all of a sudden, that’s when I started publishing, that’s when I started teaching. And that’s why I trained maybe 700 to 1000 CEOs a year, and these CEO workshops on how to do this, and they keep calling me back. So I guess it must be something helpful. So that’s it. Sorry for the long winded intro.


Damon Pistulka  11:08

No, no, it’s great. Because it I mean, when you look at it, now, you can totally see why and how you got to the point to where you’re coaching and helping CEOs become more effective leaders and do what they need to do. Because it’s it, there are long standing problems in the way that you’ve, you’ve researched it around the world from long ago, to now and then helped cover it. I got to imagine that makes what you do a bit different than anyone else is doing and has a lot behind it.


Don Schmincke  11:45

Yeah, it is, it is a little different. Because we came at it from the opposite direction. I mean, everybody’s, you know, writing and reading these best selling books on the go these great companies, and every year we have this great company list. Yeah. But none of the authors warn readers that the list is going to change in 18 months.

Yes. So we started looking at doing autopsies. So we stopped studying successful companies, and we started studying the dead. And that’s what really made a difference, because there was a lot more of them. So yeah, yeah, we were able to see what was missing and what went wrong, and why perfectly good management theories would fail. And that led us into how humans work and what was missing and all that. So really, all I did was study the dead, figure out what happened, and then started applying it in companies. And that’s all so carry on.


Damon Pistulka  12:44

That’s cool. That’s cool. So now you’ve written a couple books. The first one, I believe, is that the code of executive Yeah. And and then you did high altitude leadership. So let’s talk a little bit about the code of executive. What were you What were you talking about there?


Don Schmincke  12:59

Oh, that was I just finished an expedition in the, in the original the Himalayas, just below China and above India, next to Tibet. It’s like a lost civilization at the time. And I was kind of funny. I was trying to get this one book out on tribal leadership. And I was having a hard time with my agent. And he. It’s funny, because like, years later now everything’s tribal drive, hold stuff in these books.

But at the time, we were really looking at making something happen. And this, I was frustrated. So about a month into this expedition. We were all bored. And there’s not much to do because there’s no electricity, there’s no Wi Fi. There’s just it’s you and you’re boiling water and eating yak meat and rice. Yeah. So we play this game. This one game was a Tibetan fortuneteller game. Part of the game is you had to come up with a life problem. So I came with this problem with this book.

I said, just you know, it’s a bunch of false starts, I’m not able to get my agent to accept what I’m doing. And he’s pushing me I appreciated that. But so the game ended up with me and my my stuff was, you know, you got to give it up. Stop it. It’s not going to happen until he, he can’t go on to give that up. So I thought, wow, that was interesting. So anyway, we expedition, I get back to the States. And then I call my agency like, I’m just gonna start, you know, there, I just shut it down. And within 30 days, I found this manuscript that Oxford University had the rights to, and I call them and they gave me the copyright access because it was 700 years old. Yeah.

And it was written by Dr. Al Sadler back in a really esteemed professor University Australia and I’ve read a lot of a lot of Oriental Studies back in the day was the Department of Oriental Studies that was 5075 years ago. But he translated this thing. So they gave me permission to copyright a book on it. And so which I did. And what was interesting about watching this training man, the training that they did through this manual, it was a samurai. And that’s how they’ve trained their leaders to run companies. And I took that, and I thought, wow, this is amazing.

And that’s when I published it. And I went into like, I don’t know, 15 languages. And so I started talking about how to lead like that, because I found out later on, when I was at Hopkins, that a lot of what they were doing was stimulating certain evolutionary genetic and neurological processes in the brain. And that’s why it was working. So when we started training, management teams to do this, we start we saw the same result. Yeah, so higher speed and decisiveness and problem solving and, and then teaming for the cause. I was, it was really neat. I love doing the book, and I just loved doing that research. It was great.


