Scott Donnell – Allowance is a Terrible Idea (344)

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Scott Donnell is a visionary entrepreneur who has created many leading companies in biotech, fintech, education, and entertainment industries. He is the founder of Apex Leadership Co., a fundraiser for schools; HeroMaker Studios, an NFT Comic Book Company; Hapbee Technologies, a biotech company in mental health; and GravyStack, a financial literacy bank account for kids. With over 600 employees, his companies serve tens of millions of customers annually. 

His expertise is in creating new industries, recruiting the perfect team, and building self-multiplying companies. Scott has been featured in Bloomberg, Fox, NBC, The Wall Street Reporter, and the Entrepreneur Franchise 500.

He lives in Phoenix with his beautiful wife, Amy, and their 3 children.

To learn more about Scott Donnell, please see the links below:

Also mentioned in this Episode:

Kwik Brain Podcast, Jim Kwik, Dan Sullivan, Joe Polish, Gaping Void, John Ruhlin, Giftology, Dr. Jerry Sittser, Mark Timm, Kevin Harrington, Mentor to Millions., Shark Tank, Jeff Sandefer,,, Jumpstart Coalition, Yona Shtern, Gareb Shamus

And now here’s Scott Donnell.

Full transcript below

Video With Scott Donnell – Allowance is a Terrible Idea

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Podcast with Scott Donnell. Allowance is a Terrible Idea.

Scott Donnell – Allowance is a Terrible Idea (Episode 344

Tue, Nov 29, 2022 4:50PM • 1:03:27


kids, people, money, companies, scott, create, building, mentor, parents, business, gravy, home, pay, world, chores, allowance, mission, stack, incredible, gigs


Scott Donnell, Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta  00:03

Hey, Scott, welcome to the podcast.

Scott Donnell  00:24

Hey, Mike. Good to be here. Thanks for having me.

Mike Malatesta  00:28

Yeah, I’m very excited about this. I think the first time I heard about Scott was earlier this year, like January of this year, and I was listening to Jim Kwik’s podcast, and the name of his podcast is Kwik Brain. So he’s a brain expert, and he’s got short little podcasts. They’re very enjoyable, and I heard Scott on there, and I thought, Oh, that’d be cool to reach out to him. And I did and since that time, which I had never heard of Scott before, I don’t think, but since that time, I’ve heard Scott’s name probably a dozen times, listening to other podcasts that I listened to or talking to or communicating with my friends from Strategic Coach. So Dan Sullivan is talking about Scott often and he told me that his background here if you’re watching on video, these Gaping Void illustrations, ere a gift from Dan and Joe Polish and also are personalized, which is a really, really great gift. I was just listening to the Giftology guy today, John Ruhlin. Do you know Oh, John,

Scott Donnell  01:40

John’s one of my best friends. I’ve been texting with them. Just yesterday, I was texting with him. Yeah, we’ve been friends for 10 years.

Mike Malatesta  01:47

Because he was talking about, you know what he does and what how it’s not the gift. it’s the personalization of the gift. It’s the relationship of the gift. And when you were talking about Dan personalizing those, that makes it a lot more than just hey, here are these things you can put up on your on your wall. Yeah, so anyway,

Scott Donnell  02:05

if you give a gift, the person you’re giving it to, it should mean something to them. So many times over the holidays, you get a bunch of gift baskets and random cards and random things from all the businesses and the emails for Happy Thanksgiving and blah, blah, blah. So he’s, you know, he texted me two weeks ago, before Thanksgiving, he’s like, don’t do anything for the next six weeks. It’s all noise. He’s like, focus on someone you care about, make something that really shows your heart to them and how much they mean to you. And that’s what a gift should be. So, we’re going to start giving gifts out again in February.

Mike Malatesta  02:43

Yeah, good. I need to get John on the podcast. Because, you know, he was, don’t give gifts whenever other people give gifts. Don’t give a gift that’s like your branded stuff for your company that nobody wants, that wasn’t something that’s special to them, right? He’s just really got it down. He’s definitely got it down. But we’re here to talk about Scott today. So let me tell you a little bit about Scott so you can get as excited as I am to, to have him on the show today. So Scott Donnell is a visionary entrepreneur who has created many leading companies in biotech, FinTech, education, and entertainment industries. He builds tech companies that make people healthier and happier. Scott’s mission is to serve 1 billion people a year in the fields of mental health, financial literacy, and superhero comics, which is a very unique combination. He’s the founder or co-founder of GravyStack, HeroMaker Studios, Hall of Heroes Apex Leadership Hapbee Technologies, Anython, and maybe others that, and he’s super young, so I’m like, as I’m reading this and thinking like where did Scott come? Anyway, you can connect with Scott on Instagram, he’s @thescottdonnell, on LinkedIn, which is where I connect with Scott, he is Donnell-scott, and his email is

Scott Donnell  04:24

That’ll work or for That’s the newest, bestest. I don’t do emails though. I have a team of people that do emails for me, so I’ll get it, but I don’t read them.

Mike Malatesta  04:42

The address works. He doesn’t read them personally. But it doesn’t matter; if the message is worth his time and attention, he’ll get back to you. Fair enough.

Scott Donnell  04:53

I’ll get it. That’s right.

Mike Malatesta  04:54

Okay, so Scott I start every podcast with a very simple question, and that is, How’d It Happen for you?

Scott Donnell  05:07

It’s a good question. I would say, childhood wounds. No, I’m kidding. 

Mike Malatesta  05:18

Okay, we’re gonna get deep here, hang on.

Scott Donnell  05:22

No, I think, great people that came around me that I could chase and listen to and grow from. I think that is it, mentors. Everybody should be seeking out the greatest mentors, they can find, they should be mentoring people, with them in peer groups to keep accountable, and they should be mentoring people younger than them or earlier than them in the journey. And I think that’s the fastest way for people to grow and succeed and keep themselves accountable and find value in the world and really stick to the things that they say they’re going to do. And that’s what a good mentor does for you. So I’ve been very fortunate enough to have some of the most incredible people in the world, both in faith and family and health and business, that can show me 100x version of what I am today and each of those spheres, and helped me get there. So yeah, that’s probably the number one thing of how this all happened.

