High Spirits

#019 - Ben & AnnaRae's Gratitude Episode

November 21, 2023 AnnaRae Grabstein and Ben Larson
High Spirits
#019 - Ben & AnnaRae's Gratitude Episode
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The Gratitude Episode!

Ever wondered why cannabis sales escalate during Thanksgiving week? Turns out, Green Wednesday, the day preceding the holiday, is one of the biggest revenue-generating days for dispensaries. Join AnnaRae and Ben as they discuss how this trend is shaped by consumers' desire for cannabis treats over the long weekend or as a coping mechanism for family gatherings. We also explore how holiday deals influence sales in a broader context and share our personal cannabis shopping preferences. 

The conversation extends as we delve into the opportuntities of talking about our cannabis industry roles during Thanksgiving. As professionals in the sector, we feel the responsibility to educate people about the progress made, like the recent legalization across four new states. We emphasize the need for openness to de-stigmatize the industry, and express our gratitude for the growth in the cannabis beverage sector. We also touch upon the strides made in the industry and the power of advocacy.

As we navigate the complex world of hemp, we discuss its recent legalization in Minnesota and the impact on the market. The rising popularity of hemp beverages and the potential for further normalization is also brought into focus. Even as we celebrate increased access to cannabinoids, we don’t shy away from talking about the ongoing issues with equity and regulation. We're revved about the upcoming MJ Biz event and as we step into 2023, we reflect on the importance of content creation and the role of AI in enhancing our creativity and research. So, tune in as we dive into the intersection of cannabis, holidays, and its impact on consumers and businesses. We promise, it's a high you won't want to miss!

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High Spirits is brought to you by Vertosa and Wolf Meyer.

Your hosts are Ben Larson and AnnaRae Grabstein.

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THANK YOU to our audience. Your engagement encourages us to keep bringing you these thought-provoking conversations.

Remember to always stay curious, stay informed, and most importantly, keep your spirits high.



Speaker 1:

Hey everybody, welcome to High Spirits. It's the gratitude episode. It's Thanksgiving week, so we're having a little bit of a different show we're recording today. It's Tuesday, November 21st. We're just going to jump right in because we have a lot to be thankful for. It's been a great year. I've gotten to do the show now with my co-host, Anna Rae. We're just going to be going through it and what it means to be heading into Thanksgiving and the holidays as cannabis professionals, cannabis consumers and all of that. Anna Rae, how are you, Are we going?

Speaker 2:

It's good. My kid is in the other room home from school. Apparently now Thanksgiving, you've got the whole week off now. When we were kids, that was not the case.

Speaker 1:

Apparently, we're juggling the same thing right now. I hear the kids screaming. They're outside. Luckily, it's a beautiful day in November here in California and the kids are running around in the street. Hopefully my wife's meeting schedule isn't too bad.

Speaker 2:

The fall has been so epic this season, aside from all the other things we'll talk about that I feel thankful for, but just how beautiful it is outside, and three years of season and all that I was going to say.

Speaker 1:

Californians often talk about not having seasons. I've just been staring out at my yard this past week looking at the beautiful changing of colored leaves. I'm like why do we always complain that we don't have seasons here? Notably, I know I've probably these are probably not trees that would grow here naturally. Maybe that's what it is. My persimmon tree, for instance, is just all. The leaves are fire red and fire orange, right now I'm just loving it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah yeah, I call bullshit. On the no-seasons thing for sure. I grew up in San Francisco and I will say San Francisco doesn't have a ton of seasons Because of the lack of nature. You just don't see it Now. Where I live, we have native oak trees that lose their leaves at this time of year. The yard is getting filled up with leaves and all the wine vines everywhere are turning all the beautiful red, yellow and orange colors. There's just that Christmas in the air and we had to fire the wood stove over the weekend. It just smells so good. We're definitely having fall unquestionably yeah.

Speaker 1:

We're breaking the stigma around California not having seasons.

