California Cannabis Market insight

I kept seeing negative posts and opinions about marketing and sales in the cannabis industry that seem overly critical and lacking in insight. Here, I am going to shed some light on the California market and provide advice on how brands can overcome some of the current challenges.

Weed is a consumable product so packaging and branding are an important part of creating a competitive advantage across the entire business.

  1. Packaging should be convenient for dispensaries to intake. Look at the competition and ask what is preferred in the market.
  2. Pricing should be in line with the product quality as well as the COGs. If the price is determined reactively to undercut competitors, losses will result in perceived value and also limit the business’s ability to invest in staff and process improvements.
  3. Charging shelving fees prevent brands and dispensaries from marketing to new customers.
  4. Brand Equity takes years to develop. Messaging is the key to branding and creating a relationship with the customers.
  5. You can’t be all things to all people.

If you are interested in learning about concepts that can help stabilize the market, stay tuned; the only request is to take these ideas and apply them.

1: Brand

2: Retail

3: Marketing

4: Relationships

5: Sales


What does it take to be a successful cannabis brand?

There are several different answers to this question – price, differentiation, innovation, and customer base.

  1. Price: Low-cost leaders have been pushing prices down. 
    1. Indoor flower: Automation, technology investment, and a strong supply chain network can contribute to a competitive advantage. 
    2. Outdoor Flower: Automation and a strong distribution network can contribute to a  competitive advantage.

The key to winning on price is scale and automation. The more you can automate and remove variance in production at scale, the more competitive you can be on prices.

  1. A differentiation strategy is the approach businesses use to attract and keep customers by giving them a unique product or service.
    1. What Features do your product offer that your competitors don’t?  Ex: Clean green, freshness guarantee, live soil, charitable and socially conscious products, collaborations. What action is the company taking to be different in the work they do?
  2. Innovation: First to market. This is the true top dollar branding model – exclusive strains, rare genetics, small-batch purchases that are socially shareable experiences.

Branding can be more complicated if you really want to drive down into your customer profile and build out a long-term growth strategy for your marketing funnel.  But, if you have a brand and you want it to last, you have to choose how you want to compete.

Retail (Dispensaries)

California has a serious retail channel problem. There is too much legal product and not enough dispensaries, and all the stores have the same brands and the same strains.

Message to retailers: shelving/slotting fees are not good for business. These fees drive up prices and in turn, drive down sales.

If there is an issue with retailers having enough revenue to operate, retailers should work with the brands for marketing dollars.

Brands need to spend money on marketing and IG stories are not going to get the brand nor the store the return on investment.

A  few ideas for Cannabis friendly marketing 

1: Podcast, Vlog, Blog Advertising.

2: Local promotional advertisements, Bench signs and periodicals etc.

3: Co sponsors – Education and outreach, events, and community service.

These can have measurable impacts and having brands willing to work with local dispensaries can build community and create a long-term relationship.


Obviously, all standard advertising is marketing, training for how company representatives interact with customers is marketing, text, and images on everything from white paper to web pages and business cards is marketing.

Brand strategy, customer rating of competitors and key success factors, points of parity, and points of differentiation. Brand mantra, brand equity strategy, vision, Mission, operationalization quality and trend-selling in product quality and style.

Brands and Dispensaries alike should be communicating their value propositions consistently and frequently. 


As more and more flower is on the market, there is an unprecedented need to sell the flower. Obviously, this is a moment in time, but with an abundance of brands, we need to determine how they can develop and grow in the current market conditions.

Looking at every micro license, distro, and cultivation which translates to the potential of thousands of brands throughout the state.

There are many different ways to supply a brand with a product, and I am not going to dive into supply chains and white labeling.

There are a lot of ways to build and track inventory, which is absolutely critical to have accurate information for sales to meet market needs.

Now to the top of sales. There is a shift from independent contractors to on-staff sales teams to freelance salespeople. The freelance sales strategy has not proven to be good for brand growth and development, as freelance salespeople are not invested in the relationship with the product but in their own relationship with the dispensary. This dynamic creates a broker relationship with the dispensary, instead of a team member relationship, which adds a layer of unnecessary cost to the product. There are also a lot of freelance salespeople that I have seen get burned by dispensaries not paying and by brands shorting them on the compensation. 

