Message in a bottle

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Ata-editorial

G Farma.News is excited to bring you a set of original stories, written by Ata Gonzalez that highlight the movers and shakers who were behind the push that turned a cannabis movement into a full blown industry.

I will begin by setting the stage for you to understand some very important historic background on how a dream evolved to become G FarmaBrands, the parent company to all the different G Farma marks… Once I am able to relay you the proper foundation, I will then move on to write a series of editorials that I will call, “Cannabis Industry Game Changers.” Let’s jump right into the story…

Today the G Farma vision is pretty clear but I can assure you, it wasn’t always that way. There were many moments in our journey that were not easy, sometimes it was very difficult to look into the future. In fact, there were times where it was scary. I will explain how a decision made by a man or a company, can and will alter the path you end up on. I will help recap the G Farma voyage thus far to show you how every decision made, no matter how difficult it was, had a consistency.

IMG_0308Due to all the moves made at every fork on the road, they were able to attain the brand recognition needed to become industry leaders. The story on how G Farma became one of the first branded cannabis companies in the world and the first to offer an array of different cannabis products will forever have its place in the history of the American Cannabis Industry… The company’s slogan from day one, is more relevant today then when it was written… No matter how many have and will continue to come in and out of the marketplace, G Farma continues to drive a stronger Team than ever before and are still respected, admired and considered… The “Leaders of a Global Cannabis Revolution.”

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IMG_0635Let me ask you… Is the difference between a man or a company that is great or just average, that far apart?  I think this answer is fairly simple yet my explanation might be a bit complex. There is a big difference between being great and average but I don’t think it’s a huge step that leads you to fall into either one of those categories. It’s a matter of the decisions you make, let me explain… In my opinion the difference between average and great lies in the way that a series of specific issues are processed by the brain. As the mind begins to interpret those issues, it starts to visualize an outcome which is then verbalized from a leadership position and trickles throughout the
company.

IMG_0312There will always be forks on the road of life and in business but through the process described above, you will always have the consistency to make the right decisions as long as you are guided by your own set of principals. This will take you from being average to being great. When you have consistency in your decisions, one must first have a set of those guiding principals that help you define your life and your actions. Average people or companies lack principals, lack consistency and make decisions solely on feelings. Not that going with your gut, your feelings in certain situations of life is a bad thing but to be great, take the feelings out of the equation and implement principals. That will automatically give you consistency in all the decisions that you will ever need to make.

IMG_0300Look, reality is that Ata Gonzalez is not perfect by any means. Ata Gonzalez’s mind processes through his own unique and warped perspective, he won’t ever make excuses for the cards that life dealt him. I have learned to embrace every moment of my life. Whether good or bad, every situation I have lived through has been a learning lessons, all I had to do was make sure I was paying attention to the lesson. I was born in 1976 and raised in the county of Dade. It literally was the Cocaine Capital throughout the 80’s and 90’s due to its geographical location and easy accessibility through several forms of transportation from the Caribbean corridor of the Atlantic Ocean. This is where Carlos Lehder established the first cocaine smuggling route for Pablo Escobar. It was a fairly straight shot as airplanes would leave from Colombia to Normans Cay in the Bahamas and then make the final leg into Miami using go fast boats that would come in loaded with the white powder.

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The Cocaine Cowboy days of Miami in the 1980’s allowed me to see many things. So many things, that if I began to explain, we could just begin to write a very thick book or two in order to allow full access into what my eyes have seen and my hands have touched. Truth be told, I am just one of an endless amount of children who lived through the same traumas. Most kids from my generation missed out on being a child, we lost an innocence that kids should never loose at such a young age. My wife and I guard our kids innocence as much as possible, we make sure they never have to live the helpless moments we went through.

Our childhood consisted of adult worries from the time where I have my first recollections. Miami Vice and Scarface was an everyday reality to us who lived in Miami. Some of my earliest experiences have to do with shootings, home invasions to drug busts and later they evolved into witnessing how friends become enemies in a heart beat or best friends turn informants from night to morning. Witnessing federal indictments that would read like a biography on a defendants life and seeing the nasty tactics used by federal prosecutors to retain a 98% conviction rate. That was no life for kids to be raised in but it was “The War on Drugs” Era and we were just the unspoken casualties of that war.

There is no doubt there was a lost innocence  that I think every 80’s baby can attest to but in the same breathe, I will tell you that I loved my childhood, including everything I saw and lived. Sometimes I have felt ashamed to even tell the story because I would never want to be thought of as any less than the guy who went to business school. Then I smack myself in the head and thank God for every single life experience and lesson that I have been through. I would never trade that for being able to have lived a perfect life or have graduated from Harvard. Big props to those that have, you can bill me at $500 an hour. The Ata Gonzalez that was shaped through this environment would not be the same Ata Gonzalez you would know today if I wouldn’t have gone thru all that I’ve been thru.

IMG_0301I can only speak of the 80’s from a Miami perspective but I am aware that our city was just an entry point for the drugs coming from Colombia. That same narcotic was then transported and distributed in every state within the United States. These were very unfortunate times from my perspective, I personally lost many dear friends and family members to draconian drug sentences. As an adult that can now recognize patterns in life and economies, i read this simply as the boom of that era, of that poor generation. Great leaders were deceived into building great organizations for Pablo Escobar, the Ochoa family which together were the Medellin Cartel or maybe they built the organization for the Cali Cartel. Regardless, those two groups poisoned our minds with the lure of money and then poisoned a country by flooding it with drugs. The media marketed the boom as sexy and prolonged its existence as a major American underground industry until the early 2000’s. It will never go away but the supply of Cocaine in America is nowhere near where it once was… It may never be wiped out completely but after several decades of law enforcement pressure and lengthy prison sentences, the message was heard loud and clear by a majority of the players.

