Q – Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.

My company is Lucy J Brands, LLC. We’re headquartered in Dallas, TX, and focus on delivering the highest value CBD and Delta 8 THC products at a fair price for our customers. Lucy J’s is helping promote casual cannabis consumption as an alternative to alcohol and exposing new consumers to the enjoyment and benefits of this plant. We sell our products in retail stores around the country, and we recently launched our e-comm site to provide a more convenient way for our customers to access the full Lucy J’s product line. Check us out at www.lucyjcbd.com.

Q – Kindly give us a brief description of yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).

I grew up in Dallas, TX, and I’m currently living in Denver, Colorado. College was an interesting time of self-discovery and figuring out where I wanted to take my life professionally. I graduated from the University of North Texas, but I have to say that I’ve never used my degree since leaving college. My professional career began in the metal recycling industry where I learned commercial sales and operations of a large-scale facility. I helped grow this business from $250k annually to well over $5 million annually in four years. During this time, I obtained my real estate license and started selling residential real estate while building a real estate investment portfolio. After leaving my position in recycling, I opened a hydraulic repair shop. This would turn out to be a complete crash and burn, but I learned more during this “failed” venture than I ever learned in college. After losing everything with this business, I pivoted into the electronic cigarette industry and opened up a brick-and-mortar vape shop. After a year, I realized that I wasn’t truly passionate about this industry and decided to enter the corporate world and replenish funds for my next venture. I ended up selling Cybersecurity software for a couple of firms and continued developing my sales skills selling large deals at the enterprise level. Although I was in the corporate world, I never stopped operating my metal recycling brokerage and honing my craft as an entrepreneur to be prepared for my next venture. When I was introduced to the CBD business by a family friend in the summer of 2019, I immediately felt drawn to this young industry and the potential was large enough to begin planning my exit from the corporate world. I started my CBD business in January 2020 and eventually left the corporate world in September 2020. We’re growing rapidly and having a lot of fun delivering high-quality CBD and Delta 8 THC products to our customers across the country. My path is unique, and I wouldn’t change any of it because I’m truly the sum of all these different experiences.

Q – What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?

When I was introduced to the world of CBD and cannabis, I immediately felt drawn to the young, volatile industry that presented so much potential for growth over the next 5-10 years. After identifying so many broken pieces of the supply chain and speaking to many frustrated business owners, I was drawn to start Elevated Trading, a CBD wholesale supply company focused on customer service, money-back guarantees on products, and a level of professionalism that is often hard to find in this industry. As we grew and expanded our offerings, we created our consumer brand, Lucy J’s, which focuses on delivering high-quality CBD and Delta 8 products at a fair price for the consumer. It’s been so much fun, and I can say that I feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be at this time in my life.

Q – What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

→ Find your “why” before you ever start your business. Spend time figuring out the type of life you want to live, the types of customers you want to serve, and figure out what interests you about starting a business. If your first answer is money, you’re almost guaranteed to fail. There are so many options for new entrepreneurs that everything looks shiny and easy until you’re in the thick of the fight. Without a clear vision of where you’re trying to go, you will be setting yourself up for failure.

→ Just start – you will never be “ready”. Once you define your “why” and have a vision, it is time to execute. So many people get caught up waiting for the perfect time or the perfect opportunity to start a business. There will never be a perfect time, and most people subconsciously tell themselves that they will eventually make a move in the future because they are just scared to leap now. Jump! You’ll figure out the parachute on the way down when you don’t have any other options.

→ Develop high-income skills. There are skills in this world that transcend industries and will prepare you for a successful start as an entrepreneur. The ability to sell yourself and your products is the number one skill that everyone should be working on consistently in their lives. There is an art and a science to the craft, and you will completely own the outcome of your life if you master this skill. Copywriting, marketing, business acumen, financial literacy, and digital marketing are all examples of areas that you should be aware of before starting your business. You don’t have to be an expert in any one (besides sales), but you’re going to run much faster if you have a good understanding of each facet of business so you can hire the right talent and get to work.