Speaker 2:

We have trees. Thanks, friends, I love it. It's Thanksgiving week. For cannabis businesses, this is a huge week. Green Wednesday is on Wednesday it's tomorrow, it's the day before Thanksgiving and it's considered to be one of the top three biggest sales days of the year for cannabis dispensaries. Have you been following?

Speaker 1:

this. I mean no, I'm sorry I haven't been, but I like the whole Thanksgiving concept. I get it. I am excited about Thanksgiving and I actually probably will find myself at a dispensary tomorrow as I prepare to go hang out with my family. It makes sense. I guess you're much better at following the sales trends and everything that's going on there. I'm sure there's a ton of discount deals and all that kind of stuff going on, but what else marks this holiday?

Speaker 2:

This is a historic trend that's been going on for a few years and has been published by a number of different folks. Pulling up some data ahead of the episode, it looks like over the past two years so in 2022 and 2021, green Wednesday was the second biggest sales day of the year, according to a KERNA. It's hard to say what will happen tomorrow for 2023's Green Wednesday, but most likely you're going to follow some sort of similar trend. There's a lot of different reasons that we could think that this is the case, but I think that people are going into a long weekend. Most people not only have Thursday off work, but also Friday. There's a lot of family stuff going on, everybody wants to be equipped with some awesome, delightful cannabis treats going into their weekend, and it's a good time to pick up something shareable as well.

Speaker 1:

My question is is it because they want something to celebrate with, or is it because they need a tool in order to cope with all the family time that is going to be sprung upon them?

Speaker 2:

I will say that, as someone that works in the industry, I have a pretty large box of amazing items that I have picked up along the way as gifts from other companies or just picked up in my journey. But there's something about going to a holiday that you just want that perfect item. Maybe you want the special chocolate that looks really nice, or you want to have a really nice beverage to bring the host, or maybe a celebration joint like one of those big kind of cigar looking infused joints that just feel out of the ordinary.

Speaker 1:

It's like a genuine.

Speaker 2:

I personally, am willing to throw down to get just what I want.

Speaker 1:

I was at the Illacana dispensary down in West Hollywood last week and they had this cross joint, you know like a three tip joint, and I'm like, oh, that would be a good Christmas present for the right person.

Speaker 2:

Exactly so. You're right, though, that people are doing a lot of deals, I think the deals are a complicated thing. We've seen a ton of issues around 420 deals, which is where the big deals really have got consumers almost dependent on them in April at 420, because people will go buy a whole bunch of stuff because of the deal and then you see sales drop for the month after all these deals happened because consumers aren't going back to stores.

Speaker 1:

The interesting thing I have heard is that, like, three of the top five selling days are in this month and next month, so it's like between now and the end of the year you have three of the top days, so people might be stocking up, but they're going to be stocking up three times before the end of December, which I think the other days. What is it like? Right before Christmas, potentially?

Speaker 2:

right before New Year's, the day after Thanksgiving.

Speaker 1:

So, like right before Thanksgiving and right after Thanksgiving, it's like you overdid it. You didn't buy enough, so you're going back and getting more for those Black Friday deals. Yeah, interesting, I'm super. You know. What I'm super excited about a little plug for the beverage category is that I've been hearing a lot, especially from my team, that beverage is giving them a very normal way to consume around their families where they might not welcome. You know cross. You know joints shaped like crosses, right, you know, especially in the Midwest where you have a lot of conservative parents, perhaps you know finding a way to not only consume for yourself but to potentially open up your loved ones to the idea of consuming cannabis. And you know we have some really great reports, you know, from families about, you know those conservative parents now being huge lovers of of cannabis beverage. You know recruiting their friends in those markets to also consume and frankly, consuming a lot less alcohol, which I think can suit the family dynamic quite well through the holidays.

Speaker 2:

I love it. I mean, I think what you're highlighting is how Thanksgiving is this opportunity to introduce cannabis as part of the tradition and the celebration and to start to normalize its inclusion as part of, kind, of the celebratory items that we decide to consume. Maybe we're going to have more dessert, maybe we're going to have more cannabis, maybe we're going to have a cocktail, all those things People are doing all kinds of ways. I think beverage is just going to explode this year because there are so many more beverage options. They're getting more delicious and people are starting to feel more comfortable with it. It's part of that whole normalization.

