You get 100% of what you don’t ask for.
Always keep your humility.
It is far better to be the hammer than the nail.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brady Cobb, CEO of Bluma Wellness.
A medical marijuana pioneer who uses his legal background to address marijuana policy reform as both an attorney and lobbyist, Brady Cobb cultivated his passion for the industry to found One Plant, one of only 14 operational medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTC) in Florida. In building One Plant, Brady and his team of authentic cannabis enthusiasts and experienced industry insiders took a much different, and harder, path than its competitors, namely instead of focusing on opening up retail stores, they focused on building out and scaling up their cultivation facilities. They recognized that they were only as good as the cannabis flower they could grow, and truly live and die by a line from their mission statement; One Plant’s cannabis is grown, not made.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
The cannabis industry runs in my blood. My father, Bill Cobb, orchestrated what is still considered the largest marijuana smuggling operation in U.S. history, according to the Department of Justice. The old man moved 1.5 million pounds from Colombia to the Florida panhandle from 1977–1983. He was eventually arrested, indicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Growing up, I learned about his operations and, the older I got, the initial contempt from missed birthdays and Christmases gave way to intrigue and understanding. I was born and raised in South Florida, where the folklore of smugglers is woven into the fabric of this state, so that coupled with what felt like a calling to honor my father pushed me toward the plant and the marketplace. My father was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2007 and passed away in 2010. Throughout the tough years in between, I found cannabis for him on the black market. He refused to take opiates. When he was too weak or in too much pain, I would happily roll joints for him. His teasing about my rolling technique was relentless the entire damned time. It was the only medicine that truly gave him relief from the terrible cancer treatments that many of us have come to know and hate. I learned how legal addictive opiates ripped through the state of Florida while witnessing what illegal non-addictive cannabis did for the old man. My father thought the best way to get cannabis into the hands of consumers was by bringing shrimp boats with 70,000 pounds of grass at a time into Florida. I knew the best route was through the State Capitol and D.C. He did it his way and I’m doing it my way.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
At One Plant, we deliberately did not open dispensaries and focused on our grow. While our competitors raced to quickly pop open locations all over the state, with their grow as an afterthought, we did the exact opposite. Instead of building stores that didn’t have product in them, we created the first next day ecommerce enabled cannabis delivery platform and launched it last July. When we assembled our grow and operations team from across the country, our initial radical focus was to grow the best cannabis in the state of Florida, period. Everything else came secondary, including opening stores and, especially, splitting our focus among multiple states like our competitors. Our focus is Florida. We’re headquartered here and almost all of us at the executive level were born, raised and live here. At our stores, we’ve endeavored to create an atmosphere that is inviting, unassuming and fun. We take immense pride in the part of our mission statement that reads: “Our cannabis is grown, not made.” Every single thing we do as a company starts and ends with the quality and authenticity of our cannabis flower and the team that grows it. In a sea of very average cannabis churned out in large, soulless facilities by some others in the space, our patients notice the difference. We also hand-trim all of our flower, instead of cramming it through a machine trimmer, which destroys the integrity of the flower. We were the first company in Florida to hand trim, and while some may say that is too time- or labor-intensive, we say that if we are going to sell a premium product to our patients, it is the only way to do things. We are also the most technologically advanced grower and operator in the state, with real time systems management and KPI’s, and we have also developed and implemented our own ecommerce platform, all the focus on being the most efficient operator in Florida with the best flower in the state.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When we launched our disruptive cannabis delivery program in July of last year, the plan was to start slow and small. Slow and small are not usually descriptive terms used around me, so I asked our new marketing director to put out an Instagram post saying that we were rolling out “statewide delivery.” At the time we had very few followers, and while I thought “statewide” delivery was something that would be “easy” to set up given our system, our new vans had not even arrived or been approved. I also did not know that within the first ten minutes after the post, our Instagram feed was exploding with a cultish following that we didn’t know existed! Our Logistics/Delivery Manager called me shortly after the post went up to say, “did you guys put something up on the internet or social media?” I sheepishly said “yes,” and after he calmed down and no longer wanted to kill me, we set up the State’s first ecommerce home delivery network.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I was very fortunate to have Ed Pozzuoli and Jim Scott, both of whom are exceptional lawyers/lobbyists and strategists, as mentors early on in my legal career. They really helped me develop the ability to see the angles, namely to always position myself in the zone where business, politics and the law intersect. I’ve also been lucky to have a great team around me, both in my time as CEO of Sol as well as with my team at Bluma Wellness/One Plant, and I learn from each of them every single day.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
The simplest way for me to articulate this is by saying that disrupting just for the sake of being disruptive is not positive or productive in my opinion. Instead, I admire those that use a disruptive mindset to identify existing practices, policies or ways of doing things and to make them better. Elon Musk with battery powered cars, Uber revolutionizing transportation with technology, Apple putting mini-computers into people’s hands, Facebook connecting the world (debatable if that is always a good thing, but we’ll save that discussion for another time) in real time. All of these things have changed the way we live and work, and the genesis of each lies in being disruptive and thinking outside of the box.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
1. You get 100% of what you don’t ask for.
2. Always keep your humility.
3. It is far better to be the hammer than the nail.
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
Our primary strategy is doing exactly the opposite of what our competitors do. We focus on highlighting our growers and their experience and life stories to demonstrate our authenticity and focus on growing the highest quality flower in Florida instead of merely promoting our products. Rather than throwing a grand opening party and offering a sale, we partner in local communities and sponsor surf contests, home and garden events/shows and other local organically attended events. We aim to become part of our consumers lifestyle, one day and one patient at a time.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
We’re going to shake things up with new pricing tiers, new exotic strains of cannabis in our garden, and strains Floridians have never seen in the legal market. As a team, we pride ourselves on continually living on the edge, every single day, pushing hard into the future and looking for ways to be innovative and forward thinking. Stay tuned!
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
I am a big fan of Joe Rogan, and I really enjoyed his podcasts with Elon Musk and David Goggins. The Elon Musk podcast really inspired me to think and view the world differently, as Elon Musk’s view of the world is far different than most.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” ―Winston Churchill
This helped shape my beliefs and created my drive to succeed. Subscribing to this mindset requires me to be innovative and to continually push myself to think outside the box as variables are always changing. You have to be able to think through problems/obstacles (they are everywhere in a federally illegal business) quickly and find solutions even faster in the cannabis industry.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It may be cliché, but legalizing cannabis is a movement I have been pushing for 5 years and something I have dreamed of seeing happen. I have been making the rounds in Congress in Washington D.C., and until recently have been met with most dismissive attitudes. That didn’t stop me, and I won’t rest until all of America can access this amazing, non-addictive plant-based medicine. As far as how that would affect social change, think about how many people we could keep off of addictive opioids, or how many American’s could enter the workforce in the cannabis sector. This is truly a “Grown in America” story, and it could have a tremendous impact on federal, state and local economies.
How can our readers follow you online?
For more information, visit https://oneplant.us or http://www.blumawellness.com, or follow our social media pages to keep up with our latest news. We can be found at @oneplant.fl on Instagram, @oneplant.us on Facebook, and @OnePlantUS on Twitter.