Mike Malatesta  06:33

And, Scott, what do you remember? Can you share the first mentor you chased and caught? 

Scott Donnell  06:45

Yeah, he ended up being the guy that formed my life, helped me not marry the wrong woman and marry the right woman. He helped me realize that I’m an entrepreneur and not a pastor, which I thought I was going to be in college. It’s kind of a crazy story. He helped me go from my first D plus in college, to valedictorian, and it was through little comments. His name is Dr. Jerry Sittser. He’s one of the foremost authors on grief, and on a bunch of different topics. He’s an incredible worldwide theologian, lives up in Washington State, Dr. Jerry Sittser. And there’s just a few key conversations that he had with me that completely changed my life. The first one was after I got a terrible grade on my first paper from him. And he just looked at me and just goes, it was my freshman year. And he goes, Man, I had you pegged as the top. One little comment. Okay. And that just stuck, that stuck deep inside, and everything shifted, and I ended up never missing a paper again, I turned that grade into an A, I got all A’s, all straight through college, got the President’s cup. And then my senior year, I got written in as the student body president. I didn’t even run. Out of this whole university, Whitworth University, and the whole student body wrote my name in. And I didn’t even want to do it. And then Jerry sat me down. And he goes, because I was a theology business double major, didn’t know what I wanted to do. And so he goes, you’re not a pastor. That’s what I thought I was supposed to be doing. He’s like, You are born for business. You’ve got to do this job. You’ve got to go do it, but you’re an entrepreneur through and through. Everyone sees it except for you. And he said, You’re gonna come back and run this university in 20 or 30 years, and I would be honored to work for you. I’m 21 years old, 22 years old. And it completely shifted my entire career and my path. And that’s what made me not go to seminary, I went off to entrepreneurial school at Acton and down in Austin, Texas, started companies, been helping 10s of millions of people ever since. And this is what I was born to do. My way to help and serve the world is in the business world. Fast forward a couple years, I was engaged to a girl that wasn’t right. And Jerry just sat me down and he said, You can do whatever you want to do, and I’ll support you, but it doesn’t have to be this hard. Ended up breaking off the engagement like two weeks later. And then a year and a half later, I met my wife now, Amy, we’ve been married for 11 years, three kids, one on the way, she’s an absolute angel. Like that’s what a good mentor can do for you. So that’s people like him. There’s dozens of them that have really formed me. But yeah,

Mike Malatesta  09:58

So how did How did how did Jerry know all these things? How did he know that? You know, that everyone knew you were an entrepreneur except you. For example, how did he know that this woman wasn’t right for you, Scott? How did he know that? I know, I’m asking you a question that I probably should be asking him, but he’s not here. So

Scott Donnell  10:24

I think a lot of the best mentors are very perceptive. They’re very intuitive. They’ve been down the path. I mean, Jerry is one of the top professors in the world, like he’s seen this 1000s and 1000s of times. And you know, we’d get coffee, often we’d hang out, I’d hang out at his house. He taught me in four different classes throughout college. He was my advisor. We’re still friends to this day. But he wasn’t just random. Him walking up to me, we had an intentional relationship. Yeah, we get together every month, every couple months, for years, five or six years. And that’s what great mentors are, um, there’s a great book out there. It’s called Mentor to Millions. It’s a book by another one of my mentors, Mark Timm and Kevin Harrington, who is the original shark on Shark Tank. He, Kevin , invented the As Seen on TV, basically that was him, he created the whole industry. And Mark, who’s my, I put mark on all my boards for all my companies, he’s had 15 companies, eight exits, he’s gonna become governor of Indiana soon. He’s an unbelievable leader. He was mentored by Zig Ziglar directly. And so Mark gave me this book. And it’s an incredible story of how he and Kevin had a mentor/mentee relationship for many years and how it changed his whole life. And it’s, it’s an amazing playbook for how to find great mentors, and how to be a great mentor to other people. Because you have to have both simultaneously. You can’t just have one. You can’t just have mentors, you gotta mentor people as well and put into practice, okay, when you teach something to someone else, and you help them along the path, you’re actually able to live it out better yourself. There’s a lot of people out there who just read a lot of books, listen to a lot of podcasts or audibles. And they never actually put it into practice. They never build the habits, they never take action. And that’s really why it’s critical to have a mentor that keeps you accountable and mentor others. 

Mike Malatesta  12:30

Yeah, as you were. So Jim Kwik says when you teach something, you learn it twice or something like that. That makes a lot of sense. So thanks for sharing about that book, by the way, I have not read Mentor to Millions, so I will get that book and I will read that book. And Mark’s last name? I missed that.

Scott Donnell  12:47

It’s Timm, T-i-m-m. He’s a wonderful man, lives on a huge farm in Indiana, outside of Indianapolis, has his own plane on the farm, six kids, incredible family man, he actually incorporated his family as a business to make sure that it was his number-one, most important metric in life. It’s brilliant. Like, it’s a  good, amazing way to like, raise your family, they would have shareholder meetings every Sunday night, like the family was his business and his most important asset. And he made it that way. Because a lot of entrepreneurs like us think that way, we think in terms of business and value creation. And the most important business you’ll ever have in your life is your family. And so he just took the next step and incorporated his family. And everybody owns equal shares, and they put money in it for family outings and trips and travel and generosity and, and giving and it’s just, it’s amazing.

Mike Malatesta  13:46

That’s brilliant. That is brilliant. Well, I will have to look mark up as well. So this pastor thing where you said that when you went to Whitworth, you thought you wanted to be a pastor? Where did that come from?

