Photo by Duane Tinkey
Photo by Duane Tinkey

Originally from Iowa, Brett McDonough, owner and founder of Maximized Living, moved out of state for college and began his career as a chiropractic intern with the Minnesota Vikings, later moving to Wisconsin to work in a chiropractic clinic. But after a devastating car crash put his youngest brother near death, McDonough moved back to his home state and in June started a chiropractic wellness center in Johnston. Now, this young entrepreneur hopes to expand his business across the nation and to have an impact on 10 million people with his care during his lifetime.

What's your educational background?

I went to Buena Vista University for four years and wrestled there for four years. I got a biology degree, which was horrible. Then I went to chiropractic school and didn't really know why I was there at first; I just thought it would be a cool thing to do. Then, halfway through it and about $75,000 into it, I said, "This is a lot of work and a lot of money for something that I was not that excited about." But then, I ran into a mentor who showed me the health aspects of it and really opened my eyes to the fact that the possibilities were endless in terms of what (chiropractors) did.

Why did you come to Des Moines?

My youngest brother was in a car accident a whole year ago last spring and he was in the hospital for six weeks, and I drove back and forth for six straight weeks. I had always said I wasn't going to move back to Iowa, but I saw the area, and Des Moines had changed a lot. I was excited about the young professional people in the area here and the opportunities, and I knew that Iowa needed another direction toward health. I'm a firm believer that change is good, even though sometimes it's a little painful to go through.

As a young entrepreneur, were you nervous opening your own practice?

To be honest with you, no. I knew what I wanted. I think of wrestling and after wrestling for four years in college, it was such an individual sport. You knew what you wanted to get and there was that ultimate pinnacle you wanted to reach. And the harder you worked, the more disciplined and dedicated you were toward that, and the more focused you were, the more likely you were to achieve your result. And I knew this was something that I wanted so badly, not for myself, but I look at it as a responsibility of mine to deliver a new message to people. I knew if I had the "why," the "hows" would follow.

What have you learned as a new business owner?

Keep your overhead low. You don't have to have the fanciest of fancy things. You need what you need to create the results that people want and are looking for. Yeah, (starting a business is) an investment but at the same time, there is going to be a return on the investment.

What is Maximized Living?

Well, there is either symptomatic care or there is corrective care, where you actually fix the problem. The reactive mindset of the system has proven itself not to be effective in getting people's health back to where it needs to be, and there needs to be a proactive approach created from that, and that's really what we are creating right now. It's kind of like the whole analogy if your oil light in your car goes off you can either cut the wire to light or you can change the oil. What we do here is we change people's oil. I don't believe in covering things up, because eventually, what is going to happen to them? They come back to the surface again.

What is one trait that has helped you advance in your career?

I think I've always been a leader, ever since I was a little kid. I was the oldest out of three brothers, and whether it was by physical force or sheer intelligence, I always felt I was the leader of the group there. All through college, as well, I was captain of teams, and at chiropractic school I led a lot of different organizations as far as furthering people's knowledge and purpose in life around me, and also surrounding myself with good people.