Jun 1, 2023
Hear how changing your perspective can lead to a great idea
For today's podcast I had the pleasure of interviewing Nathan Richter, CEO of Nature's Key, his medical marijuana company. Nathan shares his personal journey with using medical marijuana as a sleep aid and a supplement for his workouts, and how it led him to become a leader in this emerging industry. We also discuss the fear of change and the importance of embracing it as a way of exploring new solutions to old problems. Nathan's journey with medical marijuana serves as an example of how innovation and adaptation can lead to success. Much to learn here! Enjoy.
Watch and listen to our conversation here
Many people hear marijuana and think "stoner" but that's no longer accurate
According to Nathan, medical marijuana can be an important alternative to harmful coping mechanisms like alcohol or hard drugs. Listen in as he shares his personal experience using CBD, as well as the potential benefits of medical marijuana for sleep, exercise recovery and overall health.
Nathan predicts that hemp and cannabis will become disruptors in modern-day industry by promoting sustainability and regenerative farming practices. He believes that as more people become educated about the benefits and safety of these products, the culture will shift towards acceptance and normalization. Sounds like a Blue Ocean model! To connect with Nathan, visit his LinkedIn page or his website, Nature's Key.
Andi Simon: Welcome to On the Brink With Andi Simon. As you know, I'm Andi Simon, and my job is to help you get off the brink, to help you see, feel, and think about things in new ways, and to find people who are going to help you open your mind to possibilities when you may not be really aware of them, or even paying attention to what you know already.
Often, I find that the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, is so overwhelming that humans just fly the other way. That old part of your brain says, don't touch it, don't do it. Don't please make me do it. I'm happy where I am, but maybe I need something to help me change.
So today I have with us a wonderful person, Nathan Richter from Kansas City. I met Nathan at a workshop I was doing on culture change. This was a very interesting group of people who really got into the whole idea of what is culture, the essence of who we are and how do you change? And out of that, Nathan reached out and said, "I have a story to share. I'd like to share it with your audience and let's see if we can help people do something that they may be afraid of."
Remember your brain hates change. The pain of it is really painful. And today you're going to be a little bit painful, but not much because now you are going to learn something new that's going to help you really perhaps solve a problem. Nathan, thank you for joining me.
Nathan Richter: Good morning, Andi. It's so great to be here and thanks for having me.
Andi Simon: Well, it's so much fun to share with you, so that's my pleasure. Let me read you a little bit about Nathan's background to set the stage, and of course then I'll let him tell his own journey. It's a great story. He was born in Oklahoma City, as he says. He's a graduate of Mustang High School, which I always enjoy sharing, and the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University School of Law. He began as an attorney, but before he began his legal career, he was a geneticist and he also served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom in 2003, where he received the Joint Forces Commendation Medal and other awards. Doesn't surprise you, wait till you hear his story.
He's served in a variety of leadership positions and he's currently serving as CEO of Nature's Key. But I do think that today's story is about Nature's Key, and because he has a particular interest in helping you understand the problem or challenge he faced and how something called medical marijuana, which you've heard about, became a solution that might not have been something he would've gone to out of Ordinary Nathan. I truly enjoyed listening to your story. Share it with our listeners. And who is Nathan, what has your journey been like?
Nathan Richter: Well, Nathan is Nathan. Nathan's another human being that just likes to serve other human beings and I appreciate you reading a little bit of my background and frankly, setting the frame for your podcast, because it's one of the most beautiful things about life is that change is constant. It's a given and there's nothing we can do about it, so we might as well embrace it. And that scares a lot of people because we don't understand the unknown. And if we don't know what we're facing, then we're afraid of it. But life's full of it, right? Life's full of changes. It's full of twists and turns and pivots.
And my story is kind of one of those that I hope might help some of your listeners. I was by and large your rule-following kid growing up. I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, raised in the church, and you know, by God, we were rule-following law-abiding citizens. And, medical marijuana, which didn't even exist at the time, was one of those taboo things. By and large, on every Saturday morning between every cartoon, we saw the commercial about the frying pan and the egg, and this is your brain on drugs, and it goes in the frying pan.
It made an impression and I would have never, ever tried this particular plant or this particular product for any reason. Because of that, I went through school, went through college, was always gravitated towards leadership and leadership positions, serving on boards and serving on committees and things like that, and was fascinated by science.
