David Belsky, CEO of FlowerHire | Recruitment & Hiring in the Cannabis Industry
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Success Story: David Belsky, CEO of FlowerHire | Recruitment & Hiring in the Cannabis Industry on…
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David Belsky, is the CEO and Founder of FlowerHire- a leading staffing and talent strategy firm serving the regulated cannabis industry. It has filled over 300 positions in 10 states since its inception in 2017. FlowerHire believes that the cannabis movement will continue to positively impact the human condition more than any other emerging industry in modern history.
David has been in recruiting since 2004 when took a job at a technology recruiting and search firm, and moved his way up, helping take the company from a $10 million business to upwards of $200 million. In 2017, looking for his next challenge, he ended up resigning and took his experience to the legal cannabis industry, which ultimately led to him launching FlowerHire.
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00:00 — David Belsky, CEO of FlowerHire
04:29 — Why is there a lack of talent in cannabis?
12:09 — Why recruiting is such a difficult business model to succeed at.
18:11 — Is the cannabis industry “normalized” yet?
24:04 — The gig economy and cannabis.
32:31 — Who should work in cannabis?
38:38 — Things to think about before choosing to work in Cannabis.
Read The Transcript (Machine Generated)
Scott: Thanks again for joining me today, I’m sitting down with David Belsky. He is a 15 year recruiting industry, veteran and founder of flower hire and executive talent firm. Founded out of LA, this has become the core recruiting firm and talent firm and building block of the cannabis industry. So I’m super excited to, you know, unpack your story.
How did you get to where you are today with flower, hire your origin story? Why cannabis, why recruiting in cannabis? All of that stuff that I’m sure people are trying to figure out and are wondering. So, David, thank you so much for sitting down. I really appreciate it. I’m excited to be here. So I’m excited that you are here because cannabis is, you know, always relevant, always topical, always hot.
Recruiting is a beast in and of itself, starting a recruiting business, not an easy feed. I know a couple of recruiters and you’re always trying to find the companies and you’re trying to find the candidates. So you’re sort of marketing on both ends and building the business on both ends. That’s not easy.
So walk me through your path. As I, I’m assuming in executive talent and recruiting, and then we’ll actually go back before that actually. W where did you, where’d you come from and then what led you to doing what you’re doing now?
David: Well, I’ll start, I’ll start from the, from the top. For sure. I grew, I grew up in Austin, Texas, and a single parent household as I was growing up.
I was an athlete was good at school and, you know, in high school I started really you know, socializing and getting myself out there and kept a good balance of all three until my junior high school, you know, actually ended up getting caught with cannabis that my high school in Austin, Texas. And, you know, Austin, Texas in the late nineties, zero tolerance, you know, so it was more or less kicked out of school.
Actually moved to Los Angeles for my senior year to live with my dad and still managed to get to a great college, got to Cornell played football you know, and I, and after four years at Cornell You didn’t really have a lot of white collar connections in my sort of circles. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.
I had a mentor told me to get into sales and I actually ended up moving back to Los Angeles after college and started looking for sales jobs and found one. With the tech recruiting company that, you know, it was kind of modeled after the eighties, you know, phone on the shoulder, no computer started off making nine 50 an hour, basically cold calling and ended up staying with that company for 13 years.
And you know, Survived the sort of great recession, if you will, of 2009. And after that was more or less running a good portion of operations for that company. And I had the chance to move around the country, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and helped to contemporize that company in terms of be able to actually use technology to.
It was advantage, you know, build actually hired onboard millennials. And I got to a point where I was successful yet unfulfilled, you know you know, 13 years in, I could have kept going, but I had this sort of entrepreneurial itch I wanted to scratch, you know, as I was entering my kind of mid thirties and peak career.
You know, married and kids. So it wasn’t just looking to, to jump at anything, but around that sort of soul searching time in 2016, I had a couple of mentors in California that pivoted into cannabis. And you know, I was I was living in Chicago actually at the time. And when I saw that, I was like, what, what is happening right now?
Is this industry really about to go if incredibly sort of talented, successful people are trying to get into it right now. So I flew out there and met with them immediately and pick their brain on the industry, what was happening and, and decided that. There was a lane for talent in cannabis, and I believe that it would be a merger.
I didn’t know how big it would be or what it would be, but I felt like I could figure it out. And I was fortunate when I, you know, left kind of the, the safe place that I had built over over 13 years. I had an anchor, which was, I helped had the option to help ease. Which is a very high flying delivery company in California hire, you know, 40, the first 80 employees.