Speaker 1:

Not to mention the accessibility. These days with the hyper controversial hemp derived THC market, there seems to be a lot of focus growth in the beverage category there.

Speaker 2:

I've also seen some really fun stuff on Instagram of people that are making infused side dishes and desserts. You know, an infused cookie or pumpkin pie or some kind of stuffing or gravy. In years past, kiva put out their infused gravy packet.

Speaker 1:

That's right yeah.

Speaker 2:

This year, but that was really wild that they did that in the past.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it was cool. I'm super excited I can has their their cranberry sage flavor. That only comes out during the holidays and they just announced the re-release of that, so it's a personal favorite, tastes like Christmas and can.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, fun. Well, I wanted to talk about something else that I think is unique about Thanksgiving, which is that, as cannabis industry professionals and it seems like most of our listeners do work in the space or are thinking about working in the space from the feedback that we get. But when I talk to folks that work in cannabis a lot of people when faced with going to an event like a wedding or a big holiday celebration like Thanksgiving, have a lot of conflict about how do I talk about what I do and how do I talk about working in cannabis with people that don't know anything about the industry, and I think that it's worth talking about now.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, it is interesting. I mean, the people that we generally surround ourselves with are very open to cannabis. So the nuance to that conversation where I often faces that perception of, oh, cannabis is doing great, it's everywhere, you must be killing it, and I'm like, no, it might be killing me, and everything from what we discussed last week with Ohio turning over and how, from a perception perspective, it's actually great. It really makes people believe that cannabis is winning and progressing, which it is, which we'll get to in a little bit, but it's not that immediate windfall that everyone thinks it is. It's not like we all of a sudden have 12 million more customers available to us and that's the big challenge with cannabis. You know, it's like my parents are very concerned about me burning the candle at both ends, you know, for the last eight years straight and really trying to make it work in this industry. So there's the ability and opportunity to talk about the plant, but also the ability and opportunity to talk about the industry and how we still need that help and support, especially when it comes around to voting time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So I guess what you're bringing to light is that there's two ways to think about it is, on the one hand, if you're talking with people that already feel really comfortable with cannabis, that maybe it's actually about giving them some perspective that everyone in cannabis isn't becoming a multi millionaire, because it's not like it. Nobody's Pablo Escobar in this space, and so that makes sense. I think then, on the other side, which you didn't talk about quite as much, is this whole concept of just coming out of the closet to people that don't think it's great that your family feels pretty comfortable with cannabis. I think a lot of cannabis business folks are going home to homes where people don't feel as comfortable or familiar with cannabis and the question is is do I just want to be quiet? Do I want to talk about my work? How do I become an ambassador for this industry? Because my hope is to just inspire people to be a little brave and courageous and to talk openly about our work with our aunts and uncles and cousins and people that maybe just know nothing about cannabis and help them to understand that we are a developing industry, that there are professional people. I grew up in San Francisco in the 80s and 90s, and a big part of the conversation that was going on culturally was about how to normalize people in the LGBTQ community, how to make more people feel comfortable with gayness, and, over and over, it was reinforced that it was important to come out of the closet. It was that if you worked in a cubicle, you need to turn to the guy next to you and say, hey, dude, we've worked together, we've been sharing coffee and paperwork, and what you should know about me is that I'm gay, and that was the easiest path to create normalcy and destigmatization was for people to have someone that they cared about in their life. That was a part of this greater movement and I hope that in those moments where your aunt or your cousin is like, what are you up to, what are you doing for your work, and I hope that you feel comfortable to say, hey, I've been working in cannabis and this has been my experience so far, and let people ask questions and realize that we're a real business and that we're trying to make some things happen.