As the market grows, so will the consolidation of retailers, which will limit the freelance sales (brokers) ability to keep up with the changing market.

On staff sales teams can support business development and build brand identity while bringing resources and expertise to the business. 

A few issues that are unfortunately common in the cannabis space that have an impact on sales, price, and reputation.

1: Brands that don’t have experience managing a suite of products and carrying too much inventory wind up losing cash flow from operations. 

  • This can happen from over purchasing raw materials without forecasting how much the market can take and what sales needs are.
  • Lack of processes. The amount of time I have seen bulk flower come through and was rushed to meet a cultivation schedule resulting in less than desirable product is often enough to see a trend in the lack of contingency planning.

2. Retailers that over order and cannot move the product in time for the customer to have fresh flower. 

  • Again this is a lack of forecasting and understanding what is needed in a period of time to service the customer base.

3 This is the biggest issue for sales. There are no clear goals that are based on quantitative and qualitative metrics.

  •  Setting a sales goal should not be an emotional goal such as we need to be in X number of stores or we need $X in sales when that is not linked to an amount of product available or actual reach of the distribution network. 

Brands need to train the sales staff to sell the product that is actually available and not just the brand. If they sell the brand and the product doesn’t align with the messaging, the dispensary will be misinformed and the customer will be disappointed, resulting in a negative experience.

Sell what you have not what you wish you had.

Pay your people and let them try to succeed.

The link between Brands, Retail, Marketing, and Sales is money, plain and simple.

Brands need money to pay for marketing and sales, and retailers need to sell products to pay brands. This is all obvious and on the nose but the marketing budget is the part that I want to dig into.

Where and what should the marketing budget include. Three areas: 

  1. Pre sale marketing: before the dispensary is a customer
  • Funding deals: Gift Card (coffee & tea), swag shirts, hats, pins, lanyards, pens, ligheters ect. 
  • Shared Marketing resources
  • Product samples

2.Closing the sale

  • Staff Samples
  • Instore activations: PAD, Budtender educations, internal contests
  • Bogo, Calendared Discounts

3. Continued relationship

  • Community events
  • Shared Marketing resources

Along with all of these concepts and ideas, I purposely did not name any brands, dispensaries, or individuals that are currently using any of these tools to their benefit. You can see through social media who is doing what well and who is missing out.

It’s disappointing that there are people reporting each other to the DCR and flagging social posts when they are part of the same community. If we spent less time complaining about the things we don’t like about our competitors and focused on being proactive and spotlighting all the success we see, we can start to show our strength and progress forward together. 

Everything can be better!

Pockets of Productivity and body language.

If you have taken the time to read the “about” section of this blog you will see that there are five topics that I think about the most.  Of course, these are not the only topics that I am interested in, they are just the ones that I feel the most comfortable discussing. Now that statement is made please read on for some words of wisdom, that has made me more productive and had a positive impact on how I interact with the world around me

Words of wisdom from business to everyday life.

I want to share some life experiences, as well as some topics I am passionate about but don’t  feel compelled to dedicate an entire blog post to at this time.  The first is a quote: “Never stand around with your hands in your pockets.”  While this may or may not seem like obviously good advice. It is extremely important in life for several reasons.  Standing around with your hands in your pockets makes you a target.  When you are standing with your hands in your pockets it is highly likely that either you are doing nothing, or very little.  In my own business as well as most companies I have worked with, the person in that stagnant state was given the worst, boring, least rewarding tasks first, such as filing backdated documents, faxing dozens of forms to vendors, scan docs, wrapping cable, digging trenches, and soaping wires. Those tasks cover advertising, manufacturing, stage hand, and construction work to illustrate the breadth of industries where standing around with your hands in your pockets is a negative activity in business. A few other instances where negative activity produced negative results.

Be aware of your surroundings.

Throughout the 90’s I spent nearly all of my time between the Beaches of New Jersey, The Lower East Side (LES) in Manhattan, Bay Ridge Brooklyn, and Jackson Heights Queens. The reason I point out the geographical areas is that they are very diverse in comparison to each other.  Although it is easy to identify the differences from each place, they all had the same outlook:  if you look like a victim you will become a victim.  While the interactions for which a person may be confronted with will most likely differ, such as getting mugged, sucker punched, scammed by various street hustlers, harassed by drunks, junkies, and wackadoos, random search by New York’s finest; nonetheless, they are all situations that generally that should be avoided, but standing around with your hands in your pockets is like wearing a sign that says “victim here”.