So, I got my bachelor's degree in genetics and worked initially on the Human Genome Project. The lab that I worked for at the time was sequencing human mouse and plant genome DNA. They were mapping that, this was the late nineties, so you know, now you think about companies like 23andMe and you go, Wow. But they were working on stuff back then.
I served in leadership positions in the military. You mentioned I was deployed in 2003. So early in the war Operation Enduring Freedom, my unit was deployed to Afghanistan and life-altering experiences there. Then, I served as a trial lawyer, which also gave me a lot of life-altering experiences and things that I saw and people that I represented. All of it led to, about four or five years ago, a situation where I had moderate PTSD. I was having problems sleeping. I struggled to sleep following my return home from Afghanistan. But, by and large, I managed it fairly well until, frankly, the stress of life and everything caught up to me.
I began coping with alcohol, things of an unhealthy nature. I was prescribed some sleeping aids to try and, you know, help me overcome my sleep habits. Ambien was one of them. I will never take that drug again. I took it and had the worst hallucinations I've ever had. I didn't sleep. It was awful. So a friend of mine, my brother actually, said, "Look, medicines aren't for you. We all know that you're not an over-the-counter or really even a prescription medicine guy. You never have been. I know this is also not for you. You're not an illegal guy, but we want you to try medical cannabis to sleep."
So I did. I I took his advice. I took a low dose edible and learned how to manage my sleep without the escapism that most people associate with cannabis and CBD, and it was a life-altering change for me. Literally, I believed in the change so much because of the experiences I had, the positive experiences. I went from sleeping two hours a night, Andi, to sleeping eight, nine hours of the night. And it wasn't just the amount of time, it was the quality of sleep.
And I'm one of those data geeks. I wear this little fitness device. I track all my sleep, I track my workouts, I track my health, my fitness, my heart rate, all of that stuff. And so, not only did I feel the change in my sleep, quality of sleep, quantity of sleep, I saw it in the data. I was getting better sleep and I felt more rested. I was more productive, so much that I invested early on in a business. I believed in it that much. And then ultimately, a couple years ago, took over and started running my company.
We have a CBD company and we have a medical cannabis company. What we do now is educate and try to help people understand that the world of cannabis is not one of escapism. It's not partying. It can be. There's certainly that side to it, but there's also another side to it. And that is that really high functioning people that have stresses and normal sort of aggravations in their life who don't necessarily ascribe to things like pharmaceuticals and narcotics, can find an alternative to cope with those without the harmful coping mechanisms.
We've come to know, like alcohol, other hard drugs, things like that. And so that's my pivot. That's the change that happened in my life. I will tell you and your listeners that it was not an easy decision to pivot and go and lead a company versus practicing law. I had my own practice for about 15 years. So shutting that down and transitioning to the business world was scary, terrifying in many regards, especially to move into a startup and an emerging industry that's very volatile and very unknown.
But it's been one of the most exhilarating changes. I've been fortunate enough to help over 60 kids and hundreds and hundreds of adults understand how they can use purpose-driven products, which I call it, purpose-driven products, to live a better quality of life. Whether it be through a workout, whether it be through sleep, they're finding a better way than using or leaning on man-made pharmaceuticals that have really terrible side effects that they end up having to take another pill for the side effect.
So it's been very exhilarating. It's very fulfilling in this change and had I been scared, had I been worried about the unknown, I probably wouldn't have the joy I have in my life right now.
Andi Simon: Did you know, Nathan, we always preach if you want to change, have a crisis or create one. You had reached crisis moment, had you not?
Nathan Richter: I had.
Andi Simon: What is most disturbing as I look at our society today is the percentage of people who are full of anxiety, depression, and not having fun in life. You know, we know that life is a gift, and if you can't sleep well at night, your mind doesn't go through its regimen to reorganize itself, to get your stories. The mind is extremely important. And if you can't sleep, you wake up and you can't really function. And after a while, you're dysfunctional. Your body is dysfunctional.
And sometimes we don't even know what the catalyst is for that mind that's running away. But it's not an uncommon phenomenon without people knowing what to do about it. As we were talking before, and I'm listening to you, I think our listeners need to understand where and when to use medical marijuana. You know, what is it? Is it smoking something? Is it eating something?
