It’s Alive: Unlocking Your Full Potential with Rudy Ellenbogan

Back for their third installment of the It’s Alive Series, Verde Natural’s CEO Rudy Ellenbogen joined the ranks of Jeff Lowenfels and Cassandra Maffey, presenting an evening dedicated to personal growth and unlocking your full potential. The event was hosted at Cultivated Synergy and there was a line outside the door to get in before it had even begun. As guests made their way inside, light, smooth jazz permeated the room and a variety of foods were available such as hummus, gyros, salad and cookies. Each table had an individual “TENPACK,” Verde’s pack of ten, prerolled joints, to enjoy with fellow guests. The featured strain of the evening was Big Smooth.

It was a slightly smaller crowd than the previous two events had hosted, and Ellebogan addressed this almost instantly. “Tonight’s topic isn’t popular. It isn’t the easy quick fix that you can go to you garden with.” Rather, the evening's speech focused on personal and professional growth for individuals, cultivation managers and businesses at large.

“I got involved in the industry because [my] friend and business partner was using canabis medicinally…I saw people moving from other states to grow great products for people who didn’t give a shit.”

Ellenbogan is very transparent about the fact that he is not a grower, simply a passionate person who has seen the benefits of medicinal cannabis and wants to create a sustainable business that harvests healthy products. Prior to the cannabis industry, Ellenbogan worked in the building and real estate industries, managing properties and orchestrating construction around the world. He started Verde Natural three and a half years ago with only five people, and it has since grown to fifty. He attributes this growth to a strong dedication to his team’s personal growth as well as the day to day excellence.

To put it simply, Rudy wanted to take the tips and tidbits and insights that he has continued to use to nurture the Verde team, and share them with others who could implement them in their own grows, workplaces and personal lives. 

"How you conduct yourself has just as much importance as your technical knowledge."

There’s a difference between a boss and a leader, and there’s a difference between a cultivator and a cultivation manager. Cultivation managers are leaders; general managers are leaders. Whether you’re managing a team of one (yourself) or managing a team of 50, leaders need to be part of the team, not bossing around subordinates from a seat of authority. 

If there is any doubt who the leader of a team is, watch the members of the team and see who they choose as the MVP. An MVP in any team is “the person the team chooses naturally as their leader because that’s the person who’s always there for them.” The MVP wants the best for the team, and, as a result, is focused on helping each team member unlock their full potential.

How we can unlock our full potential?

According to Ellebogan, there’s a few steps we can take to begin to unlock our full potential. First, recognizing that there are typically three modes that we act within and that, by acknowledging these modes, we can refocus and find new opportunities for growth.

The three modes we find ourselves in are:

  1. For myself: if I don’t take care of myself how can I help others

  2. For others: if I don’t help others who will help me when I’m in need

  3. In collaboration: Big things can’t be done alone

During his talk, Ellebogan ran the audience through an exercise to find out which mode they often find themselves in. When asked which mode was the most important, the audience was split, which allowed Ellenbogan to bring everyone back together by acknowledging that all three modes are equally important. The key is to figure out where we are most of the time, and allow ourselves to move between modes more easily.

To do this, Ellebogan recommends four steps for finding balance:

  1. Be aware of your nature. Acknowledging which mode you normally find your self in and which ideologies and actions you trend towards will allow you to work with this knowledge.

  2. Practice checking your inner self. Regular step back and reevaluate your situation, refocusing as needed.

  3. Remove your agenda. We all come into situations with certain expectations and predispositions; mitigating these will allow for a better understanding of where you actually are and what can and will be achieved.

  4. Transform. Once you’ve acknowledged, refocused, and removed your agenda from these interpretations, you’re able to act on your insights, transforming your outlook and actions to reflect this new understanding.

Often, the full transformation will not occur until you step outside of your comfort zone. Your daily routine, your common associations, and everything else that feels comfortable may be exactly what is keeping you from fully reaching your true potential. Consistently reevaluate your situation, and test the limits of your comfort zone often. If it scares you, it’s because it has the power to change you.

"In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity" - Einstein

According to Ellenbogan, the truth of Verde’s success lies in the difficulties that they have encountered as a team. Each challenge and obstacle presented an opportunity for leadership and also for relationship-building among members of the Verde team. Ellenbogan feels that he cultivates a culture of honesty and transparency which has created a setting that allows ideas and opportunities for growth to thrive. By being approachable, and always telling the truth, even when it hurts, he’s established a rapport with his team that not many owners have. 

“If someone had a good idea and they’re not going to say it because you’re an asshole, then you’re missing out in that area...Provide a place for people to share their thoughts in a safe place."

The key to maintaining these relationships is always seeking the truth. There’s a binary balance that we all undergo in our daily lives between going with what we know and checking to see if what we know is right. Maintaining that balance by allowing others to call what you know into question is the best way to nurture and grow as a team and as an individual.

As he says, Ellebogan isn’t a grower, just someone who has spent a large portion of his life dedicated to personal and professional growth for himself and his colleagues. These tools and tips come from his time in and out of industry, but they all come down to his desire to be a leader with both a vision for what needs to be done and how to do it, as well as someone who cares enough about his work and his team to ensure everything and everyone is operating at their best. 

In his own words, the best way to do this is to:

  • Be real - Have real relationships with people; be truthful.

  • Give fully - Even when it isn’t comfortable.

  • Build trust.

For more information, check out the full video from Rudy’s presentation at the third It's Alive talk as well as recaps from previous Verde Natural events.