Your business is a reflection of you — A business is like a child. You raise it from nothing, and you have to put your best foot forward to ensure it grows in the best direction. Your company will reflect your values, so if you’re greedy, it will show that. Just like if you want it to be generous, it will reflect that. You’re painting a masterpiece, so it’s important to reflect on how it’s actually turning out. I knew it was important to me that CBD American Shaman gave back, that’s why we started painting murals around Kansas City, started the Compassionate Care Program, do work with Veterans and so much more.
Vince Sanders founded CBD American Shaman in March of 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri as a way to help with the discomfort many cancer patients experiences. Since then, Sanders has built CBD American Shaman into a team of doctors, chemists, lawyers, and advocates. Sanders pioneered the use of nanotechnology in the hemp industry to enhance the plant’s health-supporting effects and to increase the bioavailability of CBD.
CBD American Shaman produces high-quality cannabinoid tinctures, creams, pet products, and more. CBD American Shaman is certified by the US Hemp Authority for its manufacturing and quality control standards. Currently, with 365 locations offering their premier CBD products, American Shaman is one of the largest CBD retailers in the United States.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I was born and raised in Kansas City, MO. I grew up with role models and mentors all around me. Both sides of the family had many entrepreneurs, so I had the opportunity to watch a lot of people in business as I was growing up. I always knew I was going to be an entrepreneur.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
My current business, CBD American Shaman, began from a calling to try to help my uncle who was terminally ill. My mission with CBD was and always has been to make quality CBD, get it to people, and ultimately help people feel better. CBD American Shaman became a business in a matter of weeks. Although I was stumbling around at the beginning connecting the dots, getting more familiar with the industry, it all came together — quickly!
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
I think some people are born to do something, but most people learn to do something. The same thing applies to entrepreneurs. However, I did know from a young age that I wanted to be my own boss and contribute in a way that helps people. I would always speak with my paternal grandfather about possible business ventures, and he would help me gain clarity. I grew up around entrepreneurs my whole life, so I do think being exposed to that type of mindset and dedication at a young age was impactful.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
I was always inspired by my grandfather to be an entrepreneur, and I was inspired by my uncle in a different kind of way. He was the ultimate inspiration for CBD American Shaman because he was terminally ill, and all I wanted to do was find a way to help him. Whether it was buying him more time or finding a cure, I was totally dedicated to helping him. I saw the impact CBD had on his well-being, and I became driven to help more people in large numbers through CBD. Now I always think, how lucky am I to be able to help people feel better and make a living at the same time.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
CBD American Shaman stands out as a company in many ways in my opinion. I think mainly about how we’re able to help people in pain, whether they’re suffering from cancer or epilepsy. I always think about how many people we have helped, and I’m always thinking of ways we can do more. This is when we started giving away products to people who were chronically ill and couldn’t afford our products. This led to the creation of our Compassionate Care Program where prices are reduced by 30% for anyone with chronic illness. We do what we can to make our products affordable, and ensure they’re in the hands of people who need them the most. CBD American Shaman was started by trying to help someone (my uncle), so trying to help as many people as possible is in the DNA of the company.
Additionally, from a more business perspective, I think we stand out because we’re long-term oriented (aka we’re not in this industry to make a quick buck). Of course, we have to be able to stay afloat as a business and make a profit, but our core company values are centered around sustainability and long-term goals. We’re constantly aiming to create products that stand the test of time, and innovating to help people. We reinvest the majority of our earnings into technology and studies to create better tasting, more bioavailability, and longer-lasting CBD products. We’re constantly in the pursuit of perfection, raising the bar, and getting better at everything we do.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Risk-taker — Starting a business shows you’re a risk-taker. A lot of the things people find terrifying just don’t have that same effect on me. I started CBD American Shaman in early 2015 when the industry was a gray area with no rules and laws. It took dedication and flexibility, and lots of risk-taking, to stick to my goal without getting in trouble with the law. I believed in the products which helped me believe it would work out in time.
- Ethical — Society is full of unethical ways to make money and unethical ways to do just about anything. But I believe you have to ethically support a cause you believe in. I believe in the power of CBD, and certainly, believe it should be legal. I went to the Supreme Court in Nebraska trying to win a case for a small town vape store owner. The police were trying to put them away for selling CBD. I didn’t agree with that, because as I said I believe in the positive power of CBD, so American Shaman went to bat for them. We won the case.
