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Hernando Umana: “You get in life only what you have the courage ask for”

I am sure a lot of people thought that I wouldn’t be able to do it, or that I would give up, but I didn’t. And from that, I learned that you have to be willing to work harder than everyone else and willing to put your pride on the shelf to ask for opportunities […]

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I am sure a lot of people thought that I wouldn’t be able to do it, or that I would give up, but I didn’t. And from that, I learned that you have to be willing to work harder than everyone else and willing to put your pride on the shelf to ask for opportunities if you want to succeed.

In the end, I was able to be in production. And then I did another production after that, and then another. I went on to build a career on stage and built a company at the same time, all because of the lesson I learned way back then in the children’s theater: work harder than everyone else and you will make it happen. I may not have always been the smartest, most talented, or even the most attractive one in the bunch but I knew that I could outwork them all. And I did. Half the battle is just showing up.


As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hernando Umana.

Umana is an entrepreneur, cannabis expert, and co-owner of CBD Dog Health, makers of homeopathic CBD tinctures, treats, and salves for pets. Umana is also a Broadway performer with past roles in School of Rock and Kinky Boots national tours. A passionate cannabis advocate, Umana is also an HIV activist who has participated as a social media fellow at the National Conference of AIDS and the U=U campaign. He is also passionate about helping homeless LGBTQ youth and volunteers with the Ally Forney Center.


Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?

I started out as just a kid with a dream. I wanted to be in productions in a little theater in Miami called the Miami Children’s Theater. That was where I really launched into who I would become now, and where I met my now-business partner and mentor, Angela Ardolino. I am a graduate of one of New York’s best musical theatre programs, AMDA, and I have been on Broadway with Kinky Boots and opened two first national tours. I am proud to say that I have had the privilege of working with Cyndi Lauper, Brendan Urie, Andrew Loyd Webber and many others.

Theater is an industry that thrives on anxiety. I was definitely not immune to it. So, when I went to visit my Angela on her farm in Lutz, Florida, she introduced me to CBD for anxiety and it completely changed my life. My anxiety went down to almost nothing, and my whole body felt healthier and overall better. I seriously have never felt better in my life, so I knew I wanted to be involved in advocating for all of the amazing things that cannabis can do.

I also have a dog named Blanche who was suffering from anxiety just like I was. When we were touring, she would scratch at doors and bark like crazy to the point that some hotels kicked me out. I hated seeing my babe suffer, so I learned about using CBD for dogs. It was like night and day with Blanche. My little diva became herself again and didn’t freak out when I left. It completely opened our lives. That is when I knew that I needed to make sure other people’s pets have access to cannabis, and so I threw myself into being an entrepreneur and poured my heart into CBD Dog Health. Through my journey, I have been able to not only become a cannabis advocate and help animals, but I have also been able to chase my dream of being a performer and feeling like the possibilities are limitless.

Another big dream I’ve always had is to give back to the world and make it a better place. I am an HIV activist and was part of the New York state U=U campaign, and a social media fellow at The National Conference of AIDS. I also do what I can to help with the Ally Forney Center, which is an amazing organization that helps homeless LGBTQ youth.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am currently on tour with CBD Dog Health’s education team to share advice on holistic healing for pets. I am also continually working on different projects to benefit HIV awareness and action to end the stigma surrounding HIV, and to spread hope that no ailment, virus, or disease has to own you.

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

A few reasons. First of all, we are the only company making CBD for pets that is in the holistic pet business as well. We educate about how cannabis works for our pets, of course, but we also know it takes a proper diet and other natural remedies to truly heal animals naturally. We have partnered with some of the best holistic pet companies in the world to make sure our pets live longer, happier lives. We have been holistically healing animals on our rescue farm for over 12 years, so we actually know what works and what doesn’t. We are also the only company to infuse other incredible essential oils like turmeric and frankincense into our tinctures, the only company offering freeze-dried treats, and the only company to have salves for specific skin issues. We are up to date on all the latest research and spread the information everywhere we can — if we know about it, we want you to know about it, and I think that really sets us apart.

Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

There is a lot of surprise from people when I told them that I wanted to be a performer and an entrepreneur. A lot of people didn’t think I would find time for both. In school, you are taught that if you are going to be an actor, you should focus solely on that and nothing else, and don’t make a backup plan. Because a backup plan says you don’t even believe you will make it, right? And while I agree with that, that you have to give acting 100 percent if you want to succeed, I think you can switch your focus and benefit from more than just acting. You can be really passionate about acting, and really passionate about saving animals. I found that once I gave my 100 percent to acting, I still had passion left in me that I knew I wanted to tap into, and I was able to switch my focus when I needed to.

