Matt Zemon joins Paul F. Austin for a thoughtful conversation on the inspiration behind his new book, Psychedelics for Everyone.
Since 2019, Matt has evolved from someone who had never taken any drugs to doing a deep dive into the study of human consciousness, aided by psilocybin, ayahuasca, ketamine, LSD, MDMA, DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, and more. Matt is the Co-Founder of HAPPŸŸ, a mental wellness company specializing in psychedelic-assisted oral ketamine therapy, as well as digital therapeutics that promote transformational outcomes. Previously, Matt was the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Psychable, an online community connecting people interested in the healing power of psychedelics with a network of practitioners and psychedelic-based treatments. He was also the co-founder of Take2Minutes, a nonprofit dedicated to helping individuals improve their mental health and wellbeing. Matt lives in Chapel Hill, NC.
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0:00:00.5 Paul Austin: Welcome back to The Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave. Today, I'm speaking with Matt Zemon, the author of Psychedelics for Everyone and the co-founder of HAPPŸŸ.
0:00:10.9 Matt Zemon: Certainly, not everybody should take a psychedelic, but the idea that psychedelics are good for society, I think is an important concept, and I hope that the research in the book, Compound Over Compound, helps people make an informed decision for themselves on whether taking a psychedelic is right for them, is right for somebody they love, or maybe influences how they vote or how they think about public policy for the good of society.
0:00:38.0 PA: Welcome to The Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave, Audio Mycelium connecting you to the luminaries and thought leaders of the psychedelic renaissance. We bring you illuminating conversations with scientists, therapists, entrepreneurs, coaches, doctors, and shamanic practitioners exploring how we can best use psychedelic medicine to accelerate personal healing, peak performance, and collective transformation.
0:01:14.9 PA: Hey, listeners, I'm so excited to have Matt Zemon on the podcast today. Matt and I first met a couple of years ago when he was starting his first project in the psychedelic space called Psychable. Since that point in time, he has published a book called Psychedelics for Everyone, and that's what we talk about a lot on the podcast today, are psychedelics for everyone? How do we talk about psychedelics with everyone? What is the process of discernment around who this might be a good fit for? How to communicate the power of these medicines to other folks? We will talk a lot about Matt's personal story, going from high levels of financial success to a reinterpretation of his most important values through these plant medicine experiences. And then Matt also tells us a little bit about HAPPŸŸ, his new business project that he started around telemedicine, ketamine-assisted therapy. So all in all, a really great episode. I think you'll enjoy it a lot. But before we dive into today's episode, a word from our sponsors.
0:02:17.4 PA: Hey listeners, today's podcast is brought to you by the Apollo Wearable. I first started wearing the Apollo in the midst of the COVID quarantine over two years ago. It helped my body to regulate itself, to calm down, to stay more focused, and to meditate in the morning, and I use it to really regulate my nervous system in a time of incredible stress, and I've continued to use it on a day-to-day basis. It is indispensable in my daily routine. Here's the thing, the Apollo is a wearable that improves your body's resilience to stress by helping you to sleep better, stay calm and stay more focused. Developed by neuroscientists and physicians, the Apollo wearable delivers gentle soothing vibrations that condition your nervous system to recover and rebalance after stress. I tell folks that It's like a microdose on your wrist that helps you to feel more present and connected, especially when in the midst of a psychedelic experience. It's a phenomenal complement to any psychedelic experience. In fact, Apollo was currently running an IRB-approved clinical trial in conjunction with MAPS to understand the long-term efficacy of the Apollo wearable with PTSD patients who have undergone MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.
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0:04:01.5 PA: Alright, that's it for now. Let's dive into this episode with Matt Zemon. I hope you enjoy our conversation on Psychedelics for Everyone.
0:04:11.9 PA: Hey listeners, welcome back to the Psychedelic Podcast. Today we have Matt Zemon on the show, author of Psychedelics for Everyone, which in a title is an interesting thing that we'll dive into today. So Matt, welcome to the podcast. It's great to have you on.
0:04:30.6 MZ: Paul, it's good to be here. Thanks for having me.
0:04:33.7 PA: So psychedelics for everyone, it's a bold statement in many ways, because we know, for example, that those who are predisposed to psychosis or schizophrenia should not be working with psychedelics, those who maybe have a family history of certain personality disorder shouldn't be working with psychedelics, and yet the title itself is quite compelling, because what it suggests is that there are exceptions to the rule, of course, but by and large, these medicines could be useful for the broad populace. So I'd love... As we sort of flesh out this concept, this topic for today, I'd love if we could just start a little bit with your backstory. So even prior to getting into psychedelics, who was Matt Zemon, and then what transition happened for you to commit so much time and energy now into the space?
0:05:32.5 MZ: Paul, I appreciate all of that. And certainly just touching base on that title topic for just a moment, yeah, the intention was to be compelling, the intention was to grab people's attention. But certainly, not everybody should take a psychedelic. But the idea that psychedelics are good for society, I think is an important concept, and I hope that the research in the book, Compound Over Compound, helps people make an informed decision for themselves and whether taking a psychedelic is right for them, is right for somebody they love, or maybe influences how they vote or how they think about public policy for the good of society, so that was meant by the title, but... I gotta answer your question. I was just a business guy. I've built a bunch of businesses, software businesses, marketing companies, and was just kind of going through life doing business for business sake, and some trusted friends had hired a guide to do a guided psilocybin or psychedelic or magic mushroom experience and invited me to participate, and I... Again, I wasn't a drug user, not a huge drinker, but something in the offer compelled me to do it, and it just completely changed the way I look at the world, and I left that experience.
