CBD Hemp Mental Health Podcast The Hemp Revolution

Can Hemp Naturally Decrease Neurological Diseases? Interview with Robert Chavez

Ep 96 Robert Chavez

Robert Chavez is the President and CEO of Avant-Garde Holdings Americas Inc. He is also a healthcare executive and founder of ExecTeam, LLC, a consulting firm that focuses on helping private medical businesses improve operations through process efficiencies and executive management coaching.

Looking at the healthcare trend, when cannabis-hemp was outlawed almost 100 years ago, there’s been an increase in neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, and ADHD.

So, Robert has a theory that if we can naturally re-establish hemp into the food chain, that over time, we will see a decrease in neurological diseases that came about after the outlaw.

Tune in as Robert shares how he is applying his extensive experience in healthcare in organizing something that could have a real impact and bring real change on our planet, the challenges, and his plans to overcome them to stay relevant in this space.


I have a theory that if we can re-establish hemp into the food chain naturally, that we can see over time, a decrease in neurological diseases that came about after the outlaw. – Robert Chavez


Download The Episode Companion For This Episode

 

Some Topics We Discussed Include

4:00 – Robert’s background and how he got into the cannabis space
15:06 – Key challenges as both an entrepreneur and as a consultant
24:34 – The bigger mission
35:31 – Plans to overcome the challenges and stay relevant in this industry
40:54 – Things to watch out for in 2020
44:51 – About Fight like Me Foundation
48:39 – Final words

People Mentioned / Resources

Connect with Robert Chavez

Connect with Sonia Gomez

Transcript

Sonia Gomez: What’s up, guys? Sonia Gomez coming to you from Denver, Colorado. Super excited to be here on another rock your socks episode of The Hemp Revolution Podcast where we are focused on telling you the real dirt of the cannabis and hemp industry from the eyes of the changemakers and entrepreneurs who are pushing this incredible industry forward. 

If you’re a person looking for products that you can depend on to deliver the results you’re looking for, check us out at medicalsecrets.com for our favorite picks. And if you are a budding entrepreneur or established business owner trying to break through the brick walls and glass ceilings of the industry, have no fear we are here to help you. Check us out at theemeraldcircle.com for all of our resources, relationships, tips, tricks, and tools to solve the biggest challenges in the industry like merchant processing, manufacturing, stabilized supply chain, marketing, and advertising that won’t get you to shut down and many, many others. 

I have been a part of this industry for many many years and have watched it go through extreme highs and extreme lows. So we are happy to support you in creating the change that you want to see in the world through the work that you are doing. Guess what guys, as per usual and listening to this show, we are committed to telling the truth about cannabis and hemp through the eyes of the entrepreneurs who are pushing this incredible industry forward. 

And today, my guest is the founder and CEO of Avant-Garde Holdings Americas Inc. He is also a healthcare executive and founder of ExecTeam, LLC, a consulting firm that’s focused on helping private medical businesses improve operations through processes of efficiencies, and executive management coaching. 

With extensive experience in clinical operations, academic medical business Administration, business and strategic planning, and data analytics for decision making, he was inspired to examine the benefits of cannabidiol or CBD as an alternative to opioid therapy and subsequent addiction. Such a necessary component in this industry and I was actually talking to a gas station attendant last night as he was surrounded in CBD and kratom and he was explaining to me that many of the things people that he recognizes in his communities as being a victim to the opioid crisis has been coming into his gas station and purchasing kratom and CBD from the gas station. 

So I thought that that was super uplifting and it is a perfect segue to talk about the work that our guest Robert, who has been heavily involved in the startup community in South Florida and beyond. Having co-founded the first digital health tech seed accelerator in Florida back in 2013, which is called Project Lift. Here to share his story and all of the incredible works and accomplishments that he has had and been a part of in this space, put your hands together and help me welcome our good friend, Robert Chavez. What’s going on, Robert? 

Robert Chavez: Hey, Sonia, Where have you been all my life? That intro could have been useful a few years ago.

Sonia Gomez: Well, you know, I’m here to just tell the truth to the people. Why don’t you quick and dirty, share a little bit about who you are, what your background is, and how you got into this crazy canna-boom.

Robert’s Background and How He Got Into the Cannabis Space

Robert Chavez: Sure, my background is really primarily in the healthcare space. So that’s the approach that I came into this industry with. But I’ve been in this industry now for– going on four or five years; really heavily for about four years, where I pretty much dedicated my entire life to it. And it really becomes your entire life dragging along my family, my wife and kids especially, of which I have five kids, and they all– 

Sonia Gomez: [00:04:37 unintelligible]

Robert Chavez:  great, so you know what I mean? 

Sonia Gomez: Yes. 

