On this week’s podcast we talk to Jason Crook, entrepreneur, marketing expert, and professor at Jefferson University in Philadelphia where he teaches a core curriculum coarse called Finding & Shaping Opportunity.
He’s not in the hemp industry at all, but his ideas around innovation, market disruption, brainstorming, creating value for customers and identifying unique business opportunities should be very instructive and inspiring for the people in the hemp space who are trying to get this industry off the ground.
Since 2003, Crook has been the proprietor of an award-winning retail and eCommerce business and has also served as principal at his own marketing communications and research consultancy. His field expertise spans a variety of industries including retail, pharmaceuticals, consumer packaged goods, banking/finance, and technology. He is well known for his talents in new product launches, brand strategy, and promotional concept development.
Jason has been a faculty member in Jefferson’s Kanbar College of DEC since 2001. He is currently an Assistant Teaching Professor, Coordinator of the college’s DEC Core course in Finding & Shaping Opportunity, and the Coordinator of External Programs in the School of Business.
Prior to his entrepreneurial and academic endeavors, Jason served as Director of Marketing Research at a Philadelphia-based national advertising agency and Director of Corporate Branding for a pharmaceutical marketing organization. In 2006, Jason was granted a US patent as the co-inventor of a “Method and System for Analyzing Effectiveness of Marketing Strategies.”
Thomas Jefferson University’s Kanbar College of Design Engineering & Commerce
Thanks to our Sponsor IND HEMP
Here’s a transcription of the interview with Jason Crook
Eric Hurlock: Jason Crook from Jefferson University, welcome to the Lancaster Farming Industrial Hemp Podcast. How are you doing today?
Jason Crook: I’m doing well, Eric. Thanks so much for having me. How are you?
EH: I’m doing OK, thanks. So I met you about a month ago at the Stroud Water Research Center. You were giving a presentation. It was at Hemp-Alternative’s Hemp Field Day. And I wonder if you could sort of give us an introduction.
JC: Yeah. So I was there through my affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University. I’m an assistant teaching professor in the Kanbar College at the University, which is a unique structure for undergraduate programs in our Kanbar College. We have reorganized our business students into the same college with our design students and also our engineering students. And as a result, we created what I call a core curriculum around all of those disciplines that basically teaches people with different perspectives and different backgrounds to innovate and problem solve together. And so instead of a traditional siloed approach to educating people who want to study business at college or study industrial design at college or mechanical engineering at college, they get to do that. But they also get the unique experience of being put into classrooms and given real world problems to solve on teams together so that they start to realize the advantage of the perspective that comes from somebody who approaches problems and even has a different disciplinary background and training than they do, and how that changes the effectiveness of the innovation and the Problem-Solving set that you can come up with. And so I’ve been teaching in that particular program most of my time. I’m situated in the school of business. My background is marketing and advertising, and I’m an entrepreneur myself. And so I teach a lot around entrepreneurship, branding and marketing and that also these transdisciplinary innovation courses.
EH: And I think listeners are familiar with the Kanbar College because Dr Ron Kander has been on our show a couple of times. So he’s your colleague down there?
JC: He is indeed.
EH: And so during the presentation that I saw you give, you talked about innovation. Can you sort of talk about your ideas on innovation and you had these fascinating categories of innovation?
