What’s your backstory?

 

I grew up in Edina, Minnesota. After completing High School, I attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO. After graduation in 2008 I went to work for Johnson and Johnson as an orthopedic medical device sales representative in Chicago, IL. After two and a half years working for JnJ in Chicago I was offered a job by a new JnJ distributor in Denver, CO. I promptly moved back and helped start a business called- Redstone Surgical. We were a distributor for a number of companies in the orthopedic space, the most recognized company was JnJ. Myself and my partners quickly grew that business to 30+ sales representatives across 3 states. 3 years after it conception, JnJ purchased the distributorship from us.

 

I then attended W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and got my MBA with an emphasis in finance and marketing. This opened my eyes up to a whole other world outside of the medical device space. I quickly linked up with a veteran entrepreneur, Wendi Burkhardt, and helped her start the technology company- Silvernest. My time at Silvernest helped shape who I am today. Silvernest was a fast paced, venture back, struggling start-up. We worked our tails off every day to make it work. This allowed me to learn all areas of the business, something I was not able to do in my previous endeavors. We were fortunate enough to be funded by 500 Startups, which also had a top accelerator program in San Francisco.

 

Myself and Wendi left our families back in Colorado and moved to San Francisco for 4 months to participate in 500 Startups accelerator program. That program changed my life, and after completion my knowledge of technology and how to run a successful business grew immensely. Wendi was CEO and my title was VP of business development and product. A few months after completing the program I felt that I had to leave Silvernest to do what I sought out to do, become a CEO and lead a successful organization that could change the world. I was lucky enough to meet Lincoln Sorenson and Andy Papilion.

 

They had started a small company called The CBDistillery. The CBDistillery sold hemp-based CBD Isolate- an ingredient used in many CBD products. They had a great product, industry knowledge, and knack for business.

 

However, they were missing the technical and sales side of the business. After doing some consultant work with them for a few months I was fortunate enough to have them ask me to be the CEO. Since that day a couple years ago it’s been a rocket ship ride. When I started there were 4 employees- now (just a couple years later) nearly 50 and that number is increasing by the day. There was also one product- now we have over 800. It’s been an interesting past 8 years digging through the trenches, working day-in and day-out to get where I am today. And it’s just the beginning!

 

 

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.

 

1)    Learn to say “no”. I still have a tremendous amount of trouble with this. If you say yes to everything and everyone you will not be capable of doing your best on every task. You’ll also burn out.

 

2)    Build a solid network of mentors and advisors, then seek their advice daily or weekly. This has been a game changer for me. Most major problems or decisions that I make, I first consult one of my mentors. They have been in my shoes and carry vast experience. They are able to see the problem as fundamental and with no emotion.

 

3)    Don’t be afraid to ask questions. In my past several jobs I was looked at as one of the company leaders. When you’re in that leadership position you naturally want to know every answer. However, the truth is that you don’t know all the answers. Don’t be afraid to ask other management or your employees for advice.

 

4)    Be a Leader, not a boss. I’ve seen many managers who bark orders at their staff and talk behind their backs when they aren’t around. Those same managers don’t receive half the productivity from their team as someone who leads. Get your hands dirty and help out your team. Within your team be active, helpful, respectful, and don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong.


5)    Be healthier. Eat right and exercise. I only started watching what I eat and working out daily a few years ago. It’s absolutely astonishing what it will do to your overall mood and productivity. With eating healthy and exercising I’ve been able to completely remove caffeine from my daily routine. I skip the afternoon caffeine headache and I am able to work harder, while being more focused and not jittery.