Robert Chavez:  But I started in healthcare back in 2000 after graduating from college, and then got into the business side of it when I decided not to go to med school. I did a variety of things from graduate medical education and patient safety work, which included work with Jeb Bush and his administration, when he was governor of Florida, which gave me a little taste of politics, and how we can affect laws in order to correct wrongs, because like, I like to say there’s right and wrong, and there’s legal and illegal and they don’t always coincide. And that’s the mission that we’re on. 

There's right and wrong, and there's legal and illegal and they don't always coincide.- Robert Chavez Click To Tweet

But subsequently, I’ve got into operations. And by the time I left the University of Miami, I was the executive director of business planning and market intel. So, I have a really strong background in strategic thinking, business planning, market development. And I really brought those lessons along with me when I left academic medicine into the private sector. I left there to take on a CEO of a group of interventional pain clinics, where I was immediately hit in the face with the aftermath of the opioid epidemic, or the crisis here in Florida, which is where it started, right? 

Sonia Gomez: Yes. 

Robert Chavez:  The state in its infinite wisdom, when they shut down the pill Mills, got no plan for how to handle the patients, and they were all funneled to these specialty clinics. So I walked in and saw a waiting room full of people waiting for pills. After I had already gone through some personal family experiences with addiction to opioids because of chronic pain management issues. And we said enough is enough. So I asked the doctors to consider what alternatives we could provide to the patients because just enabling them to continue to fill prescriptions was not the answer. 

And so we started looking into medical marijuana before the amendment to pass in Florida. Having had experience in politics in Florida was not the most appealing way to go. So we started looking into CBD products and it took about a year to find one that I was comfortable bringing into the practice and into the clinics and putting at risk the business and the doctor’s licenses, right. Because it’s a bit of a conundrum you have the doctors whose licenses are controlled by the DEA. And then you have this industry, right? 

Sonia Gomez: Yes. 

Robert Chavez: So, they’re not always– it’s not the best combination. So I needed a product that we could count on. I mean, at the time back in 2015, we had kids coming into the waiting room with supermarket bags, just dropping product off. And sending it out and looking at it, it was just not good. I basically said, stop taking anything in here because we’re going to get the doors kicked in. 

And so it took actually a journey to Hong Kong, where I met a gentleman from Vancouver, Canada, to tell me that there was a company close to me back here in Miami, that was being made by a legitimate person, a pharmacist. And so he came back from Hong Kong, he flew down to Miami, sure enough, and he introduced me to the team, and I actually ended up carrying the product. 

Now, I was surprised and we all were with the doctors at the results that we saw. We started weaning people off benzos and opioids, and in some instances got them completely off. And it was just eye-opening. So we started trying to understand how is this working, and plus they were reporting a bunch of other good side effects. They were sleeping better. All these things happening. And so we started learning about the endocannabinoid system, etc. 

Sonia Gomez: Did you guys start, sort of unexpectedly or inadvertently because you sort of had this like informal clinical trial where many of the people that was being served opioids were now being transitioned into CBD and you guys were recording the effects or the positive outcomes from all of that?

Robert Chavez: On their medical records, we were definitely recording the decrease in medications that were being prescribed. The progress, their medical progress. So, it wasn’t directly even organized as what you could consider informal research, but it was just tracking the patient’s progress, right. 

Sonia Gomez:  Yes

Robert Chavez: But we started seeing correlations and it was just something that, that inspired me enough to leave that private practice and see the opportunities outside to help other clinics. And that’s when I started ExecTeam. But quickly after that, the company whose product I was carrying called me and asked me to come and help them develop a product that would be carried in clinics, because that didn’t exist at the time. 

Sonia Gomez: Yes. 

Robert Chavez: And so I did that and within three months, we had rescanned and reimagined their product line, to have an offering for doctors that was going to be offered exclusively to doctors and we did. Within three months after that, we were in 1000 clinics in all 50 states. 

Sonia Gomez: Yes. 

Robert Chavez: And so it was a huge success right away. But I also quickly saw the ugly side of this industry. The dirty things that you’ve probably talked about on this show—the issues with banking and the issues with money and with a clean product and with everything else that we’ve experienced over the past four or five years since the 2014 Farm Bill. And so, ultimately I separated from that group, but I was hooked. 

In my entire career in healthcare, I've never, ever experienced a patient with real gratitude. - Robert Chavez Click To Tweet

In my entire career in healthcare, I’ve never, ever experienced a patient with real gratitude. Yes, I would get things that were escalated and it was complaints about a huge bill or doctor this or whatever, but I never had somebody come and say, “thank you, you’ve, you’ve given me hope again. Thank you for giving me my life back,” or mother’s, “Thank you for saving my child.” or even family members of deceased patients saying thank you for letting my family member die in dignity. 