JC: Yeah, for sure. A lot of people think, well, first of all, a lot of people think different things about what innovation is. And so I have a working definition that I use whenever I teach about innovation in any context to anybody who’s listening. And that is it’s the process by which you create some sort of different value for people so that they can benefit from your concepts. And that contribution of value can be to the economy, to society as a whole. It could be to a particular business or organization. Too often people define value strictly in terms of finances. And of course, that’s certainly part of how we look at value. But we can find countless examples of transformational things that have happened in our societies and in our cultures that aren’t necessarily money making at all. But they’ve added tremendous value to our progress into our industries, et cetera. And so we want to define value in that context of sort of anything that adds value to any of those levels of our society. And when you look at innovation, we are in what I call an innovation crisis. And so when I speak about innovation, a lot of people are like, what do you mean an innovation crisis? What is such a thing? And by that, what I mean is I look at all of the trade publications, I study innovators. I look at businesses of all sizes who claim to be innovative. And I have come to the conclusion that we’re not holding ourselves to a high enough standard of innovation and that our focus when it comes to innovation is simply too much about product innovation or what I call incremental innovation, as opposed to really market making or disruptive innovation, which comes at a much higher level than thinking about simply products. And so when we look at the history of sort of innovation as a topic back in the nineteen thirties, a lot of the economists who first started to talk about this notion of innovation defined it strictly as things that were new, because at that time, things that were new actually represented an innovation because it was easy to create stuff that had never existed before. When when one is only nineteen thirty and we had the infrastructure in place that we had at that time. And now what we’ve come to is this place where we realized that innovation isn’t actually about new at all. That’s invention. Right. And so I, I reserve the term invention to be about things that are actually new, which is actually a really, really difficult bar to me, because so many of the things that we have. Are simply an iteration of something that came before it, and so in this case, when I talk about innovation, I’m talking about doing something different than it’s been done before, not just different for different sake, but different in a way that adds value in some context. And so that’s that’s an important part of what I think we have to think about as innovators and as organizations and as industries. How is it that we get out of the mindset that that means just share taking product innovation? And what other kinds of things could that include?
EH: And how do you see this kind of innovation, like sort of integrating with the hemp industry? You know, what can our audience of hemp people learn from from your perspective on innovation?
JC: Yeah. So I think it’s really great because any time you’re dealing with an industry that has the ability to establish itself in an entirely new way, you want to avoid the temptation of simply looking at what’s already there and then fine tuning it and saying insert hemp here. Right. And that would be the notion of any kind of product or incremental innovation where there’s something already out there. It’s being done a very specific way, but it’s using material A and now you say, let’s just go do the same thing. But now let’s insert kempt in the mix. That’s a very incremental and very limiting from an innovative perspective, because you’re simply tweaking what’s already out there to try to do something different in a way that hopefully is more valuable. But there’s a broader context that we should be looking at those opportunities in, which is what’s the desired thing that comes out of that process as it exists today and what’s valuable about it to the customer that is using it or buying it or is attracted to it. Right. And how could given the context of the entire hemp industry and the notion that we have the entire ability to build this sort of supply chain and industry from the ground up, how do we look at ways in which we can produce that in product in a superior way that adds value without ever having stopped to stopping to consider how it’s done today or what it looks like today or what you use today? And so the example I often use is a toaster. If you look on your kitchen counter, most people have a toaster that looks very much like the toaster looked when it was first developed. It doesn’t it’s not something that’s changed a lot in terms of the way it looks. And so I’ll ask people all the time, if I gave you the assignment to innovate the toaster, what would you do? And instantaneously, through no fault of our own, as consumers and as people who are part of a consumerism culture, we’ve naturally been trained to look at the toaster as it exists today and say, OK, I would fine tune it by making the bread slot’s bigger so that it could accommodate different kinds of breads and not just thin sliced loaves. Or I would change the mechanism on it so that it makes it easier to clean the crumbs or to get rid of the toaster or keep it clean. They all represent examples of incremental innovation. They all mean that we started by first looking at the toaster as it exists today and saying how do we make this toaster slightly better in a way that’s more valuable? And that’s, in my mind, a very low bar for innovation, because what you should be doing is saying, what’s the property of the item that comes from the result of using this toaster that people desire? And given all I have at my disposal today, how can I produce that in a more valuable, meaningful way than it’s currently being produced without thinking about how it’s being done or what products are being used to do it at all? I’ve distinctively elevated my brainstorming in my ways of thinking about how this particular area could be innovated by not focusing first on product. And I think that’s that’s the stumbling block that we have and what I call my my innovation crisis that we’re part of.
