Roots to Risk

How To Build a Cannabis Community With Tyler Wakstein & Kim Dudine of Trailblazers

This week Eric & Isaac are joined by the leadership team from Trailblazers who are pioneers within the cannabis industry.

Tyler Wakstein is a community builder, business development executive and creative director. Tyler is passionate about using business as a tool to drive positive social change. Today he spends his time as the cofounder of Trailblazers Presents, a Cannabis leadership platform. He is also the CEO of OpenNest a holding company that invest and advises wellness consumer and entertainment companies.

“It’s a challenging time there’s no doubt, but it’s also an exciting time and l couldn’t be more hopeful and optimistic about the future for cannabis and psychedelics…”

Kim Dudine is a seasoned Business Development professional. Having built and designed global business strategy and proposals for over 10 years. She joined Trailblazers two years ago as Director of Strategy & Membership. Kim also leads Trailblazers’ wellness program from her experience facilitating consciousness expansion retreats.

On the podcast they talk about how you are who you surround yourself with, how to build a community of leaders, and where it all began for Trailblazers, trends within the current cannabis industry as a whole right now, the current climate and much more.

We are very fortunate to have such pioneers in industry as our first Roots to Risk guests.

Transcription

How To Build a Cannabis Community With Tyler Wakstein & Kim Dudine of Trailblazers

Eric:

This is the Roots to Risk Podcast hosted by Eric Schneider, alongside Isaac Bach. Roots To Risk brings you insights, the latest stories, and long form discussions about the cannabis industry. You’ll hear interviews with industry leaders and their perspective on current and future trends, how they’ve built success and what challenges they have faced. Our goal is to facilitate candid conversations and provide informative content for the cannabis community at large. Let’s go. What’s going on?

Eric:

Isaac? First Roots to Risk podcast today. Let’s go. I’m really excited. How are you feeling today? Ib?

Isaac:

Uh, I’m excited. But who, who would’ve thought you and I would be, uh, doing a podcast?

Eric:

Not me. No. Apparently you get a microphone and, you know, a few things and, and we’re, we’re, we’re, we’re cooking with Gas

Isaac:

A nice bush behind me, you know, very, uh, on brand for the Canvas industry. So I think it works.

Eric:

Oh, there’s no doubt. There’s no doubt who we got on deck today.

Isaac:

Uh, we got our, our, our close friends, Tyler and Kim from, uh, from Trailblazers.

Eric:

And, and for those of you guys don’t know, obviously, we’ll, we will hear more from Tyler and Kim, but Trailblazers is phenomenal cannabis community of, you know, industry leaders and advocates, you know, pushing, pushing, uh, progress forward. Um, and just Tyler’s background real quick. He’s a community builder, business development executive and creative director who is passionate about using business as a tool to drive positive social change. Today, he spends his time as the co-founder of Trailblazer, presents a cannabis leadership platform, and the CEO of Open Nest, a holding company that invests and advises wellness, consumer and entertainment companies.

Eric:

And then in tandem with Tyler, we have Kim Dine, who is a senior business development professional and director of SA strategy and membership at Trailblazer Presents. She has an international development background where she designed and won over a billion dollars of energy and environmental business and global environments. She also leads consciousness expansion retreats, and specializes in curating medicine spaces for executives. I, I mean, I couldn’t think of two better people to, to kick things off with.

Eric:

What do you think, Isaac?

Isaac:

Nah, I’m excited to hear, uh, hear a little bit more from Tyler and Kim. They’re the two of our favorite people in the industry, and I think they’re gonna provide a great interview for us today.

Eric:

All right, well, let’s bring ’em in. Let’s bring ’em in. Tyler Kim, super excited to have you on here today. Uh, first Roots to Risk podcast. Um, couldn’t have, think of, uh, two better guests and, uh, love what you guys are doing in the space and building at Trailblazers. We’d love to just, you know, get a little better understanding about trailblazers and, um, you know, Tyler, I’ll kick it to you and then, and Kim would love to get your thoughts as well, and what you guys are building and, and really the purpose of Trailblazers. Cuz you know, Isaac and myself, we’ve been attending for the last three years, you know, have, have seen the value, you know, both personally and professionally, truthfully.

Eric:

So we’d love to just, you know, hear a little bit more about it from you guys.

Tyler:

Awesome. Well, uh, Eric and Isaac, thanks for having us. It’s a pleasure to be the first guest on this podcast. Um, you guys have been amazing partners too. I said trailblazers over the years, and so it’s an honor to be here to, uh, you know, pop the cherry of this podcast. Um, you know, trailblazers, we started, I mean, at this point now, four, five years ago, 2018, um, you know, we started Trailblazers. We did our first event in 2019. And, you know, it was really kind of started off this premise of you are who you surround yourself with and how do you build a community of leaders in an industry that has so many moving pieces.

Tyler:

Um, and we initially started with, you know, cannabis and hemp, you know, 2018, it was an exciting year. The farm bill passed, the hemp C b D craze really kind of got crazy, you know, Canada was at the precipice of going, you know, kind of opening up, be the first G seven country to kind of open up the public markets.

Tyler:

We start all this craze and I was investing in consulting in the space and partnered with two of my best friends, David Denberg and Pete Gross. And we started with one event. We wanted to throw a ski ski weekend for a bunch of cannabis and psychedelic business leaders, and really kind of saw this opportunity of how do we bring together the top investors, policymakers, researchers, operators across the supply chain together to recognize that there’s really no playbook on how to build in this industry.

Tyler:

This is a plant that’s been around for a thousand years. It has a lot of wisdom and sacredness to it. Um, and as we go from taking a, uh, you know, going from like reefer madness to this illegal class, schedule one kind of drug to, uh, you know, what is now in 2020 deemed an essential service. Like we saw the writing on the wall of like, how do we build an industry, you know, built around a shared ethos and values for the future.