Sonia Gomez: Yes, 

Robert Chavez: Thank you for improving their quality of life on their last days. And it was just amazing. That was just something that really inspired me to turn my life’s purpose in this. And so I started, from learning all the things that I saw, I knew what I didn’t want to do. And I knew that I could apply a lot of my experience from healthcare in order to organize something that could have a real impact and bring about real change while creating an establishing a new industry, where you’re up against big pharma and big medicine. So I understood it from all sides of the table. I mean, I’ll tell you all sides from like you said, we’ll get raw from battling addiction myself to being a decision-maker in a top 50 academic research institution to political and public health work, etc. You name it. I’ve seen it from all sides. 

So my perspective is fairly unique, I would say. But it also has afforded me the opportunity to think differently, right? So come up with different ideas on how to solve problems, and that’s coming really handy in this industry, because as you know, what was not a problem today is a problem tomorrow, and what was a problem yesterday is no longer a problem today. And it is a constant, constant puzzle. And people look at you like you’re crazy. And they say, oh, why don’t you just try this? Or why don’t you just try that? Like, why don’t you just go open a bank account? Or why don’t you just get some paid Facebook Ads? And every single step of the way is a giant mountain.

What was not a problem today is a problem tomorrow, and what was a problem yesterday is no longer a problem today. - Robert Chavez Click To Tweet

Sonia Gomez: Let’s talk about some of those for a second and I and we’ve had our fair share of discussions around the challenges with banking and the challenges with merchant processing and the things that feel most normal for a business owner to incorporate into their business to even be able to take payment or render a service, simple bare-bones, basic foundational necessities are pretty restrictive, in the cannabis industry, including the financial aspect of it and the marketing aspect. and certainly, the relationship building because honestly, just the integrity of people in this space, there’s a lot of like, talk with very little delivery. 

And being somebody who is a service provider and a consultant in this space, I’m never going to claim to be perfect. There’s been plenty of occasions, I should say a handful of occasions where I have not been able to deliver on a promise. However, my integrity challenges need to continue pushing and sticking with that person without requiring further payment until a situation is made right. And I think, at the same time, I have 10 times the positive results, and I do the full pause in the industry. 

However, I’ve seen so many folks fall victim to the lack of integrity of the entrepreneurs who are in this space, which is really, really challenging for me. And in a moment, I want to hear you weigh in on this. It’s really challenging for me, because right now, even if we are three to five years into this space, it’s a little longer but actively and hyper public exposure of CBD and the industry’s growth has really experienced hockey stick type growth in the last three, maybe five years max. 

However, as a self-governing industry, it’s very, very challenging to hold each other accountable to a certain level of operation or a certain standard in which we should or could be operating. to showcase our level of professionalism and capability to push ourselves into the future. For you, as a business owner and as a consultant and somebody who’s working on strategy and systems and processes for brands in this industry, what are some of the key challenges that you have come across as both an entrepreneur and as a consultant that make your teeth cringe as we are maturing as an industry? 

Key Challenges as Both an Entrepreneur and as a Consultant

Robert Chavez: I would say, the lack of integrity and greed. I mean, those two and I think you would be hard-pressed to find somebody that would disagree, that has integrity, and that isn’t greedy in this industry, because all the ones that are they won’t admit it, right.

Sonia Gomez: Yeah. 

Robert Chavez: But I was, I was shocked. I mean, like I said, I come from a place where integrity is [00:15:56 unintelligible] I mean, in colleges kids get kicked out of school for copying on a paper or cheating on a test. 

Sonia Gomez:  Yes.

Robert Chavez: And that was my life was academic medicine. And to come out into the real world and then into this industry, and see that people are willing to just put any label on anything. And so it offers something that basically playing on people’s vulnerabilities when they’re the most vulnerable when they’re desperate and have no other hope. Right? 

Sonia Gomez:  Yes.

Robert Chavez: That has been one of the hardest pills to swallow. And it’s what’s presented the most business challenges too because I will not waver. I’m not going to bend on the way we do things, because that’s the way to make money. That’s not what this is about but most people will. And they do in this industry, They’ll see a spray, so we have a spray product that’s water-soluble. It’s got the technology in it, whatever and it’s more bioavailable, and etc. So, it’s more effective. 

But other people see us pre-selling, they’ll just put their same product in a spray bottle and say, Oh, we have a spray now too, and it has all this nano this and then all that, and they’ll just market it to hell. And at the very least they create confusion in the marketplace so people don’t know what to take. And then when that happens, people shop for price. And then the people that don’t put any real product in their product anyway can drop the price. And it’s just a losing proposition. 

At the end of the day, the end consumers are the ones that are paying the price and never mind all of the startups with integrity that can’t survive that. We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve made it and it feels like where the pilgrims making it through another winter but it is it’s like Jamestown. We come and it’s like, alright, we’re gonna make it but we don’t waver on our integrity on doing the right thing because that I see too much of that. And I think that it’s horrendous that people are playing on others. And really, they’re just exploiting them. At the end of the day, let’s just be real. They’re exploiting people when they’re the most desperate and it’s just kind of disgusting, you know?