EH: Right. And so do you have some tips for brainstorming sort of through that? Or like how do you get to the the disruptive kind of ideas?
JC: Absolutely. The best way to do it is not to brainstorm the way we were traditionally trained to brainstorm, which is just sit and come up with ideas because ideas are too abstract for others to be able to react to. And so the notion of innovation at its best comes from these collaborative perspectives that I mentioned earlier, which is part of why we transformed our structure to bringing people that are not necessarily like-minded together to problem solve. So what you want to do is find a way to get that out in a tangible way for everyone to share in and engage in. So no one is always brainstorm in the physical, not the abstract, which means talking about ideas is not enough. Write them down. So whether it’s Post-it notes or whether it’s a whiteboard or whether it’s some kind of tangible way to present those ideas, you want to. And you don’t want to just do it in a list, you want to do it in a framework that applies some kind of constraint to your thinking. And in the world of innovation, one of the best ways to do that is by developing two by two matrices, which has four quadrants and saying, I’m going to come up with ideas that fit into each of these four quadrants and I’m not going to allow myself or my team to stop brainstorming ideas until we’ve come up with one that fits at least one that fits into or at least three that fits into each of these quadrants that we’ve developed. Innovation and the best friend of innovation is actually constraint. We become much more creative, much more innovative people when we apply certain roles that we have to operate within our processes. And so the notion of simply sitting down and trying to brainstorm free form, the way a lot of people think about brainstorming activities and talk about ideas around a table is never going to get you to do what I call push through, which means get to that next level of ideation. That doesn’t happen naturally. The uncomfortable level that forces you to think about things in a different way than you’re naturally thinking about them. And from an innovation standpoint, this notion of different types of innovation that you mentioned that you heard me talk about from incremental to disruptive, they also have in the middle this sort of bucket that we call transformative, which isn’t exactly just an incremental and it isn’t necessarily revolutionary in terms of completely changing or disrupting an industry, but it fits somewhere in the middle. And IDEO, which is a research design consulting group that’s very, very popular globally. They came up with this matrix that’s actually based off of the matrix that Ansoff developed for marketing back in the late 60s, early 70s. And the idea behind it, it’s called The Ways to Grow Matrix, is simply that it’s forcing yourself to recognize when you have an idea. Is this just an incremental idea from an innovation standpoint? And does it belong in bucket lower left, or is this an elevation over that? Am I actually improving this? And so is it at an upper left bucket of innovation? And then when you move to the right side, are these things that I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone and not thought about product at all and instead really thought about the things that surround the system, that surrounds the possibility of producing something of value and how can I innovate in those ways? And so I would say the best way to do it is to the idea using frameworks that constrain your ideation and force you to come up with ideas that are specific in nature in terms of the goal of not being an incremental innovator and being more of a disruptive, transformative innovator and ideation.
EH: That’s a fancy way of saying: coming up with ideas.
JC: Yes, sorry. Yeah, it’s the word it’s the word that is used in the creative process to talk about that stuff that happens that should be unedited up front. So the second you’re given a mission or you’re trying to think about something like in our case here, what is it that we’re capable of doing with this help as a business and as an industry from the seed part of the business through the agricultural part of the business, through the product part of the business? What are all the opportunities that exist? The ideation that would happen up front would be all the ideas that unedited you would try to get out there where there’s no such thing as a bad idea. You don’t want to edit or try to refine the ideas, but you do often want to try to categorize them. Because what ends up happening is if you’re in a group and you’re all brainstorming and somebody has an idea that people gravitate to and it happens to be a product innovation, then what happens is the whole group sort of gets stuck in that product mode as they think through that idea and they hash it out. So with the absence of a constraint that forces you to go to a different quadrant and come up with ideas, you may never get past that one quadrant that you were in using something like a ways to grow matrix, but you’ve never even realized it. You’re so impressed with your cells that you’ve come up with this idea. And it sounds so great that you don’t realize how much you left on the table that you’ve completely not explored at all in terms of possibility because you did not allow yourself to use some kind of tool to guide your process. And you did sort of brainstorming or ideation in the abstract.
