Cannabis Influencers? Indeed. Here Are The Top 5

Cannabis Influencers? Indeed. Here Are The Top 5


Not a big fan of this as you all know but it’s undeniably one of the major culture shifts of the decade…..most popular with Millennials but Boomers aren’t far behind!


A recent Gallup poll found that one in four Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 “regularly” or “occasionally” consume cannabis versus 13% of the rest of the population. On top of that, a 2019 Consumer Report found that, in the past two years, 26% of Americans have tried CBD.

No wonder Cannabis Influencers are getting in on the action. Per greenmarketreport, the top 5 influencers in the category are:

#1: Seth Rogen

Comedian Seth Rogen star of stoner comedies like Pineapple Express and This Is The End, has 6.7 million followers on Instagram.

  • Hoping to capitalize on his reputation as a cannabis connoisseur, Rogen has teamed up with the world’s largest cannabis company, Canopy Growth, to launch a new hemp and cannabis company called Houseplant. Rogen announced the brand by leaving a cryptic message asking people to follow Houseplant’s Instagram page.

#2: Mike Tyson

Tyson has partnered with Vegas’ Planet 13 to be the exclusive launch partner of his 40-acre cannabis resort, dubbed Tyson Ranch.

#3: Dan Bilzerian

Dan Bilzerian, owner of the cannabis brand Ignite, is one of the biggest influencers in the cannabis industry.

  • His social media pages are filled with bikini-clad models, exotic locations, and firearms. He has more than 26 million followers on Instagram.
  • Before dedicating himself to building his cannabis brand (“to live the Ignite lifestyle“), Bilzerian was one of the world’s most successful professional poker players, winning over $50 million in a single year.

#4: Big Mike

Michael Straumietis, also known as Big Mike, is the CEO of the cannabis fertilizer company Advanced Nutrients. He has leveraged that fame into an Instagram following of almost 3 million.

  • Advanced Nutrients is the maker of the #1 selling cannabis-specific nutrient line in the world, with over $110 million a year in sales from 93 countries.
  • Advanced Nutrients also lends seed money to individuals in developing countries who dream of starting a small business, but lack the means to do so.

#5: Charlo Greene

Charlo Greene is a former journalist turned cannabis entrepreneur who gained overnight fame after she announced live on television that she was quitting her job to pursue a career in cannabis.


On a less cheery note, read on below for my scary experience with a CBD cocktail. Now it turns out my experience was not so rare as more consumers of CBD edibles end up in emergency rooms.

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ProAger Or Active-Ager? Which Best Describes You?

ProAger Or Active-Ager? Which Best Describes You?


I’ve been seeing quite a few cool people add ProAger to their bios lately. And I’ll admit, it sounds way cooler to me than Active Aging.


But then I did some research. And I quickly discovered why ProAging sounds so great. It’s advertising jargon created by the beauty industry as a trendy new way to talk about all those new anti anti-aging products they’re launching. When you drill down, you realize Pro-Aging is superficial and very limited in scope. Basically it’s a rebrand of anti-aging.

The key difference between ProAging and Active Aging comes down to age and gender and actual experience with the aging process.

The beauty biz and the media have crafted ProAging products/messages to appeal directly to women turning 40 – which is often when women first start thinking about aging.

And this is key: the “Pro” in ProAging is meant to suggest that you are PRO all aspects of aging i.e. you reject the notion not only of anti-aging products but you resist all activities and practices that would fight aging. Let me just be clear here – that’s the kind of hogwash you buy into when you’re 40 and have not had to deal with some of the downside of aging especially health issues. Nobody I know who is 50 and above has ever said, “yes, I’m pro strokes, diabetes, arthritis etc.” Wanting to be and look your best does not mean you’re angling to look like a 20-year old, on the other hand, you’re also not going to simply accept whatever health issues come your way if you have the knowledge and the opportunity to minimize them through exercise, diet and social activities. And believe me, good health goes hand in hand with improved appearance.

And that’s what makes Active Aging so much more relevant. Plus, it addresses the 50 and up crowd (men and women), and most especially those 60 and over.