And you know, from that sort of experience, I actually saw, you know, other entrepreneurs in cannabis, or it’s all talking about raising capital, hiring people and the challenges of hiring good people in cannabis. And that was the sort of light bulb moment where aha, you know, I am in the right place at the right time.
And so I formally started flower hire a little over three years ago and here we are.
Scott: And, and tell me I guess I’ll frame it. Why were people having a hard time finding talent in cannabis? Well,
David: there was, there was a stigma, you know, and I think the stigma is, is actually going away a lot across the country of last three years.
But at the time it was. It was almost like a disbelief that there were white collar jobs in cannabis, right. That there were, you know that the industry needed accountants and financial, you know, minds and lawyers and marketers, and actually would be able to pay and attract that talent. So and it was also because of that stigma because of being federally illegal.
You know, there was, you know, thought that you would be able to attract world-class talent into your organization if you were in cannabis. You know? And so what a lot of the early work that I did was really trying to identify the formula for what made for a successful hire in cannabis. And you know, and these was kind of the Petri dish for that.
And, and the formula was somebody needed to believe that there were at the forefront of a major global industry that would become 30, 40, $50 billion industry over the course of the next 10 years. And, and appreciate that moment in history as a capitalist, right. Somebody also needed to have a relationship with the plant.
Like didn’t have to be a hardcore like user, but had to believe in it it’s power as medicine, as general wellness is it shouldn’t have been criminalized. Is it negatively affected huge portions of, of, of disproportionately minority with incarceration. And, and I believe on the right side of history.
Right. And then the third thing was you had to have some experience operating without a net, meaning like. Early on, you know, companies wanted like the Diaggio operations and marketing leader. Right. But if that person had never touched a startup, never experienced hypergrowth, never developed the tools necessary to do like turnarounds or things like that.
Coming into cannabis, which was pure hypergrowth in an emerging industry was just too much. So I looked for people that maybe they had a big company pedigree, but they also had wins that meant rapid. Acceleration of growth with it within companies, especially for leadership roles. Right. And once I kind of figured out that, that formula you know, I started applying that formula to any search.
Whether, again, it was an operations leader of you know, a CFO general counsel you know, a head of distribution to be able to find kind of the right people. And what I found actually surprisingly were that there were a lot of people that. Wanting to believe in what they were doing again, whether they were tech industry before, or whether they were working in an industry that was just in a, in a kind of a slow, steady decline.
A lot of folks looked at this as an opportunity to do something different, do something exciting and also do something they could believe in, you know, they felt would make the world a better place. And that was really the refreshing thing that I learned quickly was you know, for the right person in this industry.
What they did for work, actually aligned with what they felt made the world a better place. And when you put intelligent, collaborative, entrepreneurial, creative people in a room solving complex problems, I think. Really amazing things can happen.
Scott: Okay. So you have, you have two, you have two sides to recruiting.
You have the side that, where you find the companies and then you have the side where you have to find the, the candidates. Now, if you’re dealing with cannabis companies I was assuming there’s not a lot of niche recruiting firms deal with cannabis companies. So I would assume that it’s not as hard to fill that pipeline.
However, on the flip side, I’m sure there’s a lot of candidates. That don’t even know you exist, or it’s hard to find those potential candidates that you just outlined, like you outlined all those characteristics that you’re looking for in a candidate. That, and part of it is like somebody wants to be more passionate or more evangelical about where they work.
So was, was it correct that it’s easier to find the companies and yet a hard time finding the candidates or walk me through like the landscape of building a recruiting company in cannabis?
David: Well, th there’s there’s challenges that there are challenges actually on both sides of the, of the funnel. And I’ll talk through that.
I think that flat flower hires niche is really we’re the only company. Of cannabis focusing on strategic six-figure cannabis jobs that only does cannabis, right? We don’t do hourly workers. We don’t have a business that is in another industry that we’re trying to apply infrastructure to this emerging industry.
So we’re beholden to some of the revenue stream. We’re trying to create value in the lane that we’re there, we’re operating in. Right. So I think that’s given us flexibility to really build something the right way for this industry. But on the client side you, you quickly identified both sides of the funnel, right?
Because at the end of the day, both sides of the funnel are our clients, companies that pay for our services. Candidates are the one that we help make life decisions of if it’s the right industry for you on the company side, I think I just timed the market a little early, like into 2017. There weren’t a lot of companies that had capital that were really in growth mode yet.
I think that it took until about. Q2 of 2018 for, you know, the, kind of the peak of the, the, the kind of boom and the Canadian residential markets to really start taking shape and for investment space to come into the plant touching world in mass. Right. So at first it was finding companies that. Had the capital to not only afford talent, but also afford a premium service to find that talent.