Tyler:

Um, and so yeah, it started as one event and, you know, quickly kind of grew, you know, into this community. Um, you know, we’re really excited to be now like the stewards of the community and really see it as like a responsibility to just be creating spaces and environments for like-minded leaders that are either in industry or interested in the industry to come together and learn from each other. Um, and the way in which we kind of think about programming and production of our events is really in a format of like, you know, how do you get people out of their head and into their heart, right?

Tyler:

How do you create in a format and an environment where you’re not in this transactional energy of like, what do you do? How can you help me? Here’s my business card. And that like transactional trade show energy.

Tyler:

Um, and how do we actually do something that’s more, um, holistic that gets people like what I, like we always say out of their head and into their heart to like build relationships and build friendships. And you know, one of the things that, you know, as we were building trailblazers, as the community grew, you know, it was started by three men, um, three white men. And you know, the industry is predominantly driven today in this commercial setting by white men. And so we really were conscious about how do we bring in other women and people of color into the community and specifically on the team.

Tyler:

And Kim’s been really one of the, a leaders of our team has come in and really brought like this incredible, her, Sarah and a bunch of other people on our team have brought this like feminine energy to balance, you know, who we are, what we do, and how we do it. Um, and so I’ll pass it to Kim to give, you know, who’s, you know, really been leading membership, leading a lot of our programming, um, and has really just been an incredible kind of leader on the team to kind of share more about trailblazers and, you know, what our plans for 2023 look like.

Kim:

Yeah, thanks Tyler. I think, um, an interesting thing about Trailblazers is that, you know, when it was started, I don’t think there were as many industry events. There weren’t right now in, in 2023, like a cannabis industry event is ubiquitous, right? You can kind of go to a trade show or a cannabis event, or a networking moment around the industry whenever you want. There’s one every week. But when we kind of started, it was born from the idea of like, there’s a ton of bad actors in this space and there’s a ton of really good actors in this space, and how do we find each other and how do we connect in a different way?

Kim:

And for us at Trailblazers, and I think that’s why there’s been longevity to the team and what we build in the spaces that we build is because it is different.

Kim:

And, you know, my, my whole charge, you’ll hear me say this at every opening plenary at every event, is that my North star is how do we, how do we continue to reflect the consciousness of these plants and how do we create a new paradigm of doing business that isn’t so rooted as Tyler was talking about these old systems and these old ways of relating with one another. Um, and if there’s, you know, if there’s one industry that is gonna do business differently, that’s gonna create strategic partnerships differently, it sure has helped you better be cannabis and psychedelics.

Kim:

Because if these plants are expanding our consciousness, they also should be expanding our business practices, the way that we strategize, the way that we relate with one another, the way that we think about the future. And that’s what’s so powerful about these plants, is that they kind of enable us to do that futurist thinking.

Kim:

And at the end of the day, like psychologically, people like to work with people that they like to work with. So the whole point of trailblazers is how do you take really elite people who are obviously extremely successful at what they do and what we always say, are they better at who they are? And how do we get them in the same room talking about things that maybe they’re not used to talking about? You know, everyone has like their typical 1 0 1 pitch that they do at the circuit of all of these events, everyone knows what they wanna tell about their business.

Kim:

You know, everyone wants to say the exciting things that they have going on, and this is where we’ve reached success. But not a lot of people wanna meet you and say, you know, why are you in this industry? And for us, you know, plant medicine, it’s an intimate question.

Kim:

What, what draws you to cannabis? What draws you to psychedelics? That’s an intimate question for a lot of people. And if we can get into that intimacy, we can start to pull at like the threads of really beautiful collaboration points. And for us, you know, our thesis originally was how do we get people in a room for three days, highly successful, highly driven, type A people in a space for three days, and kind of let that melt away a little bit and come back into like that childlike wonder of why we’re all in the industry and why we’re building businesses together, and why we’re, especially for canvas, why we’re in such a hustle.

Kim:

Um, cuz it’s a hard, it’s a hard industry to be in, especially right now with not a lot of capital. It’s, you know, we have to remind ourselves of the original intent to wanna grow an industry and a movement around plant medicine.

Kim:

And for us, it’s all about democratizing access to plant medicine and democratizing access to the people that have the great ideas, the great network, um, maybe the capital, but you know, intellectual resources, people like, there’s so many different ways that we can help each other and trailblazers really, it’s, you know, it’s usually a, a two and a half day to three day container where you can actually drop in and you don’t have to come prepared with your business card and your pitch. Like it’s really like, take that away and yeah, proving the thesis that you can take that away and actually leave with way more aligned business relationships at the end of those three days because you’re connecting heart to heart and you’re connecting authentically and vulnerably.

Kim:

And I think our, what we specialize in is, is bringing like, you know, this this genuity back to why we’re doing what we’re doing and like talking human to human and hey, what are you struggling with?

Kim:

You know, maybe I can’t help you with that, but I do know someone that can help you with that. And I’ll put you in connection and guess what, they’re actually gonna call you. That email isn’t gonna go into a black hole. Like, that’s the power of trailblazers is that y you’re not trying to go hand out a hundred business cards at a trade show, you’re actually going and you’re leaving. Maybe it’s five deep relationships and maybe even three of those are actually deep personal relationships and you’re not quite sure how they’re gonna fit into benefiting your bus business just yet. But it’s planting these seeds that undoubtedly have fruition maybe three months down the line, maybe a year down the line when you remember, Hey, actually I really like that geneticist that I was talking to, or those cultivation practices now need to come into my business.

Kim:

Or, Hey, Eric and Isaac kept the best insurance company in cannabis <laugh>. Um, oh. So it’s just, it’s just a different way of approaching business. And if there’s one industry that’s gonna do it, it’s gonna be the plant medicine industry. Because if we’re actually sitting with these medicines, then they should be expanding our hearts and our minds and our way of thinking about interacting with each other and our way of strategizing and our way of building cool brands and, and building ideas that last. I think there’s a lot of, especially right now in cannabis, there’s, you know, a lot of people that get into the industry because it’s exciting and I think it’s like a get rich quick scheme.

