We had the good fortune of connecting with Daniel Wagner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Daniel, how do you think about risk?
I’m a true believer that the “greater the risk, the greater the reward”. Without risk taking, we would never get ahead in life. Whether it’s buying a new house, starting a new job, or falling in love, it is all a risk. We all must be willing to risk something in order to get the things we truly want. Because of this, I enjoy the thrill of taking a chance. The thrill of the unknown. The “what if’s” and the “lets find outs”. I love to take a chance when the outcome is unknown (I even named my dog Chance). This has not always been the case for me however. The majority of my life was playing it safe. I went with the flow, did what I though was expected of me by others, and, in turn, was giving away my joy. I was draining myself to fit a mold.
For many years, I worked in senior living as a sales director. I helped families find the right assisted living, or memory care apartment. My job was to sit with the “future residents” and find the right apartment for their needs. This meant knowing everything about them. What I noticed after hundreds of these meetings is that the conversation often turned to their regrets. The things they wished they would have done with their life….. the risks they should have taken. During many of these conversations, I saw my own life going down the same path. I could relate to what they were saying and I was a quarter of their age. This is when I decided that I needed a change; I needed to take a risk. I needed to tackle life head on and squeeze every bit of joy there is to find in this life. And this is when life opened up for me.
I began skydiving, my parents and I started our own company, I moved across the country, converted my SUV for full time living, “lived” in 16 states in four months with my dog, hiked mountains, swam in freezing lakes, saw the most breathtaking sunrises/sunsets, and made the most of every. single. moment. And boy am I happy.
I think most people would call this crazy, irrational, or stupid. Many people in my life don’t understand why I would want this lifestyle. They prefer safety nets, routines, and structure. Not me. I want excitement, uncertainty, and experiences. I want to be the old man that speaks to the sales director and smiles, knowing I have lived a full life.
So, have risks played a part in my life and career? ABSOLUTELY.
Do I regret any of the risks I have taken? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Life is short. Take the leap.
What should our readers know about your business?
I own a cannabis company called St. Bernie’s CBD. We make a varitey of CBD/THC products, but our claim to fame is our hand-crafted, CBD infused chewing gum! It comes in a variety of strenghts and flavors, and is all small batch!
The business started off as a conversation at the dinner table with my parents. My mom is an Oncology Nurse Practitioner and was talking about her patients that were interested in cannabis for pain management. They wanted to take or use something that could help them cut back on the many pain medications they were on. Interestingly enough, my dad had just read an article about CBD and the benefits it has, especially for pain management and the conversation took off. We began discussing how it works, why it works, and the various forms it comes in. Having been an advocate of hemp and CBD for a while, I was keen to share my insight. It was then that we saw an opportunity. My mom, being the studious NP she is, took the time to research CBD further and scoured over the studies. Once we had gathered enough knowledge on the topic, we knew we wanted in. The big question was how. And what products don’t exist yet that people could benefit from. After more research we found the industry flooded with candies and gummies…all full of sugar and low efficacy. Then the lightbulb came on. Why not gum? It tastes great, can be made naturally, and allows for greater absorption of CBD. Bingo. Thus the first sugar-free, all natural, hand-crafted, organic cannabis gum was born! Fast forward four years, and we have an array of products from gums to lotions and everything in between!
The journey to get where we are hasn’t always been an easy one. To start, we all still had full time jobs. My mom was still working long weeks as an NP, my dad was running his company in oil and gas, and I was a full time sales director in senior living. Taking on a whole start up was a lot of work! We didn’t have the overhead for employees or equipment, so we took that on ourselves, often on the weekends or at night. We also didn’t know anything about making gum. This was a big problem. But thanks to the help of the internet and a $10 gum making kit off Amazon, we got to work. Our second biggest problem was the product itself. People were unsure about cannabis chewing gum (especially the price). It had a hard time selling in stores, and was often overlooked. However, when we could present at tradeshows and local markets where people could sample the gum, it was a big hit. So we set off and began setting up booths wherever we could. Not only did we enjoy talking with people, but it was fun making new connections and finally selling product! Although there were a lot more challanges than I can write about, they never got us down. It became fun to figure out solutions, experiment, and overcome every obstacale thrown our way. Sure, it was tough at times, and we argued a bit, but we always kept the goal in mind; helping people to live healthier lives.
Along the way, we learned a lot. One of the biggest lessons was in patience. Ideas (especially new ones) take time. It was important that we tried our best, and went with the flow. Often times this meant pivoting and scratching ideas off the board. but we kept moving forward, knowing that if we just keep at it, things will work out. Also, I learned a lot about the power of relationships. Making genuine, thoughtful connections is almost more important than the product itself, especially when it involves health. This means actively listening to peoples concerns and finding the best solution for thier needs. The biggest lesson of all however, was how strong our family truly is. Through all of the ups and downs, we stuck together. We learned each other’s strenghts and weaknesses and grew closer everyday. Just when we thought we knew everything about one another, there was always more to know! We put our love to the test and came out on top!
Now, running the company myself, I am EXTREMELY proud of how far we have come and the thousands of people we have helped. I am proud of myself, of my family, and of our little company. There is still a long way to go, but I am confident we can do it!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh man! There is just so much to do in Colorado! The week would be filled with adventure and food!
Obviously, everyone has to check out Red Rocks! Even if there isn’t a concert, it is just a wonderful place to spend the day! We would definitely spend an afternoon walking, climbing and exploring all it has to offer! In the evenings we would go all over LoHi. This area has great restaurants including Avanti, Happy Camper (for the gram) and Little Man Ice Cream! For more of the bar scene we would go to South Broadway and hit up Historians, The Irish Rover and The Dive. Also, on Tuesday we would go to Adelitas for cheap tacos. The days would be filled with exploring all Colorado has to offer! There’s Pearl Street in Boulder for shopping, the Rocky Mountains for hiking and everything in between. If they wanted to drive and explore outside of Denver, I’d say we go to Telluride or Ouray! Being a skydiver, i’d almost certainly make them jump at Mile-Hi Skydiving Center! You can’t beat Colorado at 12K ft!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My family deserves all the recognition in the world. My parents have always been the rock in my life. They support my life goals, hobbies and all the crazy ideas I have. They have shown my sisters and I what unconditional love really means. Through all the ups and downs, they have been at my side. There is no “me” without them. I love you both with all my heart. Also, big shout out to my sisters! Talk about a proud brother! They are my joy, my best friends, and my inspiration. Thank you both for being the best sisters a brother could ask for.