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In this episode of the Spilled Salt podcast, Maureen sat down with Mark Samuel, the brains behind IWON Organics, for a candid chat about his entrepreneurial journey spanning two decades. 

From real estate finance to extruded snacks, Mark’s story is a winding path of experiences and lessons. 

Mark founded IWON Organics, a snack company based in the vibrant Bay Area of California. Specializing in extruded snacks, including puff sticks and a brand-new popped chip made with organic green peas, IWON Organics stands out with its commitment to flavor-first, organic snacks. 

Beyond the hustle culture of entrepreneurship, Mark is also deeply committed to promoting wellness and mental health. He also runs the Feel Good Wellness Challenge, a platform designed for men seeking to elevate their health. 

Mark’s journey reflects the dynamic nature of entrepreneurship, showcasing his adaptability from service-related ventures to the world of consumer goods.

Navigating Capital Challenges in Business

One of the hot topics of our conversation was raising capital. Mark doesn’t hold back, sharing his candid views on the stressors associated with external funding.

Mark’s advice is to be strategic, resourceful, and aware of the financial landscape. He suggests entrepreneurs be careful about bringing in outside investors who may influence business decisions. And for consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands seeking funding, Mark stresses the importance of being resourceful with how you operate yourself and your business.

Evolution of Packaging and Lessons Learned

Also in this episode, Mark takes us behind the scenes of IWON Organics’ recent packaging change, emphasizing the importance of innovation and market responsiveness. He’s quick to admit that not all changes yield positive results. 

By incorporating customer feedback and data analysis, he was able to adapt to market preferences. An upcoming packaging change will align with IWON Organics’ original model, emphasizing vibrant colors and a design that reflects the brand’s commitment to organic, flavorful snacks.

Scaling in the Consumer Goods Landscape

IWON Organics has secured its place in various retail doors, from specialty stores to major retailers like Walmart and Kroger. Mark’s approach to scaling is to focus on velocity—ensuring products not only grace the shelves but also move off them at a competitive rate. 

Mark also shares the challenges faced with certain retailers, highlighting the significance of understanding product-market fit and recognizing when a brand may not align with a specific retail environment.

Seeking Success in Business and Running Towards Your Light

Mark’s entrepreneurial journey is all about staying true to his passions and values. Despite the challenges inherent in entrepreneurism, Mark continues to “run towards his light”, pursuing what truly matters. 

Whether it’s creating innovative snack products, championing health and wellness, or fostering a supportive community, Mark exemplifies the spirit of an entrepreneur who wants to make a positive impact on the world.

Transcript

This transcript has been edited from its original form to support readability.

Maureen Ballatori: I’m Maureen Ballatori and this is Spilled Salt, a podcast on the thrills and spills from the food, beverage, and agriculture industries. 

Today’s guest is Mark Samuel from IWON Organics, and this is a very fast-paced, very high-energy conversation, where we talk about his products, what came to launch IWON Organics in the first place, and his growth over the last seven years as well as a lot of the things that he’s personally passionate about. That includes not only health and wellness, but also like really bringing people forward. 

He’s a really big motivator and wants people to truly live a better, healthier life, not only in what they eat and what they’re putting in their body and movement and everything like that, but also from a mental standpoint in terms of mental health as well. 

So today’s conversation is about IWON and Mark’s path to entrepreneurship over the last seven years. Enjoy the conversation.

Hey Mark, how are you? Thanks for joining me today. I’m glad to have you on the show. 

I’d love to start with a baseline of your experience here for listeners. Can you talk through your work history for us?

Mark Samuel: Sure. I’ve been doing my own thing, I guess is what they say, for about 20 years. I’ve been in different verticals, from service related to consumer goods, which I’m in now. 

So fast forward, it’s probably the best thing to do. I’m the founder of IWON Organics. We are a snack company. We’re based in the Bay Area of California. We make extruded snacks, puff sticks, and a brand new product, a popped chip that is organic. It’s made with green peas, so it’s a bit higher in protein. And they are just great tasting, as many would say. Great flavors, very craveable. 

And so that’s what we’re doing.

