Michael Miller: National Cannabis Chamber of Commerce
Do what you love and you will love what you do. Though simple, that phrase encapsulates the time that we spent with Michael Miller of the National Cannabis Chamber of Commerce. Michael truly has a green heart and was reborn professionally upon entering the Cannabis industry. A passionate entrepreneur focused on honesty and integrity within both his personal and professional life, Michael is striving to create the most accessible, cost effective chamber of commerce within the industry. Through becoming the most inclusive source for networking, education and professional development, the National Cannabis Chamber of Commerce is making it easier than ever before to seek opportunities throughout the green rush. A genuine proponent for the industry, Michael recently took the time to talk with us about, among other things, how truly blessed he feels working in the Cannabis industry.
What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?
For me, joining the Cannabis industry really came down to a combination of two things, my professional history and my personal history. I really became aware of the industry years ago while I was hosting two radio shows out in Florida. A friend of mine, who worked directly in the Cannabis industry took the time to reach out to me. He was looking for a vice president of sales, which played directly into my background of sales and marketing experience (25+ years). The more I learned about the industry the more I fell in love with it. In my heart, I felt the potential for growth and change we could all inspire as a community. The Cannabis industry is truly one of the greatest industries in America today. Personally speaking medical Cannabis has directly affected my life as well. I never knew it could be applied medically until a serious neck injury years ago left me taking all sorts of poisonous chemical drugs. Medical Cannabis helped me get off of those and it wasn’t a miracle. There is real science out there and these stories are slowly becoming the norm and not the exception. Literally something happens in this industry every day that I love. From great people and inspirational stories to business developments and technologies I couldn’t be more excited about where the industry is headed.
The more I learned about the industry the more I fell in love with it.
What were you doing before the green rush?
The majority of my past experience has come from the consulting business. I opened up my first consulting company when I was 23 years old and I help build roughly 35 BBB’s(Better Business Bureaus) across the country, some of which continue to serve as the gold standard in the industry. I worked hard to put quality systems in place that would really launch the success of these ventures. Through focusing on new member sales and retention I was able to double and triple their growth. 17 years later I became wary in regards to certain trends in the industry, specifically the grading system, and I realized it was time for a change. A friend of mine was the president for a Chamber of Commerce and I saw it as a great opportunity to learn another side to business. I studied the business and transitioned into consulting with Chambers of Commerce all over the country, focusing again on membership development, retention, networking events and so on. Once I really learned about the green rush I knew these skills would transfer over perfectly.
What are you doing to impact the industry?
Our biggest goal is to create the most inclusive Chamber of Commerce in the Cannabis industry. We focus on providing affordable memberships so that all levels of Cannabis business professionals can access the information that will make them successful entrepreneurs. I’ve used my 25 years of experience to create a Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau all in one. We can provide online mediation and legally binding arbitration for members, among other services. That is something that really sets us apart in the space. In addition we focus on the grassroots education and cultivation of the Cannabis advocates of tomorrow. We want to teach those professionals that it’s about what the entire plant can do. Be it hemp production or other alternative uses we see countless applications on the horizon and we really aim to share that message. Simply put, we are providing an affordable option that caters to all levels of business, allowing professionals to grow and achieve success in the industry, which will directly grow the industry as a whole.
Describe your work ethic to me in one word.
Tell us about a time in your career that didn’t go as planned and what you did about that? How did you handle it?
Six years ago I was working in the life settlement industry for life insurance policy holders. I was on the policy side of the deal and I was having a hard time finding any fulfillment out the job. Plus, for the first real time in my life, I wasn’t as good at it as I wanted to be. I reached out to a friend of mine that was working on the funding side and we opened up a new company. Within six months we were working with brokers out of England and Germany. Over the next six years we achieved tons of success and that success really turned a life negative into a positive.
What book have you read that you’ve been inspired by? Any particular read we should put on our list?
The Bible. I have never really been one to read for pleasure, but this acts as food for my soul. It keep me grounded and focused on the real important things in life. For me those things are family and friends. I feel like that influence has a direct impact on the National Cannabis Chamber of Commerce. I treat people like my friends and I want the chamber to act as an all inclusive space where people can grow both personally and professionally. It’s not a sales pitch either, I truly approach my life like this everyday and I think The Bible has assisted me in doing just that.
Whatever your product, business or profession, find something that everyone can take part in.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Be inclusive. Whatever your product, business or profession, find something that everyone can take part in. Try and develop something that everyone can afford. That’s directly apart of what I’m trying to accomplish with chamber. It’s about educating the nation about Cannabis, not just a handful of people. Through being inclusive and educating the world we can solve so many problems as a whole. For instance, if we as a country produced hemp on a large scale we could potentially eliminate the need to ever import another barrel of oil again. By creating a product that can be affordably consumed by the masses you provide a vessel for that change to take place. Furthermore, a simple yet great piece of advice for business professionals would be to find something that you love and design a business around your passion.
What is a skill or trait that you think is necessary to make an impact in this industry?
The term I like to use is ‘having a green heart’. To me that means a person is committed to helping this industry evolve and to do it in the right ways. It means presenting yourself and your business with honesty and integrity, almost to a fault, by doing the right thing even when you think noone is watching. I referenced the Bible earlier in the interview, so I believe someone is always watching you. I act in accordance with that, knowing I’m not perfect but striving to do my very best everyday to be the best person I can be. That can be seen directly in our business as we operate as transparent as possible. We want people to not only have access to this information, but to be able to do so at an affordable cost. I’m seeing more and more of these people throughout the industry and I couldn’t be more encouraged about where we are all headed.
What are your thoughts on mega-corporations entering the cannabis space?
The short answer is that I believe it’s inevitable. With the success of smaller business models and expanding market samples the conglomerates of industry will surely take notice sooner or later. However, I hope it’s not for a long time. American was founded on the entrepreneur and the longer the larger companies are out of the industry the more time smaller businesses have to develop and strengthen their business model. If they can put successful systems in place before larger companies enter the space then they’ll be able to withstand whatever is thrown there way. I’m hopeful that time allows them that chance.
I think we will be looking at each other and talking about how blessed we are to be in this industry.
If we are sitting across from each other a year from now, how will our conversation about the ‘green rush’ be going?
First I think we will be looking at each other and talking about how blessed we are to be in this industry. I tell that to people all the time because I really do believe in the industry as a whole. In addition, I hope that we are talking about the ways in which the Cannabis industry has given back to the community. No matter where you live, if there is a medical system in place you had to have a majority vote to get there. That means that countless people have given you a chance to prove the model could work. I’m sure there were many people who have never even used Cannabis that were part of that voting. They have combined to afford us the opportunity to break ground in the space and develop America’s next great industry. I think it is not only vital we take advantage of this, because unlike most industries we only get one chance to make that first impression, but also that we recognize and give back to the communities that have taken that chance to support such a grand endeavour.