Sonia Gomez: Yes, yes, I recognize I recognize that happening quite a bit in the industry. And they also work quite a bit with companies who are both in the startup and in the revamp stage of their businesses, perhaps they’re confronted with an opportunity where they need to grow, expand or fix some of the things that they have in place so that they can grow and expand. 

I’m also working with brand new startups and a lot of what we’re talking about right now to overcome the challenges of marketing is leveraging content and consistent content creation in order to be known and recognized for the things that make you great. And there’s only so many times that you can mention the efficacy of a product, where it’s sourced from, and this and that, so on and so forth. 

By the way, a huge point of frustration for me because I’m like, you fuckers Don’t even ask these kinds of questions for food. Like, what the fuck do you care where your CBD came from? Have you asked the question where your Tyson chicken has come from recently, like, no one asks questions like this about their food? Very few people are reading their nutritional facts. 

However, they will not take a CBD product that is not from the underbelly of a virgin goat that’s been blessed by God Himself. It is the funniest thing in the world to me. I’m all about it. And at the same time, it’s hilarious. Like I think we need to start carrying over some of these concerns and questions into the food and water conversations because CBD is like it’s just one ingredient. You’re going to find it in your non-organic GMO If I could wheat crackers to bro.

Robert Chavez: I asked somebody recently. We’re talking about the COAs for the product that was run and that was questionable and we will always rerun, if it comes back out of range, we will rerun it at our cost. I mean, that’s part of integrity, right? Like you said, you gotta fix them and that’s it. Nobody’s perfect. And the integrity is measured, when the problem happens, how you move forward from it, and how you solve it. And so challenging me on it. And I said, let me ask you, have you ever opened a bottle of Tylenol and sent it off to a lab to see if it actually has the amount of milligrams per capsule or per tablet that you think it has? 

Integrity is measured, when the problem happens, how you move forward from it, and how you solve it. - Robert Chavez Click To Tweet

Sonia Gomez: Yes. 

Robert Chavez: Dead silence crickets, right? Sick. Nobody fucking checks any of that stuff. Nobody checks any of it. But why? Because the industry is established, and it’s trusted and it’s expected. In this industry, what we have is also part of the underlying battle going on is the word misinformation. Right? And the stuff, let’s not beat around the bush, again, like I said. Big Pharma putting a bunch of fake products on Amazon over the summer. I mean, they can say it’s not them, I’m assuming, right? But it’s a pretty safe damn assumption. They put on all this stuff. Suddenly, Amazon’s open up to selling it. What? Where did that come from? Right? And suddenly, they’re everywhere and you get 75,000 milligrams in this 30 ml bottle for 999. 

And, you know, we look at each other, like, what the fuck does anybody know what 75,000 milligrams of CBD looks like? It would never even fit in a 30 ml bottle. You’d need like a frickin mason jar. It’s like, it’s just so ridiculous. But then people buy it, right? Because now they’re buying on price because there’s enough confusion out there like I said before. So, they buy it because it’s the cheapest one and it’s the strongest one. So it’s the best one, right? Because that’s how we are. That’s how we have to make decisions. 

And then it doesn’t work. So I’ll never try it again because I tried the strongest best one. They forget what they paid for it. But now I have to go back to my drugs. Nothing else works. I have to go back to my doctor and get my damn frickin oxys. Why? Or the people dying from vapes that were laced. You think I would lace my own pens and kill my own customers? It’s just ridiculous, right? But then these people can actually walk into a politician’s office and say, “you know, Mr. Senator, are you really going to let this happen in your state.” Or “you should put a moratorium on this until you can further investigate?” Well, what the fuck happens then you just killed every frickin vape shop in the state you know? So, it’s these games that we’re up against. So that’s what we’re up against.

Sonia Gomez: Yeah, I agree. I mean, obviously, it’s not an ideal situation, however, a lot of good is still happening. And there are companies who are making an incredible change in creating opportunities for other entrepreneurs to incubate their companies and contributing to their success. So, talk to me a little bit about the different facets of your business and the roles that you play in the industry being successful. You’re obviously involved with touching and feeling and utilizing the product and seeing the positive effects there, all the way through to creating organizations where people can be participatory. 

So why don’t you talk to me a little bit about the different ways that a company can work with you or what are the different things that you guys are offering as an organization, and then I want to piggyback and ask the reason why? I think this in this type of conversation, it’s easy to talk about how great and amazing everything is. But what I’m recognizing from my listeners, and from a lot of the consumers, whether they’re business owners or not, they’re very curious to they’re always asking this question, Wow, that’s so cool that this company or this guy is doing this. My question is why? So I’d love to hear from you like, what are the different facets of your business? How are you helping people and the industry grow and more importantly, why bigger mission that you’re working to accomplish?

