5 Things to Know Before You Interview With a Cannabis Company


by Todd Mitchem

Originally published in Entrepreneur Magazine

I was a successful leader of one of the largest consulting firms in the world. I coached some of the world’s top business leaders. Then I left corporate America to work in the cannabis industry, where I assumed my decade-plus of leadership experience, corporate design knowledge and other skills would be of value. 

I was both right and wrong.

To be sure, many of the people I met in the industry appreciated the help I could offer their emerging companies. But it was my initial approach, and my lack of intimate knowledge of the industry and culture, that nearly killed my budding -- no pun intended -- new career. So, I began working around the clock to make myself expert in this new industry.

And, eventually, my newly humble approach helped me gain the knowledge and experience (as well as respect) I needed to become an industry leader. Here are the top five things I’ve learned about landing a job in the cannabis world:

1. We don’t often call it weed, pot, or marijuana. It’s 'cannabis.'

One of the first things I learned is that this industry is shaking off the stigma of “weed” and “stoners” and replacing those images with the more professional one of “cannabis.” 

When you are in this industry (or interviewing for it), be mindful of the words you use and the jokes you toss off. We hate the typical “stoner” jokes the media makes. It’s a plant first, and its name is cannabis. 

2. Don’t assume anything . . . and ask lots of questions.

I made some pretty big assumptions about the industry back when I started. Number one, I assumed that all owners drove Ferraris and were among the richest people in the world. This is dead wrong. Many of the leaders aren't wealthy, live modestly, drive the same cars they have for years and put all their profits back into their businesses.

I also assumed that I would be surrounded by people who were not particularly professional. Also false. In fact, this industry is producing very passionate, innovative and professional people. 

The best way to avoid these same mistakes is: Ask lots of questions. Determine if the company you hope to work for is structured or not. Find out how its team manages day-to-day operations, and who has decision-making power (sometimes it is the founder, and sometimes others in the company).

3. Be ready to work hard . . . maybe harder than you have before.

Another surprising aspect of the industry, I found, was the speed at which it operates. I often say the cannabis industry is "like the dotcom era meets the industrial revolution and is moving at the speed of light." In fact, a month in the cannabis world is like a year in the corporate world, and that’s no exaggeration. 

If you work in this industry, you can expect long hours and hard work.

The good news is that you’ll have a purpose. It feels like we are changing the world, which means we are focused on success, ideas and innovation every minute of every day. Just remember that once it takes hold of you, it won’t let go. If you want the most exciting career of your life, strap in, hold on and be ready to work.

4. Self-starters are wanted here.

In the corporate universe, workers have leaders, and those leaders often give direction. Sometimes, leaders give clear direction, but oftentimes people run around their offices wasting their days in a land of indecision, committees and meetings, with little to show at the end of the day. 

This industry is different. We demand your best ideas every day to make us better, and we always expect a self-starter attitude. Make your own way, help us find better solutions and contribute. 

At High There! our head of social media and marketing, Megan, is young, smart and educated. She shows up every day with a million new ideas, suggestions and improvements. She has a seat at the table, which is more than most people her age have in most companies. But that is because she comes in every morning ready to contribute. That is how you win in this industry -- by being humble, ready to work and excited to be on board.

5. Prepare to be around cannabis a lot.

Simply put: We like cannabis. And we use it as a medical and recreational product. In fact we call it a “medicreational” product, since it’s fun and good for us.

While of course it's not a requirement to consume cannabis to work in the industry, be prepared to articulate your personal relationship with it when you’re interviewing.

One of the questions I ask all people I interview is, “What is your relationship to cannabis?” The answer is very important because it tells us your attitude in regards to the plant.

Warning! If you have an aversion to cannabis, go no further. If you’re simply looking for the opportunity to make money or build a career in this space, but don’t believe in the plant and all it can do, I suggest you save yourself time and energy.

