“Diversity Makes Our Company Stand Out” 13 Industry Insider Tips With Krista Whitley of Altitude Products

Terry Kushner
Jun 14, 2018 · 9 min read

Diversity makes our company stand out. Our entire leadership team is made of women, the majority of our board are women, and the majority of my employees are veterans or members of the LGBTQ community. We hear too often that the cannabis industry is run by men in suits, but I believe that we have a unique opportunity to build organizations that value diversity and use the perspective of everyone in the organization to create more effective products. A couple of months after I created the company our family went to the Las Vegas Pride parade. As I watched Capital One and MGM with their massive floats and teams, I made it a personal goal to someday build a team who could have their own float in the parade. This last October I finally had a team large enough to be in the parade and we won for best float. My team exceeds my expectations every day and I could not be prouder to work alongside them to help people.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Krista Whitley, award-winning CEO and founder of cannabis empire Altitude Products. Krista is at the helm of a CBD and THC wellness empire that includes Whoopi Goldberg’s Whoopi & Maya and industry legend Caviar Gold in Nevada. Known in the industry as “the Queen of Collaboration”, Krista leads a team of socially responsible women and veterans in creating premium wellness products to replace dangerous pharmaceuticals, as they seek to save lives by transforming the way Americans manage chronic pain.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”? How did you first get into this business or get interested in the business?

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?

Can you share your top “5 things you need to know in order to succeed in the Cannabis industry”? Please share a story or example for each.

1. FAIL FORWARD WITH ENTHUSIASM: The one thing that I do better than anyone else I have ever met is fail forward with enthusiasm. I think it originates from being a cheerleader for a losing team in my small team, where my dad was a football coach. If you can stand on the sidelines and smile pretty while you’re getting your butt kicked in freezing weather season after season, you’re ready for the rigors of entrepreneurship. My team does a phenomenal job of iterating an idea, getting it into R&D, and getting it to market in record time. I don’t need twenty research studies or focus groups to determine if a product is a win because we are the market. We are iterating products our community has already shared their need for. There are so many voids in our industry that the opportunities are endless.

2. BE FLEXIBLE: Don’t get married to one idea of what the experience is going to look or feel like. I am never married to how we get to the finish line, but I am married to the finish line. Listen to your team and find the laziest person in the room. They’re going to be your secret weapon because they will find the most effective method to achieve what you want. Building a fast growth organization in a fast growth industry is all about effectiveness. The most valuable commodity isn’t money or talent. It’s time. Make sure everyone in your organization is optimizing every minute of their day. This will allow them to be empowered as leaders, to solve problems in real time, and to have more valuable time to give to their friends and families.

3. BET ON YOURSELF AND BET BIG: I started my company as one mom on her couch. We were profitable and cash flow positive on day one because we had to be. Too often entrepreneurs wait to raise capital or wait to get started because they think the only way to work in the cannabis industry is if they have millions of dollars. That’s crap. There is a way. There is always an opportunity, but it is going to take ingenuity, collaboration, and hard work to make it happen. If you aren’t willing to go all in on yourself, why would anyone else bet on you? Business is a risk. It’s the ultimate gamble in life and you shouldn’t be at the table unless you are willing to win or die trying.

4. GIVE IT ALL YOU’VE GOT: My team and I often say that we look both ways to cross the street and we get hit by an airplane. Accept that you don’t know what you don’t know. Whatever you focus on will grow, so you can choose to spend your time second guessing what you think Trump or Sessions are going to do or you can get to work building your business. I’m a builder. I choose to spend my waking hours building the empire that has lived in my mind for years. I’ve been in all the uncomfortable places and paid the idiot tax. I chose the wrong partners who stole our money, who never did any work, who took advantage of our altruism, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Hindsight is always 20/20, but all of those bad people led me to amazing people who support me, who carried me when I was too weak to carry myself, and who have proven their character. It’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

5. LEARN, LEARN, LEARN: Hard facts: you will never know all you need to know in this business. Commit yourself to being the most coachable student on Earth and great leaders will happily share their wisdom. Here are four books that every cannabis entrepreneur should read, study, and master: Disciplined Entrepreneurship by Bill Aulet; Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff; Scaling Up by Verne Harnish; and Hyper Sales Growth by Jack Daly. All four are my business bibles. They have all the answers to help you grow from $1 in sales to $100 million in sales.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Terry Kushner

Written by

I have an eclectic background in the media space as a writer and performer. I'm also a contributor to various prominent outlets, including POT.com

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Terry Kushner

Written by

I have an eclectic background in the media space as a writer and performer. I'm also a contributor to various prominent outlets, including POT.com

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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