I always hear a friend of mine who went up to a town in New England, a college town, pulled up to a little place to get lunch only to find out that all the food was imbued with marijuana. And she really didn't know what she was looking at or buying. The age differences certainly cut in there, but it's becoming not quite ubiquitous, but it is becoming more available in different ways.
And, for listeners who may have a bit of a crisis or want to know how it could apply to their lives, how do you begin to educate them? Your point about, I've educated dozens of kids and dozens of adults. We're in the top 3% of podcasts globally. Educate my listeners. What do we, what should we do?
Nathan Richter: Well, so what I'd like to tell people about the medical cannabis world is that it's not your grandpa's weed. It isn't the stuff that you bought or that your grandpa got from his buddy in the sixties. In the world that we play in, medical cannabis is incredibly potent. It's highly concentrated, it's highly, I hate to say refined, but it's grown in such a way that the strains and the percentages and the content is very, very high potency.
So what I would tell people is, I think the stats show that mental illness has more than tripled since the pandemic. A lot of people are looking for something to escape their problems. I don't like to tell people to use medical cannabis to escape. You don't need to drink to get drunk. You don't need to consume to get "high." So what I like to tell people is, you know, microdose your relationship with cannabis. Start low, start slow and layer it with a lot of CBD.
So if you're a non-user, you've never been introduced to it, you're not familiar with it, you really don't know where you're looking for CBD is where I would start. I would start with a very, very low dose amount of THC. We call it full spectrum CBD, that is, a CBD that comes from the hemp plant that contains the lesser amount of THC that makes sure it's compliant with the 2018 farm bill. The United States government passed that and carved out the definition for it.
So you're looking for a full spectrum CBD product that would be where most people should start. If you're an ordinary, or a regular, I should say, cannabis user, and you're familiar with the industry and you know kind of what's going on, I would say people need to look for, those folks already know kind of what works for them. But if they don't, CBD, which is a cannabinoid, minor cannabinoid, and low dose amounts of THC. The entourage effect works really well to help people sleep.
When I say low dose, what I mean is less than two milligrams of what's called Delta Nine THC. That's the chemical that most people associate with cannabis. When you hear the word cannabis, most people think Cheech and Chong. That's Delta Nine. That's where the brain goes. If that's two milligrams or less of that, we call that a microdose.
So you want to make sure that whatever you're consuming has a lower dose of that. If people are looking for sleep, which it's a billion dollar industry, most everybody I talk to says. I'm tired and I'm busy. Those are the two biggest things I hear. How are you? Well, I'm tired and I'm busy. Okay, well, why are you tired? Well, I didn't sleep well last night. Why didn't you sleep well? Can’t turn the mind off? I hear this all the time, a common problem.
And so what I try to explain to people is with a base amount of CBD, let's say 25 milligrams of CBD at night in an edible format, so a gummy, and then lower than two milligrams of THC. So two milligrams or lower of THC is going to create an effect in your body that's going to allow the THC to turn your mind off. And then the CBD causes your body to relax and go to sleep, and you stay asleep longer and you get a better quality of sleep.
But it's the synergy between the THC molecules turning the brain off, and then the CBD allowing your body to relax that causes you to get really great sleep. If you have too much THC, so if you go to the 5 milligram or the 10 milligram, that's going to create some anxiety. So I try to tell people, stay low and slow. Then once you learn your dose, anywhere between one to two milligrams of Delta Nine, 25 to 30 milligrams of CBD, and you start to feel that sleep, you can dial it in and you'll know when you're there because you'll have the best sleep of your life.
That's how we tell people, start low, start slow. But 50% or more of Americans have tried cannabis at some point in their life according to some studies. So everybody's at a different place in their journey with it. So the can of curious, as I call 'em, the people that have never tried it low and slow, if you're already in your journey, make it more purpose driven, try to drive it towards sleep. Journal and track your results and you'll find your therapeutic dose.
Andi Simon: What's interesting listening to you is essentially launching a rebrand of marijuana. I have a farm in northern Westchester in New York, and I have a barn and I met some folks who knew a gentleman who had lived there and they said, Oh yes, they grew pot in their attic and we had pot parties in your barn. Are you going to do that again? I said, So funny. I've been there 50 years, so you can imagine the time. And they did leave us their pot plants in the attic. I didn't quite know what to do with them and I didn't know about the pot parties in my barn until years later.