We are a very unique industry that stands firmly in the belief that cannabis is good and has amazing health benefits.  We have built a multibillion dollar industry on this, and we’re not stopping any time soon.

Todd Mitchem is an Author of the book YOU, DISRUPTED, and a Managing Partner of TMC PARTNERS a government and community affairs firm in Colorado.

The war on cannabis....must end....for America

The war on cannabis....must end....for America

How Federal legalization of marijuana will stop illegal operations and stop draining the resources of local law enforcement.

by Todd Mitchem

It’s no secret that marijuana legalization in states like Colorado, Washington and Oregon is working. Opioid overdose is down by 25%, new funding has been added to schools, and in Colorado we were just voted the number one economy in America (up from number three in 2015).  All of this is attributed to legal marijuana. Still our black market flourishes as reported by Police Commander James Henning in a local news story. But while some anti-marijuana activists in both the government and private sector would use this as an example for not legalizing marijuana, that logic is actually counter intuitive. 

The reason we do not have news stories about illegally made beer, as an example, is because this substance is not barred in random states. In fact it is the full legal system for all forms of alcohol, which give us over 3.9 million jobs, and a lack of black market in that space. The same was not true during prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s. Back then it was prohibition, which created huge cartels, bootlegging of alcohol, and legendary levels of organized crime.

The legalization of cannabis is the same in the sense that it is the illegality of it, which creates the many unintended consequences from it crossing state lines to the rampant sales on craigslist. It is only when we fully legalize marijuana can we expect to see these more illegal operations diminish and more quality, consistent products enter the market.  It is the current patchwork of state-by-state misfiring of standards and policies that create our biggest problems, and only the federal legality, guided by our team, can solve this challenge.

I know some naysayers out there would say, “So Todd we should just legalize every drug and substance to stop underground?”  And to that I would say NO! In fact, I would rather the police, prosecutors, and lawmakers focus on keeping real dangerous substances away from our society, but marijuana is in a new and unique category of non-harmful substance.  There is no other organic plant that we grow naturally which has the same level of benefit both medically and recreationally. Pot consumers like my own mother and most of the $6 billion cannabis industry workers, understand that we can actually stop many of the illegal operations dead in their tracks by turning the lights on to legalization of a plant which we continue to realize each day, helps millions of people.

So to all you out there who claim that the legalization cannabis in some way leads to increase in crime, danger, or illegal operations, you are only looking at it with a limited lens.  We only disrupt illegal operations when we legalize pot, regulate it, and work to build a safe system for millions of jobs to flourish inside that legal marijuana system. #getreal



Three Steps to quicker and more effective meetings.

by Todd Mitchem

1. Disrupt Preparation - "Preparation and setting expectations"

If you are the meeting creator: make sure that you send out a short summary about what the meeting is about, what ideas need solutions, and ask the employees to think about different solutions to solve these problem(s). As a leader, set the expectation for the team, so that they arrive with at least three ideas to contribute.

If you are the employee that is attending the meeting: make sure that you are clear about the meeting objectives and that you are asking for clarity of goals prior to gathering. Then, work to research some ideas or current trends in your industry that had similar problems and their solutions. In short, get ready for the meeting and be ready to put your thinking cap on. 

2. Disrupt Collaboration: "Promoting collaboration and respect"

I you are the meeting creator: Set expectations early for collaboration and create a safe environment for people to share their ideas. Remember, no idea is “stupid” or “useless.” Some of the best ideas started as silly then someone, a disruptor took the idea and made it into something better. This is a creative process in problem solving. If you can clearly define the parameters of the problem that needs to be solved, everyone will have a clearer idea what the solution should be. 

If you are the employee attending the meeting: make it your goal to speak up and bring at least three ideas for every issue discussed at the meeting. To be a positive disruptor, you will need to push past your fear of speaking up by doing the work in advance to prep answers. Sometimes the simple ideas are the ones that solve the biggest problems so go into the meeting with an open mind and respect for everyone's ideas.