The Bigger Mission 

Robert Chavez: Okay, well, first of all, thanks for switching us from the doom and gloom, some more positive conversation. Yea, obviously, I mean, all the stuff we’ve been talking about, is part of what we deal with. But there’s a hell of a lot more positive and good or I wouldn’t be doing it, to be honest with you. Like I said, I have a family to worry about. I have aspirations to really help people. And if I didn’t think that this was the best way, I wouldn’t be here. 

But that said we launched– well initially because of all the financial stuff and the banking regulation and all that we really kind of started as connectors, right to, to start rethinking how these products were made and why they were made like you said. Like why this product and not the other. So the product selection and understanding the science, and all of that. So we started with that before we really kicked off our first products. It took us about probably six months before we introduced the product on which slowly turned into a product line, which then evolved into two product lines. And I’ll talk about that in a second. 

But really, my goal was from the very beginning, to make the product to help as many people as possible let’s say. So in order to do that, I knew that I needed to get the cost down of the active ingredient. Because accessibility came at a price point. The only way I could get the price point down is to get the active ingredient down. And then also through experience learning that the active ingredient you couldn’t just get from anywhere at that time, there was enough bad stuff going around that you could easily be duped into getting something that wasn’t gonna work. 

Sonia Gomez:  Yes. 

Robert Chavez: And so, that first year I took– I traveled so much that I visited 150 cities in 365 days. 

Sonia Gomez: Wow. 

Robert Chavez: All across the US internationally. Really establishing relationships right down to the farmers to the owners of some of the oldest companies in the industry. So that when the going got tough that year that we had that big drought and there was a big shortage of product and people started paying 25 $40,000 for a kilo. I have protected my needs, because I had established really good relationships with really good people, because like you said, there are a lot of really good people in this industry. They’re just hard to find. But once we start finding each other, we connect each other as well. 

The next way to get this to be more accessible and control the cost was to make it more bioavailable, meaning how much of the active ingredient actually makes it into your circulatory system throughout your body to have an effect and the impact that you need, right. And so we started looking at different delivery systems. That’s how we came up with the tincture came about, really, because it’s what everybody knew, right? So we needed something that would be familiar. 

Then we moved to the water-soluble spray with nanotechnology because it was more bioavailable. And being water-soluble, your body absorbs water different than liquids or fats which is the oils right? And so the That increases bioavailability. and then the vape which is inhaled obviously and through the lungs, it goes straight into the bloodstream. So being the fastest way that you can get these cannabinoids. 

And so then we moved into topicals, etc. But we started with a full spectrum line that then we were presented with an opportunity to become the sponsors of the National Women’s Hockey League. And that put us as the first company to sponsor a professional league in the US. And so we jumped on it. And through conversations with the commissioners of hockey and the officials at WADA, the world anti-doping agency, there was a lot of concern about the products coming back testing positive for any other cannabinoids than CBD because that’s the only cannabinoid that WADA has taken off their anti-doping list and affecting the players because every single player on the USA women’s Olympic gold team plays in the National Women’s Hockey League. 

And so Finally we ended up settling on we will do a CBD only line. And that’s how VEDA sport was born. And so we started the sport line, which is basically replicating the original line, but made with CBD only. And so then we ended up now with the two lines that we’ve got but we knew that in order to get it into as many hands as possible around the world, we couldn’t become a brand company. 

We had to facilitate the production of these products for many other brands, or even existing brands of other products that wanted an enhanced product, or that wanted to have an additive or anything like that. So that’s how it kind of evolved. We do have some white label clients that I won’t disclose. Really the goal is still and the mission to get this into as many hands as possible around the world. I have a real theory based on my background in big data analytics and looking at trends on Health care that when this plant was outlawed almost 100 years ago, we saw an increase in neurological disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, all these things that we have, right? 

Really the goal is still and the mission to get this into as many hands as possible around the world. - Robert Chavez Click To Tweet

When we were kids, there was no kid had autism, or ADHD hardly right. There was a rowdy kid in the class, but what the fuck, not all these kids were medicated and you got your Aspilets, that’s what I remember. But then now we see it, like every kid in the class and are all of our grandparents have Parkinson’s and but this didn’t use to happen. My great grandmother didn’t have anything she lived to be 96 but this was in part of the food chain. So I have a theory that if we can re-establish hemp into the food chain naturally, that we can see over time, a decrease in neurological diseases that came about after the outlaw. I believe that to be very real knowing the neuroprotective properties on the limited science is available right now, I really believe in that. 