Maureen: That’s great. Can you define for our audience extruded snacks? What does it mean to be extruded?

Mark: Yeah – extruded snacks would be things like puffs. That’s what people would recognize. So if they’ve ever had some sort of puff snack product, that’s what we do for our core line, which is our puffs and our sticks product.

Maureen: So you did the one, two, skip a few, 99… today, but I want to go back to one of the things I saw in your work history.  You spent some time a capital investment company, is that right?

Mark: Yeah, I did early in my career. I did real estate finance.

Maureen: Okay, so how has that experience contributed? Do you bring on funding for IWON Organics? Have you brought in outside funders?

Mark: Yeah, we’ve raised capital, but that’s completely different. Those are two different types of things. I would say that if we’re talking about the type of business as far as service-related, so earlier in my career, I was in more of a service-related business. That’s sort of your trading, your sort of services for money. I enjoy that as far as I think that that’s a better business plan than doing what.

Maureen: Service-based compared to a product? 

Mark: Correct, yeah, I really do believe in service related businesses as far as not only having no limitations, but you aren’t as tethered to a requirement to raise capital and things of that nature. So, to me, that’s the biggest difference.

Maureen: And so tell me a little bit about what that experience has been like raising capital for IWON.

Mark: Yeah, it sucks. It sucks. If you know, as they say, like, if I could do it again… You learn a lot when you’re when you raise capital for a business, depending on who you raise it from, which is a key piece. It creates stressors that, of course, are not there in the beginning. 

And depending again on who’s on that cap table, and what’s really going on, it could really cause the business and your decisions to go in directions that you weren’t intending. 

Now, for us, it hasn’t really been like that because we have not taken in what I’d consider outside capital, meaning private equity or VC type money, where there’s, you know, a guy or gal who’s really trying to pull the strings and the like. It’s people I know. But with that said, that latter comment also creates stressors. 

You have people that you know who you are trying to do your best to make sure that they get their capital back and more if possible. But business is tough. So you can only imagine what happens in those types of situations.

Maureen: What kind of advice do you have for CPG brands that are out there fundraising in terms of how to find the right partner if they don’t have folks that they know that they can go to seek the capital they need?

Mark: Well, today’s environment is very different than it was when I first got into it. As may know, in all types of verticals, cash is limited. And again, you hear of funds that are being raised and the like, but they’re being very tight. 

So existing money sources and or newer ones that are coming in the pipe, they’re being very, very careful about where they’re deploying capital. And rightfully so.

Our market, this consumer market as far as consumer goods market, as far as food and beverage, it’s a very difficult business. And what many have come to realize is there are far fewer exits that are going to happen than maybe what they had expected some years ago. 

In those situations it’s exactly how I described it. It’s very it’s difficult to get capital. And you need to become very resourceful with how you operate yourself and your business.

Maureen: Which I think is a good practice no matter what, right? Fundraising or not, it’s important to make sure that you have efficiency in the mindset. That you’re focused on paying attention to what the consumer is looking for and that kind of thing.

Mark: Yeah, again, I really like that word. I toss it out a lot more now. It’s about being resourceful. You know, it’s like what resources, no, resourceful. Like, do you know how to pick up a rock that was over there and there’s one over there and there’s one down here and you have to be very creative and you have to really work and not in the common sense that most would be thinking when I describe it that way.

Maureen: Couldn’t agree more. And strategic, right? In being resourceful, right? Of not only being able to see those rocks or those opportunities and those resources that are around you, but understanding which ones to leverage, how and when, you know, for the trajectory of growth that you’re looking to achieve.

Mark: You also have to be aware of time in these circumstances. And that’s why, again, the word could be sort of loose in how somebody interprets it. But I mean, even in today’s environment, like, you know, somebody would be like, I just want to talk to as many people and I want to, this guy over here is saying and this woman over here is saying.

A lot of it’s bullshit. I can sniff that stuff out within the first few minutes of a phone call. And I don’t say in a bad way. A good case in point is the last call that I had with a potential investor. I set it out at the beginning. You have money? That’s how I talk, by the way. I don’t get it, it is what it is, do you have money?