Kim:

And I think we’re all realizing that’s absolutely not what this industry is about. It’s about actually finding your intention on why you wanna be in this industry and finding the really great aligned people that are in resonance with that vision for what we can build.

Kim:

And it’s really beautiful. And then one last thing I’ll say is, you know, as Tyler kind of alluded to this, is it’s inviting leaders from the whole ecosystem. So it’s this holistic approach to, you know, you’re not just looking for clients, but you’re getting to learn the best practices on sustainability. You’re getting to understand a better pulse on what’s the latest on, on social equity. Um, you’re talking to policy leaders, you’re talking to scientists and researchers, so you’re getting this whole holistic vision of the industry, which, um, I think a lot of people can get lost in their silos.

Kim:

And it’s just really helpful to have like this three day container where you’re super dropped in with the top leaders of the space in a really genuine way, and you’re just there to learn and collaborate.

Eric:

Yeah. I feel, I feel like everybody just, just drops their guard, right? Um, and you guys have an amazing way of just doing that. You know, the two of you like, honestly, and it was funny, like before we started recording, like I was getting a little jammed up with the podcast and you’re like, guys, we’re just like at an event. We’re we’re hanging out. We’re we’re friends, we’re we’re colleagues, and we’re trying to progress this industry forward, which I think is so special, right? And especially because we spend so much time of our day working right?

Eric:

And, and pushing whether it’s, you know, us, you know, you guys are trailblazers, operators, you know, it, it’s really important to really enjoy who you work with both internally and the clients, right? And I think, um, you guys have just done an amazing job, you know, facilitating that type of environment.

Eric:

It’s, it’s not easily duplicated. It’s not something like, you know, we’ve, you know, Isaac and ourselves, we’ve been to tons of events. <laugh>, you know, more than more than I’d like to, to share. And, you know, what you guys do in the community that you built is, is really special. And, you know, we’re super excited for, for New York in April, um, which is gonna be awesome. And you know, it, it’s so funny, you guys, you know, the way that you carry yourselves and how you know about the industry and, and you’re also your network within the industry.

Eric:

It seems like you’ve been working in it your whole life. Like when did you guys get in the cannabis space and holistic medicine space and you know, what really drove you and to jump in, you know, two feet into this industry?

Tyler:

Yeah, I can start. Um, for me, you know, I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, and um, it was really in 2000. Where’s the,

Eric:

Where’s the accent? Where’s the accent? It

Tyler:

Comes out, you know, I, it comes out, there’s definitely a couple beers and we’ll, we’ll, you’ll find it. We got New York versus Boston versus Boston and, um, Kim, Kim, Kim Res, New York for sure. Um, but I think, um, you know, for me, I mean, cannabis was always part of my life. I mean, I was prescribed Adderall in middle school, um, never, you know, really liked the feeling of Adderall, found cannabis at like 14, 15, um, sold cannabis, you know, through high school and college, paid through college with, with, with, you know, or at least got the, my extracurricular activities paid for with, with cannabis.

Tyler:

And, you know, it was always this part of my life and it was always part of my kind of also entrepreneurial journey. And in 2014, I was leading partnerships in marketing at a really awesome company called The Life Is Good Company in Boston.

Tyler:

And, you know, Colorado was, was that first state to kind of recreationally legalize adult use cannabis. And, um, it was also 2014 when like the initial farm bill got passed and hemp was a, was legally able to be grown in, in, in states like Vermont. And so I ended up actually partnering with some friends in Vermont, um, where I would go mountain biking and hiking and skiing on the weekends and, um, and in, you know, in certain seasons and, um, you know, started growing hemp, you know, so 2014, started growing hemp, also started consulting on a dispensary and Aspen Colorado called Silver Peak Apothecary, where I did some brand consulting for them.

Tyler:

Got to learn a little bit of the Colorado market. Um, and then I just kind of entrenched myself and, you know, started consulting and, you know, making small angel investments into companies.

Tyler:

And, um, and then I moved to California in 2016, uh, help launch a company called Humboldt, which is now called dos, um, which was a really cool brand to be part of in the early years of, um, you know, kind of California brands coming to life in the retail environment. And, you know, Humboldt at the time was really pioneering this like product marketing approach around need states, you know, where they had these vaporizers that were kind of, uh, formulated around bliss, sleek, calm relief, aroused, um, and, you know, got really of my hands dirty in there.

Tyler:

And, and then I kind of was consulting on a bunch of other things and, um, and then started trailblazers. And trailblazers was really that first, you know, all in decision of realizing this is a massive opportunity and this is a plant that’s saved my life and helped me grow in very material ways.

Tyler:

And I wanted to find ways to like democratize and, um, and also like rebrand cannabis, right? Um, and, you know, really kind of take the stigma out of it. And, um, you know, for me part of that was like, how do you surround yourself with the best people in the industry? And that was really the birth of Trailblazers. So it started in 2014, and I’ve, uh, I still feel like I know nothing about the plant, and I still think the industry <laugh>, uh, it, it’s, it’s really hard to make bets in this industry just based upon it being a federally legal substance and how to navigate the regulations and, and all the nuances of, of the plant.

Tyler:

Um, but I’m still like really honored and proud to be part of the industry and, and being a steward of, you know, kind of hoping we push things forward as a collective.

Tyler:

Um, because there’s still so much opportunities really about like, from like a humanity standpoint around how cannabis and psychedelics, which is also another story of how my journey with psychedelics started. But like, you know, how we can really help solve the mental health epidemic, right? Um, and like this notion that like, mental health is rising, medications are failing, people are suffering, and the current pharmacist driven system is not working. And like, you know, cannabis to me is like, you know, they used to call it the gateway drug.

Tyler:

I now call it the gateway herb, and it’s like the gateway to plant-based medicine. And I think it’s laying down a lot of important foundational blocks that will help people think about cannabis and psychedelics and plant-based medicine differently. Um, and so that was kind of like the journey that I’ve been on of like, how do you, um, how do we, yeah. How do we change people’s minds and how do we help people think differently about this plan and, and how it gets commercialized and as well as how it gets kind of respected, um, uh, because it is has a, a lot of sacredness, um, you know, kind of held within it.