Right. So in that kind of gap period late 2017, early 2018, we did a lot of work with ancillary companies. The ancillary technology companies like ease technically at that point, wasn’t ancillary technology company because they just got funding first. It was easier for a traditional VC to invest in a tech company, an emerging industry versus investing in a.
Dispensary operator. Right. But that ended up normalizing it by the middle of 2018. And we’ve seen kind of client-side side demand grow at very steady since for the last year, two plus years on the candidate side. There was never a lack of interest in cannabis, but interested, not equate to that person being the right fit for cannabis.
Right. So a lot of what we do at flower hire that’s specific to cannabis is we put a premium on the education, talking to Canada. What it’s like to work in the industry, like the good parts again. Talented creative people solving complex problems, doing something they believe in with the realities of it.
It’s the industry doesn’t stop. It is a 24 seven industry. You’re probably going to make less money. You know, if you’re looking for stability, this isn’t the place for you and talking about why that is. And as well as educating on the specific company that we’re working with that are trying to fill jobs, what they do, what their business models are.
So you know, filtering through candidates, side interest in a more. Prescriptive way was the challenge. But there was never a lack of people interested in the industry, you know, unfortunately. Right. And at the same time, you know, that that didn’t mean that they had the right experience to pull from for the space.
So you know, the, the filtering process is really kind of the, the real heavy lifting. It kind of the proprietary, you know, secret sauce, IP, if you will, around how we were able to take and synthesize the company’s requirements. And often they didn’t have a written job description and really helped them define what they were looking for, taking it back to the candidate, filtering process and show them like, One, two, three people that they could, they could hire one of them.
Cause they were actually good for what they’re looking for. Right.
Scott: Why did you ever choose to start this business? Man, that seems like an absolute, it seems very tough. It seems like a very, very tough business to be successful at well part,
David: part of, for me and in my previous life, you know, supporting, you know, fast growing technology companies with engineering and executive placement it just got to a point where it was kind of thankless, you know, it was definitely, you could do well and it’d be lucrative, but.
No, I didn’t necessarily, I like going into work for the people that I worked with, but I didn’t necessarily like what I was doing. Right. And is a very kind of you know, it’s very block and tackle thing. It’s not a sexy business right now. It could be a high margin business. It could be a very successful business.
But and if done well, it’s, it’s definitely done intelligently, thoughtfully and more kind of scientifically, but. Science of, of a third-party recruiting firm is, is block and tackle and consistency. Right? So I looked at this industry is something like, I believe that the cannabis industry needed the right people in it to be successful.
I believe that the people that I was going to be able to put into this industry were going to be Mavericks and pioneers defining what their skillset was going to be in this world. Like how an HR leader in cannabis. Actually could do their job. Well, how could financial controller in this, in cannabis would actually do their job well?
So putting people into this industry that understood the opportunity, not only for the industry, as a whole about people, themselves, personally, to bring value to a company in a way that never been done before it really set that stage for something that was really compelling for me You know, despite the, you know, despite the risk, you know, and I took a bet on myself that, you know, I, I w I could work, I would work hard.
There was no doubt there. And, and I could, I could figure it out. And so I put all my chips into it and needed to make it happen, you know? Yeah.
Scott: And, and it’s obviously it’s obviously paid off and, and now the industry has evolved to some extent compared to, and contrast it to when you first started.
So like let’s, let’s, let’s look at the industry then, and let’s look at the industry now. And how has that affected your business?
David: Well, I mean, I think we could look at it in a, in a bunch of different ways, I think. Obviously for a while, the, the, the sort of bubble in the K and financial markets drove a lot of buzz and interest and capital, not only in Canada, but also in the U S markets.
Right. And you know, that led to a lot of investment dollars similar. So what you see in emerging industries where there’s not really a good thesis for how that dollar is going to unlock value, it’s just, we’ve got to get our money in, cause this is going to be big. Right. So you know, in 2018 specifically on the West coast, what I saw were that.
Companies were raising capital that had like experienced entrepreneurs that had wins in other industries that were marrying themselves, their experience with people of cannabis that you had to make high quality products, and they’re getting money at higher valuations and investors. Weren’t asking about how they’re going to run a profitable business.
They’re just saying, go build your brand, go build an infrastructure. And what happened? In in 2019, when the decline in the, in the sort of the Canadian capital markets started happening is that even for private company investors, they started looking at operatives in space being like, how are you going to be profitable?
