Updated: Mar 5
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In December 2021, Higher Learning LV interviewed John Bailey, an executive coach and owner of The Mindset Genesis, a creative agency based in Las Vegas.
Other popular articles in the Higher Learning LV Interview series include:
Bailey is a seasoned executive who "is committed to innovation and transformation." He is a regular co-host on the Higher Learning LV Cannabis Commerce + Chemistry Podcast.
John Bailey from The Mindset Genesis in Las Vegas
Higher Learning LV: "Thanks for your time and sharing your expertise in the cannabis industry, John. What attracted you to the cannabis industry?"
John Bailey: "Oh man, what is not attractive about the cannabis industry? In all seriousness, as far back as my teenage years, the question of cannabis and its true purpose called to me. At that time—and through to becoming an adult—I really couldn't find a forum to explore it and immerse myself into, until there was an industry. Let's be honest, this was the 90s; we still had so much ground to break in legalization.
"Was there always some form of the cannabis industry? Absolutely! However, what I had seen and jumped into around 2015 is worlds different from when I first began to question everything about the plant.
"What is most attractive about the cannabis industry is that it is a bullet train that should not stop. I love what is happening with medical research in sports and major diseases that further deepens our understanding of the science of the endocannabinoid system."
"What is most attractive about the cannabis industry is that it is a bullet train that should not stop. I love what is happening with medical research in sports and major diseases that further deepens our understanding of the science of the endocannabinoid system.
"Also, the mainstream applications of technology for recreational use are advancing into nearly every product we use. Cannabis indeed has become what I believe is an all-healing alternative to so many harmful products, including tobacco cigarettes and pharmaceutical drugs.
"Of course, the communal aspect of the plant is where I find my place. Great minds are coming together and finally feeling safe enough to share their experiences at reputable events such as roundtable discussions. Conferences, expos, and events that collect knowledge and continue the innovation in this industry are milestones that some of us used to dream of."
HLLV: "You consult legal cannabis businesses on a variety of marketing and sales issues. What is the most frequent mistake you see being made by marijuana businesses in terms of brand identity?"
JB: "To me, it is more about identifying what is working and what is not working. In that breath, I can sum it to the most frequent thing I see: Settling into a comfort zone.
"It feels great to be on top and build a successful product or service and vastly grow a business from nothing to a profit. However, settling into this zone stifles growth drastically. Leaders must be willing to step into an uncomfortable place if they want to refine their brand.
"Spending more money, pursuing split testing marketing campaigns, trying a new sales and advertising strategy, or even making high profile hires takes serious energy. Those efforts will fall flat if there's no elevation, at the brand level, in maturing a brand's voice across all consumer-facing verticals.
"In my work, the best place to start is evaluating those 'securities' and stretching them into painful areas to uncover that subsequent growth pain and turn it into profitable risk."
HLLV: "There's been much recent talk about federal legalization of adult-use cannabis. What is your perspective on the situation?"
"I believe that marijuana should be legal for both medical and recreational use. However, legalization comes with caveats. As leaders and influential people in cannabis are raising awareness about legalization, we also have a responsibility."
JB: "I believe that marijuana should be legal for both medical and recreational use. However, legalization comes with caveats. As leaders and influential people in cannabis are raising awareness about legalization, we also have a responsibility.
"There are some glaring issues that could use more attention. Capital costs remain inflated as federal protections remain inaccessible, banking access is still constrained, and many tax deductions are unavailable.
Image courtesy John Bailey
"Prosecutions have shown that federal authorities leverage enforcement mechanisms under federal law to deal with industry participants who cross the line. Also, there is no national market for state-legal cannabis, making standardization and consistency in products and regulation a minefield. Not addressing these specific points in the journey only feeds the corruption.
"We need more education around use and its effects on people. Education is a crucial strategy to future-proof the legalization efforts for generations to come. Without it, traffic accidents increase, side effects appear, and mental health addictions may form. Rushing into a cannabis mass market only puts more power into the stigma that has suffocated this industry for so long.