And so the vision for our company is to re-establish hemp into the food chain naturally, where there will always be a need for supplements. Think of vitamin C, you can have an orange for breakfast, or a grapefruit with a glass of orange juice and still take your vitamin C supplement. So, the same thing now you could have eggs with a toast with butter, a glass of milk, and still take your CBD supplement. But if it’s in the food chain, it’s already in all that food you just ate and over time we replenish our body. Just because there would be no reason for us to have all of these receptors throughout our body if there was not a need for that plant to coexist with us. 

Sonia Gomez:  Yeah, totally. 

Robert Chavez: That’s the truth. We would still be walking around with tails. Evolution has proven that the human body is the most efficient machine ever. And if it doesn’t need it, it’s going to get rid of it. So the fact that they pair up so nicely and so well, in so many parts of the body and it has so many properties that benefit us, there’s no question in my mind. so that’s our mission really, is to get this into as many hands as possible with quality products that have what they say they have so that they can help people be balanced again, you know, talking about balance, mental health, all these things that come about when our bodies are out of sync and out of whack.

Sonia Gomez:  Totally, I love it. I had looked at your guys’ product and company about a year ago. And at the time, we were talking a lot about social media and how to build the engagement and make sure that there were more people able to get exposure to the unique things that you guys are doing. You guys are an incredible team. I think there’s three of you right, three or four of you?

Robert Chavez: The key founding team was about 12 of us.

Sonia Gomez: No, key partners. That’s what I mean. 

Robert Chavez: Oh, that are operational. Like they’re directly leading? Yeah, there’s four of us.

Sonia Gomez: Yeah, I spoke to the lovely woman. I can’t remember her–

Robert Chavez: Taryn Burke.

Sonia Gomez: Taryn, Ah. Love her by the way, she’s my spirit animal. Love Taryn. Anyways, I was talking to her a while back and recognizing one thing and this is something that I want to ask you about. Because I have been working in social media and where most people have been really struggling with leveraging social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, certainly Facebook in order to build audience recognition in order to build like that consumer community and have sort of a built-in traffic system for your guys’ products and offers. 

I’ve been doing a ton of research. We’ve been crushing it through Instagram and other social media channels and most of the folks that I know in this space have not been able to effectively or quickly grow their following on any of these platforms. And when they start to do what feels natural to them, like marketing or advertising or promotions to the group, they get shut down. And so everything feels pretty risky. 

One of the things I loved about your guys’ social media was that every image that’s on there clearly expresses your guys’ brand who your target market is, it’s very clearly communicated that who you’re working with and what problem you’re solving with what products. However, even somebody like yourselves who are investing time and money into the imagery and messaging that is connected to your platform, we’re still seeing minimal growth in the following, although I know that because of my own research, that that’s not necessarily a reflection of your revenue. It’s only a reflection of the reach

So my question for you guys is knowing the challenges that you’re faced with as a company and that we’re moving into a landscape of the industry here in 2020. As we’re maturing, the industry is going– the tail end of its of another cleansing right now, and in order to stay relevant in order to stay record it to be recognized, and to continue to grow and scale with the industry and have the consumer buy-in you have to have the region recognition of your brand. How are you guys tackling that or what’s your plan to stay, relevant and become highly recognized when we have the big conglomerates, doing huge traffic buys and things like that. What is your guys’ plan to overcome and stay and stay competitive?

Plans to Overcome the Challenges and Stay Relevant in this Industry

Robert Chavez: relying on what we know best, trusting ourselves and each other and that means shifting back facing the medical space through research with research institutions, we have a couple of universities now that we’re in talks with about doing research on specific diseases, leveraging our networks that are very extensive globally, actually, to help establish industry in other countries, aligning with trusted pharmaceutical manufacturers and companies in order to penetrate the veterinary space and just the real medical field and then the real medical company. 

Because that’s why I am at the core and that’s really lacking and that was lacking years ago when I helped establish the company that I did that shall remain unnamed. And there’s a desire there because there’s a lack of knowledge in that space as well. I’ve had meetings with leaders of other nations, which also remain unnamed. But these are things that we’re actually actively and aggressively pursuing because that’s the way to survive. And also diversifying into other industries that are affected by the plant. 

So, there’s a lot to the plant that more than than a CBD product and being hemp revolution, it’s everything else that it can affect, right. There’s so many industries that can be revitalized with this plant. We’ve done quite a number on our planet over the past hundred years. And I think it’s our responsibility as inhabitants of it that we start trying to clean up some of that shit.

Sonia Gomez:  Yes, totally.

Robert Chavez: [00:38:05 unintelligible], we can do it with with a hemp centered type ecosystem. Yeah. So, those are some of the bigger picture things that we’re looking at. And I mean, we’re in talks with some big, big sports players – not the players themselves, but organizations. Healthcare, like I, said, for big pharma. I’ve always been a proponent of letting me be by your side to help solve our mutual problem, rather than let me go head to head against you and see who wins. 

