Derek Riedle – Founder of Civilized

There is nothing I do over and over again. I’m all for regiment and process when needed – I just don’t do well with it.

Derek Riedle (pronounced reed-lee) is an entrepreneur and a bit of a futurist, with an astute blend of business-savvy and creative execution. He has the uncanny ability to spot trends and turn them into business opportunities.

He is the visionary behind Civilized, a lifestyle brand that was inspired by the exponential growth of cannabis culture. He identified a deep, personal consumer need: the recreational cannabis market remains stigmatized and marginalized, despite fast-growing legalization – and outdated stoner stereotypes still prevail. Derek knows that responsible, successful cannabis consumers are not widely represented and portrayed in mainstream media. Like him, they are motivated, productive professionals, and responsible members of society. With that, the idea behind Civilized came to life in 2015.

Together with his wife and business partner, Terri, they have built a burgeoning and innovative cannabis media company that is taking the business world by storm. A successful serial entrepreneur and family man, Derek believes, “In the midst of the growing pro-cannabis movement, it’s about time that millions out there, just like me, can live a more authentic lifestyle without hiding our occasional consumption.”

Derek has become an industry leader and influential figure in the North American cannabis revolution. He believes, “It’s time for North America to embrace the reality of cannabis and its uses. It’s time to break free of the cannabis closet.”

Where did the idea for Civilized come from?

I’m a 45-year-old guy who in my mid-30’s began to use cannabis more regularly for the first time since college. For me, it’s a way to relax, socialize and laugh a bit without all the hollow calories and hangovers that come with alcohol.

Cut to January 24, 2015: the night the idea for Civilized was born. It was my wife’s birthday and we were out for a nice dinner in Venice, California. Terri was enjoying a nice glass of wine, while I was in an alley behind the restaurant next to a dumpster with a vape pen. Although the hypocrisy and inequities of cannabis prohibition had troubled me in the past, in that moment, I was moved to do something about it. When we got home, I wrote a plan for a branded digital publishing platform that would elevate cannabis culture. It would be a voice for the millions of productive, motivated people who choose to enjoy cannabis as a healthy part of a balanced lifestyle but do not define themselves by it. A couple of days later, the name “Civilized” came to me in a moment of inspiration while I was on a treadmill at the gym. A month later, we had our first investor and we were off to the races.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

We’re still a start-up, so there really isn’t a routine or anything resembling typical on a daily basis. I am constantly moving between our offices in New Brunswick, Canada, and Los Angeles, or traveling to evangelize the brand and meet investors – so I often work out of a briefcase. I’m at my most productive when I’m connecting with people within Civilized’s sphere, so I’m always on the phone or staying on top of my inbox.

How do you bring ideas to life?

That’s all about the people you have around you. Ideas go nowhere without people who buy in and make them their own.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Naturally, it’s the trend towards the normalization of cannabis. People are finally openly talking about how silly prohibition is, especially when contrasted with alcohol. The reality is that on the whole, cannabis is much less harmful to our society than alcohol, which is readily available. I applaud the State of Colorado for taking the lead and showing the rest of the continent that it’s not the Boogie man we’ve been taught to fear.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I try to eat well and stay physically fit. There is so much garbage out there that passes for food when it really contains empty calories and sugar. These things have a real impact on your body chemistry, your metabolism, and your brain. Exercising gets the blood moving and gets my brain firing. I usually come up with my best ideas and solutions when I’m exercising.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be bolder. For years, I let artificial impediments keep me from doing the things I was genuinely compelled to do. I didn’t really start chasing my dreams until my 40s. It’s amazing how the clutter falls away when you get your mind in the right place.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

Liver and onions is the greatest meal ever.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

There is nothing I do over and over again. I’m all for regiment and process when needed – I just don’t do well with it.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

I listen to my instincts or do the gut check. My gut is rarely wrong, so I trust it.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

When I was in my 20s in the late 1990s, the first company I started in New Brunswick was a video signage business. The concept was a bit ahead of its time, and sales were not where we needed them to be. We quickly pivoted to become a web design firm, which evolved into a full-service agency that’s still going strong today.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Somebody needs to create “Uber for luggage.” Many urbanites live in confined spaces and luggage is usually seldom used but takes up a ton of valuable storage space. You’re welcome.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I got a new alarm clock that gently wakes you from a deep sleep over five minutes by slowly lighting the room with increasingly loud sounds of birds chirping. I’ve gone from jumping out of bed near a heart attack every morning, to waking up with a smile. Simply an amazing product that has changed my life.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Slack is an awesome messaging app that keeps our team connected without adding to each other’s email overload.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Any biography – I love stories about real people of all walks of life. Their journeys not only provide insights and guidance but also show you the potholes to avoid.

What is your favorite quote?

“Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music” -George Carlin.


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