The seeds I have planted for myself in my career during the last ten years are sprouting now, so this is a great time to benefit from both careers and to allow myself the space to grow in both directions. A tree’s branches don’t grow straight up into the air — they can grow in different directions and still have gorgeous leaves on all branches, so that is what I am doing now.

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂

Anyone who doubted that I could be a successful performer and own a successful business are the ones who are ordering the most CBD from me for their pets now, and they are the ones asking for tickets to the shows. I have been so incredibly fortunate that I have so much love and support surrounding me that even those who may have been naysayers are ultimately still in my corner. But I’ve decided to stop paying attention to those naysayers and only pay attention to those who support me.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. 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?

I am so grateful for my business partner and best friend, Angela. She saw something in me when I was 15 years old and has made me work my butt off since then. I grew up in a family where hard work and work ethic were undervalued. Angela taught me that to get 100 percent, you have to give 100 percent. She convinced me to move to New York at 18, took every call from me for help throughout the years, and then she introduced me to the healing power of cannabis. Everything she’s ever taught me is now coming into full play as a partner in CBD Dog Health and I still learn from her every single day.

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?

I came from a low-income family, but I had big-budget dreams. I went to the Miami Children’s Theater and I wanted to be in a show, but I couldn’t afford the tuition to participate. So, I struck up a deal with Angela — she offered me the chance to be in the show if I worked hard and helped with the set and costumes. I am sure a lot of people thought that I wouldn’t be able to do it, or that I would give up, but I didn’t. And from that, I learned that you have to be willing to work harder than everyone else and willing to put your pride on the shelf to ask for opportunities if you want to succeed.

In the end, I was able to be in production. And then I did another production after that, and then another. I went on to build a career on stage and built a company at the same time, all because of the lesson I learned way back then in the children’s theater: work harder than everyone else and you will make it happen. I may not have always been the smartest, most talented, or even the most attractive one in the bunch but I knew that I could outwork them all. And I did. Half the battle is just showing up.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

  1. Don’t make excuses for yourself. Everyone will give you plenty of outs. They might be nice about it, but they will plant little seeds of doubt in your mind and you can grab onto those and use one as an excuse for why you gave up. Don’t do it. If you really want to make your dreams happen, be brutally real with yourself and don’t take one of those easy-to-find exits. Hold yourself accountable and tune out when people try to make you think twice about your goals.
  2. Step away if you need to. Sometimes there is so much beauty in pausing. You can really think about what you need to do and how you need to get there. When I paused and took a trip to Lutz, I was set back on the right path. It wasn’t a long pause — it was just a few days — but giving myself space to pause was so powerful and helped me realize that I didn’t have to live with anxiety, and I could really succeed.
  3. Give 100 percent of yourself and don’t hold back. It doesn’t matter what your industry or dream is, if you are not willing to give 100 percent of yourself, you won’t make it.
  4. Ask for what you want, because until you ask, nobody knows how to help you get where you want to be. If you don’t have the courage to ask, nobody will know what you want. This can mean asking for help with other parts of your life so you can go after your goals, or this can mean asking someone in your dream career to give you a chance. The worst that can happen? They say no and you find another way. The best? They can help you succeed.
  5. Realize that anyone who is doubting your ability, or who tells you that you can’t do something, is probably just operating out of fear or regret that they didn’t chase their own goals. The way they feel has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with them. Don’t sweat it. And who knows, maybe you can encourage them through your success.
  6. I am throwing in an extra one because I think this is so important, especially in the worlds of business and theater: Staying true to who you are and living your most authentic self is what will bring you more happiness and success than anything else.

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

I have two strategies or quotes that I live by: Give 100 percent, get 100 percent; and a quote from Oprah: “You get in life only what you have the courage ask for.” I live by these. If I don’t give 100 percent, I can never expect anyone to hand me 100 percent back. And if I don’t have the courage to ask for a part, a business idea, or anything else, I will never receive it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I want to show people what a successful “stoner” looks like. There is such a stigma with people who use cannabis and I want to normalize it. It’s my medicine, it’s a lot of people’s medicine, and being a “stoner” and being unsuccessful do NOT go hand-in-hand.

Can our readers follow you on social media?

Absolutely! You can follow my company on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cbddognaturals and on Instagram @CBDDogHealth. You can also follow me on Insta @HernandoUmana.

Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!

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