0:06:55.9 MZ: Yeah, he healed in a number of ways, transformed in a number of ways, and it led me to diving back into school to get a Master's in Psychology and Neuroscience and really focusing on what is happening with these psychedelics, how do they work? How can they improve our lives? How can they help us expand or reach our human potential?
0:07:17.9 PA: So I love the... I don't know if humility is the right word, but the fact that you were just a business guy or even just an entrepreneur, I think is glossing over what is a very challenging path in itself. Psychedelics are one thing, they really help us to cultivate an inner landscape, but the path of entrepreneurship is definitely not the faint of heart as well. So bring us a little bit... Just bring us a little bit deeper into that element. What motivated you on that entrepreneurial path? And what challenges did you face on that path that had maybe certain parallels to what psychedelics have brought up as well?
0:08:04.8 MZ: And I really appreciate the question. I really appreciate you not letting me get away with that answer, [laughter] 'cause it's so funny. Like we all have our masks and our identities, so for me, it's easy to point to that mask or that identity that I held at that point in time and gloss over, well, I'm the son of an alcoholic father, or I had a mom who died at 49, or I had a inappropriate sexual contact with a family member as a teenager, or that I've been a husband for 23 years, or that... All these things that go into who I am, I glossed over all of that and said I was a business guy. So I appreciate that. That's a... It's funny. Good lesson for me. [laughter] Yeah, I think as a... I think if we're gonna try to go deeper, I was scared. I was scared that I was going to die young and that I needed to live fully because I wasn't gonna live past 50. My dad lived into early 62 and my mom was 49, but I just didn't think I was gonna live that long. I think I was scared about resources. I saw my father after a successful career in advertising kind of lose it all in the last years of his life with a business venture that didn't work, and I think I was scared that I might at some point not have enough money, and so I was driven to accumulating into that kind of path.
0:09:36.8 MZ: And then I think I was sad. I think at some level, I missed my mom, even though it was decades at this point. I felt isolated. I felt like I had my nuclear family and I had some friends, but just not... I didn't feel as attached to the world as I think as I know I could be, and the psychedelic medicine really gave me this feeling that I am enough right now. I don't need to do anything. I don't need to build another business, do anything else to be enough, I'm loved right now, and that I have plenty of love to give. I don't need to just say, "Oh, well, I can give the love to this person, but not that person," and those were huge, huge, huge lessons for me.
0:10:21.1 PA: Yeah, that sense of unconditional love, it's something I often come back to when we do our training program for coaches, 'cause there's always a sort of fundamental question as to why are psychedelics so powerful, and it's become cliche at this point, but oftentimes when we have this experience with psychedelics, particularly the high dose sort of mystical experience, we have an experience of unconditional love, which for the vast majority of humans, we have never experienced before, because parents are usually not capable of unconditional love. There are probably exception to that, but by and large, most of us are broken in some way. So your relationships with your parents, your nuclear family, there was difficulty in that, there was a challenge in that, there was loss, there was sadness. Would you consider yourself to have been... And I'll let you define this any way you wish, a successful entrepreneur? Did you feel like you had reached a certain pinnacle or peak on that path? I'm curious, kind of your lens and your perspective on that.
0:11:32.7 MZ: Yeah, I like that. My lens is certainly different now than it would have been, so I can answer it a couple of ways. There's a thing with being an entrepreneur that you just keep moving the goal post. So it's like, "Okay, as soon as I make a business that has a million dollars of revenue, then it's gonna be good." Well, then it's $10 million revenue, then it's good. Then it's $30 million, then it's good. It's 500 employees, it's your name on the building. Now, all of those things occurred, and yeah, I just kept moving the goal post. During that time, like there's a period when I was building a software company that I was away from my family about three nights a week, and I think my kids... I know my kids missed me, and I think they would have traded all of the money that we saved, private schools, all of that, for more time with me. So if you're saying financial, did I build some businesses that were able to "scale" and make some money? Absolutely. Were I able to sell some businesses and make some money? Absolutely. Should I have spent some more time home with my kids? Yeah, absolutely. So it's successful and not successful at the same time.
0:12:37.2 PA: And I'm glad you brought that up. I think that's something... In my own family story, I remember my dad would often tell the story of, before I was born, I was born in 1990, so this is the mid-80s, he was considering leaving his administrative job at a university to work for Edward Jones, which is kind of a Midwest savings financial company of sorts. And he was like, "I would have made probably three times as much money, but the amount of time that I would have had to spend at work would have been way more, so I wouldn't have been able go to all your soccer games or all your baseball games, or your violin recitals or play catch in the backyard with you," etcetera, etcetera. And so I think I always felt very grateful that my lens on life through my... 'Cause my mom was a social worker as well, so my lens on life was always family first and that from a material perspective, we'll have enough.