Because the reality is that there’s no way in fucking hell I’m ever going to have anything to put even a dent in them. You know? Because we’re up against some big people, right? Everybody’s afraid of change and everybody’s afraid of their wallet being affected. So if you come in as a partner that can help them revitalize their own industry or their own business, it suddenly is a lot more appealing. That’s kind of the approach we’re taking in order to stay relevant, you know, it’s like I like to use them. 

An example from back from grad school of how IBM has done this so masterfully throughout the decades, right? They started as this big mainframe, and they were a computer company. And then the desktops came out, and then they had a big make it or break it the moment when they had to decide to introduce a laptop, or should we keep selling desktops. But if we introduce laptops, we’re going to cannibalize and kill our own business. And at the time, the leadership wisely Enough said, Let’s kill ourselves. So you have to kill yourself in order to survive, which is the biggest oxymoron and totally counterintuitive to the way our brains are wired, right. 

But those companies that do that look at IBM today, the international business minds and they’re the biggest consulting company in the world. Not a computer company, their computers are called Lenovo. You know? Yeah. So it’s one of those things that we’re constantly reimagining ourselves how we operate day to day without compromising on our vision and our mission.

Sonia Gomez: Yes I love that about you guys is the level of consistency and dependability and like both imagery connection communication, how you guys are connecting with your consumer through the folks who are working with them every day, like, you know, like the medical field for instance. I think that that’s such a smart thing to do. And I’m just so excited to continue to watch your guys’ growth over the next couple of years. I really always thought that your brand would be one that would stick out and have done a good job sticking out for the long haul. So congratulations on that. What’s new for you guys in 2020? What should we be watching out for with data?

Things to Watch out for in 2020

Robert Chavez: We’re going to be introducing a couple of new products. Some that seem just fairly mundane like gummies, but we wanted to do it right. So they’re gonna be vegan, all-natural. We’ve been exploring now in the capsule space. So we’ve got a pre-workout product, and we’ll probably be launching a post-workout to have a whole workout program. The stuff on the sport line is really exciting. As I said, we’re looking at aligning with, with some, some big names, and actually, I cannot mention it right now but it will be big news. If we finished going down this journey that we have been going down already for some time with these folks.

And really a shift into the medical space. that’s the big directive I gave now. It’s, you know, we’re at the beginning of the year, we’re putting last year behind us and looking ahead, and a shift into the medical space, the right way, you know, whether it’s through real research and Real products and working with the VA and other organizations like that, that as partners are going to be important for us. 

And I mentioned the VA not because we’re working with them, but only because, to me, the biggest underserved and overly exploited populations in the world are the military and professional sports athletes. Once you use them up, there is a number once they get injured, and they’re no longer useful. You kick them to the frickin curb. And you spit on them, it’s again, another disgusting show of how humanity has fallen out right now. It’s like, come on, really? We celebrate the freedom we’re able to have this freakin podcast because there’s men and women dying for us, but then they come back here and we hook them on pills. I mean, that’s, that’s not right. 

For me, I love helping those segments of the population that others don’t want to help. And in some cases, they can’t help themselves. There’s a lot of similarities between pro athletes and the military. The transition from their identity into civilian life is really hard. And a lot of them don’t make it. Suicide is prevalent in both of those populations. Yeah. And mental health is something that we don’t talk about very openly in this country. And I think it has to be I mean, it’s what drives a lot of the other diseases.

Sonia Gomez: Yeah, I 100% agree. And I love to see a lot of the different companies coming out with programs that are, “to serve the military demographic”, however, most of the initiatives that I see and they get proposed to me on a daily basis– because we have such a large audience of folks who are from “Middle Earth” right there the beautiful Midwestern or southern families who have sacrificed more have their children to the military and are now suffering the consequences of them coming home and needing to be rehabilitated with little to no support. And there’s so many resources that we have as an industry to be able to support them. And However, I’m seeing just like mediocre propositions for how we should approach and deal with those things. So for those of you guys who are tuning in, my suggestion is to step your game up because the meat is coming in hot, and there’s–

About Fight Like Me Foundation

Robert Chavez: I’m gonna make a shameless plug. We have a foundation that’s a 501c3, the Fight Like Me Foundation, I was just gonna ask

Sonia Gomez:  you about it. Let me just ask you about it. Really? Talk to me a little bit about your guys’ foundation because I know that you guys have been working on it for quite a while it was one of the things that I was most excited about when I came in contact with your brand. And I think you guys are really doing it right. So talk to me a little bit about your foundation and how it’s helping, how it’s helping the military of the United States.

