Disruption vs. Destruction

It’s time for both the marijuana industry and regulators to understand the difference.


With Election Day approaching and many states, including California, eyeing the potential of legalized marijuana, you are no doubt hearing strong opinions on both sides of the effort. Recently, here in Denver, District Attorney Mitch Morrissey wrote a letter to the opposition of Prop 64 in California outlining his viewpoint around what the world with legal marijuana looks like from his perspective. On the industry side, activists like Mason Tyvert, who was instrumental in the legalization effort for our own amendment 64 in the 2012 election, fired back with a fiery and critical response to DA Morrissey. Today, I want to offer the opinion of a voice of reason to help both sides of the debate understand the difference between being disruptive and being destructive.


In 2012, when legalized marijuana was passed by voters in Colorado, there were high hopes indeed. For consumers who enjoyed utilizing marijuana for medical reasons, this new amendment meant they no longer needed to hold a medical card to seek relief. For the consumer who simply wanted to choose this substance over others for recreation, it meant they could finally emerge from the shadows and basements where they were consuming and the stigma of their consumption would no longer exist. Yet, while this industry launched into full force in January of 2014—a disruptive moment for the movement—the lack of real care for consumer safety, education and overall prudence was missed when it came to legalization. Now, over  two years later, the industry, still pushing hard for expansion, misses the point of consumer education as well as how to work with regulators to find collaborative solutions.

 Todd Mitchem sitting on a panel with regulators from Washington and Colorado

Todd Mitchem sitting on a panel with regulators from Washington and Colorado

In the meantime, as legal marijuana rolled out, regulators worked feverishly to “drink from a fire hose” and build regulations as fast as they could in order to tax the industry, protect workers, protect consumers, and protect the public, especially kids. Regulators resisted the more aggressive policies proposed by a hungry industry’s desire to expand and make money, while the industry fought back against any new rule, proposal or plan set forth by any regulator.  Regulators then began to enforce, in an even more stringent fashion, every law they could to hold the industry back from moving too fast for the consumers whom regulators are sworn to protect. At the same time, regulators were attempting to get their arms around the unintended consequences that began to unfold in a world with legal marijuana.

 Denver DA Mitch Morrissey

Denver DA Mitch Morrissey

Now, let’s fast forward to the letter from our DA in Denver and the reaction by the marijuana industry at large. My comments today are to say ENOUGH to both sides of the argument and say it is time to wake up. It’s time to wake up to an understanding of the dramatic difference between disruptive powers like the legal marijuana industry as well as the innovative regulations by quality lawmakers, and the destructive nonsense argumentative stance we find ourselves in today. I speak not for regulators or the industry today. I speak for citizens who deal with the choices of those two groups and their bickering. After all, who loses when these two opposing forces slam heads? Everyone!

We find ourselves today in what I call a destruction loop instead of a disruption mindset. When we do something truly disruptive, even with the best of intentions, but we lose sight of the most important aspects of our efforts, we head in the wrong direction fast.  Then, when we hit an opposing force, we begin to fight. This is caused by our ego, which suddenly needs to win arguments and to fight for what we believe is right, instead of staying in a positive disruptive mindset where we fight for getting it right. The marijuana industry is a perfect example of an industry that has become lost in arguments, by both lawmakers and the industry, instead of collaboration. Essentially we are becoming destructive.

The solution is not all that complicated. I will admit, as a guy who left the corporate world to work in this industry over three years ago, the solution needs to begin with the industry. I believe we should legalize marijuana on a national scale eventually, but I do not agree we should do so recklessly. We need to be careful, smart and listen to all sides of the debate. If the DA of Denver believes he has real concerns around marijuana-related teen use, emergency room visits, and other social issues, he has a duty to voice his opinion. While I could dispute some of the facts in his letter and work to fight his opinions, what good would that do for consumers, kids and people in states like California? NO GOOD AT ALL. Instead, I believe the solution lies in all of us putting down our destructive rhetoric and picking up a more collaborative message.  In the end, I believe and hope that marijuana will be legal everywhere in the US, so that people like my mother get the benefits of it medically and others benefit recreationally. As a father and citizen, however, I believe we all need to sit down and find smart solutions in order to educate all consumers and lawmakers.  We need, in general, a tamping down of the activist “fight” mentality of the industry so we can stop jeopardizing consumer safety in the name of “winning.” Even if we win our argument, people lose.

Todd Mitchem



A Bag or a Box, time is running out.

by Todd Mitchem

Excerpt from Todd's new book, "You, Disrupted" 

when: at what time.

Your When is now

A bag . . . or a box?

I looked up at the man standing in front of me in the airport TSA line. He looked like any ordinary man, simply dressed and cleanly shaven. I could see in his eyes he was unsettled about something; I thought it could be nervousness about travel, or he had an important meeting and was anxious to get it over. As I was mulling all of the situations that could make someone nervous at the airport, the mystery man pushed his plastic bin containing his belongings into the security scanner and got in line for the final body scan. Since he didn’t present any immediate signs of hostility or danger, I ignored him and his restless agitation, returning my attention to placing my items into one of the plastic bins for scanning. I was about to enter the body scanner just as the man exited it on the other end. That’s when everything changed. Suddenly, one of the TSA agents began barking directions to the man in front of me in a way I had not heard before, “Sir, I need you to remove the contents of that bag, NOW!” The TSA agent and some of the security guards who gathered around this man had terrified looks in their eyes; the man in front of me was unsettlingly calm, but emotionally on edge. As directed by the agent, he gently reached into his large travel bag. The man moved his hands carefully and, with utmost care, pulled something out that put more fear in everyone around him. It was the largest Ziploc bag I have ever seen, with contents known only to the lone traveler. No one behind me noticed the bag, chiefly because of the growing number of TSA agents, security, and police gathering around at an alarming rate. But as the crowd of security grew, it was clear even to the most distracted traveler something was wrong. And there I was, right next to this man and his mysterious bag.

This dark-haired man held up the cryptic bag in front of the TSA agent who had originally given him the orders. The contents of this special container were a mystery to anyone looking on; it looked like light gray powder and there was a lot of it. The man gently sat it on the counter. I noticed the police officers standing next to me reflexively slid their hands up to the holsters of their side arms as if planning a response to a possible attack. It was then I asked myself, “How did I end up in this situation?” “Was I so distracted I ignored all the signs this man might be a terrorist?” “Would I be shot in the crossfire?” I froze. Until, a few seconds later, I was asked by a police officer to step into one of the TSA check stations, right next to this bag-carrying individual. So I did. The line of people behind me was stopped, with a guard blocking the only possible entrance to the other side of security. I had never felt more vividly I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. You could feel the fear of everyone rising, as no one could figure out what was in the bag and if it was causing harm to the people around it. What if the contents were already airborne? What if everyone was already sick from whatever was in the bag?! The TSA officer looked at the man and sternly said, “Explain.” As the man with the bag started to explain what was in the bag, the mood of the crowd immediately surrounding him began to quickly change.

As it turned out, this man and his wife had been vacationing in Denver. They had been there for about two weeks when his wife suddenly died from some type of brain aneurism. While he was explaining the situation to the crowd of security, he was getting more and more distraught, with silent tears streaming down his face. He continued to explain that he wasn’t able to afford any other means for transporting his wife’s body home and someone had convinced him cremation was the best method. You could just feel a wave of relief and, at the same time, a wave of sadness blanket the entire area. No one said a word, no one moved, everyone continued to listen to the man and his heartbreaking story. He slowly reached into the open duffel bag still on the checking station and pulled out a much smaller Ziploc bag. This one was filled with personal belongings, which he dumped on the table. A woman’s watch, assorted keepsakes, a necklace, a phone, and the last things to fall out of the bag were her engagement and wedding rings. The man began to cry more as he talked about what had happened and that he did not mean to scare anyone. He was just trying to get his wife home.

I still choke up when I think about that moment, which I was so close to as a spectator. I wish I would have said something to this poor man, but I was in complete shock. The police and TSA instructed the man to repack his bag and told him he was free to go. This time there were no instructions that were rapidly and forcefully barked. Instead, everyone was quiet and no one knew what to say. There really wasn’t much anyone could say. The mystery man took his belongings and quickly disappeared into a crowd of travelers heading for their gates. He was finally free to take his wife home.

