27 Feb Boss, Please! Podcast: The Benefits Of CBD With Cannabis Revolutionary Oriana Leo
M: To start off, what’s your first job out of school? And how did that sort of help you with what you’re doing today?
OL: Technically the first job was underwriting shady mortgages, that was 2005. I spent a few months there. I guess this is a recurring theme in my life of going somewhere, working with someone or company with high expectations and being horrified with what’s back there and also experiencing the expectation that I ‘keep the secret or you’re kicked out’. I spent a few months there and I saw what was happening and I was being encouraged to underwrite fraudulent loans. So I temped after that because I had just graduated college and even though everyone said you have to stay for a year, I knew I couldn’t- I just can’t. So the course the universe brought me to Ryan Tracey International (a motivational speaker for sales). I worked so fast I’d have 5 free hours a day and they didn’t know what to do with me. By the way, nobody ever wants to pay you double for half the hours if you’re really good, they want you to slow down, so nonsensical. So I listened to every single audiotape and audiobook that he had which was how I launched my sales career into pharmaceutical sales and I did that for 5 years.
M: That’s amazing. SO you and Jill know each other because you were hosting together. How did that dream start? The hosting.
OL: I think hosting was always a dream or acting. As a child, I was singing, acting, dancing, doing theater…I loved it. I personally wanted to pursue it as a child and my mom wouldn’t let me. At that time it was pretty devastating, but I can understand as a parent. I left pharmaceutical sales because I was so unhappy, I was so depressed, same thing with the home lending- it was like they’re saying ‘here’s all the rules and all the laws’ then on the other hand they would say ‘please break them on the most creative way possible to explode your sales and don’t get caught’. Mentally, emotionally, and physically it ruined me. The battle between the 2 sides of “I want to win’ and ‘I want to quit my job, I don’t want to break the law and go to prison’, it was awful and it ate me up. I left the job that no one ever leaves. They call it the golden handcuffs because your salary is so good, it’s pretty impossible to find another job that you will work the same amount of hours and get so much money, especially in benefits. Then I found out that my partner was making 13 grand a year more than me with no work experience. So I left.
M: But good for you, boss move. You were so good at it. You’re a great salesperson.
OL: Thank you so much. I was abused by my manager, like, “your numbers are not good enough, no one will ever take you, you will never get another job anywhere else”. I was 23 or 24, if I had recorded this I could be a whistleblower but Pharma will kill me. It was really intense. It really damaged my self-esteem.
M: How old were you, if you don’t mind me asking, during this process?
M: Too young, that’s young. Too young to be going to something that intense. I wouldn’t know what to do.
OL: I didn’t know what to do. As a young 20 something the doctors that were trying to solicit sex in exchange for prescriptions, it was so outrageous, it was so depressing, so I left and I was actually studying, cause I wanted to be in pharmaceutical training. I love sales training, I love teaching, I love watching people get it, I love articulating- and that’s where the hosting thing came from was being a sales trainer. I applied 4 times at Allergan and they give every job to a man that had no qualifications, at that time it was like, ‘ok it’s time to go’, I will never get anywhere I wanna go here- that they made it clear. So I was actually getting a masters degree in teaching and I got halfway through it. I was so depressed- like I can’t make an impact this way. I need to be out of the classroom and inspiring somehow. So what could I do? I actually looked over both of my shoulders when I was alone and I typed into the computer ‘How to be a TV host’. Oh, it’s a sign. It blew my mind and I looked into it and I remember telling my boyfriend at the time ‘I have to do this weekend group camp’. I had 1 month off from my master’s program, it’s a 3-day thing, I’m just gonna do it to say that I did it and to be able to check it off my list and say I actually I don’t really want to do this. So I did group camp and it was also obvious to me as a beginner in the sense of no industry experience, I was easily one of the top 2 people in the room. Almost all of them have the experience, so it showed me- wow I’m a natural, this is gonna be easy! (Laughs). So that was the beginning of the journey. I did a lot of gigs and work with Jillian and Kylee and met the most amazing people but like all of us, I learned that real life doesn’t always work the way you think it’s going to work- especially when you’re young.