Q – What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

→ Critical thinking is the most underrated and undervalued skill among entrepreneurs. How quickly can you run through the critical thinking process and make a good decision? It’s not enough to make decisions on a whim because it’s hard to recover from a string of bad decisions. Being able to make sound decisions quickly under pressure is where the good are separated from the great. Develop this skill and maximize your chances of success.

→ Self-discipline is paramount to creating the version of yourself that is ready to take advantage of the opportunities in front of you. If you’re not operating at a high level, how will you be able to capitalize on an opportunity that is outside of your comfort zone? Self-discipline and proving to yourself that you do what you say you will do is what breeds the confidence necessary to be successful.

→ Positive mental attitude. The entrepreneurial journey is challenging, and there will be several periods in your business where it feels like things are falling apart and you’re wondering if you’re going to make it. Being able to show up with a positive mindset and push through the rough patches knowing that you’re building something valuable in the marketplace is paramount to success. Block out the noise, focus on what you can control, and minimize the impact of things outside of your control. This skill can be developed, and I see this mindset in all of the successful entrepreneurs that I know and respect.

Q – How many hours do you work a day on average?

A typical day starts at 5 am to hit the gym, do some meditation, and have a chance to get my mind right before I start my day. I’m a huge fan of early mornings and feel like I get a competitive jump on the competition when I’m up this early. I typically work on my business between 10-12 hours per day depending on the workload.

Q – To what do you most attribute your success?

My dedication to personal growth is where I attribute my success. I began lifting weights and working on personal development when I was 19 years old. When you focus on making yourself better every day, you start leaning into your edges and pushing yourself to new heights by your daily actions. Success and growth are not passive activities. You have to be willing to put yourself out there and be ready to dominate your path, but it takes action.

Q – How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

As a growing company, marketing is one of the most important aspects of our business. We’ve traditionally been focused on B2B sales exclusively so the marketing focus was building awareness through outbound campaigns targeting our ideal customer profile. As we move into the D2C world, we are focused on social media micro-influencers, email marketing campaigns, ads to drive traffic to our website, and street teams in certain favorable locations to ensure that we’re getting in front of our target audience. We leverage several specialized marketing firms to make sure that we’re getting the most value for each marketing dollar in those specific buckets. Find a collection of experts that can help you amplify your message and broadcast why you are unique in your niche.

Q – Where did your organization’s funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it?

We chose to bootstrap this startup, and we’ve been fortunate to scale and grow over the past two years organically without the need for outside capital. To date, we do use a line of credit to fund inventory purchases, but we’re very careful to watch our cash flow and maintain a consistent level of growth. As we expand our product set and get ready to scale our business, we will be raising a small round to fund inventory growth, add top-performing salespeople, and finance larger marketing initiatives, but I’ve always believed that your business foundation should be solid before bringing in outside money. You can’t build a house on a foundation of sand. Now that we’re comfortable where we fit in the market and have real evidence of the value we bring to our market, we will bring in some cash to add fuel to a fire that is already burning.

Q – What is the best way to achieve long-term success?

The first step to achieving long-term success is defining what that success looks like for you. There is no wrong answer, and people need to spend a lot of time reflecting and exploring what that success looks like for them individually BEFORE setting out on your entrepreneurial journey. If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there? One person’s success could be a leisurely life on the beach with a few online passive income streams where another person is setting out on a path to grow a billion-dollar company with thousands of employees. Find out where you want to be, work backward to determine the steps you need to get there and execute against that plan with ferocity through daily, disciplined habits. Stay positive and keep pushing until you wake up one day and realize that your vision has become your new reality.

Q – Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?

The next 5-10 years are all about expansion and growth into other industries to diversify my portfolio. Being in the cannabis industry is obviously highly regulated and there is a lot of volatility and uncertainty that surrounds this business. With that comes tremendous opportunity, but it’s not without a significant level of risk knowing that one change to the state/federal laws could literally destroy our ability to sustain this business. My goal is to continue growing my cannabis brands and leveraging annual profits to purchase existing businesses in more stable industries. Real estate investments, NFTs, cannabis consulting, and private equity are all top of mind as I look to build out a broader scope of businesses. I’m purchasing time, and I’m willing to take a short-term hit on my personal profits to build a larger income-generating book of businesses that I can leverage for increased future passive income streams.