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well then, I think it's a point in time where that conversation is really relevant because we've had so much progress, right, and people might not know it because I know this even in everyday conversation still, it's just like wait, so what's the difference between CBD and THC? And you're like, holy hell, how are we still having these conversations? You know, like we had a number of different states legalized over the past year right, we were just talking about Ohio, but Maryland, missouri and Minnesota all kind of legalized in late 2022 and all those programs came online this year, and so that's four new states. And we were talking about in the past, like we're now over 50% of states having recreational legal markets and being to a point where the Electoral College represents, you know, over half of Americans having access to legal cannabis, and so people need to know like this is not, you know, the stigmatized drug that it was once framed as. So it's like getting people there. It's our own social duty to make them well educated on this topic, right, yeah, it's, I don't know. I keep hoping for more progress, but like taking these opportunities to step back and reflect on the year, even just saying those stats with those four states, like it's a reminder that we are making great progress every year. It's just if we could inch forward a little bit faster at the federal level, I think would make me all of us feel a lot better.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely I. There's a lot to be thankful for, though, and and this is our Thanksgiving episode, so I'm curious like, let's, let's just start talking about it. You want to throw down something for this year, ben?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean I think I'll stay with. Stay with the beverage thing. You know and, and you know, as you know, the hemp conversation has been really challenging to navigate. You know we've both been in this industry for quite some time and have advocated strongly for licensed operators. You know getting states over the finish line for equity licenses, which are very much a part of the state-regulated system. And when Minnesota legalized hemp last year it was kind of like blindsided me and I felt a little bit behind the eight ball. And you know I was holding to my guns pretty strongly and be like no, that's a loophole and you know it's. This threatens the regular market. You know a lot of things that you know. We discussed with Pamela Epstein a number of episodes ago but, as my customers like continue to come to me and you know it just looked like there was no enforcement around it. You know we had to make a. They didn't really sit down and think about it. It's like what do we hold as most important? You know, there's sure there's what we perceive to be legal and ethical on that format, but it's like all right, well, this is clearly getting out into the wild. So do we care about consumer safety. Like do we want to make sure that consumers are getting their hands on good, safe products? We also care about our customers and serving them and making sure that you know we're helping them achieve what they need to achieve. And if a significant amount of our customers are going there, like what is our responsibility? And so we really had to sit with that. And at the beginning of the year we decided to kind of really get comfortable with hemp D9 and everything that it stood for. And ever since January, like especially when it comes to the beverage category, it's just taken off like wildfire. Like there's the hemp beverage alliance. I'll talk to Chris Lackner who runs the hemp beverage alliance. Any given week they have. They have phone calls like every other week Like you're talking about 75 to 100 people being on these calls, represented by 80 companies and just having a phenomenal amount of traction. You know we see the, the Kraft Brewers conference hosting hemp beverage companies, the, the WSWA, the Wine and Spears Wholesalers of America, their conferences. In January I hear there's going to be a hemp village. And then you all seen the pictures like total wine creating end caps of THC beverages and THC beverages being a significant contributor to revenue for liquor stores in Minnesota in any given any given month Like this is huge traction and when you're talking about normalizing the plant, creating access for consumers, it's a huge opportunity. Now there's a downside. There's the the rift that is causing. There's the fact that people have somehow drawn a line between Delta 9 and THC. It's like it's mind numbing to think of that and I think we have to adjust how we're all approaching this from an advocacy perspective. But that's an opportunity. That's like a 2024 project, like how are we going to better align these voices instead of further entrenching the divide between hemp and cannabis? But you know, all that told. I'm just really excited about this, this category that you know. I've invested the last five years of my career to yeah, I hear you.