Respect and trust.

As a Father, standing around with your hands in your pockets makes it hard to command respect and be taken seriously as an authority figure.   Any time my father would have his hand in his pockets while parenting he was red faced and screaming, which is probably the only way to get someone to realize how serious you are.

Fashion and practicality

Pocket advocate: I am a total pocket advocate.   I dislike pants and jackets that don’t have pockets, as a parent and without a care for social acceptance, I love cargo shorts due to the ample pocket space, and in cold weather, I am totally comfortable with walking with my hands in the cozy pockets of a hoodie or jacket.  Now that I think it is clear there is a time and a place to make yourself vulnerable.   Hopefully, this insight helps you seem more productive and be a little safer navigating the world.

When your business needs a bigger boat…

We’re gonna need a bigger boat…

In 2017, businesses still manage to suffer from the same problems they have been facing for decades; focusing their efforts on increasing sales while seemingly ignoring the procedures and operations in the process.  The fact that history’s mistakes continue to repeat themselves without many positive signs of improvement on the horizon leads one to believe that the core issue is a lack of capacity, meaning businesses will need to build bigger boats to accommodate all of their growing needs in a sufficient and sustainable manner.   

A business can be like a sinking ship with expenses, culture, and a whole bunch of other issues, weighing down revenue growth.  Yes, some businesses seem unstoppable, which is more likely a stroke of good luck that somehow enable those lucky businesses to excel in spite of that firm’s negligent inclination to ignore and still survive internal issues rather than addressing them.

However, adjustments to the structural size of a firm alone will not be the sole solution to all of a firm’s issues.  While a bigger boat (more resources) can make a project seem less challenging, it does not guarantee success.  Just like having the ability to generate sales is fantastic, believing you can sell your way out of a problem is not a long term solution.   Having an understanding of the internal operations and how the firm’s money is being spent is also a critically important factor, as well.

The business activities that work as a bail-out for the sinking ship generate profits, while operations keep the boat afloat it’s culture and marketing that move the ship along.  The reason I am trying culture into this is while marketing is, of course, a common core competency of every organization,  culture is also often disregarded as an expense that does not offer an immediate measurable impact on revenue performance.  If the cost to acquire a new customer (Customer Acquisition Cost(CAC) =(Total sales + marketing cost)/ # of new customers added per month) exceeded revenue, then the approach that may have the largest financial impact may have to do with culture, while the cost of a sale has a cost for marketing anytime there is a change that affects how employees operate there is a threat from outside influences. It is important to be agile and make changes that support the business and focus on repairing the leak instead of focusing on buying a bigger bucket.

Learning to do more with less is just as important as learning to do less with less.  Meaning, As a result, businesses possess the ability to drive revenue higher as a percent of cash flow from operations by focusing on process improvement over sales performance improvement.

There are actions to fix the whole instead of

When it comes to cutting costs, there are what is seen as the most common or traditional cost cutting measures with the quickest and most visible impact to the bottom line are employee layoffs, which are often referred to as reductions in staff and restructuring.  laying off employees; While business decisions involving terminations, demotions, and added responsibilities without compensation all provide organizations with the ability to quickly reduce costs and drive profits, this approach is often only viable in the short-term, as staff changes of this nature often result in hurt moral and can decrease the rate of productivity and can compromise quality control much farther than anticipated.  Reducing employee pay is always challenging and usually will drive the top talent and high performing people out first.  Reducing benefit programs can also cause the same impact on the staff as pay reduction.  In addition, changing customer service hours, or altering billing terms with little to no notice to the consumers may drive away profitable customers while producing an undesirable impact on the business’s reputation.  Less common, but often more sustainable, cost-cutting measures look to leverage relationships and local communities to support a business in transition which can help with performance, sales, and reputation.