Eric:

Yeah, no, and I, I mean, Isaac and I were both, you know, college athletes and we used to get drug tested, and the number one thing was you cannot smoke. It’s, you know, it was just always this absolute, um, just dark stigma around it. And to see where it is now today is just, it’s the amount of change from happening in, in 2015 to 2022 and seven years is, is really tremendous. I know there’s like a lot of negative sentiment about the, around the industry right now.

Eric:

And, um, but if you like, take a look back to your point, Tyler, of like how far it’s come to date is is pretty Oh, yeah.

Tyler:

Remarkable. It’s, yeah. When you were a lacrosse player, right, Eric?

Eric:

Uh, once upon a time, yes. Isaac and I

Tyler:

And, and Isaac, you both were lacrosse players. That’s

Eric:

Where we that’s where we met. That’s where we met. Yep.

Isaac:

Played how

Eric:

Funny, funny ib You wanna ib you wanna tell a story?

Isaac:

Yeah, I mean, so Eric and I actually never played against each other in college except one time I threw him a nice, uh, popcorn shot, fast break the other way, scrimmage saved it one fast break the other way. But, uh, we actually met on birthright going to tryout for the, uh, Israeli national lacrosse team in 2017 in Israel. So met in Israel, became good friends there. Yeah. And then, uh, e joined the, uh, founder shield team shortly thereafter. And, uh, we, we decided to do this. But yeah, I mean, Eric’s point had cannabis being an option in co I think I would save myself a lot of, a lot of stomach trauma from some, uh, other, other pain management medications I was taking at the time.

Isaac:

So I definitely feel you guys on, on what it can do from that.

Tyler:

It’s funny, you know, I, I was, I was an athlete in high school and almost I played in college, but I just, I, I actually just decided not to because it was way too much work, um, <laugh>. But I was a baseball player and, and I was, you know, uh, I remember my sophomore year of high school I got arrested for selling weed and I, you know, got kicked. I was, it was fall, so I was playing football, so, you know, got suspended for two weeks. So the football team, football coach, like really hammered me. And I had, couldn’t handle like the discipline and like the, you know, authority of like, you know, just like the sophomore in high school in me getting yelled at and like pushing me to see if I would like break, which I ultimately did.

Tyler:

Um, but then like spring came and the baseball coach was like, you’re not playing. And I was like, you know, I was a starter my, you know, freshman year on the varsity team. Yep. And, and uh, and he’s like, you’re not playing. So like sophomore year, like my best sport, I’m not playing. So I, I ended up playing lacrosse and lacrosse coach goes up to me, coach Zella is like, you can smoke weed and play lacrosse, <laugh>. And so, so like, you know, I just had to tell that story cause

Eric:

I, uh, oh, that’s funny. I

Tyler:

Had, like, I couldn’t play baseball, but I started playing lacrosse when I never played lacrosse my whole life. Um, which was super fun. I never figured out my left, but I always had a pretty good right. And I could run, I did face offs and I just loved hitting people. But, um, but yeah, the, the coach was like, you could smoke weed and play lacrosse. So <laugh> a fun story.

Isaac:

I think, I think our college coaches in like, felt different about that one.

Eric:

We had a kid one time who smoked, and I was captain at the time and he came up to me, he was like, I’m gonna fail the drug test. And then he went and told the coach. I was like, you have to tell coach. And he actually passed the drug test. He didn’t end up failing it. It was outrageous <laugh>. Um, but, uh,

Tyler:

Your journey started, I mean, I know, yeah, it was just about the segue there. You started with, with, with, I mean professionally, with, with trailblazers, but maybe like, I’d love to hear, I don’t think I’ve ever, like, I wanna my, I want my memory refreshed on, you know, your introduction to the plan and how like, because cuz consciousness and holistic health has always been a core part of, of your being and, and Yeah. And so maybe I like to share your story.

Kim:

Yeah. It’s so funny. Like we’re, I know, I mean, we’re already laughing at it, but I know like in explaining this to my kids, like I know that it’s gonna be such a conversation around like, so you weren’t allowed to sit with cannabis, but you were allowed to drink, you know, a 24 pack on a Saturday night and go play a sport. It’s just the cultural shift that we’re in right now is, is so fun to just have our fun seat to, but, um, cannabis has been part of my life for quite a long time.

Kim:

Um, you know, I think when it really, really came in for me was, so at 18, you know, my fiance was killed in the Iraq war, and I was a freshman at Penn State, which is the number one party school in the co in, in, in the nation.

Kim:

And it was just like, there was, there were no tools on how to deal with like such a colossal loss and such a colossal life initiation and like the drinking part of just like the American culture of like, this is what you, this is how you connect, this is how you party, this is how you have fun, this is how you elevate an experience was just like so out of alignment with what I was feeling. And I think with, you know, especially for me and, and thank God, because I think especially with like, um, mental illness and depression and, and just natural organic ways of reacting to loss, which is grieving, um, people can actually get addicted to that suffering and dive deeper into it.

Kim:

And I think alcohol is, is a, is a big pathway to that. And thank God I just felt like such a dissonance to it.

Kim:

I was experiencing so much physical and emotional and mental pain that I didn’t have capacity to hold, like the physical pain of being hungover or, you know, the mental pain of the anxiety you get after drinking. And cannabis like came into my life at such a beautiful point and I started to work with it. Um, you know, obviously to meet myself deeper, but it was really only a couple years later after I graduated when I really started to like clean up my whole life and, and realize that, you know, this, this plant was, was just an ally on so many levels, right?

Kim:

Like it’s, it’s a mood, uh, it’s a mood regulator. It’s, um, it helps with inflammation, it helps with, um, just consciousness expansion. When I started working with cannabis, like in a really intentional way, I realized like, and as Tyler was saying, like, there’s such a stigma to cannabis being like this, you know, lazy, um, kind of stoner pothead plant.

Kim:

But for me, I was just finding like the complete opposite. Like I felt like I was sitting with such an intelligent plant that was helping me mood regulate that was helping me dig into my anxiety with, um, amplification of the anxiety, but awareness of where it was. Um, so I started doing cannabis meditations and just like really sitting with the plant in a way that we’re not taught as possible. Um, and it’s a big thing that I, I like to do at Trailblazers is get like a bunch of the C-suite sitting in like a sacred and intentional cannabis ceremony and, and blessing the cannabis and, and learning how our ancestors actually used to use this plant.

Kim:

And, you know, all the propaganda around what we believe cannabis to be. And it’s actually like this master plant ally and master plant teacher and, um, is highly revered in indigenous cultures.

Kim:

And, um, yeah, cannabis has just been, it’s an expander for me. I mean, I use it to write, I use it to create, I use it to, of course enjoy nature, enjoy meal, enjoy company. But, uh, I see cannabis as like this great unifier, you know, if you share a joint with someone can really talk about anything and there’s still this unification in the conversation. Um, and I think that’s what we need now more than ever is like getting out of our, our, our crisis of an individualism and, and, you know, our way of believing and thinking about the world and being able to be confronted with different ways of thinking and different ways of being, because everything’s pointing to we’re not doing so hot and, uh, and how we’re, and how we’re relating to one another.

Kim:

And cannabis is just, you know, you can kind of be having like a nervous conversation with someone and then you share a joint and it’s just, there’s curiosity and there’s playfulness.

Kim:

And if there’s one thing that we need right now is that, so my, you know, I also hold intentional, um, consciousness expansion retreats, and that comes into a lot of like the wellness aspect that we do at Trailblazers. So it’s not just, it’s not just workshops and panels, which are really beautiful, and that’s like a comfortable way for people to say, okay, I’m going to this conference and this is what I’m getting. But it’s really more about like, what happens outside of that. And, you know, we always have a, a quote unquote wellness aspect, but that’s really like reminding people that there’s a way to sit and connect with this plant in a different way, um, that you can have like, just unbelievable expanding, um, experiences.

Kim:

So, you know, at Trailblazers, I think we’re starting to get known for those moments where we have like these beautiful sound baths or intentional, um, even if it’s a cooking class, it’s just like ways to connect other than like, okay, there’s the panel and I’m sitting here.

Kim:

It kind of breaks down that hierarchy. And that’s what I believe cannabis does is it kind of breaks us out of like these rigid ways of interacting with each other. And, um, yeah, it’s the great unifier and it’s been a medicine and an ally for me for well over a decade. And, um, I’m just really here to be a steward of it and a proponent of it and also realize that, you know, people have different physical, emotional and mental histories and always working with plants differently is, um, top of mind when you have yeah.

Kim:

Different ways of relating to, um, your own mental health and figuring out how to start, start slowly or dive in deep. I think that’s the best part about cannabis is it’s not like an ayahuasca that’s gonna grab you out of your consciousness and, you know, have a, a crazy ego death.

Kim:

Cannabis is like a really slow, beautiful medicine that can meet you exactly where you are and it’s so accessible. Um, so yeah, I, I love the plant and my whole charge is just to remind people that, you know, cannabis used to be feral. It used to be in breast milk in the fifties, um, and it works so intelligently with our endocannabinoid system and it’s just about education and kind of a big unlearning process around what, what we think the plant to be.

Kim:

And there’s just so much potential and possibility that it, it ignites with me. So yeah, big, big fan of, of cannabis and its consciousness expansion capacity.

Eric:

No, it’s a, that’s incredible hearing your guys’ stories. And it’s, uh, it’s interesting how like one, one event leads to another and now we’re, we’re all here today, right? Um, mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And you know, when when Isaac and I, we started, you know, we started Alfa route, we just, we saw the, the growing industry and the passionate people I think is, you know, personally like my favorite part of, of the space and, and working with, um, unbelievable entrepreneurs and, and leaders, um, that are trying to, to grow this, you know, nascent industry. So, um, it’s really cool.

Eric:

Just two people that I really respect, you know, obviously worked with you guys at Trailblazers, but understanding, you know, the, the origins of, you know, Tyler and Kim, really cool, um, you know, segue into, you know, reverting a little bit back to, to trailblazers, like what are, you know, one to three things that you guys are most excited about this year? Any initiatives or, or things that, you know, people should be on the radar for? Well,

Tyler:

There’s a bunch. I mean, I think we have two big flagship events. We have, uh, New York City, April 24 and 25, which we’re really excited about. Um, we got some big announcements planned for February to get things ramped up, but we got an incredible group coming together in New York and, you know, really excited about the, what’s happening on the east coast, uh, for cannabis and particularly New York. And, um, you know, excited to see that that event come together. So April 24, 25 in New York.

Tyler:

And then, uh, and then our big flagship event on the West coast in Ojai, where we take over the Ojai Valley in October two to five. Um, you know, we really love the Ojai Valley property. We think it’s a really special campus that we like, kind of like build where, um, it’s the perfect format and container we talked about of like getting people kind of out of their daily routine.

Tyler:

But in, you know, what times I, sometimes I like to say like, I’ve heard people call Trailblazers a boondoggle, which I, I didn’t even, I had to Google what it was, um, <laugh>. But like, you know, it’s like, it’s this, you know, people think of it as like, oh, this like luxurious event with like, you don’t really need to go and it’s this thing. But people who go and people who have part of the community and people who are members and sponsors, like I I I I, the testimonials we have of people who get the value out of our events is insane. But like, what we think about it as, and, and I guess why people maybe think it’s a boondoggle is it’s the most productive work vacation you’ve ever had.

Tyler:

And that’s how we like to think of it. Like we, you know, it’s like you should be able to blend your personal life and your professional life seamlessly, and they should serve each other and, you know, I don’t know, people work too hard and they don’t play enough.