Damon Pistulka  16:08

Wow, that brings up a lot in my head. I mean, if people don’t people have watched me a few times. And they know, I read a ton of notes, because I’m thinking through this, and you’re talking about taking a manuscript that was fairly old. Yeah. And then turning that into a into a book that is very applicable to today. Hmm. So my question is, did we know how to be really good leaders long ago? And we’ve just only certain people have known it throughout time?


Don Schmincke  16:42

Well, we’re here. Yeah. We’re here. So something was going on? Hopefully, it’ll be going for a little while longer. But yeah, we did. I mean, how else people, like I use this when I do like, these workshops and, and company well spent a few hours with the executive team or directors, whoever they want to bring in. And I started, I, I like to evoke blinding flashes of the obvious, you know, because it’s like, well, we really great back then. And like, Okay, let me ask you something, you’re, you know, going back 10,000 years, you know, you’re in Africa.

And you’re deciding, like, you know, we’re gonna start migrating, we’re gonna, like, leave our safe homes and villages. And we’re gonna go north, and east and west. And yeah, we’re probably gonna die. But we’re gonna give it a shot. And you figured out how to get these humans to follow you? Yeah, I think that was pretty good. Yeah. Yeah. Mostly just they couldn’t do that.


Damon Pistulka  17:41

Yeah, yeah. People back then were able to do it. They were a little better leaders. Or they had to be pretty good. At that


Don Schmincke  17:48

time. I think they were triggering something which we can still trigger today, you still see good leaders doing these things as well. So that’s what I love about it. Yeah. Yeah, that’s cool.


Damon Pistulka  17:57

So you talk about exotic, exotic expeditions. Again, when you talk about somebody that’s doing co work, working with CEOs, you don’t correlate the two together that that often. So so let’s talk about some of your exotic expeditions, where some of the places that you go, man, I just don’t believe my work has taken me there.


Don Schmincke  18:21

I never really plan it out that much. I might, the point is, is that I always want to learn something. I’m a chronic learner, you know, and that’s my, that’s what I assumed as my role in life. And I want to learn, I want to teach and help people and then I’ll die. But then there are a lot of mini deaths. That’s a that’s coming out of my, my new online education program called How to slay dragons. And it came out of the samurai research, because the first chapter was on death. So get into that later, but the answer your question, I wanted to learn, and I knew that I couldn’t learn from what was already published.

I mean, I could always do learn a lot of things. And I have some brilliant people I hang with that teach me a lot of stuff. But I to me, it’s for me to test the biology of leadership and, and how how to understand why there’s such a high rate of failure rate and strategic planning and management theory that I had to figure out what was going on. So when I went to these remote regions, I could see how they organize, see how they lead and see what’s what’s common, because if it’s common, and maybe more genetic than we think.

And if it’s that, then I guess start teaching biological leadership or genetic leadership, something that’s not a fashion trend, something that’s worked for 1000s of years, and from work that we do with companies it works today. And that’s how, you know, we’re able to take company performance to levels beyond what they ever imagined just off, we’re not doing anything magical. We’re just using what’s already always been there. So that’s why you would take off and I just get pulled into these things. You know, like I mentioned him a last, but I’ll go throughout Africa and various regions just to see what I can learn.

And it’s, we stumble into something, you know, I mean, like I was in North Africa a couple of years ago. And we had what was it, we had to fake? Well, I wanted to see originally how the, the Muslim, Christian and golf, these these civilizations emerged and coexisted and spread and connect in various ways. So I was curious of that, because there are a lot of companies saying, How can I get my employees to connect? How can we become, you know, one organization without a fragmented culture, so of course, so I went to Spain, great stuff I learned there.

And then, and then I went to North Africa to see what it was like on that side, the following year, and then I ended up finding out that I could hire some people to get me into the Atlas mountain regions, and get up to some altitude to visit a tribal community that I didn’t know at the time. But they had been there for like 810 1000 years. Oh, wow. So you know, whenever I get a chance to visit 10,000 year old company, I’m going to go and say, hi, yeah, because what are they doing? How did it happen? That’s how it was amazing. It’s, um, it was up in the Berber regions, and has to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.