And the switch happened overnight, right? So for, so companies that had very lofty, ambitious goals and no way to really get to profitability, you know, their business. May never recover from that. Right. But what it forced operators to do, which I think long-term is as brings a ton of value to cannabis, is it forced operators to figure out, okay, let’s not do everything.
Let’s focus on what we’re good at and how we can actually make money and run a profitable business in cannabis, which has its own challenges. And the companies that were able to take that. Change in investor sentiment and figure out what they were good at are actually doing extremely well right now.
Right. So w I also, you know, when we, when I started, we’re really focusing on some of the more established markets, you know, California, Oregon, Colorado and what I’ve seen over the past year and a half is there’s been almost like a in the U S at least a balance of power shift. You know, as you know, the Massachusetts market is, has gotten more traction than recreational as Michigan and Illinois have come online.
Now you see a lot more investment in, in new infrastructure and even investment dollars, not necessarily going to California, but going to other emerging markets. There may maybe have a, more of a limited licensing scheme. They might have a more of a, of a, of a, of a friendly climate, which you can actually run a profitable business, whether it’s a medical or, or a Or a recreational market, you know?
So I think, you know, again, the balance of power has shifted from the West coast to the East coast in the Midwest, in, in the U S cannabis markets in terms of, if you’re an investor looking for a return as well, general job growth, right? I mean, you’re looking at. Facilities opening up for the first time in, in, in areas that you have customers, as soon as you open it, because they never had it before.
And they’d love to have a traditional retail experience for buying their cannabis. Right. So just could new construction, more licenses being issued alone is leading to tremendous. Tremendous, I think growth from an employment standpoint and also also for the industry and that growth is happening.
When an industry also understands a little bit more about the boundaries for how do you maintain profitability in an industry as challenging as this. Okay. Do
Scott: you find that the industry has matured to the point where it’s somebody who is looking to get into the industry may not have to worry about lack of stability or perhaps in the having Like you mentioned before, you’re not going to have premium pay scale in contrast to other industries.
It has it changed. And now it’s just more normalized where if somebody’s going to cannabis, they don’t expect these things anymore.
David: I don’t, I don’t think it’s it’s definitely not where, where the rest of the world is yet. There, there are some companies that are a little bit more established, you know, like your, your Cresco goes and your cure Leafs and your terrorists ends of the world that do offer things like 401k plans and, and some kind of fringe benefits you’d expect in other industries, but still for the most part, you know, comp.
Compensation is, you know, when people change jobs, a obviously COVID is different, but when people change jobs before COVID that normal as you expect to raise, right? That’s still not necessarily happening in cannabis. What is interesting now is that. A year ago, year and a half ago, it was not possible to hire a lawyer that had cannabis experience or an accountant that had cannabis experience or a classically-trained sort of CPG manufacturing or food manufacturing person that had cannabis experience, but now pan.
So there’s a lot of people that were their first mover, pioneer types into the industry that are now looking for their kind of second cannabis job. If you will. And those folks are getting raises, you know? So I think stability, I mean, you know, I think that some of the larger, best named operators in this space have had the most public financial troubles.
Right. So again, I, I, I don’t think it’s necessarily. Still stable, but maybe in the grand scheme of things and how the world of work in general is being turned upside down. And there were these major kind of shifts that were happening, you know, with preferences towards delivery and moving away from traditional retail and maybe cannabis is comparatively more stable than other industries.
Now for sure. You know, cause you know, no one knows what the world of work
Scott: looks like. No, I think, I think everyone’s all turned on their head or unemployed,
David: right? Cannabis almost looks less risky because, you know, it’s just going to get bigger because more, more States are going to open up more and issue more licenses and more facilities are going to open up.
And that’s been an interesting shift. You know, COVID has been an awful thing for a lot of people, so it’s not a positive thing whatsoever, but it has, in a sense, probably been positive for the cannabis industry specifically because it was allowed to remain open. And because of that, It’s now entered into an more of a national kind of narrative about a search for tax revenue and jobs.
Scott: And, and one, one more point for somebody who is looking to get into cannabis, actually, a few more things. This is very interesting to me, cause I, I want to understand somebody’s going to an emerging market. Emerging emerging market. You know, I put that in air quotes because it’s not so new anymore, but still what would a red flag be for somebody who wants to get into cannabis in terms of a company they should work for or not work for?
David: I think that in general, there’s been a lot of. Hardworking people that have been able to pull things off in other industries, they have going to pull off here. So I would look and make sure that they actually have money in the bank. They’re not waiting for investors because we have money coming in soon means we never get money or we get money in a year.