3. Disrupt Timing: "Value everyone's time"

If you are the meeting creator: Remember that a successful meeting is not gauged on the timing but rather on the result. To be most effective with the timing, make sure that you pick the time of the day that the department is at it's slowest, mid-week after people get to catch up with their work, and make it short. To make this step work you have to use step 1 and 2. Making meetings short and by preparing everyone and setting expectations as outlined above, will save everyone a lot of time. You want your meeting to say "let's figure this out with urgency", and that is only achieved when you do the upfront expectation planning and you work to solve key issues. As outlined above, ask everyone to bring solutions that can be applied at the meeting, not send them back to work after a meeting with "homework" to think up a solution.

If you are the employee attending the meeting: Arrive to the meeting with a purpose to solve the challenge and not to simply banter or “be heard”. Treat these meetings as ultra-fast think-tanks. So, in short bring ideas, discuss, and find a solution for every meeting.




Today, more than any time in recent history, we stand divided as a nation. Divided in views, politics, sports teams, and other opinions that are aired on social media. We have become a new type of culture that is offended with everything in life; blaming others has become a standard excuse for everything that goes wrong in our personal lives.  We see it as normal to take out our aggressions on family and friends alike. This anger of proximity, in that we scream at whomever is closest, is causing people to lash out, but not at the person they are most mad at--themselves.

Let’s get real, regardless of your political slant, you have most likely judged someone in the last couple of days as well as called whole classes of people names like: racist, liberal, conservative, redneck, “those people,” and the list goes on. We have become a nation that likes to talk, that loves to judge others, and that is addicted to throwing their opinions at anyone who will listen. This is not sustainable; we are about to reach a breaking point in our society and what could have been disruption has become destruction. Disruption is constructive—moving things forward in a positive manner.  Destruction is what it says: destructive. We don’t need any more destruction in our society.

We allow for huge protests in the name of the First Amendment, but then people turn violent and destroy property. We blame the media, the President, Congress, or the countless other factors in society and claim, “They divide us.” But this logic is flawed because, with the excuse of free speech, we have become a raging nation of “unhappy” complainers. And let me remind you, the judgments and the opinions of how everything should be, come not after, but before we have even done any work on ourselves as individuals. Before we figure out our triggers that stem from habitual and, in most cases, no longer accurate opinions. This all happens before we realize that no one is responsible for our actions or where we are in life except ourselves. What we do very well as a nation is tell everyone our victim story. This is an ego-driven time, where everyone believes that they are the most important person, who deserves more than anyone else, while constantly slinging the phrase “that is not fair.” We have become victims of our own personal sob stories, and we feel uncomfortable and maybe even offended to admit that we are a big part of the problem. The biggest tragedy is that we only talk about being united, but behave as if we are divided.

We resort to protesting for the rights of people who are outside our country, while forgetting about over 2.5 million children who go homeless in this nation each year. We all but ignore veterans who have risked their lives so our right to free speech is protected. We forget about people who need help who are within arm’s reach: the homeless, cancer patients, abused women, and people out of work. If you took all the time that it takes to protest one issue, all the money that it takes for you to prepare and arrive in the city for the protest, and buy matching gear, you could be putting that effort into being a volunteer for battered women, homeless shelters, the American Cancer Society, or any one of the countless organizations that need help. You could take that money and donate it to non-profits so they can put it to better use. However, since we are so self-absorbed, basing our meaning of life on how many “likes” we get on social media, we don’t want to do real work that matters, because no one will know, and no one will recognize us for all our hard work. We would rather raise hell over a few dozen people who are being mistreated somewhere else, than go out and help the children of this nation.

My call to action for ALL Americans is to drop the need to be liked by the world, and focus on the real needs of people whose lives can be changed by your direct actions. It’s time to put down protest and pick up hard work. It’s time for us all to drop our self-absorbed victimhood and begin to make ourselves great, as individuals, communities and a people.