Scott Donnell  14:05

Well, I’m a Christian symbol, I don’t wear it on my sleeve with signs out on the street or anything, but Jesus is my most close friend, and best mentor you could ever imagine. And that has dictated my whole life. And so you know, I grew up mentoring kids, I was a youth leader, did tennis lessons, I ran summer camps. And I thought being a youth pastor was my way to go. And turns out that I’m much more suited to create businesses that help millions of kids than I am as a pastor. And then if you knew me, I’m a great mentor and coach, but I’m not really a pastor. In fact, a lot of my good friends are pastors and I just make sure that they’re taken care of, and I get to be a sounding board for them and a good confidant, but really, I think I thought I was supposed to be a pastor because I helped lots of kids and did a lot of youth leadership and things like that. But the companies I’ve been able to create now have impacted almost 10 million kids and across the country, so I realized that I can have a much greater impact in the business world by building things that help kids in schools, financial literacy now with GravyStack. So our first company was in 2011. We built Apex Leadership Co, it became the largest school fundraising franchise in America. My wife was a first-grade teacher before we had kids, she spent her whole paycheck on her first-graders. And I was like, What are you doing? That’s terrible. Money. And I was making no money because I was a broke entrepreneur. And she’s like, that’s just what we do. That’s what teachers do. And so I started a fundraising company to help her school raise money. And we did it. Instead of doing product sales and selling chocolate and magazines and cookie dough and pizza and all that stuff that’s unhealthy, it goes in your freezer, and schools make no money. We started a Fun Run company where we taught leadership, we taught character, we taught fitness to the kids, and we had a giant Fun Run with blowup tunnels and tents and sound systems. And every kid got jerseys and they’re running all these laps, and everyone’s cheering them on. It’s a big, huge event for the school. And we put the whole thing on hassle-free. It’s called Apex Fun Run, now called Apex Leadership Co. And my wife school had never made more than like five or $6,000 net. And they made like $40,000 the first time they did our Fun Run program. And we knew we had something, and we get a cut of it a small, we get a portion of it, but the majority of that money goes to us to cover our costs, make a few 1,000 bucks extra and move on. And so we just ended up doing that over and over and over and replicating it all over the country. And then we started franchising it. And now we’re in 42 states, hundreds of franchisees, 600 employees, it’s an incredible business, we’ve served seven or 8 million kids just in that company alone. And it’s just been an incredible journey the last decade. So that was my first way to help kids. And then we’ve been doing children’s business fairs in the local park to help kids learn business. We, my mentor, Jeff Sandefer, and I, we created, so people can go and create their own business fair for the local community whenever they want for free. And now there’s 1000s of them going on. And then we created, which helps kids launch their own online business. So we’ve helped 1000s and 1000s of kids there. And now our newest company, which is going to be the biggest one, is called, stack your gravy, it’s a way for kids to learn financial literacy, with a bank account and a debit card and gaming. So it’s 100 games that kids play mixed with a bunch of real-life challenges to become fully financially competent. So it’s like a roadmap for families to help their kids learn all of the financial literacy and life skills to be successful, that schools aren’t teaching. So that’s what GravyStack is doing. We’ve got a huge team, we raised like 10 million bucks. We’ve been building all these levels and games and banking, it’s an actual bank account with a debit card and everything. And it teaches kids investing, saving spending wisely sharing, earning, how to create value in the home and in your neighborhood, how to protect your online profile and security. The right way to think about debt and borrowing and the issues with it. And understanding, you know, what credit card debt is, understanding why you should never spend more than you make. And we do it all through gaming because that’s how kids learn. Right? So they’re playing these games and competing with friends, and there’s leaderboards and they earn grits, which is our in-App currency, and they build a resume for college or career by completing all of these levels and all these real-life challenges to be able to become financially competent. 

Mike Malatesta  19:18

That’s great. Okay, so I feel connection with you. My daughter is a first-grade teacher. She’s in her second year of first-grade teaching. And I definitely understand the concept of the paycheck going to the school because they pay her and she gives back everything that they pay her for her students because, sadly, I guess that you know, they basically are not equipped with the things they need in a lot of schools to actually teach the kids. So I feel a connection with you and your wife there. But GravyStack, let’s talk about that a little bit. So what age does a kid know how it works? What age does a kid not need to be? What’s the role of the parents in it? Because it seems like a really good idea. And then a little, I don’t know, it seems like it could be a little challenging for people to wrap their heads around, like, Oh, my kid’s going to learn about this stuff, not from me, they’re going to learn about it from, you know, an online product.