M: So funny.
J: I did like a free intro just like catch your vibe
M: I gave her lots of my money (laughs)
OL: But you know, I got a lot out of that weekend. I learned all my hosting techniques from that weekend. Her words were engraved to my head. I was so motivated, I would be driving out for gigs, anything, a lot of acting and modeling, like the bikini girl at the background kind of thing. No place to live, just trying to make it, I moved here and I worked had on it. I worked hard to become a host but it didn’t go the way I was expecting it to. What’s ironic about it, because I went to general sales training- in Pharma when they hire you they send you away like 2-3 weeks in a hotel and you have to do 6 weeks of self-study and education and they teach you everything you need to know and test you consistently, drill you- they’re essentially trying to make you a sales robot. It works. I was with Johnson&Johnson and Allergan and I went to two separate sales training programs and to me, that’s the biggest gift I got from those 5 years of my life was business training- how to keep notes, how to follow up, how to reach personalities unlike your own. As an extreme extrovert, I’m gonna think everyone’s extrovert. So you have to learn and now I realized what an incredible gift that has been in hosting- in being able to ask questions when you’re interviewing, being able to moderate a room, it taught me so many skills that I could not have learned anywhere else. As well as self-discipline, like how to manage a route, how to plan your day, stuff like that.
M: So we’ve been talking a lot about career stuff, but I also wanna touch on real-life because the thing in your story is so special is that you have captured motivation bt sort of starting over multiple times. I wanna talk about one time you started over which was after your divorce. So how that impact you career-wise? And how have you grown since then?
OL: Great question. I really haven’t spoken about my divorce and this isn’t a big deal, but in our journey towards self-growth once you really heal something it becomes easy to talk about it. It’s still a soft spot for me cause I married someone I was really deeply in love with and everyone thought we were the best couple in the world- a match made in heaven. But I’ll be honest it wasn’t just him, it’s both people in a relationship. You know in my hosting class she said ‘find your niche and if you find your niche and make content out of that niche, you will break through and do whatever you like’. So I became a host and wasn’t making that kind of money that I can’t even relate to getting a hostess gift, what to wear to this party, this isn’t me anymore, I’m struggling for a dream, I couldn’t stick with it, even if I love talking about stuff- it was not authentic anymore.
M: It’s a little bit impostor
OL: It was. It became that, so fitness was my next thing because I had this workout technique I found that had done wonders for me and I couldn’t stop talking about it. I wanted everyone in the whole world to do it. It is essentially the Lotte Berk Technique or as they call it the Tilt Technique- the original barre invented in the 50s. So I went on with my own search and I found the real deal. I was passionate about it- this is what I want to do, I want to do a business from this and what shocks and devastates me, I can’t believe that happened, my a husband few months after we got married helped me procure a loan- a hard money loan which means it was from a friend, it wasn’t through a bank, he helped me procure a loan in my name only and then intercepted the funds and reloaned it to make interest without telling me. He essentially stole it. I had a business plan, I had stopped jobs, I had done everything for this 10 grand to come through so I could start marketing. With the money I could have gotten equipment, the ability to do classes, I had everything planned out with a proper business plan. There are no words- that was when it hit me; he does not support my career, and he’s not going and he will do anything to make sure I am not successful.
M: I’m sorry about that. How did you find out? Was he like, ‘Yeah I did that’…
OL: There were lots of excuses and I was very naive at that time until I found the source of the loan and asked ‘what’s taking so long?’ and he said, ‘what do you mean? I sent the money 4 months ago’. I never in a million years thought I would get a divorce from the person I loved so much but I had a choice to make; do you want to follow your passion and be supported by someone or do you want to stay with someone who would do absolutely everything to cut you off?
M: Wow, I’m proud of you
OL: Thank you. It was absolutely the hardest thing I’ve ever been through aside from my father passing away- it was just devastating. But it was an opportunity to grow. It was painful and so uncomfortable. That was my first real lesson because it turns out that’s not unique at all because it happens all the time, family members, spouses, like really ripping each other off and doing horrible things. People will do horrible things- people you love and it’s just shocking. I had to go through a period of self-reflection because I had to take inventory- like he might have done something that upsets me, but I married this person so I have to take responsibility. How did I let this happen? That was my question every day, it was like ‘oh my God, how did this happen?’