It sounds fun because there’s a lot of folks today that are fishing. And some of them do not have the capital that they claim to have. Some of them don’t even claim to have it. They’re trying to work deals in down markets like this, people get really sharky. 

I don’t even say it in a bad way. It’s just you have to be very careful.

 So going back to that original word – resourceful. You have to be resourceful with your own time, too, cause you don’t want to waste it. It could go down a hole that you just should not have gone down and next thing you know, you’re three weeks into something that’s gonna be painful at the end.

Maureen: Just for the sake of elaborating on that a little bit more for the listeners today, I think what you’re referring to, and feel free to add to this, is you don’t want to have a conversation that is not gonna get you the output that you’re looking for, which is a capital investment, right? 

You also don’t want to be taken advantage of in terms of people listening to your pitch to take it to another potential company that’s trying to get their money, or resources, or whatever it is, in a way that is not benefiting you, right? We’re trying to take your idea or your approach to someone else.

Mark: There’s a whole bunch of murky shit going on. I could list it, but sure, that’s like two of 90, right? You just have to be very self-aware. And again, I don’t like being so ambiguous, but in general, it’s tough. But those that know, know. It’s like, you extract whatever you want from what I’m saying and reach out to me if you want me to give you some pain points. You just have to be careful.

Maureen: Great advice. So you recently made some changes to your product packaging. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Mark: We’re doing it right now. So we haven’t really gotten our first sweep of it yet. It’s a long process when you’re doing that. 

We did get to do it with the new innovation, which I spoke of, which is this crisp product. It’s a new pop chip that we just developed. And luckily upon our brand change, as far as packaging, we had made it for that. So on the first run, first production run, it was already there.

So that when people see that they go, oh, is that what everything’s gonna look like? And it is. And out the gate already, we’re already getting amazing, amazing feedback. So I’ll just shorten it for you. We had an original design from when we started, just I’d almost say template, like what we look like from afar, you’d be like, okay, that’s IWON. 

Two years ago, when I saw the market turning, I got kind of panicky. Mind be, we were not declining anywhere. We were slowly growing. We’ve never been really capitalized. Uh, we’ve always had to do slow growth. We can never really put our foot on the gas. So, so we, we never really had a problem.  

We had places, of course, that didn’t work, but we never were declining in a retailer.

I got as neurotic as you can imagine, which rifles through me sometimes. And I said, we got to do a packaging change. 

We went drastic. I wanted to do a color block. So we went all red and it was a really bad move. It was really stupid. I like to speak plainly – it was stupid. It was my decision. I take ownership. My responsibility. My fault. 

What we learned was that it had created some not only flatness in our sales, but even some declines in some areas. It was not a representation of who we are. It was not a representation of our product line.

The fact that we are a flavor-first product, which everybody knows us for, and people and our consumers and customers and new customers did not like it. 

Fast forward. I know that, and our new change back to our original model with even a gear up from it is where we’re supposed to be. I am blessed and lucky to have some friends in the industry and I never had asked them or paid for or got feedback on this packaging change, which everybody should do. 

Everybody should invest in [feedback]. Everybody should be careful with what they’re doing and putting on the shelf. And we luckily got this on a courtesy, by the way, because we have no money. And we’re very excited about it.

Maureen: So I want to go back to what you said. You were not declining in retailers but you wanted to make a change. Why did you want to make a change?

Mark: I thought that if we just went for it and, again, everybody’s going to have a different version of what that even means. Just go do something totally drastic. Oh, I want to own a color. Like the best reference would be something like Hippie Snacks. Some people don’t even know who they are, but they’re a big salty snack brand.

Maureen: Bright yellow bag. 

Mark: Yellow, it was more of a plan than that. It wasn’t like, let’s do some Hippie stuff. It was more like, that works. I think that’s what we should do. Let’s do red. I love red. Go Niners. They’re the only ones winning with red. 

So that’s what we did and it didn’t work and we got data. We went and got some real data and some focus groups. I had it again, some friends in the industry went and did this for us by God’s grace.