Scott Donnell  20:25

Yeah, so the mission of the company is to create 50 million financially competent kids that are ready to succeed in the real world, and free their parents in the process. So this is for business. You know, a lot of times, this is for kids ages eight to 18. But we’re quickly moving into college and adults in their 20s. Because we realize they didn’t learn any of this stuff. They didn’t learn proper investing, they didn’t learn how to save and budget, and they don’t understand anything about taxes, they don’t understand real estate, they don’t understand any of the delayed gratification, and the personal responsibility, and just compounding interest and all those things. And so the games are actually for everyone to play, the parents are playing with their kids, these games, and they’re loving it, they’re competing against their kids and the wants-versus-needs challenges in the app. And the price is right, where they learn the value of over 200 products, or that you have to make profit by making snow cones in the game with a polar bear to serve all these penguins, and you learn about cost and price and profit and how to like grow and serve and all these things, just fun games. But then we add in all these real-life challenges in the game. Because we don’t want kids addicted to the app, they can’t play the app more than 20-30 minutes at a time to play the games. So they’re going to the real world. And they’re canceling subscriptions in the home as part of the game. They help a family of otters in the game cancel subscriptions and save their life. And then they are challenged to go do that in their own home. And the average family right now in our app is saving $547 annually of monthly expenses that they didn’t know they were paying. That’s just simple life skills that kids are never taught, right. So they’re doing the same thing with planning their next family trip, they have to get three flights, hotels, car rentals get the best deal, where are they going to eat? Where are they going to stay? How do they correctly, we’re doing it with grocery budget challenges where we teach kids four ways to get coupons to save on groceries. And it’s part of the game to teach them and then they go out and do it with mom and dad. And the average family so far has saved 26% on their next grocery bill. So you see how we’re connecting it to real life because your kids learn. Kids learn in two ways, and you can trust me on this because now I’ve served over 10 million kids and I know exactly what they’re learning and not learning in school: Kids learn by having fun and kids learn by doing things in the real world. You have to mix the spirit of play with real-life experience for it to stick in their long-term deep memory. If not, it’s just more homework and memorization. And it doesn’t have practical application, okay. And so that’s why Gravystack exists. It’s a way for parents to give their kids a roadmap to completely become financially independent and literate and competent. And the parents get to learn along with their kids. We surveyed 1000 parents and their kids, and we found out that even the best parents, the most successful financially, had no idea where to start with their kids. They did things like I guess I’ll give them a bank account when they’re 12. Maybe we’ll do a lemonade stand. Maybe I’ll take them to work one day, and maybe we’ll do the three jars thing with allowance, which allowance is a terrible idea, I’ll go into that in a minute. That’s all they’ve done is like, you know, we’ll teach you how to give a little bit. But the parents still pay for everything for their kids, they have issues with making their kids do chores, they don’t really understand how to create value in the world. And so this is a roadmap for those parents to be able to have fun with their kids, have an actual bank account and an actual debit card, actual investing. We created something called a money machine where you see all your revenue streams from gigs and matching and even W-2 when they get their first job later on. And then it goes into their money machine coin’s flow because kids have to see the flow of money. No one looks at statements, like kids have to look at money flow. So we made it like an animated gif, like a video kind of style, where all their money comes into pipes and goes into their save, spend and shared accounts, their jars, and then they can use the Save to set goals for like a car or college, or they have real investing in there through our partnerships. They have a debit card for spend, and only a percentage of what they make can go into that spend account. And then we track the spending, we show them where it all goes, the debit card shakes every time they spend, so they see where it went. The Save account, or I’m sorry, the share account, on the right side hooks up to every nonprofit in North America, so they can set goals and actually learn how to give to charities. They learn about tax deduction with 501C-3’s, they can set maybe 5% of whatever they make just flows into that account that they can set goals and then they join teams. And they’re learning all about generosity and philanthropy and giving. And so we just basically reinvented banking, in the process of a bunch of parents, we’re all a bunch of parents, there’s like 60 of us now in this company, all parents that are trying to solve this for our own kids. And we’ve brought in the best financial planners, authors, wealth managers, and thought leaders in the industry to come help us build out these games so that kids can learn them in a fun way, and actually, practically apply them in the real world. So the other thing I’ll say is this, we interviewed the kids, and guess what the kids said — this is the most interesting part of the survey to me — the kids said, we actually don’t want to talk about money. My needs are covered. I have food, shelter, and clothing. And I’d rather deal with these issues when I’m an adult outside the home. And the reason they said that was because most of the kids said that the major issue that they hear parents fight about or, or have conflict over is money. Parents don’t fight about sex in front of their kids. But they definitely talk about money. We can’t afford that. Did you pay this bill, we don’t have the budget for this. There’s no way we can spend that, you can’t go out and buy this, I worked my butt off to pay for that meal for you, you ungrateful kid, you know that’s constantly reinforced. And it’s so it’s constantly a negative reinforcement for the kids because Oh, money’s a problem. It’s a negative. No, parents don’t tell their kids what they make or spend every month, kids have no idea what net worth is. They don’t know what their parents make in salary. They don’t know if their parents are in debt. They just hear random things. And they never hear anything positive about money, they hear the negative. And so we had to create a way for parents to get their kids to have fun learning how to make and manage money, and actually apply it in the real world for it to stick. And so the issue we found is parents kept saying, I want my kids to learn this stuff. I just don’t know what to tell them, in what order. And even if they’ll listen to me at all,  only 5% of kids have that real money drive, the entrepreneurial minded kids, they’re like, How can I go make money in the neighborhood, I’m gonna go start this thing, I’m gonna go make money, Dad, we’re gonna go get this money for this blah, blah, blah, right? And so we had to create a roadmap to give families freedom to be able to learn these things, because schools aren’t teaching it. It’s not the teachers’ fault. It’s just the schools do not teach financial literacy. They feel very uncomfortable talking to kids about money, because it’s an uncomfortable topic. Right. And so this is why the public school education has really shied away from it. And then banks, banks don’t care about kids, because kids have no money for banks to then go leverage it 8x with the federal government and make money, right. And so if teachers and parents and banks don’t know what to do, or don’t know what to say, and don’t care, then we have a problem. And that’s why financial literacy is one of the biggest issues in the world right now. And that’s why we have a $2 trillion student loan debt bubble, $22 trillion of US debt, and 76% of kids are not kids, adults, 25-year-olds, they took a financial literacy test, and 76% of them fail, on average right now, a basic test. So like, here’s the test, like one of the questions, let’s say I give you $100 into 2% interest in the account. Next year, this time, do you have more than $100, less than $100? Or the same amount? Or you don’t know? Think about that for a second 76% of 25-year-olds don’t know that answer.

Mike Malatesta  29:17

That is so wrong.

Scott Donnell  29:19

They get it wrong. They don’t know that interest is good, the earning interest. So they think that interest is on debt, so they get confused. And you know, this is why credit card debt is exploding right now. I mean, just in the last two years, there’s been almost $300 billion of credit card debt and revolving debt loans added to the American population. It’s crazy to me, it’s just exploded, and personal savings has gone down by 35%.

Mike Malatesta

What’s interesting, Scott, you mentioned negative reinforcement in the home but there’s also this sort of complacency reinforcement in the world, in government and politics, right? It’s like, especially young adults, they’ve been taught that, well, the government is going to, you know, fix it for us, you know, whether it’s student loan debt or whether it’s whatever, I don’t want to work anymore. You know, whatever it is, and it always seems like the government, since they’re able to print their own money, which none of us can do. It’s sort of like an unfair, like an apples and oranges conversation, but people can can internalize it as if it’s like, I don’t know, like a game, but it’s not a game.

Scott Donnell  30:44

Yeah, the issue is there’s a lack of personal responsibility taken. In most kids, the value creation gene is systematically beat out of kids by the time they leave the nest. And they’re not taught to go find value in the world and create value. They’re taught to do their homework, try to get good grades, so you can try to get into a college and get a job. And they don’t have any idea how much debt they’re getting into in the process. They don’t have a value-creation mindset. We’re writing a book right now on this, “the healthy struggles your kids need to succeed.” It’s the Gravystack method, and it’s a way for families to create a system in the home that helps kids learn to create value and take personal responsibility and have roles and understand what it means to have your last name. You know, I want my kids to know what it means to be a Donnell, right? You’re going to take personal responsibility, you’re going to create value in the world, you’re going to leave things better, we’re going to do hard things, you know, we’re going to love others, we’re going to show up, we’re going to be great friends, we’re going to care. And we’re going to make sure that we’re understanding that life is a system of how you can create value in the world for other people, rather than what you can take from other people. And so there’s a lot of families that don’t realize that this happens, you know, you get families that put their kids on allowance, right? Yeah, so allowance.  Jumpstart Coalition just put out a huge study that found allowance is actually now linked to a lack of motivation for kids and an aversion to work. Think about that for a minute. A lot of parents, they try to make their kids do chores, and they pay them an allowance, or they just say forget allowance; my kids are just going to do chores because they’re going to be good kids. And then the problem there is they never give their kids any money to make financial decisions with, and mom and dad end up buying everything for their kids. They buy the toys and the trinkets and the nice Air Jordans and the video games and the social outings with their friends. Hey Dad, can I have 20 bucks for this thing, I’m going out with my friends to the movies? Hey, Mom, can I have 30 bucks, we’re going to the mall or we’re going to this, you know, whatever, 711? So parents end up paying for all these things for their kids without letting their kids learn financial literacy. What we created is something called Home Gigs inside of Gravystack. Home gigs is a three-step process that helps parents create value-creating kids. The first step is, here’s what my kids are going to do for free in the home. Okay, these are the chores like, Hey, you’re gonna get up, make your bed, clean your room, get dressed, brush your teeth, do the dishes, take out the trash, like, those are the things you’re going to do in our home for free. Those are the expected gigs. And that’s your rent. That’s to be under my roof. The second step is what we call the no-buy list. Parents start to create, based on the kids age, a no-buy list, we’re going to stop paying for all the extra trinkets and toys, the birthday presents for your friends’ parties. Think about that. How many parents just buy the present, the moms by the present, they do the card, the kid has no idea what’s even in there. And they just drop it off at the birthday party. And they don’t even have any idea mom and dad spent 20 bucks on it. What if your kid actually earned those $20 at home creating value with all of our home gigs? Right? So those are the reasons kids have to make these decisions. They have to decide should I spend the extra $100 on the Air Jordans? Or am I good with the Adidas or the Nikes? Right? We have to have kids start making financial decisions in the home or they’re going to make those mistakes outside the home and start taking on tons of credit card debt. And then the bank of mom and dad lasts until they’re 28 years old. Right? And so the third step of GravyStack is the Home Gigs. Home gigs is an automated list of over 60 things that you should be paying your kids around the house to do. If they’re going to clean the garage, pump up the bike tires, wash the windows, clean a bathroom, make a meal, organize a closet, your bookshelf, whatever it is, there’s a ton of things that we have, yards, things in the yard, paint a fence, put together furniture, all these things are in there that you can set a simple small price for a couple bucks that your kids now are motivated to do so that they can have extra spending money to pay for the things that you’re no longer agreeing to pay for them for. And that is how you get kids to create value. That’s how you get kids to start being financially literate. They’ll start making mistakes, they’ll make good decisions, and then you can help guide them through. But a lot of parents remove that ability for the kids to learn. You know, you have a lot of parents that say I just want to make sure, have you ever heard this, Mike, I just want to make sure my kids don’t have to deal with all the problems I had to deal with growing up, I just want to make sure that my kids have the luxuries, I want to buy the things for my kids I never had as a kid, I want to make sure my kids have all the opportunities that I never had growing up. Well, that’s what made you, like, you can’t just remove those things and expect your kid to become financially competent or independent. What we have to do is remove trauma, right? Don’t have the abuse and the neglect and abandonment and harsh, you know those kinds of things. But you can set up a system where you’re no longer bribing or coercing or trying to buy their love with gifts, you can set up a relationship with them that’s actually deeper and stronger by helping them learn these skills. And that’s why we created home gigs in Gravystack. And I think a lot of parents so far have loved it in the beta. They think it’s like oh my gosh, and it’s automated. It’s like 60 seconds on a Saturday, I can one click pay all my kids for the gigs that they’ve completed. And it goes into their save, spend and share jars based on our percentages. And then they’re in charge of preparing for and buying the things that we’re no longer gonna pay for them. So you’re not spending more money, you’re actually saving money in the process, and you’re teaching your kids to create value.

Mike Malatesta  37:00

I have two questions for you, Scott, first on the allowance thing, a skeptical person might say, well, home gig is an allowance. And you said allowances are you know, they’re horrible. So how do you explain? What’s the difference?

