Michael Donnelly: “Be of the right mindset.”

I believe to survive any situation you must be of the right mindset, understand you are not perfect, you will not always make the right decisions, but you must make a decision. Know you are a leader; ensure you have the right network to assist you when needed. Don’t crack under pressure, it won’t solve […]

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I believe to survive any situation you must be of the right mindset, understand you are not perfect, you will not always make the right decisions, but you must make a decision. Know you are a leader; ensure you have the right network to assist you when needed. Don’t crack under pressure, it won’t solve the problem. Don’t complain and point fingers, it won’t solve the problem either. The ultimate leader takes full responsibility for any and every situation. Man up and move forward. BE A PROBLEM SOLVER!

In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of dealing with crisis and how to adapt and overcome. The context of this series is the physical and financial fallout that resulted from the COVID 19 pandemic. Crisis management is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases, it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Donnelly, US Navy SEAL Veteran and CEO of The CBD Path.

Having served as a Navy SEAL for almost a decade, founder and CEO of The CBD Path, Mike Donnelly, knows what it means to put mileage on your body — and he can tell you that the right toolkit is the secret to longevity, vigor, and strength. When he isn’t working or volunteering, he is working out, forever committed to a foundation of fitness and training.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

I grew up in a blue-collar household. My parents divorced at a young age, which did not sit well with me, but makes sense to me today. They were able to move forward and be happy and I was able to take away the benefits of having two families. I grew up and entered the military as a scrawny kid, highly active but no structure and undisciplined. Not because my parents did not try, only because I did not apply myself. It was truly a last-minute decision to join the military, I was graduating high school (nowhere near the top of my class), I didn’t want to work for my dad (the construction industry wasn’t appealing), I didn’t want to go to community college (I had no direction), and I didn’t want to get an average job. I took the ASVAB test (military aptitude test) I scored high and the Army came to my high school picked me up and took me to their office. The Army recruiter told me I qualified to become a Green Bret, I thought this was cool and told my friends and family I was joining the Army to be a Green Bret. It was then recommended that I at least go and talk to the other military branches. I ended up at the Navy recruiting office where they sat me down and showed me a SEAL recruiting video of men jumping out of airplanes, jumping in and out of boats, running and gunning. Keep in mind at this time there were no popular movies or books about SEALs, for the most part, they were secretive and known to be the best in the world. That was it, I was sold, I wanted to be a SEAL, to serve my country and be the best the USA had to offer. So, I graduated high school three months later, pack my bags and left for boot camp at the age of 17.

And what are you doing today? Can you share a story that exemplifies the unique work that you are doing?

I have been into fitness since the age of seventeen, from being an active Navy SEAL for 10 plus years to my current everyday fitness routines. I have owned, operated, and invested in companies, from fitness centers around the world, a fitness app (NEOU) to a nutritional supplement company. By surprise, my latest business adventure, The CBD Path, has become my passion. Besides the fact I get to work with my beautiful and talented wife Claudia, I get to give back to the military/veteran community that shaped my life. We get to provide a product that helps people! We get to engage with wonderful people who need assistance in everyday life challenges. I started this company because I spoke with, witnessed, and personally experienced the effects of CBD. The following stories and many more have touched our family.

A good friend reached out to me and said he was having difficulty sleeping for the past 4 months. What do I recommend? I told him from all the research we have done and communications I’ve had with other people that have re-laid their stories; it was recommended to try using our 750mg Broadband CBD tincture. The day after he received it he called raving about the 7 hours of solid sleep he had that night.

A friend’s son was in the hospital from a motorcycle accident and had one of his legs amputated. After 15 plus surgeries, he was not doing well as you could understand. My wife was in constant communication with his mom. His mom broke down and told Claudia her son is in constant pain and does not sleep well if at all, she asked if CBD would help. We recommended talking to the doctor first and then recommended the 5000 MG Full Spectrum tincture if it was approved by their doctor. Ultimately, we gave her the CBD. The same night she received the CBD, she gave it to her son. She called Claudia at 1 am that evening crying that her son had been sleeping for several hours for the first time in a month. The hospital staff said whatever you are giving him, keep doing it.

The constant feedback from people having days without anxiety after taking our CBD is amazing. My personal experience with recovery from brutal workouts and the inflammation subsiding after I take CBD, helps me go at it again the next day. CBD has great benefits and it is a tool I keep in my regiment to stay healthy.