Tyler:

And like when you play, the best work happens. And, and that’s like what we do really well and also super stoked to partner with Alpha Root in Miami. You know, we’re gonna be taking over the Soho House. Um, April 11th, the first night of Benga, uh, the Benga group had done an incredible job producing their events. You know, I think the Miami event is always, you know, at least last year was incredible. And they just have a do a really good job, and it’s very different than what we do at Trailblazers. But we’re gonna bring some trailblazers and AFA route magic to Miami.

Tyler:

Uh, we’ll take over the ocho rooftop at Soho House and, um, have a super fun evening of just like, you know, fun networking. We’ll have some music, some entertainment, some fun. Um, we have a couple other tricks up our sleeve throughout the year, but like, those are the, the three things that, you know, we have two flagship events in April and October, New York and Ohio.

Tyler:

Um, we’ll do the, the party with you guys in Miami. Um, and then, yeah, I think we’re also planning to potentially partner with you guys in your office in New York. I mean, you guys have such a great space in New York and we wanna host more events at your office. And, um, yeah, we just think like, you guys have been such great partners to us, like it’s like, you know, trailblazers only happens when you have the right support. Like, you kind of have to, like we always say like trailblazers in the epitome of like reciprocal relationships and people giving and taking in equal parts.

Tyler:

Um, and you guys give a lot. Um, and you also I think, get a take a little bit too, because you guys, every single time you meet at someone at Trailblazers, you save them money. Like the, also the testimonials I get from people, um, you know, working with Alfa Root and having you guys kind of, you know, insurance is one of those things that like no one wants to talk about until you need it. Um, but like when you need it, you guys are always there solving our members’ problems. And you know, that’s why it was like an honor for us to be part of the podcast because you guys have been great partners to us.

Tyler:

You’ve been great partners to the community. And, um, and so yeah, excited to do some more stuff in New York with you guys. Miami, New York. Oh, Ohio. And, and who knows, you know, maybe we’ll take a trip to Mars with Elon, um,

Eric:

<laugh>. I promise that was not a scheduled plug, by the way. There was No, no, no, no. Far <laugh>. I’m just kidding. No, I really appreciate the, the convo, Tyler. Yeah, I think the, the relationship and has been very mutually, you know, beneficial. Um, and I think that’s just super important. It’s, you know, built on mutual trust and mutual respect and, um, yeah, we’re, we’re super excited. Yeah, no, it’s, uh, it’s been awesome, uh, for sure. And I just want to, um, you know, just a few things and, and would love to just get, you know, your guys like thoughts on, you know, current industry trends and then we’ll, we’ll segue into, uh, Mr.

Eric:

Bach’s, uh, segments. Um, he’s got a few on deck that that’ll be fun for, for the audience, but we’ll just love to get your thoughts, Tyler, on some industry trends. Um, and then we’ll, we’ll segue from there,

Tyler:

Industry trends. Um, you know, we’ve been talking a lot about psych cannabis. I think, you know, one of the things I’ve been really excited about is, um, it’s psychedelics too. And you know, like I said, cannabis was kind of like, we started as a cannabis community. And I think it quickly, um, extended into, you know, psychedelics being part of it. I’m just like really

Tyler:

Hopeful, um, for a world where psychedelics doesn’t hold the stigma it has. And I think it’s like, it’s breaking, you know, I think I said earlier, like, and I’ve been saying this a lot, like this notion that like, we have a mental health epidemic, like people, and if you just look at like our, like the United States Congress and our government and the fact that we’re, you know, you wanna talk about industry trends, the fact that we still are operating within a federally legal substance and, you know, we were unable to get safe banking passed last year.

Tyler:

Um, you know, like that is just mind blowing to me. Like, um, and a lot of it just has to do with like, the fear that our country and our leaders are living in, and they’re trapped within their own head, right? They’re trapped within their own mind.

Tyler:

And, you know, like the current pharma system, which is also the, the biggest like kind of, um, you know, demonn of the cannabis industry because pharma wants to like, you know, control these compounds of cannabinoids in a Petri dish, um, where we want this to be like accessible and grown in your backyard and grown in beautiful greenhouses. Um, like it’s, it’s, it’s not working, right? And so I think like there’s this notion of like, neuroplasticity theory that I think is really interesting.

Tyler:

Um, and it’s kind of like the belief that like every experience alters the brain organization at some level, right? Like, there’s this kind of notion that like our, our brain is wired through every experience that we have, whether it’s trauma or a big milestone or whatever. Like we, we, our brain is then kind of wired that way. And like neuroplasticity kind of refers to this like lifelong capacity of the brain to change and rewire itself.

Tyler:

And I think like new findings in a lot of these psychedelic kind of clinical trials that mostly maps has been funding. Like, you know, this year, probably in the end of this year, early 2024, like we’re, we’re, we’re almost in phase three. We are in phase three of clinical trials with psilocybin, m D a, that maps has been funding and leading, like we are understanding that like through social therapy, clinical social therapy and guided psychedelic treatments, like we can change the wiring and the neuroplasticity of our brains.

Tyler:

Like that’s insane. Like, you know, like the idea that you can change the fear of you have of heights or the fear you have, um, of, uh, you know, you know, if you’re, you are a, a veteran and you every single time you hear a clap or you hear a loud sound on a movie, like you get freaked out because, you know, like that is just wire trauma, um, in your brain, right?

Tyler:

And the idea that you can rewire that and kind of create new behavioral change, like to me it’s so revolutionary and exciting to think about like the future of psychedelics and how we like really change the way people think and operate. Um, and so like that’s, that’s a big one for me is like, you know, where the clinical trials are at with psilocybin and M D M A. Um, you know, that’s a big industry trend. I think there’s some really, um, interesting things in California, you know, which is a lot of where, you know, me and the openness team spent a lot of time investing over the last couple years, um, which has absolutely just got demolished and like, you know, the California kind of market is just sideways.

Tyler:

Um, and, you know, I think a lot of it has to do with regulations both on the federal level and on the state level.

