002: Scott Donnell On Creating A Million Dollar Business Helping Kids

When Scott Donnell blew his ACL playing tennis, he thought it was all over.

As an All-American at Willamette University, tennis was Scott’s ticket to a potential career with a sustainable cash flow.

After finding the Acton School of Business and many 100-hour weeks, Scott launched a business in the middle of the 2008 financial crisis aimed at helping schools fundraise more than ever before while teaching students leadership skills.

Fast-forward to today, Scott’s company – Apex Leadership Co. – has helped raise more than $50 million for 2300 schools in 26 states, ultimately, serving over 2 million students. In 2017, Apex was awarded the #1 Ranked Franchise in their category by Entrepreneur.

A couple things to listen for in this episode:

  • Why common fundraising methods for non-profits are faulty (and a better approach with more upside)
  • Why event-based fundraising has exploded and helped Scott create a multi-million dollar business
  • How a $1 million lawsuit (that happened a week after launching) almost put Apex under (and the 73 year old lawyer who saved the day)
  • Scott’s advice for navigating business deals when you’re just getting started
  • What bad traits in business relationships to look for so that you don’t lose your investment capital
  • How Scott creates a win-win with his franchise business model that results in long-term royalties and lucrative investment opportunities
  • Why even the most popular names might not carry the weight of a franchise investment
  • Where to start with business and investments (whether you’re an athlete or just curious about building your wealth)
  • The tried and true piece of wisdom that makes or breaks your long-term wealth
  • The controversial (but best) piece of advice Scott ever received about building wealth
  • Why you have to eat, sleep, and breath your business when you’re first getting started
  • The million dollar question: what’s the most important piece to growing a successful business?
  • The mindset you must have if you’re looking to bring on people in your business
  • The core steps to creating a self-managing company
  • The boring and unsexy book that’s been a huge part of Scott’s business success
  • Scott’s ambitious goals in business
  • The advice Scott would give to a smart, driven athlete, who’s transition from closing out their career to jumping into the business world


  • “Our society takes money away from those who need it the most and puts it in the pockets of those who might not be not adding much good to society.”
  • “In business you have to have grit and perseverance to never give up.”
  • “The best people are always one step ahead and going the extra mile. Finding the things they can do to serve.”
  • “The key to wealth is just spending less than you make.”
  • “Don’t ever be afraid to have money burning a hole in your pocket for awhile.”
  • “Bringing on people is an investment, not an expense.”
  • “My goal by bringing someone on is that they’re going to set me free by doing something better than me.”
  • “There’s a lot of things I can do that somebody else can easily do just as good, if not better than me.”

Resources Mentioned:

Books Scott Mentioned (amazon links):


Watch now:

Watch on YouTube

Listen on iTunes

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Google Play

Listen on Stitcher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *