Skip Shuda was an instructor and consultant at the Wharton Small Business Development Center for 16 years.
He has always been an entrepreneur and startup junkie. Six years ago, he decided to apply his entrepreneurial experience in the cannabis industry, which led to the Green Rush Advisors.
After recognizing that the emerging cannabis industry could use some help in becoming the “best version of itself,” he started Soulful Cannabis in 2018.
In this episode, Skip shares his opinion about the Coronavirus craze and how it affects his business. He also talks about Soulful Cannabis’s social responsibility initiatives.
Learn about the many opportunities in the cannabis industry despite the Coronavirus pandemic.
There’s work to be done in building out this industry, and you can get involved by repurposing some of your skills into this industry as it’s continuing to grow. – Skip Shuda
Some Topics We Discussed Include
4:40 – Skip takes his entrepreneurship experience and applies it into the cannabis industry
6:43 – The three areas that Soulful Cannabis focuses on
10:07 – Soulful Cannabis’ social responsibility initiatives
21:23 – His opinion about the Coronavirus craze
35:38 – How the Coronavirus issue is affecting his business
40:50 – Key pieces of advice to budding entrepreneurs who want to jump into the cannabis space
46:48 – Words of wisdom
52:39 – Where to find them
People Mentioned / Resources
Connect with Skip Shuda
Connect with Sonia Gomez
Sonia Gomez: What’s up, guys? Sonia Gomez coming to you from Denver, Colorado on another amazing episode of The Hemp Revolution Podcast where we are sharing and telling the real story of cannabis through the eyes of the entrepreneurs and incredible changemakers who are pushing this amazing industry forward.
As you know, it’s our mission to empower you with the truth about cannabis and hemp so that you can make educated decisions about how you want to care for yourself and the people that you love, or otherwise participate in this extremely exciting and yet very challenging industry. Check us out at medicalsecrets.com if you are someone who’s looking for products and information that’s easy to digest and effective to use. medicalsecrets.com is where you can find the products that we have personally vetted and selected to actually deliver the results that you’re looking for.
And if you’re a budding entrepreneur or business owner in this space, trying to break through some brick walls and glass ceilings, hit me up on email email@example.com. I’d love to hear your story and I’ll be excited to connect. You guys, I’m so excited to have you here. I invite you now to like and share this content. When you like and share this content. Make sure that you tag five people that you believe it’ll make a difference for.
When you take this simple action you are helping us transform the way that we think about and talk about cannabis and hemp, in our families and in our communities. And I thank you for helping us move the needle on global legalization and helping folks get safe and legal access to high-quality products that will actually work for them.
Super excited to have our guests today. Once again, we’ve pulled some of the best of the best out of the woodwork to share their story and experience in building a successful business here. Skip started Soulful Cannabis in 2018, after recognizing that the emerging cannabis industry could use some help and being the best version of itself.
In 2019. Skip focused on the Soulful Caregiver’s Program, the “Language Matters” content work, and leading Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. A man after my own heart, Skip today as a serial entrepreneur and medical marijuana Operations Executive digital marketing specialist and start-up business advisor.
From January 2017 until April 2018, he was the chief operating officer of one of Pennsylvania’s first medical marijuana dispensaries. He helped the team achieve a ranking of number eight out of 255 statewide dispensary applications ensuring a successful application. Skip oversaw the first sale to take place in the southeastern part of pa and the move to an operational status of two different dispensaries.
As a technology entrepreneur, his company Destiny Software built one of the world’s first online banking systems for Bank of America and grew to over 17 million in annual revenue. He received awards for the Greater Philadelphia area’s best management team and best startup. Skip was previously a member of the ArcView Investor Group, board member of PhillyNORML, and remains unanswered. instructor of entrepreneurship at the Wharton SBDC.
He is the managing partner of Philly Marketing Labs, a four-time Philly 100 Award recipient and a fortune 5000 fastest growing company member, skip founded GreenRushAdvisors.com in 2015 to provide educational services to accelerate legal reform and support aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry. A man who needs no introduction and super excited to have him on the show. Put your hands together and help me welcome my good friend Skip Shuda. How’s it going, Skip?
Skip Shuda: Okay, Sonia. It’s good to be here. Thanks for having me on today.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, of course. I’m so excited and really honored to have you here. Fellow canopy Nur. I’ve done some pretty extensive research into your background as you can tell. However, not everyone. Sorry, not sorry. Not everyone has been so privileged to do so. Why don’t you quick and dirty straight from the horse’s mouth, tell us a little bit about who you are, your background, and how you ended up in the cannabis craze.
Skip Takes His Entrepreneurship Experience and Applies It into the Cannabis Industry
Skip Shuda: Okay, sure. So, as you alluded to, I’ve always been an entrepreneur and a really kind of a startup junkie. I was teaching at the Wharton Small Business Development Center for 16 years actually, unfortunately, the gate closed down last summer. So that gave just a quick update note on that.
But about six years ago, I wanted to take my entrepreneurship blog and apply it to the cannabis industry. I’ve had a lifelong interest and relationship with the plant. And if I felt like it was time to really jump on that bandwagon. So that’s what led to the Green Rush Advisors and then with Green Rush Advisors, I was providing some courses for career seekers and for business owners that wanted to get into the space that eventually morphed into helping out with applications and working with some of the startups here in the Philadelphia area, New Jersey as well.
And ultimately through the experiences I’ve had in the cannabis industry in the first few years with Green Rush Advisors, my partner, and dear friend Jason Mitchell and another partner and friend Julia Klein, decided that we wanted to create a nonprofit that would focus on making the cannabis industry the best version of itself. And that’s really what gave rise to Soulful Cannabis.
The Three Areas That Soulful Cannabis Focuses On
So we really focus on three areas. One is on education where we’re looking at trying to remove the stigma around cannabis. So we run various events. we’ll publish content and try to educate people about the positive side of cannabis and really try to erase these four generations of the stigma that have built up.
The second thing is access. So access for patients access for caregivers access for employees, and people that want to get into this space, particularly helping communities of color, or communities that have been disproportionately targeted by the war on drugs, help them get into the cannabis space. And we do that through a variety of techniques. We sponsor registration events, certification events, for patients, we provide, again, educational services, we run a Soho Caregivers Program, which is really a big area of focus for us right now, during this time of the pandemic.
So hopefully we’ll talk about that a little bit. And then finally, corporate social responsibility. We really want to raise the bar and start the conversation about how we can create a healing industry. I mean, it’s a healing planet. So you feel like you deserve a healing industry.
Sonia Gomez: I couldn’t have said it better myself. A lot of the way that folks have gotten involved with this industry is through personal experience or story that connects them to this plant in some capacity, whether it’s a personal experience or through a loved one or even something that they bared witness to. However, not many businesses have done a great job at helping their community be a reflection of the success that they’re building in their business, which is why I love in the first few minutes of this interview, you’ve already started to talk about how you are a community-centered cannabis business and how important that is in all of the other goals and missions that you have to dissolve a generational stigma, empower people with the proper education and information that they need to make educated decisions about what they’re going to do, what they’re going to use, how they’re going to use it, and more importantly, how they’re going to understand the effects long term.
These things are many, many businesses looked over especially in the cannabis space because it’s such an easy product to sell, you almost didn’t have to market it. When he opened the store you like you to build it and they will come, literally, here they are lined up around the door to get the product. However, not everybody who tried it stuck with it unless they were a recreational user because they didn’t get the results that they were looking for. And some 25-year-old kid was stuck, you know, behind the countertop, giving them the highest THC. And now we’re losing, you know, the group that we want to actually support and understanding this plant better.
Talk to me about your guys’ initiatives, how are you guys showing up in the community? What are some of the But, you know, corporate social responsibility initiatives that you are opening up there, and how is your community benefiting from it?
Soulful Cannabis’ Social Responsibility Initiatives
Skip Shuda: Yeah, sure. Yeah. So I like to think of it as you know, we’re cutting new groups. Because this is an industry that is, while it’s been around in some form or another since 1996, we go back to the California days, is really been gaining steam over the last few years. And the tracks are being laid down for what this industry is going to look like.
It's really important as entrepreneurs start to look at this space, that they're getting into it for the right reason. - Skip Shuda Click To Tweet
So, for us, it’s really important as entrepreneurs start to look at this space, that they’re getting into it for the right reason. I mean, again, it’s a wellness product. So we want to be educating people in a way that they’re building their relationships with the plant, it’s being done in a way that’s thoughtful and healing. So we have been particularly focused on our Soulful Caregivers program whereby the state of Pennsylvania which is where we’re located, has put together a caregiver program, you can have up to five patients that you assist. And you can go on behalf of that patient to the dispensary, and pick up their medication and help guide them on the best product and then bring that to the patient.
So we’ve taken that to another level, we’ve created online training. We work with a guy named Kevin Taylor, who’s an expert in online instruction. And he donated his time to help us put together a really great training program that we’ve made available, free to the public.
And what that training does is it takes you through the process of how do you work with a patient? What kind of questions do you need to be asking? What kind of what are the different products that are available? How do they operate and how do they interact with the human body and then we provide a reimbursement program for our caregivers where we can reimburse them the registration fees and background checks.
Our plan is to also eventually cover some of their expenses either through like a gas card and gift card, as these caregivers are really providing volunteer service to the community, and especially for homebound patients.
So with the global pandemic underway right now, a lot of patients particularly those who are immunocompromised, can’t get out where normally they would have felt safe going out to a dispensary. They need support, and of course cancer patients, hospice patients, people that haven’t been able to get out to the specials in the past. We’re trying to reach them. So we’re growing that network and increasing it.
Other things that we’ve done. So we have a secret shopper program that we are putting together whereby we volunteers who will go into dispensaries they’ll follow a script and report back on the practices within that dispensary and trying to raise the bar within the industry of how people are operating.
We have the language matters series that you’ve talked about, which is really educational content we’re developing so people are conscious about the language they’re using in the cannabis space. You know, so we like cannabis versus marijuana, just because marijuana has been traditionally historically grounded in some of the anti-cannabis stigmas from back in the 30s. Now, that said, it’s probably the most well-recognized term, but you know, things like that.
We’ve also been promoting a number of educational registration certification events, which I had mentioned before. So that’s sort of sampling. We’re an all volunteer-driven organization. And we’re sponsored by the industry. So we actually have dispensaries, growers, processors in Pennsylvania, who have been donating to our program, so that we can actually carry out these actions.
Sonia Gomez: Wow, that’s so incredible. What a massive undertaking. I mean, with everything that you’re talking about however articulate it is, it is very well communicated. Personally, I know what it actually takes to execute on all the things you just said and god damn is like that is in some incredible work that you’re doing is and especially in the part of the world that you’re in or the part of the country that you’re in, that’s not an easy thing to push around or push through or to set a bar for.
However, and I’d love to hear your opinion on this. I think that the industry is young enough. And we’re in that third tier of entrepreneurship right now are folks like yourself who have the background that you have, are coming into the space and sort of reestablishing not only the pecking order but the code of conduct that we as an industry must abide by.
And I’m really excited to see that even 10 years then or more. I mean, I was there prop 215, you know, I’ve lived in Mendocino and Humboldt and the Emerald triangle. You know, a lot of my life has been spent in that region of the world, so I understand each facet of this industry, and each time it’s grown a new ring to show its age.
And I can tell you that we are still in our infancy even though we’ve been around for a while, we are still a self-governing industry. And we only have ourselves and each other to look to as far as being accountable to the type of excellence or professionalism that we want to be recognized for and not everybody has been on board with that. Many times and I’ve talked to I’ve recorded over 150 episodes of the hemp revolution podcast in the last two, three months. And I’ll tell you what, not everybody that I asked that question too has an answer. Some people are like, frankly, we’re not giving back to the community right now, if you have any suggestions, we’d be totally open.
And it’s really interesting that that’s not you know, especially because the spirit of this plant is really how we are helping ourselves in one another. And it’s interesting that not more businesses have considered how they are going to give back to their community, how they’re going to give back to the industry and how they can continue to elevate or uplevel the way that we conduct ourselves within the industry on behalf of the future of this industry.
Skip Shuda: Yeah, absolutely. I love the fact that it’s a self-governing industry because I do think, we’re at a time of reinvention for across our culture, not just in cannabis but in our world in general. And this idea of self-governing, I think is going to really resonate with a lot of people. As we come out of this pandemic, and we return to the streets.
You know, we see governments who have tried to put in, they’ll put social equity programs together, you know, and there’s been a lot of criticism about the way some of these initial social equity programs have been rolled out. So, you know, people talk about the programs [unintelligible] in California where people were, you know, former offenders or people who had recorded with cannabis-related records were put in the front of the line for getting a permit, which is great, but those people were not backed up with appropriate capital with appropriate operating experience with guidance with training, with all the support that an entrepreneur needs to actually be successful, so it was almost like they were set up for failure from the beginning.
So I think this idea of the government’s trying to do the right thing in some of these cases, but it really comes down to us and people who are all of us in the field, the employers, the employees, the patients, the cannabis users, who wanted to see that were and support these, these sorts of programs from the ground up. So I think that’s, I love to hear that, that idea of self-governing.
Sonia Gomez: Well, you know, let’s stick with the idea for a second because I think that it’s applicable across multiple planes. And I actually came up with this term. I mean, I didn’t invent it, obviously, but I came up with the use of this term when talking about our household and in one of the conversations with my family, I have a 17-year-old son, he’ll be 18 and October, championship football player, excellent students, but still somewhat rebellious.
I have a 14-year-old daughter. I have a 12-year-old daughter and I have a three-year-old daughter, who of all of them is the most, like me, which is not necessarily a good thing. She’s extremely free-spirited, extremely strong, very opinionated. And so we were all sitting down as a family trying to talk about in the face of this Coronavirus, what is our family’s commitment to excellence.
We have to be unapologetically committed to our own health and well being in order to be a part of the solution or a part of the problem. And this idea of self-governing is I’m not going to be chasing anyone of you guys around to tell you what to or what not to do. Everybody is in a place including the three-year-old where they can make the right choices for themselves, right?
We have to be unapologetically committed to our own health and well being in order to be a part of the solution or a part of the problem. - Sonia Gomez Click To Tweet
Skip Shuda: That’s right.
Sonia Gomez: And so I think as a community and I think as a society, it starts with one person, one family, whatever your nucleus or inner circle is and how you are influencing or acting as a center of influence in your actions. And so let’s talk about this in relationship to this pandemic right now, the corona craze. It’s the only fucking, excuse my language, industry, where, by the way, we are uncensored, so, permission to speak freely here.
His Opinion about the Coronavirus Craze
Skip Shuda: Okay.
Sonia Gomez: But it is the only freaking industry that changes more often than the cannabis and hemp industry so far, and it’s the only other industry that I know of that is using education to push fear. And I can’t decide, sometimes it’s difficult for me, I go through my waves. I can’t decide whether to be start cold afraid and never leave my house again, or, you know, totally liberal about it and try and quote-unquote, act normally or finding the center ground where again, we are making a commitment as a family on how we want to protect ourselves and each other, and then the ripple effect of that is how we are protecting and engaging with our community.
So I would love to hear from you first, what is your opinion of the corona craze? And what side of the fence are you on? Are you on the side that we are going to be suffering at the hands of this disease and all of its repercussions economically, etc, etc, for some time, or do you think that this quote-unquote, this too shall pass and we will be finding ourselves in the quote-unquote, new normal post-Corona craze?
Skip Shuda: Sure. Yeah, no, I think everybody is struggling with these sorts of questions right now, and to me, it’s a time that’s it’s laden with fear. There’s a lot of anxiety in the air, everyone’s on edge, especially public-facing employees. So, the first thing that I like to do is try to encourage compassion and patience with each other. Because everybody’s doing the best they can. And I’m reminded, oh, I think it’s a Maya Angelou quote, where she said, “Do the best that you can until you know better and then do better.”
So, to me, that means to listen, you were having these conversations with your family is we’re having conversations in our family, we have the advantage of technology to share, and to come up with new ideas and practices that we hadn’t thought about before. So, my feeling on the corona crazy as you said, Listen, I think it’s a real pandemic, I don’t think that shirred people are getting sick. And for whatever reason, some people are succumbing to this.
So I do think we have to be prepared. You know, there’s a role for governmental leaders to play to coordinate and organize. But there’s an even bigger role for all of us as individuals to play and it’s to have those thoughtful conversations that you’re having, about where do we draw the lines? What kind of boundaries do we have to maintain, to stay at home to stay safe? When do we venture out and why do we venture out so we are caregivers program we are asking caregivers to go out, to venture out to the dispensaries on behalf of patients who may be immunocompromised or can’t get out because they need the medicine to help them continue to function and get by on a day to day basis.
So that’s a choice that our caregivers have to make. One of the things that we’re going to do is actually have a webinar in the upcoming days for our caregiver’s circle to talk about this, again share these best practices, what are the best practices for going to a dispensary. some of our dispensaries have taken the stand of doing parking lot delivery. So they’ll actually take a pre-order online or over the phone and they’ll bring it out to the parking lot. So reducing the exposure of people having to go into the store.
To me, that’s a step in and taking some corporate social responsibility for our caregivers. We want to know what are the practices of different dispensaries. Some other dispensaries have published online. Here are the practices that we’re going to follow in terms of maintaining a clean and safe environment. So they’re basically publishing if you will, their standard operating procedures with respect to handling and Safety.
These are all good things that communication and that transparency really become a part of the parcel to getting through this epidemic. But, but at the end of the day, I’m really hoping that what happens is we come out of this and it’s not business as usual, that instead, we maintain some of these practices where we’re communicating in groups, and we’re sharing best ideas and practices. We’re looking out for each other. As we learn new information about the virus, we’re sharing that information with each other.
Right now and there’s a public debate, should we be wearing masks, or not wearing masks. So, you know, there’s some conversations so maybe there’s a shift in practices, we have to stay agile and keep communicating about that so that people are again, doing the best that you can until you know better and then do better.
Sonia Gomez: I mean, the only thing I can say right to that is like, preach on.
Skip Shuda: [crosstalk] process. But yeah,
Sonia Gomez: I mean, it’s very, very well said and I think that it’s first, some constructive criticism, but it’s also some necessary support in one’s mindset.
In my experience of having dealt with severe life-altering illnesses, both in myself and family members’ being well, and staying well is a mindset. And that is a mental, physical, emotional, spiritual across the plane, the idea of wellness starts with one’s mindset, and then it moves into the physical and how we, you know, make our decisions moment to moment to support our individual or independent well being.
You will hear gurus or instructors talk about feed your mind, give it positive information, speak into existence, what you say will become true. There’s a whole initiative around or a scientific fact at this point where 80% of your immune system is inside of your belly. And you have to consciously make the choices that are going to give your belly and your gut the proper nutrients that it needs so that you don’t become stagnant, and therefore a breeding ground for bacteria and virus.
So all of these, one of the things that I’m grateful for, in this whole process and as scary as it is as historical of a moment in time that this will become, I mean, this is quite literally shaping our society and our world for the remainder of our lifetime and we will never live the way that we did pre 911. We will never live the way that we did pre Coronavirus. This is completely changing the fabric of our society.
However, I find it really difficult to contribute to the quote-unquote conspiracies and the fear-mongering that is in place right now because what is Corona done for me? Let’s answer that question for a second. So far, my kids are at home. We’re harmoniously working together as a family to build gardens and outside infrastructure in our backyard and my kids are emerging out of their bedrooms and off of social media and doing puzzles and playing games and interacting with one another.
We’re eating better food, we’re taking better care of ourselves. We’re holding each other accountable, and we’re figuring out in this business hustle and bustle of a world how to peacefully co-exist. And this has been a quote-unquote, hippie centric idea, the idea of coexistence, for quite a while. Whereas on the opposite side of the spectrum, it’s all about what you can do and what you can accomplish. And somewhere in the center, cannabis made it possible for us to come together, [crosstalk] are coming together.
Skip Shuda: I love that. I don’t think it’s right here. We need to actively both sort of monitor, shepherd our own emotions and our own what we project on social media and whatnot because again, it’s easy to get into the fear and the anxiety and then start lashing out. But there’s a higher self and a higher purpose that I think we really want to be focusing on. That’s going to be helpful to others and people want to see that promoted. Have you seen this little snippet, a small poem that this woman Kitty O’meara wrote? [crosstalk]
Sonia Gomez: No, but if you want to share it [crosstalk]
Skip Shuda: if I could, yeah, it’s just, it’s just a minute. And she wrote. “And the People Stayed Home, And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
So that’s Kitty O’Meara. So I guess a former chaplain and teacher retire out of I think Wisconsin or Michigan somewhere in the Midwest. And I just thought that was a beautiful expression of ways to think about this. And now we see, the air quality is improving. I just saw something that sea turtles are having record populations on the beaches because they’re undisturbed. The canals in Venice are teeming with fish and even dolphins coming in there. So, there’s a balance, it’s being restored, even though it’s a very difficult time for many people. And hopefully, we can continue that afterward. And I think cannabis is really representative of a lot of that connection to nature, that healing connection to nature.
Sonia Gomez: I couldn’t agree more. It’s so. So again, there’s one more example of like, Man, I’m not sure that I can find beyond like the scare and the fear factor and all of the things like anybody can find the negative aspect of it, but like it takes a second to just like, take a deep breath and slow down for a second and notice that like, I can see a little bit further from my backyard than I’ve been able to see in a long while or Hey, check that out, Los Angeles doesn’t have any smog or, huh. Interestingly enough, the canals are not brown in Venice, they’re actually crystal clear blue water. It’s pretty interesting. It’s pretty interesting to see.
Although I will say that it’s pretty terrifying to watch and to listen to what’s happening economically as a ripple effect to this whole thing, which does shake me. It’s not the virus itself because I feel, myself I feel pretty confident in my ability to not only implement ways to stay healthier but also my ability to teach and transfer that information to other people.
However, there are six people on my block when I walk my kid like a dog. No, I walked my kid to get her energy out around the block and I’m like, oh, social distancing talking to my neighbors. And they’re like, you know, bags under their eyes. Poor guys. I’m really this is not General, but bags under their eyes, they’re stressed out, they’re freaking you know, everyone’s in their house closed. And I’m like, Hey, what’s going on? You know, how are you guys doing?
And they’re like, Oh, we fuckin lost our jobs, both of us. We’re going to have to refinance our house, you know, blah, blah, blah. And I’m like, Oh my god, the effect of this is really significant. I saw one guy or bloke was moving back to his mom’s house. I was like, hey, how are you doing? Because our kids play together. And, and he was like, yeah, you know, not so good after 20 years of being out on my own and having to move back to mommy’s I’m like, Oh, shit.
Skip Shuda: Yeah. It’s really tough for a lot of people, I think. And, you know, I think it also reveals sort of the fragility of our economy, a lot of people we’re living paycheck to paycheck, and now they don’t have that paycheck. So we’ve got to do things as communities to support each other, and be there for each other because, again, you know, the government may come in and try to do the right thing, but it’s ultimately what do we do neighbor to neighbor, community, to the community to help each other get through this? And I’m hoping that there’ll be new kinds of jobs and new ways of being that are going to help people really recover quickly. So I think that’s a lot. There’s a lot of work to be done once this once we get out of the house.
Sonia Gomez: That’s is an understatement of the century. The final question I have around the Coronavirus issue is how is it affecting your business or how are you exceeding the Coronavirus? You know, circumstances affect the flow of business for your company and for the other cannabis companies in your community.
How the Coronavirus Issue Is Affecting His Business
Skip Shuda: Yeah, well as a nonprofit again, we’re really pretty much dependent on the support of the industry and industry participants. So, what has happened is, is really raised the profile of our caregiver’s program. I now see also dispensaries putting out calls for caregivers, there are patient groups putting out calls for caregivers. And we have people now coming to our site saying, hey, I want to become a caregiver. In fact, I was in touch with someone at the Department of Health this morning, when patients contact them, they’ll send us requests for caregivers.
So we’re seeing an increased interest. But then, you know, it’s also difficult because as an all-volunteer organization, people are on an individual basis and caregivers are having to examine that question, hey, do I need to, you know, do I want to put myself at risk by going out into the community to provide this service and we’re very fortunate to have some dedicated caregivers who are willing to go out and help people.
There’s also a lot of people that are at home now. So all of a sudden, our whole all-volunteer force has extra time on their hands. So we have webmasters who are helping us out their website, we have some marketing people who are donating their time to help us get the word out and manage our social media channels to put together marketing strategies so we can reach the people that we need to reach both as a service organization and also as your fundraising process.
So I’m optimistic from that perspective. Even though you know, it comes with some difficulties, we had to cancel, we postponed a big event we’re supposed to do this past Saturday, we’re going to do a cannabis one on one event, and we had doctors who were donating their time to certify patients either for free or at a reduced price. We had, you know, speakers who are going to do a panel for patients so that it has to be postponed. And our sponsors want to know well, when are we going to reschedule? Well, it was Can’t really even say yet until we have better visibility in there.
So we use a process that’s based on something called holacracy. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of that. But it’s an agile governing process that allows us to dynamically steer as changes show up in our organization. So we get together on a weekly basis to talk about what’s going on. we solicit feedback from all of our volunteers and participants, and then we change our strategy accordingly. So it allows us to operate in a very agile fashion and respond to things quickly. So those kinds of practices have really served us well at this time of uncertainty.
Sonia Gomez: I’m interested to know, pre-Corona post-Corona. This market is not getting any easier to exist in, I mean, it’s pretty easy. There’s relatively low barriers of entry. If you want to get started here, you alluded to the fact that most people who want to get started don’t necessarily have the wherewithal, the sources to succeed in this space. And they certainly, in most cases, at least, the folks that come to me for support, don’t generally have a clear roadmap of what they want to do and how they want to do it.
I have many folks who are listening in on our podcast and always wondering, what are the ways that they can get involved in this industry and I give them three sorts of compartments to consider.
Skip Shuda: Okay
Sonia Gomez: Number one is developing new skill sets that will allow you to get a job and support the building of a brand. Second is if you already run your own business and you’d have a professional certification like legal or accounting or plumbing, for instance, HVAC, you can tailor your existing business and skill sets just serve this new industry. And then finally is starting your business.
However, most people want to work themselves from the top down, like the way that they think about seeing themselves involved in cannabis is by having their own cannabis company. And that’s not always the best-case scenario. And however, folks are quite ambitious. So for the spirited ones who are still listening in and wanting to figure out how they can make their entry into this space, or perhaps they’re just starting to get their feet wet in the canopy newer, you know, journey. What would be one or two key pieces of advice that you could offer them while they’re considering, you know, what their next step should be to grow and succeed in this space?
Key Pieces of Advice to Budding Entrepreneurs Who Want to Jump into the Cannabis Space
Skip Shuda: Sure. Well, you know, so it’s a great question. I think, structurally, a lot of states have set out their businesses in a way that favors well-capitalized, well-funded organizations. So you have a lot of multi-state operators with millions of dollars, that you know, you really need to have hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital or millions of dollars in capital to actually get up and running. But that’s changed with the advent of the format and the legalization of hemp.
So in effect, there is a form of cannabis that is legalized. And this is, you know, since this is the hemp revolution, podcast, I think this is applicable to your audience. In Pennsylvania, for example, you know, the barrier to entry is much lower now, if you want to become a hemp farmer.
Now, there are still a number of challenges. Last year, I think there was, you know, too many people are growing and not enough people were processing but there’s clearly long term a rising demand for CBD oil, for CBD products, for other cannabinoids CBG. So, in terms of building a business, the opportunity is there and the barriers are lowering. Now it’s going to be a crowded space. So it comes down to how do you differentiate yourself? And for me, I’m encouraging people to think very carefully about why you’re doing this. Who are you trying to help? And make sure you focus on that. So, avoid some of the pitfalls that other companies have fallen into where they don’t engage patient communities. They don’t engage the local MS group or groups that are in cancer groups.
You want to be involved with those groups and provide education and support to those groups. You know, help veterans who may not have resources to get the products that they need to provide some kind of support where they can do that, With the hemp industry, a lot of times, you have the opportunity to get people who are returning citizens, people who have been incarcerated, where they’re locked out of the regulated cannabis industry. Well in the hemp space, they’re not locked out and they can come in and they can learn farming skills, and they can learn processing skills and retail, retail skills, and transportation.
So there are opportunities in this industry now that are emerging that weren’t there before. And we need to continue as an industry to work on breaking down those structural barriers so that so many people aren’t locked out of this space, particularly people who have been targeted by the war on drugs and maybe they’ve been incarcerated.
These people need to be given a leg up to help get a fresh start, we have to change the way we think about returning citizens and incorporate them right into the heart of the industry. So those are some of my pieces of advice because those kinds of actions and activities will also gain you trust in the community that you’re serving. And people will see that you’re authentic. And that your care center, your care centric, your wellness centric, and that’s going to help you differentiate against all the other people who are going to be out there.
To your point lots of ancillary businesses as well marketing HVAC plumbing, you know, electricians, carpenters, there’s work to be done in building out this industry. And you can get involved by repurposing some of your skills into this industry as it’s continuing to grow. So I do There’s an optimistic edge here. And people just need to think carefully about why they’re getting into it, and how they’re getting into it.
Words of Wisdom
Sonia Gomez: Such good words of advice and you’re really coming from a place where you have involved yourself on multiple planes as an investor, as a successful business owner, yourself as an employer, as an educator, as well. So I really, really value the things that you have mentioned here and at the core, the overlining message that I’m hearing is integrity, and how we conduct ourselves.
One of my mentors said, how you do one thing is how you do everything and you set the expectations and your first impression, and it’s a very, very difficult thing to undo. And it’s an even more difficult thing to be in that centered space of consciousness to where you’re aware that your first second of making an impression as a business as an individual, as an employee can never be erased. That moment in time is like a snapshot. It’s a core memory, every time you make or build a relationship with somebody. So I will second what you had to say in this section. In this section of words of wisdom, which I do with all of my entrepreneurs on this show, and I think it’s one of our most highly listened to sections of the interview. But I will second what you said in the spirit of integrity and talk about the importance of building and growing and building and growing a team with integrity.
And I learned a lot about this and I’m still a student of building a team that performs the way that you would perform because it’s a company culture and not a personal choice. And somebody said this so super well his name is Russell Brunson and Russell Brunson is the author of multiple books we have DotCom Secrets, Expert Secrets, and most recently Traffic Secrets. And Russell Brunson in expert secrets. was talking about how you build authority and how you build a cult-ure or cult following in your community, because of who you are, what you know, and how you deliver the knowledge that you have.
The internet has been such a powerful tool to deliver your message and showcase your mission. And this is one of the areas that I recognize most businesses who are not experiencing exponential growth are struggling with. Your integrity is built off of the vision that you have for your business and the commitment to the mission that you are working to execute every single day. And with your very clear, laser-focused vision for your business and for your future, including income and impact, which by the way, are directly related to one another, you must absolutely consider what the culture of your company is going to be inside of that vision and paired with your mission.
With a clear vision, if you know what you’re doing, and what you’re doing, and when you’re going to do it, the who and the how it’s going to get done. how it’s going to get done, and with whom it’s going to get done with or four will show up. So you must know who you are in the business, who you want to serve in the business because it’s not just quote-unquote, for everybody.
I’m watching The series on Roger Ailes right now. And in the first episode, they talked about the importance of finding the niche. Network Television isn’t for everybody. That’s not how you reach the broadest audience. The way that you reach the broadest audience is by creating a polarizing message that serves a specific audience so well that other that it piques other people’s interest to want to get involved.
So your mission has to be big enough. And your vision has to be big enough in order to attract and enroll the team who will help you buy your time to stay in your genius, measure twice, cut once and make sure that you stay committed to the vision and mission that you have as an organization and that every decision that you make at the roundtable is with the commitment to excellence when it comes to the mission or vision that you have. Now the walls of the mission and vision can be flexible but the core values must stay steady.