Tyler:

Um, but there’s some really interesting things about interstate commerce, right? Between Washington and Oregon, California, and like who’s the first group that’s going to drive cannabis overstate lines, and is the DEA gonna do anything? You know, the BCC has recently kind of put out some statements that like, you know, they’re not gonna say any, like, it’s not like it’s not in their jurisdiction is kind of how I understand it. Um, the thing that I think is really interesting about interstate commerce in particular is like, if all the cannabis has grown in California and then shipped across the country, how does that affect all the other operators?

Tyler:

Um, and I think most importantly, how does it affect social equity operators that are, you know, there’s a lot of these new states like New York that are like setting up programs to enable and allow social equity operators to have, uh, early move or advantage, which I think is important and, and, and, and, and is necessary, um, especially for like all the harm of the war on drugs.

Tyler:

And, um, you know, uh, so I think there’s definitely, like, there’s some interesting dynamics around interstate commerce and how that’s going to affect social equity operators. Um, you know, what else? I think, um, I think, you know, I think you’re gonna cons continue to see a lot of exciting developments on the research and science side of cannabinoids. You know, I think, you know, um, the concept of indica and sativa I think over the next couple years is gonna be completely broken down.

Tyler:

Um, cuz it doesn’t make sense. It’s just, it’s, you can’t separate cannabis into two buckets. Um, that’s just not how it works. Um, and I also think the notion of like a consumer walking into a dispensary and ask it for like the highest THC as like the highest quality, like equals the highest quality product is also gonna get broken down. Um, and I think we’ll start to understand, and I think, you know, most savvy consumers already understand that they’re seeking, you know, rich terpene profiles or seeking specific cannabinoids like, you know, T H C V or T H C A or cbn or CBG or, you know, uh, certain things for certain need states or like, you know, that they’re looking to reach, um, through their intentional conscious cannabis consumption.

Tyler:

Um, and so I think those are all exciting kind of product and brand trends that, um, I’m excited about. And, and then I say the last thing I think is just like, there’s just no, this industry, you know, over the past, let’s call it five, six years, which has really been the growth of like the, the, the commercial industry as we know it today, um, has been built off such a small pool of capital, right? There’s only like high net worth individuals and family offices and a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of institutional investors that have like helped fund this industry.

Tyler:

You know, as most of the listeners probably know, like there’s still no banking. You can’t get a loan for building out, uh, an extraction room or a lab or, you know, or anything. And also with like things like two 80, you can’t write anything off.

Tyler:

So it’s like nearly impossible to a, build a profitable company and b, have the capital to even get started. Um, but I do think, you know, as one day say, thinking will get passed one day, federal legalization, you know, rescheduling descheduling will happen and there’s gonna be an enormous amount of institutional capital that will enter the space. And the operators that are able to survive and get to the other side of this really challenging moment, um, will really be rewarded.

Tyler:

And I’m excited to like be in a, in a position at trailblazers where we’re curating those, that group, right? Like we’re curating the cream of the crop and the people that are rising to the top of like, who are the operators that have built this industry with integrity that do what they say they’re gonna do, that treat their employees with respect that treat their investors with transparent communication and respect, and who like just does the right thing, like just is a good person and like the people that do the right thing are gonna be rewarded financially because this is a once in a lifetime generational wealth opportunity.

Tyler:

And it’s also a once in a lifetime like change humanity’s like, like shift humanity forward in a conscious way. And so like the, the, the, you know, that’s a, a ramble of some trends that I’m seeing, um, not No, that’s great. Quite organized. That’s great. Um, but I think like it’s a, it, it was so good you dropped a rhyme in there, <laugh>, but it’s definitely, it’s definitely a thing and there’s definitely like a moment in time and it’s, it’s hard. I mean, for me, you know, I’ll be, I’ll be vulnerable for a second and say like, you know, we, uh, we had to let go of like the openness team last year, um, and had to make some really hard decisions because we had to preserve the capital that we did have because we made a lot of bad bets.

Tyler:

Um, and we did it with respect and we did it with integrity and we did it with transparent communication.

Tyler:

And, um, I, I still have incredible relationships with all of our investors and all of our teammates and all of our partners and, um, and I and I, and I wanted to just make sure openness as a holding company can make it to the other side. Um, so I had to make really hard decisions, but I still feel like, um, but it’s hard, like, you know, for operators out there, it’s hard. And, and I, and I hope that trailblazers as a, as a, as a community and have the spaces that we curate and produce are ultimately just reflections of like that safe space to help us get through this moment because it is just a moment and we will get to the other side and when we do, um, the champagne will still be flown and, you know, we’ll still be having fun.

Tyler:

And, um, and hopefully we’re still, hopefully we learn like these are, these are the moments when your back’s against the wall and things are challenging where you get to like, see people’s true colors and you get to learn about who people really are.

Tyler:

And I think, um, I definitely learn about who cer certain people are over the last couple months, and I also in good ways and bad ways. And, um, and you just gotta kind of like know that it’s a moment, um, and, and, uh, yeah, and it’s, it will get through it. And so I think it’s a, it’s a, it’s a challenging time, there’s no doubt, but it’s also an exciting time and I couldn’t be more hopeful and optimistic about the future of cannabis and psychedelics. And I think we also just need to like, reflect on how far we’ve come and celebrate those wins.

Tyler:

Um, versus living in the place of fear scarcity where we’re not, you know, we don’t have certain things like that’s just, it doesn’t serve you. So like, you know, what you focus on grows and you know, you can only focus on what’s right versus what’s wrong. And that’s, um, that’s what we’re about. So that’s the trend. The trend is focus on what’s right versus what’s wrong. <laugh> and what you focus on will grow <laugh>.

Eric:

That was awesome, Ty, that was awesome. Um, yeah, let’s, let’s wrap things up. Um, and, and Isaac, you wanna lead us into,

Isaac:

Yeah, I think Tyler, you actually, uh, cud up this last segment pretty, pretty nicely for us. So I think one of the things that you pointed out is this industry kind of humbles you mm-hmm. <affirmative> a lot of times and it’s learning from mistakes and finding new paths forward. So, um, would love to hear from you guys, you know, what’s the biggest f up you’ve ever had? Like, what’d you learn from it? When was it, how’d you overcome it and move forward? I think that’s one of the things that’s, uh, not talked about enough in, you know, our industry right now, everyone’s so focused on the problem right at hand, but you have also acknowledged the problems you’ve already overcome and how it’s helped move you to where you are.