Silence encapsulated the entire security area for a while even after the man had walked away from the security line. I collected all of my belongings just coming out of the scanner. Half-dazed by the event that had taken place, I started to walk toward my gate; my mind forever altered, thoughts running though my head. Just minutes ago, the situation looked like a scene from a disaster action film; feelings of danger lapping at everyone’s heels. But everything changed so fast no one even saw it coming. At the end of the day, no one was hurt. The onlookers may have stopped and felt sad for a few minutes; perhaps called a loved one to tell them how much they loved them. Everyone just got back on their electronics and returned to whatever they were doing as if nothing had happened. Of course, the most affected person was the man who will carry the pain of his dead wife in his heart for years, while, for everyone else at that security station, he was just a simple man carrying his beloved wife home in a bag.

There is one fact of life we all ignore constantly: life will end

We will all end up in a bag or a box after our death. We have all heard this before, but we seem to forget just how fragile and short our lives truly are. And maybe we will not realize the importance of our lives until it’s too late, when we are out of time, thinking back and realizing we could have done more. The one important foundational learning I hope you gather from this story is your “when”—to be, to do, and to have everything you want—is now. Let me repeat that: Your WHEN is NOW! All you have promised to do for yourself and for others—that moment to start doing them is right now. You have no guarantee you will have another moment after this one has passed. 

You can pre-order, "You, Disrupted" by clicking the image below.



Your anger is useless and here is how to stop it.

by Todd Mitchem

Me Mad, Me Mad, Me Mad

The only thing we can completely control is ourselves. We can’t control any other person the slightest bit, but we can control how we feel and the attitude we have about life. There is an illusion we don’t have this control; in fact, we are the only ones who do have control over ourselves. The phrases, “You made me mad,” “You are causing me to be upset,” and so on, are all phrases that give away our power to others. We live in a world of instant reactions, lack of impulse control, and blaming others when we don’t see life unfolding in a perfect way. If you will practice the exercise below, your life will change for the better and you will regain power over yourself. It’s a simple attitude adjustment exercise and it will transform the way you own your attitude. You may feel a bit silly while doing this exercise the first few times, but you have to let go of certain beliefs in order to make room for new ones.

“You are making me mad!”

If we view one of the most common statements of negative attitude, we can see just how insane our thinking is and how out of control our attitudes are. As we look at the above statement, “You are making me mad,” I want you to ask yourself which words stand out to you? MadMeYouMaking? If you said You, then you would be correct. The first word I want to examine is You. When you utter the phrase “You are making me mad,” you have made the statement someone else is in control of you. Instead of being accountable to the feelings, actions, and attitude inside your own mind, you have granted another person ultimate control over you. We all complain about privacy being taken from us or the government controlling our lives, yet we quickly give up control over ourselves. We do this even faster when faced with a difficult person or situation.

Let’s look at the statement again, “You are MAKING me mad,” and notice I have brought the next problem to your attention. To make someone do something with the power of your mind is a trick stolen from the Jedi in Star Wars movies. If you have ever uttered the words, “You are MAKING me mad,” you must be the victim of some Jedi mind trick. How else can you explain someone gaining access to your mind and making you do something? You can’t, because the ONLY way for someone to have this power over you is for you to allow them to have power over you. The truth is NO ONE can “make” you mentally do anything without your permission. What you do when you use the above statement is you take the easy way out of attitude adjustment. You give up and blame the other person or circumstance. “You are MAKING me mad.” “This car is MAKING me mad.” “THE TRAFFIC IS MAKING ME MAD!!!” These statements, and those like it, are simply your attempt to deflect your negativity and lack of ability to change your attitude onto something else.

What is the real truth of the statement, “You are making me mad!”? Think about it. If you said, “Me mad!”, then you are on your way to your positive attitude adjustment. The truth of the statement and your attitude, is YOU are MAD, and you alone control this feeling. To become a true disruptor of your own life, you need to—and I mean today—take control of your feelings, including being mad. Have you ever been mad at someone who does not care in the slightest about your anger? Sure you have. Every day you most likely are mad at the guy in traffic, the politician of the day, the news story and the closest people in your life whom you allow to drive you to madness. Most people have the attitude they are victimized by all these outside circumstances, because it’s harder to admit the simple truth of “ME MAD!” So take action: immediately take ownership over your personal feelings, because you, and you alone, can control them.

Make the shift, you crying baby!

Now, for the exercise. The next time you are faced with a negative attitude, which will happen at some point in your day, I want you to start rebooting yourself with an attitude shift. When you say or think, “You are making me mad!” or “He/She is making me mad,” scream out loud, “ME MAD ME MAD ME MAD.” Stomp your feet like a crying two-year-old, because you are mad indeed. By mad, I mean, crazy mad. If, at first, you are not ready to take the leap to screaming “ME MAD” out loud, then, at the very least, do it internally. You will find it hard to have a negative attitude when you are stomping and yelling “ME MAD!” By doing this, you are putting ownership of your emotions on the one person responsible for them: you. You have started down the path of taking control of your emotional state.

It’s just that simple.

After I teach this exercise to my audiences, some people say to me, “Well, Todd, life is not simple. I am not mad all the time.” I understand you are not mad all the time, but the real reason for this exercise is to make a point: you give control of your positive attitude to others, to outside circumstances, and to things you have zero control over. Here are some more examples of how you give others power over you and your positive attitude. When you say:

·       “The kids are driving me crazy.” You allow your kids to control your sanity.

·       “This traffic is causing me to be late.” You allow traffic and the driving actions of others to cause you to be angry you are late.

·       “My work is stressing me out.” No. You are stressing you out and the work is your excuse.

·       “This weather is causing me to be depressed.” Not really. You are depressed and, rather than find a way to feel better, you blame the weather.

Every negative word you speak is a virus eating at your disruptive spirit like a cancer. It’s time to shift, stop complaining and bitching, and move toward a life where you take ownership over your actions.

What will you today to overcome your petty anger? 

Watch the video below to see this in practice.

Todd Mitchem Companies LLC, CEO, speaks Attorneys General about Marijuana Policy, mainstream advertising, and need for faster regulation reform.

Marijuana Industry signals a changing focus toward consumer safety.

To a full house in Idaho, last week, at the Conference of Western Attorneys General annual meeting, Todd Mitchem, CEO of Todd Mitchem Companies (TMC) as well as past Cannabis Industry leader, spoke on the speed at which the Cannabis Industry is growing and the need for Marijuana companies to collaborate with regulators. Todd also hit hard on a new concern: the way in which mainstream corporations are advertising their products to Marijuana consumers. “It’s an interesting turn when companies like General Mills are marketing the same snacks to kids and Marijuana consumers on billboards”, Mitchem stated and went on to say, “Regulators are asking the Cannabis Industry to act responsibly and we agree with them completely. We also need to help mainstream companies understand how to operate by the same set of standards, so that kids are kept safe.” 

Commenting on Todd’s presentation was Director of CWAG, Karen White, White pointed out that Todd was on point, “Todd has worked with us in the past and we hope his connections in the Marijuana industry will serve as a bridge to mainstream companies as he helps them navigate this new territory. No matter where Attorneys General fall in regards to marijuana legalization in their particular state, every single regulator in the country can agree marijuana advertising must not be aimed at or attractive to youth.”

No stranger to speaking to regulators, Todd’s presentation is one of his many, around a more collaborative effort with companies in the Marijuana Industry. “We’ve reached a crossroad in the area of Marijuana regulation. Industry players, many of which we represent, seek to work with regulators to ensure that the highest standards are in place surrounding issues like: pesticides, protecting kids, and overall consumer safety. We can’t protect consumers if we’re fighting with regulators.”

Mitchem made a bold statement in support of responsible business supporting the City of Denver and homeless who travel to the City for the Marijuana Industry. “In the past the Industry was largely adversarial and resisted Government. The time has now come for the Marijuana Industry to support and work with cities like Denver, to find solutions, support improvements financially, and help keep the City safe. We don’t want to foster unintended consequences. We agree that homelessness is a huge problem in Denver, and we stand with the Mayor and his team, working together to solve this challenge.”

Mitchem’s statements ushered in a new era for the Marijuana Industry. For the first time since it began, certain companies are splitting from the mindset of activism and moving toward the mindset of cooperation with Government, to make rules, standards, and support the community. “Activism got us here which we are grateful for, but activism is not a business model that will sustain as huge mainstream companies continue entering the Marijuana Industry. Only as collaborators and supporters of Government can we build a stronger Industry and set the bar for regulation, all while doing what is right for consumers.”