And so I asked each and every one of you guys as you’re coming into this emerging industry, which has the potential to quite literally transform the way that we feel and function, but also act in our daily lives, the disruption that this plant has already caused in multiple industries, starting with the medical industry and the transformations that we’re getting to celebrate on a daily basis here are so significant that I implore you to take responsibility for how you design and develop your execution plan and how you hold your team accountable to the vision and mission that we have as an industry to support the health and well being of our families, of our communities and of ourselves as a society as a whole. That is what we can be committed to as a self-governing industry. And those are my words of wisdom for today’s episode.
Skip Shuda: Beautiful. Well said, Sonia. Really well said.
Sonia Gomez: Thank you.
Skip Shuda: I just comment a little bit on that. But you know, we have an informal, no assholes role in the organization. You know, and but it’s because we want people, as you say, with integrity, people who are authentic, who are showing up for the right reasons. And I will say that our mission and vision that’s been articulated through our website, through our social media to our programs, or our YouTube channel, has resonated enough that we’ve had people from around the country reach out to us and say they want to be involved, or they’d like to bring in SoCal cannabis to their state.
We just spent at the beginning of March, probably our last live event. We did one in the Lehigh Valley here in pa after that, but we spent a couple of days in St. Louis in Missouri, working with a new partner out there who got us out there because she saw the mission and said this is what we need to have in this new medical program that’s rolling out in resort. So, I totally agree. The idea of really being true to your vision and mission measured twice cut once. That’s an old Carpenter Maxim that my uncle Pete, a carpenter from way back taught me years ago and it applies as well to business as it does to carpentry. So thank you for that. It was really interesting.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, absolutely. I would love to hear from you what, where can people find you and follow you if they’re interested in getting involved or just following along the journey of your business and of yourself? as you guys are growing?
Where to Find Them
Skip Shuda: So we’re Soulful Cannabis. That’s soulfulcannabis.com. We have a Facebook page. We have Instagram and Twitter and LinkedIn and a YouTube channel. And they’re all other soulful cannabis. So you should be able to find like on Instagram @soulfulcannabis or on Twitter at @soulfulannabis. So we’re present on all of those channels. And again, we’ve had some help from some great marketers who are helping us out with that. Our friend Catherine over at High Expectations Marketing has been volunteering her time to help us put together a strategy and a woman named Jennifer Hennessy has been helping us out as well. So I just want to give them a shout out for their help on the marketing side as we start to really ramp up our 2020 initiative in this new world that we live in.
Sonia Gomez: Shout out ladies I love to hear that lady bosses are driving the boat. I love a good lady boss. Well, that’s fantastic and Skip, thank you so much for spending your time with me here today. I can’t wait to have you on season two, which we are getting ready to start as soon as season two will be the hemp revolution live which will be broadcasted live across all of our channels, which will be super exciting. You guys, so those of you who are a part of our Hemp Revolution family or Medical Secrets community, you will be getting notifications on all the cool stuff that we will be up to and the launch of season two, and Skip, thank you so much for the incredible work that you’re doing in the world. I can’t wait for our collaborations and celebrations of further success. And thanks for coming on the show today.
Skip Shuda: Same here. Sonia was really a pleasure. I enjoyed our conversation and I learned quite a bit as well. So thanks for your work and thanks for getting the word out and keep up the good work. I look forward to being with you in season two.
Sonia Gomez: Yay, it’s super exciting. And for those of you guys who are tuning in, thank you so much for being a part of our community and a part of our Medical Secrets family. As you know, it’s our mission to serve you every single day. And we do our best to find the best of the best to bring direct to your kitchens, to your cars, to your homes, and to your families.
And I want to invite you right now to like and share this content and make sure that you tag five people that you believe this interview will make a difference for. As you know, taking this simple action has helped us to impact hundreds of millions of people’s lives around the world, quite literally transforming the way that we think about and talk about cannabis every single day in our families and communities.
So I thank you for your support and helping us move the needle in cannabis and hemp legalization ensuring that those who need and want access can actually get it. shoot me an email if you are a budding entrepreneur or business owner looking to break through some glass ceilings and brick walls. Happy to help firstname.lastname@example.org is where you can find me and I will be looking forward to connecting.
And if you are somebody who is looking for products that you can depend on we have personally vetted over 2000. Go ahead and check us out at medical.secrets.com inside the marketplace, and also on our blog for some easy to digest information on how to effectively select and utilize any one of these products. I’m your hostess with the mostess Sonia Gomez and this is the Hemp Revolution. We’ll see you on our next show, guys.
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