Scott Donnell  37:20

Yeah, so first question. You know, a lot of parents, they’ll pay their kids their age every week, you know, if my 10-year-old, they’re getting 10 bucks a week or something like that. But they’re getting it no matter what, and hopefully my kids do their chores every single day or weekend, but a lot of those chores are things they should be doing anyway. And then there’s a bunch of other things around the house that parents should be paying their kids for. They’re over and above basic chores,

Mike Malatesta  37:51

chores should be done. So it’s a segregation thing. 

Scott Donnell  37:54

Really, you have to split them up. Yeah, there are things to do to be in the home, and they do those for free. But if you just connect those things to allowance, 75% of parents end up paying their kids the allowance anyway, even if their kids don’t do all their chores, or if they miss them, right? Or they end up having arguments with their kids, Hey, you didn’t do your chores, go do your chores, Hey, you didn’t fix this, you didn’t clean that toilet, you gotta go do the chores. And then the kids, they don’t link allowance. They don’t link the dollar amount every week to my chores, it’s not creating value. It’s just basically like,  it’s like my money no matter what. And they’re not linking it to the value creation in the home, and if they use the home gigs model, the kids actually start looking around the house for things to do. That never really happens with allowance. It starts happening when you do home gigs. Now, you know, 30 days into the GravyStack, kids no longer ask mom and dad for money ever. Okay, the kids are finding ways to then pay for the things they want. And that is the beginning of financial competence.

Mike Malatesta  39:04

Okay. Okay, so, so now you got me thinking, Okay, so the kids get trained up in 30 days? How about the parents? Because if they’re used to dishing it out, let’s say, and what keeps that, you know, that’s a hard habit to break too, I would think, for a lot of parents, right? It’s like, for the same reason that keeping an allowance for example, and being rigid about it, you know, you actually have to do this to earn the money. So how does GravyStack help parents like not screw it up? Further?

Scott Donnell  39:41

Yeah, so we actually did build into the app, we can have people start on allowance, if they’ve been using allowance, they can begin with allowance for the first several months, right? And then they wean off of it. And you know, the real thing that we’re trying to get out there is allowance is usually paid regardless, right. And a lot of times the kids just have a chore chart. And a lot of that stuff is like clean your room, make your bed, you know, get dressed, do the dishes, take out the trash, simple things like that. The rent stuff. Yeah, the rent stuff. And really, that’s, that is supposed to be done to be part of the family. Right? I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t want to pay for that you shouldn’t be paying allowance for those things. And a lot of times, you just keep paying allowance regardless, because it’s an automated thing, or it’s easy, and it’s just like happens. But then how many times because the kids aren’t connecting the work they’re doing with the money they’re getting necessarily, as most of the things they’re doing should be normal things that they do as humans anyway. And so parents are disincentivizing them in the wrong ways. And so that’s why home gigs, which, you know, there are 60 things on the list that kids are not doing in normal chores ever. Like these are the extra things that they can be doing around the house to earn those funds to pay for the things that mom and dad should stop paying for. And that’s really why home gigs was created. So it’s just a really simple way to remove like, time and effort is not the way we should be paying kids, we should be paying kids by creating value and finding things around the home. And so, you know, a lot of our families that helped create this, their kids are coming to them, you know, their 12 year olds, they’re like, Hey, Dad, I need, I need $60, we’re going to go out to this, we’re going to pizza, we’re going to go to the movie with my friends, we’re going out to this thing, and then the kid says, I’d like to do this, this and this around the house for my chart to add value. And the dad’s like, Okay, go, and the kid literally just comes to them. Three hours later, they did all the work, and they get the money. And with GravyStack, now we just make it super automated to where it’s like one click in the app and all the money goes straight on into their account to their debit card. And that’s why we have to make it almost as easy as allowance because allowance is an easy way to do it. You just automate the same amount every week. But it’s difficult for kids to be able to connect that to the value they’re creating in the home, especially when it’s just linked to basic chores. Basic chores should be done for free. It’s a big point of conflict, for sure, as parents don’t realize what they’re doing. And the real goal that we want people to do is like, hey, stop paying for certain things for your kids and create opportunities for them to earn more around the house. That’s the best way they can start learning to create value and be responsible with money. In GravyStack now we have it set up where whatever they’re earning is also going into their save account for investing. It’s also going into their share account forgiving, and then the rest goes into their spend account that they can use. So now kids are learning Oh, I don’t have to just earn $20 I have to earn $30 to make sure I can spend $20, which is a critical skill that kids need to learn. Right?

Mike Malatesta  42:51

You’re teaching them taxes, before their taxes come out? 

Scott Donnell  42:56

We actually have tax games in the app.

Mike Malatesta  42:59

Very cool. So that’s sort of your latest mission, I guess I’d like to explore a little bit with some of the time we have left this whole notion of how a guy like you starts all of these companies, has over 600 employees or something like that. The companies are different, you know, they’re in different spaces and such and your time is limited. You mentioned the email thing earlier, you don’t do email. That’s a time-saver, for sure. But so you know this, and I know you’re a proponent of this self-managing company notion, but how do you make it all? Help me understand because I want to do what you’re doing. I’ve had several companies, but it’s been one at a time, not several at a time, because I don’t know that I could make several at a time work. But I also am looking at you and I’m like, well, that dude’s no different than me. So help me help me understand how you approach things, how you approach what you want to get into, and then how do you approach how you’re going to actually make them work, Scott.