We didn’t only pull the data of what had happened with that packaging change and that specific packaging, but okay, what if we change it to this? And they’re like, go now. And so we’re doing it and I just hope we make it there. 

I’m always very upfront. It’s very tough right now. And, and I don’t know what’s going to happen in a month or two months or five months. Like it’s that type.

Maureen: Right, but you feel good about the focus groups that you did for the new iteration of packaging that you’re now working on and will soon launch for all products.

Mark: I am 100% certain that when this goes on shelf, we will see an improvement in velocity across the board. Fact.

Maureen: That’s great. Yeah. And so one of the things that we work with startups of many sizes, you know, like very, very small, just initially starting out, like help me understand what to do to more advanced scaling brands. 

One of the things that I often tell very early stage startup CPGs is to go to the farmer’s market for the exact reason that you were just explaining. Not everybody has friends with resources to be able to put packaging in front of focus groups, but you can go to the farmers market, you can talk to your customer, you can understand who’s buying the product, you can ask them questions, engage with them, see who’s coming back again and again.

It’s an excellent opportunity to get some of that feedback if you don’t have the resources to put a focus group together.

Mark: Well said.

Maureen: So, good, glad you subscribed to that. So let’s talk more about scaling a CPG brand. You’re in quite a few retail doors at this point, right? Can you talk a little bit about day one, two, your distribution now and the doors that you’re in?

Mark: Sure. Day one, we were really lucky, which is seven years ago, we were really lucky that we were able to launch in what I’d consider to be a key retailer, you know, one with multiple doors. 

I wouldn’t say that you should do this. I’m just saying this is what happened to us. 

We tout protein on our products because we have a higher level than most in our salty snack category because of not just the legumes that we use in the products, but also we do put in a little bit more protein, pea protein and the like. We were able to go to nutrition supplement. 

My background’s in wellness. Everybody knows me as a health and wellness enthusiast. And so I had some connections there. So we had a connection to a vitamin shop and we were able to launch our first product, which was a protein chip. 

We don’t have that product anymore. It wasn’t very good, but that’s how we launched and cut our teeth. [We learned] what does it look like to get into retail? And what does it mean? What’s the margin we need? What is distribution? How do you move those trucks? I’m big on just you got to get in and get your hands dirty and learn. That’s what we did. 

Maureen: How many doors, before you continue, how many doors was that [before you got into the] vitamin shop? 

Mark: 700 or 800 of them. When we got that $100,000, it was like, oh my God, we’re gonna do this, you know? Ah, your product is mediocre. I was like, it’s okay, we’re gonna do it anyway. And don’t do that, folks.

Maureen: Yeah, you thought it could be good enough to go, right? But you have to launch, especially your first product, has to be flavor-first, right? It has to be good.

Mark: You have got to have a good product. I’m kind of being funny when I say that the product was pretty good. I say pretty good. And the reason I could is that I was doing a comparison at that time. There weren’t a lot of savory protein snacks and ours wasn’t hugely elevated. [Our product offered] half the protein of let’s say Quest at the time. But this is a good comparison. 

Quest had just launched their protein chip and it sucked. I don’t care if I’m saying, I’m just being very honest here. I think they would probably admit it, I don’t know. But their original protein chip was not good. You could go back and sort of look at all the social hits they got, because remember their business was in bars and they had a tremendous business. 

I’m a fan. I remember the first booth they ever had. I know some of those guys. I’m still a fan of them. I don’t consume that stuff because I don’t eat that way. But the brand is great. 

Anyway, the point was we only needed to be good. At that point, I’m like, we just need to be better than that. Let’s go. Anyway, that’s what we did. But I would never recommend that. 

If you’re in food and beverage, any consumer product, it’s got to be amazing. And not your mommy says it’s amazing. Your mommy always tells you things are amazing. My mom does. Actually, I have a Jewish mother. She is kind of hard on me sometimes. But anyway, that’s a whole separate story. 

The point is, you understand, it’s got to be amazing. So if anybody’s going to do it, don’t do mediocre. It’s not fair to you.

Maureen: So then, vitamin shop.