I remember, I dragged my daughter up there, and we’re in this high mount pass, and she looked down this Val and she says, Daddy, there’s so much beauty here. My eyes can’t hold it all. And I’ve never had that experience. But that’s exactly what I was thinking. So my daughter, Rowan, she was just she’s been with me on a few of these expeditions said that? Yeah, we always learned something. And I think we also get out there and just look at the world differently. Because we get to, you know, we only get what strain through our news media, you know, and it’s Yeah, normally not accurate.


Damon Pistulka  22:05

Yeah, that’s, that’s true. And like you said, when you this a couple things here, one of the things is, it’s really intriguing about what you’ve been doing in those expeditions is, is looking for commonalities in very diverse and remote locations. Because that ties back to actually as you’re saying, genetic, yeah. Things that we can tap into. Yeah, yes. So cool. That’s so cool.


Don Schmincke  22:35

Yeah. And it’s been, it’s been great. Because I’m one on one I love to learn, and then I love to help teach, so I can bring that stuff back. And it all doesn’t work. I mean, I made a lot of mistakes. Yeah, try some things here. Something’s there. But, but the few things that do work, now, you know, it, we use it, and, and we look at the impact.

And each company has a different way of identifying that, you know, capitalist enterprises is usually profitability and things. But I find that humans have lost sometimes the ability to really define what winning means. And, you know, I think that’s the first thing a leader has to do is, is say, look, what does winning mean, if I’m going to lead my people? Like, why? Well, yeah, you know, how do I define winning, and there’s nothing to win, then what do we need to lead for? You know, just stay where we are and manage it?


Damon Pistulka  23:32

Yeah. Yeah. But that’s a good point. Because there’s a lot of companies that just flounder around like


Don Schmincke  23:37

that with. We’re just here. Yeah, you can make


Damon Pistulka  23:42

a lot of money like that. I mean, they can make money and employ a lot of people and things are good. But what what is it? It’s just like you said, Why are you in business? If it’s, there’s not a reason?


Don Schmincke  23:55

Well, so yeah, and I think sometimes that’s one of the problems is we can get a little complacent. And it’s easy to do that when there’s no competition. Yeah, you know, because then you’re just like, yeah, we’re okay. We went a little fishing and we, you know, make some money and, and it’s okay. And if you’re fortunate, you know, God bless you laughs last and you’ll retire and you’ll pass it on.

And we’re about to have a good time. Unfortunately, though, some people experience competition. Yeah. And those that are complacent. risk dying. Yeah. And we see that all the time. I mean, how many industries have been disrupted by new management approaches or new technologies or, more recently from COVID warfare, right supply chain disruptions affect?

So those that are not insulated because of luck, or maybe plan to be insulated from competition are having a hard time. So it’s it’s almost like, leadership seems to follow this bell curve. And there’s on one end, it’s like enlightened leaders, hey, we have to keep pushing the limit, we have to keep expanding, we have to keep, you know, just driving forward and just pushing ourselves to new highs, levels of performance. At the other end is people in pain. It’s like, they’re the ones that got disrupted.

They’re the ones that are like when it’s not easy to make money anymore, and what goddess you may not get us there. And then you get the people in the middle. And I think in the middle, it’s kind of like, if they’re lucky, they’ll stay there. But they’re going to go either way. You know, they’re either going to get enlightenment, or they’re going to get pain. And either way that’s going to cause them ask different questions like, you know, what do I need to fear about tomorrow? In my unprepared, am I prepared to win in the face of that? And that’s a good question.


