I had the pleasure of interviewing Rob Hickman Founder & CEO of Tyson Ranch. Rob Hickman is an accomplished businessperson and entrepreneur. In 1990, Rob began his career as a partner in a national food company, which brought him out to California, growing the company in every major city west of the Mississippi. He was one of the original members of the Los Angeles and Orange County California chapters of the YEO/YPO Organizations. Mr. Hickman’s energy and entrepreneurship have always empowered him within a circle of top-notch business executives and high-profile celebrities.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of what first introduced you into this business or helped you get interested in the business?
I was sick, and I went to the Mayo Clinic and all I could do was cannabis because all the medicine they were giving me wasn’t working. I was supposed to die and I didn’t. When I got out, this was what I wanted to do b/c it made my time when I was sick manageable.
I had worked with Mike Tyson over the years on and off with different projects. Knowing his past, I thought he might be a good partner for this, because I knew how much cannabis had helped him as well. Then after meeting with Kiki, Azim and Ali, I realized he would be the perfect partner. This has really become a family business.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
There are so many funny things that happen when you’re around Mike that I don’t have one memory, but I am developing a scripted television series about it, called “Rolling with the Punches” with Joe Roth’s television company, and we have a podcast at the office in El Segundo called “Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson” that we record several times a week.
We also have a highly intelligent millennial employee whose title is “Chief Rolling Officer”. He rolls perfect joints for Mike, and loves his job. It makes me smile every day. Lol
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
An executive from YouTube came to the office and said it was the most creative space he had ever been in. I considered that the pinnacle of complements…
I believe in building an environment that people love to be in. As the head of a company you must provide your employees with the space to feel motivated, involved and inspired. Hire the best people you can find and let them do what they are good at. Lay the blueprint of the mission and ethos of the company and allow your employees to bring that vision to life collectively. Oh, and mandatory drug testing. If you don’t have THC in your system; you fail. (This is a joke we say around the office, not true.)
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Mike Tyson… He is a very important partner for sure. The awareness Mike gives our team. We are the largest hemp processor in the world and we have a unique angle on the cannabis industry.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There are many people along the way that have been my mentors, lifted me up, and inspired me to get to where I am today. One of the great secrets to success is the power of people.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Aside from cultivating the highest quality thc and cbd products, Tyson Ranch is very excited about a number of entertainment projects currently in the works. Beginning with our original podcast “Hotboxin’ w/ Mike Tyson” co-hosted by Eben Britton. In this cannabis-centric talk show celebrities, athletes, entrepreneurs, researchers and fascinating minds come together to tell stories, share insights and break down the stigma of cannabis consumption in mainstream culture. The second project coming out of the Tyson Ranch entertainment department is our scripted reality series “Rolling With The Punches”, which follows Mike as he ventures into the world of cannabis entrepreneurship. Somewhere between comedic mishaps and heroic adventures Mike finds his way to an uplifting renaissance.
Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?
It is extremely difficult in the current market to advertise anything having to do with cannabis. Our strategy to making cannabis mainstream is through branded content, telling great stories and using the available resources of digital and social media to generate an excited community of cannabis consumers.
Can you share what excites you most about the Cannabis industry as well as what concerns you most?
One of the most exciting things about the cannabis movement is that we are on the precipice of establishing a new mode of healthcare in America. The fact that with the emergence of medicinal cannabis every American will have the ability to take control of their health and wellbeing without the need for toxic prescription medications that cause more complications than they solve. Our economy is in dire need of fresh opportunities and job placement, cannabis is the fastest growing industry in the world and will continue to boom for the next few years…
Cannabis continues to be illegal at the federal level. The passing of the latest farm bill legalizing industrial hemp was a great step in the right direction, however, we still have much farther to go. As a schedule 1 substance there is no telling what government bodies like the DEA or FDA will try to do to make access to cannabis more difficult. There are far too many black men serving prison sentences for minor drug possessions. We must work to get these people out of prison and back into society as free individuals.
Jilea Hemmings is the CEO & Co-Founder of Leaf Tyme. She is running a series on Leaders In The Cannabis Industry.