If we want to truly be united and stop this insanity so we can get to work on real issues, I suggest we focus more on positive disruption and progress than negative destruction and complaining. 

The last time I checked, no one on this planet will get out of this life alive. We will all end up in a bag or a box or some other container of your choice, but, in the end, we all end. It is only in these moments we have as the living to build anything of value. It is NOW that we can stop complaining, stop the insanity of “them versus us,” and move into taking control over the only person we can—our individual self. 



Drive Time

When I turned fifteen, all I could think about was driving. For an impatient teen like me, having a car and driving was the most critical task on my very short list of “must haves” in my life. At the time, money was tight, so I knew a new car was not going to happen. Nevertheless, I begged my dad for a car. I would ask him over and over again to help me get a car, but he would just shrug it off, knowing the cost was an issue. Finances weren’t a picnic for my mother, either; she was busy rebuilding her life with a new husband and additional kids. She didn’t have any money for a car. As my dream for a car grew and grew, I started to see the dire financial issues: on one side was my father and stepmom rebuilding their financial well-being, and on the other side was my mother and stepfather doing the same. This was the unintended consequence of having divorced parents: everyone, including me, had to rebuild their lives; and it took time. Unfortunately for me, an easy way to get a car in time for my sixteenth birthday was simply not presenting itself and, of course, I was panicked.

Then, one day, my father had a car brought to the house. It wasn’t just any car; it was an old, white VW Bug with a black hardtop. The inside looked like a rabid squirrel had attacked it to find the last morsel of food, and the engine looked like it had run into an immovable object at about a hundred miles an hour. The wreck was completely nonfunctioning. I was surprised that we would buy a car that wasn’t working—and I mean light-years away from ever working. Nevertheless, my dad paid around $125 to buy the car.  It was for me. I know this will seem ungrateful, but I was not excited. I felt like, “Well, I guess I have something I could call a car”, but the bigger problem was that I felt like it would forever sit in the driveway as a heap of junk. I failed in that brief moment to see the perspective and the point that my father was making, which was to take the journey into restoring it. He took a risk to give me an experience unlike any I had had up to that point in life and, being the teenager I was, I did not immediately grasp the importance. After I stared at it for a while and felt my driving experience being shattered, I finally looked up at my dad, who was patiently standing next to the garage and, with defeat in my voice, I asked, “Now what?” To which he replied, “Now we rebuild it.” And that was all he said. I could only imagine the shock and confusion on my face when he said we were going to rebuild it. I was speechless. This car was dead, actually deader than dead; it was a murdered relic from the past for which resurrection seemed out of the realm of possibility. One light was falling out, the interior was seemingly beyond repair, and the sheer sight of the paint job made my panic worse. I almost said the words, “We can’t.” As I inhaled to get the phrase out, I opened and shut my mouth, because I remembered (as you should from my discussion on this earlier) that my father would have no part of any phrase with the word can’t in it. So the only thing I could do was make a commitment to my father and to myself to rebuild and restore this heap of scrap metal. Isn’t that a metaphor for all of us in our lives? Some situations seem hopeless, and we can feel like the only thing in front of us is a heap of junk. We see any restoration as impossible. Sadly, we can also see ourselves this way as we grow older, work longer, and go through more situations in life. It’s easy for you to feel like I did that day: it’s hopeless, I want to scrap it. And that’s when you need to push forward using the lessons from my book, YOU, DISRUPTED! .

We started working on the car the following day. We forged on, day in and day out, working on that beat-up car and dealing with all of the many challenges in our path. Because I am left-handed and my father is right-handed, we fought constantly about what was the right direction to properly turn bolts. The two of us—my father, who is first a thinker and then a doer, and me, a doer while thinking—created quite some disagreements and arguments about how to approach each task needed to repair and rebuild the car. Even though we had our differences, we kept pushing forward on the car’s repairs and saw days turning into months. This wasn’t a one-day or even a one-month task. The more we fixed and repaired systems or structures on the car, the more challenges seemed to arise. I had never experienced hard and tedious effort like I did with my dad while toiling away on that car. On weekends, we would spend the day and often go late into the night working on one small problem that turned out to be huge. On weekdays, I would come home from school to find myself jumping right into dismantling a seat or installing new wiring. Even after months of hard work, I still couldn’t imagine how this car would ever become something drivable, let alone a vehicle I would want to pick up a date with! Each task seemed daunting.