0:13:41.5 PA: We were very middle class. I remember growing up, I got an allowance of about a dollar a week that I could use public schools, the whole thing, and I wouldn't have it any different. So the way that's informed now sort of my path is I figured many years ago when I started this entrepreneurship path, seven, eight years ago, that I would commit my 20s and early 30s. And I sense you're a little bit different, 'cause you got married a little younger and had kids a little bit younger and all that, but I was like, "I'll just commit my 20s and 30s to work, business, professional development growth, because I really feel the call to have a family and spend time with kids and do it that way," and I think the reason for that is partly the way that I was raised, but also the lens that psychedelics brought into my life when I first did them at the age of 19 helped to sort of solidify and integrate that. So I think hearing those reflections is beautiful. And I'm sure knowing you, your kids are incredibly lucky to have you as a dad. And there's always... There's no perfect way to do parenting. There's no perfect way. We always look back and go, "Oh, I could have probably done this different or this different or this different," but at the same time, the wealth that you were able to generate and the security that created for your family, I'm sure had a tunnel upside and a ton of benefits as well.
0:15:07.9 MZ: There are definitely some benefits. It's interesting you say that there's no manual. I had this experience with my son at one point, 16 years old, and he says, "Can I come with you to one of these psychedelic retreats?" And I was like, "Alright, well, do you wanna do psychedelics or what are you asking about?" He's like, "No, I just wanna see what you're up to," so I took him. And this one was where there's a couple of days of lecture and then one big sacramental day, and on that day, he was the helper, so his job was to go and people needed their water bottles refilled or needed a blanket or needed help going to the bathroom, so all day long, that's what he was doing, and at one point, I was in the middle of my journey and I opened my eyes and he's right there in front of me, [chuckle] and I got to give him this big hug and feel us connecting and say to him, "You know, no one gives us an instruction manual to being a parent. Both my parents died when I was young and I just... And I know I've done the best I have known how to do, and I love you so very much, and I just need you to know that, that I'm doing my best."
0:16:10.7 MZ: And then we hug some more, and it was just such a beautiful experience to have that with him at 16, that... Yeah, and I never had something like that with my parents. I didn't have a chance to have that conversation with my parents. And I'm really, really grateful for that, and then really grateful after the ceremony, everybody is sharing and people are crying and talking about relationships and work and all the things that we talk about that we see and we experience in life, and I was like, "Wow, what an education for this kid, to be able to see that just because you're 50 doesn't mean you know what you wanna do when you grow up, or you know how to be a good husband or wife, or you know how to be a good parent. You're just older. And you can sleepwalk your way from 16 to 50, or you can do with your eyes open, so I'm just super grateful for that opportunity with him.
0:17:03.0 PA: Thank you for sharing that. Even that rite of passage for kids who are of that age, 13, 14, 15, 16, whether or not they're actually experiencing the medicine themselves, so be in and amidst ceremony is a beautiful teaching because what happens there is something that is way outside the norms of our sort of profane culture, if you will, right? So that experience of mystery and sacredness and whatnot, even I was raised in the church and there was some of that, but not near to the degree that happens within ceremony.
0:17:41.9 MZ: Yeah, I think for a lot of us, church or synagogue or whatever, it's a once a week thing and we go through these traditions because they're traditions, but they're mechanical. Most of, from my experience, psychedelic medicine and psychedelic medicine as it comes to, as a religious practice, it's not mechanical. You feel it in your core and that's wildly different. And then to your point, you don't have to take the medicine to feel it when you're watching a ceremony or partake, you're just being around a ceremony occurring. There's, I think it would be impossible to argue that this is not a religious experience for anyone who's seen these happening.
0:18:23.4 PA: I think at its core, it's a spiritual experience. And.
0:18:29.4 MZ: Yeah, people come to it from these different ways. You can come to it because you come to it from medicinally or you come to it because you're trying to optimize or you come to it from a religious path, but as soon as you are into the medicine, it all becomes jumbled.
0:18:45.9 MZ: It all becomes jumbled and it all becomes clear, right? There's also a clarity that then comes to the forefront that maybe we've repressed or tucked away. I remember when we were doing these early retreats at Synthesis, people would often come in and they would go yeah, I'm retired and I wanna, maybe early retirement. I wanna figure out what I'm doing next. And then after the ceremony, they would often say, "Actually, that's not as important as I thought it was. My relationship with my kids, my relationship with my wife, my relationship with my parents, that is what really matters." So there's this relational element that comes out of it where we're like, "Oh, I am human because of these relationships". And so actually investing in these, connecting with these, healing these relationships, if I prioritize and emphasize that everything else will happen from that.
0:19:40.4 MZ: Yeah, absolutely. If you prioritize love, however that is for you, it's love for myself first, love for others, true love, not just like, "Oh, we're all brothers and sisters". No, we're truly all brothers and sisters. Let's embrace that, let's talk about that, let's feel that. It changes the way you interact with the world. And it also, I mean, all fear is just obliterated, it's just gone. Like, you know you're loved and want to, so it doesn't matter that your parents, you missed a hug. It's, you know you're loved, it's okay. Your parents did the best that they knew how to do and it's okay.
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0:22:07.3 PA: Okay, so now psychedelics for everyone, I wanna get back on this topic.
0:22:11.3 MZ: Sure.
0:22:11.7 PA: Because I think like you said, it's an attention-grabbing headline. I love the image on the front of the book, the little mushroom with an earth. I think it's a beautiful image. I love the design.
0:22:22.6 MZ: That was my daughter's.
0:22:25.2 PA: Really?