Robert Chavez: So the Fight Like Me Foundation was inspired by a friend of mine, Frances Haddock who recently died of breast cancer. She put up a good fight, but she didn’t make it, unfortunately. And she came to me on Father’s Day, a year and a half ago, saying she’d been diagnosed, I helped her with her medical appointments and getting a product and ultimately, she was a trainer to a lot of professional athletes and they wanted to help. And she didn’t know how to accept their help, and this and that. And so that’s how it came about and it was going to be Fight Like Frances and I said to her, you know, Francis, I did it as Fight Like Me, because we all have a fight, that we think we are unique and alone in,.

And if more of us come out with whatever that fight is, and see that there’s support and there’s others like us, that helps make it a little bit more bearable and so through education connection and also in order to provide a product at no cost to those that cannot afford it. That’s really the goal of the foundation. It’s just really when she passed, it took on a whole new meaning. So I’m working with some professional athletes now on seeing how we reimagine it now that she’s passed and in her honor. You know, for those that she loves to help, as well.

But that’s how that came about. And it’s really important for me, that our company gets back. Our slogan of bringing profound change to humanity is real. That’s how I feel about my purpose in my life and in what we’re doing and doing the right thing. so I think the fight like me Foundation was just a really natural fit. So what we’re doing

Sonia Gomez: Well please let me know how I can support you guys in your growth and I think what you guys are doing are really incredible. I love the alignment of your brand and how consistent you guys are in the imagery. And I think that that’s super important for those of you guys who are listening in that you have to make a decision on what you can or should be investing into the way that you are building the imagery around your company and ensuring that it’s quality and has that connectivity element to it while showcasing your product without being too salesy. I know it sounds like a tall order, but it’s really if you put some thought to it, it’s easier than it sounds. 

The second thing I’m really interested in working with VEDA in is definitely for the fight like me foundation. I’m certainly looking at– I represent an incredible community of folks who are consistently looking for brands that they can depend on and many of which are on Social Security. There’s a huge demographic with the 60 plus, people who are on Social Security or disability and can’t afford quality medicine and really do get stuck Spending their minimal cash that they should be spending on groceries, trying to find natural alternatives because the pills are taking away their quality of life in this phase of life where they should be enjoying it. 

So I’d love to be able to support the growth of the foundation and anything else I can do with VEDA. I love what you guys are doing for the athletic community. I have many friends who have been players on our favorite teams and would just love to continue to support everybody getting connected and being able to see positive results from this incredible plant. What are some final words that you have to share with us and I’d love for you to share where folks can find you if they’re interested in finding out more about what you’re doing where they can pick up your guys’ product, so on and so forth.

Final Words 

Robert Chavez: I would say if you’re new in this industry, persistence, persistence, persistence, and perseverance but always doing the right thing. If you’re a patient looking for a product, you can find out that https://vedaecn.com. ECN stands for endocannabinoid nutrition. And I’ll commit here on your podcast that if they’re seniors like you mentioned, we’ll extend a 30% discount and we’ll do that for veterans as well. And I’ll make sure that we get code upon once this is done so that we can make sure that we can capture that and extend the offer discount.

Sonia Gomez:  I’m saying love that. Thank you.

Robert Chavez: Yeah, no, no, this is amazing. We got to work and help each other.

Sonia Gomez:  Amazing. Thank you so much. How sweet. For those of you guys who are tuning in, make sure that you check out the blog, as well as the show notes and highlights from today’s show and interview. All of the social handles and websites will be posted right around this interview. And I just want to say thank you ahead of time for those of you guys who are tuning in and liking and sharing content like this, because when you like and share content like this, we have been able to impact hundreds of millions of people’s lives, quite literally from around the world and moving the needle forward for global legalization and accessibility. 

So I’m super grateful to you guys. Make sure that when you like and share that you’re tagging five people who you know will receive benefit from being in touch with companies like VEDA and The Hemp Revolution. If you are a person looking for products that you can depend on to deliver the results you’re looking for, check us out at medicalsecrets.com for our favorite picks. 

And if you’re a budding entrepreneur, check us out at theemeraldcircle.com for the resources, relationships, tips, and tricks that you need to grow effectively in the industry. And you can also see our other podcast episodes published on either one of those channels. 

Thank you so much, Robert, for being on the show with me today. I was just like so excited to spend the time with you and celebrate the incredible things that you guys are doing. And please consider us an ace in your pocket as you continue to grow and expand. We are here to continue to support and share your guys’ story.

Robert Chavez: Thank you so much. And can our products be found on your site too?

Sonia Gomez: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s talk about that when we hang up here.

Robert Chavez: There you go. No, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure and an honor. And thank you for helping us spread the word. 

Sonia Gomez:   Yes, absolutely. Congratulations on all your guys’ growth. You’re doing incredible things for space. I’m really honored to be in touch. And you guys, thank you again for spending another incredible hour with us here at The Hemp Revolution. I’m your hostess with the mostess Sonia Gomez and this is The Hemp Revolution Podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in and we’ll see you on our next show, guys.

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