Daniella Young
US Army Captain, Group Behavior Expert


DANIELLA MESTYANEK YOUNG is an American author and TEDx speaker who was raised in the religious cult, Children of God. She became a US Army Captain, where she served as an intelligence officer, deployed to Afghanistan twice, and became one of the first women in US Army history to participate in deliberate ground combat operations when she volunteered to serve on a Female Engagement Team. Daniella is the recipient of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. Daniella lives with her husband and daughter in Maryland, and is a candidate for a Master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the Harvard Extension School.

Daniella has been studying group behavior from birth—in some of the most intense organizations in the world. She is an internationally renowned keynote speaker whose focus is organizational dynamics group think, toxic control, charismatic leadership/demagoguery, and more. Daniella spoke to military veterans from the TEDx stage, and other past audiences include all branches of the US Military, Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft, Amazon, & Boeing, CEO mentoring groups, Veteran’s organizations, all kinds of nonprofits, and the commencement stage of her alma mater, twice. Daniella speaks around the world in English, Spanish or Portuguese, and is often found wearing a dress she crocheted herself and the 101st Division combat badge she earned herself.

In Daniella’s first book, UNCULTURED, she uses her gift of storytelling to take readers to the edges of extreme group think, as she has lived through it in cults and cultures around the world, ultimately illuminating important aspects of group behavior that we all experience in our everyday lives, but few of us notice.

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Hardcover
UnculturedA Memoir
St. Martin’s Press

In the vein of Educated and The Glass Castle, Daniella Mestyanek Young's Uncultured is more than a memoir about an exceptional upbringing, but about a woman who, no matter the lack of tools given to her, is determined to overcome.


Combat Barbie: shares why harnessing the powers of our different identities benefits the organization as a whole. Join Daniella on a combat patrol in Afghanistan during the height of the conflict, as the only woman on the team. You will walk away with a new understanding of how the unique perspectives on your team can be harnessed to lower risk and heighten operational success. This is the ultimate guide to how to embrace and build on unique strengths and perspectives - rather than diminishing or struggling with them.
You Can’t Spell Culture Without CULT The Children of God Cult started in 1968 as a seemingly-innocent religious community, bringing love, faith and Jesus to the disillusioned hippies of California. Less than a decade later, it was infamous for religious prostitution, pedophilia “for God”, and child trafficking across international borders. Daniella brings you breathtaking stories from her stranger-than-fiction life to explain the reality of cults. She details why many of tactics they employ accomplish levels of “brainwash”, and why we are seeing so many “cultish groups” popping up around us in modern days. Experience a perspective on organizational dynamics that you’ve never heard before, and leave with a new understanding of how the creep of toxic power can become a threat, even in your beloved, “People First” environment.
Life, Death, and Leadership At war in Afghanistan, Daniella learned some crucial lessons about life, death, and leadership. She went on to study group dynamics and organizational leadership at Harvard, and she brings research into her storytelling. Join Daniella out on the sands of Afghanistan, the only woman on the team, and one of the very first in history in her position, while she introduces you to levels of leadership intelligence in a way that only a trained intelligence officer could do.
Life, Death, and Leadership On January 6, 2021 the world asked “what is happening in America today?” and we shouldn’t stop asking. Daniella gives a personal look inside an unbelievably heinous cult, to show you why it WORKED, and where we find cultic groups and group think hiding all around us in the ever-increasing polarization in our world.
Owning Your StoryDaniella takes us on a journey to share how writing about trauma can parallel the process of healing from trauma, and how learning to tell your own stories can bring healing to others as well.
From Ponytails to Rape-Culture in 5 Steps With her trademark storytelling aplomb, Daniella demonstrates how arbitrary and seemingly unimportant regulations & laws are often weaponized against those with the least power & can lead to the exercise of toxic power in your organization. Confused as to where to start addressing your organization’s culture problems? Daniella breaks it down to five simple steps to build your culture—on purpose or off purpose.


Listen to Daniella Young discuss the abusive cult she was born into “On the Edge” podcast.

Listen to Daniella Young discuss getting out of a cult in “I Bounced Back” podcast.

Listen to Daniella Young discuss some insights behind her book in “IndoctriNation” podcast.