GrowFlow Podcast: Ep 14

Joe Stolte: Hey, what's up everybody. This is Joe Stolte welcome to another episode of the GrowFlow podcast, where we give you the best information, insights, tips, tricks, frameworks, guests, interviews, everything that we can give you to help you manage, grow and scale your licensed cannabis business. I'm joined today as well by our CEO, Travis Steffen, and we've got a special guest in the house. We’ve got Brian Passman, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome Brian to the virtual stage here. Brian, why don't we start things off by just giving us your kind of mercifully short self-aggrandizing introduction and we'll take it from there.


Brian Passman: Thanks! That's a great intro, Joe. Gosh, thanks for having me. And thanks Travis. So we're Hunter and Esquire. We being my wife and I, I'm the hunter, She's the Esquire. We are a boutique search firm launched in 2017 to perform retained executive searches for cannabis companies. I talk about it in terms of supporting the whole cannabis economy. It's a big place with a lot of industry verticals. I like to say within, so we feel a functional role, and you name it, operational commercial, financial technical leadership for, uh, MSO, bulk producers, retailers, science companies, tech companies, anything goes as long as it's a cannabis economy related. I'm really happy to be here with you guys. Thanks for having me. 


Joe Stolte: Thanks for being here. I'll kick it off with another question here. How did you get into this? Like what, what, give us the origin story. How did this business come about and just walk us through like that, the beginning steps of your journey and how you even got here.


Brian Passman: Sure. Well, I, uh, accidentally started training for this gig decades ago when I, uh, uh, began my relationship with the plant at a younger age than I'll ever share with my kids probably anytime soon. And, uh, and then, and then stumbled into being a recruiter right out of school. So, you know, really, um, it's really interesting and, and, and fortunate, uh, for me, I feel that I got here, so yeah. Uh, I didn't really know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought I wanted to be a banker and, uh, like a, like a lot of people that don't know what to do with their life. I just became a recruiter instead. And fortunately linked up with a really good agency and spent 15 years, um, working my way up to SVP recruitment with an agency that placed leaders around the world for medical device and biotech companies. And that was a lot of fun, a lot of, a lot of, uh, very technical placement, um, for companies doing really cool stuff like artificial pancreas and, uh, cochlear implants and really groovy stuff. And, um, actually had an opportunity to align with some people back in, uh, 2015 to pursue one of those very coveted, vertically integrated licenses in Florida. So, um, I left that to go work on that and it got, uh, medical marijuana got voted down initially in Florida, so it was back to work. And, uh, fortunately joined a CPG search firm where I was put over client accounts in the adult beverage space, where I spent a few years, which, uh, another, you know, kind of fortunate series of events. So, you know, the healthcare industry and the adult beverage industry, uh, plays well into cannabis for different reasons. And, um, just kind of got tired of, um, working at an agency for someone else. And my wife had always pressed me to go do my own thing and had this pole after investigating, uh, doing something in the cannabis space. And it just, it, it just, I felt like there was an opportunity for me to work in the industry and it felt wrong not working in the industry. So, you know, she's a lawyer, an entrepreneurial attorney who had something going on and it was a good time for her to sell her stake in the business. She has started up and she agreed to handle all the back of the house stuff. That was scary to me to watch because I reject administrative work in all forms. So, um, having someone I trust like that on the contract side on the back end, uh, was, was inspiring. And we, uh, we made the tough decision in 2017 just to launch because at that time, a lot of our friends we had made in the industry kept repeating that, you know, hiring and cannabis was evolving away from the friends and family. And there really wasn't that white glove retained executive search firm serving the industry. There were a number of staffing agencies that were doing okay for these businesses, but it felt like the right time to bring my skillset to the industry. And we assembled a small team in a hurry and spent the best, uh, what three and a half, three and a quarter years, uh, three quarter years. So my career for sure, hands down. 


Joe Stolte: That's awesome, man. I love that. What are some of the big, what are the big hiring mistakes that you see cannabis operators making right now?