Speaker 2:

I think that, yeah, we could talk all day about, like, the pros and cons of of cannabinoids being accessed in various different channels, but in the end, I can't help but feel grateful that cannabinoids are having their heyday. There is more broad access than there's ever been in history since prohibition started, and I think that it's easier than ever before for people to get their hands on products if they want. And there's an element to that that really is. Is is about personal freedom and personal choice, and is is really important. And I can't help but add, when I'm thinking about what I'm thankful for this year it is about the plant, and we can't we can't forget that in many ways, like we all are working in service to this quite this crazy wild plant that is is is constantly giving us new challenges and in 2024, as the farm bill is revisited and and as more developments with hemp and cannabinoids in general develop, I think that this is going to still be a really hot issue, and and one that will just become more complicated as there are more market entrance into the hemp space. And it starts to become about equity for those folks too, and that's what we're seeing, as some of the, the businesses that are getting shut down by different bands, like in Maryland or or even in New York, as they've been going and challenging the state's ability to shut them down in light of the federal giving them, giving them a perceived pathway to market. So, yeah it's really crazy.

Speaker 1:

Well, it's crazy. It is, you know, just between the two different markets, like seeing progress still on the cannabis side. Right, it's, like I mentioned, like we're just inching forward on the federal side, but it's on many fronts, like the, the, the proposed rescheduling of cannabis is like is a big deal. It hasn't gone through yet. It's anticipated that DEA will fall in line. You know, it's like we haven't yet gotten to to feel the benefits of that movement. Maybe that's what we get to experience for once in 2024. Also, the, the, the Safer Banking Act, like it's, you know, for it to go to the Senate Banking Committee and pass, to be eligible to hit the Senate floor for the first time ever, like this is. This is a huge, momentous occasion. I am curious as to what Chuck Schumer is waiting for. He said he would bring it to the floor soon. That was soon after the vote back in September. I know these things can take time, but I'm just curious, chuck, when are we going to see the Safer Banking Act go up for a vote? Not that it really matters, because we need a functional house.

Speaker 2:

And then, I don't you know, maybe it's one place I'm not holding my breath this much. I used to be honest and I I hear a lot of public company CEOs and their earnings calls saying that they expect that the DEA is going to come out with some sort of rescheduling decision by the end of the year, and that sounds great. I really hope so, but again not holding my breath there. I think that what ends up happening is that, as we're seeing the hemp market become slightly more mature and states put in safety measures and regulations, the way Minnesota has, and other states that are realizing like, wow, maybe we haven't legalized cannabis yet and going the cannabis route means that we are subject to the controlled substances act. Maybe we create more of a legal hemp program instead, and we're going to see this patchwork of the cannabis states and the hemp states and I believe that they're all going to be important and to present really great and unique opportunities and the state by state levels, but that some states are going to go by the way of hemp, some states will go by way of cannabis, and then we'll have some that are sort of a mishmash of both in the middle, and that's where we, for the next couple years, is my prediction.

Speaker 1:

It's making a phenomenally complicated like patchwork of regulation right. Like as we always talked about on the cannabis side, it's this patchwork regulation but like now we're seeing it happen across hemp. So every state is having different hemp laws and Vertosa as a company serving both hemp and cannabis, it is really interesting to think about. It's like how are we going to approach this in the coming year? You know, it's like we're going to look at each state and really have to have a very strong understanding of what the supply chain looks like for that state. And we were talking about Ohio last week, where you get THC from the cannabis plant and then you get miners from the hemp plant and then they somehow all get incorporated into the Ohio cannabis supply chain.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I was just reading and I'm not an expert in this, so I hope I get it right. But I know Kentucky is looking at hemp regulations right now and there's some language around, all of the hemp needing to come from Kentucky, and so one of the things that people who are operating in the hemp space and D9 and all the other cannabinoids surrounding hemp people love it, because there's this idea that there's interstate commerce and free travel between states, but then some states are coming in and setting up walls around around their borders. So yeah, everyone hold on.

Speaker 1:

Let's make it as complicated as humanly possible.

Speaker 2:

So I think that's the roller coaster. Like we're still like going up, you know that part where it's slow and like you don't know how steep it's going to go yeah, before the top of the roller coaster and then you just start cruising. I think we're very much in the roller coaster, guys, and that's a good time to just say also, as we're trying to pepper in things that we're thankful for. I just want to say that within the roller coaster, that I feel incredibly thankful for my family, because it is not easy to be an entrepreneur in cannabis and, holy shit, like it is a roller coaster from day to day and my husband and my son and my friend group and my parents, like they all support me and make me feel safe to explore in this kind of crazy, clandestine, confusing space that we're in right now. And, as I remain resolute, it feels really good to just know that I've got this foundation of people that are rooting for me, so I'm just thankful for that.