The hidden risks of a poor government affairs strategy and three steps to overcome them.

by Todd Mitchem

 Todd Speaking at CWAG to Attorneys General about Marijuana Standards

A call came in, and a new potential client was on the other end, just a bit frantic. As it turned out, her company had attempted to work with key regulators in her state around important, albeit simple, violations which had occurred in three of her marijuana businesses. She was feeling overwhelmed because her last lawyer had been rude to regulators, went over their heads to senior bosses in the division, and, overall, she felt as though she was being treated like a criminal for basic violations. Luckily for her, we were able to assist.

Our first step was to execute what we call, “Walking it Back.” This is essentially our team of government affairs leaders talking directly to regulators in an attempt to walk back the tension or hard feelings that have been created. Because we are not attorneys, this is a simple process of relationship building, mixed with negotiations. However, it’s only simple if you understand three key factors for success. Below are the three key facts for success we utilized to walk back this client’s challenges, build strong relationships with the same regulators her attorney had upset, and utilized the time regulators gave us to help the client clean up their act.

1. All companies are not criminals and not all regulators are against you – This is a lesson for all of you. If you are a company working with government officials, remember not all government officials are against you. Sometimes I need to remind my clients they must drop the victim mentality. If you are a company with a violation or many violations, you need to acknowledge the issues. If you act and think like all regulators are against you, you immediately put yourself in a position of defense, agitation and hostility. The way to work with regulators is to operate on a professional and personal level. Take ownership over your mistake, use it to find solutions, and always work toward collaborative solutions. Never threaten to sue, take action or refuse to cooperate. This only spells trouble for you because, even if you win this one, you are certain to lose a bigger fight down the road. Remember, ego can destroy your business and you. In the world of working with government, you are not trying to win, you are working to get it right.

On the other side—for all you regulators reading this—not all companies or leaders are criminals. Sometimes people run a business in a sloppy fashion. Other times they simply have below par team members who caused issues. And, as in my story above, they can often get very bad advice from attorneys, other consultants, or colleagues in their industry. This happens in every business sector. As a regulator, if you have your mind set on collaboration to solve challenges, you can find better solutions.

 Posing with Attorney General Kamala Harris

Posing with Attorney General Kamala Harris

When people are legitimately breaking the law and show no remorse, then you can turn on your law enforcer tools. Until then, act as if people are doing their best and simply need the right push to turn things around. For example, we have successfully negotiated many solutions for our clients which turned out to be caused by sloppy business practices rather than bad behavior. As in my example, once the regulator worked with us, let our firm solve the challenge with the client, and gave us time to do so, the companies were able to turn things around for the long term. The hardest journey for many of my regulator colleagues is to give people the benefit of the doubt for being human and then give them a chance to make things right in the system. Ask yourself, as a regulator, do I need to kill a company to push them to do the right thing?

2. Respect, Respect, Respect – Recently, I was sitting at the negotiation table with a company we represent in the marijuana industry. On the other side of the table were regulators from the state our client was operating in. We were just about to begin the negotiation where we were asking the state to allow our client six months to solve one critical issue around pesticides. The CEO, my client, came walking in with his team. He was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, a weed-centric baseball hat, and flip-flops, while the rest of his team were wearing business attire. The regulators also were wearing suits. As they began to enter the room, I intercepted and immediately pulled the CEO out of the room and said, "Go change and come back!" He first looked stunned. When he said, "Why?" I said, “Because these regulators earn far less than you and work each day to enforce regulations, while oftentimes getting disrespectful commentary from people in the industry. Therefore, you are going to demonstrate respect or this negotiation will not go well." We started without him and when he returned with a suit on, it definitely set a tone. The negotiation ended up with a very positive outcome for both our client and the regulators, and my client learned a lesson.

 Todd Mitchem on a panel discussing regulatory framework and how to make it better. With key leaders from Washington, Colorado and Rhode Island

Todd Mitchem on a panel discussing regulatory framework and how to make it better. With key leaders from Washington, Colorado and Rhode Island

Respect is something we have forgotten in our society. We think, because we may earn more than others, we immediately get respect. We believe anyone on the other side of a table in negotiations needs to earn OUR respect. We are always spouting about respect but we often show very little of it. Respect is frankly something you not only earn but must demonstrate, even when you are not getting your way at first. Respect is not “you first.” Respect is NOW! You may not like a person on the other side of the table, but you must demonstrate a respectful behavior from the start. This works on both sides. As I’ve worked with regulators all over the country, I have met some who—no matter what a client does to demonstrate respect—simply do not reciprocate. This is also the wrong path and will not get the right results on behalf of consumer protection, consumer health and safety and the rule of law. My father, a master negotiator, would always come into any union negotiation with a suit on, showing respect for the other side, and he always acted in a positive, pleasant manner. This behavior set him up to be one of the most respected leaders in his company. I want you to always take ownership over your respect for others. If someone e-mails you, take the time to respond.  When you enter a room, always show respect for everyone present. When you are negotiating, and even if you have the strongest position, ALWAYS act with respect.

3. Never reach top down to solve a problem - One of the early lessons I learned as a leader was this: just because you know the leader of an organization, or the top person in a government office, that does not mean that person needs to solve your small problems. I have often witnessed the peril of fellow government affairs advisors who shoot far too high in government to solve a surprisingly small challenge. This almost always backfires and leads to negative results all the way through the system. It inevitably can damage the person or company’s reputation for a long time.

Relationships are the key to building thoughtful negotiations. When solving problems, my team and I work very hard NOT to start at the top. For example, just because my team and I are in close contact with many top officials at both state and federal levels, it doesn’t mean we reach to those levels to solve simple issues in a local jurisdiction. NO. Why? Because no one wants pressure from a high-ranking official to solve a challenge which they can solve by themselves. It's a little like someone running to mommy when siblings argue. “I’m gonna tell mommy on you,” starts sounding the same as, “I’m gonna tell the Governor’s Office on you.” Neither is effective at achieving real resolution.

If you want to solve a difficult situation within your company or with a government agency, work to build lasting positive relationships with the people, division or leader you have the challenges with. While a more demanding endeavor, I promise this yields better—more lasting—results. The one exception to this rule is if someone at the level you are engaged with is acting improperly or doing something unethical. Then, AND ONLY THEN, should you seek to climb up the levels of influence. I recommend to you, as I do to our clients—work with people in front of you without going around them as your first means of problem solving.

The next time you are going into a heated meeting with lawmakers, law enforcement, or businesses you regulate, take these simple yet effective tools with you. You will be surprised at the positive results you can achieve, without lawsuits, aggravation, or aggressive negative outcomes.





So you think you're a 5?

So you think you're a 5? 

What you don't know may be killing your score - A self assessment tool for all.
by Todd Mitchem - #DisruptionEffect

The almighty performance survey!  We have all taken them and many of us have been the leader being rated on our performance.  While this experience can be a painful one for some leaders, with the right Disruptive Mindset you can actually learn a great deal from these evaluations.  If you choose to take ownership of the results and take action toward being coached in a positive direction, you can benefit greatly from these types of feedback tools.

Most of you know I have worked as a leadership coaching professional and as a presenter for many years.  I have worked with, coached, and helped restructure some of the world’s largest companies.  I have also spent time building my own companies, and working with start-ups as a CEO.  During this time, I have followed and continue to follow the structure of Assess The Leader, Teach the New Lesson, and Coach for Success as a tool to improve each of my client’s leadership skill areas. This simple formula has helped me over the years to change not only a leader’s results, but to change them as a person.  After all, I would not be considered a #DisruptionEffect expert if I were not willing to push people even farther than they imagined.

So today I wanted you to have my top competency attributes and scale for rating yourself as well as rating others.  These top five are the ones I believe hold the biggest rewards regarding your development as a leader and individual contributor.

Todd's Top Five Competencies

1) Ability to Communicate and Share Vision – Being a clear communicator and taking responsibility for a message to be received clearly.  You demonstrate this when you take responsibility for mutual understanding.

2) Hold Self and Others Accountable – Taking ownership over success as well as failure. You demonstrate this when you make a mistake and take full ownership over your part of the failure.

3) Authenticity – Being real and genuine with the team. You demonstrate this by speaking conversationally and allowing your guard to drop.

4) Executional Brilliance – Keeping your energy focused, and your activities focused on the same goal, executing on a goal. You demonstrate this by not allowing your tasks to be viewed as the achievement, but rather the actual completed goal as the achievement.

5) Honesty and Integrity – Fulfilling promises, building a team that is open, and creating an environment of integrity.  You demonstrate this daily by speaking the truth in kind ways and ensuring that what you say you will do...you do.

Sure, there are many other categories, subcategories and numerous other angles for discussion about effective leadership but, in my experience, most other finite skills can be packed into one of these categories.  Your work on this self-assessment can quickly give you a gauge for how well you are doing in these areas as a leader. Honest self-reflection is the key to owning your own development and success.