But I had friends who would come with us on a vacation and they would be smoking. We didn't, neither my husband or I ever did, but clearly some folks liked it. I still have a friend who will start a dinner party and go outside to smoke for a little while, relaxing her so she can come and converse with us. People have used it for all kinds of different things.
This is identifying something that people can use it for to go into good health because that sleep can be extremely valuable to them. You were telling me about all of the signs that came out of a good night's sleep on your wrist, your blood pressure, everything became happy. I'm not going to say it was happy because you were smoking. It was happy because your body had slept. Describe that a little bit.
Nathan Richter: I'll use my heart rate as an example. Before I started using cannabis as a sleep tool, I was tracking my sleep and my heart rate would fluctuate at night anywhere from 25, 30 beats a minute. It might drop to 65, to 50, maybe 55 at the low end to all the way up to 70, 75, and it would be pretty erratic throughout the night. So what that heart rate was telling me is that my body's not settled, my heart was pumping faster at some point in time during the night and slower during others. Obviously slower when I'm more relaxed, obviously faster when something is keeping me up, whether it's a noise or whether it's my mind or whether it's something going on.
So I just saw an erratic heart rate throughout the night. As I started using cannabis as a sleep aid, I found that my heart rate would naturally descend as my body relaxed and then level out. And my heart, my resting heart rate, went from in the mid to low fifties to the mid to low forties and sometimes in the high thirties. I'm a runner, so I'm very physically fit and I've got a very strong heart rate. But to see that change from being sort of erratic to more of the descending heart rate told me that my body was naturally relaxing, falling into different states of sleep, appropriately, and not being pulled out of those states of sleep, but instead staying in those states of sleep to let my body do what it's supposed to do.
The most remarkable thing that happens with our bodies is that they can heal themselves. That's right. Like, it's incredible to me that you can get a cut off your skin and it goes away after a couple of weeks since your body can heal itself. We know through the sleep studies that our bodies heal themselves primarily at night when your body really starts its rejuvenation process. And so I saw just with my heart rate alone, that my body was going through the natural stages of sleep and the natural cycles appropriately.
And then I was feeling it in the morning, waking up, going, Man, I feel refreshed. I feel focused, I'm clear, I'm energetic. I'm jumping out of bed. I'm ready to tackle the day instead of pouring myself out of bed, you know, struggling to stumble to get a cup of coffee. Just a totally different energy once I realized how I could use it as a sleep tool.
You know, there's a fun side to cannabis. You talk about pot parties, right? There's a fun side to it. There's no doubt that there's a lot of people out there who enjoy the fun, the party side of it. But, what we miss is that there's actually a purpose-driven side to it as well. And the plant's been around for tens of thousands of years. The Chinese learned about cannabis as a medicine thousands of years ago. So we've known about it for a long time. We just haven't been able to study it. We haven't been able to discuss it. We haven't been able to really research or do anything with it because it's been illegal for so long.
So now we're starting, people are starting to become aware that it's more than just a reefer madness, let's escape and go have a good time. It actually can help you with a lot of things from nausea to antiviral, antifungal, sleep, some massive anti-inflammatory. So people are finding great benefit from it despite the stigma that really surrounds the plan and has for the last hundred years.
Andi Simon: What else besides sleep? Sounds like many things that might be addressed with a pharmaceutical of some kind, can perhaps be managed with medical marijuana in a different fashion and enable people to feel better.
Nathan Richter: Yeah, so I'm a guy that spent almost 10 years in military service. So I've got bad knees, bad ankles, bad back. I I love to run. I love to work out. My runs were painful. During the run, I would feel the heaviness after the run. It would take me two or three days to recover.
Using primarily CBD, but using it pre-workout and post-workout, I cut my recovery times in half. I shaved almost a minute off my run times. It's kind of a nice little vitamin supplement, if you will, for your body that brings about something we call homeostasis inside your body. We're a big giant chemistry experiment, right? And when one chemical's outta whack and the other ones are not in balance, then we tend to find ourselves not behaving and not acting, not thinking like we should, not like ourselves.