Strategic alliances for marketing purposes can be leveraged more easily when there is a nonprofit or charitable affiliation.  Collaborating with local schools or social organizations for mentorship or internship programs can provide firms with the opportunity to reduce expenditures (Cost Cutting) with low-cost labor options, elevate customer retention and new client acquisition, and promoting a more positive brand image while cultivating stronger relationships in the community.  

Activities that possess a viable means for increasing the dynamics of a firm’s cash flow from operations include the following:

  • Budgeting constraints for outside sales teams that link expenses to performance. The better a sales member does the more access they have to company reimbursement for non-essential business expenses.
  • Performance-based expense-reimbursement standards create challenges to the firm’s culture and the espoused values. As a result, this approach would require the greatest amount of care and focus on change management implementation to ensure optimal successful results are achieved.  

I have personally witnessed the execution of all of these various strategies increase business performance in different industries at different times.

There are many other types of activities to improve operations, as well as improving access to a highly valued workforce that work as repairing a leak to move the boat better. Feel free to comment with any other uncommon ideas that you have seen work.  

The phrase every executive should avoid

Marketing is everything you think it is and everything you don’t think it is…

While that is stirring around in your big beautiful melon.  

Obviously, all normal advertising is marketing, training for how company representatives interact with customers is marketing, text, and images on everything from white paper to web pages and business cards is marketing.

For the past 17 yrs, I have seen businesses that over-leveraged themselves to increase marketing expenditures and firms that limit the amount of business cards they give out to keep marketing expense down and everything in between.  Here’s is what I have come to understand. There are three “things” that drive businesses to be successful timing, magnitude, and luck. Timing can be early to market, late to market on right on target. Magnitude not having enough widgets, having too many widgets, or right on target. Luck is the wild card, good luck can make a business succeed regardless of timing & magnitude. Bad luck can crush a business despite all the best efforts, and it(luck) can not be considered at all in any planning. The importance of marketing is directly tied to timing and magnitude. I am not going to lay out the different approaches to campaigns, calendaring, or strategy implementation.  I really just want to share a mindset that should be avoided at all cost by any executive, business owner or division head and that is anyone who utters this are a variation of this phrase;

“We don’t really do marketing here”.

“We don’t really do marketing” is probably one of my most favorite things to hear an executive say.  I have the hardest time not laughing in their face and the more profound they look while spewing the statement the harder it is to maintain composure. Obviously, if that statement made then marketing is being discussed in some manner, and the person making the statement has misunderstood the idea of marketing and how to drive sales. While outbound and inbound advertising is absolutely part of marketing so is the content that is used on websites, business cards, even customer service training is part of marketing. There are Key performance indicators and metrics that impact sales that are also linked to forecasting growth.

Here is a short list of less common practice activities that are part of marketing.

  • Return on Marketing Investment (ROI) = (Sales Growth – Marketing Cost) x 100 / Marketing Investment
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) (Total sales +marketing cost)/ added customer per month
  • Marketing % of Customer Acquisition Cost (M%-CAC)
  • Success Metrics
  • Channel conflicts
  • Newsletters
  • Landing page
  • Search ads
  • Forms
  • Blogs
  • Social networks
  • Banner ads
  • Vlogs
  • Customer service
  • Logos

Far too often businesses will become so focused on the bottom line that opportunities are missed because “we don’t do marketing”.  In actuality the statement is more likely to be “we don’t understand marketing” or “we don’t do marketing well” there are lots of different recipes to make a nutritious meal but you have to be willing to spend money on the ingredients or know how to cook. Not every business needs a celebrity endorsement or SEO strategy, but they should know who much they are spending on their marketing activity for the simple fact that if you can measure it you can plan for it making timing & magnitude an essential aspect of marketing and business strategy.

Next time you are in a meeting or shooting the breeze, just remember the phrase to avoid. “We don’t do marketing”…

The “business of business” and the “business of politics”

After seeing social media clogged with political rants as well as my daily social interactions being consumed, and everywhere I go I receive unsolicited opinions about people’s political views. This has given me the push to share a few details about what people I am hearing and how things work based on empirical data and life experience.  The topic of running a country like a business and acting as the CEO of a country is what I have been bombarded with.  There are a few key terms that are needed to ensure the points are understood and outlined here: bondholder, shareholder, and stakeholder.