- Adaptable — Times are always changing, and change is of course constant. You have to keep your finger to the pulse of changing times and be willing to adapt and pivot otherwise you won’t make it as an entrepreneur. When the pandemic hit, American Shaman switched everything over to make sanitizing products on a large scale for months.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
When people recommend other people to me for a job. In the past, instead of vetting someone and getting my own feelings, I have put too much weight into what I was told by the other person. There were times where it didn’t work out or hurt the company, and it could have been avoided had I done my own research.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
First, have fun — if you can’t be jovial and poke fun then life will become too heavy. And second, be respectful of people’s lives — work with your employees to manage their schedules and develop a path that works best for them. This is important because enabling your employees to have the best chance at success puts the rest of your team and company in the best position for success. Everyone will need different things to thrive.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Trust is something you have to earn by leading by example. When the chips are down and things go wrong, you have to make it good. You definitely don’t want to run and hide, lie, twist the story, or shift blame. The more clarity and honesty you can provide in any/all situations, the better. When it’s good, be humble. And when it’s bad, be honest. That’s how you build trust.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
Trust is always going to be essential especially if you want to take a leadership role. To build trust in a leadership role, you have to demonstrate equality and do what is needed for the team to thrive. We live in a time period with so much smoke and mirrors — people in real life won’t be inspired to follow you or respect you if you brag or don’t earn it. We need more people to show up at their authentic selves, that’s a true leader.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Over-optimism, not managing cash flow properly, slow reaction time, and not being open-minded. I think it all comes down to ‘you don’t know what you don’t know.’ You have to be open to learning from others, and continually seek out new opportunities to learn.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
Nothing is more ‘uncertain’ than running a company. It certainly comes with incredible highs and some low lows. With a ‘regular job’, you have much more predictability, stability, steady income, and far fewer stresses. The mindset required when you run your own business is so different, it’s psychologically challenging, and it can feel like you’re trying to do the impossible. It requires true belief and faith to power through some of the storms. I often think back, especially to the first five years of business, and wonder how did we actually make it through this? But we did!
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
It was my first company Christmas party. We had several hundred people there, and I remember thinking I can’t believe so many people work at the company. Visually seeing it all was such an aha moment and an opportunity to revel in that high. It was pivotal for me to reflect on how we built all this within two years. I felt a similar feeling when we held the first franchise meeting. I was on stage talking to hundreds of people, again I was thinking how did we get here in such a short amount of time!
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
This was in 2008 when I owned a used car business, and I specialized in working with people with difficult credit. All the financing went away when the economy crashed. It was a low feeling when I built this tremendous business, but no financing was available. I remember looking at the people who worked for me, thinking how can I save this business and their jobs.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
I didn’t give up. And I got lucky in this instance as someone bought the company out (even during those times). But it does speak to the resiliency needed to bounce back, pivot, not let anything stick to you, and following your beliefs and dreams. I really believe that you will get knocked down in life, but you have to keep getting up.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Learn to live in the middle ground — I don’t let things get me too excited or too low. Being an entrepreneur means lots of uncertainty, and I know that it will bring good and bad times. And they will both come and go. Life is an incredible cycle and things will always change. The more you can stay in the middle ground, the better you’ll be. During the pandemic, it was low (as it was for most people), but I knew this was temporary and we had to pivot for the time being (so we started making sanitizing products). Staying in the middle ground helped me stay calm and find clarity to take my next steps.
- Finding value in what you do — I believe you have to find more value in what you’re doing than just money. This will keep you going. CBD American Shaman is a way for me to help people feel better which keeps me going every day.
- Comfortable with uncertainty — Control is simply an illusion, and there’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with being an entrepreneur. The pandemic is yet another example of uncertainty, how do you plan for that? Anything can happen, and you have to be able to live with that and pivot.
- Keep a level mindset — I always break things down to a law of averages, meaning you will strike out a fair amount of the time. But that also means a percentage of the time, you will hit a home run. But you have to keep going and keep getting up when you get knocked down. Getting started in the CBD industry required me to keep getting back up because there were constant legal battles and other struggles along the way.
- Your business is a reflection of you — A business is like a child. You raise it from nothing, and you have to put your best foot forward to ensure it grows in the best direction. Your company will reflect your values, so if you’re greedy, it will show that. Just like if you want it to be generous, it will reflect that. You’re painting a masterpiece, so it’s important to reflect on how it’s actually turning out. I knew it was important to me that CBD American Shaman gave back, that’s why we started painting murals around Kansas City, started the Compassionate Care Program, do work with Veterans and so much more.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
You just get back up after you get knocked down — and you will get knocked down. Resilience is being a champion.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
At a young age, my parents divorced, and I stepped into the role of helping care for my younger brother (who was seven years younger than me). I knew we had to keep functioning and keep moving forward as a family. This helped me learn at a young age that you have to keep going.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
I definitely keep a positive attitude. I think growing up I realized that tough times don’t last, but tough people do. I try not to let tough situations get me down or feeling low because I believe it will all work out. I may not know how, but I will keep fighting and swinging even when there’s a drought.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
Positive attitudes are contagious. People believe in, trust, and I believe are more willing to follow positive leaders.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
“Quitters never win and winners never quit” — I apply this quote to my lifetime and time again. It relates to resiliency, and the law of averages I spoke about earlier.
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!