M: Of all the things you’ve been through, how did you take everything that you’ve done so far to now? I’m so excited about what you’re doing now. So how did you take those skills and practice them into what you’re doing now?
OL: I took a year and a half of isolating, spending a lot of time on myself. The couple’s counselor, god bless her, she pretty much diagnosed me. She said ‘oh you’re an ACA’. I said, ‘what the hell is that?’. ‘That’s an actual 12 step program’, she said, ‘and yeah, you should go’. So she introduced me to Adult Children of Alcoholics and otherwise dysfunctional families. I went and my husband wouldn’t go. We’re both ACA’s, we both had the traits, we both were raised in a way that limited us as adults. But I went and it completely changed my life, I had to make lots of decisions, but I worked on myself and started to realize I was causing lots of problems in my life because I wasn’t taught properly. I have all these survival traits and survival skills. In America, to be honest, a lot of them are praised; being a workaholic, such as a woman being a mother never taking care of yourself and helping everyone else and working yourself to death. And they say ‘look how dedicated you are’, but no, you’re self-destructing, right? So going to ACA totally changed my life. And I spent a good year working on my TILT business which stands for This is Lifestyle Training as well as the tilt technique for the pelvic tilt but I have to be really honest, by the time I got to the CBD business (where I am now), I realized I was doing all these by myself- no help no money. So I spent anything I made through gigs like basic modeling, basic acting, basic hosting stuff. I got so sick of these people paying me $100 saying ‘why aren’t you in E-News, oh my God you’re great’, like F you. I realize I’m being underpaid. I think a note to anyone else listening out there is a reason. I think I was really shocked when I realized that some of the people that were giving me advice were just trust fund babies or completely supported by parent’s and they wouldn’t admit it. I don’t blame them, but they’re telling me how to be successful and they’re completely financed like any business essentially. You better have funding. So I was really in a rough spot. I realized how vulnerable I was, I didn’t have a family structure that could really rely on, my husband was my family and all of that just evaporated. The reality of it is I just might take a full-time job to support this career, do I need to move out of LA? I’m open, I’m totally open to doing anything to make this work. Then my boyfriend in college, his name is Ryan and he’s been in cannabis business for 10 years. So he came along and he’d been doing well financially and I wasn’t- I presented value to him and he wanted to be with me. I was the one who got away from college but he thought I had a business acumen and sales background. He really wanted my help, so it was a year before I got very involved with the company because he owned it with his sister and again, more family drama, each of them feeling betrayed by each other. When you have that kind of drama in the business nothing gets done, from my perspective. In April of 2018, we became partners, I’m 10% and he’s 90%. I put in no money, but I work my butt off and that’s where my equity comes from. This company’s called Nonnie’s Nectar and it’s hemp extract CBD.
J: So a lot of you guys might be thinking CBD gets you high, CBD is psychoactive, it’s totally not. Oriana breaks it down.