Brian Passman: Oh gosh, how much time do we have? I mean, you know, there's, there's a lot of hiring for trust. If you have a lot of first time leaders in the industry that are insecure and not very trusting, there's a lot of, uh, hiring for trust. That's your friends and family hiring. Uh, there's a lot of misses on hiring, uh, strategic HR leadership early, or at least when it's needed. And a lot of just lumping HR on the desk of a CFO or some other person on the executive leadership team that doesn't really want it and starts treating people as a liability or a cost or something else other than your best asset. It's a lot of hiring for coolness, you know, Hey, I met so-and-so at a show and he, or she was really cool. Yeah, sure. They're going to be our next sales director. Cause, uh, they're really cool. They're going to be fun to be around a type of hiring, which I think aligns with a lot of the, uh, the quick to hire quick to fire approaches in the industry. Uh, I like, uh, slower to hire. Um, I don't mind the quick to fire if done properly, because see, you know, this is a difficult, highly regulated space, so you don't want to keep too many bad apples around for long. Uh, yeah. So I think those would be some of the, the, uh, the big ones. And then, well, I guess, you know, choosing the right third-party search partner and aligning with one that really knows what they're doing and isn't just, uh, the, the lowest cost option to throw resumes, uh, uh, up to you. So, you know, for us, the worst thing anyone could call us as a vendor.


Joe Stolte: By the way, um, shameless plug, if you guys are listening to this, you know, we've done two podcasts episodes that went really deep on culture. You should definitely Google those up and we'll put them in the show notes. Uh, Travis, we've gone from like 20 people to like five X that head count and record time. What really stands out for you, uh, with hiring and some big lessons that we've learned, that kind of compliment what Brian's saying here.


Travis Steffen: One thing that I know that you had, that you cautioned me on years ago, even pre-grad flow was staying away from hiring Vudu. Um, staying away from, from the gut feel, uh, that a lot of people who are inexperienced, just kind of try to Intuit who is going to be the best person based on gut feel, but also on the little tricky tricks, like how many people does it take to change in a light blue, a light bulb under these conditions or whatever it is. And people will often say, oh, we want to see how you think. Um, but, uh, in, in my experience, I don't know what that proves. Uh, so for us, it's been incredibly systematic. You know, we have a six layer hiring process, maybe even more, I mean, we do revenue screening, phone screening, topgrading focus, executive interview in conjunction with reference checks. Then we have a, um, probationary period for 90 days at which time the new hire is actually a contractor. Um, so we can actually see is the person that you interviewed as the same person who comes to work and, um, that all those things combined, you know, it, it will completely filter out every single miss hire because there are people who just go through things in their lives and, you know, shift their own gears or shift their own priorities. And you end up having someone who used to be a great employee turn into someone who isn't. Um, but in terms of just having a plan, having a process, ensuring that you can plan in advance of needing a hire. So you're not hiring on desperation and you're forced to make a really knee-jerk reactionary move. Um, I would say those are some of the things that really fuel what we do. And Brian, I'm curious to know from your experience, how often do you see, um, folks come in and, and hire you and want some of that voodoo in place? Um, how do you feel about all that? And what's your process like?