NOW: For this quick self-diagnostic tool, I want you to assign a score of “1 through 5” for the statements below, where 5 is rated as absolutely brilliant  and a score of 1 for the need of urgent help in that area.

What I hope you can see is in which areas you may need improvement.


- Read the above competencies and on a piece of paper, or spreadsheet, mark your scores for each statement.

- Next write a one-sentence reason you rated yourself this way.

- Finally review your answers with a colleague, friend, spouse or other person you trust.  For fun, you could even print the five statements out and have someone else rate you first and then see how your own assessment matches up.

- If you have any statements with scores below a three in ANY category, you need to find a coach or a leadership development trainer in your company or simply email me for advice.  Do not let a 1 or 2 score go untreated because, if you do, it’s like a small fracture that’s being ignored and it will become a break over time.

We all know from decades of teaching that leaders are critical when you consider the complexities of a well-run company. Teams at a company do not do what they are told, they do what they see the leaders demonstrate as it pertains to the above core competency areas. When the leader does not focus on the needed changes in their deficient competency, a company can quickly decline in the following areas: company culture, results, and employee satisfaction.  For you and your new Life Disrupted, I suggest you take this self-assessment on a monthly basis and talk to different people to see how you can improve each area needing attention.  Most of all, be fearless around learning, growing and Disrupting your own life.

Was this useful?  Comment to me your comments and questions.  Next week I will send you another message with tools you can use to improve in each of the five core competencies.

Todd Mitchem

As seen on...


The Future of Cannabis in America

The Future of Cannabis in America

"I am sure this article will be met with criticism from the industry I love.  I’m ok with that."

Lessons learned, what to know, and unintended consequences we are learning about in the legal states.

by Todd Mitchem

Is your state contemplating the legalization of cannabis, either medically, recreationally or both?  Perhaps your state has already pushed ahead with this effort and is now ready to build a regulatory framework to allow for businesses that will bring products to consumers?  You may even live in one of the 24 states where medical cannabis is now legal or one of the four (and the District of Columbia) that allow for some form of recreational use.  If you are like most Americans (57% at last poll) you believe that cannabis should be legal, at least medically.  But, like most Americans, you might still be confused about what a country with legalized cannabis will mean to your daily life.  Your concerns about teenage consumption, your own consumption, your co-workers, etc. could be going unanswered.  No doubt you hear a constant barrage of all the good that cannabis does, both to the body and to tax revenue, but who is answering your questions about the long-term societal impact?  Until now, not many people.  What will it change and how will you be impacted?  Will it be the cure-all we hear about or a path to a nation of burnouts?  The answers are as complicated as the plant itself.

A little over ten years ago the main way you bought marijuana was from a “guy” or “gal” that you, or someone you know, knew.  It was a shady deal at best and in the end you ended up with a “bag of weed” that hopefully was good.  Sometimes it was and sometimes that bag was filled with a slew of seed-filled garbage.  Most people were not thinking of cannabis as a form of pain relief or elixir at all.  Instead it was used as a smokable or an edible that you made at home.  It was a drug to most Americans and we fought it hard. We even had a “war” declared against it, just like the alcohol prohibition of the 20’s and 30’s.  The war on weed brought huge budgets for the DEA and massive profits for the many illegal operators, mafia, and cartels.  That is all changing, but we are foolish if we put our heads in the sand and think it’s all good with cannabis. While there are certainly many benefits to the plant on a medical level, we need to now, more than ever, focus on all the moving parts that depict what life for America would look like if we made weed legal nationally....

Life Disrupted

Life Disrupted

Life Disrupted

Why I do what I do and live the way I live.

By Todd Mitchem


When my sister Holli was born, she was normal for one day.  The most special day of my sister's new life was that 24 hours when my parents had hopes and dreams for her, they could see a bright future for their now well-rounded family of two kids.  I am sure leading up to my sister’s birth they talked about all the things she might become and wondered what dreams she would have in life.  As all parents, do my parents envisioned a life with two amazing kids growing up together and living a blessed life. 


On her second day of life, during a nurse's extended shift change, something went terribly wrong.  My sister Holli lost oxygen for a long time.  Her oxygen loss was so severe that when she was discovered her skin was a dark blue color.  Tragedy had struck our young family and on only the second day of such a hopeful event.  After she was revived, she was never going to be the same; this massive oxygen loss left my sister with permanent scar tissue on her brain and, in effect, left her mentally disabled.  The brain scaring had also caused epileptic seizures that would often send her to the hospital in the middle of the night causing strokes, near death experiences and incredible stress for our family. 


At the age of 5 my life was forever altered.  What I would learn years later was that my sister's disability would send my life in directions I would have never imagined.


What is your motivation?


Growing up, I was imbued with the feeling that I had to do things differently than other people.  Because my sister could not do many things or go out in the world and experience what I could, I soaked up life like a hungry sponge. 



I could add more to this, but it speaks for itself.  I will say this, it is time for a unification of this industry and we are starting that unification NOW!

Todd Mitchem

Cannabis Leaders to speak to Attorneys General study groups about national canabis standards.  

Industry groups announce first white papers submitted for regulatory review for by Attorneys General cannabis Nationally-Recognized Organizations Complete Seven Month Work on
Comprehensive Cannabis Standards for Review By State Attorneys General
Seven months after being challenged by the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) to partner with and draft standards for the cannabis industry, the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Production (CRCP) announces that the first white papers are ready for review and have been submitted to states’ attorneys general.
CRCP received feedback on the white papers from its members, as well as the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH). The Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards (FOCUS) also submitted input before sending the drafts to CWAG for comments and responses from attorneys general cannabis study groups. The papers detail good manufacturing practices for all areas of the cannabis industry, including cultivation, retail, extraction, infused products, security, sustainability, packaging and labeling, and laboratory testing.  
“Our group’s members need to see standards. We need to see regulations. We need to see protocols,” said Karen White, executive director of the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG). “At our July 2015 meeting, attorneys general from across the nation asked this partnership to give us your best suggestions. The industry needed to get organized and take the initiative to get regulatory standards on the table. Through the Coalition, they have responded and we are listening. The Coalition has been a credible resource for our national study groups to turn to.”
“We are looking forward to reviewing these options for standards, developed by these national leaders in the cannabis industry who have taken the lead in working with the attorneys general cannabis study groups,” said Karl A. Racine, Attorney General of the District of Columbia. “This valuable input will start the conversation on how the industry can begin to initiate appropriate parameters of regulatory discipline, using tough standards that will hold producers accountable, while protecting public health and safety, as well as consumers. Further, jurisdictions like the District that are dealing with the impacts of legalization will be able to insure that best practices are established.” General Racine went on to state, “I applaud CWAG for taking the lead in establishing the study groups.  This action allows public policy makers the opportunity to study and review potential issues in a very legitimate and methodical way.”
The multidisciplinary approach of these three nationally recognized organizations brings a robust 360-degree approach to cannabis industry standards policy, building upon strong working relationships with attorneys general throughout the nation.
“The industry is excited to work diligently and responsibly on these standards. We welcome the leadership role CWAG has taken, and believe that the attorneys general are a very important body of regulators with which to collaborate,” said Michael Bronstein, Lead Consultant to the American Trade Association for Cannabis & Hemp.