Small Business

How businesses should operate versus how most businesses do operate are not the same.  While this may seem obvious, the issues are still significant.  Most businesses strive to drive the bottom line and focus on shareholder relations.  In small businesses, the focus is on short-term cost-cutting like avoiding investing in personnel, succession planning, marketing, process improvement, and overall strategic planning which usually produce slow grow, product inconsistency, high turnover, and overall failure. The small business issues arise usually from a lack of financial resources or a poor understanding of profit and loss. While some businesses are able to be successful while utilizing a few core competencies they rarely reach full potential.

Larger businesses and corporations

Larger businesses and corporations do suffer from many of the same issues small businesses have for sure.  One of the added challenges to big business is the shareholders and market speculation.  Shareholders often focus on the bottom line and the return on their investment, and not investing in personnel, succession planning, marketing, process improvement, overall strategic planning.  The large business or corporate issues arise from investors seeking short-term returns with the greatest payout without regard for long-term performance.

Public Relations

How a country operates looking at democracies particular the U.S. the government’s role is to ensure security for the citizens and those citizens are eligible to run and lead the nation. Unlike a business, the country does not use investing in personnel or succession planning in the same way a successful business does. If a country was run like a business the amount of time and money that would be used in maintaining strong relations with the investors would not produce a wealthy population nor a safe secure environment.  Some easy example is when the stakeholder are not taken into consideration.  For instance companies with personnel issues such as Foxconn and Apple, Walmart and low wages,  Wells Fargo and cheating sales goals, and dozens of other companies with class actions suits for discrimination, safety violations, and many other deceptive practices. The most obvious sign of how a country should not be run like a business is term limits for political office. If the country did not have term limits like business employees marketing could be used to manipulate the population into losing more freedom and opportunity than are currently available.  This would resemble a monarchy or any ruler that looks to control news and media.

US debt and bonds: about two-thirds of US debt is held by domestic investors, social security, military retirement plans, government agencies, corporations and individual investors. The rest, about one-third, is held by foreign countries and foreign investors…

The amount of US government debt held by foreign entities equals $14.1 trillion… the largest foreign holder of US debt is Japan, which owns 1.31 trillion. China, the second-largest holder, owns $1.115 trillion.

Leadership and Power

If a country was run like a business the bondholders would have more power in deciding what the country should do. That means that China and Japan would have the strongest most influential relationship because they hold the largest amount of foreign debt. While the U.S does have good relations with those nations the U.S. also have favorable relations with countries with less of a financial investment in the U.S. directly. Also, we would have a really hard time doing business with the amount of debt we generate every quarter. The turnover and impeachment rate for almost every elected official who is unsustainable, some companies bring in new leadership almost once a year before the board finds someone they will tolerate. While in the U.S. the elected officials stay in office if they do great, good, or terrible,  as long as they didn’t get caught breaking the law they usually stay, and can often be reelected. Business and government have similarities and neither are consistently successful or reasonable, but they are far from the same and should not be treated as such.


If Governments do a poor job of supporting the stakeholders of the country, then businesses do a terrible job at it. For the thousands of businesses that are successful none of them have made it to the level that the government has for keeping the citizens safe and providing necessities and rights. Ideally, we would be anarchist living under a social contract of peace, love, and a free market, which is as likely as me being a 19th-century pirate and winning over the people with my soothing public speaking ability(Has Not Happened). Every citizen should be involved and aware of the government and no one should try and take that right away and give it to businesses.


Businesses have more rules and regulations regarding everything from dress code to language that is acceptable to the behavior of employees is even dictated by the culture of the business.  If people want a country run like a business social and civil uprisings would be a common occurrence.  Just like walkouts, boycotts, and viral videos have a massive impact on businesses for mistreating the stakeholders such as Uber, Pepsi, United airlines, and the list goes on and on.  Regarding government, protests are still a viable option, when the citizens boycott a vote it is the citizens that lose out more than the government. Specifally considering the extermes of retaliatory actions for both arenas.

Business is great for creating wealth and opportunities for people who are willing to work hard, invest in education, and sometimes just lucky.

Here are links to the information that was I used to support the terms.

