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IAM1914 – Consultant Teaches the Business Side of Cannabis

Podcast Interview with Llauris Rener

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode, the guest speaker is Llauris Rener, the creative director and founder of 710 Squared and lead instructor of Green Skooled.

Key Points:

710 Squared and Green Skooled: These platforms teach the business side of Cannabis.

Llauris Rener's Background: Having lectured across the United States on branding, visual vocabulary, viral video marketing, user experience design, and sales. He served as a re-branding board member of CEO SPACE International and has been a faculty member for many years. Rener is referred to as ‘The Branding Guy' and his skill set is diverse.

Experience: Over a decade ago, Rener produced the first educational car detailing web series, Final Touch TV, which has achieved over a million views on YouTube. Today, Rener is an accomplished consultant, strategist, educator, and designer. His client portfolio includes Fast Frame, Wendy Ida Fitness, Bombay Saphire, John Leslie Brown, and many others undisclosed due to non-disclosure agreements.

CEO Hack: Rener is a big proponent of listening to audiobooks for learning and inspiration.

CEO Nugget: He believes that the best customers one can have are the most uneducated ones, implying that there are opportunities in educating and nurturing customers about one's product.

CEO Defined: For Rener, leadership comes down to action.

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Transcription:

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Llauris Rener Teaser 00:00

So content creation hacks, how to get PR and high-end publications like Wired or Wall Street Journal and how to get reporters to come to you. So a lot of growth hacking, content creation strategy, brand strategy.

Even how to raise capital, how to be attractive to VCs and, people who have money to pump into your business to be able to expand your footprint.

Intro 00:26

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the IAMCEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:53

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the IAMCEO podcast, and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, or what I like to call CB Nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month, we are focused on innovation, disruption, women entrepreneurship, DEI, gig economy, remote economy, even the cannabis industry. Think about these industries and these disruptive technologies that really sometimes aren't as disruptive. But there are people that are just paying attention to what the market needs, and they're providing that. So really think about the things that are quote and quote outside of the norm, but really help entrepreneurship to grow and fully develop.

I think it's an extremely exciting time when we're talking about any type of innovation or disruption, because I think that there are so many opportunities and needs that aren't felt that are starting to be filled by different groups, different organizations, or even different industries. So what I want you to do is sit back and enjoy this special episode of the IAMCEO podcast.

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the IAMCEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I've Llauris Rener of 710 squared. Llauris, it's awesome to have you on the show?

Llauris Rener 02:17

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Gresham Harkless 02:19

No problem. Super excited to have you on. And what I want to do is just read a little bit more about LLauris, so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing.

Llauris, is the creative director and founder of 710 squared. He is also lead instructor of green school where they teach the business side of cannabis, Mr. Rener has lectured coast to coast on the rudiments of branding, visual vocabulary, viral video, marketing sales, and user experience design.

He served as the only African American on the rebranding board of CEO space international and was a distinguished member of their faculty for many years, often known as the branding guy. His skillsets are incredibly diverse. Over 10 years ago, he produced the first educational car detailing web series final touch TV, which has grossed over a million views on YouTube.

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Today, Mr. Rener is a highly accomplished and sought after consultant, strategist, educator, and designer. He has worked with a plethora of clients that include Fast Frame, Wendy, IDA Fitness, Bombay Sapphire, John Leslie Brown, and many other clients whose names can't be divulged because of standing non-disclosure agreements.

Llauris, are you ready to speak to the IAMCEO community?

Llauris Rener 03:23

I am ready.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:25

Awesome. Let's do it. So, to kick everything off, I wanted to hear more about where things began. I wanted to hear your CEO story and what led you to get started with your business.

Llauris Rener 03:34

I guess I'll start with my entrepreneurial story and how I left the corporate world. Basically, before I moved to the DMV, this was back in 2002, I used to live in Ohio and worked in IT. I actually have an IT background as well and 911 happened and all the jobs disappeared and I decided to seek greener pastures and I came to the DMV. I came to Maryland and basically couldn't find a job and decided to branch out on my own. I started off with a direct mail magazine that I used to have. I had it for about 3 or 4 years and we used to mail to 15, 000 homes in Silver Spring.