“The lack of federal oversight has left a significant gap in the cannabis industry, leaving the health and safety of patients and consumers at risk. FOCUS standards were created to address that need,” said Lezli Engelking, founder of FOCUS.
This month, the FOCUS standards will be opened up for a 30-day public review period, providing all stakeholder groups with the opportunity to comment and ask questions before the standards are released into the marketplace. “FOCUS standards protect public health, promote consumer safety and safeguard the environment by providing business owners and regulators with cannabis specific guidelines that proactively control for quality,” Engelking said.
“CRCP, ATACH and FOCUS recognize that the attorneys general have given the industry the privilege and opportunity to initiate this important discussion regarding regulation. With that comes great responsibility to do better than other industries regarding health and public safety,” said Todd Mitchem, spokesman for CRCP.  "We know there are great companies out there that have a lot to offer in this process, and we want them to play a part. We want these companies to be partners as well and get involved in the feedback process.”
About the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH): The American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp is a 501(c)(6) organization that promotes the expansion, protection, and preservation of businesses engaged in the legal trade of industrial, medical, and recreational cannabis and hemp-based products. Board Members include major industry players, such as Medicine Man Technologies, Keef Cola, and Boveda, Inc. More information at www.atach.org.
About the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Production (CRCP): The Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Production is a nationally focused organization promoting the establishment of production standards industry wide, based on the premise that the cannabis industry must step forward in a role to promote self-regulation in a responsible and realistic way. The three primary focus areas are public health and safety, consumer protection and law enforcement as it pertains to continuity of regulation and standards. Members include incredibles, Digipath Labs, MMJ America, Ion, Beacon Information Designs and others. More information at www.crcpinitiative.com.
About the Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards (FOCUS): FOCUS is an independent, third-party, non-profit, international cannabis standards development organization created to protect public health, promote consumer safety and safeguard the environment. FOCUS is the only organization to create voluntary consensus standards suitable for accreditation and adoption into regulations by assuring impartiality, balance and transparency in the development process. FOCUS provides detailed standards and current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) guidelines for all key areas of the cannabis industry: cultivation, extraction, infusion, retail/dispensary, laboratory, security, packaging/labeling and sustainability. FOCUS is not a trade association and does not accept dues or fees from any members. More information at www.focusstandards.org.
Todd MItchem
www.CRCPinitiative .com


      Leadership – Leading is Learning

      Leadership – Leading is Learning

      Leadership – Learn to Lead

      Leadership:  It’s a word we throw around a great deal in any business environment.  But exactly what is quality leadership and how can you be a better leader for your business?  In this Better Business series, I am working to help you, the entrepreneur and small business leader, work toward building the best brand, company, strategy and team possible so you will ultimately achieve success.  The linchpin in the success of your business will always be your leadership quality and that of your fellow leaders.  When the company begins to evolve and grow, the leadership skills that got you to a certain point will not be adequate to take you to new heights.  You and your fellow leaders will need to evolve by discovering new skills, hiring a coach or hiring a company to come in and teach you what you don’t know.  What I have discovered after years of working with large companies and working to build start-up brands is that, regardless of the size of the company, leadership skill is an ongoing process of attainment.


      Top Picks from Todd: Why I picked ‪@dubyapp as the app to watch in 2016

       Top Picks from Todd: Why I picked @dubyapp as the app to watch in 2016

      App Technology in the Cannabis Space for Meeting People

      When I think of all the good that is being done in the cannabis industry, I get really excited.  Since I have been working with or founding top brands in the space for three years, my eye is tuned to the things that really work long term versus the companies or multitude of ideas that will ultimately be wiped out as soon as the cannabis movement goes mainstream and HUGE players move into the space. (Yes, that’s going to happen.)

      So today I wanted to kick off this series of “Top Picks from Todd” to focus on something that is near and dear to my heart:  namely app technology in the cannabis arena for social networking.  After I spent time on the apps MassRoots, Facebook, Duby, Instagram, and High There!, I quickly realized that there was one standout which really captured what I think is the essence of a new age of cannabis social media in a very unique way.

      A State of Social Networking for Cannabis Lovers

      Facebook this past month has been shutting down page after page of cannabis-related companies.  It is staggering how fast and how many they are closing.  Instagram is doing the same thing, only faster and in a more rude fashion (like deleting everything, seriously.) So in the mainstream social networking space, all you tens of millions of legal cannabis consumers in the US alone are getting more and more rejected and stigmatized.  Furthermore, canna-businesses, who collectively generated revenue in 2015 of over $5b in the US, are locked out constantly.

      What we have needed in the cannabis app space is a new face that could speak to three generations of consumers, engage the user base, and ultimately bring cannabis into the mainstream.

      My Top Social Networking and Business Promotional app in the cannabis space is Duby!




      As I stated above, up until now no single app has asked the question, “How do we embrace ALL cannabis consumers, give them an addicting platform that makes them want to spend hours connecting and sharing, and actually stay focused on amazing stable tech?”  Duby has conquered this and it is starting to catch fire.  When launching, Duby sought to do what ALL major successful apps (Snapchat, Periscope, Pinterest) did and that was to build an amazing stable product. 

      I pass the Duby…Do you?

      When you begin to use the app, right away you will be taken into a world of sharing (passing) and you will become addicted to the total control you have over putting out someone’s image or passing the Duby to others.  The best part is that when you post you can see instantly not only how far your Duby travelled, but also how many times it was passed.

      Another cool feature is the ability to message people when you see their Duby.  That’s a really fun way to connect with all types of your fellow lovers of cannabis, and perhaps cannabis lovers.  Once you have a large group of followers you can pass a Duby to them all at once! How cool is that?

      Businesses get to pass the Duby too and it’s changing the ad game.

      Duby is also packing some real fire with the way they allow businesses, ANY BUSINESS, to build a profile and pass Dubys.  When I watch brands in Duby, I watch to see if an ad campaign resonated with users or not, and this feedback is instant.  I predict that when the word gets out about this app and how businesses can use it without fear of being shut down, it will catch on like fire.

      But why does it work so well?

      Duby is so addictive and powerful for a very important and innovative reason.  You—as the user of the app—NEVER get a chance to opt out of participation.  You either put out a Duby or pass it.  I like when cool apps hook my attention immediately. This is an experiential environment that feels and looks good.  Unlike Instagram, where you simply voyeuristically stare at the screen while at the DMV, Duby wants your participation.  I predict you will love interacting with users, companies, and perhaps even a celebrity or two.

      I also believe that in the future, Duby will dominate the app space in general because it appeals to the mainstream consumer AND the dedicated weed genius.  And even though right now there are many marijuana pictures (people are proud of their plants evidently), there are more and more people posting motivational material, cool pics, videos and ads that make us laugh.  I predict we will see a major mainstream celebrity and a politician passing Dubys before long.

      For all of this and the trends I am seeing in the mainstream app world for social networking, I feel that Duby should be YOUR choice for having a great time:  by passing your unique Dubys to your friends or to make new friends.  And if you have a company that is looking to speak directly to cannabis-loving consumers (who, by the way, love Uber, good food, and have disposable income), I suggest you build your profile and see if you are clever enough to get your Duby passed.

      Todd Mitchem





      OnDuby: toddmitchem

      SHARKS IN THE WATER - How to avoid these BAD investors.

      SHARKS IN THE WATER - How to avoid these BAD investors.

      Making your business better series – 1. SHARKS IN THE WATER - The top three investors to AVIOID when raising funds for your startup or small business.


      by Todd Mitchem


      I have now started and been involved in many companies in the cannabis industry with great success, but along the way I have learned many lessons that I apply to all new ventures so those become well-oiled machines.  Some of these lessons came from watching my friends, colleagues and other business leaders struggle with mistakes.  Other examples come from my direct experiences not only in the cannabis space but from my time with the company, Eagle’s Flight where we literally changed massive organizations from the inside.  In this series, “Making your business better”, I will be talking about all types of mistakes you can make in your venture, but today let’s start with something on a great deal of minds, the investor.  If you are involved in, founded, or lead a small company, chances are you are talking about investors.  After all, you need money to build the business scale and increase market share.  No one is saying that you should not be focused on raising funds.  However, I want to help you raise the right funds so that your company can thrive and you can do this by avoiding the Bad Investor that can destroy your team, your company and your life.


      Remember, your company, your partnerships and the employees you hire are not throwaway things in the name of “making money”.  In fact making money should never be your primary focus.  Doing good, building a sustainable company, and changing the world are focuses that will lead you down a better path to success. If you are starting or building any company, either in the cannabis industry or not, I hope that this list of three investors to avoid will help you dodge the pitfalls and guide you as you build a great organization.  Remember there are lots of investors out there who all have money and want to give it to you.  But, many want to take over, destroy your team and think they have all the answers.  They don’t.  The good investors focus on very different things (which I will cover at the end).  First I will arm you with the profiles of the three most common investor types.


      Bad investors – What defines a good or bad investor?  That is the question that I ponder constantly as I embark on or advise on new start up ventures.  One thing is for certain, in our world, we need cash to grow any business, but as the founder, business leader or person responsible for finding investors you need to be aware that there are sharks in the water disguised as dolphins and they can destroy your business fast.  Most business or start up entrepreneurs will define investors with such words like, Angel, Private Equity, VC etc.  Those are really sexy names for the types of money you can obtain but they don’t really tell you about what kind of person that investor is.  I have defined the bad types of investors differently regardless of what money backs them.  As your company grows, these types of investors can destroy it faster than anything.


