Don’t Let Your Strengths Become Your Flaws- I’ve always been a huge perfectionist. It’s propelled me to never settle and to always strive for more, but I also realized it could be my biggest vice. I had to develop a sense of balance and keep myself in check.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Casey Potter, Founder & CEO of Potters Cannabis Co.
Casey Potter is deeply rooted in care and wellness. Before there was POTTERS, Casey oversaw the nursing home, Synergy Homecare of San Diego. During his time there he witnessed the struggle for holistic pain management. He had friends in the cannabis industry, and it seemed medical marijuana created a tremendous opportunity for all-natural relief.
At the time, cannabis vapes were just budding. However, the approach seemed just to be more of the same: dosages that were either too heavy or too light and concentrated that lacked full spectrum characteristics. Most importantly, the products lacked transparency. He longed for a better alternative and partnered with NFL player Jacob Bell to create one. Each lent their expertise, Jacob being the lens for athlete’s needs, especially in collision sports, and Casey bringing his knowledge in pain management and senior care.
Together, Jacob Bell and Casey Potter developed Potters. a brand that provides premium cannabis-derived products with heart. Potters Cannabis Co. launched in January 2017 and has served the cannabis community and beyond since.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My segway into cannabis began in 2015, at Burning Man, of all places. I had been working in healthcare, but I was learning the negative truth about the industry. Working for Synergy Homecare, a home healthcare agency that provided care to individuals typically somewhere around the end stages of life, where he saw patients are viewed more like numbers than as people. It was dehumanizing and too money-focused, and completely against all the reasons that led me to healthcare in the first place. I truly wanted to help people live better lives. So, when I ran into Anthony Barron, one of the co-founders of G-pen at Burning Man, I immediately began asking him questions about medicinal cannabis. We kept in communication, and I even considered investing in an established cannabis company for a while, but I soon realized the vision I was creating was bigger than just that. I began harvesting all my ideas into a concrete brand with a strong message, and Potters was born. I knew I had the creativity and the passion to make a difference and after selling over 7,000 dollars of products our very first day, I’ve never looked back.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading Potters
I was in Mexico; alongside a team of volunteers, I had organized to help build houses for families in need. We had just finished for the day, and I walked past a guy from our team talking on the phone, and just the look on his face — he was absolutely beaming. I then heard him say, “Mom, this has been the most incredible experience of my entire life.”
I have always had a spark in me, this desire to do something good for the world and make a difference in the lives of others, but one of my biggest goals when starting Potters was to find a way to light this spark in others too. My dream was to create a company that didn’t use giving-back as a marketing gimmick but embodied it in every aspect of our culture. One of our brand mottos is to live higher. It means to ask more from every moment of life, to achieve more, dream more, and do more for others. This moment may not be the most interesting to other people, but it was transformative for me. At that moment, I realized, I’m really doing this. I can make a difference.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When Potters was first established, I really wanted people to know we were authentic. I wanted our first customers to see us as real people and to understand our message. I came up with this idea to package each product with an inspirational quote written on a hand-rolled scroll, attached with a piece of hand-tied hemp. We were basically making the fortune cookie of the cannabis space.
So, the first day we opened, when we surprised ourselves by selling over 7,000 dollars in products, not only did we not have that many ready, we had to stay up all night individually packaging everyone. And the next day, when the same thing happened, we stayed up all night again. For at least a year, every spare moment anyone had, all they did was roll scrolls and tie hemp. I would even bring boxes of them to friends’ parties and try to convince them it was a fun drinking game.
Eventually, my team convinced me to let the idea go. It was just not scalable. I was set on having that scroll communicate who we are, but I learned there were other ways to do that. Sometimes you need to pivot, and sometimes you need to temper your expectations. My hyper-focus on making that one aspect of our packaging work was stealing my attention from real initiatives that could help us fulfill our mission big picture.
Can you describe how Potters is making a significant social impact?
Our goal at Potters is to make a positive impact in every way we can. To us, this means not only donating financially but also donating our time and labor. When we volunteer as a team, we can truly see first-hand how we can better help others. From building and repairing houses, to delivering toys and spending time with kids at an orphanage in Tijuana, we are always looking for ways to make a genuine difference in the lives of others. We believe that by taking a focused approach, changing one life at a time, we can make a big difference. It inspires others to care too and creates a community passionate about wanting to help each other. Even while we’ve been in lockdown in our home base of Los Angeles, we’ve still been trying to do our part, passing out over 10,000 meals so far to those who are homeless.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual or family who was impacted or helped by your cause?