That basically eventually turned into a consulting business because people would ask us for other things, Hey, do you guys do web design? Do you guys do this? Do you know that? And I'd say yes even though we didn't and I'd go teach myself how to do it. Eventually that grew into a burgeoning consulting business and from there built it up and eventually got eight employees and a year and a half ago transitioned into the cannabis industry. Actually two years ago transitioned into the cannabis industry because the CBD helped me with a chronic issue, health issue I was having so I decided to go into the cannabis industry and help to erase the stigma.

So created 710 squared. 710 is referencing the medical side of cannabis because that's how I came into it. So that's in a nutshell, my entrepreneurial journey, the condensed version.

Gresham Harkless 05:07

Yeah, No, I appreciate it. And I know you've done so many awesome things and being able to help out so many business owners and obviously now focusing more on the cannabis industry in many different ways.

I know I read about it a little bit in your bio, but could you take a through exactly what you're doing with 710 squared and also what you're doing with green school as well.

Llauris Rener 05:26

Okay, 710 squared is actually the first minority-owned cannabis branding agency. I know for a fact the DMV and I know The East Coast, I'm not sure about the West Coast, but I know we're definitely the first in this area. We're also the second cannabis branding agency. The first one is a all women's owned agency which started, I think, a year or two before we did. But we're the second. We're the first minority-owned. The cannabis industry, basically we're building this plane as we fly. It is how I like to frame it.

It's very much a burgeoning industry because we're at the tail end of prohibition. But at the same time there's a lot of issues. There are a lot of imbalances.. Like for instance, a lot of African Americans have lost time languishing in jail for something that's now legal and they need to get their fair share of the pie. So I've also actually become  a bit of an activist cause I actually got to speak at the legislature in Annapolis and we're talking to lawmakers about that. I've partnered with other groups, but in general, the branding industry and cannabis, there's no differentiation right now when it comes to branding cannabis.

Like when you look at the oil industry or the pharmaceutical industry, if I asked you to name a couple of companies off the top of your head, like an oil, you'd say shell, you'd say BP, Exxon. With cannabis, that differentiation still hasn't happened. And, that's primarily because of several reasons. One, you have people coming from the black market or the street world of cannabis and then trying to come into the legal side of selling cannabis and they don't have the Corporate savoir faire, the corporate business skills, and they're still operating the way they did when they were doing it in the black market.

That's just not going to work because there's a lot of money in cannabis, a lot of big companies who are coming with the corporate backing, the branding, the PR. And a lot of these smaller companies are not going to be able to compete. So we formed 710 Squared. Of course, we deal with mostly bigger companies and medium size, but we noticed that discrepancy and we wanted to fix that. So we started Green School, which is the first cannabis business accelerator around this area to help the minority. It's open to everybody, but to help the minority black and brown folks to get those corporate business skills how to create your brand promise, how to do content creation, again, cause you need to be able to focus on a lot of them doing the cannabis production from their homes.

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So they need to be able to maximize their time. So content creation hacks, how to get PR, and high end publications like wired or wall street journal and how to get reporters to come to you. So a lot of growth hacking, content creation strategy, brand strategy even how to raise capital, how to be attractive to VCs and, people who have money to pump into your business to be able to expand your footprint. So that's basically what we've done and we've been doing. It's been going well so far.

Gresham Harkless 08:41

Awesome. Yeah I definitely appreciate you for shining light on that, especially because as you said, if somebody's transitioning from the black market and doesn't really have those kind of business skills might for lack of a better term, in terms of the branding and the content creation, getting PR. And of course, getting financing, it sounds like you have been able to bridge that gap from working with clients, directly, but also for those people that may not necessarily be those bigger clients, but have the desire to eventually be that.

I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce. It could be for you or your business, but what do you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Llauris Rener 09:17

I think my background personally,  because again, I have such an extensive background. I have a business background. I also have an IT background. I've lived abroad internationally. My people were originally from West Africa and Sierra Leone. And, especially with the cannabis industry, Africa actually has the most what I call land race strains, which are the most original strains of cannabis you'll find anywhere in the world.

But yet only six countries Out of 54 are involved in the cannabis industry and we actually did a podcast about that on our show squared talk. So to answer that, I just offer a very diverse perspective because of my background. So I can talk about a lot of different things. I can talk also to a little bit about accounting and laws and IT and of course, branding, marketing.

So my offerings are very comprehensive and very well rounded, compared to a lot of other people because of my background. So that would be nice.

