These two words have been floating all around cannabis businesses and perked the ears of a few entrepreneurs trying to make their break in the industry. Collaborating is working together with other individuals and groups to accomplish common goals by sharing ideas, resources and work. Competition tends to breed hostility, resentment, and a few burnt bridges in the process. From these definitions, it seems pretty cut and dry the way businesses should operate, but it is not the norm across a wide array of industries. Why you ask? I've been theorizing a few different reasons.
First, this industry is not a gold mine. At least not until federal legalization happens. Everyone has came to this industry with every crevice of their savings along with lifelong hopes and dreams. For some, everyday is a rollercoaster in regards to legislation, taxes, and an overly saturated market. These looming issues perpetuate the "fight or flight" response to stress and have many cannabusinesses dropping prices, pushing product on dispensaries, or undercutting the competition. The industry is still ground breaking and rules and standards are being set everyday. Professionals in every career are bringing their expertise to the industry and hoping to capitalize off of it. But the pie can only be so big right? Not everyone can have a slice? I disagree. Diversity comes with an open mind and a wide range of options. Business are more creative through collaboration because we as humans have our own paradigms and it's often hard to see over them without a little outside help.
Next, there is our country as a whole. " American, the great. You can come here and be anyone and do everything." But whats the drawback to that? We are also taught on the same note that there can only be one winner and everyone else is a loser. As the infamous Reese Bobby from the laughable Americanized comedy "Talladega Nights" says, " If you ain't first, you're last," a familiar tune rings in our heads as we realize that that thought process sits easier than what we came to realize he meant, that he was just really high that day and didn't even remember saying it and if anything you can be in 2nd, 3rd, or 4th place. From employee competitions, to shows like "The Bachelor" or even to rappers boasting themselves while ripping each other apart, our society has been saturated in competitive entertainment. Reese Bobby was still wrong with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place because who says that we need to place to begin with? I'd get into how this has affected our self esteem, but that rabbit hole deserves it's own blog post.
More specifically, women feel an intense need to compete with each other. We've lived in a world where we have been abused, passed over, or discounted for most of our personal and professional career. The women who have risen to the top have needed to act like "men" to be able to be treated with respect and professional courtesy. Naturally, these women are incredibly territorial over their business and their practices. We may be full sprinting up the more forward thinking cannabis corporate ladder, but our actions have still mimicked previous mistakes made by corporations. I met with some friends recently and they asked me if I saw Dopeafide working with another group that had a similar concept. "Pfft, nope", I scoffed. "They are my main competition". My friend eloquently and tastefully replied, "It's not competition unless you make it so." These words have kept me up at night, tossing and turning, restructuring my own paradigms in respect to success. Why burn bridges for no reasons when we could actually help each other?? Why was this concept so radical to me?? We could share relationships, products, and work and still both make it in the industry. Why? Because no one does anything the same way you do. (Tokeativity has a very similar mantra that they live by). No one thinks like you and no one will do anything the same way you do. Even if they steal all your designs, concepts, and previous application. You are an organic being and your vision for the future is unknowing even to yourself at this moment.
By collaborating instead of competing, we could actually save time obtaining goals. Don't have time to fulfill a shoot? Send them to your buddy in the industry! Not only could they do the same for you, you'll please your over-book customer, and rack up hella karma points! Maybe they'll even cover your ass when you're short on product or material further down the road. I remember hearing a story on the radio about how Burger King wanted to do a collaboration for charity with McDonalds. BK was prepared to put their differences aside for the good of the people and create something together. Big shocker, McDonalds declined. This gained major publicity and while Burger King was shed in the best light for being a team player and putting their differences aside, McDonalds was seen as the bully on the playground who was quickly losing friends. And even more miraculously quite a few companies reached out to Burger King hoping to do the collaboration. Perhaps we have more consciousness when it's outside of our personal relationships and therefore could find that stance admirable for Burger King. But we must find a way to properly apply that to our business etiquette and social choices. So my challenge is to change your competitive paradigms. Search for mutual benefit instead of going guns blazing into a business meeting. Exert more kindness and thoughtfulness with those who are just trying to make it as you are in a dog-eat-dog world. Realize that we all have differences in our life experiences and that fuels and shapes our creativity and it may just save your business in the end.
So on that note, who is down to collaborate together?