Tyler Sookochoff: Lift
Today, we’re throwing you a wild card. We’re testing the waters and introducing you to someone who will leave you with more than enough to think about over the weekend. We’re stepping outside of the United States because this industry is international and is in fact a worldwide movement. We are interviewing the brilliant Tyler Sookochoff, founder and CEO of Lift, an independent Canadian company whose mission is to provide the tools, services, and support for patients interested in exploring and purchasing medical cannabis. His outlook on entrepreneurship, growth, and being in the cannabis industry is refreshing, inspiring, and quite honestly, amazing!
What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?
I’ve been in this industry for over a decade and to be honest, I think my initial introduction to it was more out of circumstance and coincidence rather than conscious choice. Now, if you asked me why I’ve decided to stick with it, through the good times and the bad, and even double down on it with my latest project, Lift, I’d say it’s because of the changing political and cultural climates both in Canada and the United States. After years of forging ahead in relative darkness, it’s so refreshing to see the light. It’s now a tidal wave of change in attitude, opinion, and economic opportunity. And along with this opportunity, a vast array of new characters have joined the industry, and that alone made things even more interesting and enjoyable for me.
What skills from your previous experiences helped you in what you are doing now?
Two keys I’ve learned from being in this industry for awhile are the ability to adapt to change and the benefits of taking a global perspective.
The only constant in the cannabis industry is change, and if you enter thinking the worst is behind us and there will be nothing but a smooth road ahead, you’re going to face adversity that will destroy you quickly. Significant regulatory and social challenges are things I’ve experienced time and time again, and so being able to expect and prepare for those comes more naturally now than it may have when I first got my start in the industry. I know that this type of uncertainty isn’t particularly unique to the cannabis space, but the way many new entrants perceive it at this particular moment compels them to see only opportunity when there is still a landmine of threats to wade through.
The only constant in the cannabis industry is change, and if you enter thinking the worst is behind us and there will be nothing but a smooth road ahead, you’re going to face adversity that will destroy you quickly.
In my previous role as the Director of Marketing for the leading manufacturer of commercial harvesting equipment, I had the opportunity to interact with large-scale producers and leading retailers from around the world. Visiting them and exhibiting at trade shows in Canada, the U.S., and Europe has given me insight into the larger global arena, and how different countries are moving at different speeds towards similar yet different end points – and how there’s opportunity in this.
Right now, where are you guiding your passion and energy towards?
Education. At Lift, we’re focused on informing and educating individuals about Canada’s federal medical marijuana program and how to access it. This is a big challenge, as Canada’s federal government neither believes in the benefits of medical marijuana nor promotes the availability of the program (The program exists solely because our Supreme Court mandated it). So, we’re out there every day focusing our time and energy on that education process. The reward is hearing about the difference it makes in someone’s life.
Describe your work ethic to me in one word.
What do you consider your weakness as an entrepreneur? Your strength?
I’m sometimes guilty of becoming very passionate about an idea and beginning to move on it without fully thinking it through from a business perspective. So, I’ve learned to restrain myself at times and surround myself with people who can provide a different perspective on the viability of an idea or solution I may be thinking about.
With that being said, this ‘weakness’ is also a strength because without that passion, ideas quickly lose steam and very rarely get past the ‘idea’ stage.
How are you differentiating yourself from the competition?
Like Cashinbis, we spend a considerable amount of time generating our own original content and educational resources. We have an amazing team of writers, many of whom have spent years in the industry themselves. Coupled with our ever-growing database of authentic and useful user-generated strain reviews, we have an edge over competitors who may see original and engaging content as an afterthought.
How do you find inspiration in this industry? What have you found that has inspired you?
It’s not hard to find inspiration in this industry. The innovation that’s taking place all over the world and how quickly it’s occurring never ceases to amaze me. I think that’s what I find so inspiring: The unparalleled amount of opportunity out there right now and the rewards available to those who can figure it out. In particular, it’s those who recognize that figuring it out is a continual process rather than a finite state, and so work at it for month after month, year after year, constantly evolving and adapting. These individuals and companies I find truly inspiring – that level of commitment and drive.
I think that’s what I find so inspiring: The unparalleled amount of opportunity out there right now and the rewards available to those who can figure it out.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Not advice that was specifically given to me, but a simple reminder that sticks with me: Marketing is the price you pay for being unremarkable.
Where do your great ideas come from?
As an entrepreneur with a marketing persuasion, I think I’m naturally wired to always be looking for those big ideas. However, like most, they seem to come when I’m not actively thinking about them. There’s been interesting research done on this subject recently; about the process by which we actually generate meaningful solutions to pressing problems. So, to answer your question: If I ever am blessed with a seemingly great idea, I usually have no idea where it came from. Of course, it’s rooted in my knowledge, experience, foresight, and creativity; but how and when all those disparate things come together for that ‘aha’ moment is something often inexplicable.
What is important to you – mission, vision, or core values? Why?
In this industry, at this time, I think basic values like honesty and trust go a long way, and can help anyone stand out. It’s no secret that there is a lot of opportunity right now, and thus a lot of opportunists. At Lift, we try to separate ourselves from those by providing good service, treating our members like family, and putting in the time and effort to build a level of trust with everyone we interact with as a company and as individuals. These are basic things that help any company succeed, but I feel that they’re more often than not lacking in the emerging global cannabis industry. If we can help set the tone for others that may come after us, then it’s important that we do.
What will we be seeing from you and Lift in the coming future?
We hope to continue down the same path of providing informational and educational resources to Canadians looking to explore, purchase, and consume medical cannabis. We’ll be moving into the ‘offline’ world more regularly through a series of seminars, discussion forums, and expos in the near future. And who knows, maybe we’ll even make our way down to the US at some point 🙂