Gresham Harkless 10:12

I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And you might have already spoke to this, but I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. That might be like an app, a book or habit that you have, but something that you feel like makes you more effective and efficient.

Is it that mentality of making sure that you're always upgrading yourself that you would consider to be your CEO hack?

Llauris Rener 10:28

I read a lot I would say. I listened to a lot of audiobooks because, when I was at CEO Space I met many people who had books. I met Les Brown there, I did some work for his son. I met Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Soul, all these guys, they all have books, and when you talk to them, they read three to five books a week and if you do that consistently and you think, okay, that's a lot of books by the end of the year.

So they are constantly expanding their mind. And I kept saying, okay, I don't have time to actually sit there and pick up a physical book and open it, but I can listen to an audiobook while I'm working. So that is something that I do. I listen to a lot of audio books. I've listened to the millionaire mind. I've listened to think and grow rich by Napoleon Hill. The ton of books the virgin way by Richard Branson.

Gresham Harkless 11:17

I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. So that could be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be around branding or marketing or any of the kind of topics that you spoke to, or it might even be something you would tell your younger business self, or maybe even a client as well.

Llauris Rener 11:32

I'll say two things. Your best customer is always going to be an educated customer. And that of course translates in any business, but with cannabis in particular, where we have a stigma attached to the product. Then the last thing I'll say is branding. People assume that branding is graphics and logos, but branding is a promise at the end of the day, and that promise is basically what you tell your customer.

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Gresham Harkless 11:58

I wanted to ask you now for my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on this show.

So Llauris, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Llauris Rener 12:08

CEO is leadership, and leadership is not a title. Leadership is your action. Because anybody can stand up and say, Hey, I'm the leader. I'm the person you should look up to. I'm the big man on campus. But at the end of the day, people don't really pay attention to what you say. They pay attention to what you do.

Gresham Harkless 12:25

That makes so much sense. And I always usually say actions speak louder than words. And I think, as you said, if your actions are consistent in that promise as you make, as you talked about branding, then that is truly what makes you a leader, what makes you a quote and quote CEO. Not related to the title, but according to like how you're taking action and what exactly you're doing.

So I definitely appreciate that definition. I appreciate your time even more Llauris. What I wanted to do was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know. And then of course, how best they can get overview and find out all the awesome things you guys are working on.

Llauris Rener 12:56

Thank you. You can find us on Instagram at, 710 squared. If you want to get some branding or if you want it, we have a lot of we post a lot of carousels with free information on everything from how to sell CBD, how to create custom avatars, tons of information on there. So you can learn more about that.

We're also on LinkedIn. If you use the same name, 710 squared, we pop up for green school. Again, we're on Instagram at green skooled and it's spelled S K O O L E D. So G R E E N S K O O L E D. You can find us on Instagram and we have courses that we hold a class actually that we hold in in Largo, although we were supposed to actually have class today, but we had to suspend that due to COVID 19. That class has been pushed back to April 13th. Hopefully that, the virus we're hoping knock on wood would have subsided by then and people, start coming out of their shells. And of course YouTube, we have our podcast called squared talk. If you type in Squared talk on YouTube, you can find the channel. If you type in 710 squared, you can find the channel and don't forget to subscribe.

Again, variety of topics. We have guests, we have classes where we basically talk about different things. Like one of the classes we talked about the last time was We power of using different colors and how Colors speak to emotions. So lots of content to digest, and we're also working on coming out with online classes for green school because there's always opportunity in tragedy. So with this coronavirus, people are staying home. So there's an opportunity with teaching online classes because, in fact, one of my students just emailed me today saying, Hey, I saw class was canceled, will there be an online class and that's something we're putting together.

We're also putting together some eBooks that we'll be selling from our website that you can download that, or they'll all be under I think under 40. So basically anywhere from 10 all the way up to 39 or something. So lots of things we're working on to, again, help people and give people the tools they need to succeed in business and in life.

Gresham Harkless 15:11

Awesome. I definitely appreciate that Llauris, and we will definitely have the links and information in the show notes as well too, so that everybody can click through, see all the awesome things you guys are working on and building and creating as well, too.

But again, I appreciate your time and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 15:25

Thank you for listening to the IAMCEO podcast powered by Blue 16 Media tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. IAMCEO is not just a phrase. It's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts, subscribe and leave us a five-star rating.

Grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the IAMCEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.

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Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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