Scott Donnell  44:12

So we’ve got a bunch of different companies, you know, we got Hapbee for mental health, We got HeroMaker Studios, we’re building the next generation of Marvel, stories that inspire, we’ve got GravyStack, like I talked about. Apex we actually just sold, so I don’t own Apex anymore. I love it. It’s mission is still thriving, they’re growing. It’s a great company. But with each of these companies, the goal is I’m only going to try to attack a problem that can help a billion people, that’s a huge problem that has to be solved in the world. Mental Health has to be solved. Financial literacy, it has to be solved, right? So I want to make sure that I’m doing something that has a vision that is so much larger than me alone, that people just are attracted to it like a magnet. That’s the first thing. And when I start these companies, I’m usually the founder and CEO, and for the first year, and my goal is in the first year to get out of the driver’s seat and bring in a leadership team that is bar none, incredible world class. And I can sit back and have them grow the business as a founder. And then all I’m working on is the biggest problems to solve in the businesses, connecting with my network, communicating the vision of these out to the world. And so a lot of it is I bring it from zero to one. So I figure out the solution to the problem, figure out the right product market, fit the right pricing. And then once it begins to scale, bringing in the people around me to make sure that the company is self-managing and self-multiplying. And so you know, one of the big things is finding great leaders. So with the biotech company Hapbee, we went out and found two years ago, we found a guy named Yona Shtern through a few recruiting companies. And Yona is now the CEO. He’s done an incredible job. He took over for me once we took the company public in Toronto, and he built Beyond the Rack, he built Arrived, the parking app that’s just reached a billion. He’s a phenomenal leader, incredible executive, and just a kind human. He actually came and visited me in Phoenix and spent a couple days with me, stayed in our house, so I could really get to know him before we made that decision. I do that with all of my top leadership and all the company. So then that’s the right way to go. And so Yona has done an incredible job with the company. And they really take a lot off my plate in terms of the recruiting, marching through the roadmap, reaching the goals. And then I just do that over and over and over again. So for HeroMaker Studios, which is our comic book, the web3 superhero universe we’re building, it’s basically stories that inspire and connect people worldwide. And we can tell some incredible stories that really move culture in the right direction, which we believe is a critical, critical piece to solve. Gareb Shamus is the CEO, he’s my partner. He’s the founder of Comicon, and Wizard Magazine. He’s one of the most prolific storytellers on the planet. And so he’s running that company and doing an incredible job. And then with GravyStack, we just brought in a CEO three months ago, and we are going to market right now and will be live in January. So for Gravystack, we have a huge wait list of people waiting to go. And just his name is Justin Dearborn. He, he ran Tribune, right 7000 employees, he’s taken multiple companies to the billion-dollar mark. He’s an incredible executive, humble, very smart, very strategic, great leader. So he again came to my house here in Phoenix, stayed with us, spent some great time together really built a lot of trust with him. And he took over for my role back in August. And so really, it’s about finding the Who’s that believe as deeply in the missions of the companies as I do. And they have the same heart and the same passion. And they can take over a lot of that leadership role and recruit great people, and then making sure that we have enough funding to get the companies to profitability and to scale. So a lot of ways, it’s way harder than it sounds. Because I’m you know, definitely there’s been days where I’m going crazy, and it’s nonstop work. And it’s 15 hours of work. It’s crazy, but I want to just focus on how can I create, connect and communicate the vision to others. So create these opportunities, connect the right people to run them, and lead them and then communicate the vision to the to the greater audience. So those are my unique skills and so I want to build people around me that just frees me up to do only those three things all day every day. So like being on this podcast with you as part of my communicate bucket. Right, sharing the stories of these things and how we got here. And if people if they can help people, then we will want people to join in the mission. Right?

Mike Malatesta  49:23

I love the magnet to the mission or Yeah, I don’t know if that’s exactly what you said. But that that resonates like if you have if you have a mission that’s a magnet. Yep, it sure makes things easier. Although I will I mean, you said it I’ll say it again. You know what Scott’s doing here is not easy. There’s nothing easy about any of this even though he’s seems to make it look like it’s easy. It definitely is not easy. Definitely. I’m very, very impressed with what you’ve put together. I’ve to find And all things. One one more thing

Scott Donnell  50:01

before you ask him real quick. I stopped chasing money. That is probably one of the only ways that you can start to create. So I started chasing Impact years and years ago, about seven years ago, I was like, alright, money is not my not my driver, you know, we have we have enough. You know, I drive simple cars, I don’t have Rolexes, our house is paid off. I don’t you know, and because we sold Apex last year, like we don’t need to think about money. But way, way, way before that, I said, I’m going to chase impact, and not the bottom dollar. And that is the only way to create a mission that others become a magnet to. Does that make sense? 

Mike Malatesta  50:43

It makes sense. I mean, all you have to do is look in the news right now, with FTA, what’s happened at FTX, and you say chasing the money does not make any sense. It’s just an invitation to a shitstorm is what it is, yeah, eventually. Because first of all people can see it. Second of all, you can’t hide it. And third, it’s like, you’re not living the life that an entrepreneur or founder or business owner should be living, right you should be serving, like you said, a billion people or whatever your market is, that’s what you should be focused on. And if you do that, well, then the money comes.

Scott Donnell  51:26

You don’t have to worry, money always follows, the money always follows impact and value creation in the world. And so that’s where I really put my focus was, we keep How can we solve worldwide problems, and make and make an incredible impact on the world. And if you can create a profitable system, by in doing so, then you have the perfect storm, then you have a mission that people are drawn to. Right. Like we don’t have an issue recruiting for our companies, we have people that are wanting to join our companies to help get these moves. They’re not even deals, they’re not busy. There’s I don’t like the word deal, I got a great deal for you. That sounds like a money grab, right? We’re gonna flip this make this much money in this much time, I’m like that, to me, is not a mission worth following. Okay, there’s a bunch of ways to make money out there. Okay, go go give it to your financial planner to figure that out. But if you really want to create a mission that other people are drawn to, then think about solving a worldwide problem and making a deep impact and create value for others. That is something that people will drop everything for. So gravy stack is a great example, financial literacy and the problems we have everybody wants this and needs this and realizes the issue. And so we have people drawn to us, not just to become employees, but we have 1,000s and 1,000s of affiliates ready to go and ambassadors that want to share our mission and our movement that we’re creating to the whole world. And it’s really not even about money. For any of them, they’re like, this is a big project. And we want to be a part of it. And I want to be the hero to everybody I know, by sharing the movement of GravyStack to help 50 million kids and families become financially competent. So if you create something like that, then it becomes this magnet that people are drawn to. And that’s really the only way to make a massive dent through your organization. And I think, you know, if you’re the right kind of entrepreneur that I enjoy hanging out with, you’re somebody who’s much more driven about having a balanced, healthy lifestyle and a business, it’s making a deep impact in the world, right. And that should be the mission and the focus. And it doesn’t have to be some crazy, innovative technology. There’s a lot of people that have real estate and financial companies and laundry mats that are doing amazing things. And they have incredible ways of giving back. They have unbelievable customer service; they leave people better than when they found them. I mean, some of the landscaping companies in our town that I’ve seen have an unbelievable mission with what they’re doing and the way they treat people, the way they help their customers. They’re just going above and beyond all the time. So that’s really what draws people up is the impact you make.