Mark: Okay, you start figuring it out, do a little distribution. What’s this whole UNFI thing? What does distribution mean? Okay, can we get into a regional? Who’s our customer? Let’s do product market fit. 

You start all these things. What does that mean? Oh, it means like, who’s your customer? Let’s see if they like it. 

And then we got rid of the chips. And we did this extrusion, which is the puffs and sticks that people know us for. Which it was from day one. I’m like, this is the horse. People love this. 

I would be at my kids’ soccer games. I would have people give me unsolicited commentary. That’s by the way, that’s a big one. 

When you have other parents that walk up and unsolicited say, I just want you to know I like your snacks, that’s [when you know you’ve] got something. 

The other big one is, which is important for people, the reason I like online platforms like Amazon, go get your first 100 reviews. Remember, back in the day, you’d have your homies log on Amazon – don’t do that. Go get a hundred random folks to tell you whether or not your product sucks. I love that. We have a 4.5 rating, you have those numbers, you’re like, I got something. 

Anyway, we grew, and we started putting together lists. Wegmans, okay, that’s good, that works. Okay, Whole Foods, how do we get into Whole Foods? I want to pitch slam, by God’s grace. Then we got into one region, ta da, now we’re in five.

But so you start putting Kroger, we had got out East. We’re not in Kroger anymore. This is just the reality of our business. This is why number one, we are always, always under capitalized. 

We couldn’t fill at some point. We were starting to lose some of that relationship. We’re always that’s number one. 

Number two is what we’ve defined is, we may not be a “conventional type product”, true conventional. Like when you’re talking about Kroger East, we may not fit there and that’s okay. 

Learn it early or don’t go in and support and invest in those types of partnerships because you’re not gonna win over there. So that’s what we’ve done over this period of time and you know, you win some, you lose some.

Maureen: That’s right. And so is it just velocity? Like what’s your benchmark of success when you consider a retailer and whether you’re finding success in there or not, or you know whether they’re worth going after or not. What’s your determination on that?

Mark: Velocity, it’s the only thing. So if you’re in a store, it’s all velocity. Is the product moving and where out of the number of other products do you sit? Admittingly, I always said this from day one, especially being an under-capitalized consumer goods company, I just wanted to be in the middle. 

I wanted to have two or three things attached to who we were. One is I wanted them to have a good relationship with us. If that meant a good relationship with Mark, like, hey, I like that dude. You know, he seems pretty nice. And that’s, hey, let’s do that one. 

Number two, is the product good and differentiated in some way? Like in our case, we are. I mean, you’re talking legumes, better for you, organic, higher in protein, and what? Tastes amazing? There we go.

Three is going to be the velocity piece.

Do you at least just sort of sit in the middle? You don’t want to be in the bottom third. What happens to the bottom third? When it comes to reset time, you’re out. So that’s it, I just wanted to sort of stay in the middle. So that’s what you’d look for. 

And then as far as new retailers, if I don’t know what our velocity is going to be, you kind of do by that time because who is the customer that’s walking in that store. Do they look like the other ones that you’re doing well at? Or do they look like the ones that you suck at?

That’s, again, depending on your price point or what are you offering and what are all those other things.

Maureen: I know you’re in Walmart, right? And Costco. You’re not in Walmart?

Mark: We were, that’s another one. So we were in Walmart. That one was a different story. Again, we didn’t have a big face and we had two skus for a while and all that stuff. We got into a price thing with them. 

It was at this time that we had to do price ups and stuff like that. So some relationships don’t work because it’s not a fair partnership. Nothing wrong with Walmart. Shout out to Walmart, whatever. We are trying to make money.

I can’t be like everybody else who’s burning a ton of money every month. I don’t have any more runway, you know? 

Maureen: Right, I subscribe to that philosophy too, that it’s not a race to the bottom. It’s got to work.

Mark: A race to the bottom doesn’t work. Most of this doesn’t work just in general. It shouldn’t be this new wave of, well, we got to be profitable. We were starting to do that a while ago before all this, like, hey, we got to have a good margin. Is it kicking off margin? Is there a contribution mark? Like, is this real? Or are we just like, basically putting a $20 bill attached to every case that gets shipped out. 

