What It Takes To Be A Successful, Humble Entrepreneur - Review of Weedonomics 101
The latest 'Entrepreneur's Guidebook to the Cannabis Industry' delights with an unexpected level of mindfulness.
When I signed up to write for Green Entrepreneur, I was pretty green where the world of the media is concerned, and so you can imagine my surprise when PR pitches started flooding my email inbox.
At first, I thought they were a joke because, let's be honest, someone trying to convince me to write about their new vape pen or smart bowl is a conflict of interest.
But then Coronavirus became a reality and since I am pregnant, my doctor put me into a ‘forever quarantine’ mode—as of this writing, I still haven’t left the house except for doctor’s appointments. Since I am truly locked down I’ve committed to reading more than normal during my non-working hours. I figured this might be a good time to learn new ways to get better at what I do as a business owner, but also a good time to distract myself with a good novel.
During week two of the lockdown and in the process of reading book one, which I was floundering with, I received a PR pitch, but not from an agent. Rather, it was from an author and his timing was very good.
This man had done his homework on me, referencing a story about my dad that he connected with. He also stated up-front that he understood neither Green Entrepreneur nor I were traditional book reviewers. He didn’t care if I wrote something about his book and it felt genuine. This man just wanted me to read his book and give him some honest feedback. It was probably the most thoughtful email I had received in months and so, consider it done Mr. Johnson.
Here is my review of Weedonomics 101 by Todd Johnson:
Johnson’s self-published book, Weedonomics 101, is what he calls, “The Entrepreneur’s Guidebook to the Cannabis Industry”, which I would agree with assuming one big caveat; Weedonomics 101 is more like a wake-up call to anyone considering founding any business. It challenges those of us who think we have what it takes to be an entrepreneur to first take a deep look inside ourselves, ideally before writing that all-important business plan.
Weedonomics 101 is broken into four different themes: Get Real, Get Clear, Get Educated, and Get Motivated, and Johnson gets real with the reader right away. His prologue describes a legal cannabis delivery gone wrong during which, Johnson is pulled over by police and forced to walk a tightrope between being allowed to continue on with his delivery or go straight to jail. This opening scene not only establishes some industry history and cred, but it also illuminates his thoughtful approach to life.
Of course, he was ultimately allowed to continue on with his delivery.
I wish I had read Johnson’s book before becoming an entrepreneur, not because I wasn’t mentally fit for the challenge, but because I had to learn how to be vulnerable with my staff and my customers over time and under pressure. It is not an easy skill to learn, much less master, but it is certainly better practiced before the arena lights go on. In Weedonomics 101, Get Real is the first theme introduced and devoted almost entirely to entrepreneur vulnerability. As Johnson states and I have always agreed, “the best leaders know that exposing their own vulnerability establishes a safe environment for those around them.”
He exposes his own shortcomings, fairly in-depth and I like him better as a result. This specific anecdote stuck with me considering I’m about to become a parent and I’m kind of an emotional wreck:
"The other day I was driving around with my son, and he was playing around with a plastic sword. He pushed it into the side of my neck. It was harmless and no big deal. But my reaction was extreme for the situation. I turned quickly, knocked it off, and yelled, 'don’t do that when I’m driving!'"
He looked shut-down. I felt terrible. The truth is my dad used to grab my brother and I by the back of the neck and kind of move us around when he was upset. My reaction to my son was like a flashback to my dad’s treatment, but it took place with my son. Wrong time, wrong person. I pulled over and apologized."
This was a self-reveal, among many others in Weedonomics 101 that I was not expecting and it built my trust in the author. A powerful entrepreneur lays out all of their weaknesses, struggles, moments of serious regret, and fears with grace and humility. Johnson defines vulnerability, and by exposing himself in this manner, I walked away trusting his desire to help me become a better leader.
Vulnerability builds trust. The lesson is just that simple.
Throughout the Get Real and Get Clear sections I wasn’t sure if I was reading a guidebook for cannabis entrepreneurs or the next hot motivational business book, as Johnson’s advice to approach entrepreneurship with a clear head could apply to any industry. It is not limited to cannabis. Once I hit the Get Educated and Get Motivated sections the book split off into what is a true entrepreneur’s guidebook. As Johnson instructed me prior to reading Weedonomics 101, “please read it with a pencil handy.”
As a retail cannabis entrepreneur, I can vouch for the guidebook section’s legitimacy. Johnson has obviously ‘been there and done that’ in regards to the cultivation process and the retail environment. I do think the book is missing in one very important way—it does not address obtaining cannabis grow or sell licenses. As a minority woman, I know exactly how hard it was to obtain a license in the early days. Today, the number of licenses is very limited and as a result, we are starting to hear quite a bit of dialogue about the lack of social equity in the licensing system.
My biggest question for Johnson after finishing his awesome book is this—if he considers the underemployed (or undereducated), but business savvy American a sweet spot in terms of an audience for his book, how would he suggest that these potential entrepreneurs go about obtaining a license? What is a strategy that works? From what I’m seeing, it is those Americans who are getting a raw deal right now.