Speaker 1:

That's amazing. Well, you're gonna make me look bad because you beat me to and I can't just say, yeah, me too I love my family. But you know I do I love my family. But I'll dovetail off of it, say I do love my family and I appreciate the support that they give me, but also my work, family and now making it through our fifth year of operation at Vertosa, you know, maturing to a level where we're, you know, thinking about the importance of being sustainable and capital positive and all these things and really making sure that we're here year after year to serve and, you know, grow this industry. And you know my team it's, everyone knows, everyone's team. It's been a frigging roller coaster but like the ones I get to work alongside and through the ups and downs, it's made it a bearable journey. Not to make it sound too destitute over here, but like I don't know the confluence of work and family, it's become really intense. And you know my son, my son's six years old right now and so he's learning about my life and his life and like all these concepts, friends and all that kind of stuff, and he overheard me talking about heading into work the other day and the fact that you know we were talking about. You know potentially parting ways with an employer too, and he looked at me and he said why? And before I could answer, he just said you're mean and they, like it, made me cry and I just like, buddy, I'm like I don't know what to tell you. Like we'll have a lot of conversations about this, but you know, sometimes, even in the best, or even if someone is doing a great job and we are friends, like you know, the industry I'm in makes it really challenging to keep people around for the long haul and you know, work is just one of those situations. So it's like I guess the positive spin is that, you know, it gives me a lot of opportunities to teach these lessons to my son. And the one thing I am confident in what I'm grateful for of this industry is that I know I'm fighting for something incredibly important and that even in the face of failure, I would still be incredibly proud of what we've done over the years.

Speaker 2:

Oh, yeah, there's been a lot of progress. And yeah, it's, yeah, there's been a lot of progress.

Speaker 1:

And we get to do this. We get to do this every week and it certainly gives us a lot to talk about, you know, bringing on people that are, all you know, our friends, that are also going through it, that are incredibly brilliant and talented, and just you know, the different insights we need to to kind of all collectively get through this. You know, I feel really grateful to be able to, you know, have a platform and talk to you every week and commiserate or celebrate and yeah, I'm excited what we're doing with the show. We're only 19 episodes in, but you know thousands more to go.

Speaker 2:

Oh true, we have to give it up for ourselves a little bit and give ourselves some credit. At the beginning of 2023, I put a post-it note on my computer that says more content in 2023, just to remind myself, like, put myself out there, make more content this year and I wasn't really sure what that was going to look like or how it would unfold. And we've been talking about doing this podcast and we wanted to do it. We had some attention around it, but it's been really awesome to just have it come to life. We tried to really polish it and make it perfect before we launched. We talked for months and months about it and then at some point, ben, you just said screw it, let's just go live and let's just pull it in public, and it was such an important reminder for me. That's always how I've done things. I think that the cannabis industry, for me, has been something I've been magnetized to because it was a place where I could take risks, and I could take risks in public in a way that I was convinced could make an impact. And so, hopefully, this podcast is that it's been a really great creative outlet and I'm getting to check off a box from the beginning of the year and I made more content 2023. So so grateful for that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and we get to hopefully celebrate with some of our listeners and guests coming up in Vegas. So MJ Biz is right around the corner. Mj Biz is that one event every year where I do a kind of check of like where are we as an industry? And I think a lot of people do. It's like you kind of have to go to Vegas, because that's where you get to see everyone in one place. You get an understanding of how everyone's feeling and it's just a quick download of like all right, where are we at? And how does it compare back to the days at the Rio where we were like 7,000 people in the basement or what felt like the basement of the Rio? So it's pretty cool how far we've come.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I actually haven't been to MJ Biz since before COVID because last year I was planning to go, I had my flight, my hotel and all the things, and then I got on a bike accident and I broke my elbow like three days before the event and so I needed to stay home close to my ice pack. Yeah, good now, but it's been a while and I am excited. I'm excited to show up there and just be open to making new connections and getting some new flow into my network. Meeting people that I haven't met before, catching up with people that I've known for years. I think it's going to be really fun.