If you do that, your business sucks. I mean, it just does. I don’t mean to hurt people’s feelings and stuff. You know, I hurt my own people.

Maureen: No, but I think it’s an important perspective, too. Because also people see stories like Liquid Death and AG1, right? That had just massive, massive marketing budgets behind them to push the consumer purchase, right? But in spite of the bottom line, not in support of the bottom line. 

I recall when Liquid Death announced that they had a $700 million valuation and they were upside down, right? So it’s like, what are you really working toward? Are you trying to build the next WeWork? Right? That’s all smoke and mirrors. Are you really trying to grow an actual business that is doing something meaningful?

Mark: I don’t usually do this. I’ll just give a general comment. Yes. To be fair, I like a Liquid Death. I’m not a consumer. I kind of follow that guy, Mike. I think he’s a talent. I think the team that he has built is a talent above and beyond most in our industry. 

So I want to be fair in general, that’s a brand. Although it could be said, because everybody would have different opinions, you know, and some are like, oh, that’s, they got all this money. I don’t really do it like that. It is what it is, right? Somebody’s got a rich uncle, somebody doesn’t have this. Somebody’s going good, this guy wants to go IPO. 

This person used to be a Harvard alumni so he’s got a bunch of banking buddies. I don’t really give a shit. It is what it is. That’s life, folks. So in their case, I actually think they’re one of only a few handful of real brands that can carry on past, like if they were to IPO, which I think they probably will, because they’re gonna need a ton of money to keep this up, which is all good. Does it carry on for 20 years? I have no idea. I don’t even care.

The point is, everybody has their own situation. It’s whatever’s in their hand. So I know mine, that’s the only one I really care about. 

Maureen: Hey, I’m not knocking the brilliant brand, very smart marketing tactic, but I think where the challenge comes in is that people have to understand that was a very different business model. 

Mark: There’s a lot of those though. I could, in my back pocket, I know the story of a lot of folks. And that’s just, I’ve been privy because I’m in the circle, you know, like people give me the info and I keep it very, I don’t like to, I get worried about talking to anybody. There’s some really murky shit that goes on in this business. And I always like to follow that up with, but so did, it happens in every vertical, you know?

Except Billy’s Landscaping. See, that’s why I go back to this. Billy’s Landscaping is frigging amazing. And so is Jimmy’s Landscaping and Susie’s Landscaping. Those are real businesses. Those are built on just a very simple unit economy. Hey, I walked up to 196 Peter Street and I got them to give me the job every week for 200 bucks to mow their lawn.

Do that 25 times and what it is, okay, my expenses, I got it. Thank you, anyway.

Maureen: You are clearly a fierce advocate for wellness, both physical wellness and mental health. Can you talk a bit about that passion and some of the things that you’re doing too, like you do dads and CPG, the Feel Good Wellness Challenge. Talk about that a little bit, because I think the mental health aspect is a unique differentiator.

Mark: Thank you. I’ve developed and am developing what I consider a health and wellness platform. I didn’t really know that that’s what was happening like on LinkedIn. Like I was originally just talking about my experience and, and business and these things I did. 

I started writing there about five years ago. I’ve done it every day since. And it goes all over the place though, but now people who follow me or are connected with me, they know sort of where I go. 

One of the big ones to me is health and wellness. I’ve always subscribed to a wellness lifestyle and I’ve only now stepped that up even further over the last few years. And I talk about it openly. So I love it. 

I just got off a call with another gentleman. I love health and wellness and what it does for us. And I love to help people. And that’s it. And so what I realized was I got to do something about it. I might have these small products or projects on the side. I did a cold plunge thing, but this health, this wellness platform that I have called Feel Good Wellness Program is for men. I just started it. I’ve already got guys in it.

And it’s a program for guys who are looking to level up their health. And it’s something I can help with. So we, it’s, we talk about nutrition and, and exercise, but it’s more than that. We’re in a private group. We’re in a private setting. We can chat. They can talk to me every day about certain things. And it’s about just leveling up. What I noticed was over many years, but really now honing in on that and talking to men, we, we’re all dealing with some shit.