Damon Pistulka  25:55

That is, that’s an awesome question. What do I what am I going to fear tomorrow? And how am I prepared to face understanding that? I didn’t paraphrase it right, but that was good. That was good. Because it’s really, I mean, cuz no leader, no true leader is not afraid. No true leader can understand every risk. They’re just prepared better to to address them


Don Schmincke  26:21

when they go forward. Yeah. Yeah, it’s and that’s, I heard serve several quotes somewhere. And one one came from my colleague, Susan Barrett’s been working with me for 30 years around with with companies I’ve worked with. And her son came in and said, you know, she said, but that was brave. What you did isn’t I wasn’t brave. I wasn’t afraid. You know, so it’s like, in, you need to be afraid to have courage and bravery, right? Because there’s nothing to be afraid it was just another. Yeah.


Damon Pistulka  26:51

Well, that’s, that is a great example, though, to have of mental ability, and really putting yourself in the right. Being prepared in the right frame of mind. Because if you, I think, anyway, that if if you that is a fair amount of being a good leader, as is, as you learn these lessons, as you put these things into play that help you keep moving up the ladder. Yeah, bigger challenges. Just become a day at the office.


Don Schmincke  27:22

Yeah, right. You know, you learn and you grow, and you try to face greater challenges in the future. And so you look at like what happened years ago, and say, That was a big deal. And later on, as you get more experience, and it wasn’t such a big deal. There was some research studies shown that and the reason we tend to have economic catastrophes every 10 or 15 years or so, is because the people that live through the last one retired. So they’re no longer there. So the new people make the same mistakes that the brave his generation did.

And that actually begs the, the concept of, you know, how can we pass along wisdom. In a right now people retire, like, it’s, it’s just okay, it’s my time. But there’s nothing in place to say, wait a minute, before you do that, your last several years is passing your wisdom along to those behind you, because they’re going to be hitting maybe the same thing you hit, but they’re not going to have your wisdom. And you’re going to, you know, we’re all going to suffer for it. So, I think that’s something we need to think about as leaders.


Damon Pistulka  28:29

That is that it’s just mind blowing, because it is it’s truly an especially now to you know, with the generational changes that we’re seeing right now. And it’s even worse in some industries. I you know, I work a lot with manufacturers and someone told me the other day that the you know, the average age of manufacturing is something like 50 years old or some darn thing like that, you know, and when that when that rolls out, there’s a lot lost,


Don Schmincke  28:55

that’s getting a little crazy, and I was doing us some I jumped I’m just really blessed has some great people around me like I’m starting some conversations with Dr. David Buss who was like one of the founders of evolutionary psychology and maybe next year we’re gonna do a book or something. We’re bouncing around with some ideas. But you know, just I was just beside Wakeman are at her house in Cabo. And she she wrote reality based leadership. It’s a fabulous look at it’s been on the New York Times bestseller list.

I learned a lot from listening to her. And I spend maybe an hour every other week on the with George stock, who started the time based competition thing 20 years ago. And he’s written a number of Harvard Business Review articles. And his latest one is good called disruption, its own disruption. And to your point is like, yeah, we got these people in their 50s and 60s, getting ready to retire. And your dad said something to me the other day.

In fact, I’m going to try to record all of these names I just dropped. Yeah, I’m doing some podcasts. So yeah, you do that because I feel selfish because I’m with these people and Our to a we and my I’m just enjoying everything. And that’s no doubt though, you know, go. So try to capture this, everybody. But he said that something about this that I think it’s an interesting paradox. On one sense, we need to capture the wisdom of great old leaders that are getting ready to retire him for the next generation. And we don’t a lot of companies don’t have that formal process.

On the other hand, we need to not get stopped by old beliefs. Yeah. You see, because one of the things around disruption that, that he brought up in one of our conversations is, is that, you know, legacy companies, when they start getting disrupted, respond with legacy patterns, or legacy weapons or legacy competitive, you know, like, what made them great, they keep doing it, yep, they don’t stop and they need to stop. They need to realize that your legacy patterns of winning, no longer are effective. And so therefore, so. So there’s a paradox, we need the ancient wisdom, but we don’t need to be stopped by the old thinking that might keep us from winning tomorrow.