Isaac:

Um, so I’d love to hear about, you know, how you guys overcame some of those, uh, initial screwups F ups, however you wanna classify them, uh, learning experiences, um, and how that’s propelled you forward. Can

Tyler:

I let you go first?

Kim:

Um, I think, you know, there was a really exciting moment in cannabis about two years ago where it seemed like we were just gonna be cash rich forever and partnerships were gonna be flowing in, and it was gonna be, you know, just this capitalized market where we could have all these beautiful creative ideas that could be funded and our team could really go for it. Um, and I think, yeah, that was, that was the hubris of that, of thinking like, just because this is the excitement and the current funding in the, in in the industry is means it’s gonna be the current funding forever.

Kim:

Um, so I think that was, you know, a big sea change for us last year of how to deal with, okay, well we had all these beautiful ideas that we put in motion. Um, all these, we were in just like a creation cauldron because we were super excited about what we had built.

Kim:

And it felt like, especially two years ago, we had got this insane momentum around trailblazers and people had really, there was like this cultural zeitgeist around it and there was a deep understanding of what we had built. There was a brand awareness of what we were building. Um, and it seemed like that would just be the constant flow forever. And then obviously, you know, the industry kind of lost, um, that, that capital trajectory and we had to figure out how to maintain our team and all the ideas and the possibility of what we could do and figure out how to do that, um, in a limited partnership environment.

Kim:

Um, and honestly, I think just a big thing that helped bring us back to like our original intention was let’s just be vulnerable and call people and tell people where we’re at because there is, you know, there’s always the perception of, of what you’re building and then the reality of like how challenging it is and, and, and moving budgets around and wanting to keep really talented creative people on the team, but, um, trying to figure out how to make sure everyone feels taken care of.

Kim:

So, and that’s still something that we’re working through. And um, you know, I think at the end of the day it’s, it’s what we’ve touched on a little bit. Like first and foremost, like Tyler’s my brother, you know, he’s my friend and I care about him personally and he cares about me personally. And the business is something that we have and it’s this cool collaboration that we build together, but we have to be able to allow that to ebb and flow and see where it’s actually wanting to evolve as a separate entity outside of our relationship. And that’s like, that’s really the biggest thing I’ve learned over the past year is like, how do you maintain integrity and like what you wanna promise and, and what, you know, that you can build as a company and then ground it in like what we can actually do with the resources that we have.

Kim:

Um, and yeah, not be so afraid of like marrying the public perception of who you are to like the small and mighty team of what we’re actually trying to do. Um, I think that was like a big, uh, come to Jesus moment for us last year and this year too. We’re still figuring it out,

Tyler:

<laugh>. Totally. Yeah.

Isaac:

No, I think that’s, um, oh, I was just gonna say, I think that’s one of the things you kind of mentioned in why you went to the plant to begin with. It allows you to connect with people on a more intimate level and you know, you showing that vulnerability in the business also helps it grow and move forward, um, and kinda ask for that help from time to time and have those uncomfortable conversations. Yeah. Sorry to cut you off. No,

Tyler:

No. I just think it’s, just to add to that, I just think, um, yeah, I mean I guess my le my biggest, I would say my biggest screw up per se, but I think biggest lesson over the last couple years is just like, choose your partners wisely. Like I think especially when things, you know, are get tough, like things can, you know, people’s true colors really show and I think you need to really, um, you know, people can be really good at what they do, but they gotta be even better at who they are in regards to partnerships.

Tyler:

And I think, um, yeah, you just, you just, I think that’s a big one. And then I think also just to, to, to echo Kim’s points, like the, the power of being vulnerable and the courage to be vulnerable is like a really, um, is a really rewarding thing because it always comes back, you know, like double time.

Tyler:

Um, and, and I think it always just like people really, people respond to that usually pretty well. And it’s, it’s, it’s, it takes a lot of courage and bravery to, to, to do that sometimes. Um, and I think, I think that’s a big one, is just like, you know, being able to have the confidence and courage and bravery to like be vulnerable. Um, because people want to help. And I think that is what this community is about, is really about, you know, people helping each other and people recognizing that no one really knows what, what they’re doing or how they’re doing it, but we’re all figuring it out every day.

Tyler:

And, um, and it takes, it takes, it takes, it takes a village, you know? Um, and so like leaning on your village and leaning on your tribe is, is a, is a big one.

Isaac:

No, definitely not being afraid to ask for help. So I think that’s something that everyone can probably do a little bit more of. And to your point, I think in this community and the community you guys have curated, there’s a lot of people willing to, uh, provide that help when needed.

Eric:

Wow. Truly, truly powerful conversations. And, and that was, uh, inspiring and, um, just really enjoyed that conversation with Tyler and Kim and, and hearing their passion for the plant and what they’re doing at Trailblazers. You know, for, for anybody that’s more interested in learning more, you go to trailblazer presents.com. Um, they really do put on incredible events and, you know, we’ve been a long time supporter of trailblazers and, and obviously will continue to be in 2023. You know, Isaac would love to get your thoughts and, you know, any closing remarks that you had?

Eric:

Yeah,

Isaac:

I mean, I think on the trailblazer side of things, one of my, my favorite memories of starting Alfred was the, uh, first day you, uh, drew and I were sitting on the porch at the Ojai event and we were like, I can’t believe this is considered work. Uh, just having beers with a bunch of really cool people, um, still, still have one of my fondest memories, but no, I mean, I appreciate how open and, uh, vulnerable both Tyler and Kim were. Um, like you said, very powerful stuff and I think that was a, couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off the Roots to Risk podcast. So looking forward to what we have in the pipeline.

Eric:

Absolutely. We got, we got some good personnel on deck, um, and, and just really excited to continue to curate these conversations and hope you guys all enjoy.

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