It’s been a while since I’ve written at Happy Joe. There are various reasons I’ve been off the grid lately, some which will come to light in this post.
First I want to say I hope you stay healthy and safe during this horrific Covid-19 pandemic. It’s scary for us to have to deal with an enemy we can’t see or easily detect. It’s equally difficult that so many of us will be battling financial hardships or disaster. My heart goes out to all of you as we all strive to survive during uncertain times. I’m here if you need to talk.
Second, I feel it’s time to open up and be honest about the future of Happy Joe and some of the struggles encountered the past six months. This isn’t a corporate message but real thoughts coming from the guy who started this company with only a hope and a dream.
Now is the time to be transparent.
Happy Joe was created out of a fiery rage because military veterans were getting fucked over (and still are) by the Veterans Administration. Since 2014 some situations have greatly improved – like the unemployment rates – while others, like suicide rates, remain tragically high. There’s still a lot of broken shit in the system that needs to be addressed, with thousands of veteran’s lives at stake.
One of the problems is I don’t know how we can help going forward.
Happy Joe hasn’t been a non-profit organization since 2017, so we can’t operate in that capacity anymore. Because we support cannabis and CBD use for wellness, we also have limited options due to asinine regulations and laws in this country. These ever changing restrictions are the biggest reason we shut down the CBD product line last year.
While revenues and profit are essential for any company, my purpose has always been people over profits. How can I create a business that does cool shit while using our money for good? It’s a question I’ve been scrambling to figure out. The answer has been as elusive as an honest politician.
For me, business isn’t about just creating another product or service, but creating a platform that can make a real difference in the world.
Now is the time to be honest with myself.
Happy Joe, for better or worse, has adapted and improvised as necessary over the years. Some of this was due to the business challenges and some from a lack of focus and proper execution on my behalf. It’s been a learning experience and a plethora of mistakes. Yes, I said plethora. There’s a lot that could have been done better.
Despite these mistakes, I’ve also done some soul searching the past two months. What I’ve realized is that I haven’t been honest with myself either. Who I thought I wanted to be in business and life isn’t who I really want to be at all.
There’s this idea we have to have a Shark Tank success story in business. We’re lead to believe if we become like Richard Branson or Sara Blakely, we’ll be much happier in life. We’re told to grow our company as fast as possible and diversify and make everyone think we’re unicorns of the business world. This is supposed to be the way. But it’s not for me.
I’ve gone down a path that wasn’t meant for this guy and it’s caused depression, indecision, financial instability, and painful blisters along the way. Trying to make Happy Joe a multi-faceted brand like Virgin is great in theory but not in reality.
Now is the time to talk about serving veterans.
Serving military veterans has been one of the most rewarding missions of my life. I love the camaraderie and experience of working with veterans because they are my tribe. Yet it’s getting much harder to do.
Unfortunately there’s a growing sense of entitlement and other cancerous behaviors turning off the public interest in supporting veteran initiatives.
When some veterans bitch about not getting free stuff or acting as if they’re superior over “civilians,” this is damaging. When some veterans are mad that no one will help them when they won’t do anything for themselves, who is really to blame? It’s these situations that are ruining it for everyone.
There are many awesome veterans in the community who could use a hand up and my passion to help with that remains as strong as ever. I also don’t want to punish the good Joes for what the Blue Falcons are doing either. That’s not fair. So I stand at a crossroads of what to do.
Now is the time for change.
Given all these circumstances and inner reflection, I believe its best to blow everything up and start over. Sounds crazy right?
The truth is there’s so much opportunity in the cannabis space and I could chase all of the potential ideas and never scratch the surface. There’s also so many ways to help veterans or other people that a lifetime wouldn’t be enough time to do it all. What I’ve decided to do is what I wanted to do all along.
Doing what I love instead.
Several months ago I listened to a creative podcast where the speaker said something that hit me like a zinger between the eyes. He asked if you have to be in the shit every day, then wouldn’t it be better to be in the shit doing something you love instead of what you hate? #BOOM
When you’re doing something you’re passionate about, you’ll stick with it even when the times are hard.
When I started in business 30 years ago, I created my own brand of street wear as a way to express myself. It was my true passion and I’ve missed it over the years. Happy Joe was originally going to be a unique military t-shirt company, but I ditched it for other things that seemed better.
T-Shirts with a Happy Ending!
In the next 90 days, Happy Joe will begin the transition to what I envisioned seven years ago.
While I hope it’s successful, I don’t care if it fails because I’ll finally be creating products I’m truly passionate about again. There will be no regrets. Plus profits from each sale will continue to benefit veterans, as well as other great causes — the happy ending. 😀
I’m stoked to put this all out here because now it holds me accountable. It gives me the opportunity to readjust fire and hit my targets much better. It allows me to do what I was created to do and make the world a better place, starting with myself and then others.
The new Happy Joe is coming. I hope others will be as excited as I am.