It’s a concept the World Health Organization has adopted on a global basis. They define active aging as “the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.

This is a key interest of mine and I will be doing on-going research and writing more about this.

In the meantime, read on below for more on the distinctions between ProAging and Active Aging – down to the number of Google search results each term brings up as well as how each group is represented when you do an image search.

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Are You Ready? Our New Tech Future Is Here!

Are You Ready? Our New Tech Future Is Here!


This is the kind of geeky stuff I find absolutely fascinating. In this instance, how to be more fully prepared for life in an artificial intelligence-driven world.


Techcrunch just ran this incredibly thought-provoking piece on the technological transformations we are in the midst of and the kind of radical changes we can anticipate in everything from how we conceive children to how we manage our public identities to how to succeed in a truly multicultural and multinational world.

Jamie Metzl, the technology futurist and writer of this piece, provides a preparedness list. I’ve abridged my top 5 (but his full list is included below).

#1:  Quantify and monitor your health

Waiting until you have a symptom to start assessing your health status is like waiting until your car is careening down a hill to check if the brakes are in order.

  • Society will inevitably shift from a model of responsive sick care of people already in trouble to the predictive healthcare trying to keep people out of it.
  • Do you want to be a dinosaur-like victim of the old model or a proactive pioneer of the new one?

#2:  Manage your public identity

The days of living incognito are over.

  • Even in liberal societies we will all be increasingly judged at work, at home, and in our commercial interactions based on our aggregated digital identities.
  • These identities will be based on what we buy, what we post, what we seek, and how and with whom we interact online.
  • Our digital identities will significantly influence what options are available to us.
  • We must think of our public selves as brands, managing our digitally recorded activity from early on to present ourselves to the world in the way we consciously want the world to know us.

 #3:  Learn the language of code

Our lives will be increasingly manipulated by algorithms few of us understand.

  • Pretty much every job we might do and many other aspects of our lives will be guided by artificial intelligence and big data analytics.
  • Learning the fundamentals of coding will help us navigate the fast arriving algorithmic world.

#4:  Become multicultural

As China rises and Global power decentralizes in the 21st-century, we’ll all need to learn more about China, India, and other new power, population, and culture centers.

  • This will give us  a far greater chance of success in most anything we’ll be doing.
  • Although machine translation will make communicating across languages pretty seamless, you’ll need a cultural fluidity and fluency to succeed in the 21st century world.

#5: Become an obsessive learner

Technological change is accelerating far more rapidly than ever before.

  • This unprecedented rate of change will mean that much of our knowledge will start becoming obsolete as soon as we acquire it.
  • To keep up in our career and life, we’ll need to dedicate ourselves to a lifetime of never ending, aggressive, continuous, and creativity-driven learning.
  • The only skill worth having in an exponential world will be knowing how to learn and a passion for doing it.


Read on below for Jamie Metzl’s complete Top 10 list.

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New Discovery Alert: Topo Chico Sparkling Water Is Super Cool!

New Discovery Alert: Topo Chico Sparkling Water Is Super Cool!


This century-old sparkling mineral water brand is bottled in Monterrey Mexico and is in very limited distribution. It was bought by Coca Cola in 2017. Sales last year grew 30%.


I discovered this gem while in Palm Springs. It’s served at the Ace and I fell in love with the glass bottle, the logo and package design. Super cool – no wonder it has such a cult following.

I next ran into it in Bentonville at the coolest restaurant in town, The Preacher’s Son.

And then, back in NYC, there it was in the aisles of Whole Foods!!!  Which makes sense since the only way you could previously get it in most parts of America was by ordering it through  Amazon.


But I needed to do more research. Here’s what I found on Business Insider:

  • Topo Chico grew into a major sparkling-water brand throughout Mexico in the first half of the 20th century.
  • By the late 1980s, Topo Chico was being sold in the United States and was marketed primarily to Mexican-American communities.
  • Topo Chico developed a cult following in more recent years, especially in Texas – and most especially in Austin. Bartenders began using the drink in cocktails at trendy bars, and retail sales exploded in the early 2010s.
  • I also learned that the acquisition by Coca Cola created a major backlash in Austin.
  • Per Vice: Tim Murphy, the owner of a popular dive bar, The Grackle, threw a full bottle of Topo against the side of his bar and watched it break apart before popping the seal of a Jarritos Mineral Water. The video was posted to his Instagram.

