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40 Under 40 - Class of 2019
Business Observer Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 7 months ago

Dan Berman, 35

President, chairman, Infant Massage USA
by: Traci McMillan Beach Contributing writer

The best business lesson Dan Berman has ever learned, he says, is to “do good where you can, while you can.” And he lives true to his word.

For the past year, Berman has overseen Infant Massage USA, reviving the organization by recruiting a full board, a new executive director and development staff, all while recouping his own health. The president and chairman of the nonprofit has also had to balance work from a hospital bed after first suffering from spinal issues from a boating accident and then getting an infection that went to his heart and crashed all his organs.

Infant Massage USA, with 7,000 members, “aims to educate parents and caregivers on the importance of positive touch for babies," Berman says.

An independent curriculum consultant, Berman has spent years helping adults get involved in children’s lives. He spent a year with the Children’s Forum in Tallahassee, for example, working on a statewide project to improve equity and recruit more men into early childhood. “It’s one of the few professions where there is a big disconnect and men are the minority,” Berman says.

Berman had experienced some of the disparity in early childhood education first hand: In 2006 he was the only male infant teacher in Nashville, and he had to have all parents sign a waiver to allow him to change their children’s diapers.           

A few years ago Berman ran “Who’s the Man,” a program to help new dads bond with their babies through Champions for Children. “I lost my own father when I was really young,” Berman says, “so helping dads recognize their important role in their children’s lives was really important to me.” Many men want to be involved but don’t know how in the early years — or don’t think it is manly enough, Berman says.

Berman enjoys creating new curriculums, rather than spending all his time in the classroom. He co-designed the Edible Peace Patch curriculum currently being used in eight Pinellas Title I public elementary schools to teach children science and nutrition through gardening. He has also served as president of the Pinellas chapter for the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Berman, through all those roles, says the best business decision he’s made is not making his career about profit. “Making my career about being empathetic and making an impact on people’s lives … it goes a lot farther than what ends up in your bank account.”

ON THE RECORD: Dan Berman 

Employer: Infant Massage USA

Title: President and Chairman of the Board

Birthplace: New York

Years on the Gulf Coast: 12

Marital status/children: Single

Alma mater/degree: Boston University: undergrad, Vanderbilt University: Master of Education

Where is the best place to network? The bar lounge at a local conference

What's the best business lesson you've ever learned? Do good where you can, while you can.  

What's your top tip for being productive? Find excitement and passion in the work you need to accomplish

What's the weirdest job you've ever had? Helping new dads bond with their babies

What community group or organization are you most involved with? Infant Massage USA

If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Karaoke for prizes or massages on demand

What's your favorite off-hours activity? Live music with friends

What's your favorite board game or video game? Ticket to Ride

What's the top item on your bucket list? Surf the Gold Coast of Australia

Where is your happy place? On stage, at the beach or watching Florida football

What's your favorite podcast? "Pod Save America"

Who/what is your favorite musical artist/band? Gareth Asher

Who would play you in a movie about your life? 1980s Patrick Dempsey

What was your first album/tape cassette/CD? "Cooleyhighharmony" — Boyz II Men

What was your first concert? My earliest concert memory is being taken to Peter, Paul and Mary at the Cape Cod Melody Tent

What's one song that will get you out on the dance floor? "Tip Toe" — Jason Derulo and French Montana

What's your favorite karaoke song? This may be the toughest choice I've ever made: "No Diggity" — Blackstreet and Dr Dre

What instrument/role would you play in a band? Lead singer

Please describe yourself in three words. Empathetic, loyal and unique


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