0:22:26.0 MZ: Yeah, I came up with some book covers and she's an art major at UNC Asheville and she looked at my concepts. She's like, nope, these are wrong. I was like, what? And she said, give me 10 minutes. And she came up with the mushroom with the earth and she's like, this is what you mean. I was like, "Oh, okay, thank you". [laughter]
0:22:38.6 PA: That's it. It's perfect, it's perfect. So tell us, okay, a little context here before we launch into this question. So before 2018, in the more modern era, psychedelics were stigmatized, they were looked down upon, they were poo-pooed. Michael Pollan's book comes out, there's a massive shift, right? All of this investment starts to come in and we're now at a point in we're recording this February 3rd, 2023, we're at a point where some of that initial enthusiasm has been tempered. People are realizing that there are certain risks to these medicines, that there are certain cautions that should be taken that particularly in the investment space that maybe putting a billion dollars into FDA approved drug development was not necessarily the best path for this et cetera, et cetera. So I'd love to hear sort of, and you touched on this already, but for you to flesh it out further, when there's a phrase like that psychedelics for everyone, what does that mean to you? And why is it that you think these medicines are so beneficial not only to the individual but also to humanity?
0:24:03.6 MZ: The research, we're gonna start with research, start intellectual and then go to feeling. Research is overwhelmingly positive. So is anything perfect? No. Does anything work on everyone? Absolutely not. But when it comes to harm to self or others, psychedelics versus other drugs that have been legal for a long time are safe. Doesn't mean you shouldn't be responsible, doesn't mean you can't get yourself in trouble, doesn't mean you shouldn't treat them with reverence, but the medicine, there's thousands of papers on the efficacy and safety of these medicines. So what's happening? Well, we have different lobbying groups and different interest groups that it's not in their interest for a medicine that you take once in your life or once a year, once a quarter even to become widespread.
0:24:56.5 MZ: We have a culture that's not sure what's going to happen if we can have a widespread use of psychedelics. And there's people who are nervous. The reason psychedelics became prohibited in the first place back in the 70s was as a way to infiltrate either the anti-war movement or the black civil rights movements. Nothing to do with science, but it was politics and lobbying. So I think we have some of that occurring now but we're also living in the greatest time ever to be alive. Contrary to any news or maybe our social media posts, there's never been less hunger, less war, less people killed by war, people, victims of sexual assault, across the board. What an amazing time to be alive and that we have now an opportunity to become optimized as humans, as a species.
0:25:50.2 MZ: What an amazing gift that we have the time and the resources and I don't mean the resources, meaning these different retreats like ones that I participate in that are expensive. There's no need for some of this to be that expensive. And there is an opportunity to bring the cost down across the board of these medicines to give more access to more people. So I'm optimistic. I'm here saying this is what, it's an amazing time. There are some naysayers, there's a lot of positivity and these are great discussions. We have 50 years of prohibition of 50 years of propaganda that a lot of people's initial instinct is, "Aren't those bad, aren't those addictive? Aren't those gonna fry my brain"? Let's talk about all those things, it's great. Let's have that conversation instead of just hiding it under a false wall. So I think it's, yes, I don't know if I'm answering your question, but I think it's a great time and I think psychedelics are headed in the right direction period, even if there's not perfect actors acting along the way.
0:26:54.2 PA: Which is natural in any industry or any situation, I suppose. I think the challenge with psychedelics is potentially the way they attract people who are more psychopathic, potentially, and what that can do to sort of a sense of grandiosity and amplification of the overall ego. And yet what mitigates that is accountability within community. So there is clear communication around who are these bad actors. I think of, for example, the crypto space. 90% of the companies and the people in the crypto space are more or less full of hot air, we could say, right? And I sense a similar thing in the psychedelic space where you have a lot of people who see it as the next big thing after cannabis now who are sort of getting on that train, but don't necessarily have, it could be the business acumen, it could be the personal experience, it could be the integrity to really see this all the way through. And what I sense with you is that the way that you've come into this, your perseverance through some challenges, which I wanna talk a little bit about early on in this space from an entrepreneurial perspective even the commitment of writing and finishing this book all of that feels like you're in this, not for the next year or three years or even five years, but there's a longevity to the mission that you're bringing forth. And so I'd love, go ahead, sorry.
0:28:35.5 MZ: I just wanna stay with that 'cause I love what you're talking about here. And I think, I know years ago I wouldn't have this discussion. I couldn't talk about my learning, healing and growing. Five years, I was fine, fine. If you asked me how I was, I was fine. Do I need to see anybody, talk about cannabis? No, I'm fine, doing well. And now it's like, okay, I see I'm on a path of learning, healing and growing. This is a personal path. And I'm using this technology and these ceremonies around this technology for my learning, healing and growing. And some of what I'm doing is attracting other people for their learning, healing and growing. And then together, we are learning, healing and growing in community. And that's beautiful. From there, if people wanna make, if you wanna make resources from this, if you wanna exchange energy in this space, all that can be beautiful, but not necessarily needed.
0:29:29.8 MZ: And we can figure that out. I don't know what those answers are. I know I'm fortunate enough to be at a point in life where it's like, "Okay, I don't need the resources, but I do need the community". Yeah, and I'm so grateful to be able to have conversations on a daily basis that get deep and to be able to tell people like, "Okay, I love you. I didn't know you six months ago and I love you and I'm here for you". And vice versa. Yeah, it feels great to be here. And I do hear what you're saying about, is there some psychedelic narcissism in the space? Is it possible? Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, you can see that the divine nature of yourself sometimes in these medicines and you can, if not grounded and if not with some strong integration, that can spin out and people can be like, "Oh, well, wait a minute, I'm not a god or the god."
