In this week’s ‘CEO on Cannabis’ installment, founder of the tried-and-true VapeXhale, Seibo Shen, finishes telling us about his experience in a sensory deprivation tank after consuming cannabis. This is Part 2 to a two-part segment; if you missed it, you’ll want to hop on over to Part 1 for the backstory.
We all love cannabis for different reasons, but one benefit we commonly share and cherish is the herb’s ability to reveal us to ourselves. Seibo explains how an optimal environment enabled a mental state of incredible clarity, providing two revelations that drastically improved his business and personal life. Enjoy this touching piece!
< …Continued from Part 1 >
Immediately, what was an unfamiliar feeling began to feel natural. I could relax and concentrate on my breathing; slowly I began to drift off into another state of consciousness. It’s very hard to describe the mind state I achieved, but the best explanation is that I could process and think as the “best” version of myself — not quite Bradley Cooper in Limitless, but you get the picture. While in the tank, I had two epiphanies: one had to do with balancing my work and personal life, and the other — coming to terms with the polarizing belief system of the business world. The “best” version of myself shed a lot of light into the foggy haze of an entrepreneur’s life.
I have always preached that having a balance between work and personal life is one of the most important things you can do for long-term happiness. I realized that although I was good at talking about it, I wasn’t really good at implementing the philosophy into my own life. Sure, I was always at home when my family ate dinner and am around at almost all my kids’ events, but although I was physically there, I realized my brain and thoughts were almost always focused elsewhere: on work. Many times I would be answering an email, a text message, or assigning tasks to coworkers in between conversations or sometimes, during conversations. My body was there but my mind wasn’t, and the value of time shared with my kids suffered because of it. I had always prided myself on being a great parent and husband so this was a tough pill to swallow.
The other challenge I was dealing with was my desire to do good for this planet while increasing revenue for VapeXhale and our shareholders. It may seem silly, but I grew up in a culture that was very much anti-big business and have often guilty about VapeXhale’s growth because of it. There was a part of me that believed VapeXhale’s success came at the expense of someone else’s misfortune. The way I was raised, if you don’t have losers, you don’t have winners; I think that sentiment was a nice way to explain to a child that not everyone can win at everything, but I internalized this and believed the inverse to be true as well. Every time you win there must also be a loser — that made a lot of sense to me as teenager.
After floating on this for a while, I came to the conclusion that generating revenue and social responsibility do not need to be mutually exclusive. Wanting to make more money and find success for the company does not mean that I am a greedy person. I understand this might seem like second nature for some people, but for me, my conditioning had me believe that big companies were ruthless, opportunistic, and greedy entities that did no good other than make owners rich. Alternatively, I realized that if I truly want to make a change on this planet, the best way to do it is not to protest or to be an activist; the best way to change things and tip the balance of power is the same thing corporations use to buy power: make more money. With more capital, we can fund new businesses that are focused on education, sustainable eco-friendly business models, and great working conditions. That paradigm does not exist today but I believe it’s only because no one with the right vision has put in the proper effort — I am confident that we will find that person one day.
It is safe to say that my float session with cannabis was a success in helping me learn more about myself, my insecurities, and the things that cause me confusion. Since my sessions, I have begun putting my electronics away when my kids are home from school so that I can be present with them both physically and more importantly, mentally. As a result, I’m picking up on a lot of the smaller things they do that are so entertaining and educational — like when my older daughter picks up a 3-leaf clover and asks me if it’s “unlucky” because it dooesn’t have 4 leaves. The old me would have just nodded and continued working, but instead I stopped, realizing that my 4-year-old is starting to understand symbolism and make sense of a more abstract and subjective world. Her mind is literally growing in front of me, and being able to fully appreciate that takes parenthood to a whole new level. On the professional side, I’ve been able to make decisions with more confidence now that my mind is no longer clouded with gremlins telling me that VapeXhale’s success is coming at the expense of someone else. I’m generally an easy going guy that doesn’t think he’s too hard on himself, so I was just as surprised as anyone to see how my past experiences had negatively influenced the way I was approaching business. Sometimes the most valuable lessons you learn come from problems you didn’t know you had.