Right? Women are, too, but this is where I could really help being a dad. I understand. And men, we’re like, we’re these like sensitive, but we don’t want to be sensitive creatures and we don’t know what, should we tell somebody that? And I want to get rid of all that. I want to get those layers off. And if we have to do that in a private setting, I’m totally down with that.

I just, I’m very excited about it, as you can imagine. And it’s pretty cool. And I just started my first newsletter. I do a weekly newsletter that just went out. I’ve got 2000 people there already. This could be something freaking amazing. And so that’s what I’m doing.

Maureen: Good for you.

I think the other thing that’s, and you’ve talked about this before on LinkedIn, that it’s about following what you’re passionate about, and sort of just leaning into this platform that you’re building, you created because you were passionate about it.

If it later becomes a bigger thing, cool. And if not, and you’re still just doing it because you want to support people that, you know, you think you can help, then great. That’s awesome.

Mark: I call it running towards your light. It’s a mixture of all these things, but I can just tell you, it’s actually what I wrote about this morning. I feel pretty good. And I just want to share that with other people because I am you, I’m this, I’ve been through the wringer.

I’m still and it’s not easy. Like I deal with so much stuff, but I can just tell you of these things that I’ve been doing daily. Yes, I’m probably more disciplined than most, but we can practice it and maybe practice it together. [For me, it’s] no alcohol and eating well and movement and getting outside and getting good sleep. Like things that we can all do. And I just want more of us to do it more often.

Because we’re going in the wrong direction. Have you ever seen these charts before? They’re really bad. And it’s because we’re so full of shit. I don’t know of another way. We lie to ourselves all the time. And sorry for anybody who needs to bleep those out. It’s just, I’m very passionate about it. I just want us to stop with that. And I’m not saying it’s easy, it’s hard.

But the only reason I’m able to talk about it through experiences, because I’ve also done the reverse. I’ve gotten in my own way my entire adult life. Can you imagine? Look at me right now. I’m sober for longer than… Can you imagine me when I drank?

Anyway, just so people know, I get it. I just want us to all come together and support one another and do this thing. 

Maureen: That’s great, running toward your light. I call it the pursuit of interesting. Kind of following that, what is driving you? What is sort of calling to you from one direction or another? This is my last question and then we’re done. 

Future, next steps, what’s happening? What can people look for from you for the immediate future? New packaging on shelf? More promotional posts about what you’ve got going on and what’s driving you on LinkedIn? What else?

Mark: Yes! The core one is IWON. Like I really want IWON to work. It’s something that we started and I want to take it to the promised land. So I’m praying that we can get there. We need some working capital stuff and just getting through this year is how I look at it. 

Oh and by the way, we’re [not going to use] seed oil. So it was the last thing that I needed to do because I don’t believe in it.

And so our crisps are no seed oils, but we’re moving our sticks and puffs there in it by the end of Q1. So it’s big like it is to me.

This health and wellness platform is one I can really push. The other stuff I’m doing is this men’s group. And I’m very excited about building some newsletter stuff, just bringing a community together. 

And then there are a couple health-related consumer products. I’m just doing it because I could not get rid of it. I could not get rid of the itch, but they’re just projects. They’re small projects, just like the cold plunge was. I do it kind of at night for like an hour. It’s an itch. I have to do it. You’re gonna see it. It’s fun stuff. Anyway, that’s it.

Maureen: That you’re gonna launch? Very cool. 

So the cold plunge that Mark is talking about is Feel Good Cold Plunge. He launched a hyper small cold plunge product. It’s like a blow up tank, right? Yeah, yeah, for your backyard. I am highly intrigued by the cold plunge. I haven’t gotten myself into the water yet, but I am on the curious side. Yeah, good to know. Thank you. This was fantastic for everybody listening.

Mark: Start with showers, you’re good.

Maureen: If you’re not already following Mark on LinkedIn, you should go do that. He brings all of this personality and energy to his daily posts on that platform, and you’ll be inspired, if nothing else. Thanks for joining me.