OL: I’ll break it down. It’s very funny, CBD is used as an acronym because it’s very hard to pronounce the actual word for the molecule which is cannabidiol, and essentially that’s just a part of the cannabis plant. We call them cannabinoids, it’s just a molecule that’s in a plant whether it’s regular cannabis plants that have THC in it or a naturally low THC hemp plant. Cannabidiol is a molecule that gets you healthy but not high It works very well with THC at the same time, especially for cancer patients, the THC works on the pain- the CBD also works on pain but it doesn’t create a psychoactive effect, you don’t feel high, you don’t feel disoriented, you could still operate machinery and hemp by definition has less than 3/10 of 1% of THC by dry weight which is very important to note because when you take a dry plant and then you extract oil out of it, it’s going to have a little bit more than 3/10 of 1% once you make oils and stuff out of it. it’s all compressed essentially to concentrate. I really don’t know that much about it at that time either but I started digging in. My pharmaceuticals sales background just lifts me up like I’ve been selling for years- I know all about the body system, this is next level, this is even hard for me to explain or to understand, so the best way I can explain it is CBD is a sort of communication expert if you will is that it helps promote homeostasis in all of the systems in your body. So instead of being like, ‘I have anxiety, so here’s an SSRI that’s going to alter my brain chemicals and may also have like 30 other side effects’, CBD actually effects anxiety, it’s an anticonvulsive- it treats you hundred ailments, it’s regulating your entire body system. Instead of at a doctor where it’s ‘I have a symptom, so here’s a pill for your symptom’, it’s ‘here it’s an extract from a plant’. It’s important to note that ‘hemp seed oil’ is like olive oil. Hemp extract is what you’re looking for CBD and you wanna look for full-spectrum hemp extract. So there’s a lot of misinformation out there and it’s only getting worse. But just understand that CBD is regulating the communication systems in your body and the best way to explain it is like a mobile, a baby’s mobile over their bed. If you think of each ring-like body system- in traditional western medicine, they’re gonna treat each little ring of stars or clouds or rainbows over the baby’s bed but the CBD actually attacks the fulcrum, the top point from which all of the systems flow so that they’re in balance
M: So that makes sense.
OL: It sure does.
J: it’s funny when Oriana introduced me to CBD I remember her telling me it’s not going to get you high it’s gonna make you feel relaxed which exactly what it does. Maybe when some people take it and they haven’t gotten high before on THC they might be like, ‘oh I feel high’ but you’ve actually never been this relaxed.
OL: We call those people cannabinoid deficient. So most of the people in congress are cannabinoid deficient. If you’ve never had CBD in any form, your body is gonna be deficient so when you take it you actually gonna feel it just like if you take vitamins. You’re not high, you just feel different. We hear a lot of that in old folks saying they felt dizzy- they’ve just never felt that relax before. They don’t even know how to identify it.
J: And like, I will say Oriana gave me some stuff to try a while ago and she’s just like just give it a shot and so I did- and one major thing I noticed is when I went to the dentist about 6 months ago he was like ‘you’re grinding your teeth, you’re super tense, you need to find a solution because if you don’t, we’re going to give you a night guard’ and that’s not what I wanted because who wants to choke a night guard in their sleep? One of my friends is a co-founder of CBD company, should I give it a shot? So he said, do what you gonna do! And I tell you, I took it consistently for a month and all of my jaw pain was gone and I would wake up in the morning and feel nothing. I’m sure it affected me in other ways but that was so prominent and I texted her “oh my God I couldn’t believe this” and she’s like, “I know!”
M: What are all the forms that come in, is it only oral?
OL: Great question. There’s cannabis CBD which has THC in it and you can only buy that in a dispensary in a legal state. The hemp extract is in a grey area still even though there’s a new farm bill that makes it legal but State vs Federal…so if you wanna look for hemp and essentially how they make it is in oil, it’s an extract, so they take this plant, they put it through some different kinds of machines and make an oil. What can you make out of oil? So you can make edibles, gummies (which we have and they’re amazing), you can put into food- but I highly caution people on that. There’s a big crack down around the country on CBD edibles mainly because they aren’t what they say they are. It doesn’t maintain its integrity, so it breaks down and there’s no CBD in it so it’s mislabeled so there’s all these issues. Otherwise, the oil can be taken many different ways. We have a tincture and that goes under the tongue in a dropper. You want to look for a product that has some color to it because if it’s completely clear and it says 1000mg, they’re lying 100%. We challenge people all the time to come up and go ‘oh yeah we have 5000mg in 1 full ounce’- that’s impossible. It’s physically impossible and yet they’re trying to sell it. So that’s tough. So this is a tincture that’s formulated to go under your tongue
M: It looks like a Nectar literally. And I smelled it and smells amazing.
