Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started: “Regardless of your specialization, make it a point to educate yourself on all facets of the industry.” with Dana Leavy-Detrick and Fotis Georgiadis

Regardless of your specialization, make it a point to educate yourself on all facets of the industry. Everything is interconnected, and no doubt what transpires from a legal, policy, or financial perspective, will surely have impact on the way products are manufactured, marketed, and the discussions that take place around them.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dana Leavy-Detrick.With over 15 years of years of experience as a recruiter, certified career coach, and founder of a successful resume and personal branding firm in New York, Dana is an expert at helping professionals navigate career transition. She is the founder and director of Canna Career Partners, a brand strategy, resume writing, and career consulting firm specializing in the cannabis space. Dana and her team have helped thousands of professionals in areas like marketing, cannabis, design, technology, fashion, sales, and finance navigate career transition and develop high-impact marketing tools. Her advice has been featured in Forbes, Vogue, Mashable, Fast Company, The New York Post, Refinery29, and GlassDoor.

Can you share with the ‘backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis space?

I’m a New York-based entrepreneur and director of a cannabis career consulting company called Canna Career Partners. We launched about a year ago after seeing an uptick in requests through our parent company (Brooklyn Resume Studio) for resume and career guidance from individuals looking to break into the cannabis job market.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

The last few months have been a great time for building our brand and serving this market. We’ve partnered with organizations in the New York area to educate professionals on what companies in the cannabis space look for in job applicants, and how to best position yourself for success in the market.

What’s inspiring about this industry is the diversity of people, skill sets, and stories that are coming together to move things forward and create a truly robust industry.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

We haven’t really made any big mistakes…yet.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

We are looking at ways to connect job seekers and career changers with the tools they need to transition into the cannabis market, and to promote themselves to companies that are in need of top talent. We’re doing this through a couple of core services — resume development, LinkedIn profile development, cover letters and communications, and career/interview coaching. We’re also producing a lot of content focusing on career transition, resume development, hiring trends, and job searching in the cannabis space.

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?

Not a particular person — but organizations like Women Grow, CannaGather, Cannabis Cultural Association, and others have been great resources for connecting, building knowledge, and staying abreast of what’s happening on a local and national level.

This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?

Many people who got into the cannabis space did so because of their own life-changing experience with the product, or direct connection to someone who benefitted from it. Unlike other industries, cannabis really has a component of social responsibility to it, which younger professionals find attractive. Despite the challenge of decades of stigma, it’s really emerging as a life-changing solution in so many capacities — from challenging big pharma, to shining a light on justice reform, and creating access to new business and career opportunities — particularly within underserved communities who have historically been most negatively impacted by cannabis prohibition.

As someone who works with thousands of young professionals and has a deep understanding of what matters to them from an employment and workplace perspective, that social responsibility component ranks very highly. People want to work for a company or within an industry where their impact is visible and lasting.

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

See above regarding social responsibility.

Most Concerning:

- As the industry grows and sees an uptick in business and career opportunities, it also opens the door to dishonest business practices and individuals looking to make a quick buck. It increases the need for consumers to be diligent in researching products and brands that are reliable, tested, and proven in their effectiveness.

- Lack of consistency in regulation, based on the fact that the industry is still regulated on a state-by-state level, and lacks the cohesion of a federally-managed model. This puts businesses and consumers at risk.

- Unknown territory — will there be endless opportunity for new brands to prosper, or will the market quickly become saturated to the point where consumers become jaded by the overwhelming range of choices they have in products, brands, and services? How will reputable brands really be able to distinguish themselves, and what will be the best channels to engage those consumers in a way that fosters trust and engagement?

- Taking that a step further, the federal ban poses a unique marketing challenge to brands (and consumers, thanks to unfair bias) — as cannabis brands are treated unequally by social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Companies can pour significant time, resources, and money into building a strong brand presence, only to have their brand removed from the platform without warning. This has happened to several brands I know. It also inserts an enormous bias around what information is being communicated and made visible to cannabis consumers.

Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.

As we continue to build our presence in this space, I can think of a few things I wish I had been told before building a business in this industry:

- Exactly Where New York State Stands on Cannabis Legalization.

One of the reasons we started this business in New York was in anticipation of a rapidly growing market based on impending legalization, which was originally slated for 2019. Since then, the state and our leaders have flip-flopped on plans to bring this to fruition — impacting businesses and job seekers alike. We know the reform is coming and the opportunities will be big — but it keeps us wondering whether we will see them sooner or later, and how to position our business based on that uncertainty.

- How to Speak to People About Cannabis — as both a Product (Plant) + an Industry

One of the challenges still remains working against preconceived notions about what cannabis is (as a CBD advocate myself, it’s not just marijuana and psychoactives), who its users are, and how diverse that customer base really is. Speaking about the product is very different from speaking about the industry — and many people can’t see past longstanding stigmas to understand the real business and economic opportunities.

- How NY State Regulates the Medical Sales Process

During a recent event, we learned from NY-based Curaleaf dispensary founder that — in order to sell cannabis products in the New York medical market — you have to have a hand in the end-to-end process, from cultivation/manufacturing through sale (from “seed to sale”). While I myself am not on the plant side of the business, this poses a huge hurdle to entrepreneurs looking to get into that space, and there’s little information yet as to whether that will remain the case once adult use is legalized as well.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Many companies focus solely on the granular details of their specialty, instead of taking a holistic view of the industry and educating themselves on a much broader array of issues around cannabis.

As a service-based business, we don’t touch the plant or product in any way. However, it’s still important be knowledgeable on the market, the product, the key players, and the changing legislation. In our field (career services), the more knowledge we can share with our clients — who are largely job seekers and career changers — the greater the value we can provide them, and the more equipped they will be to navigate this changing market.

Regardless of your specialization, make it a point to educate yourself on all facets of the industry. Everything is interconnected, and no doubt what transpires from a legal, policy, or financial perspective, will surely have impact on the way products are manufactured, marketed, and the discussions that take place around them.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

For markets like New York and New Jersey, the topic of social justice reform is a key part of the agenda, and within that, increasing access to business and career opportunities within the cannabis space. This is where I am most interested in creating impact — how can we reach a broader spectrum of people who offer valuable transferrable experience and skills, and connect them with the organizations in need of that talent? It’s a win-win on all sides, and something my company is closely examining as we speak with more and more professionals in the space.

Thank you for joining us!