EH: You mentioned the word opportunity. And when I saw you speak down there at the Stroud Water Research Center, you said something to the effect of “Opportunity is the intersection of an idea and the customer.” Can you talk about that?
JC: Absolutely. So I a long time ago, I’m still a consultant. And as I mentioned, I’m an entrepreneur in addition to my academic endeavors as a faculty member. And one of the things I’ve always been most sought for, well known for coming from an advertising and marketing background is product launches. And so I’ve been involved. With product development and product launches, four major companies and corporations for over 20 years now, and one of the things that I realized about a decade ago was that the notion of being a product developer was expiring, that this problem with ideation and the notion of the innovation crisis that we’re in, in part stems from people developing on a focusing too much on product development when what we should be focusing on is customer development. And so I’ve sort of switched my thinking over the last decade in the way I approach launching new products into the market from focusing on what I can do or what I’m capable of doing from a product development standpoint to a deep understanding of who I’m targeting and who’s going to make me successful and what their wants, needs, desires and lifestyle habits are so that I develop something that is 100 percent ready made with a customer that’s excited to buy it, as opposed to developing a product and then figuring out how to find my customer after the fact. And so I say ideas are easy to come up with and these ideation exercises are brainstorming exercises. I was just talking about I can put a group of 19 year olds, 18, 19 year olds together and I can give them 15 minutes to brainstorm. And frankly, sometimes I’m amazed that in 15 minutes they can have eighty six ideas on paper. And some of them are really good ideas, like really sound ideas that you would think, wow, that’s a really cool concept. And the notion here is that it’s just an idea unless you can find somebody who values the idea and to turn it into something that can be successful. And so this notion of opportunity being the intersection of a good idea and the right customer is something that I use to try to help to frame the process better so that people, especially when they’re trying to start something new. And hemp is the perfect example with everything about the different plant varieties and the different things that you can do in terms of growing the mechanisms and agriculturally thinking about crop rotation. There’s so many elements here that open themselves up to thinking more broadly about innovation and about who it is and what it is that could be a stakeholder in your process, that if you leave that until then, you don’t go out and you seek those pieces of information and talk to those people, understand what they’re looking for, then all you’re doing is really developing products or developing ideas in a vacuum and then expecting people to show up. And we’re in a place where people just have too many options. Right. And so if you just build and expect people to show up and come, you’re going to end up burning through startup cash. If you’re bootstrapping and trying to get off the ground with something early, then you’re going to end up wasting a lot of resources. So my philosophy is, don’t start with the product, start with the customer, develop the customer and the ideas that you have. And their intersection with those customers that you develop are where you can find the opportunities to create value. And that’s what innovation is. As I mentioned earlier, that’s my working definition. So if I’m able to prove that value exists among that group of people for this particular idea I have, I now just converted that idea into a possible opportunity for innovation.
EH: Right. And I remember you talking about maybe like a spectrum of customers, like the early adopters versus other other people in their life. Can you explain sort of how you view customers?
