This serial-killer (disguised as a physician) is one that Silicon Valley entrepreneurs should be aware of.


Dr. Death isn’t a Marvel super-villain. 


He’s a real-life monster named Christopher Duntsch that’s serving time in prison for gross malpractice. 


During his short career as a neurosurgeon, lurking like a grim reaper around various Texas hospitals, he killed and maimed 33 patients. 


Those lucky enough to leave his surgeries breathing suffered injuries that will plague them for the rest of their lives. 


One of Dr. Death’s victims, a friend of his who had mild lingering neck pain from an old football injury, left the operating room in a wheelchair as a quadropolegic. 


But, growing up, Dr. Death wasn’t outright evil. 


His friends and classmates remember him as being an extremely driven, hard-working student-athlete.


But, as this drive transformed into a desire for power and an unhealthy obsession with being the best of the best, he became wildly narcissistic and painfully arrogant. And, as a result, lacking any and all awareness of his floundering abilities as a physician. 


Because of this, there are nearly three dozen people who placed their trust in his hands that are now either dead or living very different and painful lives. 


The ancient Greek physician, hippocrates, once wrote the following line which has become something of an oath for physicians… 


Do no harm.”


It embodies this belief that when a patient places his or her trust in you, it’s your responsibility as a physician, to leave them better than you found them. 


Sometimes, I wonder if managers, CEOs and entrepreneurs shouldn’t hold themselves to the same standard. 


No. I will never compare even Silicon Valley’s most tyrannical leaders to Dr. Death. However, what I will say is that while blinding confidence and obsessive drive can lead to “strong quarters” and “hockey stick growth”, it doesn’t come without casualties. 


Employees who’ve placed their trust in the hands of ambitious founders and the “empires” they’re building are finding themselves injured mentally, physically and emotionally. 


Watching from the sidelines, it has left me to wonder... 


“What does growth cost us?”


Today, I’m challenging entrepreneurs, founders and CEOs to make the health of their employees a priority. To not push growth to the sidelines but to grow while “doing no harm”. 

I think that’s as simple as leaders living and working with the mission to leave their employees better than they found them while building their empires. 


Perhaps, that begins with Leon


By Bryan Smith



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