Brian Passman: The voodoo, um, the voodoo that we do, it's, uh, it's a good idea to ask some of those, uh, fun questions. Um, I think interesting interview questions to understand the person more than just the candidate, uh, is a good idea. You know, what's your favorite TV show or movie type stuff. Uh, if you were a fruit, what kind of fruit would you be and why? Uh, type of questions, which is always that's, that's a good one. Um, but yeah, look, there's, there's a lot to be said for, uh, vetting people for entry to the cannabis industry or, or just, uh, uh, a dynamic, you know, rapidly growing companies situation and vetting how they think on their feet. Uh, you could do that in other ways though. And here's the thing about the, think on your feet questions in an interview, a lot of people get jobs. They shouldn't because they interview well and vice versa and right, just because someone can think on their feet, well, in an interview doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be great to work with in that capacity. So, uh, I'm a fan of, uh, curve balls throughout the process. And, you know, the candidate experience is important. You want to make a raving fan out of, out of all talent that interviews with you or, or submits for a role. You never know who's a consumer or an investor or a friend of someone you want to hire and that kind of stuff. So the candidate's experience is important. It should be buttoned up and, uh, you know, all the good things that you guys I'm sure are familiar with. But also I think in this space or in dynamic spaces, it's not a bad idea to, you know, let some, uh, you know, some of those curve balls roll to the candidate and see how they deal with it and change the star time. Or if you have an interview agenda, mix it up a little bit, if someone's busy or even do a purposefully and just kinda see how they roll with that. Um, and you know, in this COVID world where maybe people aren't coming in to interview as much, uh, to have a little bit of fun with it and, and, uh, see where they, um, exist, if, if, if they're home and how they work. I think people's, uh, home base and their control station says a lot about them. So maybe, uh, you know, sharing a little bit about your space and turning the computer around and asking the same as fun, but yeah, standardizing the process. So you can, um, really, uh, figure out what traits fit for roles in the organization. It sounds like you guys are doing some of that. And creating feedback forms I think is, is, is important because, you know, a lot of these roles are newly created. It's hard to point to this as the successful profile that always works, but you can start doing that with feedback forms or just consistently measuring people in certain ways. And a lot of our clients do that that way. When those first hires for newly created positions work or don't work, you can look back to how they scored on certain traits and start performing some of those autopsies after people leave and say, okay, if people score, score low on integrity, we're never going to hire people like that ever again, which, you know, probably shouldn't hire them to begin with, but another story. So, uh, I like having some fun with it, but it has to be standardized. And I don't think, I don't think it should be too goofy because you know, this, this th th this industry is only going to be served well by professionalizing and standardizing. And, you know, we've, we've got to get better and, you know, we should have some fun with it, but I think, uh, I think some people have go a little bit too far with having fun with it and start treating it more like a hobby than, you know, something more important than that.


Joe Stolte: Yeah. It's interesting. Like, one of the things I've observed is like, people really don't know what they're doing when they're hiring, you know, like, like Travis, our Brian, our executive team is like being together through a few startups. So we've already kind of made every mistake you can make. Um, well, maybe not all of them, but a lot of them. And so grow, GrowFlow benefits from, you know, a lot of sins of our past or whatever that we've sort of learned from. Um, but what, it's funny, once you're in the matrix on this stuff, and you start watching how other people are doing it, and, you know, like I would rather see somebody have like a, like a curveball, tricky question. That's like, like scripted. And everybody's asking the same set of questions because that's like already a step in the right direction. What I see as a lot of people don't even have standard interview questions. It's like the tribal model where it's like, oh, you look like you'd fit in the tribe. Why don't you go talk to Stacey and Dave and Brian, and then, you know, they kind of like, you will, then you can start on Monday, you know? And so it's just kind of this like loosey goosey stuff. And like, I think players like top performers, they want, they're interviewing you as much as you're interviewing them in a well structured interview process kind of allows that dialogue to go down. And it also really allows you to compare apples to apples. You know, like if you're doing a great job recruiting, you have two or three really dope candidates that you can go, yeah. Like, let's compare these two, let's have a discussion. And then everybody kind of has a framework for like the same language, because it's, you know, if you don't have anything in place, you can't, you can't do that. But let's say that, like, you're, you're, someone's listening to this right now. They're growing quickly. They have a critical person they need to hire. When should they be thinking about calling on a professional service or an agency like yours to help them find the right talent for their business?


