Maryam Henein is an investigative journalist, eco-entrepreneur and the director of the internationally acclaimed documentary Vanishing of the Bees narrated by Ellen Page. She is also editor, chief and CEO of honeycolony.com, a magazine and marketplace aimed at empowering people to be their own best health advocate.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:13] – Maryam juggles two jobs—being a CEO and Editor-in-Chief
- [01:33] – Maryam travels a lot but spends a quarter of a year in Greece
- [02:20] – the bee population in Puerto Rico consist of Africanized bees
- [02:44] – Maryam is a honey bee expert, and deeply understands their role in food supply and functional medicine
- [03:33] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: A honeybee’s lifespan is 6 weeks and within that period she produces a quarter of a teaspoon of honey. A jar of honey is a byproduct of the collective energy of the hive
- [04:34] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Maryam’s COO, a good friend, went off to get married and left. Maryam brought in her social media person to become COO. The new COO wanted to give out $1500 worth of refunds, then she got a job in Panama and dropped the position. Maryam then finds hundreds of unfulfilled orders and customer complaints!
- [08:08] – Check references and trust your gut
- [08:53] – Delegate correctly
- [09:39] – Do not give up when overwhelmed by a disaster
- [10:30] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: When I was 29 I got hit by a car in a crosswalk, was dragged 50ft to the adjacent crosswalk, and suffered many broken bones. I used alternative medicine to heal myself.
- [14:51] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? Going to Summit at Sea
- [17:50] – I’m all about empowering people
- [18:20] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – The conceptualization of what an entrepreneur is
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – You’re not working ON your company. You’re working IN your company
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – I am a disciplined woman and I’m a worker bee
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation –Blinkist and Pocket
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? –The Code of the Extraordinary Mind – for people who reject the norms and redefine life for themselves
- [22:30] – Follow Maryam on Twitter
- [22:35] – Check out Honey Colony and use promo code: EOF to get a 20% OFF on your first purchase!
- [23:00] – Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right
Announcer: Hell, yeah – I’m ready.
John Lee Dumas: Maryam is an investigative journalist, echo entrepreneur and the director of the internationally-acclaimed documentary Vanishing of the Bees narrated by Ellen Page. She’s also the editor-in-chief and CEO of HoneyColony.com, a magazine and marketplace aimed at empowering people to be their own best health advocates. Maryam, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Maryam Henein: I’m the CEO and the editor-in-chief of Honey Colony, so I’m constantly basically juggling two jobs. The startup came naturally after making the film and looking for something else to do. This seemed a natural next step evolution to continue working for myself. I spend part of my time for the past two years – well, I travel a lot – but I’ve been spending about a quarter of my year in Greece, because as a startup owner for various reasons that makes more sense to me.
John Lee Dumas: So you’re definitely traveling around and you are checking out the different areas. Have your travels ever brought you to Puerto Rico, where I live?
Maryam Henein: Yes. I’ve done screenings there and I’ve shown my film at schools. Yes, I’ve been to Puerto Rico. I actually spent five weeks in Villegas.
John Lee Dumas: Oh, wow – I’m actually looking at Villegas right now. Out of my window I’ve got a great view of Villegas. I’m actually on the southeastern side of the island, Palmas/Del Mar, so that’s super cool. And how is the bee population in Puerto Rico?
Maryam Henein: The bee population in Puerto Rico consists of a lot of Africanized bees and there have been instances of colony collapse in Puerto Rico as well.
John Lee Dumas: Well, let’s do this. Just so we can kind of catch Fire Nation up, what exactly is your specific area of expertise, Maryam? Kind of break that down for us in a few sentences.
Maryam Henein: I’m an investigative journalist by degree. I then made a documentary. My areas of expertise are the honey bees, the food supply, nutrition – I’ve dubbed myself now a health connoisseur as I study functional medicine and get deeper, get a certificate to basically legitimize what I’m doing, which is health consults more and more – so I do a lot. I do a lot of different things, but it’s crossing over basically food supply, nutrition, food politics, food justice, health and wellness.
John Lee Dumas: Maryam, what’s something that we don’t know about honey bees that you think we should know? Just being humans, being entrepreneurs, and being small business, what’s something that we should know that we probably don’t?
Maryam Henein: I’d love to give this fact. If you take a honey bee, her average life span is six weeks. In her six-week lifespan she will produce a quarter of a teaspoon of honey. So, the next time you look at a jar you can really see what collective energy goes into creating that, so anyone who thinks that they don’t make a difference, every little bit counts and it’s the power of collective. Yeah, I like to tell people that fact.
