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Rico Tarver Podcast
– Hello and welcome to “Repair the World with Tikun”. I’m Alexandria Collins and today I’m joined by Rico Tarver. He is the founder and CEO of “The Suave Life” and he is the Head of Growth for CannaGather and he’s a heavyweight in the cannabis space. So, thank you so much for joining us Rico. How are you?
– Thanks for having me. I’m doing great. Thanks for asking, how about yourself?
– I’m good and I’m super glad to be talking to you, so let’s hop right into it. Something I like to ask people is what your first experience was with cannabis?
– My first experience growing up in Virginia I’d say I was pretty young, I smoked didn’t know much about it, but I was just around a lot of the older quote unquote I guess problem kids. People like to call them, but just hung out with a more colorful crowd and was introduced early in life, I’d say around 12 years old.
– Okay, so you’ve known about the plant for a long time.
– Yes, I would definitely say that I have had a long standing relationship with the plant going on 24 plus years now.
– Cool. So then how did you get into cannabis as a career? I know that you played football in college and so can you tell us a bit about that story?
– Oh, yeah. So went to play college football, Big 10 ball at Northwestern University. I left school with a opioid addiction and first foray into the cannabis industry was more on the outlaw side and I was actually selling cannabis, selling weed outside of Wrigley Field to support my opioid habit that I developed in college, so I mean that side wasn’t as fruitful or as I guess scrupulous as what I’m doing now. But that was my first foray into the industry, into the business and then I had to do it out of necessity. So where I am currently in the industry I had a cancer scare and I ended up leaving corporate finance, so after a nearly 10 year career in corporate finance I had a tumor, it was benign, but I did a huge gut-check and checked my intentions and I really hated that life, hated the life I was living. My marriage was on the rocks some. I was obese. I was drinking heavily. And the one thing that had been a huge positive in my life was cannabis. So seven years into my corporate finance career I discovered medical cannabis from a dispensary owner and he taught me how to substitute some of those opioids out for cannabis instead. Different strains for different reasons. And it actually helped me kick my own addiction and I’d been a huge advocate for it. So once I had my tumor I took two weeks leave of absence and did some soul searching and knew that I wanted to get into the cannabis industry and a friend of mine had a couple of connections and I started with a company called Baker Technologies and we went public and that was my Genesis in to the industry.
– Wow! That’s amazing. I didn’t know that part of it that you were working in finance and had a tumor scare, a cancer scare and that’s it’s interesting how a lot of the stories I’ve heard of people you know kind of coming to this cross in the roads where you realize that okay, what I’m doing it just is not working for me and so maybe let me try a natural route. Let me instead of adding on things or adding on pills or whatever it seems like let’s take away things. And so people come to cannabis because they realize okay there’s this one plant that can do a lot of the things that I am, but it’s an interesting thing where people decide to start taking things away and that they see there’s this plant that can do a lot of what they had been using other medications for. That’s something I’m really happy about with Tikun that we give the science behind it so that people can go tho their medical professionals and say hey this is a legitimate reason for me to use this plant and really, really you know I need it can you support me in that. So that’s amazing that you were able to find this as a home for you. So since the exit, which congratulations that’s huge for any entrepreneur, what are you up to today with “The Suave Life”? What does that look like for you in the cannabis space and CannaGather, can you talk us through that?
– Yeah, absolutely. “The Suave Life” started off as just me throwing private parties for celebrities, pro-athletes and investors looking to get in to the cannabis industry and it’s evolved into way more than that. We’re more of a event marketing outfit now. I still do a lot of things that I used to, but we also take more of a consultative approach and help folks with sales, help folks with marketing and events throughout the California Cannabis Industry. And I purposefully don’t say cannabis and CBD because it’s all cannabis, but I work in both lanes, bot on the THC side and the CBD side. Just helping brands and companies that are from outside the state navigate the landscape and achieve their goals. Yeah, so under “The Suave Life” umbrella I still throw private parties for celebrities and pro-athletes and investors looking to get in the cannabis industry. Supply attendees, sponsors and venues for different companies that looking to do things in California, mostly in the Southern California region, but I have stuff available all over the state. I also have “CBD Sundays” that’s a series that I began about a year and a half ago. Meditation, yoga, massage upstairs, downstairs CBD-infused brunch, bottomless mimosas. I work with a number of chefs throughout the nation. With that actively on a monthly basis we have four locations, two in Los Angeles, then we have Long Beach and we have a rooftop in Irvine, but nationwide we have installations and franchisees in Las Vegas, Chicago and Miami. And yeah, we’re doing a lot of great things everything’s all educational-based and that’s part of my own personal philosophy, education always before economics. In the CannaGather lane it’s more of my business lane, so “The Suave Life” is more like entertainment, parties and wellness side, but on the business and economics side that’s CannaGather. And with CannaGather I started off as the Los Angeles Founder and we were pretty successful with that, we average around 200 people monthly come out to our event in LA and we launched Orange County, which I still run to Orange County every third Wednesday of the month and that one we average about 100 people monthly. But with CannaGather we bring people from all over the industry it doesn’t matter what your lane is we bring all people together. We have some of the largest companies come on for live interviews with me on stage and this is an excellent place for anybody in the industry to just come out and network.