IMG_0291.PNGI sometimes wonder what empires these men could have built if this false boom wasn’t around at that time. If Cocaine and Pablo Escobar never existed what could have these men built? I can guarantee you that some of them would have been great at some other business, they would have had to build a great company. The minds I am speaking about are not average, they are those very rare packaged individual. Instead their lives were paused for decades or ended by being sentenced to draconian prison sentences. Unknowingly these men gave birth to a private boom that could only be bought into if you were a government servant, judges, prosecutors, etc… the same people who sentenced these men could now buy stocks in companies being launched to support the rise in the American prison population.

In order to house 2.2 million men and women, privatized prisons began popping up everywhere, the Bush family is rumored to own the Keefe company which distributes foods to these prisons, on paper it is owned by Enterprise Rent-a-Car but since it is a private company and not traded in the public markets, not much else is published about it. Endless monetizing opportunities were developed due to the escalating prison population. The men being incarcerated had just recently arrived in America from another country and were not savvy on this country’s law enforcement component. They were offered a way out of poverty by being flashed a product that would forever change their lives and then the same people who were or controlled the law enforcement component created a business out of the “War on Drugs.”

I can tell you from my experience by being around some of the greatest of these men, they could have and would have been forced to create IBM if this product would have never come around. Their minds would have focused on building a regular business. Instead, they were enticed by false hope and a false interpretation of what the American Dream was all about. They fell right into the trap, just like Adam eating from the forbidden tree, they made the same mistake. The difference was that Adam was given direct instructions from God not to try those fruits. These men were working to bring home minimum wage which was one dollar an hour at the time and had to feed their family and pay bills. When a better way was presented to them and pitched as a regular business transaction, they took the bate. They simply had to move a product from just off the Florida coastline into the country. If the organization leaders had good strategies, solid systems, team building skills, the world could be there’s. As depicted in Scarface! The media kept making it sexy and more and more people became involved…

Notice all the skills asked of them as being necessary to accomplish the job, are the same skills we use to build the greatest businesses in America. Most of these men were tempted by the lure of a quick way to reach the American Dream, some could call it greed but I don’t think greed existed as they took on their first mission. Necessity would be more the perfect word they must have felt drove them to the point where risking their lives for money was a normal way of everyday life for them. Today, some remain paying the price for believing the hype and allowing themselves to fall into the trap that created losers on every side. Whether you were a user, a smuggler, a transporter or a dealer, everyone lost at the end and families were destroyed on both sides. Nevertheless, I personally witnessed and experienced some of the best leaders and greatest minds using tremendous strategies and principals consistently to build their organization.

I was a young boy but I recall studying everything about these men. The way they walked, talked and acted amazed me but what really intrigued me was their minds. The strategies these men used to problem solve would become my normal way of thinking as an adult and the way they led other men who were also leaders, fascinated me. I took many lessons from the rise of these organizations but I learned even more by the complete demise and collapse of those empires. Most of my analogies or my thoughts come from my childhood experiences but there is a parallel line in my experiences to corporate America.

IMG_0299The rapper/entrepreneur Jay Z, is one of my greatest inspirations because he was also an 80’s baby that came from my generation, went through the same era and understands these same streets. The only difference is his world was geographically located in a different location during the 80’s. He grew up in New York City, it was still the same scary product that was capturing our imagination and at the same time incarcerating a few generations by that point. Today Jay Z and his wife Beyoncé are billionaires who sit with Steve Forbes and Warren Buffet to have share a YouTube interview. He and President Obama are really fond of each-other, yet he comes from those same streets that those 2.2 Million Americans came from. Jay has a song called “How the rap game reminds me of the crack game.” I think it goes beyond that, the principals used to build giant American corporations is the only way to build any organization. Whether underworld or not, if you apply the same principals and tactics, you will build a Giant.

When you lead your life with certain principals, whatever principals you choose and are comfortable with, decision making becomes almost an automatic process. You will see that you not only will be guided to answer an whatever issue is at hand through your principals or your belief system but you will also notice your business decisions will always be consistent. An example of this is when you truly guide your life by the principals of the streets. Many can claim they do but experience has told me that only about 3% of men truly follow the code. If we are following street principals, on the very top of that list is rule number one, NO Snitching. Therefore if you are a true 3%er and you are faced with going to prison for 1, 5, 10, 20 years, LIFE in prison, a prosecutor who wants information that you posses can come entice you with a lighter sentence, no jail time for that matter and your answer will always be almost automatic and consistent. NO Snitching would be your response and you go sit it out and do your time like a true 3%er… It is predictable that you are going to make a right and not a left at the fork once you have a clear set of principals and/or a well defined belief system in place.

To illustrate this better on my next editorial I will continue laying down the foundation to kick off the “Cannabis Industry Game Changers” Series. But first I will continue giving you the real story on how G Farma became such an internationally recognized cannabis brand.

by Ata Gonzalez.

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