Bondholderis the owner of a government, municipal or corporate bond. Investors may purchase bonds directly from the issuing entity or on the secondary market if the original bondholder decides to sell prior to maturity. Bondholders are entitled to a return of principal when the bond matures and, with the exception of those who own zero-coupon bonds, periodic interest in the form of coupon payments.

Read more:

Stockholders: An individual, group, or organization that holds one or more shares in a company, and in whose name the share certificate is issued. Also called shareholder.

Read more:

Shareholders:is any person, company or other institution that owns at least one share of a company’s stock. Because shareholders are a company’s owners, they reap the benefits of the company’s successes in the form of increased stock valuation. If the company does poorly, however, shareholders can lose money if the price of its stock declines.

Read more:

Stakeholders: person, group or organization that has interest or concern in an organization.

Stakeholders can affect or be affected by the organization’s actions, objectives and policies. Some examples of key stakeholders are creditors, directors, employees, government (and its agencies), owners (shareholders), suppliers, unions, and the community from which the business draws its resources. Not all stakeholders are equal. A company’s customers are entitled to fair trading practices but they are not entitled to the same consideration as the company’s employees.

An example of a negative impact on stakeholders is when a company needs to cut costs and plans a round of layoffs.

There is a Pew article By Arron Smith wi

There is a Pew article By Arron Smith with over lapping point about a topic I recent blogged about I included the link. The information can be useful to see that the changes are real and identifiable for businesses to help plan for the future. Changing Consumer Habits: Changing consumer habits and how some businesses are cashing in on new economic trends…

Changing Consumer Habits

While I was digesting the news this week I heard how well Walmart was doing in Q4.  Full disclosure, I have limited shopping experience at Walmart.  My online shopping is for products that I can’t source locally or when I need a specific quality item and I have positive experiences with a specific online brand.  As for Walmart and their domination of the low-cost retail market, here are my insights as to the change in customer behavior and how Walmart had been the beneficiary of changes in the market and buying habits.

Earning and Work life balance

“ Walmart’s doing really well while people are more likely to stay in, shop online, binge watch movies and order pizza.”  paraphrasing news broadcaster.  With more freelance and gig-jobs, part-time work is not only common, but for many, part-time work has become a necessity, especially in highly populated areas where the competition for jobs is much more intense.  The full-time work that is available is more demanding of people’s time, thus reducing work/life balance.  It has been hypothesized that people are avoiding the expense of going out to shop not only because of the great ease of online shopping, but also because the product quality is not as important as it once was to many consumers, who are now placing greater value on low cost and reduced time over the quality of the goods.  This has made Walmart an ideal player in the market according to the hypothesis.

Freelance and Gig work

I also think that there is a bigger and sadder picture that leads to this type of customer behavior in the current market.  While I have not conducted any academic research to support either assumption at this time, it has been reported that the poverty and wealth gap is growing and changing the world, and these effects are more apparent than one may think.  The population is in part taking in more non-traditional forms of employment such as gig and freelance work, where using their own assets to make a profit such as delivery, and hospitality services, (Lyft, Air BnB) making the population more exhausted.  Now people are coming home from a much longer than what was once considered a normal working day (8 hours).  The flexible and remote workforce injects work deep in the home life and adds stress when there is no option for  “leaving work stress at the office”… because the office is home.

Quantity over Poverty

While many Walmart employees cannot even afford to raise a family on a single income, the need for families and independent adults to have more than one income makes it harder to have free time and expendable income to do things like go out and enjoy anything let alone one of America’s favorite pastime such as retail therapy.  The sales associates at discount retailers often do not have the same drive to sell as their commission seller counterparts can drive up engagement and make the shopping experience more of an event than a necessity.  Because discount retailer sales associates who work on an hourly wage are very aware that customer service is no guarantee of additional compensation, the customer experience is often sub-par to that provided by sellers who are rewarded with more lucrative sales incentives.

Free Time Well spent

It seems that the comparisons that can be made from the increase in discount and low-cost retailers with low-paying jobs has had a spillover onto a larger segment of the population of working adults.  For the people taking on additional work (be it freelance, gig-work, or having multiple part time employment), the free time available for going out to enjoy one’s self has fallen to the wayside, resulting in a gap that has been filled in by binge watching tv, social media, and RPG’s with food and goods purchased online that include purchases that are undoubtedly delivered by a person working their way through the day until the start of  their next gig just a few hours later.