"I want to see more efforts transforming cultivation into a sustainable and eco-friendly practice. Most cultivation practices harm their immediate environments. The impact on water, forest, and energy conservation is huge."
"Lastly, I want to see more efforts transforming cultivation into a sustainable and eco-friendly practice. Most cultivation practices harm their immediate environments. The impact on water, forest, and energy conservation is huge.
"I one hundred percent support the federal legalization of cannabis. The upside tips the scale significantly over the downside. The current progression is valid and on track. As we move forward, I hope that we take a hard look at the existing counterpoints."
HLLV: "Delta-8 THC, once thought to perhaps be a fad in the emerging cannabis industry, is showing some real staying power and getting support from a range of thought leaders, including some of the industry's leading attorneys, medical doctors, and C-suite executives. What is your perspective on this controversial phytomolecule that has become the industry's darling?"
JB: "I think it is still a bit early to see the actual benefits and downsides of delta-8. A larger experiment group is necessary to take analysis and build some range of this phytomolecule's effectiveness at an individual level.
"There are still under-researched factors to rationalize the segmentation of cannabinoids. I believe cultivation plays a significant role. Knowing the journey of delta-8 should be an important issue for consumers. For example, there are issues with product mislabeling, which is obviously dangerous on many different levels.
"Mislabeling, potential adverse effects, cultivation source transparency, and testing methods require continual scrutiny and oversight. I feel delta-8 THC products have been rushed to retail a bit prematurely. But do I think that there should be restricted access? No.
"I would say that delta-8's staying power might be in question until more use cases and research becomes available."
HLLV: "After so many years in the cannabis industry, what is your best advice for startups trying to succeed in the hyper-competitive and tightly regulated cannabis industry?"
"First, one must have an impactful customer solution. Solving a problem is a major part of any successful business. Oh, and not just one solution, but many. An intelligent business capable of success takes the time to clearly define the problem."
JB: "This question brings me to business fundamentals. First, one must have an impactful customer solution. Solving a problem is a major part of any successful business. Oh, and not just one solution, but many. An intelligent business capable of success takes the time to clearly define the problem. They must challenge the proposed solution from all angles.
"They must then clearly and thoroughly articulate how their business differentiates them from others in the same vertical. Customers will attach themselves to how they do it, how well they do it, and why customers or clients choose them over the competition.
Image courtesy John Bailey
"Another key area I hope to see mature in this extremely competitive industry is the transparency of companies. Keep creativity in the marketing room, follow standards in other business areas, and never wing it. Avoid taking on bad investors, but accept good money when it's there. Set appropriate valuations for your business.
"Finally, remember to be patient. A well-cultivated company takes time. Could you boom and quickly break out from your competition? This market has repeatedly proven many opportunities to blast into unicorn territory. If it happens, stay the course, maintain the core vision, and keep going."
HLLV: "The state of Oklahoma and its medical cannabis program have produced some impressive numbers not found in any other medical state in the nation—and that exceed some adult-use program metrics. What is the real opportunity and risk in the Sooner State in your opinion?"
JB: "Hmm, let's see, typical obstacles and red tape shoved to the side, the barrier to entry in terms of raw cost is much lower than other states. Combining the more open approach to getting started with lower prices in land and resources created a fertile ground for the market to boom.
"With a relatively small investment, there is real opportunity to break ground fast in what is considered today's legal cannabis 'wild west.' The risk is when regulations are called into action and limits are placed on things such as the number of available licenses."
"With a relatively small investment, there is real opportunity to break ground fast in what is considered today's legal cannabis 'wild west.' The risk is when regulations are called into action and limits are placed on things such as the number of available licenses. Many of Oklahoma's legal cannabis businesses may not be ready for such regulatory oversight.
"A downside of such low barriers is market over-saturation. Oklahoma is a buyer's market because it is ultra-competitive. Rest assured, there is a correction coming. Let's hope the top fifty percent of the successful companies consider the health of the overall state market and how they have an opportunity to softly level it. I believe this is how we could prevent a considerable fallout on small to medium-sized operations."
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