Brain Passman: As you have that thought, as soon as you have that thought, not to necessarily launch the search, but to engage. And, um, well, it's, uh, you know, to vet some third-party partners, unless you already have a go-to, but in the case with many of our clients, as soon as they have the thought, they'll engage, they want to play at the seed to know one, this works coming your way plan accordingly, because once you press the button, you want to make sure that, that, uh, groups working on it for you. Uh, but also a lot of times to, uh, you know, work with your search partner in that advisory way that you should be able to as well, if you're truly, uh, partnering. So, uh, you know, talking about the comp that you want to extend and try to understand if you're working with, uh, you know, champagne tastes, beer budget type of situation, and are you specking out the role of the right way and, uh, you know, work through understanding how success for the role will be measured because that's, that's really a tricky one. I mean, one of the biggest employee relations failures in this industry is just hiring people with fuzzy expectations. And, then you can't really in a concrete, quantitative way say this person is successful or not. It's just a feel thing. And, uh, that's not working out really well for a lot in the industry. So I think, uh, as soon as you have that thought and, um, and then just go through that process, and if there's, especially if there's some organizational planning that comes with it, and if people are being shuffled around, or if it's a confidential search to replace someone, there's just, you know, a lot of things to hash out and make that search partner aware of so they can, uh, assemble their forces appropriately.


Joe Stolte: What I'm hearing is that it's, it's strategic. It's not just, Hey, go find me a body. There's a lot more thoughtfulness that goes into it. And then, you know, a third party agency can help you think strategically, not just maybe about that role, but about like other roles and how you reflect your forecasting, your hiring needs, and really kind of getting ahead of this stuff. Is that right?


Brian Passman: Strategic human capital management, huge big deal because, uh, yeah, again, your people are your, your best asset it's, uh, outside of buying some great real estate somewhere, uh, that might appreciate really it's your only appreciating asset in your organization. The you're, you're, they're the, you know, they're going to learn and, and your, your return on that investment is always, or should increase over time if it's working out the way it should. So absolutely strategic, uh, thinking behind it there, you know, there needs to be more succession planning, thoughts, more, you know, lateral movement. We know within reason that you don't want a whole company full of people learning new tricks, but, you know, sometimes it makes sense to rotate someone from, uh, you know, field marketing to trade or shopper marketing, as an example, you just, just so you never know where you could find some hidden talent in your organization and recruiters on the outside. So, you know, cause you guys, you guys have been around, sometimes you have to step back to really get the full picture and another set of eyes. And if you could talk to someone like myself or other experienced recruiters out there that have been at it for decades and placed thousands of people and spoke to millions of candidates and seen it all, there's, there's really, there should be a lot of value in that where, you know, you can understand what competitors are doing or what companies who are winning are doing, and you're not, they have to take all that advice, but absolutely it's a strategic conversation because just, just hiring the best applicant that didn't fall through the cracks or that first resume that stuck on the wall with the recruiter that, you know, threw it in at you. Uh, sometimes it's a great way to hire, but most times not. 


Joe Stolte: What's like if I were to break out like three or five bullet points, if I'm a cannabis operator, like, what would you say what buying criteria do people need to be aware of when they're hiring an agency to help them staff people up? Like, is there like a clear three to five bullet points you could just give that's like, Hey, make sure they have X, Y, and Z otherwise run for the Hills.


Brian Passman: Uh, yeah. Well, the first one is tough for me to say, I, I, you know, I want to say, do they, do they have some experience placing in the industry? That's a tough one because I was all kinds of frustrated. We first started and people didn't want to hire us because we didn't have experience, uh, in the industry. Uh, but you know, in a horse race sure. Hire the guy or girl with experience placing in the industry over. Not because it is unique and, and, and it's, it's more of an educational recruitment process, or it should be for people coming in from the outside candidates have a lot to learn and understand as, as it relates to what they're getting into after that, uh, I'd say skin in the game, Joe, you know, you and I talked a little bit about Goodwill and trust and, uh, I mean, we have all of our skin in the game. This is it. This is our legacy. This is it. And not that all big agencies are bad, but you know, understand who's going to work on that project. And who are you going to get? Because a lot of big, big agencies don't care about Goodwill and trust. They'll send a fancy dog and pony show over to sell you on working with them. And then your search project gets pushed down numerous levels to some people who could really care less. Their name's not on the sign, outside the, you know, the company. And they're probably going to get paid either way, cause they're on salary with some small incentives to fill, uh, uh, you know, search every once in a while.