The feedback and experiences that I get to witness easily make this unique CBD business worth every minute. It inspires us to educate and move forward in growing this business to help people.

Can you tell us a bit about your military background?

A little bit about my military background, at the age of 17, I joined the Navy to become a SEAL. To do this there would be several obstacles I had to conquer prior to that pinnacle. First, would be at boot camp. 8 weeks of basic training and when I say basic, they give instructions on how to brush your teeth, basic in Orlando Florida. Out of boot camp I had to pick a job just in case I didn’t become a SEAL, they could use me in the fleet. So, I was off to Great Lakes Illinois for Gunner Mate school. Three months of learning weapons and missile systems that I would never see again. The whole time taking physical fitness tests to ensure I had the basic physical aptitude to begin BUD/S training. Off to BUDS/S Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL/School. This was a six-month mental and physical beat down of epic proportions, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Out of BUDS, I was selected to go to SEAL TEAM 4 where I spent my entire career. While in the SEAL Teams I graduated from NSW tactical comms school, NSW Sniper School, NSW Cartographers course, Navy Search and Rescue swimmer, Freefall qualified, SEAL Weapons system advanced operator, Spie Rope Master, Fast Rope Master, Rappel Master, Naval Gunfire Spotter, Landing Force Terminal Control Procedure, Surveillance Detection Course, Escuela De Lancero (South American Special Warfare School). I deployed to multiple countries through Central and South America. I exited the military with an honorable discharge after ten years of active service. I moved back to Miami and joined the Naval reserve for an additional 2 years. Now to start my civilian success story.

Can you share the most interesting story that you experienced during your military career? What “take away” did you learn from that story?

Unfortunately, I was very immature when I joined the military. I became a SEAL at the age of 19 and didn’t comprehend the importance of the position I was in or the assets to be an effective leader. I had a major setback while in the SEAL Teams. I let my alligator mouth, lack of maturity and my ineffective ability to take responsibility to get the best of me, to the point where I was kicked out of the teams and sent to the Naval fleet. From this eye-opening experience, I learned the true meaning of losing something that you worked so hard for, and for what? My ego! From this and other experiences, I have learned that I am ultimately responsible for my actions. I do not have to be right all the time. What it taught me was to listen and learn. To be a warrior and a true leader I had to listen to those around me that had more experience and knew more than I could hope to understand. I returned to the SEAL Team months later going back to the same team that asked me to leave. I humbled myself and pleaded my case, explained that I understood nothing is owed to me and what I would do differently. At the time, the CO of Seal Team 4 said he would approve my orders to come back but said he would like for me to go to a different SEAL team. I told him that I did not want that. I had to come back to the same SEAL Team where I let my teammates down, where I embarrassed myself by not rising to the occasion. The need to prove myself all over again, and that’s what I did! After returning I successfully graduated in the top of my class in NSW Comms School, NSW Sniper School to name a few. Received the Navy Achievement Medal, several good conduct awards and made three deployments. This has proven to be a life lesson in all things necessary to be a leader.

We are interested in fleshing out what a hero is. Did you experience or hear about a story of heroism, during your military experience? Can you share that story with us? Feel free to be as elaborate as you’d like.

I don’t use the word hero/s, I believe brave, dedicated men and women come in all shapes and sizes, effectively doing what they feel is the right thing to do at the right time. Everyone who joined the military volunteered for one reason or another, but ultimately to protect and serve our country. We all act on or our training and impulse. I don’t believe anyone is truly looking to be labeled as a hero, you just do. I’ve seen many deeds done, none worthier than another for recognition.

Do you think your experience in the military helped prepare you for business or leadership? Can you explain?

There is no doubt in my mind that the military shaped my future. It taught me how to be a man. I joined the military at the age of 17, not knowing I was in no way mature, either mentally or physically. Through the vast never-ending training and schools that the military has put together for their personal you would be remiss not to take advantage and grow. It gave me structure and taught me how to think for myself. I was able to process scenarios and find solutions to every situation. When exiting the Navy at 27 I was fully aware that whatever I put my mind to as long as I put the hard work behind it, I would be successful.

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?

