In early 2016, Meg Sanders—CBT’s cover story subject in that year’s January/February issue—felt like she was on a clear career path with her company, MiNDFUL, where she served as CEO and oversaw a 43,400-square-foot cultivation facility and four dispensaries that generated nearly $18 million in revenue in 2015. Since then, however, Sanders’ interests and career plans have shifted. In this quick-fire interview, she shares what precipitated her departure from the company she helped create, what she is working on now and how she is helping reshape the future of Women Grow, an organization focused on female leadership in the cannabis industry.
Brian MacIver: When and why did you leave MiNDFUL?
Meg Sanders: In 2016, MiNDFUL decided to change priorities from retail growth, national expansion and consulting to a Colorado-centric focus. This was a big shift away from things about which I am passionate and my larger vision of what it means to be mindful of the plant and industry, and, more importantly, my mindful place within it. Erik [Williams, Sanders’ business partner] had been consulting nationally for a few years, and he and I formed Will & Way [a national consulting company] as a vehicle to fulfill that passion and continue forward on the cutting edge of cannabis. One of the most rewarding things we do is help good people find their way in cannabis. It is delightful to work with people you love and respect. It’s also a choice!
MacIver: What have you been working on lately?
Sanders: Will & Way is working with companies around the nation—in particular, California, Nevada and Massachusetts. We are [hired consultants] for Cannabis Strategies Acquisition Corp., the largest cannabis industry IPO to date.
We have a huge focus on Massachusetts right now with several clients in various stages of operations. We are unique in that we have a firm grasp of the national market, lots of deal-flow, the ability to quickly and effectively vet opportunities and a deep bench of expertise, which has led to a lot of investor clients and advising on investment, mergers and acquisitions.
MacIver: What has been your biggest lesson learned in the past two years?
Sanders: The biggest lesson learned has led to Will & Way’s Rule No. 1: No assholes. I cannot stress how important it is to really dig in to people or businesses that want to invest in you or your company. It can definitely take longer to find investors that share your vision, but it will cost you a lot less in the long run, including possibly losing your business, if you choose poorly. The majority of business plans we review do not have realistic funding expectations around exactly how much money this industry costs—not just [capital expenditures], but [operational expenditures] as well. This is a setup for failure.
MacIver: You’re helping with the revival of Women Grow. How has that organization changed since its last iteration?
Sanders: Honestly, I was hoping to be more involved with the revival of Women Grow and made significant financial and time commitments to doing so. I have provided my input to the current leadership as to what I think needs to happen to move the business forward, including suggestions on rebuilding relationships and healing wounds. Overall, I think Women Grow can provide value to the cannabis community. Time will tell.