Meet the Founders: Don McLaughlin From Burned Out to Soaring Back Stronger

Don McLaughlin spent decades chasing success at the expense of his health. As a trial lawyer and founding entrepreneur of a multi-million dollar legal consulting and tech firm in the Fortune 500, Don suffered prolonged stress, anxiety, and depression. 

Hitting Bottom and the Road to Recovery

In pursuit of a dream life, his relentless drive gutted his well-being. 

Ultimately, he hit rock bottom in 2012 — burned out, depressed, and hungover.

From that low place, Don came face to face with his relentless pursuit of success and achievement. He realized that he was way out of alignment with his own integrity, and that he could not continue pursuing more simply for the sake of more. It was time for some radical changes.

In the past Don read about holistic health practices, learned from health-focused gurus, and studied countless theories related to mental, physical, and spiritual improvement. But it took hitting his lowest point in life for him to realize how desperately he needed to apply those learnings to restore his sanity and his strength, from the inside out.

“I had an ‘AHA!’ moment. It struck me on the morning I hit bottom, standing in the parking lot at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It crystallized everything I had learned but hadn’t put together,” he says. “From that moment I committed to surrender in service and give my best to the business that I had grown to hate. I also committed to become a far better father, husband and leader, but in order to do so I knew I had to reboot my health in mind, body and spirit. Taking this three-pronged approach guided me to renewed strength, energy, and purpose.”

A Mid-Life Reboot

Don overhauled nearly every aspect of his life. With newfound passion, he research and tested a wide range of health and performance philosophies and practices.

Armed with this information, he carefully cultivated new lifestyle habits and practices. He revamped his diet, started exercising for short intense periods outdoors, and began practicing mindfulness meditation. With these changes, he developed an easy, poised calm coupled with a newfound reserve of energy and focus in his business and personal life.

Finding Ultra

During Don’s recovery, he researched and read stories of others who discovered ways to reboot their lives. One such story came from Rich Roll (@richroll) in his memoir ‘Finding Ultra’, and in Rich’s story found inspiration to discover how exercise and athletic events could accelerate his recovery  In order to fit exercise into his busy life as father of three and founder and CEO of a startup, Don started running on backcountry trails wherever and whenever he could. Soon thereafter, he jumped into the world of competitive trail running and suddenly turned into an ultra-endurance trail runner, completing his first 36-hour, 100-mile race on the Continental Divide in Colorado at the age of 46, just two years after his first race. This was a dramatic turn, as Don had never run more than 10 miles prior to jumping into trail running. In tandem, Don’s legal business flourished and within a short period he successfully sold the company and stepped away from it in 2017. His goal? To inspire and support others in transforming their own lives, by sharing what he’d learned in transforming his own.

Finding Inside-Out Performance 

Inspired, Don crafted a framework for rapid recovery and sustainable high performance that he called the Inside-Out Performance Matrix. It’s rooted in radical self care, surrender and service, and focuses on mindset, movement and nourishment. One critical part of Inside-Out is nourishing the mind, body, and spirit, and by doing so Don discovered the power of hemp, other plant extracts and vital minerals.

The Power of Plants

“I received tremendous benefits from incorporating hemp extract, herbs and vital minerals into my diet. As an athlete and entrepreneur, I was shocked to discover the immense potential of the nutrients contained in hemp and other powerful botanicals. They help me calm down, recover more quickly, and face challenges with renewed energy.”

After his cousin and co-founder, Sean McCabe, suffered a life-threatening traumatic brain injury, Don recommended Sean incorporate these botanicals and lifestyle practices to aid his own recovery. Soon thereafter, Sean reported sleeping far better and that he felt more and more energy. Over several months, Sean’s recovery began to accelerate. You can read about Sean’s journey here.

Based on Sean’s experience, Don continued to investigate the positive impacts of these nutrients called phytocannabinoids that are contained in hemp and other botanicals. He discovered that the nutrients directly influence a newly discovered biological system, the Endocannabinoid System.

“The proven power of plant-based phytocannabinoids is that they feed the Endocannabinoid System,” says Don. “In the ECS, receptors support our responses to stress, anxiety, appetite, and other daily factors. But our modern lifestyles can erode these receptors, leading to adverse health consequences, including persistent inflammation, exhaustion, anxiety and depression.”

As Don and Sean together continued testing hemp with different combinations of botanicals, and implementing aspects of Inside-Out Performance, they both began to soar.

Don shared with Sean that he wanted to create a company built around the Inside-Out Performance Practices and a line of products that could best support others in recovering and elevating performance as they’d done for themselves. But they quickly found that no one else was teaching about this unique mix of performance practices, and that no supplements available on the market included combinations with all of the most effective ingredients.

The PurePower Mission

And that’s why the duo founded PurePower. “This is a part of our holistic approach to optimal health and high performance. We believe — and I’ve discovered through my own experience and education — that sustainable well-being and peak performance cannot be achieved simply by taking a pill. Rather, lifestyle changes, new habits and a nutrient-rich diet that includes hemp and other herbs and minerals are critical pieces of an intricate wellness and performance puzzle,” Don says.

In order to quickly spread the word about the benefits of phytocannabinoids, Don recently co-authored the ebook ‘Plants, Performance and the Endocannabinoid System: 21’st Century Sports Medicine’, which is available upon request for PurePower customers and will be available for purchase on Amazon by the general public starting November 1, 2018.

Don’s Path

Before founding PurePower, Don experienced success as a lawyer and legal entrepreneur.

He served as an assistant district attorney in Colorado, a trial lawyer at one of the state’s biggest firms, and as an in-house lawyer and senior executive at a Fortune 500 telecommunications company. He became a nationally recognized expert and speaker in the field of electronic data mining and management, often traveling around the country to speak with judges and lawyers at legal conferences.

From there, he founded Falcon Discovery, a legal technology and consulting services firm, in 2007. At Falcon Discovery his firm managed critical data and information in high-profile criminal and civil lawsuits on behalf of Fortune 500 clients. In 2014, Don sold Falcon to Document Technologies, Inc. and stayed on as executive vice president. In that capacity Don and his team expanded and implemented their innovative, InsideOut service model for companies around the world, dramatically increasing annual revenues in the business during a 30-month period from $6M to $15M. Don stepped down from that business in 2017 to found PurePower.

A Lifelong Learner

Don received an undergraduate from the University of Vermont, with Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude distinctions, and a law degree from the University of Denver. He also earned a certification in Authentic Leadership at Naropa University, one of the world’s most highly regarded Buddhist universities. Among other performance-oriented organizations, Don has also studied extensively with Strategic Coach, the Bulletproof Training Institute, and the Ann Wigmore Health Institute.

As an athlete, Don competes regularly in high-altitude, long-distance mountain races. Don has completed a host of ultras and adventure races in the Rocky Mountains, including the US Skyrunner/Aspen Audi Power of Four, Collegiate Peaks, Mt. Werner Classic, and Run Rabbit Run (both 50-mile and 100-mile) races. A former nationally competitive tennis player, Don enjoys a wide variety of other pursuits, including yoga, surfing, snowboarding, ski mountaineering, ice hockey, cycling, sailing, and multi-sport adventure racing. In the past, Don also competed in long-distance endurance horse racing. His greatest gift and accomplishment of all, however, is being the father of three beautiful children who inspire him daily to continue growing as a leader and father.