Ed Donnelly of AmourCBD: Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life
It is not fair to expect people to work as hard as you do. I learned early on that I give 110% but others may not share that same passion. So I learned to take 90%, but never 50%.
Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50's.
How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?
In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ed Donnelly.
Ed Donnelly is a CBD expert and founder of AmourCBD. With over 30 years of experience working as a Burn Center Nurse in New York and then moving on to assume executive roles in medical technology sales companies, Donnelly entered a new chapter in life when he founded AmourCBD. Combining his experience as a business man and medical professional, Ed is driven to bring high quality, medical grade products to the CBD market.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in Levittown NY, the oldest of 4 children. My dad was a US Postal worker, and my mom was a homemaker. I would say I had a normal childhood in the 60’s. 100 baby boomer kids lived in the neighborhood so there were always enough kids for a pickup baseball, basketball or football game. Growing up we did not have 1 mom or dad, we had 25 sets of parents who kept all of us in line. Every dad worked 2 jobs and every mom stayed at home. I went to catholic schools through elementary and high school and then went to community college working whatever jobs I could get to pay for college. My parents had 3 other kids to pay for catholic school so after high school I was on my own.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Whatever you do, be sure you do it with passion and enthusiasm
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
Passion and Enthusiasm. If you are going to be a leader, people need to want to follow you. Passion and enthusiasm is contagious. My last company, I built a team that doubled sales and tripled profits in 3 years, and we took the company public via IPO. People need to believe the leader
Honesty and Candor. I don’t have a good enough memory to be a successful liar. Be honest and candid with everyone, employees, customers, vendors and colleagues — even bosses. People may not want to hear bad news, but they respect you. Also, people will then believe and trust you leading to their willingness to follow.
You have to have courage. My wife helped me have the courage to move from New York in 1984 and take a big promotion in Texas. A young guy with a funny New York accent going to Texas in the 80’s took courage. That job and the tremendous success spring boarded my career. I never would have accomplished everything I have if I had not had the courage (with her help) to move a family with 2 young children.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter? ( I may have answered a lot of this in question #1)
I am probably on my 3rd chapter. I received my undergraduate degree in nursing and worked as a Registered Nurse for 5 years in New York area burn centers while going to school and receiving my master’s degree in business. I then leveraged that combination of Nursing and Business and entered a career in medical sales. I was successful and fortunate enough to rise through sales ranks and marketing ranks which ultimately led me to my first of 3 CEO positions in 1995. Leaving a job as a Registered Nurse for medical sales was extremely exciting and fulfilling, but also a courageous and scary chapter which enabled a very full and successful 30-year executive career. My final CEO position was a medical software company which I took public via IPO in 2010, but ultimately retired in 2012 due to a health challenge with one of my grandchildren, Olivia. She was born literally with half a heart and in her 11 years has had at least 3 major open-heart procedures and 2 heart transplants at age 2 and 9. Today she is a healthy 11-year-old young lady who loves to dance and enjoy life. She inspired the name for my CBD company — AmourCBD — showing customers we put love and heart into everything we do. Embarking on my 3rd chapter in CBD development and manufacturing was relatively easy given the extensive experiences and contacts I had made all along the way.
And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?
Using the 3 qualities I discussed earlier, passion, honesty and courage, I had tremendous confidence that I could be successful in the CBD business, most likely because the opportunity was crystal clear to me. The CBD products on the market were of substandard quality, not made in regulated facilities, and contained high amounts of THC. I quickly realized that I had to bring something new to CBD consumers. During my development process I also realized that based on my previous experience, these products required FDA Registration in order to truly claim “pain relieving” abilities; yet no one was doing this due to the cost and complexity of the FDA process. My core principles and reputation within the medical industry would not allow me to avoid this, so I invested the time and money into getting the AmourCBD Pain Relieving Cream FDA Registered.
Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?
My wife had suffered a terrible fall when she missed a step on a ladder, which led to tremendous pain. She absolutely refused opioids, so I researched alternatives and found CBD. It was a miracle and she got tremendous relief and comfort from CBD creams and ointments, but they all had a few common problems. They had terrible odors, were greasy and most significantly contained high amounts of THC. I immediately knew these issues could be eliminated so I teamed up with people from my historic network and developed AmourCBD Pain Relieving Cream. It is odorless, absorbs easily into the skin and contains ZERO THC. I came out of retirement and began expanding the product line.
What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?