OL: It is! You can it under your tongue, you can swallow, you can put in lukewarm water, though you never want to heat it more than that. We also have capsules which have oil inside, we have the salve, it’s a balm, it’s a rub, it’s based in coconut oil-all organic ingredients. We can’t certify Organic because it’s not possible in a semi-legal crop. So essentially you’re looking at gummies, capsules, tinctures, and salves. They’re all made with the same base oil although the gummies and the capsules are THC free meaning it’s guaranteed there’s not 1 tiny spec of THC in that product- it does mean it has to be reprocessed one more time. So just like whole wheat flour becomes white flour, the more you process often times the more you take out the good stuff all the other good CBD’s that are in there- although I have to admit with all our THC free product I can’t tell the difference- they’re amazing. So the salve and the tincture have a tiny bit of THC which adds to entourage effect- that means when you have all the naturally occurring cannabinoids in the hemp plant in one bottle it works so much better. So lots of products in the market are THC free which means it has been processed more. Even the tiniest little bit in there really makes a difference, especially for pain
M: I’m learning so much. You had sales before, but with your partner now, this is all now booming.
OL: Yeah, so I’ll brag a little bit, this has been a nightmare. Last year we moved to Colorado briefly. We found out our manufacturer was shady so we had to find another one- the cost of having integrity. We have integrity, we have a spine, that’s not negotiable. So Ryan has 10 years experience in the cannabis business, tons of relationships, he started pretty much every vape you can imagine. Cutting edge brand new stuff. So he started this company in 2017, 2018 is when things really happen. We just closed the books and we did $550,000 sales in one calendar year- that’s on wholesale and retail online. We were only able to start retail online successfully in October and we’re on track to do a thousand dollars a day in business! We’re spending all our money- we’re not profitable yet. You need to brag and that’s tough when you’re not a sociopath or narcissist- same with Hollywood and all this stuff. When you’re not motivated by looking at yourself all day and telling yourself how amazing you are, it can be hard to sell yourself in a society where you’re increasingly required you to sell yourself. So that’s what really is challenging.
J: Oh wonderful! What I am so captivated with you is that when you’re talking about you’re in sales- you’re so good at it because you are so honest. When I’m listening to you, I know oh she’s not selling me on something, this could benefit me and I truly believe you.
OL: I appreciate that very much.
J: You’re very honest and very genuine.
OL: That’s part of being successful, honestly. I’m 36, I just turned 36. It’s like you get to that point that anything other than radical honesty is a waste of time and actually Tony Robbins really inspires me because he says that everyone is superficial because I hate superficial I go deep immediately and people are riveted. I took that and, oh my god, that’s me. Some people don’t like that and are uncomfortable because they want to stand on the surface. I’m an accountability junkie and all the people in my life are accountability junkies and if they’re not, they’re really not in my life because they don’t want to be held accountable. I’m honest but I’m loving, caring, and I don’t put someone down but I’m not gonna listen to your BS. Not oh poor you, it’s oh what’s your solution? Did you read a book? Did you phone a friend? Did you go to a therapist, did you do anything? Or it’s just your identity to complain?
J: So you guys have been through a lot in 2018. You’re not only battling business models but you’re battling legally. Can you explain a little bit about the hardships that you’ve been through with that? Even though it doesn’t get you high, hemp isn’t legal.
OL: We could spend 10 hours discussing this and even the most expensive attorneys in the country don’t know the definitive answer whether this product is legal or not- that’s crazy. So what happened in 2018 is that we were in Colorado and these products are grown, formulated and manufactured in Colorado which had a 2014 agriculture bill, a kind of provision to their state to grow hemp and create these products. So it’s legal in Colorado while being illegal in the US- very confusing. We happened is we got cut off with every payment processor you could ever imagine so we were tied with what we’re doing. We’re on health, vitamins, and beauty but it turned out if you have CBD on your packaging or CBD in your website all of a sudden Stripe, Square, PayPal we got kicked off and literally, they held our money. How can you have an ecommerce store without a credit card processing, you can’t. We also couldn’t get fulfillment, no warehouse would ship our products because of the liability on them if they got in trouble. So we had all these issues. So we redesign our label, we took CBD off everything because we know the pharmaceutical industry in the US has already put a trademark on the letters CBD and they actually patented it- which is impossible, it’s a molecule and has no defense. Legally like there’s no way they can defend that.