And Amazon’s like, a perfect example. Everybody talks about Amazon, look what it did. I mean, yeah, you know, and, and the industries that it disrupted, what happened to the competition, they responded with old legacy, ways of responding. And they, you know, when you look at these retail chains, shutting chains, shutting down hundreds of stores, you know, that wasn’t part of their strategic plan. Yeah, something was missing in their strategic plan. And so anyway, that’s just something about thinking, the paradox and leadership.


Damon Pistulka  31:47

Well, this, you mentioned it a little bit and that this is this is going to be exciting. You’re going to start a podcast or two, you said here. You can have some very interesting guests here.


Don Schmincke  31:59

Yes. It’s gonna be fun. I’m really looking forward to it. I, I’m blessed to have access to some of the greatest minds in the world. And they’ll actually talk to me. Yeah. And that they’ll actually let me record them and pass along some. Yeah, I’m really excited about teaching and I finding that, you know, I love being in a classroom, I love being alive. I love doing workshops, and companies or an association speeches and things.

But there’s something about the media that you have pioneered, you’re way ahead of me on doing these kinds of things. And I’m just starting to get into it. And I’m finding it really a lot of fun. I mean, doing these kinds of podcasts, I mean, the scale ability. I mean, right now, if you’re a speaker yourself, you could probably get in a conference with 100 people, 500 people, but what you’re doing here can reach 1000s. You know, and so I’m yeah, I’m excited about that. So I’m trying to learn from guys like you, I think this I think


Damon Pistulka  32:59

you’re gonna do just fine. I’ve just that just find on, because I tell you that the, the knowledge that you have, and the the just the the conversation around this is so interesting, when you look at your history and look at the things that your your research, and the depth of your research and the the paths that your research has taken you provides this foundation that helps you in in your CEO leadership stuff that man it’s just like, I just there’s such a strong foundation here.


Don Schmincke  33:32

Yeah, it’s been fun. Yeah, it’s, yeah, I never planned it. But I know when I do my, my speeches, you know, different. It could be association meetings, or these companies I talk about, I always ask, you know, have you heard this before because a scientist, I wouldn’t want to do new things. I want to keep pushing the boundaries.

And so a dozen times, I’ll go and ask and as long as I keep saying No, we’ve never heard this before, but this is amazing. That I’ll keep doing it because I think for a teacher. That’s the That’s what gives you the jazz right? Yeah, is to have people like have their minds expanded a bit and that that’s a reward. And I try to be a good teacher so I work at it I screw up a lot but I try to get it right once in a while.


Damon Pistulka  34:17

That’s the only way to get good you got to scrub off a lot to be really good.


Don Schmincke  34:23

One of the phrases I’ve been using is is like so little time left so many more mistakes to make. Yeah


Damon Pistulka  34:31

yeah, that’s right that down cuz yeah, I got a lot to make. A little time so many mistakes. Yeah. So you got to start you’ve got a course that you just started recently are going to be doing is how to slay dragons inside about horrifying problems topping stopping us from truly achieving success and happiness. That’s an interesting title to a very tall a tall task. Yeah.


Don Schmincke  35:04

Yeah, yeah, I had a that came out of as I ventured into this area of filming and getting to online course courses that I can offer. About a year or two ago I developed because it was COVID. I mean, talk about adapting, right. So I, I turned my cigar room into a studio got online and try to figure out how do you do a studio, right? So how do you film it a script, how to do lighting and green screening and special effects. And so I started doing films and try to make them entertaining and fun. And I put out something called Becoming samurai.

And becoming samurai was designed for executives who wanted to go to a new level. And then I thought, well, you know, a lot of people were saying this should be out to the general public. And I started working. I hired one of my coaches is, you’ve heard of Simon Sinek. Yeah. So the guy that helped him figure that out was Mark Levy. And so I hired mark. And so Mark was looking at my stuff. And this guy’s like a brand genius, right? Yep. And he starts looking at stuff he start is somehow I mentioned dragons or something, and it came up like, that’s it. So is like, that’s what happened after that whole thing. I still, I still see Mark every week.