      1.     The Salesman – This type of investor, regardless of where his or her money comes from, is scary.  They come in slick, smart and aggressive and all throughout the initial interaction they convince you that you need them.  Like a good sales person who tells you, “What will happen to your family if you don’t buy this life insurance?” these pushy and often fast talkers are in it for one reason, MONETAZATION.  Nothing else matters.  In fact, these people make you believe fast that you can’t survive without them, which is completely false because there are lots of money options out there.  Also they are VERY skilled at dissecting your business quickly to determine where the weakness is, so they can exploit it to gain advantage.  Usually through “wine and dine” effect, this type of investor will make you and others on your team fell like they are on your side and want you to be successful when in fact they are about to slice and dice you up to take over.  Once you have their money, the ruin begins swiftly.


      What to do: If you encounter this person immediately tell them NO! Don’t waste your time or your teams and NEVER give them time to get involved. The most slick among this group of investor will divide your team fast and gain advantage quickly.  The more they know you the more they will make you feel like they are your friend.  Never invite them to key meetings, or strategy sessions.  If they don’t like it when you say ‘NO’ then that is a good indication you need to exit. Just like you tell a car salesman that you are “Just looking” address The Salesman in the same way.  Say to them, “Thanks but right now we are just shopping investors. We are lucky that we get to be discerning in this area so this meeting is just a chance for us to get to know you.” Salesmen (and Saleswomen) hate this and will get frustrated quickly.


      2.     The Bully – One of my favorite people to say ‘NO’ to is the bully investor. Usually disguised as smart VC or Institutional investors, The Bully moves quick, talks fast and will often attempt to insert themselves in your leadership team’s discussions to make the team feel inferior.  The Bully asks tons of questions in condescending way and in a very rapid-fire tactic.  Make no mistake, this is simply to throw you off and make you feel like you are stupid for not knowing all the answers.  This is a tactic and used to give The Bully power over your team.  If even a few of your fellow leaders believe The Bully or side with them you have a huge problem brewing.  I have seen Bullies literally argue with founders, fight with team members and basically destroy companies of all sizes in the fastest way possible.  The Bully will also try to convince you that you don’t need certain people such as your star employees, other leaders and even founders. Why?  Because those people are often the ones that smell The Bully’s BS the fastest.  Once The Bully invests in your company and you let them in, they will use their “funds” as a leverage to control the company.  Threats will start, and often The Bully will bring in more of his or her team to tear your company apart in the name of “protecting their investment” which will not work and ultimately your business will fail as a result.  One of my former clients, before my work in the cannabis industry, got reeled-in by a Bully who invested and her company was decimated in less than a month.  She was even convinced to fire her best friend and business partner of ten years.  A decision she later fixed by bringing her back in AFTER ridding herself of the Bully investor.


      What to do: When faced with The Bully you will feel it immediately.  Unlike the more slick tactic of The Salesman, The Bully comes in hard, fast and loud. My best advice is that regardless of how much money, influence, or power The Bully seems to have, no matter the level of clout your business colleagues think The Bully brings to the table, IMMEDIATELY stop this person in their tracks by saying….loudly, “HEY, I don’t need you coming in here to tell me how to run my business.  If you want to invest I suggest you sit, learn and stop being so forceful.  We don’t work that way around here!”  If you are having dinner, for example, with The Bully, and they quickly fire off questions that it seems you will always answer wrong, this is a huge indicator that you are being hit hard and should exit quick.  Make a statement like the above and excuse yourself and your team. (note: ALWAYS take your team with you.  Leaving behind even one leader with The Bully can cause a massive problem in the group.)


      3.     The Monetizer – If you have started a company in any sector over the last few years you most likely have heard this in a meeting or two with potential investors, “How and when will you monetize?” And while that is a good question the third and very lethal type of investor you must avoid is The Monetizer.  These people have one thing and one thing on their minds, money.  They want to realize the fruits of their investment fast and hard.  Often The Monetizer will want you to compromise your standards, culture, employees or fellow leaders in the name of making money.  You will know right away because the first or nearly first question out of their mouth is about money.  These investors also want to realize their investment fast and often with a loss of massive equity. 


      What to do: The Monetizer is simple to stop fast and with the right statement they will leave you.  Unlike The Salesman who will keep trying to convince you or The Bully who will rip your team apart with aggression, The Monetizer wants nothing to do with a company that is not focused solely on making money.  If you value your brand, product, service, team and fellow leaders/founders, all you need to say to The Monetizer is, “Our focus is on building a great company and slowly, over time, we will make great income.  Right now however we are focused on team, product (or service) and structure.”  This works because it bores The Monetizer to death.


      4.     The Investinator, the combination – The most lethal of all the bad investors is The Investinator because this investor is a lethal fluid combination of al three.  He or she invades your company like a virus and with each new team member they meet they work using the skills of all three bad investor types when needed on demand.  For example, The Investinator will sit in a leadership meeting and systematically sell (The Salesman) your leadership team on how important their involvement and why it is urgent they invest to “save” you.  Then at a meeting with key team members they will ask a barrage of questions (The Bully) to make your team feel inferior and like your fellow leaders are not intelligent enough to lead them to success.  Then they will invite you, your team, and perhaps partners outside the company to a dinner or lunch they pay for (the Saleman) to begin to harp on making revenue, and driving profit. (The Monetizer).  Like a carefully crafted holster holding the weapons of choice, The Investinator prepares to attack your company from the inside using precision and care.  They sell the team on their involvement, infuse ill will between your leaders and then demand a moneymaking strategy immediately after signing.  The Investinator is dangerous on a level you can’t imagine because to your face they are smart and sell you, then in a moment’s notice they turn on you, your team and your company. 


      What to do: Unfortunately, if you let The Investinator into your company the way back is difficult.  Why?  Because by the time you let them in, your team has been abruptly and largely infected.  It will take you isolating the entire team from the top down, in a forum for logical and thought “reset” conversation AWAY from The Investinator.  You will now need to become a bit of a MI-6 agent infiltrating every part of your own company in secret away from The Investinator and his or her allies.  This is difficult work and often fails. So the best advice to avoid this investor is to follow the above steps for any signals of the three bad investor types.  Act fast and keep your team close.



      Example: A perfect real world example of how I have actually had to fend off just such investors came in my recent investment and launch of IONvape.com.  Right away at launch a “Big Money” guy contacted me.  In the first VERY expensive lunch he paid for (The Salesman) he immediately worked to “teach me” that I needed his involvement and I MUST, as he put it, “act fast.”  He then asked to conduct some needed meetings with my existing team to get a “feel” for the company and when I refused he started hitting me with a barrage of rapid-fire questions (The Bully) to prove me wrong.  What happened next was beautiful because I had already prepped myself for this type of investor.  I simply stood up, said thank you for lunch, and told him we would call him after we met with other investors. His reaction was priceless as he said, “I will need you to tell me now if we are moving to a next level or not so I can make my decisions.”  Trying not to laugh out loud I remembered some advice my father once gave me, “If someone needs the answer now then tell them it is no.”  So I did and left.  Disaster averted.  In the end we found amazing investment from good sources and launched our crowdfund for further raise on schedule. Mission accomplished.


      Your company must be good or they would not be there.


      Something to remember about your company and investment, if you have an interested funding source sitting in your conference room or office ask yourself why are they there?  It is not because your company and all you have built are a failure.  Despite how bad the bad investor attempts to convince you that your company is, that person is sitting with you to talk investment BECAUSE your company is already great at something.  You got their attention not because you and your team are a gaggle of idiots.  You got the attention of the investor because they want to put money into your organization for some type of benefit.  This point is something you must remember when you sit with investors so you can have the discernment to find a good one.


      So how do you find a GOOD investor. 


      The key lies in your goals.  If you are clear about your company and your goals then you will find people who, either with an institution or individual, want to invest with you.


      Remember, good investors don’t have any interest in destroying your team, changing founders, firing leaders, quick money making measures or to be in charge.  In fact the best money I have ever received from investors, including most recently,  came from people who believed in the team’s long-term vision and sought to support it with both funds and advice.  Good investors also NEVER want to be in charge or to force their opinion in the name of “protecting” their investment.  Instead they spent a great deal of time up front with the team building trust, camaraderie, authenticity, and understanding.  Good investors care about people, culture and common goals.  They themselves have often been leaders so they understand how important a team is.  Lastly, the best type of investor you want is the one who wants to build a long-term sustainable company that is focused on smart goals, exciting developments, and let’s you and your team continue to build on what you are doing that is working.  These good investors know that if they mess with the current successful system instead of support it they run the risk of damaging it irrevocably.  While you may all see an “exit” strategy, the good investor does not focus on that as the end game.  They understand that through building a great company, with key loyal team members, and a great product or service is how a company wins.