Mike Malatesta  54:08

I’m glad you mentioned that because it’s you know, your particular mission is you know, you want to get into things that it can impact a billion people. And that’s a phenomenal mission. But I’m glad you gave some service to the you know, the entrepreneurs and the companies out there that may not have that mission, but they have something that’s equally as important because I think it scares off people sometimes you know, when if you listen to like Peter Diamandis or some of these other, you know, that were they times everything by about 100 That’s off some, some people and if you’re doing two acts over a period of years, and you are doing it in a way that makes people really really happy with you, and you’re making an impact on their lives, I think that’s equally as rewarding. I always was, like, It’s intoxicating to be an entrepreneur, like what you’re doing and what some others are doing, there’s a lot of value creation and entrepreneurs that are doing things, you know, on a lot on a smaller scale or a smaller stage or whatever you want to call it. So I’m glad you mentioned that.

Scott Donnell  55:20

And it’s deeply valuable. I mean, 90% Yeah, our economy is small and medium-sized businesses that are carrying the economy on their backs. Right. And so my hat goes off to any entrepreneur out there, who’s building a business, making a profit, supporting people’s lives, caring for employees, taking care of customers, I mean, the only way that you should be able to make profit in the world is by creating value, trading your best efforts for the best efforts of somebody else, and if they’re gonna pay money to you for it, and it means more to them than the money in their hand. Right. And so you’re creating value by doing so. And that is, I think that’s one of the most noble callings in the world, people that actually wade through the muck and mire, find opportunities and ways to make an impact and serve other people. And that’s how business should be done. In my opinion.

Mike Malatesta  56:09

I agree. And that is a mission with a magnet too, right? That is, how can every day I make something better than it was the day before Todd. 

Scott Donnell  56:29

Here’s a quick, here’s a story. So my friend, Travis, builds homes in the Midwest as one of his companies. They’re just building homes, they’re construction. But they’ve done an incredible job. They build tons of multifamily properties, they have a very profitable, successful business, two years ago COVID hit, they started hiring homeless people to help them build the homes. They’ve hired hundreds and hundreds of homeless people in the Midwest. And what they did is they changed the way they started building the homes and they broke down these multifamily builds to 32 different roles to build the homes, very clear, simple roles, like you’re just painting the room, you’re not doing the trim, you’re not putting the tape up, you’re just doing this role, and you’re just doing this role. And they made it bite-sized enough for these homeless people to come in and be trained and be paid to have a skill to do just one of these 32 roles in building the home. And what they found in doing so, and it was an incredible mission, they started building their homes four times faster. By having a ton of these homeless people come in and just do one specific job. And everyone’s in charge of one specific job. And they can do that over and over and over. And it’s way faster. And it’s way more efficient. There’s way less mix up. And not only are they now providing opportunities for hundreds of homeless people, they’re making their homes four times faster. It’s an incredible, like value-creation with a Deep-Impact mission mindset. So there’s things like that everywhere. And I think if you want to establish yourself in an industry over and above your competitors, find ways to make deep impact while you’re creating value for your clients. And then they’re going to love you forever. That’s the best way to have a sticky business.

Mike Malatesta  58:35

Well, I’ve got 50 things that I want to talk to you about still, but I only asked for so much time and I think that’s actually a great place for us to put this to bed and make an impact. That’s what it’s all about. That is what it’s all about. Well, Scott, thank you so much for being on the show. I really have enjoyed this opportunity to get to know you and learn more about you and to be schooled on GravyStack and some of these other great things that you’ve been working on. I appreciate what you are doing. And I do certainly hope that everything you’re doing touches a billion people a year or more because the enthusiasm that you have, just from talking to you, is magnetic. And I feel like once you attract a billion, the 7 billion or whatever more that are out there right now will come along and want to be a part of you as well. That’s really cool. Thank you so much. Is there anything you want to leave us with that I haven’t asked you about or that you think is important?

Scott Donnell  59:46

No, I think we covered most of it. I mean, you guys, if you want to follow me you can just go to,  I’m Scott Donnell on Twitter, Instagram wherever you want to do social. You know, we are launching GravyStack today, we’re going into beta today. So I’m going right from this into a bunch of planning sessions. But we launched our private beta of GravyStack today, and then in late January will be open to the public. So if people want to go to, our first 50,000 people are going to get their first month free, the game is free to play for anybody worldwide. And then the bank account’s like $5.97 a month, $5.97 bucks a month, and the average family is saving hundreds of dollars in the first couple of weeks by doing it. So if people want to sign up there and you got kids at 18, and you want to make them financially competent, please join our mission. We need the best families in the country to help us start this thing out and we have affiliates everywhere. So if people want to write articles or they want to join us as partners, and they have an audience to reach, please just reach out, you can email me at

Mike Malatesta  1:00:56

Stop giving your kids money. Teach them how to earn money. There you go. Thanks, Scott.

Scott Donnell

Thanks, Mike. 

Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta

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