Every day for a year, I would go to school with banged-up fingers, while my father would head to his job as a leader of his company with the same scratches and bruises. It seemed that every day we hit a new roadblock, from the simple broken bolt here and there, to the more challenging wiring situation that caused the lights to come on only when we turned on the radio. (That actually happened.) On this year-long journey, I learned quite a bit about my dad. He is a man of few words, and the lessons I gained came not by what he said but by how he approached and worked on the project. I learned that he could get frustrated with my lack of care for detail, so I strived to be more careful and specific with the task at hand. I realized that striving to meet his level of attention to detail was actually the best learning experience, especially when you take a little extra time to wire your accelerator cable. I watched my father take on parts of the car restoration that he literally had no idea how he would achieve, only to completely solve the challenge in a way that made it better. That year, he taught me about what you do when you hit an obstacle while you are working on a project. I had to reword his phrasing for the rest of my life’s challenges and this book, but the message was the same: when life serves up a roadblock, you first throw a hammer at the wall, then you walk outside to “think,” then you find a way to solve your challenge, and, most importantly, you don’t ever quit. At least he never threw the hammer my way; well, okay, perhaps once, but I am told it was by accident.

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Back then, I didn’t realize we were rebuilding that car not because it was easy but because we could, and we needed to in order for me to have a car on my sixteenth birthday. When I think about the time, money, effort, and energy my father and I put into that car, I gain renewed respect for him as a father. He never gave up on the car, and especially on me, during that year. You should look at your life the same way. If you want to do something and find a way to live a more fulfilled life, then you will need to realize that sometimes you need to reset, reboot, and keep going no matter how hard it gets. If I had allowed the many challenges of the car to be more painful than the Intentional Why of having it, then I would have failed. If my father had not been so dedicated to rebuilding the car for me and helping me find my freedom as a teenager, we would have quit the first time his bare hand slipped off a bolt in the garage and slammed into a jagged edge of metal on the vehicle. It inspired in me the realization that when you have a strong vision and motivation, you keep going—no matter how many cuts and bruises you get—in order to reach the final goal.

Get a copy of Todd's new book, YOU, DISRUPTED now everywhere books are sold. Watch the trailer below.


Three steps to overcome your habitual patterns

Tom screamed out to his fellow employee, “Fine! You figure it out.” And it was in that moment of my observation of this leader that I knew he had a huge trigger, a Habitual Why or deep dysfunctional reason for his overreactions to certain feedback from his team. It would not be until we sat alone together over lunch that Tom revealed to me his deep Habitual reason for his behavior. While he was a very successful leader, this one barrier was holding him back from true fulfillment; it was not only showing up at work, his personal life was suffering as well.

Can you recall the last time you, like Tom, lost your temper, yelled at someone in traffic for cutting you off, or felt that you simply wanted to scream at someone? Well, you have everything you need to change these deep habitual reasons for your destructive and negative behaviors; the ones which hold you back from your own potential for success, for reaching your goals, and for having the life you always wanted to have. These habitual reasons are based on things in your mind that you can change and control—so don’t miss out on a chance to change them. Like Tom, you can turn these Habitual Whys into Intentional Whys, but first you need to discover what caused them and how the habits were created.

Charles Duhigg, in his book The Power of Habit, explores the science behind how habits are formed in the mind. Charles writes, “It turns out that every habit starts with a psychological pattern called a "habit loop," which is a three-part process. First, there's a cue, or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behavior unfold. Then there's the routine, or the action, which is the behavior itself. The third step, he says, is the reward: something that your brain likes that helps it remember the "habit loop" in the future, like the dopamine effect of screaming.”