Right. Making sure they actually have licenses. Granted to them because the application process is not a sure thing in any state. So the first thing to kind of look out for me as you’re looking at the industry is do they, do they have the capital? They need to complete their construction and build out and have some runway and do they actually have the licenses they think they’re going to get already.
And if they don’t have those licenses now there’s a chance they may never get them. Right. And so it’s just something to be cognizant of.
Scott: And once they, once they get those licenses and they had the funding. Okay, that’s fine. Now I want to, I want to get in the industry. I want to work with a firm like flower hire.
Is there, is there competition, are there other people that are cannabis, Pacific printing firms? Are there things you should stay away from when you work reading from
David: there? There definitely are. And let me just let me just make another point here about getting into cannabis. Like. As a society at least, you know, in the U S and I know in Canada as well, we’re very programmed to look at career ladders in a hierarchical way.
I started off my career. I’m an associate, I’m an analyst. I become a supervisor or a manager, maybe become a director or VP that director job. Isn’t gonna be available at my company because my boss is leaving. Maybe I should go work somewhere else to get that director job. That’s how, like we’re programmed like a career.
Cannabis is not yet linear. Right? Both people with a management title in cannabis are doing like executive level responsibilities. Cause there’s just no one else there. So I think for now my advice is if you’re getting into the industry, just try to land in whatever lane you are from a skillset perspective and believe in the next two to three to four years old, it’s just going to normalize and being a first mover.
We’ll make up for itself and future title and responsibility. Like you can’t look at this industry as I deserve a certain title. Right. And I think that’s the hard thing for people to to get their head around when they start looking at working in this space. Right. Maybe you have to drop the ego and realize you’ve got a whole learn, a whole new bag of tricks to work in this industry, but there’s a lot to be able to apply from what you’ve done before you gotta be ready.
You’re going to have to figure out new ways to solve problems. And as it relates to the competitive landscape for us you know, I think there’s a lot of other firms that are hardworking recruiting and staffing firms focusing on cannabis. Again, I think many of them are pivoting to more of the hourly niche.
Right. And, and because, you know, you look at well, We need hourly workers work at retail, cultivation and processing. And a lot of those firms are doing more of like a contractor model or like a freelance or gig type worker model, which I don’t think actually works really well in cannabis. I can talk more about that.
Scott: Yeah, sure. I, I, I, I love to hear that that’s the gig gig economy is big too, right? That’s I didn’t realize that intersected with cannabis. I didn’t understand that so, well, well,
David: if you will, if you think about like you know, freelance, you, you know, seasonal work, like for most cannabis companies, it gets hard to really.
They’re not, they don’t have the data yet to really forecast, okay, we’re going to need to hire somebody and it will have worked for them for the next 12 months, no matter what. Right. So whether that they’re, they have you know coal plants that are being harvested, that they need people to make sellable, like trim them and put them into packaging.
Or they have a big production run for manufactured items, you know, like edibles. But they don’t necessarily are consistently manufacturing or even at the retail level when they’re expecting, expecting some surges during, around certain holidays or weekends. So, so there are some firms that have set up like an hourly kind of bench workforce to go and, and for companies a space to call I personally think it’s hard to.
I see a model where you can be profitable as a recruitment firm doing that because the level of insurance that you need to carry on, those type of workers as a third-party agency is much higher than if, even if it was a normal manufacturing job, right. Or normal retail job. So what, you know, so we’ve stayed very focused in this, in the niche of like, Strategic C-level positions and six-figure quite a salary jobs that being said you know, we’ve, we’ve built relationships.
Some of them are key operators around the country and there is still. A huge pain point for companies as it relates to hiring hourly workers. You know, like if you’re going to hire a, if we’re going to open a dispensary and let’s just say, Detroit, Michigan, you probably need to hire 30 on the low end, maybe 50 people right off the bat.
How do you know when we’re talking? You know, 90% of those being, you know, hourly kind of retail, associate bud tender type folks, what do you do if you’re a company you, you, all you can really do is post a job on indeed. Right? What do you get when you post on indeed you get a thousand applicants. Right. So for most cannabis companies are somewhat understaffed and their HR and talent lane.
So what ends up happening is the assistant general manager for that dispensary gets a thousand indeed resumes. And they look at probably the first 20 or 30, open them up, look for who lives local and seems relevant on paper and starts there. There’s no filtering process. So one of the things that flower hired kind of our next.
Journey is we’re partnering up with a group that has built kind of HR tech software platforms, where we’re actually going to create an intelligent matching software to connect people with the right jobs and cannabis. Because at the end of the day, people, a lot of people don’t know what I like being a budtender.