Q – Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

REI – This company has so much going for it, and it is by far my favorite place to shop for many reasons. I don’t know another brand that understands their customer base as well as REI. As a co-op, the loyalty membership benefits are unparalleled. They give all of their members 10% dividends back on all qualifying annual purchases in the form of store credit. Their return policy on their products is also unmatched in the industry. A great example is the 1-year return policy on hiking boots. Oftentimes, what feels good in the store doesn’t work when you’re climbing a 14’er in Colorado. Take them back – no issues, and there are countless stories of people out on remote hiking trips that had issues with their boots and REI mails them a replacement pair so they can continue their adventure. They routinely hold educational events at their store locations, local meetups and outings, and even some larger planned international excursions. Lastly, their employees are all avid outdoor enthusiasts, and they are able to provide real-world feedback on the products in the store. REI is truly top-tier in the outdoor adventure space and certainly a company to emulate.

Q – How important have good employees been to your success?

The importance of a solid, enthusiastic, and capable team within your business cannot be understated. The value of A-players in your company is the difference between a hobby you work on and a scaling, profitable business. This is by far the most important investment that you can make in your business, and it is often overlooked or compromised as businesses scale. Pay too much for the right talent, and your business will pay you back in multiples.

Q – How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

Depends on the idea and the long-term potential. I’m very analytical by nature so all new ideas are met with a barrage of scenarios on how that idea could succeed or fail. Once I determine that the long-term potential of that idea is worth it, the reward outweighs the risks, and I can clearly see the path to success (although sometimes very rocky), I will not stop pushing until that idea comes to fruition. That said, it is healthy to check in while you’re on that path and continue running risk/reward scenarios. Market timing, consumer demand, and outside factors beyond your control could void the idea altogether, and it is your job to recognize when you need to abandon ship instead of blindly riding a sinking ship into the abyss because you never peeked your head up to make sure the idea is still valid.

Q – What motivates you?

As an achiever, I’m extremely internally motivated by my desire to lean into my edges and push for personal and business growth. I’m competitive, but, for me, it really comes down to the lifelong pursuit of being the best version of myself and showing up with confidence and enthusiasm every day. Memento Mori is a stoic philosophy translated to “Remember you will die”. Sounds morbid, but I use this as motivation to press as hard as possible every day and maximize the limited time I have on this earth. Every day is a big day!

Q – What are your ideals?

Some of the more prominent ideals in my life are self-discipline, commitment to health, a thirst for knowledge, and integrity. We only get one shot at this life. My guiding principles all help contribute to becoming the best version of myself, and my ideas keep me focused on my path and driving towards my goals. If you’re disciplined about your goals and life, you actually feel a sense of freedom knowing that all of the decisions you’re making are adding up and contributing to your ideal future reality. Every decision you make either takes you one step closer or one step further from your goals…there is no status quo.

Q – How do you generate new ideas?

My best ideas are generated on a walk outside or on the elliptical doing cardio each morning. Mental clarity and creative thinking are heightened when you’re doing physical activity, and I find that I’m able to creatively look at things in a different light when I block out the noise and get my body moving. Cannabis is also a very powerful creative tool that I use to look at a problem through a slightly different lens. It’s amazing how a slight shift in the mind can completely transform how you’re evaluating an idea and help spur creative solutions.

Q – How do you define success?

For me, true success is achieved by being joyfully dissatisfied with my current progress. Knowing that I have goals and aspirations that will take a lifetime to see to fruition, I’m not going to sit back and wait for a future moment in time to finally feel successful. It’s about showing up every day, making the most of my opportunities with a positive mental attitude, and maintaining joy knowing that I am bettering myself every day. Being conscious of your growth but continually reaching for new heights in life is the definition of success in my eyes.

Q – How do you build a successful customer base?