0:30:23.0 MZ: And yeah, that's not ideal. But hopefully in community, in checks and balances, those actors continue to be seen for what they are. And then I probably would caution that we also all should have some compassion that if they're coming into our radar, what is that saying about ourselves? Why did we manifest that person, this whole idea of 100% accountability? Where our failings is allowing this to continue. No bad anybody, just how do we work through this? How do we move through this? How do we all learn, heal and grow together?
0:31:00.5 PA: So psychedelics for everyone. I wanna come back to this, 'cause I think it's fun. I have another question on this for you to dive into. So never in the history of humanity have psychedelics been widely accessible. And what I mean by that is as you're well aware, with the ancient Greeks, the Eleusinian mysteries, they were a mystery. It was a secret. You were not able to talk about it, on penalty of death or excommunication. Only really the elite more or less participated in these mysteries. Same thing with, in the middle ages, in Europe with the use of different psychoactives, they were often used by "Witches" or sorceresses or those who were doing essentially underground experiences, Ayahuasca in the Amazon, very specific to the Amazon, psilocybin with the Aztecs, very specific. I believe psilocybin with the Aztecs was again used mostly by the elites, unless there was a human sacrifice and they would consume this whole psilocybin before the human sacrifice for obvious reasons because mushrooms help you overcome the fear of death and what that could mean.
0:32:17.9 PA: So I'm curious from your perspective, and I have my own opinion that I can share after you, but I wanna hear you first. As we look at sort of widespread accessibility of psychedelics, how do you see that emerging? In other words, we don't have a blueprint for this. We know there's medical use that will become more prominent. We know that there's religious ceremonies and circles that are happening. We know that there are plenty of entrepreneurs and coders and other folks who are microdosing with this. Give me a sense of the sort of orchestration, and maybe you lay this out in the book as well. How do you think this all emerges? How do we navigate or create a blueprint that's never been done before?
0:33:06.1 MZ: As I believe we're living through a phase shift in humanity. And again, what a cool time to be alive. Historically, we've had these cultures that have been set up that are very much about hierarchy and control and power. And this is mine and not yours and big walls. And information was controlled by few people. But we've moved where so many people were thinking, the information should be shared, it should be free. The internet is free. This open source movement, this flat organizational structure movement. Yeah, I think this all ties into why psychedelics are, I think, is a key part of our future. That through this, the idea that, let me try it this way.
0:33:59.6 MZ: This younger generation, they can't play this next game. They can't afford the houses that our parents live in. So they've got to rewrite the rules and they're already doing it. They don't want to work five days a week both parents for a couple of days off and a few weeks a year. They don't want to do it. They want to have a more meaningful life. And I think this medicine can show people how they can do it for themselves, period. And that they don't need to accumulate or consume as much as other people around them. And they can break this cultural norms and in a big way, shatter them. In fact, no, we live in an abundant world. We live where there's enough for everybody, period. We do not have to be scarce.
0:34:47.7 MZ: And it goes on like, pick a direction you want to go into. Okay, we all grow up with nuclear weapons pointed at our heads. And yet we don't talk about that. And then we wonder why anxiety is rising. We all at some level are afraid of annihilation. We have school shootings. We're afraid of, again, being made extinct. We don't have to. We don't have to have hunger. We don't have to have these challenges. And we don't have to work 60 hours a week to accumulate stuff that doesn't make us any happier. And I think psychedelics can explore that. So how is it gonna roll out? I don't know, I don't know.
0:35:26.8 MZ: I think the people going on the medical path found in their hearts that this was the fastest way to get psychedelics into more people's hands. And good, well done. And the people in the Decrim nature movement saying, "No, this should not be illegal under any circumstances and no compromise", good for them. And then the people opening up quietly, psychedelic churches saying, "This is an act of religious freedom. Which for us North Americans, that's what our country was founded on." Good for them. And we'll see what actually, what happens fastest. But it's all positive. It's all moving in the right direction.
0:36:02.1 PA: And I love that notion of what, you're speaking to is a shift in values that focuses on social capital, relational capital, community capital, rather than abstract financial capital, right? And I think this generation that is coming up, including my generation, we're much more interested in experiential rather than kind of saving up for what could be. There's a sense of present moment awareness that psychedelics facilitate, as well as a deep understanding of true health and even true wealth. And so what I'm sensing and what you're saying is these medicines have a lot to teach us. And maybe one of the core teachings is that fear, fear of death, fear of scarcity, fear of not enough, for most people now is an illusion. And so if that's an illusion, how do we sort of work through that so we are actually in a mode of creation rather than a mode of contraction?
0:37:20.3 MZ: Absolutely. And as much as the medicines have to teach us, they also help us remember what we already know inside, that we are loved, we are enough, we are perfect works in progress. And yeah, and we don't have to live in fear. We can enjoy the now and it's going to be okay in the future.
0:37:43.1 PA: Tell us a little bit about your entrepreneurial path in the psychedelic space. So we already touched on, prior to getting into plant medicine you had built and scaled software companies, you had built and scaled marketing, and I can tell you're great at the marketing angle. And by no means have you let go or dissolved that identity. It's simply grown, right? To become more inclusive of the things that are most important to you. When we first met, we were introduced, I believe through Tim Sae Koo, I think it was Tim. You were working on a project at that time. And since then, you've stepped away from that project and have started to sort of do another project. So just tell us a little bit about that path for you, what you found to be beautiful about being an entrepreneur in the psychedelic space, and maybe what have been some challenges with it being so early still in this industry.