JC: Yeah. So there’s all this research out there that’s pretty useful if you take the time to pull it into your your framework about the notion of how people are naturally more or less attracted to new things. And so this notion of innovation is about doing something that people are not familiar with because it needs to be different in a meaningful way. And what that comes with is a naturally sort of bell curved shape of people’s willingness to accept or try what you have and what the the work that was done around this is called the diffusion of innovation curve. And it basically says upfront, you’ve got like a combination, around 13 percent of people who are really interested in cutting edge stuff. And so it doesn’t matter what you have, really, if it’s in an area that they’re interested in, they’re going to try it because their natural orientation is to want to be at the forefront. Right. Then you go through this sort of mass market leap where all the customers really exist, which is the middle two sections, which is the early majority and the late majority. Right. And then that’s eventually going to lead you down to the trail off team, which is the laggards, the people who really need everything to be tried and true. They wanted to be tested. They don’t want any funny business. Right. And so when I talk about this lots of times, I talk about places in which people are more or less accepting of different levels of risk in different product categories. And so part of your job is to figure out where you fall in the industry or the product category that you’re trying to develop and what kind of naturally innovative or not innovative base of customers you’re likely to have. So if you look at the car industry as an example, it famously has a portion of the population who’s like, oh, I would never, ever buy a new model car in its first year. Right. Because there are limits. There are more likely to have problems. They haven’t been tried and true and tested to the level that makes somebody comfortable with the level of investment that is associated with an automobile. So that particular industry comes with a naturally smaller amount of innovators on the front end and a naturally larger amount of late majority and laggard adopters because of the nature of it. You completely flip that on its head. If you look at something like pharmaceuticals, where people have health crises for which there’s no definitive cure and they become much more willing to take risks in order to figure out what a product may or may not do to help the health situation that they’re in. Right. Because of the fact that the nature of the use or the value that’s created by the product that they’re trying changes their willingness to adopt and the level of innovation that they’re comfortable with in terms of newness or differentness that they will accept without proof. Right. And this is the notion of the idea of their not only being different types and different ways to innovate, but there are also different types of consumers out there waiting to take on whatever the work is that you’ve done to create new things. And so you have to do your homework to figure out where on those maps what you’re working on is really positioned. Otherwise, you stand the chance of risking feeling really good about what you’ve done because you realize that you’ve got 10 percent uptake in the first six months after you launch, not realizing that you should have had at least 13 because that’s how many are in the innovation phase.
EH: You talked about the innovation crisis. When did this begin and is there a path out of it?
JC: For sure? There’s a path out. It’s what I’ve spent the last 12 years trying to teach people to think about in my classes, which is everybody’s good at this. You go to any major corporation, even small business players who are competing effectively in marketplaces today. Everybody can incrementally innovate very, very well. It’s the problem. And the reason I call it a crisis is that because there’s such a greater amount of innovation capability at our fingertips and we’re only holding ourselves to a standard of incremental innovation that we’ve created our own crisis. So the notion that I’ve tried to create here is, is that we can actually get people to think more broadly as innovators. And that’s our path out of being part of this trap, sort of quicksand of product innovation. I talk about this all the time for my students in terms of brands that they understand and young people understand the brand Apple very well. And the reason that Apple resonates with me and also with them is because I’m old enough that I’ve seen the ups and downs of Apple. I sell Apple, launch into a marketplace, become the greatest at what they did, and then fall rock bottom before rebuilding themselves again. And I look at all the major consulting firms, all the major data collectors around business and business innovation, all the mainstream publications, Fast Company and Forbes and Global Business Insight since twenty seventeen, every single place you look constantly puts Apple in. The first position is the most innovative company on the face of the earth. And yet when I look at what they’re doing on a day to day basis, I couldn’t be less impressed from an innovators perspective because it’s all about incremental innovation. They haven’t done anything that I consider transformative or revolutionary since 2003 when they created iTunes. Right. It wasn’t their products. That was a revolutionary innovation that transformed our culture and our society, not their phones, not the iPod. It was the marketplace that they created that actually contributed pretty much nothing to their revenue. That’s the most valuable, innovative contribution that they’ve had. And even in that case, where we sit today in twenty, twenty one, they didn’t have the foresight to recognize how powerful the innovation was and they allowed that to slip through their fingers and for Spotify to sneak in and disrupt the entire digital download space with the streaming space. And now this. The sure sign of a disruptive disruption in a marketplace is when the former leader is forced to match what somebody new did behind them in order to compete. And now we see iTunes going away, being replaced with Apple Music, which is, frankly. Not as good as Spotify. It’s not the largest streaming catalog in the world, and it won’t be because Spotify did so much to protect how it is that they entered the market, that they’re going to have that leadership position for some time, in all likelihood of music, and Apple will be forced to be secondary. And so when I look at that kind of just simple example in everyday life and then I look over and read experts saying this is the most innovative company in the world, it scares me. Right. It scares me into believing that there’s so much possibility to be better at innovation that people are not learning about. They’re not educating themselves about and they’re not capitalizing on. And if we don’t do it, somebody else will. And so the whole notion here is if you if you’re interested in this space and you are especially in an industry that is in a high growth mode or that is in a construction mode, the last thing you want to do is adopt a second tier approach to being an innovator as part of that space. And I consider at this point in our evolution incremental innovation or product innovation to be second tier innovation. There’s too many other things out there that we now understand and see the path to success with that we could focus on instead and do a much better job of supplying value to the marketplace.