Speaker 1:

I just put it together that you and I share that in common. We have both busted our elbows. It's a weird commonality, but a broken elbow is a no joke. Did you?

Speaker 2:

bust your elbow from a bike accident.

Speaker 1:

No, no, it was an unfortunate snowboarding accident which I totally deserved. But yeah, I shattered the head of my radius and had to have it put in. Mobility on the left side arm is not great.

Speaker 2:

For sure. Yeah. And then, just while we're on the gratitudes, I want to also just call out my clients this year. This is my second year in business for myself. I started this advisory practice two years ago. Wolfmeyer and I've had the opportunity to do some really cool shit this year, and I don't get to talk about it publicly too much. A lot of it's private work that goes on behind the scenes, but I've done some really fun things. I've got to bring new brands into new state markets. I've been able to negotiate sales of businesses to other businesses so that both businesses could grow together bigger and better. I've gotten to facilitate strategy sessions. I've helped people exit their co-founders something that happens all the time create metrics to understand their business. It's just. Whatever it's been, I'd say that, across the board, my clients have been willing to be vulnerable and honest and open to trying new things in order to achieve their goals, and I've just been incredibly honored to be by their side to do it and look forward to doing lots more in the new year.

Speaker 1:

You're really good at this. I just want to point out that I'm like what am I going to say next? And I'm like why do I always have to be the color commentator? You know what? I'm really appreciative enough and grateful for Chat GPT. I would say that AI, chat GPT has just completely changed my life. It's very top of mind right now with the ouster of Sam Altman, like so much Silicon Valley drama over the weekend, but thank you, sam, for getting us to this point. Who knows where it goes from here. I think he's now working at Microsoft already, which is just insane, but it's been. I will say it's been life changing, especially as a creative and breaking through a creative block or as a research assistant, and just like being able to dig in. I was chatting with it this morning and I'm like oh, what's the status of the Safer Banking Act? And then it went through and I'm like okay, but when might we see it on the Senate floor? And it gives a good response and I'm like all right, but seriously, compared to all the other legislation that has gone through, what's the typical delay between passing through committee and actually reaching a vote on the Senate floor? And it just gives really thoughtful answers. And now it's connected in real time to the internet so you can see where it's searching, where it's referencing, and you can go and fact check it for yourself, which is important, because it's not perfect, I'll admit that. But yeah, just grateful for how it's really kind of improved me as a professional and it's kind of given me another tool to really express my curiosity.

Speaker 2:

I'm with you. We love our chat GPT and our AI on this podcast. There's a lot of tools that we use and we definitely plan to have actually an episode about AI at some point in the next month or couple months or something, to just to make light of it. But, ben, I want to call you out. The chat GPT is never going to be able to identify what you personally are grateful for, and you said that I'm good at this, and what I will say is that, as I think of myself as as a leader, but also like in my role as an advisor, I know that it's my responsibility to just show up as my best self for my clients, and I know that you share that in your role as CEO at Vertosa, and there's a million different ways that we need to constantly work on ourself in order to show up as our best self, but one of the tried and true things that we can all do is cultivate a gratitude practice. Yeah, and and that can be as simple as just thinking about it what am I grateful for? Right now, some people have gratitude journals. I've tried that. I'm not real good at journaling myself, but I do sit with myself and I stretch or meditate and I try to just clear my head and think about, like, what is what is, in this moment, the thing that I'm grateful for and and do that regularly? So it's not just saved up for Thanksgiving, it's an all the time kind of thing.