So, CBD brings about that homeostasis and lets your body do what it does best, heal itself and operate. So I ended up shaving a minute off my run times and cut my recovery times in half. I mean, it was remarkable what I saw just from a workout perspective, much less the sleep perspective.
Andi Simon: I don't mean to interrupt you. You're intriguing me. You're intriguing my audiences as well. If people were thinking about this, and sharing with their support networks. I mean, sometimes people are more comfortable if there's someone to talk to about it so they don't feel like they are...the worst thing to be is to feel consciously incompetent. And if you're moving into a new area, and I have a hunch you were exploring, but you did it before, are there networks, are there systems that can help them make wise decisions?
Nathan Richter: There are in almost every state that has a market, whether it be a recreational market or a legal medical market. There's all kinds of Facebook groups out there with people that are trying to educate, trying to teach, trying to help people.
I like to turn people on to the foremost CBD women's health expert, actually out of New York. Her name is Dr. Jane Janelle Chen, an excellent resource for any information regarding CBD or medical cannabis. She is a tremendous book of knowledge and has been using CBD and formulations and medical cannabis formulations in her practice for quite some time. Dr. Chen is a great resource.
The internet of things is full of information. Unfortunately, it's full of a lot of misinformation. My CBD company is actually called Transcend, www.transcendlife is our website. We've got some resources on there. You can reach out to us. We're happy to answer questions at any point in time. On the medical cannabis side, my company, which is called Nature's Key, we actually have a whole education arm where Joe Hagers, my business partner, co-founder, he heads up our education arm. He talks to patients every day, tries to help guide them and suggest things to them that might help with whatever ails them.
So depending on what state you're in, I'm sure there are resources there. Most of the time it's on Facebook but there are also great websites and great experts in the field that can help guide people as well and help give them information.
Andi Simon: People have said my podcast is a top 10 futurist podcast, and I always ask the question, What do you see coming next? Because humans are futurists. I mean, if we can begin to see, we feel more comfortable doing today. Where do you see both CBD and medical marijuana, the culture around us moving towards? If we were all happy folks, that would be one thing, but there's so much that could be useful. This is not arsenic. This is better than not doing anything. Help us see where you see things going.
Nathan Richter: If I had an hourglass and I could look into a crystal ball and I could look into the future 10, 20 years from now, I think what I hope I see is that hemp and cannabis have become great disruptors in the modern day industry. What I mean by that is what we're seeing trendline-wise across the world is, we've got to be more sustainable. We've got to be more regenerative. We can't continue to assault the land like we have and the environment like we have and think that the world is going to continue to be as beautiful and as wonderful as we find it. We got to take care of it.
We do that through farming, agriculture, methodologies and technologies. And what we're finding with hemp and with cannabis is that that particular plant, just from an agricultural standpoint, is incredibly robust. It's a plant that can be grown, three to four crops a year outdoors, one crop a year, three or four crops indoors. It's a plant that provides great benefit and nutrients back into the environment in which it's grown.
And on the hemp side, it can be used for everything from paper to plastics to clothing to concrete. You can use that product to manufacture a lot of different textiles and things that are kinder to the environment and potentially more cost beneficial to the businesses. And so I think what we'll see in 10 to 20 years from now is hemp becoming a major commodity. It'll be used as an input material for various manufacturing operations and various types of products that you see today. I think that you'll see it start to show up in more cosmetics. Health and beauty and wellness have really learned that CBD topically is a great skin nourishment and skin vitamin. I think you'll start to see CBD and maybe even low dose medical cannabis sort of infused into some products that you'll see in the health and beauty sector.
Then I think on the cannabis side, you'll start to see it over the next 20, 25 years be introduced in the supplement world and recognized as such. But unfortunately, I think you're going to see a split and you're going to see the medical side of cannabis by and large go one way. And unfortunately the vice side of cannabis, that recreational side goes another. There'll be a place for both, but where they end up, I don't know.
Andi Simon: Well, I don't either, but at least you can have the early stages of what you see. It's the conversations that people are crafting. Remember, humans are meaning makers. We create meaning out of stuff. And hemp isn't inherently good or bad, until we begin to see ways that we can use it for ourselves and for different purposes. Slowly this country is beginning to see how to change something it thought was bad.