EH: All right. So there’s some irony in Apple’s tagline of Think Different because maybe they’re not not quite doing that anymore.
Jason Crook [00:26:28] They’re not doing that. And this is the funny part, right? Not to Segway too much often get too involved in Apple, but coming from the advertising marketing side of things as my background, the one thing that I consistently say is that Apple’s core problem is that they don’t know when to let go of the tagline and replace it with something that’s actually meaningful because you can’t be the status quo number one product in the phone market and still be telling people, oh, go with us because we’re different and unique, because you’re not you are the status quo. So they’ve built a brand reputation that they very much want to hold onto for being the challenger who challenges the status quo and gets people to think differently and be themselves and be unique. Yet once they achieve, which we saw this in the computing industry as well, once they achieved being the status quo and being the leader in that market, they don’t know what to do with the leadership position. They only know how to be a challenger. And so this is a struggle that I think that they have. And it isn’t just an innovation standpoint. It’s on a marketing and branding side of things and messaging as well.
EH: Right. That is so fascinating. Back to the hemp industry. Some other takeaways that hemp folks could can learn from you from this conversation. What should they be thinking about?
JC: Yeah, I mean, I think that the key here is figuring out how and what possibility you can contribute to a higher level of value by starting with what does this product have to offer, the things that came before it. You can’t ignore that. Right. But thinking about it in the context of how it has been done historically is the mistake. Right. And so from everything from the way in which the frequency with which the time frame in which you plant a E.M.S. call it into question. Right. The greatest friend of innovation is curiosity. And so the notion of challenging every single part of a system that’s in place is really the only way that we press a system to become better. And so the idea of just adopting things because of how it’s been done historically is one of the great disservices that we do to ourselves once we’re presented with great opportunity. Because it’s easy, because it’s familiar, because it’s all of these things that, without knowing it, make us feel as though it’s a better option or a safer path for us. We end up falling into the sand trap of leading down a road of product innovation by getting stuck in just looking at products. So my thing is pick industries that are getting huge amounts of success right now that have nothing to do with them and go see and learn about what they’re doing, because this notion of looking at other industries and what makes them successful and then bringing it back to the space that is at your heart and soul and your passion is where the greatest chance for explosive, disruptive types of innovation to happen, because you’re no longer limiting yourself to looking at what others that are like you or that have come before you have done or will do. Instead, you’re opening up this whole world of things that are available that are out there and thinking about new and different and valuable ways to apply them to what you are doing specifically. And so one of the mistakes that I think anybody makes when they’re trying to innovate is just. Focusing on their industry and what they do and what the people who are around them are, so it’s it’s the it’s the gut lembeck instinct in our brain that makes us want to go and say, OK, we want to figure out what to do with him. Let’s look at the soybean industry and let’s see what they did. Let’s look and see what corn did right when the reality is all of those are really just going to end up being an iterative version of what’s already been done before you. It’s figuring out situations in which people have been faced with similar circumstances and come up with entirely new ways of doing things that are more likely to yield real innovation opportunity that steps beyond just some cool products or some cool incremental changes to your industry. I use the example all the time working at Jefferson around health care because I asked people all the time if you wanted to go in and make an emergency room experience in the hospital much better than it could be. What would you do? And people say