In Tom’s case, the habit was formed at a very early age. When he was a child, he had a learning disability and his family, even his own father, reminded him of it each day. Sometimes people who were the closest to him would make fun of him and call him stupid because of his impairment. This emotional destruction embedded two habits into Tom’s mind. The first one was a deep desire to achieve and overcome his disability; the second habit was to develop a defensive strategy for attacking anyone around him who triggered his emotion of “I am stupid.” This was a very old and deep habitual reaction that he developed as a child.

I spent time with Tom going over ways he could change the Habitual Why for his dysfunctional behavior into a deeper and more powerful Intentional Why. You, just like Tom, may have many goals in your life and you may desire more out of your current situation. If you are ready to break through those obstacles, you will need these three steps to achieve success.

1) Discover what started the Habitual Why – The Trigger: As I asked Tom to do, you will need to look at your past and find those moments, usually as a child, when your trigger was installed. Was a parent verbally rude to you? Did you get bullied in school? Did your sibling call you stupid and other names? Did you nearly die in a plane crash? Regardless of the moment the Habit Loop was formed, it can be broken, but first you must identify its origin.

2) Is this true?: The second step in breaking the habit is to ask, “Is this true?” In other words, if you feel a deep sense of “I always fail,” you will need to ask yourself at the exact moment that thought occurs in your mind, “Is that true?” Almost always, the answer will be NO, because you have not failed at everything. You did not fail at getting out of bed. You did not fail at answering email or drinking your coffee. So, you, in fact, do not fail at “everything.” You will have to do this with whatever trigger you are trying to overcome. Yes, this is work that you will have to do on yourself. When you feel the emotions caused by a trigger coming over you and launching you into a habit, stop. Think about it and ask yourself “Is that true?” Here’s how Tom caught and diffused his trigger at a meeting: Tom offered a solution to a problem that was being discussed, but his co-worker said, “I think we have to direct that problem in a different direction.” To you, this may not seem like a negative response, but to Tom this answer set off an alarm that the co-worker was insulting his intelligence. So, knowing that this was his trigger, Tom took a breath and bravely asked, “Did you say that you thought I was stupid or that my idea was stupid?” The co-worker then said, “Not at all, I was saying we just need to tweak the idea.” Tom suddenly realized that his trigger of “I am stupid” was not based in reality.  This applies to your own life: by discovering the reality that your trigger is not true at all, you further break the loop of an already formed habit and start to head toward the third and final step of breaking that routine.

3) Build the Intentional Why: The third step in breaking the habit is to build a new core reason for why you want to break the habit; the reason must be more powerful to you than keeping the old habit. For Tom, it involved getting clear about why he wants to be successful in his business and personal life. He found that it was far more important to have a loving, happy marriage and get promoted to Senior Vice President at his company than it was to stay in the bad habit of dysfunction. The same holds true for you. There are things in your life which are far more important than screaming at people or causing destruction, mostly self-inflicted, in your life. You will need to find an Intentional Why that is powerful enough to overcome the Habitual Why, which will still attempt to inflict damage in your life. If you want to be a better spouse, parent, or simply achieve better results at work, you will need to ask yourself “What is my Habitual Why, when or why did it originate,” and then determine if it’s important enough to you to turn a habitual pattern into an intentional action. You must find an Intentional Why that is more powerful to you than staying in your old habitual routine. Isn’t it time you start to improve your habits?

Remember, if you want to reach a new place in life, achieving more than you are now in ANY area, you will need to create new behaviors, now. Where you are now is a result of the past, the many years that you have tried to convince yourself to do something about a goal or change a behavior. The same is true for the future that you are creating; you need to start now. Every time you break a negative habitual loop to create a new Intentional Why in your life, you are driving toward a new future: a future of success, money, health, and, of course, self-esteem. Rest assured, you may fall back on your Habitual Why as you are learning to break the habit; it’s all part of changing a behavior. However, don’t make an excuse to keep that habit and compound it with other excuses. Instead, own it and learn from it. When you are applying this learning in your life: own it and make the change toward more intentional ways of behaving.  Can you imagine how good it will feel to leave the baggage filled with those triggers behind as you journey into your new future? You will arrive at your new successful future and achieve your goals much faster.