John Lee Dumas: Let’s kind of get into your journey now, Maryam because it has been a fascinating one. I mean you don’t just make a documentary without facing any struggles, without facing any obstacles, without facing challenges; maybe talk to us about what you consider your worst moments in your entrepreneurial journey. It can be during that documentary if you had some dark times or otherwise just what you consider the lowest of the low. Tell us that story.
Maryam Henein: Okay. Well, I will actually give you a moment in the evolution of Honey Colony, the startup. Just to talk briefly a moment just about the film, it took five years to make the documentary. It’s a big testament to being persistent and not giving up hope or your vision. At one point I was even on food stamps. Knowing that this is a global crisis and just feeling in my being that this was going to be a film that would be watched by the masses all over the world – and today it’s translated into 13 different languages; there’s an education version and it’s won several awards – and it’s still pertinent because unfortunately the bees are still dying almost 10 years later.
Do you still have time for me to speak about the startup?
John Lee Dumas: Talk about Honey Colony for sure.
Maryam Henein: Honey Colony is a magazine and marketplace aimed at empowering people on their health journey. As a startup in the beginning I was doing a lot of different things from speaking to a customer to actually packing an order to writing an article. I had a COO at the time who was a good friend and she went off to get married and in the long run she really wasn’t an entrepreneur and couldn’t cut the very low pay that we were giving ourselves. I went ahead and I brought on my social media person whom I’d been working with for about six months who assured me that her real forte was taking companies to the next level and doing exactly what I needed.
Really having my hands involved in every piece of the pie and feeling really overwhelmed with operations I went ahead and gave her the role as COO. One of the things was; Maryam, you can’t touch anything. For me it was an exercise in delegation. It was an exercise in trust, and not being the control freak and relinquishing that control.
John Lee Dumas: That most of us entrepreneurs are; let’s be honest.
Maryam Henein: Well yeah, we have to and oftentimes people don’t do the things as well, the exercise or whatever it is on our plate as well as we would. So, fast-forward – there were some red flags starting with how she wanted to give out $1,500.00 of refunds and I kind of balked at that figure and also customer acquisition is so important. So I got on the phone and I brought that $1,500.00 down to $300.00 by talking to customers and explaining what had happened. That was kind of a red flag of like; okay – the way she’s doing things is not taking the utmost care of the bigger picture.
Fast-forward, she got a job in Panama and she just dropped us. Everything came back onto my plate literally two weeks before I was scheduled to go to Central America to study permaculture and give a talk about the film at a festival. When I looked under the hood again – because I had re-adopted all these duties – I found literally hundreds of orders which had not been fulfilled, customer complaints, and I mean it was a disaster.
What did I learn from that? One; check references. Check references and to also trust my gut. I’m a resourceful person. I kid that I’m kind of a MacGyver. I was able to basically hire a friend of mine who was a writer who was creative but a friend so I could trust her to treat the company like it was hers. We slowly got out of trenches and got out of the mud and survived. Also, persistence is genius. You know you don’t just give up. You find a solution.
John Lee Dumas: Checks and balances, Fire Nation, are so important with businesses, especially in the entrepreneurial stages. I mean number one, we’ve got to go back with Maryam to where she delegated. Now, number one, to delegate correctly you do need to know the thing. Like you need to be able to train people into how you want something done. It’s your business. It’s your message. It’s your mission to share with the world. They need to know how you want it done, the person who is a visionary. So you need to first and foremost learn what to do and then delegate so that you can have more time, energy, and efforts to pursue other things.
Then number two; there has to be checks and balances in place so that the person you’re delegating to is doing the right thing. Checks and balances are key, so Maryam that’s my big takeaway is that yes, it’s important to delegate after you know the tasks so that you’re really making sure that you’re training to do the right thing and then there are checks and balances. What do you want to make sure our listeners get from your story?
Maryam Henein: Well, I would say not to give up; not to be overwhelmed by whatever disaster, to turn the negative into an opportunity. If I look at whether it’s my near-death experience and being run over by a Ford Explorer at 30 miles an hour, you could very easily get stuck in a victim mentality mode as opposed to taking a complaint or a problem and turning it into an opportunity whether it’s to learn a lesson or to move and find a solution and continue to excel.
John Lee Dumas: Maryam, let’s shift to another story; one of your greatest Ah-ha moments to date. So take us to that moment and tell us that story.
Maryam Henein: I will take you to the moment where I was 29 and I was in a crosswalk and I was basically dragged 50 feet into the adjacent crosswalk and suffered many broken bones and quickly learned as Canadian the blind spots of Western medicine. I really used that to dive into the rabbit hole of alternative medicine and heal myself and learn to walk again and so forth.