to me, oh, I would pose as a patient and I would put myself through the system and I would document and maybe even wear like a a head cam so that I could document the process of the experience of a patient and understand what it’s really like. They think they’re telling me things that I really want to hear is somebody who says you’ve got to build from the customer. I know your customer, but in reality, I’m thinking to myself, you’re not going to get very far with that. Right? If I want to improve the experience and streamline it and do things, my mind is an innovator goes to where else are people making life and death decisions? Where are they doing it really, really fast? Where are they doing it where multiple people with different key skills are responsible for different parts of the process? That’s what I see as an innovator. When I walk into an emergency room situation, I see very different people with very different roles and different skills, all with the end goal of helping someone or in the case of emergency rooms, oftentimes saving someone or saving a life. Right. And it has led me to to go and talk to people and to say, what would I do? I would go see if I could get on a pit crew at a NASCAR race and see how they communicate with one another and how they exchange tools and how they signal one another and how they communicate with and take care of their driver. Because there’s probably so much that I can learn from that experience that has never occurred to me as somebody who has had health care blinders on. If that’s the industry that I’ve been in, where there’s so much that I could learn that I could then transfer in an invaluable way, do something differently as a result of exposing myself to those different industries but that are like situations or similar situations to my own. So depending on what part of the health system you’re part of. Don’t limit yourself to looking if you’re in the agricultural piece of it to the way other agricultural crops have historically been handled that preceded him. Think about the properties of the uses of the things that you see as advantageous about it. And where are some similar places or situations in history that have existed that you could learn from that process in a different way without having it be pigeonholed into simply thinking about it in an agricultural context, because you’re automatically pushing yourself in that product innovation path because it’s just going to end up being some iteration of something that came before it, where if you go somewhere in a completely unlike space, you may discover something you never imagined.
EH: That’s awesome. That’s great advice, thank you for that. There’s a lot of discussion in the space about environmental concerns and how hemp could be really part of the toolkit for mitigating climate change. And I keep coming back to like, how do we get consumers to demand that their products are carbon neutral or carbon negative? Do you have any insight on that, on how we get the people out there, you know, on board?
JC: Yeah, it requires a strong commitment to education. And it’s kind of frustrating, to be honest, because the state that we’re in, I’ll be honest with regard to climate change, I don’t think anybody, including the greatest climate scientists in the world, ever expected us to be here, because I think they thought as the most advanced species on our planet, we would get this faster. And so I feel like it’s gotten further out of control than it ever should have because people were projecting based on a greater proportion of the population getting it sooner. And so the more it’s going on and the deeper we’ve dug ourselves into this hole, the more challenging it becomes. And so I say the the commitment to education is a little frustrating because I don’t feel like it should be this hard, given the evidence that we have to get people on board. And yet I still find myself needing to have the same discussions that I was having 15 years ago. Right.
EH: It’s like there’s been, you know, like a whole mis education campaign foisted on us. You know, it’s like sort of a marketing win for the carbon producers, right? Yeah. They have an interest in people not believing this is a real thing. And it is so frustrating. You know, I’m almost 50 years old and I knew this was a problem when I was a little kid. You know, it was happening. And I am surprised like like you that we’re not further along in this like that. It’s become political and it’s it’s very frustrating.