To watch the entire story about Tom, click the video below.

“I love you, now get to work.”

Life lessons from a successful loving couple.

Relationship for most people is that thing that happens between the hectic life of work and kids, when the couple manages to squeeze in a few moments of precious time. But for one couple, merging business, relationship, and family life enables them to thrive in all aspects of life while giving plenty of time to celebrate success.

 Back when they met, Diana and Todd were like any other successful couple. She worked as on-the-go professional for a fortune 500 company and Todd was the CEO of one of the hottest tech start-ups in his industry. Right away they realized in their relationship they had a special ability to work together for common goals. They were so effective as a professional team that Diana left her job and went to work with Todd at his start-up company. Diana’s move into a new space, greatly increased the company’s overall productivity, while giving their relationship a great place to flourish. After a while of working together Todd sold off his share of the company and they started their own business in government affairs and corporate consulting.  This new venture helped the pair to really fly and flourish in all aspects of life.

“It was like we just understood how to make things work and from the start we respected each other’s strengths while constantly working and helping each other on our weaknesses. Because we both came from vastly different backgrounds the teamwork was also backed up with mentoring and feedback, so we could grow together as business partners as well as an intimate couple” Said Todd. “I see Diana’s sense of organization, managing the logistics in all of the operations of business, and managing the chaotic family schedules as a weapon toward our success. We are stronger together.”

It is this unwavering sense of cooperation and leveraging strengths that the two feel really is the foundation for why they succeed. “Todd and I know what the other person is good at and we love that about each other. I trust his instincts and he trusts mine. Because we see life as one big picture of work, love, kids, and hard work, we don’t have petty arguments. Our debates, even if heated, are focused on solving many challenges in life and work.” Says Diana. “We are never trying to “win” or be “right” in our relationship. We are working toward the same outcomes and even if we get there in different ways, the end result is success.”

But don’t think this successful couple is all about work, they balance the job needs and relationship in a way that is unique. As Diana puts it, “We believe that life is what we make it and if you want something, you have to get off your butt and go get it. We never make excuses for why we are not spending more time together or why we can’t get work done, we just find a way to solve the challenge and we don’t leave our happiness or success to chance. Every day we work on solutions and our relationship.”  Todd goes on to say that it is their “Love and Respect First” mentality, which also adds to the success. “She is the love of my life, my daily Valentine so I respect her in every moment. If we are having a work debate around one of our clients and we disagree on an issue, I see her as the woman I love and respect, first. This focuses me on what is most important: love. The respect for one another is what helps us to arrive to a solution faster and consider every angle, because we appreciate one another’s views and realize that having different views, opinions,  and backgrounds is a plus in solving problems. It provides us with a way to create an actionable plan where there is no need to “win”, but rather solve the problem.”

“We don’t always work, we also have date nights and movie nights with kids, and many other outings as well as just relaxing around the house” says Diana. While Todd also comments, “you have to find balance or you will get overwhelmed, but part of life is just that: finding the balance.”

So with love front and center Diana and Todd find times between the many work projects, clients, and busy schedule to spend amazing moments dedicate to love which would inspire even the most critically acclaimed romance novelist. They frequently give each other cards to show appreciation and remind the other person that their hard work and effort is not being unnoticed, they spend many nights after the kids go to bed and work is finally finished, just being together, talking about new ideas, plans, dreams, and being in love. “Todd opens my door everywhere we go and will hide cards around the house for me to find. It’s like we are living in a story of love all the time.” Todd also sees Diana as the constant romantic fuel to his fire. “When we started dating, I remember when Diana spent an enormous amount of time to craft and execute a scavenger-hunt treasure-map experience that had me running all over town to find the clues. It was the stuff of movies and I knew then, that she was the love of my life. We always find ways to demonstrate a romantic playful love for each other, and we make it important, just like anything in life we want to be successful at.”