What I like working in a cultivation, what I like being a. No B to C delivery driver, giving people cannabis. I don’t know. So if we can put some IP behind that filtering and take that thousand resume response rate to a retail job and whittle it down to the best 30 that they should talk to. Hey, the higher is going to be more prescriptive B it’ll have a effect on turnover.
That’s positive and see it’ll. Be a huge value add in terms of the efficiency of the hiring process. Because at the end of the day, most of the hourly positions turn around, turn over, you know, two and a half, three times a year as well. So you’re in this constant state of hiring for those roles. Right. And there’s not a lot of Insight on how to do it well.
Right. And so I think technology is the right thing to solve kind of the hiring of hourly workers. Right? So if I can take that kind of secret sauce learned from vetting people on this industry and explaining it and apply that with some behavioral scientists into intelligent matching and filtering process, that’s, that’s something working on.
As in, we’re hoping to launch here by the end of the year with the largest. Cannabis careers event in the history of the world after the election in the middle of November here. So we’re coming on that, but
Scott: no, I appreciate it. And it’s also fun because every I, literally, everything you’re doing is, is bleeding.
It’s cutting edge in the industry, right? Like that’s, that’s, what’s fun about it. So you, you, you launched some tech and that’s going to pave the way for, like you mentioned, it’s truly changing the entire cannabis industry, the way you, you wait, you launch these products or this IP or whatnot.
David: Yeah, I mean, and it’s, it’s exciting.
And I think that the, the, you know, we’ve done hundreds of placements. I’m in the cannabis industry for the last three years, you know, average salary into the mid one hundreds. We’ve done dozens of C-level placements across the country. And that’s. A very kind of like white glove hands-on service. Right. But, but at the same time, those are the people that are making these decisions as well, internally for companies around how do they evolve and become more efficient.
So, you know, what’s really interesting. As flower higher is we’re connective tissue. Like we actually know what different operators are doing, even in the same state that don’t really know what each other are doing. Cause you know, talks about it. And, and because of that, even though we’re started in California and I’m based in California, half, our team is, is not California on the East coast, but we’re able to take the lessons that have been learned from how talent and the right type of town is able to succeed from a strategic standpoint in companies.
Been able to succeed in solving the problems of this industry and take that kind of formula and apply it to different States, you know and find that kind of homegrown, you know, massive, you know, person for a company in Massachusetts, just based on, you know the experience, you know, out West.
Scott: No, no.
Very, very interesting. I, I wanted to, I do want to ask a couple like life insight questions, but before I, before I pivot I just wanted to make sure with what you’re working on with flower hire, we went over like the cannabis industry, state of the industry evolution of the industry, like the process, your story the tech that you’re rolling out, future plans.
Were there anything that we didn’t touch on that’s that’s relevant to cannabis or flower that you wanted to that’s like on top of mind right now?
David: I think we’ve I think we’ve covered covered a lot of it, you know, I think at the end of the day you know, our goal is to continue to provide education and awareness and just content of what it’s like to work in this industry because this industry needs to hire.
Potentially a million people in the next five or six years. That’s a lot of people. You’re right. And, and, and there’s not a lot, there’s no insight and information what it’s like to work in the industry. So we try to put on webinars that talk about different roles in the industry. And, you know, we’re going to be launching our code website, careers in cannabis.com, which will be an education and content destination, where you can actually see what type of job in cannabis you would enjoy.
It, it wouldn’t be right for you. Right. So that’s, that’s coming. So we aim to just. Bring, you know, I guess we’re trying to find. What is professional cannabis and really pro and own that lane, right? It’s not professional tech, it’s not professional beverage, it’s professional cannabis. It, you know, the era of taking pictures of purple nugs, you know, is it’s great for some audience, some customers, but it’s not for the majority of what is our currently customers.
Right. And so how do you blend, like some stale corporate, you know, career recruitment? You know, vision with the legacy cannabis and find that like modern contemporary workforce for cannabis, we’re trying to kind of solve the, bring value to bring you more clarity in that lane.
Scott: As, as, as this, as this industry evolves I think it’s very important that we, you know, that, that you, that you do have like thought leaders and, and groups that provide that insight and education, because it’s a little bit more than just a career in, for example, like AI or a career in robotics.
It’s because there’s not only a new opportunity and a new industry that’s evolving, but you’re also fighting stigma. At the same time, right? AI doesn’t really have much of a stigma except maybe perhaps like self-driving cars and ethics and stuff like that. But outside of that, it’s not the same type of stigma that cannabis has that you have to sort of overcome.