0:38:49.2 MZ: Yeah, it's super interesting as an outsider but as a business person coming into this space and realizing how, and I don't mean this in a arrogant way so please don't hear it this way, but how relatively little business experience is in this space. Like I have doctor friends, I have a doctor friend who runs three clinics. But if I ask him, what's your cost per lead or your cost per sale acquisition? Doesn't have any idea what I'm talking about. It's wild, it's wild. It's just that he's had that much business. You don't need to know those numbers, I guess. I wanted to do something when I was getting into this to kind of know the space more. And I thought, "Okay, what if I created a directory that would have a whole bunch of practitioners and their information that were psychedelic friendly"?
0:39:40.4 PA: So it could be everyone from ketamine providers to guides, integrators, therapists, and make that for free available to the public. And then what if we contracted a bunch of writers in the space to really do deep dives into different things that I was curious about and that my partner was curious about, my family was curious about, just questions I had that I really couldn't find answers that were not either too scientific or too woo-woo. And so hired writers, I was like, but you know what? That might be irresponsible if we just hire writers. So we need to hire some medical professionals to review those things for accuracy. Let's make sure we're putting out good information. So put all that together and created a company called Psychable and got that launched. And then for a number of reasons, it just didn't make sense for me to continue to invest energy and time there, but I'm super proud of what we built. We hired about 60 people to build this. Yeah, we did this, Paul, from start to finish in eight weeks, the entire thing.
0:40:50.6 PA: Insane.
0:40:52.6 MZ: Yeah, I just.
0:40:53.8 PA: I remember. Go ahead, sorry. Oh, I just remember when we first connected and the... I don't know if ambition is the best word, but the quickness that you were moving at in terms of all these people coming on board and all that, I thought, A, good for them. And I know your background, you have a lot of experience in navigating all that. And B, that may be hard and difficult to pull off because we're so early still in the space and it's hard to know what is actually gonna work and what's not gonna work.
0:41:33.8 MZ: Yeah, we had a really unique set of circumstances. I put in all the money and was able to hire these people and able to execute on this, it's called traction. It's just basically every person was assigned to a team. Every team had a scorecard. Every scorecard was per week. And our job was to make sure that everybody was on track each week. If they weren't on track, is it gonna impact any other team's performance and how do we adjust? But essentially cranked out, got this thing up and running and then it just started to take off and then thousands and thousands and thousands of people were coming to the website, referrals were being sent out. It's beautiful. And I'm so grateful. I've met so many amazing, amazing humans in this process. And it got to the point where it didn't make sense for me to continue on, but it also was a situation where everybody who, yeah, everybody was able to move on wholly.
0:42:30.6 MZ: So that's, I think that's beautiful. And then that led to wanting to back and get involved with a telehealth company because I do see ketamine as a, it's the only legal option. And I wanted to have a telehealth company that had ceremonial components. So we've done some cool things. There's a, I don't know if you know Desert Dwellers or Liquid Bloom, but we've worked with them to do.
0:42:51.2 PA: I know Liquid Bloom.
0:42:53.9 MZ: Okay, so we worked with Amani and, to create custom tracks for meditation and for the ketamine journeys that are just gorgeous. And these other artists to do visuals for these open-eye meditations that are awesome and combining aroma therapy and just ritualizing a ketamine experience through telehealth, just something a little bit different. But I've also got, but similar. I have a, there's a CEO now who runs that company guy named Wolf Shlagman who's built two telehealth companies. Doesn't need my opinion for most things. So that's all right, it's all right. Go build, build, let's get this thing launched and go help some people and help keep the costs down, help add to the conversation, help keep, help normalize the telehealth experience. And I'm excited about that. And then there's the, and then again, on my personal learning, healing, growing journey, I'm still participating in a number of retreats and loving that. So all of this is part of the journey. There is no, there is no destination. So I'm learning at every step and loving it.
0:43:57.2 PA: And the name of that company is HAPPŸŸ?
0:43:58.5 MZ: Yep, HAPPŸŸ with two Y's and the website that's launching here shortly, it's HAPPŸŸ.me.
0:44:04.3 PA: Nice, that's great.
0:44:06.0 MZ: We're having fun with it, Paul.
0:44:07.6 PA: How is it, I'm curious, there are a lot of telemedicine ketamine companies that have popped up. I've talked about them on the show, Mindbloom, Nue Life, Wondermed, Better U, My Ketamine Home, which I think was acquired by Nue Life. There's probably a few others as well. What experience do you wanna bring through HAPPŸŸ that isn't really currently being handled or done? Like in terms of how does that differentiation look for you as you come into market?
0:44:35.7 MZ: Yeah, so I think Wolf has built two companies. He built Consult a Doctor back in like 2007, 2008, which was the first nationwide doctor in demand platform in the internet and sold that to a telehealth. So he has built companies that can scale, but he's also deep into this work. So I believe we're putting together processes and systems that are technology enabled. So I can talk about Geeky from the entrepreneur side, technology enabled systems that can help us scale, blah, blah, blah. From the human side, I think the ritualized component, I think the bio, psycho, social, spiritual way we're looking at this is different. I think the daily digital therapeutics that we're gonna give our members so that it's, the medicine's a catalyst, it's not a cure. So you're gonna have these ketamine experiences, but then you can do these activities that are evidence-backed for a year and continue to integrate and continue to process it and continue to grow.