I just jumped into it and found it liberating to not have to deal with a board of directors or bankers for the first time in 25 years. I was self-funding all the development and building of the organization. I was fortunate that many colleagues that I had worked with in the prior 25 year were excited to re- engage with me and were excited about the development of a premier medical grade family of CBD products. The message here is really that as an honest, enthusiastic, fun loving executive, people that worked with me previously had no hesitation to take my phone call and help.
How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.
AmourCBD is going quite well and is invigorating and exciting. Every day we hear from customers who tell us that our product helps them manage their pain and anxiety. They are thrilled that it is odorless and are relieved they have found a product that has USA grown hemp and zero THC.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are a number of influencers in my life that I think of often and have to thank. Whether it was my father forcing me to go to go to college or a number of memorable patients in the burn center who survived “despite all odds” after traumatic burns. I remember one patient, a 3-year-old who would let no one take care of him but me and who survived 50% 3rd degree burns sustained in an explosion. I remember my Texas sales team that was #1 in the country, and a national accounts executive sales team at my first CEO job that doubled our business thru strategic contracting. I was lucky to hire great people and share the spotlight with them. But my wife is probably most responsible for helping me achieve our success. She had the confidence in me to support my move from nursing to sales. She had the courage to move to Texas, South Carolina, and Chicago so I could chase our dreams and she raised our 4 children almost single handedly.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
Nothing tops my wife using our AmourCBD cream and getting comfort daily, but I am also fond of a woman in Florida who tells me constantly that Amour CBD has changed her life. She sustained a broken hip and femur and had little to no mobility. Thanks to Amour CBD she is able to go back to her rewarding job in her church school
Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?
If you are going to work in a NY burn center, you learn to have confidence in yourself really quick. People’s lives are literally in your hands. You are also part of a team where everyone has to do their job to perfection in order for that patient to get their best outcome. I remember the patients who did not survive, but I cherish the memories of those who did, who in turn made me stronger. Business is easy when compared to managing a critically ill, severely burned patient. If you can’t tell, the nurse still burns deep within me, but those experiences shaped me. In business I cut no corners, I did it right and am proud that I may have personally done well by doing good. Amour CBD is an extension of that. We are doing well, by doing good
In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?
As the saying goes, surround yourself with good people. I am lucky to have always surrounded myself with good employees, colleagues, my wife, children and grandchildren.
Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?
I have had numerous examples in my career of stepping into new challenges. As CEO of large companies, I do not necessarily operate in comfort zones. Every day is a new challenge. In my career, I oversaw manufacturing facilities domestically and internationally. I managed distribution companies domestically and internationally. I oversaw product development involving complicated FDA and patent implications, but maybe my greatest personal reach was when I assumed the leadership of a medical software company. I joked when I got there that I needed my sons to help me with my cell phone since software development was a foreign language, but I employed my formula which was hire talented people, establish clear objectives, focus the organization on clearly defined objectives and challenge everyone to exceed goals. Under my leadership we developed 5 new products in half the time that it previously took, made 2 acquisitions and led a very successful and oversubscribed IPO.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
1) It is not fair to expect people to work as hard as you do. I learned early on that I give 110% but others may not share that same passion. So I learned to take 90%, but never 50%.
2) Productive employees are happy at work and at home. Take an interest in their personal and home life and be supportive
3) Good leaders build good teams.
4) Success is fun and it is contagious. Work should be fun. I was known for having no problem telling people that were unhappy at work that they should seek out other opportunities. It would benefit everyone.
5) There are things more important than work. I learned this with my granddaughter. It did not matter how much success or money I had, I could not fix her, and it had always been my job to “fix things”. It was one of the few times in my life I was helpless
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
My beautiful 11-year-old granddaughter inspires my wife and I every day. The thought of what she has been thru with 2 heart transplants and what she goes thru with her medical regiment is sobering; yet she is the happiest most appreciative fun-loving person I know. Organ donation is the most courageous, unselfish actions a person or family can ever do. Business is easy compared to real life issue of health challenges. Nothing is more heart breaking that childhood illnesses. I called our CBD products Amour in honor of my granddaughter Olivia and the love we have for her. It is my hope and desire that AmourCBD is successful and can be a vehicle to fund children’s heart charities. That’s the plan.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. :-)
I honestly don’t have an answer for this. I don’t typically idolize famous people. All the inspiration and drive I need; I get from my family and former mentors.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!