And I’ve spoken to other people that have cannabis stigmas, and a lot of Isabelle are not cannabis stigmas use me, people that run companies are trying to combat stigma in their industry and cannabis. And it’s all about education. That’s really what it’s all about.
David: If you’re going to work in this industry, no matter how successful you’ve been and what your wins are and how intelligent you are, you’re going to meet somebody.
I went to jail for this plant, lost their life savings because of the plant. And you gotta be able to bend the knee and appreciate that person, you know, and, and, and and because of that, it’s such a, it’s such a different Workplace than almost anything else in terms of like how complex it really is.
As a industry, it’s really an industry of industries. Right. And there’s nothing quite like it.
Scott: Yeah, no, very well said. Okay. Some, some rapid fire insight question, just to cause your, your experience and what you sort of overcome as an entrepreneur building out, building out flower, hire, what was your largest challenge and how did you overcome it?
David: I think it was just dealing with The idea that as soon as I started, this was actually two weeks after the birth of my fourth child, being able to like, you know, I ended up moving up my family across the country to start a business in a brand new emerging industry that was still stigmatized. And so that was a big life adjustment and upheaval.
And just being able to. You know, continue to stay sane during that time period in order to make sure that the work that I was being there was being done early, it was really gonna be something that I could grow off of. That was a big, that was a big challenge. Another thing is like, This industry is so quirky and complex and, and, and hard just to operate in whether you pay way too much taxes, whether the state is States are challenging to deal with whether the sophistication of different people you’re dealing with them from the supply chain and the retail side, just isn’t quite there.
That you know, when you’re working and partnering with entrepreneurs and executives that are actually running companies, like just understanding how challenging their world is and being able to like, like, be that sounding board for them and extra bring value to where they’re at. Like that’s been both.
The challenge and the biggest reward and something that I wasn’t finding in the, in, in sort of the tech industry is just, what’s your service provider, this industry that actually follows through what you say you’re going to do, and is a value add, like the level of comradery you have with your clients from actually being able to help them.
Is it it’s, it’s special and it really is consultative. And, and, and by being consultative, the fact that, you know, we charge a premium fee for our service companies are happy to pay it. Right. And it just, it took some time to really understand how this one was different, because it will take like, Very kind of formulaic best practices of how to do recruiting learned over years and, and, and be able to then figure how to marry that with the realities of this industry.
And, and this one is just like, I just don’t want to waste my fucking client’s time. The heart of that mankind has ever conceived is being the CEO of a cannabis company right now. I want to give them what they actually need. And, and and it wasn’t about throwing things against the wall. It was really about being prescriptive about not only the diagnosis, but the fit proposition.
Scott: smart. And well done. What, where do you go to learn and stay on top of. Cannabis the industry trends.
David: Well I, you know, fortunate that I have a team of, of now 11 people that is talking to people in this industry all the time. And so just from word of mouth, we do really get some interesting insights.
And Intel on what’s actually happening behind the scenes. You know, that being said, I subscribe to. Probably a dozen different newsletters and things of that nature. And I listened to, you know, No podcasts like this, where they feature different entrepreneurs in the space, just to hear their story.
Right. You know, whether it’s, you know, thinking outside of the boat or investing in cannabis, but you know, I, you have to stay informed. Right? Part of what I do for my team is I created an environment and a platform and one of our, you know, we’ll call it our Slack channel. Even though we use telegram because I like a better where we just constantly share information news that we’re learning about the market, because I think it’s important for everybody here to really be an expert.
Cause, cause they’re people we’re talking to, especially on the candidate side, like. They look at us as experts. Anyway, we have to, we have to know our stuff. Right. So just something you have to stay on top of. And I think that also ties back to, if you’re working in this industry, you can’t rely on anyone else to teach you this industry.
You got to go out there and find it, figure it out yourself, read the regs, you know, for whatever state you’re in to really understand it, you know? Okay. Got to live that sort of a sort of need for education internally, for sure.
Scott: In the world of cannabis, what’s, what’s new that people may not know about that your researching or that you’re interested in right now.
David: I think that people may not know like how quickly, how different these different States are. Like, as an example, like a Michigan there’s 500 retail stores and Illinois, there’s still only like 90 and they’re both recreational markets that opened up around the same time. Like. There every state has its own little quirks and little differences and nuances.
And I think that that’s obviously challenging if you’re a larger multi-state operator to be able to figure that out, but also realize that what’s going on in your state is going to be completely different than the state next door, if there’s cannabis activity, right. In terms of how the regulatory landscape has shaped up.