– Yeah, I’ve been to a CannaGather and it’s really cool to meet people in the space that are actively working on building the industry and building community and are excited to be there. I mean it was great when I went to see the people that are just like this is their jam and it’s so beautiful to see this in this space ’cause I’m from Florida originally where you know there’s not much of that in the South. Yeah, there’s not much of that in the South and not much community around it, it’s starting to become that, but definitely not when I was growing up. So it’s been really cool to experience it here. So curious what do you hope for in the cannabis industry in the next three to five years? What are your specific hopes for the industry and how do you plan to participate in that?
– Yeah, collaborative compassion that’s the mantra, that’s my motto for the year. I’m all about collaborative compassion, compassionate collaboration. The plant to me and so I just had my TEDx was just released, I did a Ted Talk and it’s called “Man Behind the Mask: “The Three Times Cannabis Saved My Life” and it really did and I truly believe that cannabis sativa is a communal plant, it brings people together. With me in my Ted Talk I talked about it the three times that my life was quote unquote saved by the plant and it’s all about expanding my horizons. The first time when I went to college it was the first white people that I hung out with, the first brown people I hung out with, Asians, gay friends, it was all because okay like whoever had the weed, right? And I think the second time for me was a dispensary owner recognized that I was an addict and he called me out on that and he was willing to consult with me and show me how to actually use cannabis as medicine, right? Bringing the community together, healing, talk about healing the world, it really healed me and saved my life the second time. And the third time after I had my tumor I did a total 180 on life pretty much and started taking things more seriously and I wouldn’t say more seriously taking things seriously period. I wasn’t really taking anything seriously in life before I had that cancer scare. So I think it really has saved my life three times. I really think that it should be bringing people together and that’s my hope is that three to five years from now people will realize that the big deep pocketed industry suits need the people at the bottom of the totem pole as well for everybody to thrive in this potentially agriculturally based economy.
– That is a really, really good point. When I think about people that are in you know Virginia right now or in Appalachia and I think of the potential to support those communities with cannabis, you know perhaps instead of certain industries that we’ve had for centuries. And there are different ways for us to support communities and all people, so that’s amazing that you’re doing this work and bringing it to the forefront. And you’re right, bringing it ground-level, grassroots and keeping it there is really important. So as we wrap up I have a question that I like to ask people you know how do you repair the world day to day, outside of cannabis what does repairing the world mean to you?
– Repairing the world and what it means to me is finding common ground and that’s truly what I believe the cannabis plant does. It forces us to find common ground. Just shut up, listen to each other, get in the circle, you know pass around the mic and listen, you know that dialogue that’s what people need. Less talking over each other and more listening and responding. I feel like the current world situation and it might be my age speaking to that, me being 36 a little bit. I really feel like the current situation in the world is people don’t listen to each other. On a broad scale. The cannabis community is way different, but on a broad scale people just don’t listen to each other, they yell at each other, they’re not really open minded. And me personally being from Virginia and then having to go through Chicago and living in Chicago for 12 years and then now in LA for eight years I’ve had the chance to… Oh yeah and I lived in Germany we didn’t talk about that, I lived in Germany for five years when I was a kid. So I truly have personally I have more of a global view and more of a mixed viewpoint when it comes to different people from different regions and their different respective opinions. And I’m a lot less quick to jump the gun and admonish somebody simply because they have a certain opinion. My way of healing the world and I really do try to live this is by trying to listen more and add perspective, rather than trying to give people advice. Telling people what my viewpoint is and letting them choose for themself how they want to proceed, rather than telling somebody this is bad, like no this is bad you shouldn’t think like that. I understand everybody in this world’s perspective is different and that is their different viewpoints are driven and they’re formed, they’re shaped by their own individual backgrounds and I’m okay with that. As long as we listen, come to the table listen I think we’re all gonna be all right.
– So good. Yes, we can definitely do more of that. I love what you said about responding and I think responding instead of reacting is the key. There’s a lot of reactions happening right now and everything’s so quick, so fast with social media and the news cycle is so fast these days that it is easier often times to react instead of taking time to thoughtfully respond. So I love that you emphasize that. And thank you for joining me today, Rico.
– Absolutely, thank you for having me and yeah big shout out to the whole Tikun Team you guys are awesome.
– Thank you also real quick, how can people find you? How can they support your work or find you online?
– Yes, visit my website “The Suave Life”, www.thesuavelife.com. You can go there check out what I’ve been doing. I’m gonna start writing on there with my blog posts and my TEDx that just got released will be on there. I want to have my viewing party, but everything as a whole can be found one way or the other through thesuavelife.com.
– Wonderful and thank you to all of our listeners for checking out “Repair the World with Tikun”. We will catch you on the next one. Peace.