Profit at all cost

Walmart’s 10k states: “strategy is to lead on price, differentiate on access, be competitive on assortment, and deliver a great experience.  Leading on price is designed to earn the trust of our customers every day by providing a broad assortment of quality merchandise and services at everyday low prices”.  While there are many large companies that compete on cost in many different industries, in the long term, the customer loses out more than the firms because of the increase in waste from products that are of poor quality, or made with the intent to be replaced quickly.  As time goes on, low-cost products give way to low-wage jobs, and the decrease in resources perpetuates the problem.

Haves and Have more

The greatest resource that is depleted, in my opinion, is the population that does not receive an education, training, apprenticeship, or mentorship that produces understanding and value of self, time, and community.  That is where Walmart now profits, and will continue to profit from the masses working and working and working to buy stuff and enjoy the little free time they have.  Simply because they do not have the time between their multiple-job work days from logging on or signing in to generate a few extra bucks to dedicate to finding what is really needed: better products, better people, and better relationships.  This is what’s overarchingly driving the gap between the wealthy and everyone else from a consumer’s perspective…maybe.


MBA and BJJ make for business

Questions Lead Knowledge

Asking the right questions is a theme in my life right now.  The questions never stop until the right one comes, followed by the answers, then followed by any other problem, which is how to apply the solution. I cannot tell you how to solve every problem in business or in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I have read some other blogs that reference MBA’s and BJJ just make sure I am not regurgitating old ideas, and I haven’t seen anything at this time that comes to the same conclusions.  The concepts that are discussed go beyond comparing business, to chess, to strategy, to BJJ.  These topics have already been discussed and conclusions are available for analysis regarding blogs and books for more in-depth looks on specific subjects.  While conducting extensive research to become subject matter experts can be a highly valuable tool, the truly best way to fully learn or understand something is by engaging in experiential learning; in other words, you have to do it yourself.

Concept of Business

The concept of Business Jiu Jitsu is abstract in application, but after seeing the overlap between the world of BJJ and Business, I was compelled to write about the overlap and share my insights.  Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art, combat sport system that focuses on grappling with a  special emphasis on ground fighting.  The core concepts for BJJ are centered around the fact that size does not matter.  The winner in BJJ truly is determined by the commitment to developing the perfect balance of drive and skill, with a dedication to mastering both technique and resiliency.  Unlike many other mainstream sports like football and basketball, BJJ gives the smaller or weaker person a real fighting chance at coming out on top by teaching students of this disciplined martial art how to defend against a larger, stronger assailant by applying leverage and through joint-lock and chokeholds from a safe position to successfully overcome or defeat the opponent.  As a result, self-defense is a primary aspect of the education in BJJ.


BJJ is considered a gentle art because it does not utilize striking to overcome an opponent.  Fundamentally, BJJ focuses on being able to survive an attack executed by a larger or stronger opponent by applying the right combination of strategy, training, and coaching.  An MBA requires a similar approach as it offers an advanced understanding of accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, and operations in a manner most relevant to management analysis and strategy.

Martial Arts

My experience as it relates to martial arts spans across nearly a decade of dedicated training with experts of varying degrees of style and technique on both the east and west coasts.  Personally, I have committed to training a diverse, demanding regimen in Martial arts for over 8 Years in various styles such as Muay Thai kick boxing, Judo, Dutch kickboxing, Boxing, Catch Wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  The exposure to different combat disciplines gave me a knowledge of how much I dont know, instead of a mastery or higher understanding of any specific style.  

Effective Fighting Concepts

Out of all of the Martial Arts I have experienced, there are a few overarching concepts that are likely to be effective applications in all forms of combat.  The Effective fighting concepts are not the techniques that are used but the methods of how and when to apply them.  The most prominent effective fighting concepts that became apparent to me have been: Controlling distance, working angles, misdirection, strategy, contingency planning, pressure, training, coaching, and resiliency.