Joe Stolte: Well, one of the things we kind of on in the sales and marketing side of the business that we talked about when hiring agencies where like we have like a little checkbox in our minds, that's like, are they, you know, smooth doers or are they smooth talkers? Because you know, you want the doers, you don't necessarily want the talkers.


Brian Passman: Absolutely. Yeah. Doers, which, you know, maybe it's a good segue to, to another point is just a track record of success. So whether it's in the industry or not, uh, you know, time to placement and, uh, I think the best one is stick rate. Just, you know, what's the stick rate, um, on those placements.


Joe Stolte: How long the staff member sticks around. They didn't just show for like six months then bounce or a year and then turnover. That's right. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, and, and so, and so with that should come. Uh work-style so, you know, does that recruiter want access to the HR business partner if there's one or the hiring authority and do they want to be a part of the feedback loop and scheduling interviews and really involved rather than just throwing a resume at you? Because if they want to be involved, that should indicate that they care, uh, or unless they're just a crazy control freak, which many recruiters are. And then, um, and then if they care, then you have better success because they're going to lose sleep. They're going to skip meals. They're going to skip workouts and do all of those things. And don't get mad that I said that Travis, but sometimes recruiters skip, you have to skip a workout to make a client happy. It's not a good thing, but got to do it. Sometimes.


Travis Steffen: Brian, You already know me, and this is the first time we chatted and you already know me.


Brian Passman: I did my homework, like a good recruiter would, uh, so yeah. Uh, how do they work? What's their commitment? Um, what kind of collateral they're going to get you? Uh, so understanding their vibe, you know, their style and trusting, they're going to represent you the right way. Cause you know, again, Joe, you and I talked about your, your recruitment process should be a brand building exercise. So just sending a recruiter out in a low fee, just to gather some resumes and throw a match, you, I don't think works making you want to vet that recruiter to make sure they're representing that growth flow or whatever your organization is, uh, in the right way, putting that right. Five out there to the candidate marketplace, because they're going to hopefully speak to dozens. If not hundreds of people to get one person hired and you can on every search, build another small army of brand ambassadors. If you attack it the right way with the right partner,.


Joe Stolte: Love it, man. Um, by the way, Travis, just shut me up and ask questions if you have them, but, uh, I've got lots. You're doing great. What, um, what, what's the hardest role right now to staff in cannabis?


Brian Passman: Uh, w well right now, because we're, uh, fighting hard on a few of them is customer success. I, I can't tell you why we're recruiting a few customer success leader roles for clients, and, uh, especially at the enterprise level, looking for an enterprise customer success leader. Uh, I think in, in that specific I could say, I, I think, uh, one of the challenges is if you're looking to SAS or similar to hire a good enterprise, uh, CS leader, they'll, if they're managing a multimillion dollar book of business, they have probably worked with some set process and procedure to make sure they're serving those big customers in a great way. And a lot of companies in cannabis don't have procedures. It's a, or it's a procedural or a mess, or they're completely non-existent. So vetting that person, who's going to be able to handle those enterprise accounts and working in an environment without process and not go crazy throughout it. That's, that's a, that's a tough one for us in our clients.


Joe Stolte: Let me just pause. Like if you're hiring people, that's so clutch, right. That's one of our secrets that we've learned is like, don't take the big company person that had a mentor and perfect SOP and a supporting cast. And like everything was clear and put them into ambiguous chaos and expect anywhere near the same performance. Right. Because like they won't shine. They just won't like, like one out of maybe like 50 will, but like the other 49, just won't. So I think that's key, especially in customer success, we've experienced some of that, like, but it's also like, I just wanted to zero in on that point. So people don't miss it. That is huge. Like, if you don't have SLPs for onboarding training, if you don't have like a repeatable set of systems to get your people up to speed and ready to roll when you hire them, and you're bringing somebody out of environment that had that, you better be asking them questions to make sure they can deal with ambiguity and they have the ability to create those structures. Otherwise you're really going to be setting them and yourselves up for failure. 