So many meaningful people come to mind, but there is one woman who always stands out in my memory. I was working with a team to repair homes in Compton, California, and was assigned to work on this woman’s house. She was older, about 70, and was a full-time caregiver to her mentally disabled sister of about the same age. This woman truly spent every moment of her life caring for someone else and ensuring their needs were met, but there was no one there to take care of her. Our team spent the first day painting the outside of her house, fixing a gate, and cleaning up the yard. The second day, we focused on the inside of the house, completing tasks that she was not physically able to do herself. I was honored to help her. I knew it was the least we could do for someone who did so much for others. I’ve met many people like her since and every time it reminds me of not only what great people there are in the world, but that I too, can always be doing more.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
While our give-back initiatives are wide-spread, we do focus most of our work on helping those that are most disenfranchised and dehumanized by society. These people are facing major problems, such as hunger and homelessness. These sorts of problems have deep roots in our society, but there are three things that anyone can do right now to contribute to a solution.
- We all need to re-emphasize the problem. As a society, we tend to view homeless people as the sources of their own problems. We say if they wanted to change, they would, but this attitude is extremely dismissive and allows us to walk past our suffering neighbors on a daily basis. Spreading education and awareness would go a really long way.
- If you are able, find a way to give back directly. Whether you have clothes, blankets, school supplies, or nonperishable food you could donate, or have a few extra hours of time one weekend, I promise there is an organization in your community that would love to hear from you.
- It sounds really simple, almost too simple, but if you can’t give back in any other way right now, just start by shifting your mindset. If we all pay more attention to the world around us, we can find small, everyday moments that present us with the opportunity to help others. Doing good is contagious. The person you help may help someone else. You never know what you can inspire.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
The definition of leadership has changed for me in the past few years since I’ve launched Potters, Leadership is less about my own strengths now and more about my ability to bring talented people together. I can’t be the best at everything. I can try to be damn good, but I’ve learned to recognize when I need to seek out people with qualifications, I don’t have to join the team. I focus now on empowering others. If someone has incredible qualities, I want to inspire their growth. If I can help them sharpen their skills and become the best versions of themselves, then I can amplify their potential and help us all achieve more as a team. To me, that is true leadership.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Don’t trip Over Dollars to Pick Up Pennies- This was my first major lesson. Producing quality products means investing in quality ingredients and sometimes spending before you can earn.
- Don’t Let Your Strengths Become Your Flaws- I’ve always been a huge perfectionist. It’s propelled me to never settle and to always strive for more, but I also realized it could be my biggest vice. I had to develop a sense of balance and keep myself in check.
- Learn to Stand on Your Own Two Feet- Every time I have been intimidated by a new aspect of the business that is outside of my comfort zone or typical scope of work, I grow so much from learning the new skill. This gives me the confidence in myself to really stand in my power as a knowledgeable leader and CEO.
- Don’t be Consumed by the Ups and Downs- You will go through periods of time where it seems like nothing will go right. You will spend months being barraged by negative news, but that is just how things go. The tides will turn, and you will have good luck again. You just have to stay focused and move forward in a good direction.
- Lean into Discomfort- I am always most motivated, most inspired, and most in-awe of my own abilities when I am rising to meet a challenge. Leaning into discomfort is what excels Potters Cannabis Co. forward. When you embrace what you don’t feel you’re quite ready for, you will find growth — as a person, as a leader, and in all aspects of life and business.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I mentioned earlier the concept of living higher. If I could inspire a widespread social movement around that, I absolutely would. Living higher means finding the best version of yourself and leaving no potential unlocked. It means doing the most you can with every moment and recognizing the greatness in others. It’s a mindset that inspires and empowers everyone you meet. Living higher drives everything we do at Potters Cannabis Co. From our giveback efforts to the quality of the product we create, we take all our initiatives to the next level. One of our goals for 2021 is actually to help spread this message more. We plan on sharing our social media platforms with people who truly deserve recognition in order to highlight the difference they are making in the world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of my favorite quotes is “your entire life journey ultimately consists of the steps you are taking in this moment,” said the very wise, Eckhart Tolle. These words serve as a guiding reminder to me. The small, everyday decisions we make in life are some of the biggest decisions we ever make. When you begin living the life you want to create, the smallest actions compound and start changing your vision into a reality.
I had a mentor explain this same concept to me in other words. When I was first starting my company, I was expressing some of my doubts to him. I foresaw many obstacles and challenges ahead of me. He told me, look, you’re resourceful, so you will figure it out. Stop focusing on the end goal and start focusing on what you can be doing right now to get the ball rolling in the right direction. I now understand that when you focus on doing the best you can in each moment, it will add up, and you will get to your end goal in due time.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
This question is tough for me because there are so many people, I’d love to get the chance to speak with for a few hours. Meeting Elon Musk would be incredible. He has made such a huge impact in such a relatively short period of time, and as a cannabis supporter, I’d love to pick his brain about the future of my industry. But if I had to pick one person, I think my final answer would be Eckhart Tolle. The way he finds a connection to source through living higher and being in the present moment is really interesting to me and I try to live my life in this way. I find him so incredibly interesting and inspiring. I’ve heard him speak before and was mesmerized by his ideas and the way he talks about the source of consciousness. I would love to experience being in a room with him first-hand. I think a conversation with him could truly be life-changing.
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This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!