And that’s, you know, you think that like, States would learn from other States and what they’ve done and what worked and what hasn’t worked, but it’s not, it’s just not the, it’s not the case, right. It it’s a patchwork quilt of things that often make no sense. And, you know,
Scott: it’s just, it is what it is, man.
It is what it is. That’s just the way it’s. So it’s again, brings it back to that. What are we not learning,
David: covering that rude, that truth on the ground in different markets is really what we, what we put a focus on.
Scott: Somebody wants to get into into cannabis. You mentioned a few things. What would be the main thing that you would want to tell them?
David: Is not just a job it’s you really are. It’s really gonna, if you’re the right person for cannabis, because it’s going to be work that you love doing, and it’s never going to cease. It’s going to change the relationship you have with other things in your life, with your family or friends, you know, and it’s going to change.
You know, kind of the balance that you found and B be prepared for that. And I think also be prepared to constantly have to pivot. And even if you’re a experienced executive level person, you’re going to have to be massively tactical and massively strategic at the same time. Right. There’s often there’s just no one else to get the things done that you know, needs to get done.
And so some people. Excel in that. And the goal is obviously to build out infrastructure, personnel and teams and move, move up. Right. But, but when you, when you join and really to learn this industry effectively, you have to be tactical. You have to really understand. What the whole experience is like in the eyes of your customers, of your employees, what it’s like to work at a grow like you really have to immerse yourself.
So you can really understand how to apply your experience and your instincts to the space.
Scott: And as an entrepreneur and a career-long you know, you unprofessional on professional, a lesson that you tell yourself, tell your younger self, excuse me, after you’ve gone through. Career. And now entrepreneurship building your own business switching industries.
What would you tell your young?
David: I, I say when. The, when it’s the hardest, that means the most success is right around the corner, you know, and just have faith and keep going, you know? And because I think, I think that’s very true, you know, I think that, you know, if you’re looking at the career ladder, when you’re struggling the most, whether it’s from a stress or whether it’s from an uncertainty or whether it’s real challenges as a business person or running a business, getting through that and getting to the other side of that, it gives you a men’s confidence perspective and ultimately.
The, the whatever, you know, level of success that you’ve never achieved before, you know, as being able to constantly, you know, go through adversity. And that’s how you learn. That’s how you grow. So you evolve and that’s what, you know, kind of separates. I think a lot of people that are successful as on entrepreneurs’ versus versus not.
Scott: Yeah, no, I like that. That’s a, that’s a good lesson. And the last question, and then I’ll get some some socials and websites from you. What does success mean to you?
David: I mean success. Our goal is to be the number one talent platform for the cannabis industry. You know, I like to think that there’s a unique, generational opportunity to do so right now.
I’d like flower hired to be. You know, a fixture and institution of the, of the space, you know, in perpetuity, you know, I, I ideally wouldn’t, won’t be running it in 10 years, but I like for it to be around and be, be a big part of the overall story of this, the space and and help to build, you know, a, a sort of conscious and relevant cannabis industry.
Early getting the right folks involved and, and making sure that the, the operators that are gonna, you know, have the right assets and, and have the right attitude are gonna get the right people on board to succeed and drive this industry forward.
Scott: And for you, for you personally, what a success look like in terms of your end product at your fulfillment in life and career?
David: I mean, You know, at this point I’ve been on we’ll just say a fairly transactional hamster wheel for the last 16 plus years of my life. And, you know, five, 10 years. I’d like to just focus on being. You know, more strategic and trolling my time more, you know, enjoying that kind of the teenage years of my kids, you know, that that’s, that’s, that’s the goal.
Right. But but every, every day you know, it gets closer to that goal. Right. And that’s what I think is what we’re all kind of working towards in a sense too.
Scott: The freedom. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Most important question. People want to go check a flower, hire people want to connect with you social all the websites, socials, all that.
David: So a flower hire.com is very simple. There’s lots of different forms for getting in touch on flower, hire.com. If you go to flower hair.com/blog, there’s a lot of the content that we’ve put out there, articles, interviews. I think that you can go to YouTube and look for sunset session. It’s a series that we do with our.
Partners with at razzle where we put on, you know, video interviews of, you know, entrepreneurs in the space. You know, you can follow a flower higher on Instagram. It’s at flower higher. You follow our posts on LinkedIn. And if you wanna get in touch with me personally, David at flowerhire.com.
SUCCESS STORY PODCAST
Stories worth telling.
On the Success Story podcast, Scott has candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas and insights.
He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their story to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.