Based on my experience with how Coca Cola markets products, I would say Top Chico is in for a rough ride. But they will definitely expand distribution. Aside from that, they’ll most likely tweak the packaging, add flavors – basically do whatever they can to turn it into more of a soda. Keeping my fingers crossed, I’m wrong about this.


Read on below for more beverage news – including the culture shift that’s developing around the “sober-curious.

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Brands And Social Responsibility? Is It Really Just A Crock?

Brands And Social Responsibility? Is It Really Just A Crock?


People are finally catching on to the disconnect between what we say about the importance of brand social responsibility and what actually motivates us to buy.


Warby Parker is the latest brand to come to grips with the fact that their social mission of “buy one/give one” is not connecting with consumers.

Not surprisingly, when it comes to eyewear, what motivates consumers are styles and fit. That’s followed closely by at-home trial, free delivery, the $95 price point and exceptional customer service.

While customers say they love the fact that Warby Parker “gives back”, in reality, it’s not a critical factor when it comes to deciding whether to buy a pair of glasses. As an enthusiastic and longtime Warby Parker fan, I can attest to the fact that their “mission” is irrelevant to my love of the brand.

Based on these latest consumer findings, Warby has now moved the “buy a pair, give a pair” from the front page of their website to their rarely updated, and even less frequently viewed, social-mission page.


Read on below for info on the rise and fall of another brand built on social mission: TOMS Shoes. Plus, an example or two of brands whose mission aligns authentically (and successfully) with their company values.

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TikTok Now More Popular Than Snapchat And Instagram

TikTok Now More Popular Than Snapchat And Instagram



“The kids” love it, which tells me it’s going to be big – especially for marketers and anyone who needs to know how the culture is shifting.


Some of you may remember I wrote about TikTok a few weeks ago. Since then I’ve downloaded the app and scroll through it every couple of days. One of the things I’ve noticed over the last couple of weeks is that more users are now incorporating brands into their videos e.g. HP, IKEA, Walt Disney Store. I don’t get the impression they’re paid posts – more like TikTokers trying to send a message to brands that they are open for business.

Also, recently, dogs in costume are MAJOR e.g. dressing up your dog like a panda.

I’m also noticing more TikToks popping up on twitter. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I don’t have a share icon on my home page. Probably a good thing – otherwise, I would be sharing videos like crazy.

Before you decide TikTok is not relevant for you, please keep reading because both from a business perspective as well as just wanting to “stay current,” you need to take a minute to check out this company and its users (70% of whom are under-30).

Here are some highlights:

TikTok is on a hiring binge

  • Per LinkedIn, at least 14 people have been hired from Snap. TikTok has 26 open roles on LinkedIn as of April 12, including brand strategy in New York and in San Francisco as well as a head of marketing in Los Angeles.
  • They’re also attracting video creators from Snap (apparently, it is easier to monetize content on TikTok).
  • Bytedance (parent company of TikTok) has 40,000 employees globally. It has opened offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Chicago.

Bytedance has made numerous acquisitions since 2017

  • Lip-syncing app and Flipagram in 2017.
  • Augmented reality company FaceU and payment company UIPay in 2018.
  • So far this year, they’ve bought gaming startup Mokun Technology for mini-games and GeoGif for geolocation filters as well as pop up filters and stickers based on current newsworthy events and activities users are doing in videos.

TikTok hit one billion downloads with more than 500 million monthly active users.

Per Business Insider, 663 million of TikTok’s one billion downloads came in 2018, meaning it was downloaded more last year than Instagram, which garnered 444 million new downloads.


Read on below for more new developments including info from Digiday on TikTok’s pitch deck to US agencies.