You remember prohibition got alcohol to go into the back rooms. We have this pension for taking things that aren't bad or good and giving them weird meaning and then overusing them sometimes. But, I do think there was a period where over-abuse of drugs, and even now there are hard drugs and it's hard to separate out which are the good guys from which of them can be bad guys.
But it is a time for us to think about the conditions that we live in and how to help people address them in a different innovative fashion. You know, I'm a Blue Ocean strategist, and Blue Ocean is about creating new markets. You are a Blue Ocean guy. You have a great red sweater on. I do love it. I do like red as you can tell, but I think we both should be in blue today because we're swimming in a blue ocean and we're not quite sure where we're going, but we're creating the market for tomorrow.
So as we're about ready to wrap, two or three things you'd like our listeners not to forget other than who Nathan Richter is and where we can find you. Some thoughts that you'd like to share as your last thoughts.
Nathan Richter: So, the one thing I would want people to remember about me is that I was put on this earth to serve others. And that's what I do every day. That's what my company does every day. And I hope that when people get out of bed every day, that's what they do. They serve others. That ripple effect makes the world a better place, whether we have it in our little small community or the bigger world at large.
So the three things to take away from that is, One: always keep God in your heart. Two: mindset matters. It really does. Three: lead with love. Because if you lead with love and kindness and you have your mind right, you're going to have the biggest impact you can in the world.
Andi Simon: You know, Nathan, to teach part of the science of wellbeing and for us to be healthy isn't a hard act of kindness, it makes us feel better. Saying thank you is a gratitude. It makes those hormones in your brain, the oxytocin, go, Oh, this is wonderful. And the act of doing it is as important as receiving it.
Then, you know, running like you do or exercise, eating well, that's not that hard. You got to figure out what the good guys are but here's something new that could help in that whole mix of things and really take your wellbeing, particularly sleep, but perhaps something else that's keeping you up and keeping you challenged and helping it diminish so that every day is a gift. You know, you don't want to waste this. The present is the only moment you've got, and before you know it, it's gone. Right? And that's right.
Nathan Richter: The most important thing we have. When I ask people, what's the most important thing you have in your life? And most people are like, it's my wife, or my kids, or my husband, or my spouse or this. And I'm like, Nope. It's the next breath you take. I promise.
Andi Simon: Arnold Schneider of The Atlantic had a great quote: "I understand death, and I get it. I'm just pissed by it." I can see him saying it. Just pisses me off.
This has been such fun. Nathan, where can people reach you? And I promise I'll put that in our blogs and podcast and all the rest, but the best way to reach you or to reach Nature's Key or however to find out more about what you do?
Nathan Richter: Best way to reach my companies is go through our website. So Transcend Life will take you to the CBD company, and Nature's Key takes people to the medical cannabis company. Best way to reach me is through email. It's email@example.com. I'm also on socials. I'm on Twitter, that's really the only social site I'm on.
Andi Simon: This has been a very interesting conversation. I'm so glad you reached out. I'm so glad we had an opportunity to educate and inform our listeners of something that could be of great value to them. I promise I'll get your podcast out quickly and we'll share it for my listeners. I'll do my normal wrap.
My two books are there for you. They're here to help you. You know Nathan's point, why do we do what we do? I do it to help others to share wisdom and hopefully give you something that might help you. You see yourself and others in a fresh light. So On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights is there to help you run your business better. And Rethink: Smashing The Myths of Women in Business is a startup for my new book, coming up with Edie Fraser and Robyn Spizman. And it's coming out in September, actually September 26th, 2023. It's called Women Mean Business. And it's the amazing wisdom of 101 trailblazing women.
But all of us want to elevate others, amplify the message, help people see the world through a fresh lens and not think that everything is lost. You know, I often say, if you want to change, have a crisis. I hope you don't. But I do think that you shouldn't waste a crisis either. And what Nathan has done is taken his own crisis and turned it into an opportunity to help others, both to get a good night's sleep, but also to see the benefits of that. If it's not just sleep, it's not just the dreams, it's really to feel really energized the next day and really living a great life.
So for all of my great listeners, send me all your ideas for wonderful people firstname.lastname@example.org. And I'm going to say goodbye. Please stay healthy, stay well. Remember we help you take observations and turn them into innovations just like Nathan did. It's been wonderful, Nathan. Thank you for coming. Bye.