Business Experience

In regards to my experience as it relates to Business, I have unintentionally established myself as a serial entrepreneur owning 3 separate business entities over the course of an eight year period while simultaneously assuming a progressively global profit-driving management role extending well over the past decade of my career.  My core responsibilities have ranged from overseeing manufacturing and production for 5 years before moving forward into a sales and marketing role for the following 5 years.  During my professional career, I further diversified my value proposition by following up my creative arts undergraduate educational background by successfully earning my Executive MBA at one of the most highly regarded Executive MBA universities in the world.  As a result, I increased my understanding and knowledge of business and strategy, which has enabled me to develop a quickly growing career working as a high-level, influential consultant with a focus on working with other start-ups to successfully drive them to the next sustainable stage of the growth life cycle.

Effective Business Concepts

Throughout my short time in business, several key concepts have stood out and become apparent to me as more influential than others.  The core effective business concepts that became apparent to me as generating the most meaningful impact are: Niche markets, strategy, contingency planning, timing and magnitude, agility, resiliency, training, and coaching.  The Strategy concept is where I found the strongest overlap between martial arts and business, specifically BJJ and an MBA.


The most obvious concepts that are taught in both disciplines are first and foremost Strategy, resiliency, training, and coaching.  The next are less obvious, although when applied they are fundamentally the same.  For instance, working angles and controlling distance is related to Niche marketing, while misdirection and pressure are connected to timing and magnitude in application.

Strategy Concept

The strongest cross-functional, critical concept taught in both disciplines are first and foremost the Strategy concept.  The Strategy concept is a plan or action designed to deliver a specific aim or objective.  Resiliency is the capacity to recover quickly from challenges and overcome obstacles.  Training is the action of teaching a person a particular skill or technique through repetition.  Coaching is a form of development in which a person supports a learner, student, or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing advice and guidance.  Developmental coaching centers around the process of an expert or mentor teaching others how skills and technique should be applied through strategy to enhance the user’s ability to compete and ultimately achieve the win.

The next concepts are a lot less obvious, although when applied they are fundamentally the same.  Working angles: Working an Angle is trying to overcome an opponent by attacking an angle that prevents the adversary from attacking or counter striking with full power.  As a result, this provides more opportunities to win.  Ultimately, working an angle means exploiting a weakness or utilizing a more dynamic strategy to improve one’s position.  Controlling distance, on the other hand, involves utilizing assets to engage with the opponent when there is an opportunity to disengage when the opponent has an advantage.  Niche marketing has, in turn, become related to these concepts from the subset of the market on which a specific product is focused.  Exploiting neglected market segments (or weaknesses), the market niche is defined as the product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality, and the demographics that is intended to impact.  In turn, a market niche is also a small market segment.

Another core concept of importance is Misdirection: the action or process of directing someone to the wrong place or in the wrong direction.  The concept of Pressure consists of the continuous physical force exerted on or against an object by something in contact with it, while the concepts of timing and magnitude center around providing the use of force exerted and the direction of the actions that the business will take.  Using marketing in conjunction with an understanding of supply and demand provides businesses with the ability to receive a high return on investment and generate more significant profits.  This includes thinking about expelling less energy and taking less damage while gaining a dominant position with the prime purpose of overcoming an assailant.

Critically Important Skills

In conclusion, the lingering questions that still remain unanswered are: does everyone need an MBA?  The answer is “no”.   Does everyone need to train BJJ?  Again, the answer to this question is also emphatically “no”.  Looking at all of the positive attributes that can be gained as a result of studying martial arts shines a spotlight on the fact that martial arts is in actuality a gentle art that adds meaningful value both on and off the mats when integrated as a key component to the student’s life.  Strategy is more important to every conflict ranging from business and sport to invaluable self defense.  Developing the ability to learn and understand how to leverage all of the concepts to implement the strategy is the key to achieving long-term, sustainable success.  Overall, the most critically important players are the inspiring mentors and coaches who selflessly dedicate their crucial skills and efforts to operationalizing the success not only of the individual but also driving the success of the team, as well.   Over time, mentors and coaches have come to generate a stronger influence on the success of the talent than often the efforts of the talent themselves.  Regardless of the desired path, possessing this powerful knowledge should make you want to do your part to mentor and assist your fellow person in their quest at achieving the ultimate, most desirable goals everyone strives to accomplish: success.