JC: Yeah, it is frustrating. And so I think we really do have to have a commitment. The other thing that I think we have to do, Eric, and I’m glad to have an opportunity like this to say it, is that I think we have to take what we know and and show it to people. Right. Because this is not hypothetical anymore. Right. For so long, the discussions and the debates that happened around climate happen because the actual evidence had not occurred at the level that it is occurring now. And so now all of the people who are pressing against this really should not have the ability to win the argument because we have all of the evidence that we need. And by that I mean things like from a business innovation standpoint, there are a lot of people who said, well, you can’t be triple bottom line and still be successful. OK, that’s all a myth. Now, we have seen countless companies who are at all levels of size and success use a triple bottom line philosophy that equalizes concerns around our planet and our communities with their profitability. And they’re not hurting companies like Ben and Jerry’s ice cream companies like Patagonia, they’re not hurting. They’re doing very, very well. And so the notion that we allow a myth to perpetuate itself, that it’s not possible to take the concerns of planet and also community and put them on an equal playing field with the profitability that’s associated with business concepts is something that we have to do a better job of pushing back against, because this misinformation that’s being used is actually provably misinformation. But we don’t push back on it hard enough or frequently enough. I think in order for people to really understand the examples that exist that really showcase how we need to do this and what we need to do. And from an innovation standpoint, by the way, you know, business strategy is all about long term strategies, not measurable in the short term. And so I’m fascinated by the notion that these people who call themselves businesses and business executives and parts of big industry are actually not recognizing that it’s impossible to make a strategic argument for not being more climate responsible because no one’s going to be able to inhabit this planet if we keep going the way we’re going. And that’s clearly evident. I mean, I’ve lived in the city of Philadelphia longer than I’ve lived in any other city in the entire time that I’ve been here for my entire adult life. I can certainly say that we never had rain and the flood that caused 30 feet of water to cover the entire expressway that allows one side of the city to meet the other one. Right. And that when I look at the history of flooding. In this city, every single marking of historical relevance has happened in my adult life while I’ve lived here, when this is one of the oldest cities in terms of meteorological history that exists in our country. And so there’s evidence all around us that this problem is going to become bigger, that it’s not going to get any better, that we are causing the problem that is happening and we’re going to get out of it. Strategically, there is no future you no worry to make the worry about whether or not your business is profitable, if you’re going to have no resources in order to produce whatever it is you produce. And the short sightedness of that just flabbergasted me when I when I listen to people talk about the resistance to the climate variable and how critical it should be to everything we’re innovating and thinking about in terms of of industry.
EH: Yeah, it’s frustrating because there’s been this sort of like, you know, undermining of experts. You know, over the course of my life, I’ve seen it, you know, even back in high school, you know, like kids are kind of ridiculed for for having a good answer, for being smart. There’s been this, like, culture of of dumbness. I don’t know if that’s a word, but that’s been sort of growing steadily. And it’s it’s very frustrating. But, yeah, you were talking about the Vine Street Expressway, right. Filled up with water.
JC: Yeah, it was unbelievable. Eric, I’ve never in a million years imagined that that could happen. And I live on one side of that. And the university campus is on the other side. So that’s the connector for me. That would normally be the way that I get up and go to work every day. And the idea that I could have only done that in the submarine on that week is just fascinating to me. And one of the largest cities in the country that theoretically doesn’t have a great flood floodplain threat happening here compared to a lot of the other cities. I’m sure you see stuff like the impacts in New York on the subway systems in the underground and all that. But that’s sort of expected. I mean, they’re aware of issues that exist. We don’t really have that in Philadelphia. And yet look what happened and what continues to happen all in recent history with our situation. And and it all connects back in very clear ways to the notion that we really cannot think strategically about being innovators in any industry if we aren’t putting at the top of that list the triple bottom line sustainability, eco friendly part of the equation. And so, again, for hemp, the notion that there are properties associated with this particular crop, with things about this particular product, that so that aligns so well with what we should have already been doing, make it a no brainer that the growth should not only be happening, but should be exponentially happening so fast compared to a lot of industry experts and growth because of the nature of the advantages that it could offer. Again, if people are looking at the holistic advantage and thinking about how to sell in the concept of how this product is advantageous over what’s there previously as innovators, then they’re looking at that the ability to potentially transform systems that dramatically need to shift. And that’s important.
EH: All right, let’s just leave it right there. Jason Crook from Jefferson University, thank you for your time today and i look forward to future conversations.
JC: So let’s absolutely. It was a pleasure to be here. Love to talk about this stuff. Happy to join you whenever you need.