      Coming next in this series:


      2.     Leadership – The good the bad and the best

      3.     Goals – What you Focus on is What you Get

      4.     Competition – Why it’s not real and how to really thrive

      5.     Control Freak – How to avoid micromanaging

      Dear Santa, here are the five things this “Sophisticated Stoner” wants for Christmas.

      by Todd Mitchem

      Yes.  I still believe in the Big Guy. Call me old fashioned but I believe we should all believe in the spirit of the season.  This year I think our society has finally reached a place where people like me, the millions of “high” performing cannabis consumers out there, can stand up and boldly say, “I have a very special Christmas gift list!” With a mother who consumes cannabis daily for her cancer treatment, to a father who now lives in a state where it is legal, my family understands that this year is different.  I believe 2015 marked the beginning of the normalization of cannabis consumers. People like me can be proud to say they consume AND get things done everyday.  So, this year I am asking for very specific gifts that pertain to the herb I care so much about.

      What should you be on the lookout for when it comes to giving gifts to that special “Sophisticated Stoner” in your life?  Below are my top five choices and where you can grab these items just in time for the holidays.

      1)   Stash Logix - (http://www.stashlogix.com) - Founded in Boulder, Colorado in 2014 by Skip Stone, STASHLOGIX was developed on the principles of cannabis safety. As a dad, he believed that a cool stash box should be created to keep all consumers’ weed safe from outside eyes, noses and curiosities.  So they built a selection of stylish, multi-functional containers that have changed the game around product safety.  I personally have one and love it.  I have asked for another one—only larger—as my desire for new methods of consumption is growing. 

      2)   Annabís – (http://www.annabisstyle.com) - Jeanine Moss and Ann Shuch are two of the kindest and most amazing people in the industry.  They created AnnaBís, pronounced Anna-Bee, as the first fashion brand for the elegant woman (or man) who cares about every detail of his or her lifestyle, even the hidden one. Crafted of fine leathers, intricate jacquard interiors, and designed by people who sketch for Isaac Mizrahi, Coach and Federated, these high quality accessories are right at home around high society or just your family for the holiday. Incredibly functional, they are outfitted with secret compartments and tiny little aroma-locking innovations to safely carry a stash of stinky French cheeses or your exotic greens.  This is the perfect gift for the amazing canna-woman in your life who loves style as well as the canna-fella who wants to transport in style. (YES I LIKE A MAN BAG NOW AND THEN).

      3)   MagicalButter - (https://store.magicalbutter.com) - Founded by Garyn Angel in 2012, MagicalButter makes canna-infused Butters, Oils, Tinctures, Soups, Sauces, Salad Dressings, Skin Care Products, Pet Medicines, and more all from one convenient machine.  We had one of these at the office and loved it.  Now it has made my personal wish list for this holiday.  The machine is incredible. Easy to use, easy to clean and gets the job done.  If you have a cannabis chef in your life (or someone who is aspiring to be one), this is the gift for them.  Just make sure you operate this one when the kids are nestled in their beds dreaming of sugarplums or get ready to educate them on the difference between magical butter and the kind that goes on the toast.

      4)   JetLine Super Torch – (http://www.amazon.com/JetLine-Hurricane-Triple-Lighter-Chrome/dp/B000WXRLZW) - To say that this lighter is simply a cool and awesome lighter would be the understatement of the year, so let’s just say it’s freaking awesome. You can light anything with this powerhouse (and even do some stylish light welding).  I first discovered this from a friend who is a cigar aficionado, but it applies greatly to any cannabis smoker’s collection. With a powerful triple jet torch flame (yes, it works outside in the wind!) and gas refillable feature, you will love everything about this one. I am asking for the sleek silver design but it comes in many colors and styles for men and women. Bonus, you get a nice gift box with fabric pouch also. 

      5)   Sonos Bluetooth Speakers – (http://www.sonos.com/?r=1) I have had these now at two offices. When you are consuming a nice hybrid to sit back and listen to music to, these are the speakers for you.  With only a few select units in each room, you will hear sound like you have never heard it before. Sonos is the smart speaker system that streams all your favorite music to any room, or every room. Control your music with one simple app, and fill your cannabis home party, even if a party for one, with pure, immersive sound. 

      There you have it—my list for the Big Guy to hopefully fill by Christmas.  Regardless of how you celebrate the holiday, these gifts are sure to excite, energize and make happy any cannabis-loving person on your list this year.  Feel free to share and comment.

      How to build a foundation with those things currently blocking you.

      by Todd Mitchem

      block |bläk|


      an obstacle to the normal progress or functioning of something : substantial demands for time off may constitute a block to career advancement | an emotional block.

      Watching the world around me while I ride this amazing river of life is, in essence, watching my favorite reality show in real time. The difference is we get to interact and impact the world around us. One of my favorite places to observe is in an airport. That is, after I am patted down and searched for being the “Pot Guy.” 

      At an airport, you have a large conglomeration of people who don’t know each other all trying to achieve the common goal of getting wherever it is they’re trying to go--literally and figuratively. When you mix a lot of people who harbor fear, anger, personal importance, lack of vision, misguided priorities, selfish behavior, and years of egoic story telling, it produces a scene that is unfailingly interesting to watch. You see people get lost in a sea of negative emotion fueled by internal and external blocks.  While entertaining to watch, I find myself wanting to help.  After all, we are all in this together.

      One time last year I was passing through airport security and observed a gentlemen arguing with TSA. The TSA informed the man he was going to have to take his computer out of its case and send it through the X-ray machine. While TSA “service” can be hit or miss, this particular agent was both patient and kind. Still, the man became enraged. He took the case with the computer inside, and threw it at the officer. “Get it yourself,” he yelled. As the police walked up it was clear this man was about to experience another, even more stressful situation. His attitude definitely dictated his experience and his mental blocks were keeping him from a more fulfilling life experience, not to mention a peaceful travel experience.                     

      Your attitude dictates your experience

      Remember, we can’t always control a situation, but we can control the way we FEEL while we are experiencing tough times. Our feelings in moments of perceived stress make all the difference in the world to our overall life experience. When the only thing you can control is you, by all means, assert that control.

      So why does this happen? Why are we allowing ourselves to be carried with the currents, gasping for air when we could simply ride along peacefully in celebration of life? The reason, in my opinion, is something we create inside ourselves using a lifetime of behavioral conditioning passed on from generation to generation. We build a foundation for living on sand but then are shocked when the house shakes in the wind. The things that stop us from experiencing joy in life feel very real, but are easily repurposed for good.

      The reason we experience so much fear and anger is simple: we all have blocks—much like the roadblocks police use when trying to apprehend someone. In that case, the purpose of a roadblock is to not allow you to take a certain path. Blocks from within have a similar function, but they are constructed by your ego to stop you from escaping from its grasp.  In short, they are an obstacle to finding our true selves. By removing these blocks you allow things, people, situations, and circumstances you desire to literally free flow into your reality. The blocks do not need to be broken down or destroyed, but merely moved out of the way or used to build better reality.. In fact, I don’t find my self “unblocking” my pain or anger. Instead, I try to get to the deeper meaning of why I feel these emotions in the first place and then utilize that knowledge for positive results.

      So where do these blocks originate? Some are learned, and some are taught by our caregivers. Sometimes for reasons that made perfect sense at the time, but fail to serve us in adulthood. Whoever was responsible for raising you placed some of the initial (and often most difficult) blocks inside of you. Over time, these blocks can become something more dangerous and damaging…..a belief. Then, by Law of Attraction, these thoughts or beliefs attract the exact situations to prove you right. The block then anchors to your awareness as the ONLY reality.

      In the cannabis industry, for example, there is a constant hum of activity.  Most companies are start-ups that function with their founders essentially running the show.  While the founders may desire to break free of this constant grind and want people to do the jobs they hire them for, they struggle to allow people to do things in new and different ways.  This creates a push-pull situation for the workers seeking the autonomy they feel they need to do their jobs properly.  

      Where do the founder’s blocks come from in the cannabis world?

      First you need to remember that the founders of these small businesses built a framework for an entire industry around a federally illegal substance. No small feat, to be sure.  With the constantly evolving new standards however, founders are faced with blocks caused by the desire to protect what they see as a fragile business model that could be taken away at any moment.  When you couple this fear with the intense pride in having built an industry, you get a potential wall of blocks. In addition, opposition groups are constantly attempting to block cannabis legalization and cannabis businesses.  What is this based in?  Mostly fear of the unknown.  Will this ruin our kids, our society, and kill productivity?  Will edibles make us crazy? Will I get high and crash my car? 

