COO of Toronto’s MPX Bioceutical Corp. and board member of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association
By Kristen Nichols
What was your biggest business “aha” moment?
I was working on Wall Street, doing institutional equity sales. I made an investment in a medical marijuana company, and originally it was just supposed to be an investment. Then I realized that the person I was investing with was – well, let’s just say I needed to step in and take over.
It’s an industry that was in the black market for so long that it can be a difficult transition for some. Once I started working full time in medical marijuana, I started rolling up a couple licenses in Arizona. I started really getting excited about seeing what medical marijuana could do for the patient. It became more than an investment, more than a job.
What’s your best tip for avoiding unreliable business partners?
That’s something that happens all the time in this industry. Everybody wants to get in, and everybody wants to believe in it, but there’s a lot of bad actors. My advice is, ask a lot of questions. Do your homework. Do background checks on people. Really ask around. It’s a very small industry, so I’m big on sharing information.
What are your best hiring tips?
Don’t hire your friends. Make sure you’re doing executive searches. It’s easier said than done. Have people on your team who can prevet employees for you.
Look for similar positions in a different industry. I have one executive who works on special projects, new dispensaries. Before this, he spent 25 years at Walgreens, where he was known as a “fixer of broken stores.” He’s a great retailer and has the skills we need.
What lessons from Wall Street help in the marijuana business?
Check your ego at the door. Make sure all your employees know you’re not going to ask them to do anything that you wouldn’t do yourself. I enjoy sitting side by side with my employees, whether it’s learning how to trim or how to take down a room at harvest. Caring about your employees and knowing what they do, that goes a long way.
What should aspiring marijuana executives be reading?
I read “The Art of War” once a year. They’re just really basic tips on maneuvering in business.
Everyone should read it.