Growing your business starts with assembling the right team
This story was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Marijuana Venture, on sale now online and at a store near you.
I meet every candidate before they join the Giving Tree family, even though it does take time out of my schedule and slows down the hiring process. People ask me why and my answer is always the same: people are the most important ingredient of any company. I believe my job is to make sure every person who joins the Giving Tree will have a better job in a year. My job will never change; it is my personal goal.
We started this company five years ago when it was still very hard to recruit professionals into the cannabis industry, and I wanted to change that. We offered something different with our benefits package and our philanthropic mission. It attracted different kinds of candidates, the truly passionate ones. I knew from the beginning that our company would not be for everyone, but I was determined to find candidates who are a perfect fit.
We now have more than 50 team members working in our cultivation and extraction facilities and our dispensaries. We created a second family for them; together we are an amazing team working hard for the same goal. Our employees all agree on our vision, mission and core values, and it makes a big difference.
In an industry that is so new, with so many opportunities, I wanted to create a place the team would enjoy coming to every morning, a place that would make them jump out of bed for years to come. Culture is what creates a work-family environment, something that has always been crucial to me. We spend most of our waking hours at our workplace, so it only makes sense for it to be more than just a job.
I also believe that with so many opportunities out there, creating a company that people want to be a part of is an essential step to getting your business where you want it to be. At the Giving Tree, we provide a culture that listens to every employee, no matter how new or in what position. We uphold the belief that every person matters. We could not achieve success without our employees, and we care for them on both a personal and professional level. In return, they care about the company, are loyal and work for the greater good.
As a result, we have the keys to success: stability, low turnover and passion.
In cannabis, we are all working for a startup company in a startup industry. The cannabis industry has no set standards to follow; we are creating them as we go and we must pave the road to our own destiny. Some people thrive under this kind of pressure and others suffer. When hiring my team, I wanted to make sure that my potential employees understood this about the industry and were choosing it despite the guaranteed hurdles.
While the difficulties have certainly presented themselves over the years, one of the benefits I have discovered in this industry is the passion people have for it. Finding passionate individuals is half the battle in creating your company culture. I pick the people who are not only passionate about cannabis but passionate about what we do at the Giving Tree. We do things differently and we are not always clear on where our ideas will take us, but we have always known it would be big and exciting. We started our philanthropy programs three months after we opened our doors — way before we paid ourselves — because we knew generosity was an essential part of our company culture. We now participate in two major fundraising events: Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis in April, and Making Strides for Breast Cancer in October. The whole company voluntarily joins us for the walks.
We also collect money every holiday season for Chrysalis, a domestic abuse shelter, and we sponsor its Fourth of July barbecue every year where we create fun activities for the kids while serving the residents. Again, our team participates voluntarily.
Our growers donate their time and talent at gardens around town and are becoming part of StreetLightUSA, a healing center for sex trafficking victims between the ages of 11-17.
We are part of something that is bigger than our walls and our work, bigger than our industry. We are part of a change.
I don’t think anyone can be a part of the Giving Tree family if they don’t want to be part of this bigger mission. It is not for everyone. This culture fits us; it unites us as a team, it is who we are as people and who we want to become. This is the reason I hand-pick every person in the company — to make sure our culture fits them and to make sure they identify with our core values and goals. Our company’s success is intertwined with our culture and core values.
Creating a culture in your own company should start with identifying your core values, mission and vision. Once you have mapped that out, finding people who fit is imperative — both to cultivate your culture and their happiness. When you cultivate the right culture, people feel like they are part of something bigger and they enjoy being a part of it. This creates loyalty and retention, as well as a shared vision and a love for the job.
I have been lucky to create a culture in our own company that brought 54 amazing, caring, professional, talented human beings together. Bringing this group together is the secret to our success and what got us to where we are now. We learn from each other and care for each other. I don’t think we could do it without them and I don’t think just anyone can do what they do.
Our employees are also our ambassadors. They believe in who we are beyond what we sell and they become our best advertising tool. They must want to be a part of it in order to push us there, and they do — we are a team and we don’t give up. We work together toward the same goal and that is what has created our success.
Our team is a diverse group of people who were hand-picked to be part of the Giving Tree. I smile when I see them walk into work and even more when I see them giving back to the community, not because they are getting paid for it or because they have to, but because they are happy to be part of it. I hope they know how humbled and thankful I am that they chose to share their work life with us.
Lilach Mazor Power is the co-founder and managing director of the Giving Tree. She oversees all employees and services, keeping the company at the forefront and its employees in-the-know of new technologies and policies and the latest in cannabis education, legislation and research. The Giving Tree (www.givingtreeaz.com) was founded in 2013 and operates cultivation and extraction centers at two medical cannabis wellness centers in Arizona, one in Mesa and one in Phoenix.