So he’s still helping me through this. We created how to slay dragons. And that is, you know, I’m not out to say, here’s how to do better and solving problems. I wouldn’t have those problems that are you haven’t enabled solve? Because when I look at the failures of training and development, the courses were good. But people didn’t implement. Yeah, I was more interested in why does a self help book or personal development course or even a business training program? Why do they fail?

Why is it that it’s great stuff, but people don’t. And that’s when I run into this issue of Dragon, there’s some dragon stopping you. And until you slay that dragon, you’re going to stay stuck. And I was able to go back and look at the psychiatric and psychological models. When I went back to look at Jung, and Freud and all that there are these patterns that do stop us. So I put into this program, you know, like, five or six weeks, videos that are very short five or seven minutes with some homework exercises to look at, you know, what it? What are your dragon problems?

What are the problems that aren’t normal problems, but dragon problems that are stuff? You know, could be a bad marriage? dead end job, you feel stuck? Yeah, I mean, could be anything, right? I mean, your problems, his problems, you know, I’ve been through them all. So I don’t know. But that’s Yeah. And, and then it’s a matter of looking at what’s the dragon there and then how to slay it. And I found that the slang is, is a good metaphor, because the dragons attached to what we’re attached to, a lot of times are suffering, and I’m sending Buddhist, a suffering is from what we’re attached to.

And until we kill it, till we slay it, we’re gonna stay stuck. And when I look at my life, it was me stopping and killing what it was I was attached to that allow me to move forward, the book, Dakota, the executive write that fortune telling I finally come back to my agent, it’s dead, I’m killing it, I never would have been able to move to the next level. So the course is all designed around that. I try to make it fun. It’s also a serious course. And we’re thinking of putting, you know, some group coaching around everything else. So, you know, I’ve obviously got something going on. But that’s, yeah, the latest thing. Well,


Damon Pistulka  38:26

and what she What she said is, a lot of people talk about it a little bit differently in that you have to give up things to move forward. Yeah, but it is like that most of the stuff that we mean, when you look at it, the things that hold us back is you got to look in the mirror again. Because that’s where most of the most of the blame happens are not to blame but the cause of the problems are Yeah, and and you know, it’s it’s this incredible man it’s so it’s so cool talking to you because you the research that you’ve done, the knowledge base that you’ve built is so evident in the in the words that come out of your mouth, the courses the book and stuff you’ve done.

It’s It’s It’s incredible, man. So what what gets you up now? I mean, you’ve you’ve done this for a little bit what what gets you up and just go, man, this is what this is why I’m you just just like you’ve finished one. And you’re you’ve talked to you know, we got a bunch of people in the room, you talk to me like this is why I do it. What is that thing?


Don Schmincke  39:28

I think it’s a I think trying to think about how to weed back we’ve gone back to people go back and say to your past 100 clients and companies you worked with what was it? They got out of you? And it was interesting. They had a hard time answering the question, because they there was so much that happened.

They couldn’t put it in a box. Yep. And they said, most of it was like they changed our thinking. And I think that’s what’s interesting. You know, it’s like, you could put as many models and frameworks and ideas together. But if it doesn’t alter your thinking, it will not alter your decisions. And it will not alter your behavior. So what gets me up I think is, is changing the thinking of humans. And hopefully for the better, because at the end of the day, if I can, if I can help, in some small way, put a dent in leadership, so that it impacts civilization. That gets me up.


Damon Pistulka  40:27

Like that. That is so great. You You said so much that last 30 or 40 seconds there, that if people didn’t listen to any of it, and they listened that it would be worth it. Because you’re right, if your training alters their thinking, it will change the outcome of their lives.