Speaker 1:

I love that. Yeah, I've. I'm also not great at following through with journaling on a regular basis, but I do find meditation creates an awesome opportunity to really do it. And lately I've I've been waking up early to meditate, workout, all that kind of stuff, before the kids wake up. And I set up. I set up my gym like in my garage and because it's winter, you know, it's all been very dark and all this kind of stuff. And I was laughing to myself the other morning because I'm sitting there like in my hoodie, like sitting like cross-legged just in the middle of my garage, like on the workout mat, like listening to my guided meditation, and I was just thinking to myself I'm like I must look so ridiculous on my Nest Cam, like just sitting in the middle of my garage, still for like 10 minutes, like my wife. My wife's gonna think I've lost it, but yes, it's. It's incredibly helpful. I think you know, for me, I made a decision. The whole reason I'm here in the cannabis industry or as an entrepreneur is about 15 years ago. No, hasn't been that long. About 12 years ago I just I came to this realization that, you know, happiness was not a destination and that I'm not. I shouldn't be pursuing happiness, but that I needed to create happiness in every day of my life. Right, happiness was the journey, and so I started this blog at that point again, didn't follow through with it, but, like it was called happiness in the pursuit. And so, yeah, I think that's what I love about being in the cannabis industry is that I truly do feel blessed to to be here and to represent it. And, you know, even though it's not showering me with like incredible amounts of wealth or anything like that, yet it is showering me with happiness and appreciation for, for being able to have an impact on, on the future, you know, the future that our kids will get to live in a normalized cannabis world.

Speaker 2:

I love that. I love that. I think that that seems like a good place to start to wrap this up. If you're listening to this episode and you are going to be incorporating cannabis into your Thanksgiving tradition somehow, please tell us about it. Get in touch with us. We want to hear about if you picked up some special cannabis treat to bring to your aunt's Thanksgiving, or maybe you're making an infused dessert, or you're about to come out of the closet as a cannabis entrepreneur to your ultra conservative family. Whatever it is, we're there with you and we'll have cannabis of our Thanksgiving in some kind of awesome, creative way, and we'll certainly report back.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, amazing, and yeah again. Another shout out for MJ Biz coming up. We're having a high spirits morning mixer on Thursday. If you haven't gotten an invite, reach out, we'll get one to you. It's going to be a great event. It's just a way to wake up and feel some positivity and lift your spirits going into the day. We have some great sponsors I want to thank really quick, first off, our title sponsor, genetica, for making sure that this is all happening. Of course, sarah Falvo and the Wildflower Coalition making it all the organizational things happen, and Aray and I are good idea people. We need execution. Sarah Falvo, thank you so much. And our beverage sponsors. I mentioned previously that we're going to have some infused beverages. People have really answered the call. So shout out to Air Loom, a great, great company that was founded by Beacon Skiff up in New York. Mason Bloom some of our friends here in California making great kind of craft cocktail inspired infused beverages. Clarity, happy nowadays. Kalexo, wonder, mary Jones, srita and, for you non THC consumers, the folks that vibes are making sure that we're getting some, some CBD beverages in there for you. So come check it out, do a tasting. We'll have to get some like little small shot glasses, because that's a lot of a lot of things to taste. They all have such great. I just love the beverage category. It's all so great. So come check it out Thursday. Thursday morning, I think, from 9 30 to 11 30. We'll get more information out there for you. Other than that, that's been our gratitude episode, ann Aray. Thank you so much. So much fun I love. Yeah, this is making me feel great, going to go off into the rest of my day ready to go. I wish I could go out and play with my kids, but you know we actually have work to do. Yeah, happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Speaker 2:

Did I say I'm grateful for you. I'm totally grateful for you, Ben.

Speaker 1:

I'm grateful for you too, yeah it's been really fun.

Speaker 2:

We created a friendship first and was your idea to get this started and just I'm grateful to have an accountability partner and a friend that feels so uncompetitive in our discussion of the industry and I think that we're going to keep doing some hopefully some relevant, fun, creative stuff together.

Speaker 1:

We will Absolutely. Thank you so much, ann Aray, and thank you, our listeners. We couldn't do this without you. Keep your spirits high. We'll talk to you soon.

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