0:45:37.6 MZ: It's a little bit different than what's out there today. I don't see them doing that. Certainly there are similarities as well, but I think that that part is different. This whole longitudinal, whole human approach is different. And there's nothing extra. It doesn't cost extra to get the full bio, psycho, social, spiritual annual plan. No, we expect this to be a year membership because we're on a journey with you.
0:46:07.2 PA: To you, what does it mean to be happy now that you've gone through a lot of this work, you've been a successful entrepreneur, you've gotten into the psychedelic space, you've done medicine yourself, you've written and published a book? Currently February, 2023, what does happy mean to you?
0:46:23.4 MZ: I think it's, actually a friend of mine said this the other day, just living, waking up every day and feeling abundant love. Yeah, I think that's the best I can go to describe that, that it's a, today is a great day period. Might not get the things I hoped for, might not go the way I would have scripted it, but if I can live in this abundance and feel this abundance every day, it, yeah, that's pretty happy. What about for you? Do you have a definition, Paul?
0:47:02.7 PA: That's a great question. [laughter] There's something about showing up in relationship and showing up with an open heart, whether it's intimately or with friends that I notice when I spend more time with people I really love, that I just tend to be a lot happier. And there's also a component of, I love the challenge of existence, I love to be challenged, I love to create new things. And if I become too stagnant or too bored, then I notice a sort of creeping dissatisfaction that arises. So there's certainly, and with all of these things, it's balanced, because I'm an introvert. So if it's too much time around, too many people. I gotta pull the plug. If I'm being too challenged and pushing too hard, then it's burnout. But there has to be, for me, I love to be sort of in that space of unknown and to create structure and systems that generate clarity for those who are also choosing to follow that path. So the work that we've had the opportunity to do through Third Wave over the last many years, there isn't anything else that I've done that I think has generated the sort of happiness and contentment. And yet I still find myself on certain moments or minutes or certain days or weeks that there's some sense of dissatisfaction. There are still aspects and elements of my existence that I wish were different.
0:48:59.8 PA: And of course, this is where mindfulness, meditation, gratitude all come into practice, because I think what I found is if I start to teeter in that direction a little bit too much, I now have the wherewithal or the awareness to go, "Okay, what has to shift or what am I not honoring? Or where is it that I'm not really recognizing the sort of beautiful nature of existence in life"? Because for me, when I first started working with psychedelics, and I think this is true of many people there's this whole new, oh my gosh, the fact that we are alive is a miracle in itself. And what I found is that remembrance is often forgotten in the hustle bustle of just simply running a business and "Being busy".
0:49:59.3 MZ: You certainly have manifested in your life a community of people who love you. And it's beautiful to watch. And I would imagine that as those, it's just life happens. There are disagreements, there are misunderstandings, there are different ways of doing things and things get hard and we forget that suffering is optional and you've built a community that I've got to imagine that it feels good to be able to reach out to when you need some support.
0:50:29.5 PA: And that's always there and I feel like it wasn't always and it's growing.
0:50:35.3 MZ: It's growing. Yeah, and your coaching program is, I had a good friend out here in the Asheville area who went through that and it's just, I mean, it's beautiful work you're doing with that and you're empowering a whole new generation of people to take this work forward. And you're doing it in this very mindful way and not charging $30,000 to learn the things that they need to learn. Yeah, it feels as an outsider is a good blend of I've got to make this work as a business and I want to make this work for the good of the world. It's beautiful to watch.
0:51:11.5 PA: And I'm appreciative that you mentioned that because there's never been any point where I've explicitly thought about, "Oh, what can I gain from this financially? Or what can I gain from this, from a notoriety perspective? Or what can I gain from this just for my ego"? There's always been, and I think this has proved to be challenging. It's even something where I'm like, I probably should take a little bit more for myself because there is a sense of when you're in service and there's a commitment and dedication to this, then I would do anything to ensure that the mission that I think we share is successful because the impact that it will have is exponential. So, and it's always a balance, right? It's always a balance of running a team and meeting our numbers and watching the bottom line not doing anything too illegal. And there's a lot of complexity in this emerging psychedelic space. And this was actually in talking with Tim Sae Koo who we mentioned earlier. This was something he brought up about a year ago. He's like, "To be an entrepreneur in this space is way more difficult than most people realize". It doesn't only require having personal experience, but it also requires a capacity to have humility because there's actually, most of us have no idea how this is gonna pan out.
0:52:44.7 PA: Even though as entrepreneurs, we feel confident that I have this vision and mission, let's go for it. The truth is that psychedelics have their own, I believe this, that the plants have their own way of being and that they are moving through us to create a world that's more aligned and harmonious with all of life rather than just the sort of extractive nature of a capitalistic Western society.
0:53:14.2 MZ: I think that's beautiful, Paul. I think, again, I'm gonna just make one more observation from an outsider looking in. That what I see you doing in all of your different things is you're building trust and you're communicating. There've been things that people haven't liked that you've done and you've responded and said, "Okay, this is how I wanna repair trust or this is how I thought about this and now this is how I think about this". And kind of across the board, whether it's with your team, whether it's with consumers, whether it's with "Professionals", you're building trust in everything you do. And then you're figuring out what does that energy exchange look like as we go. But it's all going back to kind of how we started this. It's all about our learning, healing and growing. So it really doesn't matter where we end up. This is it, we're doing it right now. And we'll see what the plants and the medicines have in store that we are processing for them.