Brian Passman: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.


Travis Steffen: I think honestly, especially with a role like customer success, which honestly, if you, if you pulled 10 companies today and ask them what fell under the banner of customer success, you'd probably get 10 different answers. So it's, it's a very strange realm in terms of like, what duties are they responsible for? Where's their starting line, where's their finished line in the process. Um, and it's so highly specific to that company that when you take someone from, let's say a customer success in a CRM business, that's a more generalized software company and put them in customer success in cannabis though. Not a lot of those tools will necessarily translate in the same way. You're going to be dealing with a completely different customer, a completely different product, completely different sets of regs that they'll have to follow, you know, they have no idea what they're doing. Um, so I it's, it is true. I can see why it's tricky because it's so highly specific to that operation, um, that, you know, I oftentimes don't even know if hiring a customer success person from another industry is the best match for a customer success person or a customer success leader sometimes, you know, for us. Anyway, we found that sometimes, um, a lateral move, like you talked about earlier can actually be more helpful because at the very least they'll have, like, for example, we've hired sales leaders from other cannabis companies and put them on our product team. We've had, um, you know, customers, uh, customer service people and we've put them, um, on, you know, other teams on, on sales, things like that. So just being able to have familiarity with the customer, with the industry, you know, that sort of thing can go a long way by itself. But, um, yeah, that, that role, that specific role is tricky.


Brian Passman: Yeah. Yeah. And then, um, because I, I, there's not a lot of, uh, businesses in our space right now that are really tracking, okay. You know, these are the net promoter score goals. This is our, our, you know, retention situation. I mean, a handful of companies have progressed to a point we could say, okay, do we need to improve, uh, retention? You know, this percentage, this amount, this is our goal, but for many, it's hard to say it. So if you bring someone in from Citrix or Oracle or something like that, and you can't define it wow. That, that, that person's going to be a mess. And it's a good point to show this, it doesn't hire any snowflakes from those big, those big cushy companies. If people haven't taken any lumps and bumps and bruises along the way, and they've lived a blessed life, or it's all processed out, Ooh, they're going to get chewed up and spit out in a hurry.


Joe Stolte: Also, like you just step back and look at the fundamental nature of like a big established company. The nature of a big established company is preservation. Like their strategies are all around. How do we preserve our edge and how do we preserve our lead? And how do we preserve, preserve, preserve where in a, like a fast growing industry in the fast growing startup, it's, it's about growth and creation and the mentality of growth and creation is the opposite of preservation. So in the preservation world, it actually makes a lot of sense to have smooth talkers, because it's a lot of like, you know, cross-functional like alignment and getting people on the same page where, you know, like if you have a fast growing creative organization, you know, you need the smooth doers, like the smooth talkers, just come and screw everything up and waste everybody's time. So that's another reason why, you know, if you need someone to create structure, like they're just gonna come in and they, they don't, they don't cognitively understand these things and they're just gonna burn out well, they're probably a lot of people off first. You, you included as the business leader. So, I mean, there's just like some bigger picture stuff to keep your eyes on here.


Brian Passman: Absolutely. Yep. Uh, customer success guys.


Joe Stolte: Yeah. It's funny that you say that we've taken like, so we launched our customer success department last year and you know, it kind of had a hypothesis around, well, what does a great customer success role look like? And, like the senior leader in our company that runs a CX organization, he ran customer success in Silicon valley companies, like from the ground up, but, you know, we just kind of had to make ours. And I think we've been very successful with training and mentoring people from within. And I think that we've been successful evidenced by our people getting poached, you know, they're saying, Hey, you're an IC at grow flow. Do you want to come be a manager here? And, uh, you know, we're happy about that. We're happy to keep supplying the industry, high quality, amazing people. Uh, but it's been a, it's been interesting because now that department is, um, you know, it's, it's not, let's say it's being attacked, it's just going through that experience. So, yeah.