So, fast-forward to after making the film; I mean after my accident I was really looking for something that was bigger than me. I had lived. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to be in-service. Ironically after the release of the film I was in the Dominican Republic at an environmental film festival and then I got exposed to pesticides just like the bees. Months after that I lost all my strength, was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, and was basically told “Take these steroids or these antidepressants. Bye. See you.” Which, I’m now reversing my autoimmune condition and I’m being successful.
It’s a slow process but the point I wanted to make with this story is that I give talks and I teach people and I share my information, whether it’s about the food supply or about the many, many things that the honey bees themselves represent and can also show us. I realized that just like the honey bees are an environmental indicator, people who suffer from autoimmune conditions – in America alone there are 53 million – that they too are environmental indicators because someone like me who is super-super sensitive can pick up on toxins that the average person cannot.
I have multiple chemical sensitivities so now when I give talks I’ve now bridged this gap between the bees and humans where I tell people we are the bees. So I turned what would be, in normal circumstances, a pretty depressing and horrible diagnosis and empowered myself – just really quickly; this is kind of technical, but when you have an autoimmune you have ANA levels basically showing that your body “is attacking itself” – for the longest time the ranges were between one and forty. Maybe it’s thirty, but mine was 640 and it had been for many years and it wasn’t budging.
When I went to Greece this last time, in April I consciously told myself I’m going to bring those ANA levels. I was doing a whole series of things; one, being in nature and I’ve now brought it down to almost normal levels for the first time in six years. So there are always solutions and this brings to the point of like; I’m 43 years old. I have spent many years deleting self-limiting programs that are imprinted onto me. I feel that we’re living in an age now where we really have to question all these beliefs that are self-limiting because human beings are extraordinary and they’re capable of anything if they put their mind to it.
John Lee Dumas: It’s just crazy to me what we are capable of as humans when we put our mind to something. It is kind of sad because sometimes it does take an extreme situation. Like what you went through, Maryam, was pretty extreme and that led you down that path to where you are, but in some cases I mean it’s a blessing because of what you’ve learned and now the knowledge that you’re sharing with the world. That’s kind of what I love starting all of the EOFire episodes with the worst entrepreneurial moment because it just shows the listeners that even the lowest of the low, even the darkest times and lead to such amazing things.
You just have to have faith even when you think that you shouldn’t or you can’t or you couldn’t for any reason. There are just these stories after stories and now on EOFire over 1,500 of them that prove this model over and over again. So, Maryam, thank you for sharing yours and let’s fast-forward to today and talk about what you are most fired up about right now.
Maryam Henein: Well, in the immediate right now I’m fired up because I’m going to Summit at Sea. For listeners who don’t know, it’s a lot of movers and shakers and innovators. One of the central themes this year is food and the food supply. There is such an increased awareness, more so if I look at the beginning of making the film when no one knew anything about the bees and now. So I’m excited to bring Honey Colony to them. I’m bringing some of our own products that we’ve launched this year including a CBD oil. CBD is being touted to be as profitable as the NFL; more than that it’s an amazing healing plant compound.
So I’m bringing our Superior CBD there; I’m bringing a super-fused Honey Fusion and I’m also bringing a silver solution called Silver Surfer. We’re living in a very real, antibiotic resistance epidemic all over the world and silver is a natural antibiotic that’s been kind of swept under the rug with the introduction of penicillin. So I’m bringing these solutions and my knowledge and look very much to connect with a lot of the amazing people that are going to be there, for instance Erin Brockovich, who’s a hero.
I have a couple of things that I’m passionate about, such as; I’m not sure if you knew this, but they spray pesticides on planes when passengers are still on the plane. So you’re on the plane and you’re being sprayed with a pyrethroid and being told that it’s safe when it’s actually a neurotoxin. There are tons of crew members around the world that have gotten, whether it’s Parkinson’s or whatever, they’re sick because of these things. I think a class-action lawsuit is in store because you have no control whether you board a plane and they’re either treating it – it depends on the destination – but they’re either treating the plane before the passengers board or while the passengers are on there.
I’ve had stories, sad stories of how there was one couple for instance that was traveling with their baby and wanting their baby to a jetsetter and not afraid. You know there are other types of parents who won’t take their child on plane, and the child now has leukemia because it’s been exposed to pesticides. The thing is with these systemic pesticides or all these pesticides is that they’re insidious in that it’s very difficult to say “That’s what’s cause my autoimmune,” because there are so many variables now in our environment. And so I’m all about empowering people and so I’m jazzed up to bring it to your question; I’m jazzed up about Summit at Sea and introducing Honey Colony; and Honey Colony in itself I feel is about to explode. I’m excited about that, because it’s been four years of hard work.