Intention. Period. If you truly set out to fill a market void, enhance your customers’ lives, or provide significant value beyond the transaction, you will organically cultivate a successful customer base. Most people are focused on the outcome without spending time on their intentions. Most entrepreneurs need a gut check on why they are doing what they do. Hint – It’s not about the money. The money is an outcome, not a strategy. Be intentional. Be deliberate in providing value. The rest will take care of itself.

Q – What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is having total domain over my life and seeing the direct results of my hard work and dedication to my craft. I don’t do well operating in an environment where I can’t execute my ideas in the fashion that I truly believe will be successful. Oftentimes, in a corporate environment, there are great ideas that die in a sea of bureaucracy and fragile egos. It’s exhilarating knowing that I will sink or swim based on the decisions that I make each day, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything to go back into the false security of my livelihood in someone else’s hands.

Q – What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Losing all of my money on a failed venture when I was 29 years old. It sounds counterintuitive, but this taught me so much about business and myself. Although it hurt at the time, that type of education can only be paid for through experience. I immediately pivoted into our next venture that was very successful, and I gained a load of self-confidence walking into that new business with the learnings from my previous “failure”. I made mistakes that were so clear looking back, and it strengthened my resolve and approach to all of my new endeavors. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

Q – What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?

Risk tolerance. It sounds cliché, but I believe this is very nuanced. I know a lot of people that thrive in a corporate environment and have obligations that don’t allow for increased risk to their livelihood or income, and that’s totally understandable. That said, I know a lot more people that feel a false sense of security in a corporate environment and believe that it is less risky to put your faith in an employer VS carving your own path as an entrepreneur. Starting a business is risky, but there are a lot of people sitting in a corporate role longing for the courage to step out and start that business that they have dreamed of for a long time. I encourage people to critically think about their situation, really evaluate the risks that they are accepting by leaving their fate in the hands of their employer, and then make the determination if entrepreneurship is right for them. Dig deep. Figure out what’s important and don’t look back if you do take the leap to bet on yourself and start your own business.

Q – What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?

We have a very collaborative, transparent, and customer-focused culture within my organization. As a leader, I’m accountable for being the example of how I want everyone in the company to operate, and It is critical to set the tone from day one by living and breathing the core values of your business. How can you expect everyone in your company to adhere to values that you don’t exhibit in your daily habits and actions? I’m a firm believer that the best leaders lead from the front, and I take that responsibility very personally knowing that I have to be the example that I want everyone to follow in this organization.

Q – If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

I don’t make a habit of looking back and thinking about regrets or things that I would do differently. All of the decisions that I’ve made in my life were done with the best intentions, and I was operating within the experience that I had under my belt at the time. I’ll take the good, bad, and ugly from all of my younger years in business and I really wouldn’t change anything. Lessons cost money, and I’ve found the best lessons in my professional life were only learned because I felt the consequences. If I had to choose one thing though, I would have started investing a larger percentage of my disposable income into passive assets or other businesses earlier in my career. The compound effect of money over time is the best source of long-term wealth, and I always try to impart that knowledge to any of my younger employees.

Q – How has been an entrepreneur affected your family life?

Being an entrepreneur, it is definitely night and day from working a 9-5, and it’s certainly been an adjustment on the home front. My mind is on my business 24×7, but I’ve become very intentional about putting my phone down, stepping away from my computer, and spending quality time with my girlfriend and family every week. There will always be more work to do in a startup and that can seem overwhelming, but your output and creativity suffer when you don’t take time to step away and recharge with the people you care about in your life. Be honest and have an open line of communication with those close to you ahead of the issues. They need to respect and understand when you’re underwater, and it’s your responsibility to intentionally create time away from work when you’re able to step away.

Q – What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

Fear is a funny thing. The more attention you give it, the more power it can have over your life and decisions. My biggest fear is not living up to my full potential and having to live with regret later in my life. I keep this as a constant daily reminder to maximize my time on this earth and push myself to be present and intentional with my time each day. It’s not a perfect science and fear of failure can certainly creep into my psyche from time to time, but you just have to push through and face it with a positive mental attitude.