Brian Passman: Well, uh, yeah, so, so we talk about that in terms of alum, it's good to have grow Flo alum and hunter Esquire alum out there. And, um, you know, another one of the, uh, Mr. Singh things I wanted to touch on about hiring and cannabis is it's really incestuous, as you just mentioned. Yeah. And you know, a lot of them, there's a lot of cannabis businesses out there that think, okay, what's the best, easiest way to hire. Let's go get the person who's doing that for a competitor. And a lot of times when that happens, the interview process becomes even more abbreviated because it's like, well, you know, we don't need to put this person through the ringer. They've just run wholesale sales or customer success or whatever for a competitor thing. Companies are different. They have different cultures and people and systems and whatnot. And when, when that is a very, very interesting miss in this space, you can hire that person and get a lot of industry knowledge and get a book of business potentially. But I've seen more times than not that it just does not work. It's just done in a really super short way. You don't really vet for fit. And a lot of people have a lot of bad habits. There's a ton of bad habits being developed to cannabis businesses out there. And now you've got those bad habits spreading in your organization. I mean, I could go on and on about that. So just hiring within this space is maybe as dangerous from hiring someone outside who doesn't know what they're getting into. 


Joe Stolte: Yeah, No, I dropped some people.


Travis Steffen: Yeah. We brought some people from other cannabis software companies to grow flow. And it is interesting how often times we'll have to, um, almost reset their minds in terms of, of what is, and is not acceptable at work like, uh, at other companies, there's an unspoken truth that you just do not talk to executives and, and they essentially are afraid, um, you know, to go into a room with a big ego or something like that and say the wrong thing. So, you know, you end up getting someone who is maybe scratching the surface of 50% of their potential value that they could generate for the organization. And they're afraid to disagree, like things like that. Um, so you've really had to make it intentional as a culture early on to say, Hey, this is like, we want you to challenge us. Uh, we want you to, you know, request time to have conversations with, if you feel like you have ideas that you want to share or things that need to be brought up. Um, and it's, it is so simple, but it feels like it's such a 180 from, from what other folks experience at other organizations.


Brian Passman: Yeah. There's a lot of, there's a lot of, uh, cannabis industry employees carrying around a lot of baggage for yeah. So, yeah. That's good. Good that you guys are dealing with that it's, you've got to, you've got to help them unpack it. It's just otherwise. Yeah. Like you said, they won't reach their full potential if they're just weighed down by that baggage, you just have to nip that in the bud and have some big boy or big girl conversations.


Joe Stolte: One of our core values is to challenge respectfully. And so one of that usually show like when you don't get that one, when you come into the organization, it typically shows up in two ways, either you challenge aggressively and all the time, or you don't challenge at all, you don't like challenge respectfully, which is more like, Hey, how can we have an assertive conversation around something you want to challenge each other on? So it's interesting to see how that shakes out when we, when we do like a lateral hire from like a competitor or from someone in the space. So, um, well, cool. We are rounding up the end of our time here, Brian, that went by super fast. What, you know, we talked about before we started recording, like it's no secret to us. You know, our mission is to be the most helpful company in cannabis. And the whole effort of this podcast is to generate good will and trust in our marketplace. So, uh, along those lines, any final tips or tricks or insights that you can equip our listeners with, uh, before we conclude here.