As much as I would like to narrow it down to one person (my wife). It takes a village to raise a child. From my parents laying the groundwork for success by leading by example to my teammates, my circle, those who I surrounded myself with and who I continue to surround myself with get ALL of the credit.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out how to survive and thrive in crisis. How would you define a crisis?

It would be hard for me to define a crisis. I don’t think I have ever used that word. If you give a word too much power, you will find ways not to deal with or get through it effectively and efficiently. However, there are “situations”, see, much easier to handle. To process a situation, you first need to implement common sense. I believe common sense should be a class taught in high school, and yes unfortunately common sense isn’t so common. Step out of the box that the situation is in, be structured and organized when processing the directions in which you intend to solve your situation. Methodically find where the situation started, where it currently is, and the outcome desired. Through your process, if you can have outside assistance by all means recruit your team. You are not always the smartest person in the room. Ultimately, make an informed decision, however quick that needs to be, right or wrong make it, or someone else will and it may not be the outcome you desired.

Before a crisis strikes, what should business owners and leaders think about and how should they plan?

I learned a long time ago it’s not what you know; it’s who you know, and what they know. I put teams together with the correct skill sets to work efficiently. My staffs in those positions are problem solvers in their respective departments. I believe I am a “jack of all trades master of none”. I must develop trust with the people I rely on, to make the right decision and I get involved when needed. I try to know a little about a lot. I look at the bigger picture but do not ignore that the devil is in the details.

There are opportunities to make the best of every situation and it’s usually based on how you frame it. In your opinion or experience, what’s the first thing people should do when they first realize they are in a crisis situation? What should they do next?

Your mindset is EVERYTHING! When you wake up in the morning and put that first foot on the ground, your first thought should be; what an amazing day, I am going to enjoy it and crush it! If your frame of mind is to always succeed, never stress, avoid drama, then there is no situation that becomes bigger than you. From what I’m told the earth has been around for millions of years, with billions of people on it… There has always been a solution for everything.

What do you believe are the characteristics or traits needed to survive a crisis?

I believe to survive any situation you must be of the right mindset, understand you are not perfect, you will not always make the right decisions, but you must make a decision. Know you are a leader; ensure you have the right network to assist you when needed. Don’t crack under pressure, it won’t solve the problem. Don’t complain and point fingers, it won’t solve the problem either. The ultimate leader takes full responsibility for any and every situation. Man up and move forward. BE A PROBLEM SOLVER!

When you think of those traits, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

I respect and give credit to every person that has a positive mindset, everyday no matter what their circumstances are. You only die once, live your life to the fullest on your terms whatever those may be. Be a positive role model in society, nobody owes you anything, go work for it! “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”

Here is the main question of our discussion. Crises not only have the potential to jeopardize and infiltrate your work, but they also threaten your emotional stability and relationships. Based on your military experience, what are 5 steps that someone can take to survive and thrive in these situations? Please share a story or an example for each.


-A positive mindset will give you a positive outcome.

-Situational awareness, prioritize to avoid delays

-Using common-sense will solve 80% of your problems

-Communication that is clear and precise can eliminate the problem before it starts

-Clear and detailed instructions in writing can effectively avoid problems before they start

-There is a before, during, and after in most situations, understand and know them all.

-Use your team; a team that is educated, trained, trusted and valued can overcome anything


If a crisis can threaten your emotional stability and relationships, then you need more training on being a leader and a reality check. Nothing is so severe that it should incapacitate you.

Ok. We are nearly done. 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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Our children need to be inspired; they are our future. We need to lead by example. I believe consistency and consequences are a lost discipline not taught to children. We must teach that hard work will bring you success in more ways than just monetary. There are no participation trophies in real life. Children must know that they are loved, valued, and appreciated, but at the same time, they will be held accountable for their actions. Children should be taught to prioritize their responsibilities and when those responsibilities are met give them more. Our children are not owed anything, too many young adults have a misconceived notion that they are privileged and somehow someone owes them. We must start in the home with adults that value society as a whole, then schools and friends that bring a positive outlook on life. I could go on and on, this is a major topic unto itself.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders 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, especially if we tag them 🙂

My teammates, friends, and family, they are the reason I am able to participate in this article. They will always be the people I want to sit down and discuss life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

How can our readers follow you online?

FB Michael Donnelly



Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was truly uplifting.

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