13 Insider Tips With Stefani Lucas, Chief Operating Officer of Good Meds in Colorado
“The industry is immature. This is great because it is impressionable, adaptable, and full of great opportunity. However, it can also be frustrating. It is important to be patient and willing to take the time to listen, explain, and teach.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Stefani Lucas, Chief Operating Officer of Good Meds in Colorado. Good Meds is one of the longest licensed marijuana companies in the world, with a mission to truly educate patients about cannabis. The brand stays ahead of the curve through investing in new technologies, brands and it’s people.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”? How did you first get into this business or get interested in the business?
I spent the majority of my career in the medical device industry on a national level and was seeking a change. I wanted to work for a smaller company, have more of an overall impact, be more “local”, and have a real connection to the work I was doing.
I decided a Denver startup would be the right fit and started looking into local tech companies since that is a huge market here. During my search, and I think I have to credit fate for how things fell into place, I found cannabis. Here I was living in Colorado — during this cannabis boom — it was a right place at the right time scenario. Very quickly it became apparent that I had something to offer the space: lean principles, operational excellence, and structured leadership. I am very fortunate that this opportunity presented itself.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company
HA! Maybe over a couple of drinks I can tell you my BEST stories. For now I’ll tell you this one…when I was offered the job in my final interview with Good Meds, my future boss told me my “assignment” before beginning work was to strengthen my tolerance. He was concerned about my ability to be able to sample/taste test/consume, while still holding my own at industry events. Where I was once concerned about that dreaded “…and you’ll have to pass a drug test,” when being offered a job, I now had to pass a different type of drug test. My husband loved this. On Saturday mornings, he would hand me an edible…and if I was hesitant, he would say “aren’t you taking your new job seriously?!” Pretty awesome homework!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our product and our people make Good Meds different. The first thing everyone says is,“you have great product — high-quality flower, great concentrates…” and the second is always, “I love the people at Good Meds!” The team at Good Meds really feels like family and it’s a family with a history. We have been around for almost a decade now, and there have been a lot of people who have worked with us throughout the years to help us grow. Whether it is current employees, former employees, patients, vendors, contractors, etc., everyone is part of the Good Meds family. We even had former employees at our holiday party!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am fortunate that I’ve had women bosses for most of my career. Not just women bosses, but strong, smart, exceptional mentors. They have taught me what it takes to be an effective leader, and what it takes to “lean In” (shout
out to Sheryl Sandberg). It is so important to “take a seat at the table”, speak up, be assertive, and be comfortable and proud of that. Ultimately, these women helped me gain confidence in myself to carve my own path and create my own narrative.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Yes. We are working on a mini rebrand at our retail locations. As the recreational marijuana market continues to expand, the medical space continues to become more niche and in my opinion, more essential. This makes it exceptionally important to differentiate ourselves, including our product, our services, and the entire Good Meds experience. We carry the responsibility to provide our patients with the best possible experience and that means we need to be laser focused on creating the best products to meet their healthcare needs.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
I am excited about a lot happening in the cannabis industry, including:
1. Being a part of History. We have the opportunity (as well as a great responsibility) to do something BIG and we have to do it right.
2. The people. Many industries tend to attract similar types of people. Cannabis brings together all sorts of personalities, yet everyone marches to a similar beat. From packagers to trimmers to budtenders to executives, everyone brings something special to the mix. I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to learn from and work alongside such wonderful, unique, and open minded people.
3. Being part of an industry that stems from passion and pride. This ties in with my previous answer but it’s important to note. People who work with weed — love weed. They are extremely passionate about it…and you can’t teach passion.
The only concern I have is that we respect the responsibility we have to set a good example. It is our duty to pave the way for the rest of the country and the world. We have to work together as an industry to do that. While it’s natural, and even fun to be competitive, we have to remember to stick together as an industry and as a movement. That’s where the real success lies.
Can you share your top “5 things you need to know in order to succeed in the Cannabis industry”? Please share a story or example for each.
1. It’s a culture. Cannabis has been around for a loooooong time and there are a lot of people who paved the way to get us where we are today. I want my chapter to be about raising the company and the industry to the next level so it is sustainable for many more years to come. I want the industry to be an elevated version of what it was and is — but I want to stick to the roots. The natural, peaceful, fun, creative, social, and honest roots.
2. Respect the plant. It is important to be mindful of the essence and healing properties of cannabis. At the end of the day — it’s all about this very special plant.
3. The industry is immature. This is great because it is impressionable, adaptable, and full of great opportunity. However, it can also be frustrating. It is important to be patient and willing to take the time to listen, explain, and teach.
4. It’s not that easy. At the surface level, it may seem simple: grow the plant, sell the plant. However, there are a ton of moving parts. Regulations change constantly and competition increases by the minute. We have to be nimble, quick, motivated and constantly evolving.
5. Remember it’s fun. When things get stressful, I remember that when it comes down to it: we’re selling weed. How DOPE is that?
In our experience when people are passionate about what they do they are more successful. Where does your cannabis passion come from?
My passion stems from my responsibility to the cannabis community and its mission. I want to use my past experience, knowledge and strengths to help grow this industry, to improve our people professionally and personally, and to help our patients medically.
Where do you see your business going in the next 5 years? Where do you see the cannabis industry going in the next 5 years?
The possibilities are endless, which is why it is so exciting. If I had to pick one thing, I would say: it’s all about the brand. While laws, cultivation practices, hot new products, popular strains — will all change. The brand is what remains. It is important to establish who you are and what you represent. I am lucky to help lead a company with a great reputation and a great foundation to build upon. Good Meds has been a strong brand for a decade and will continue to stand out and differentiate itself for decades to come.
Are you able to identify any rising stars at your company or in your industry that people need to keep an eye on?
When I first came into this role, I immediately hired a Director of IT. Something pretty unheard of in this industry. Daniel Weiss, joined us and hit the ground running. We built a company intranet where we centralized all of our business intelligence from SOPS, to HR, to Company News. We moved away from all paper and non-digital data collection. We boosted the internet throughout our 90,000 sq. ft. facility, gave everyone tablets, and started collecting real-time data while tracking interdepartmental communication. This allowed us to quickly identify inefficiencies, streamline processes, increase accountability, and make educated, data-driven decisions.
Elevating our internal processes has enabled us to effectively implement and partner with companies offering products and services that tie in nicely with our mission. We use Asana for task management throughout cultivation. Baker helps us provide exceptional customer and patient relations. Leafly is used for deals and menu updates that allow patients to stay in the know and find out more about us and our products. Cannabis-specific IT companies like Baker and Leafly see where the industry is headed…and they are ahead of the curve. Keep an eye on IT!
What growth sectors should most people be paying attention to that they might not be currently?
The consumer (or in our case, the patient). Since the industry is still new and there can sometimes be a stigma, the market is somewhat narrow. As views of cannabis change, the consumer market becomes more broad. There are consumers of all ages that can benefit from marijuana, and we should consider needs across the board. The end user is always at the forefront of our decision making process. At Good Meds, creating an end-to-end consumer experience is really important to us. That is why we are focused on creating the best customer experience possible, and providing our patients with high quality, safe products. That will continue to be what sets us apart from other brands.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
GRiZ! (The Dj) I love his music and what he stands for: equality, accepting differences, loving each other, and letting the good times roll! PLUS — He smokes weed.
Originally published at medium.com