Don Schmincke  40:47

Yeah. And the reason I think CEOs and business leaders are pivotal in that is because when I started doing this research for 1000s, of years, and then I read that book, guns, germs and steel, and if you read that are but if you’re listening to this, pick up a copy of that, Pulitzer Prize book, guns, germs and steel, he went back and did is absolutely fascinating, in depth scientific research on why a certain race would dominate more than another. So it’s really politically incorrect. But he was really, he was in a tribe somewhere. And I hope I’m saying this correctly, but I forget where he was. But somebody covenant said, What Why did the White Race go so far?

And, and in his book, he wanted to find out as a scientist, and what was interesting was shocking. It was real estate, it was where you were at the time. In other words, he went in to look at, you know, were their crops that were their domestic little crops where you can grow food, places, you can, you know, whether domestic animals, domestic animals, where you could put these animals to work.

And so could you create agriculture to create more calories per acre so that you could feed scientists, philosophers, engineers? Or did you all have to get up and try to eat that day? And that was amazing. And it turns out that the migrations of Africans that went up and then apparently to the west, hit spaces of the world, where there was an advantage for all those things.

Now, how did knowledge and and civilization evolve, it was from the trade routes between all of these civilizations. So an idea here could transfer to an ideal idea hundreds of 1000s of miles away, because somebody was on a trade route. Somebody was traveling, that’s business. Mercantilism been helped these ideas proliferate. And guns, germs and steel went into this thing that kind of opened up my eyes to wow, if it wasn’t for CEOs, and business leaders, we might not have civilization.


Damon Pistulka  43:06

Wow. Because I got to read this book. Because it’s so it’s, that is such an incredible way to look at it. And you’re right, because the, you know, it’s in the as now everything moves at the blink of an eye. But that hasn’t been that way that long. Yeah, and when it wasn’t, that’s the only way is trade happening. How ideas spread?


Don Schmincke  43:34

Right? How do you think we got our number system? Do we make that up? Now we borrowed it from the middIe is the Arabic numeral system and I think somebody made that up in Persian I don’t know We exchanged ideas and so business I think if it’s going to impact civilization, if CEOs continue to impact civilization, I think it’s in this area of continuing to have vibrant trade and mercantilism throughout the world


Damon Pistulka  44:05

Yeah, yeah. Good stuff well done. It’s been it’s been just incredible having you on i Man we could talk for a long time just so much fun talking to you. But I’m we’re gonna we’re gonna finish for today we’ll just say that so what are some things that you got exciting coming up you got your course how to slay dragons that’s that’s out or coming out you got that going on? What else and and then we’ll how can people get a hold of you then after that? Well, what’s


Don Schmincke  44:38

what’s really exciting right now that I’ve learned how to do media and filming and all that is so I’m trying to catch up to guys like you and maybe get this out, you know, in the media through podcasts and online education delivery. And so my main website is saga leadership, ca s ag a saga, we spelled out from the Vikings saga And we’re going to be I’m going to try to put everything there so people can get access to it.

And you know how to slay dragons that’ll have its own site too. And we’re trying to, you know, just get it out, but get it easy to access. So wherever you want to go, wherever my head’s going, we’ll figure that out. Right? But, and I just started a newsletter called wonder they call it a what’s, what’s up what’s on Dan’s mind now?


Damon Pistulka  45:30

So he can go on the way we can go on your website and sign up for it. Yeah, okay. Okay,


Don Schmincke  45:34

that’s all new and starting, so I’m loving it. I’m having fun.


Damon Pistulka  45:37

Oh, good stuff done. Well, thanks so much. Today we’ve got Don Schmincke, on the faces of business and from saga, the saga research and growth Alliance out there training CEOs all over. It is just a pleasure to have you on today, Don,


Don Schmincke  45:55

thanks. It’s been fun. I enjoyed talking to you. You got you got a great way of pulling it out. So keep going and doing great work.


Damon Pistulka  46:03

Thank you so much. That reads a lot. That means a lot. Thanks so much. Well, everybody that’s listening. Hey, I hope you come back again. We’ll be back here next week, having more great guests on and until then, we’ll be out for now.

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