John Lee Dumas: Well, Fire Nation, I’m jazzed up about the Lightning Round, so don’t you go anywhere. We’re going to take a quick minute to thank our sponsors.
Maryam, are you prepared for the Lightning Rounds?
Maryam Henein: I sure am, John.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Maryam Henein: I’ve thought about this question and you know the only thing that was holding me back is kind of the conceptualization of what an entrepreneur is. If I look back at the many jobs I’ve been working since the age of 13 – and I’ve quit many, many jobs – and then it kind of became increasingly apparent to me that I couldn’t stay there more than 5:00 p.m. I couldn’t live with this nine to five, chained to my desk under fluorescent lights, so that was the only thing holding me back, just kind of the recognition that I’m an entrepreneur.
John Lee Dumas: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Maryam Henein: I’ve heard this mentioned on your show, however when it was told to me it was really an Ah-ha moment in that I was told that you’re not working on your company. You’re working in your company, and it just really made me realize that I have to delegate and get people there and be a leader, but work on growing it in a macro sense and not in the micro sense of doing every little thing myself.
John Lee Dumas: Yeah. The E-myth Revisited is a great book on this topic. And Maryam, what’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Maryam Henein: I am a very disciplined woman. I’ve been in mastermind groups where I’ve seen where the people are lacking in the discipline and I’m a worker bee. I’m really a worker bee and that’s helped me. I get up and I’m spending 10 to 12 hours in front of my screen and I’m persistent and little failures are possible, but not in the bigger picture. I’m going for gold.
John Lee Dumas: Go for the gold, Maryam. And if you could share an internet resource like an Evernotes with Fire Nation, what would it be?
Maryam Henein: Right now I’m really enjoying Blanklist. Have you heard of it?
John Lee Dumas: Never.
Maryam Henein: Blanklist is actually an app and you pay a membership and then you can download books. They summarize books, so whatever book it is, they’re adding them every single day. I really love to download knowledge and to challenge myself. I’m listening to a couple of books a day thanks to Blanklist and I also like right now Pocket, which if you look at my computer I have two screens. I have tons of tabs open. It’s bad. Pocket allows me to save it for later and then once a week – let’s say on a Sunday – I’ll go and just read the articles that I’ve saved that week, that period.
John Lee Dumas: Well, with Blanklist this might be kind of difficult for you, but if you could just recommend one book, what would it be and why?
Maryam Henein: Right now I would recommend The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. I forget how to pronounce his name. Maybe you’ve heard of the book?
John Lee Dumas: No. It doesn’t ring a bell.
Maryam Henein: The Code of the Extraordinary Mind is basically for people who are black sheep, for people who have rejected the norms and who are redefining life for themselves. It’s really an empowering book.
John Lee Dumas: The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, by Vishen Lakhiani. That might be it as far as pronunciation. That is the name, but I might be off a little bit but its close enough, Fire Nation. You’ll get there. And Maryam, I want to end today on fire with a parting piece of guidance: the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say good-bye.
Maryam Henein: Okay, awesome – I would invite you to follow me on Twitter at MaryamHenein. Please check out HoneyColony.com. I created a special code for listeners. It’s just EOF and people will get 20 percent off anything in our marketplace for a first-time purchase.
John Lee Dumas: Wow – and what is that parting piece of guidance?
Maryam Henein: I’d like to share a quote, which is Henry Ford: “Basically whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” So, it starts with our beliefs and I believe in infinite possibilities and it all starts with you.
John Lee Dumas: Love that, and Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You have been hanging out with M.H. and J.L.D. today, so keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com. Just type Maryam, that’s M-A-R-Y-A-M in the search bar. Her show notes page will pop with everything that we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz, with time stamps and links galore.
Of course, check out the internationally-acclaimed documentary Vanishing of the Bees. It’s a great flick, and HoneyColony.com, check out that website. If you use the code EOF you get 20 percent off your purchase. Was it 20 percent, Maryam?
Maryam Henein: Yes, it is.
John Lee Dumas: 20 percent – unbelievable – HoneyColony.com. Check it out, Fire Nation, and that code, EOF, gets you 20 percent off. Maryam, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today and for that we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Maryam Henein: Thank you, John.
John Lee Dumas: Hey, Fire Nation, I hope you enjoyed our chat with Maryam today and the Fire Nation newsletter is dropping value bombs daily. Subscribe over EOFire com or just text the word EOFire to 33444 and I will catch you there or I will catch you on the flip side.
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