M: So they were just really holding out so they can patent it before anyone does or anyone else could take off with it?
OL: The idea is they did this years ago knowing the state would come and knowing they could all challenge these companies in court and may bankrupt them because the great way to ruin someone is in court with legal fees. It’s so deep, you have no idea. Just imagine credit processor dropping. Wholesale was our biggest source of sales, amazing because of all Ryan’s contacts and dispensaries in LA so the first 6 months of 2018 we did amazing numbers- they’re paying cash or writing checks whatever. Then here comes June of 2018 and BCC in the state of California a brand new agency announces if you have a license for your cannabis dispensary you cannot carry unlicensed crop (meaning hemp), so our products literally became illegal to sell, we’re making $30-50K a month in sales and it went to $0. Overnight we went from booming to oh my god how are we gonna stay in business? So it’s entrepreneurship put to the next level because here are all the stakeholders that won’t do business with you cause they’re afraid. And you have credit card processing issues, you have all these issues that you can’t just run a normal business. And the people, that we got for fulfillment- they’re more open to risk cause as an entrepreneur you have to be risk-tolerant. I respect other business that says we can’t do business with you we don’t wanna lose licensing, partners, we don’t wanna lose all these stuff. But even if BCC says it can’t be sold here, it’s being sold online, in grocery stores, anywhere and everywhere but the dispensary. But Trump actually signed a bill, the Farm Bill which has a ton of republican support because they know hemp is a multi-million dollar industry in the next few years. There are a lot of states that are looking at this as the thing that’s going to turn their economy around. So the hard part is that there are so many people that want in but their attorney says ‘no’, they know they’re losing a huge opportunity but the risk is too big so we’re constantly being rejected because people aren’t sure. Our products are being lost in the mail, we know they’re being seized- there’s just no recourse. So now we’re a little bit legalish it could take anywhere from 6 months or probably 18 months for the FDA and US state calm down.
M: I’m learning so much right now, I enjoyed it.
OL: I love educating! Here’s the deal- pharma’s already in the game, there’s already one available on the market and the FDA approved now so that means now it can’t be illegal if there’s a prescription, how can you say CBD is illegal if the pharmacy is fulfilling a CBD prescription? You can’t, right? Pharmaceutical companies are already lobbying the states to make CBD prescription only and it’s happening. So in those states, people need help will not be able to get help through our products eventually. It will go state by state, they think the market will go ⅓, ⅓, ⅓ because it’s not an accident it’s been curved already so much money to be made. There’s also a lot of people to help, so the pharmaceuticals, cannabis, and hemp are the 3 types of CBD you’ll see in the market.
M: Oh my gosh, my mind is blown, I had no idea about anything about CBD.
J: It’s funny like we look around LA and a lot of mixologists are making CBD cocktails and all these things just trying to get it out there and show awareness and I told a lot of people about the product just because it has helped me- it’s not just me saying it because Oriana is sitting across me but because it has really helped and I think the entrepreneurial journey that you’ve been through…I feel like you’ve learned so much. So do you have a message for those serial entrepreneur types?
OL: The number one rule in entrepreneurship is don’t die. That’s it. Keep your business alive and you’ve won. It’s really an hourly lifestyle to live because it’s a constant battle. I think that self-care and health are number one because I just learned from an injury recently, my body is my Billboard and how I get around- is how can I do my business once you can’t physically do anything your options are limited? I think for serial entrepreneurs they seem to work themselves too hard. Try to have a balanced life and focus on health and wellness physically- if you’re not strong physically you can’t withstand the pressure, the amount of stress, the number of ridiculous things that happen on a daily basis which will make anyone insane. You’re exercising, you’re meditating, you’re doing something to make yourself balance that would be the number 1 because it’s so easy to get depressed, to lose motivation. I personally burnt myself out physically. This 2018 was a really tough year, your energy store is gone and it doesn’t come back and it’s really dangerous to push yourself too much to the point your body says ‘I give up’!
M: That makes total sense though. We could talk to you forever.
OL: I’ll come back.