Brian Passman: Yeah. Uh, I really liked the, uh, the Goodwill and trust thing. I mean, that's, for us, that's, that's a pillar. I mean, it's about operating with transparency and, and, and care. Uh, you know, we genuinely like people, we, I like being on the phone all the time and, uh, and, and, and giving people my attention and trying to help people out and doing, doing the right things by the industry, because I like it, but also because it's good for business. And a lot of people wouldn't guess it, cause I've, I've made it out to many of the shows and I never sit down or stay still, but I actually hate developing business. I'd much rather just be great and caring with the people that I engage with and have them just remember that experience and want to use us more and refer us to friends. That's sort of my, my BD superpower. And I, uh, I really enjoy operating in that way. So it's just sorta like if you're, if you're out there, regardless of what your cannabis businesses, and it's a tough space to work in, just, just, just, just try to just operate with, with more integrity and treat people as you would want them to treat your, your, or, or your mom or grandma. And, you know, it's not that we have to hold hands and sing kumbaya in this industry, but, you know, we could, you know, we could really do special things and make it a hell of a lot easier for each other if we act that way. And just be honest, and to people who are hiring in the industry, be honest about what you're representing and what you're bringing people into, represent your culture and the opportunity and the obstacles to success in an honest way. And to candidates out there that want the gig, sell yourself in an honest way, don't, don't misrepresent because you're going to get found out in a hurry, then you're out on the streets. So it's just, just honesty and transparency and building Goodwill. It sounds so cheesy, but, uh, I just thought I like talking about it. It just feels good.


Travis Steffen: Brian, where can listeners find you and who is your best customer? Who's your, who's your ideal? Who's the person that would have the best results with you?


Brian Possman: Oh, well, uh, people can find  Uh, I'd say one of our favorite customers is a group you guys know pretty well. Uh, we do a lot of work with, uh, Jeff Harrison company that spring big, uh, I'm a big fan of Jeff and spring big because that's a feel good company. Jeff is a fantastic CEO. He cares an obscene amount for the people in his organization. He's crazy loyal and loving towards them. They, I think any one of them would walk through fire for that guy. And, um, you know, they vet for a culture fit as much as paper fit and they will not hire great talent just because it might, you know, add a little bit more to the top line. So I, uh, and, and, and Jeff's given us a great opportunity to collaborate with them in the exact strategic way we discussed. We recently helped him build out his C-suite a little bit, and he engaged us many, many months in advance to talk about what he was thinking and to work with him, to interview people at his organization about what these new hires would look like ideally, and how they would improve their lives. And that was, that was, that was pretty special. That was very cool of him.


Joe Stolte: I love that. Um, Travis, any final thoughts?


Travis Steffen: Final thoughts for me? You know, I think it's, it's not a degree, right? Like you, you, yes. Hiring has a finish line. It's the point where someone is hired, but, you know, as an entrepreneur or as somebody who's running a company, you have to remember that those people will still continue to be people even after they've officially started getting a W2 from you. Um, so just because you've got them on board doesn't mean that they have to stay, making sure that there is a path for advancement. If that's something that motivates them, making sure that, you know, you are being proactive on your culture and that you're communicating effectively, and you're asking questions and, and serving your company to figure out how people are feeling and then talking to them about their feelings, you know, all these things and more are essential to building a growing thriving organization. Um, but at the end of the day, can't start before you get the right people in those seats. Yes, you have to keep them there, but you have to get them there first.


Joe Stolte: I love it. Well, that's, uh, that brings us to the end of the podcast here, ladies and gentlemen, as always, if you have questions, uh, you can reach out to us and our lovely podcast manager. Morgan will take care of you. If you want to get in touch with Brian. Uh, Brian, what was the website? One more time.


Brian Passman: 


Joe Stolte: We'll connect you directly to Brian and crew. Uh, this has been a great episode and we look forward to seeing you on the next one. Thanks everybody.



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The Growflow podcast offers candid conversations with CEO Travis Steffen & CRO Joe Stolte to give listeners business insights into the newest industry changes. They will talk with cannabis professionals, feature companies and individuals to get inside information on the workings on how to grow your business. Every week questions submitted by listeners will be answered! 

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