You are crazy. Leaving Salesforce to go help sell drugs? Your mom will disown you. There is no money or path in Cannabis. What is your 5 year plan?
That’s what I heard right before I jumped into Cannabis, heart first, in September 2018, after making the most difficult decision of my life. One month before Legalization. One month before the creation of something truly transformational and perhaps one of the most mercurial this world has ever seen.
2.5 years later, I couldn’t be happier. As an aspiring revenue leader/operator there isn’t a better industry or time to #makeyourmark. Think about this for a second. Cannabis was illegal for so long…and still is in 99.9% of the world. It has such a complicated history that touches incarceration, racism, medicine and stigma. Now, the movement of legalization is opening up a new frontier, and a full industry is being built in front of our eyes. There are edibles, beverages, topicals, and oils. There are athletes representing cannabis (shoutout to Elias Theodorou) and national sports leagues that are changing their stance on their previous perspectives of the plant (MLB, NBA). There are countless medical patients who rely on cannabis for their every day needs. There are 1500+ recreational stores in Canada, and countless more in the United States. There are +500,000 jobs in the space today and growing by the minute. Ontario sold $250M of cannabis from Oct-Dec 2020 alone. There are different rules across provinces and states meaning no one place operates or thinks the same. This isn’t just one industry. It’s a bunch of tiny micro industries.
This requires leaders to amalgamate their full set of tools across people, process and technology to help build, and capitalize on the opportunity .This industry is highly complex, moves at the speed of light, and forces you to be uncomfortable every single day.
How we got here:
Cannabis has had deep roots culturally across many nations for thousands of years. It wasn’t that long ago that I was having to hide my cannabis consumption from my parents and society (many still do). It wasn’t too long ago that I was texting a phone number, and having a gentleman named Mike on a Bike show up to my house at Western University and offer me two strains to choose from…..
Now, the world is starting to look at Cannabis differently. Through incredible activism, resilience and hope by many key humans across medicine, social equity, and economics, the Cannabis needle started to move. Uruguay paved the way for recreational legalization. Canada followed, and the ground all of a sudden started to shake.
The US is making broad strides every single day off the backs of successful legalized states like Colorado, California and Oregon. New York is legalizing with an estimated $2.5B market, and an agenda focused on social equity, consumption and delivery. Mexico, Lebanon, Germany, Colombia, South Africa, Malta, Spain , Portugal, Brasil, Morroco are all turning the page whether recreationally or medicinally.
Cannabis is global. It’s here to stay, and luckily, we’re at the very beginning of it.
Why should global revenue leaders care?
An influx of jobs are being created every day by multi billion dollar public and private companies, all looking for fantastic leadership to help them WRITE the playbook. That means opportunities for you. It also means opportunities for your best people. Cannabis is an incredible CPG good, and it’s limits haven’t even begun to be tapped. This is the fastest growing industry worldwide, and will be one of the key leader’s in helping stimulate the world wide economy post pandemic.
The amount of capital flowing into this industry is astounding as of late. In case you missed it, Dutchie just opened up the flood gates with a 200M raise and a 1.7 B evaluation. That is insane to me…why? Well because as mentioned about 99.9% of the world doesn’t have a legal cannabis industry or framework…Imagine how much money, job creation, and economic stimulation is on the horizon. There are numerous products, brands, companies and of course obstacles, all waiting to be navigated and realized.
A large amount of the most successful cannabis companies haven’t even been built yet.
We are living through one of the most historic times in all of human kind. We get to SEE the birth of an industry, create solutions from scratch, and see micro and macro economics forces at work every single day. We have the opportunity to shed light on a magical plant while writing and figuring out a structure for commercialization. A plant that’s been misunderstood forever, and quite possibly earth shattering.
Cannabis is going to be a multi-trillion (bajillion) dollar industry, and will create even more jobs + happiness. Whether you are driving the bottom line of a licensed producer/cultivator, creating value added products, running a branding agency, facilitating game changing technology to help the flow of information, or breaking down government barriers, the time to upskill your business acumen, sales acumen, and emotional intelligence is now. Because of the speed, complexity and lack of precedent, this puts every leader on the same playing field. It gives you an opportunity to separate yourself from the pack, and thrive in the unknown.
Leaders who can:
- Understand complex problems and articulate them simply
- Lead from the front with humility
- Take calculated risks and fail harder
- Scale organizations without playbooks
- Accelerate their personal learning
- Understand people from across the world, and build real relationships (this includes speaking multiple languages)
- Build world class teams and inspire tribes
As global revenue leaders, you need to pay attention to this industry. You need to do your best to create meaningful relationships, create a safe environment for deal making, share knowledge and best practises, and contribute deeply to the fabric of global cannabis and the associated revenue opportunities across the supply chain. This opportunity forces you to get better as a revenue leader, to make decisions with imperfect data variables and tests your ability to monetize, strategize and execute.
The next 2.5 years are going to be fast and furious. More countries will legalize medically and adult-use, large pharma & big tobacco will continue to make massive investments into the space as the world drives towards being more health conscious, and key pieces such as consumption lounges and travel/tourism in cannabis will start to take shape. This is literally the definition of opportunity. We are living in a world of disruption, with Cannabis leading the charge.
However, it’s not for everyone. It’s definitely not a smooth road. There are a lot of naysayers, a massive mountain of stigma,100 different government regulations to navigate and no empirical data to work off of. Yet, if you can make it here, then like the legend Sinatra says, you can make it anywhere.
Call to action:
TLDR: This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and a million questions still to be answered. Take advantage of this and level up. Let me know how I can help.