unfamiliar, leapIn a little more than a week, I will be speaking at a leadership conference for women in the cannibis industry. Let’s talk about that.

Have you ever made a decision to do something even though it might be a little unfamiliar? Maybe even a little risky?

The Ask

Last fall, someone interested in having me come speak at the leadership conference contacted me. Naturally, I was thrilled. However, I was unfamiliar with the organization seeking my content: WomenGrow. I did a little research.

Women Grow was created to connect, educate, inspire and empower the next generation of cannabis industry leaders by creating programs, community and events for aspiring and current business executives. Founded in 2014 in Denver, Women Grow is a for-profit entity that serves as a catalyst for women to influence and succeed in the cannabis industry as the end of marijuana prohibition occurs on a national scale.”

Wait. What?

The Research

Cannibis industry? Isn’t that, like, marijuana? WomenGrow supports women in the business of selling and supporting the (gasp) use of marijuana products. The opportunity was different than any I’d had before and unfamiliar.

As you might imagine, I was carrying around some preconceptions based on a lifetime of caricatures and “just say no” type messages. Probably like some of you are carrying around as you read this right now.

I searched the website. I read the “about” and I watched the videos. This organization looked legit and the women pictured looked a lot like me. A LOT. Their membership spread across multiple states with varying versions of laws passed legalizing cannibis. I couldn’t help but come to the following conclusion: If the business was legal, and these were women-entrepreneurs in all other ways like any other female entrepreneur, I should at least consider it.

The Realization

Regardless of the industry, entrepreneurs have a lot to learn – especially those who have never done it before. In a survey from 2009, 75.4% of respondents indicated they were entering the entrepreneurial space for the first time after having been an employee for at least 6 years prior.

I may not know the ins and outs of the cannabis industry, but I know what it’s like to leave corporate and pursue the vast, wide spaces of entrepreneurship. It can be disorienting and lonely. The experience shines a light on all the things you don’t know and chips away at all the things you thought made you so competent. Beyond practical help, entrepreneurs need to build and use the support of a community that doesn’t follow them from the cubicles and office buildings they left behind. The needs of cannabis entrepreneurs are no different.

The Result

I will be practicing and refining my presentations this week, getting ready to speak at the WomenGrow Leadership Summit. I’m going, not because I’m suddenly an industry expert or because I’m a super fan of cannabis, but because I am a fan of the entrepreneurial spirit.

The fact is, when legalization creates a legitimate industry, entrepreneurs can’t be far behind. Women have a real chance to set the standard for this industry in a way they haven’t in any other before. If I can encourage this audience of women as they build their businesses or help them find their own wellspring of confidence as they move toward success, then why wouldn’t I?

The Benefit

The benefit in all of this is that my perspective has been broadened yet again.  What about you? Will you come along with me to see what happens? Are you willing to broaden your perspective and consider the unfamiliar, too?

Tara Lynn is a speaker, coach and writer who works with companies and individuals to clarify what makes them great and build the confidence they need to achieve success as they define it. She loves to help professionals find the positions, promotions and personal lives they love by sharing practical tips and tools that get them from point A to point C while solving for the mysterious point B. 

Hear Tara’s story and follow her at taralynnfoster.com, on linkedintwitter or Facebook.