This past week I attended ‘The Power To Lead’ hosted by the MJBA Women’s Alliance at the Red Lion in Bellevue, WA. This was my first MJBA Woman’s Alliance event that I have been able to make and I was not disappointed.
After being warmly welcomed by Morgan, MJBA’s leading woman, the owner of Washington Bud Company, Shawn Denae, got on stage as the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies. We were graced with Shawn’s vibrant energy that took us on a journey through her personal stories of being in the cannabis industry while showering us with tidbits of inspiration and wisdom. She began by giving us an invaluable networking tip for the evening: “Be present with the people you are with and be curious about each other.” At that point we all turned our mobile devices off and fully came into the room.
Next to speak was AC Braddock, CEO of Eden Labs. I love being around this woman. As she stood on stage explaining that her company has grown by 400% she also authentically expressed how stressful it is to be the leader of a business that is growing so rapidly and how vital it is to lead with calmness. While this real live yogi stood there with beauty and grace, she told the room “You don’t know what you are capable of until you do it. So, do something- lead, follow, or get out of the way.” She also brought attention to the instant calm that she experienced when she entered the room that night regardless of the very stressful day she’d had. I know the calm she is referring to. It’s like plugging yourself in for a recharge by just showing up and being present with a room of powerful, confident women who are leaders in their lives. Most women I talked to that night also told me that they had had a very challenging day and week but this night was exactly what they needed.
Shawn Denae came back on stage and said something that hit it all home: “Leadership is sweeping the floors when the floors need to be swept. It is vital to lead by example.” That simple concept felt like the common thread from everybody who spoke.
When Giana Lampreda of WAM Oil got on stage she gave her experience in the cannabis industry that many in the room could relate to…being surrounded by mostly men all day long and having to play a leadership role among men. Her advice was invaluable: “Let go of your ego to understand the insecurities of the people you are working with and you’ll discover a new way of doing things.” From a woman who has fought cancer with cannabis and daily is helping others fight for healthy lives, I couldn’t help but sit there in awe of how thankful I was to have known her power and for every single hug I have ever received from her.
After a ten minute break Diane Fornbacher, the publisher of Ladybud magazine, got on stage. Now, she is the reason I had been excited to be there in the first place. I’ve been a fan of her magazine, Ladybud, and the way that her eloquent use of words even just on social media sparks my imagination. At that point I couldn’t focus on taking pictures or anything else but absorbing every morsel she was about to spit out.
“Cannabis is the gateway to revealing ourselves to one another and the world.”
“The living death of a poet is not being able to express yourself.”
“What are we doing with our time as this person?”
“Who would I be if I gave up? Fuck That. “
It was a wonderful thing to meet her and to see into her eyes. What a beautiful soul.
Next, Anne VanLaneSeal of NWMJ Law for the cannabis industry got on stage and reminded us to be passionate and deliberate on how we conduct ourselves in business. She also reminded us to lead by example and realize how important what we are doing is in this country right now. “Have big dreams and do not fear the challenges.” Thank you for saying those words.
Last, but not least was Debbi Whitlock. This beautiful woman of sunshine got on stage and shared her heartwarming experience with cannabis topicals. She reminded us that our health is our capital and to care for ourselves.
At one point she asked the room to raise their hands if they feel like they had found their calling. Looking around the room almost every single hand was up in the air…including mine. It was a powerful moment worth pausing for. “Don’t stop before the magic happens.”
I’ve been in a lot of rooms with only women in them. While most women will be nurturing, welcoming, and loving toward each other this group was different. These are a different breed of women, if you will. They know what they want, they know how to stand in their power, and they are confident in what they do regardless of the challenges that come with speaking up for what you believe in.
To be surrounded by that energy is invaluable. Thank you MJBA Women’s Alliance for providing a space for me to be inspired by others of my breed.