0:54:13.6 PA: And I'm glad you brought up the trust component because whenever I think about entrepreneurship specifically in the psychedelic space, one thing I often land on and reflect on is the more that an ecosystem reflects what's required in a psychedelic experience the more successful, the more longevity it will have in the longterm. So in other words, what is central to healing with psychedelics, it's trust. It's the capacity to surrender and trust can't be built overnight.
0:54:49.2 MZ: Nope.
0:54:49.8 PA: It really has to be deeply cultivated. And so for, any, people listening to this, or anyone who is running a company or wants to start a company in the space, what I found time and time again is if the values of your company reflect the values that are central for a transformative psychedelic experience, you're on the right path is what I would say.
0:55:13.1 MZ: I'll take it one more step. If you, the whole purpose of business is to learn, heal and grow, period. So you can choose where you wanna put that energy, but it's all about your development as a human, you're just choosing to spend a lot of your time doing this thing called business. So how do you, how is whatever you choose to do helping you learn, heal and grow? How is whatever you choose to do, helping the people who work with you learn, heal and grow? And how is whatever you choose to do, helping the people that your business touches, learn, heal and grow? And if you can keep that into your values, you can build a hell of a business.
0:55:47.7 PA: I feel like that's gonna be the name of this podcast when we launch it, it's gonna be learn, heal and grow.
0:55:52.2 MZ: Learn, heal and grow, let's do it.
0:55:53.6 PA: Psychedelics for Everyone. That's it, I'd say that. Well, okay, one last question and then we'll wrap.
0:56:00.7 MZ: Sure, okay.
0:56:03.7 PA: You mentioned ceremonies, tell us a little bit about how those have come about. Tell us a little bit about hosting and facilitating ceremonies. Just, you're really doing, not only have you done some excellent entrepreneurial work, but you're also intimately involved in the medicine itself. So just bring us a little bit into that world. Why start ceremonies? What is the nature of those? Kinda, yeah, bring us into that world a little bit as a final wrap up.
0:56:37.0 MZ: Well, starting inward, moving outward, I believe that the ceremony is an opportunity to commune with a higher power. So we can all define what that higher power is for us, but that's my personal belief. This is my communion with this higher power. So I am not ever involved in the delivery of medicine, but I know people who are excellent healers, medicine people. And I tend to look for either husband, wife or partners. So there's a blend of male and female energy. I think that's important in a ceremony. I am good at organizing. So I have a skillset when it comes to just making things happen. And I can understand that, "Okay, in this case, I can help create a container for people to have really powerful transformative experiences". And if I can help that happen, so what does that look like? It looks like, is the physical environment safe? Are the ceremonial leaders experienced? Has everyone gone through a medical intake that has been reviewed?
0:57:42.5 MZ: Are there any contraindications with any of the medicine that's gonna be served? Has that been checked and double checked by a medical professional? Is there a medical plan in place? Should somebody have an incident? Or again, probably not related to the psychedelics, but just a regular incident. Is there a plan in place to help that person? Is there nurturing food made with love available before and after that experience in a reasonable timeframe? I like live music. I like it when there are musicians there. Who that can feel the energy of the room and create a custom soundtrack based on that and help guide people through. So I tend to bring live musicians to these containers. And then it is ceremonial. We're meeting people where they are. We're getting them centered with breath work and yoga and things, and then going through ceremonial processes and then helping integrate.
0:58:35.7 MZ: And I guess that's the other thing I'll say in advance of any of the ceremonies that I've been affiliated with, there's a preparation process and intention setting. And then in post, there's at least four if not more integration calls and activities every week for people to do as they process. And then other recommended integrators that they can go to if they would like more one-on-one time. So I try to think through all the things in the container that I can "Control" as much as anyone can control anything and to make it as good of an experience as possible. And I would encourage anybody who's looking at this type of work to just ask whoever you're looking at doing it with, "What's the container like? Tell me more about it. Where am I sleeping? What am I eating?
0:59:16.7 PA: What's the experience of the person providing it? How many people are gonna be there is a good question"? There's been some, a number of people that have been surprised. Like, "What do you mean there's a hundred people"? Yeah, that's what that group does versus some of I think Tim's are closer to 40 and beautiful and minor to the ones I've been involved with are, I don't know, 15 to 20. But they're all, they all have different flavors for different people but at least know what you're going into. But I've loved, I love this work, because I love, I think as a man, we're taught so much that intimacy is in the bedroom. And at least that's how I grew up. I don't want to project that on you Paul, but I have learned in this process that I have a ton of love and I can be intimate with a lot of people and I don't need to be stingy with this. And I'm loving, loving that.
1:00:05.5 PA: Matt Zemon, author of Psychedelics for Everyone, co-founder of HAPPŸŸ?
1:00:10.8 MZ: Co-founder.
1:00:12.1 PA: Co-founder of HAPPŸŸ? A gem of a human. It's been great to have you on the podcast, Matt. Thanks for joining.
1:00:18.5 MZ: Paul, thanks for doing what you do.
1:00:20.5 PA: And if people want to learn more, website, social, where can we put that?
1:00:26.2 MZ: MattZemon.com has a bunch of videos and connections. The book Psychedelics for Everyone is anywhere books are sold and there's an audio book out there as well. And then I'm happyy2wise.me and then I'm on LinkedIn and Instagram. Send me a question, drop me a line. I'm happy to help any way I can.
1:00:43.2 PA: Great, thank you again, Matt.
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