Q – How did you decide on the location for your business?

We decided to headquarter in Dallas, TX for two reasons. Being from the area helps us with recruiting talent and we have a lot of support from friends and family if we need it. Secondly, the geographic location of Dallas is advantageous for shipping products across the US in a timely, economical fashion for our customers.

Q – Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

I firmly believe that success leaves clues, and it’s wise to observe and emulate other successful entrepreneurs. That said, it’s important to take those learnings and apply your unique skills, vision, and ability to your business. Nobody knows the ins and outs of your business or cares about your business as much as you do. Have the confidence to learn from others that might be steps ahead, but leverage those learnings to take smart chances on yourself, not just trying to carbon copy someone else’s model that might not fit your situation.

Q – If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?

Such a tough question to pick just one person, but I’d have to say, General George S. Patton. Although often controversial in his approach and tactics, he is one of the most inspirational leaders in history. I’ve always admired people that have unwavering confidence and the ability to inspire masses of people to be the best versions of themselves for the collective good of the group. There isn’t a more high-stakes game of leadership than when people’s lives are at stake during a war. Patton exemplified the concept of leading from the front, and he inspired the highest level of effort and commitment from his troops through his charisma, wit, and drive to win.

Q – Who has been your greatest inspiration?

To limit this answer to a single person would be a discredit to the countless number of positive influences I’ve encountered in my life. I’m fortunate to know many successful entrepreneurs, amazing family members, hardworking blue-collar employees, strategic leaders, and creatives where I’ve drawn inspiration throughout my life. Being naturally curious and highly analytical, I try to draw positive lessons from the successes and failures of everyone I encounter, and I’m the sum of all of those learning.

Q – What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)

I’ve read so many great books, but if I was forced to pick one it’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. I read this book at such a pivotal time in my life, and I experienced such a powerful shift in my mindset that has paid dividends in my career.

Q – What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?

There’s not enough time in this interview to discuss all of the mistakes I’ve made in my life, and I’m not the type of person that spends any more time than necessary dissecting past mistakes. Learn and move on. If you’re leaning into your edges and pushing yourself to become more every day, you’re going to make so many mistakes in life, but that’s all part of the learning and growth process. I try to make as many mistakes as possible because it affirms that I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone and driving to reach new heights.

Q – How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?

The goal is not to prevent mistakes because that is an impossible task. I don’t major in the minors. At the end of the day, I lean on my critical thinking skills to quickly assess the reality of a situation, figure out where I slipped in judgment or experience that caused the mistake, and ultimately pull the learnings and pivot to a better situation as quickly as possible.

Q – What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?

I love being outdoors doing physical activities when I’m not working on my business. Living in Denver, Colorado puts me close to the mountains, and you can find me hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding, or camping on the weekends. Being able to spend time in nature sparks my creativity and really helps me recharge and return invigorated when I get back on the grind.

Q – What makes you happy?

At the risk of sounding cliché, happiness for me comes down to personal and professional growth. No matter what I do, I want to be intentional and push myself to constantly learn and improve. In my personal relationships, my professional ventures, and in my health and fitness goals, I am on a mission to create the life that I truly want instead of passively accepting life as it happens. I am the architect of my reality, and happiness is a choice that I intentionally choose daily.

Q – What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

This isn’t the right question. Words matter. You could say that leaving multiple six-figure incomes (plus stock options) to start my business, or deciding not to take a few expensive vacations per year, or choosing to work instead of going out to happy hours with friends are sacrifices, but I don’t view it that way. These are trade-offs that I will make all day, every day in pursuit of building the life that I want to live. I get so much more joy and fulfillment out of being my own boss and seeing my visions come to reality than I would ever get from the “sacrifices” that I’ve made to make this happen. Decide what you truly want, drop everything that doesn’t contribute to that reality, and break down every obstacle in your way to make it happen. I guarantee you won’t feel like you’re sacrificing anything when you have a clear vision and you’re pursuing your dream.

Q – If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?

How do you use your unique gifts and talents to positively influence and add value to other people’s lives?