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Art Tourism: It’s The New “It” Thing In Travel

Art Tourism: It’s The New “It” Thing In Travel


International arts tourism has grown at a higher rate than overall travel over the last five years. I can personally attest to that!


What I’ve also discovered during my travels is that the creative arts not only drive tourism, they revitalize many small and large cities around the world.

Top genres of art destinations:

  • Private institutions e.g. Alice Walton’s Crystal Bridges
  • Remote art hubs e.g. Marfa in Texas (one of my all time favorites)
  • Site specific installations e.g. Spiral Jetty in Utah
  • Street art meccas e.g. Snösätra Graffiti Wall of Fame outside of Stockholm
  • And, of course, major museums e.g. Louvre in Paris or the MET in NYC

This past week I traveled to Palm Springs to check out Desert X with its vast array of art installed (or should I say hidden?) over miles and miles of desert.

What I learned from Desert X is that vastness doesn’t equate to quality. That said, the trip was not a disappointment. And that was largely due to my friend, Andy Cohen. He had amazing tips based on having spent the last couple of months living in Palm Springs.

Andy insisted I check out Slab City. It’s a very off-the-grid arts scene and also encompasses Bombay Beach and the Salton Sea. Mind officially blown!!

Another key lesson: an SUV does not make you invincible. The desert sand always has the upper hand. You WILL need a tow truck if you do some stupid off-roading in the quest for art.


From Palm Springs I flew to Bentonville, Arkansas for a tour of Crystal Bridges.

What I discovered in traveling to Crystal Bridges is that art tourism comes in many different guises.

  • What came as a huge surprise to me was how non-group oriented I am when it comes to exploring something as familiar (to me) as contemporary art. This is doubly-true when the destination is also local and familiar.
  • I clearly seek out group travel when adventuring off to remote and unfamiliar places (e.g. Mongolia) but I was shocked at how poorly I adjusted to group art viewing.
  • My own agenda overrode the group thing for everything from where I wanted to eat to the pace at which I wanted to explore art.


Scroll down for my photo-pictorial from Palm Springs and Bentonville (including reviews of restaurants, hotels etc.).

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How Does Google Make All That Money When Its Services Are Free?

How Does Google Make All That Money When Its Services Are Free?



First of all, it’s good to be back. After my two jaunts to Palm Springs and Bentonville last week, I have a lot to say about ART TOURISM – look for it tomorrow!

For today, however, I’m going all countertrend on you with this piece on Google. The trendy thing to do these days (and I’ve certainly done it myself) is to bitch about all the ways tech companies are stealing and using our data. However, I look at it as quid pro quo and I appreciate that I am getting FREE search, FREE G-Mail, FREE maps, FREE YouTube, the list goes on and on. I also, frankly, appreciate getting more relevant search info based on what they know about me.

At this point, some of you are ready to blast me about privacy etc. All I can say is, I am a firm believer in the old adage about there being “no free lunch.” As a result, I’ve never expected these critically important services to be offered without some form of payment on my part.

If you’re still with me at this point, here is some EXCELLENT info from The Motley Fool on how Alphabet (parent company of Google) actually makes their billions of dollars. It’s how you and I can continue to use all of these services  we’ve come to rely upon – – for FREE!

You’ll find the full transcript from the video below. Here are 5 highlights:

  • 70% of Alphabet’s revenue comes from Google search and user activity on platforms like Gmail, Google Maps, Google Play, and YouTube.
  • The vast majority comes from ads that are tailored to be highly relevant to us e.g. when I recently used Google to search for hotels in Tulsa (destination for my next cultural immersion), I’m served up refined web results and advertisements. Same goes for our Gmail inboxes.
  • Ad targeting uses an auction process (that I do not claim to understand) based on variables like advertising bids, quality, and relevance. Bidding takes place quickly and often.
  • Ads vary in price depending on a keyword’s popularity e.g. the word “insurance” is worth $54 while the average ad spot comes in at around $1.
  • Google has 2 billion monthly users, which translates to 3.5 billion searches every day (90% of search engine market share globally).

Scroll down for full transcript of video – OR watch the video above.

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