Hump Day High: The Wonderfully Hectic Life of an Entrepreneur

This past week was wonderful, draining, connective, chaotic, surprising, overwhelming and awe-inspiring. I’m in the midst of my first big online course launch, I just got nominated for a major award and, as my cannabis industry folks well know, it was MJ Biz Con week in Vegas.

I’ve studied internet marketing at various points over the past few years. I understand the concepts behind a product launch, the importance of creating value, over-delivering on content, and helping people to understand why it is that they need the thing that you’re selling. It’s a long slog from the new project energy phase of excitement and optimism through the “Holy hell, why is this taking so long” phase and into the “Okay, now we’re mostly done, but how do we actually get people to buy it?” phase. My colleagues Roxanne and Melinda DePalma of Play Den Productions have been troopers through this odyssey as we bring our creation — the 10 Commandments of Hand Sex Masterclass — into being.

I cannot count how many 12+ hour days we’ve pulled filming video content, editing clips, creating PDFs, setting up email sequences and automations, designing marketing materials, reaching out to companies to sponsor or collaborate and, of course, designing the course curriculum. You wouldn’t think it would be that hard (pun intended) to launch a course on how to give high-quality genital massages, but it really is! Facebook and Instagram are impossible for advertising because it’s “sex-related,” and YouTube won’t let us monetize videos due to the nature of the content — despite there being no nudity in the course. Interestingly, adult content creators (even of the non-porn variety) face similar struggles as folks in the cannabis industry like issues with merchant processing, advertising, social media censorship and, of course, deeply entrenched societal stigma.

MJ Biz Con Las Vegas Ashley Manta
photo courtesy of Ashley Manta

All of this was swirling around in my mind as I arrived in L.A. last Wednesday for the XBIZ RISE Talent Appreciation Gala — the nomination party for the 2019 XBIZ Awards. This annual adult industry awards show is held in Los Angeles, and this year will be hosted by Stormy Daniels, the brave performer who dominated headlines all year long. At the Gala, I was pleased to learn that I had been nominated for Sexpert of the Year for the second year in a row! This is a huge honor for me, especially to be nominated alongside so many folks I respect in the sexuality world, including jessica drake, Dr. Ava Cadell, Dr. Chris Donaghue, Dr. Emily Morse, Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals, Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Elle Chase, Ducky DooLittle and Sandra Daugherty.

One of my favorite parts of the night was standing outside the venue in a circle, passing joints around. I loved seeing cannabis so seamlessly integrated into a social setting, especially when there was an open bar upstairs; it was nice to not be the only one choosing cannabis instead of alcohol. It was a wonderful night, but a late one, and I didn’t end up getting back to my room at the Loews Hollywood Hotel until almost midnight.

The next morning my boyfriend got us room service to celebrate my nomination (after we had some pretty epic morning sex). He had to get to work, so I packed my things and headed to Las Vegas for the last big night of parties at MJ Biz Con. I arrived at my friend Andrew Mieure’s house in the early evening and got ready to go out. First stop was the DOPE Golden Ticket Party and, as usual, it was one of the most popular events, with a line around the block outside. We got inside, took a picture together, and set off to explore. I ran into so many professionals I admire that I can’t even list them all. Suffice it to say, it was delightful to be around such powerful, motivated colleagues. I was thrilled to have my publicist, Denise Kraft, with me that night — since her network is largely on the adult industry side, I loved getting to show her how the cannabis industry does events.

MJ Biz Con Las Vegas Ashley Manta
Andrew Mieure and Ashley Manta walk the red carpet at DOPE’s Golden Ticket Party (Photo by DOPE Foto)

Three back-to-back nights of 4 a.m. bedtimes meant I was hardcore exhausted by the time I arrived back in San Diego on Saturday, only to pass out and awaken to pull another seven-hour work day on Sunday to work on the launch. Tuesday was another seven-hour evening. It’s prime entrepreneur life — hustling to balance networking, productivity, rest, self-care and meeting deadlines.

Cannabis, as usual, has been my saving grace through all of this. From smoking outside of the XBIZ nomination party to dabbing with Andrew before going out to the Vegas parties, to taking an edible before bed so I could turn off my brain and actually sleep through the night, cannabis has been a valuable tool for maintaining equilibrium during one of the most stressful times of my life.

To all my fellow entrepreneurs: I see you. You’ve got this. I believe in you.

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