“Men enter this world entitled and ready to take big risks. Women walk into the world flawed and hold back.” – Barbara Stanny
I make founding an ancillary cannabis company look easy. Women Grow went from one chapter in Denver to 30 across the US & Canada with over 1,000 monthly attendees in less than a year. Here’s a few of the unintuitive secrets to my success as a female founder in a male-dominated world.
Me enjoying a joint after speaking on stage for several hours.

Me enjoying a joint after speaking on stage for several hours.

How to Use Cannabis Personally

You may know about THC’s short-term memory effects but you may not know that new research is showing it also assists in forgetting painful memories. (This is especially important to victims of assault with PTSD as you would imagine. Support PTSD research!) My job is HARD. You would think that no one would oppose empowering women after 5,000 years of patriarchy. You would be wrong.

I’ve had some of the most important men (and a few women) tell me that Women Grow was unnecessary. One of the most influential people in the cannabis industry told me that groups that focused on gender first were never effective at drug policy change. He called groups like mine “genital groups”. I let him know that I was glad that his organization changed drug policies and I taught women entrepreneurship to create a more ethical industry.

For cannabis to win national legalization, it must gain national acceptance, and women are the swing vote in these decisions. In order to engage women voters we need to engage female consumers. I know when women lead companies they create the products that women want to buy in the shopping environments designed with women in mind. For example, topicals and high CBD edibles are two product lines that attract female customers that many male-owned dispensaries don’t carry.

Cannabis allows me to relax at the end of long day and release any remaining stress about going 20 rounds convincing a CEO on how hiring women affects his business. But on the other side of that coin, cannabis can allow me to not hold someone accountable because their failure bothers me less. My solution has been to only hire people who hold themselves to a high bar. I’m here to lead my co-workers, not supervise them.

Sue Taylor Giving Advice...I love listening to her

Sue Taylor Giving Advice…I love listening to her

How to Take Advice NOT Personally

“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”
We often get disheartened when we meet resistance, especially when it’s from people we respect. A lot of people you meet will try to convince you that they know more than you do about your business, here’s some tips on how to work with “advice”.
  • Thank everyone for their advice: but only take the advice that you agree with. Don’t make any big changes to your plans based on a two-minute party conversation. Take the advice back home and think through if it aligns with your goals and values. Let you intuition guide you for judgment calls. For fact-based calls, get multiple opinions.
  • No one knows your business better than you: remember that when your Uncle Vinnie wants to tell you how he would build a cannabis business based on his landscaping experience.
  • No one is more invested in your business than you: be especially cautious accepting advice from people who don’t care about you. Advice given after they don’t know anything about your business more than your name and state is probably not thought-out.
  • The rules of business have shifted dramatically: one of the reasons why business school went from de facto to unnecessary is that the way we’ve run businesses since the industrial revolution is dying. Old business was about how to make a widget as cheaply as possible. New business is about activating a tribe and serving them.
  • Everyone is an “expert”: especially in a new industry where newcomers become expert consultants within 6 months, everyone seems like an expert. Read Hillary Bricken’s excellent piece on warning signs that you are not dealing with an expert.
  • Take the advice of your customers first: especially if you are doing something new, the existing advice may not serve you. Align with your core paying customers first, and then figure out how to serve them with industry advice. Knowing exactly who your target customer is and what they want will make sure you stand strong for their needs.
  • If the advice doesn’t serve you: don’t listen to it! Great businesses will be built by breaking all the rules. If you are one of those new business models, the people following the rules will have a tough time catching up with you. Forge on with or without him.
 Listening to Women Grow

The Only Thing You Can Control is Your Thoughts

Any woman who is sure of her own wits, is a match, at any time, for a man who is not sure of his own temper. ― Wilkie CollinsThe Woman in White, 1859

You will face challenges, disappointments, disasters and more on your journey. The only thing you have control over is how you think about these events. Through whatever practice floats your boat (I use meditation), find techniques to guide your thinking and reframe “negative” events. I put “negative” in quotes because you can reframe every challenge into an opportunity. Remember the path to success is nowhere close to straight.


By Babs Rangaiah of Unilever (@babs26)

It’s Not About Being Perfect, It’s About Being Persistent

I have started many businesses, some still run successfully today and some died within the year. The core difference between the two is that I gave up on the dead businesses. You may be led to believe that the core reason cannabis businesses fail is because of lack of funding or regulation changes. Yes both of those things happen all the time but just as many companies have worked through those challenges as have given up. The only thing that can really stop your business is you. Get ready to shift as the rules change but never give up.

“First you jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.” – Ray Bradbury