      That pride can also be dangerous for the industry.  You will hear often these cannabis founders say it is not fair that people want to come into the industry when they didn't experience any of the sacrifice.  Others will criticize the ancillary businesses cropping up as not legitimate because they did not forge the teritory.  I wonder if the gold miners felt this way about Levi Strauss?  Ultimately, the cannabis industry will evolve and hopefully all us founders will evolve with it.  I have met some that are well on their way, even if their team brings them kicking and screaming.  But still, coming from the business world, I can tell you that all leaders, parents, and people create blocks.  The irony of the cannabis industry is that you would think the amazing plant we all cultivate and consume would eliminate blocks instantly.  It doesn't. Weed will definitely help you but you need to do the work. 

      Goals change blocks from barricades to building blocks

      block |bläk|


      - A basic unit from which something is built up

      In many ways, the cannabis industry is built on this concept because it has been overcoming challenges for a long time, but continues to move forward because we all have the gaol of building great businesses and eventually making cannabis legal. Companies constantly face a sea of regulations, rules and sudden shifts in opinion on the part of lawmakers.  When you factor in the endless barrage of news about cannabis, edibles fears, banking issues, and a relentless scrutiny from opposing forces, you can see how people in the marijuana industry MUST have a goal focused mentality and keep building.

      The perfect example came from a contentious radio show interview!

      There is no better example than an interview I had with Denver conservative radio personality Dan Caplis, early in 2014. This interview came on the heels of our state making cannabis legal and we at O.penVAPE were becoming widely recognized as the larget brand in cannabis.  Times were exciting and the media was decending on us to discuss our growth, our plans for the future, and how we were going to help guide the other brands in the industry.  As the company CRO, spokesperson and person responsible for many of the new revenue streams, I was excited to talk with the media.  After all, it was my personal mission to help guide the public and cannabis companies on developing high standards while eradicating the typical weed user stereotypes.  The one day I was asked by a producer on Dan’s show if I would come on to talk about the industry, O.penVAPE, and our plans. 

      I am not one to run from a challenge so I wholeheartedly accepted the conversation and interview.  After all, I wanted to prepare for a future appearance on Bill O’Reilly and who knew what other shows, so this would serve as a warm up act.

      Or so I thought.....


       Roughly an hour before my appearance, I got a call from one of the O.penVAPE founders who said Dan’s show changed the title and topic.  Now we were going to be talking about vape pens in high schools and how bad cannabis was for Colorado.  I was not prepared for that, but again because I believe getting around my fear blocks and finding a way to use every situation to build something better, I said, “let’s roll.” I remembered my goals and remained focused on them.  There was no way I would let this interview spin me into a reactive mindset.

      What came next was one of the most challenging interviews I have ever given. Dan and I were in a dance of opinion coupled with a battle of wits around legal cannabis.  It was a dance for sure, but I kept referring back to our standards as a company, the medicinal benefits of cannabis, and my own High Standards.


      By the time the interview was over, Dan and I “hugged it out” and laughed. I held my own, never got rattled, and was quite proud of having sparred with one of the greats in radio.  As I left however, I reflected on how much I had to keep taking my blocks and using them to build a stronger foundation.  It kept me grounded and sane in a very difficult situation. This was one of the best interviews in my career! 

      By applying this learning to your work, your team, your leadership skills and your life. you are giving yourself access to a strong base.  Remember, no one gets to tell you who you are.  That is your job. And no one can put a block in front of you. EVERY BLOCK CAN BE USED TO BUILD SOMETHING BETTER!  Every time.  I know because I have done it over and over again.

      Steps to turn blocks into building tools for something better.

      1) Remember to stay focused on your positive goals. - Even when someone is throwing blocks at you or you are letting emotion create reactive blocks, you can turn these around.  You need to know what the ultimate goal is and stay focused.

      2) Turn away from negative emotion. - Negative emotion is telling you that your mind is going int he wrong direction. When this happens you MUST remind yourself of the real goal.  Don't allow passion turn into negative emotion when you feel attacked. You will serve yourself better if you remain focused.

      3) Remember that you can ALWAYS build something new. - Even in the worst situations, the ones when all feels like it is falling apart, you can use what is happening to make the outcome more in alignment with your goals. Remember my interview.  I took the blocks inside myself, the ones that he tried to put in front of me, and I turned it into something powerful. I have done this in many situations and it works.  But only if my focus remans clear.  For you the same applies.  Only you know your truth and your vision.  Stay focused!

      Please comment and tell me what you think or share a story of your blocks.


      Doing good never felt so good.

      What an exciting time!  With now multiple successful cannabis projects under my belt, it is time to move onto three important causes that need my full attention.  It's also time to do more good work around the US by raising the bar for all cannabis start ups, legalization efforts, and building quality standards.

       First a quick note about High There! 

      Wow, what a journey, and an amazing one for sure.  I have spent a year making something and bringing together a team of amazing people to build the world’s first global social network for cannabis enthusiasts.  And we nailed it!  I am so proud of the work we accomplished, the friendships that have been made, and the amazing people I brought together to carry on the mission.  Like with most start up environments that I have ever been involved in, there is a time to move on to the next venture.  That being said, this one was tough to leave.  

      However, I have felt a calling for some bigger things and it was time to hand the reigns over to another team. The new team has full time leaders who will carry the torch to more greatness.  A special note, I applaud the brilliance of Mitch Lane, CTO and the entire original team at High There! and I know they will continue to be successful.  - (You can see some of the media samples of this part of my journey here)

      Onward. Time to change, everything.

      Those of you who know me, already know, that I have a real passion for two things: helping others and cannabis.  I also tend to disrupt t the space with my work. Thus, now with my newest projects I will get to satisfy all these elements at once.  

      In this industry we have a real chance to build products, philanthropy, and education that will not only finally move cannabis into the mainstream legal framework, but will also be a leader industry for other industries to follow.  Over my years in the space, I have seen much passion, innovation, and exciting new technologies develop.  Now, for my current work it was time to go to a new level and apply my nearly 18 years of business experience to the new and exciting future for the cannabis movement.

       Safe, Clean, Consumption - Building clean tech 

      There is a very special project I am collaborating on that will change the world of cannabis consumption and do so in a way, that will be best for all consumers.  As you may already know, my mother is a terminal cancer survivor and used cannabis to stop her cancer in its tracks.  Because there are more people like my mother and people that use cannabis, I wanted to be a part of a truly innovative and revolutionary product line. A product that makes cannabis consumption the safest method on Earth, for people like my mother.  Keep connected to me for the update and launch which is coming very soon. 

       “THE WAY” – Home for mentally disabled who will also work in the cannabis industry

      You may not be aware that I have an amazing sister who is developmentally disabled.  She is a light in the world, but similar to the nearly 5 million people like her in the US, she lacks adequate options to independently live and work.  Therefore, with the help of family, friends, and the industry, my company TMC will be launching “THE WAY”.  A new way of life for adults with mental disabilities. 

      What will make this ranch environment special is that it is not only a facility for people with mental disabilities to live and work, but we will be employing these adults in the cannabis industry.  I am proud of those of you who came out in support of this effort over the last couple of weeks and who have agreed to employ these workers when we are up and running.  I will update you all on the progress of this project, but for now you can get involved by emailing my assistant with your interest. Diana@toddmitchem.com

      The Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Production

      Along with all of this, I am working deeply with the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Production to further the good work around building standards in the cannabis industry.  We are an ever growing force with quality partners and companies that want to see this industry moved to a new level of consumer protection, consumer health, and safety. In addition, helping make laws that make sense for the consumers and businesses.  You can learn more about our efforts and work with the Attorneys General across the US here: http://crcpinitiative.com

      Stay connected to all that we are doing, my new team and the amazing projects at TMC. We are dedicated to the further legitimizing of the emerging cannabis industry. - Follow my blog here: http://www.toddmitchem.com/blog/

      Also, make sure to download High There! app to stay connected to the consumers around the world who, like you, want to see cannabis legal everywhere. 



      Todd Mitchem


      TMC (Todd Mitchem Companies)   www.toddmitchem.com   

      Media Contact: John@pmbcgroup.com






      From cannabis industry to your work and life, time to unlock the fearless nature in you.

      From cannabis industry to your work and life, time to unlock the fearless nature in you.

      One thing I learned about working in the Cannabis Industry is that many of the original founders as well as current leaders and workers are fearless. They have faced jail, failed crops, media, and ridicule fromn the public. Yet they continue to push on. They seemingly ignore fear of failure because they have been given an opportunity, a privilege, to do something amazing, create an industry, and live a life of purpose.  It’s a movement.