So what advice do these two Valentines have for the rest of us about love, work, and success? See below for their top four foundational elements to thriving in love and work.

1)   Common Goals – Diana and Todd stress this from the beginning that if you are not aligned on everything in life, from how you close a deal to how you want your partner to show you love, you will miss the mark and create friction. This does not mean you agree on everything, it simply means that your core goals are aligned.

2)   Leverage Strengths – Too often in relationship or work we focus on what people need to change to become someone that the other person wants them to be. These two loving workers suggest that you focus more on the person’s strengths but also become a mentor in areas of weakness. If you are not organized and they are, then let them be the one who helps you to get more organized. This could be a slippery slope, so Diana and Todd always make sure that the feedback is welcome and that the “future improvements” are delivered in a professional manner that is focused on personal growth and not “who is smarter and why you should always follow my lead” manner. For Diana and Todd, there are times that one becomes the mentor and the teacher for the other and vice versa. It’s a powerful give and take. In the powerful world of successful couples, there is only the outcome of happiness and success, not pointing out your partner’s weakness.

3)   Trust – It’s talked about all the time and usually in the area of fidelity, but trust must be deeper than that. If you are running a house, work, and life together, you must trust that what each person is doing is for the good of the team, the relationship, and the family. There is no time to question a person’s intentions or micromanage every aspect. Todd and Diana are quick to point out that this one factor can kill your business and relationship at the same time, so you must establish deep trust from the beginning.

4)   Love First – Some people falsely try to separate love from business when they are working with their partner, and that, says Todd and Diana is a huge mistake. In fact love is what they put first. It’s hard to have some petty argument when you are in love. Remember to demonstrate this love in every aspect of the daily life. If you are not adverse to PDA, hold hands, talk kindly, and even when debating, remember that person is the one you will want to hold at the end of the day even when you may have wildly different options about dog food.

The bottom line is that having a powerful bond between love and work is not only possible it works. This Valentines day you and your significant other can use this learning to make your work and life….work.

Todd Mitchem and Diana Venckunaite have built the successful company, TMC Partners, which works with client companies to drive breakthrough success. Their new book, You, Disrupted, releases in April of 2017.

A.I.M. carefully so you hit the target with your next speaker.

by Todd Mitchem

Five minutes until the keynote speaker’s presentation. As the person responsible for booking this speaker, the pressure is on you when that speaker hits the stage. Will he or she drive impact? Will you be the hero who booked someone who drove key learning that people will keep for a lifetime, or will that speaker land with a thud and tarnish your otherwise stellar career? After this presenter, you will either be viewed as the expert at research, key messaging, and someone who truly understood each participant’s needs or you will be the person with the most awful judgment. For you, these five minutes leading up to the keynote speaker are suspenseful.

I am here to tell you there is a quick method for you to get ahead of the anxiety and solve your challenge, while minimizing the risk BEFORE you get to those anxiety-ridden moments prior to the presentation. Below are my proven steps for taking better AIM when choosing which speaker you want to shoot at your target of creating impact and learning filled with key takeaways for every participant.

Authenticity – The world is more and more dominated by authentic messages which create powerful and thoughtful impact. The messages that break through to us are the ones focusing on relationships and improving the quality of our lives in a way that we feel connected to.  Often, speakers will try to be far too polished which, to them, means they are being professional. Audiences have outgrown polish. Audiences want you to find a person who will literally break through the polish with powerful and thoughtful stories, while still being professional and delivering a performance that hits each participant in different ways. Remember, each audience member will have a conversation in his or her head with the speaker. The first key to hitting your target of success is based on hiring a speaker who can speak to the room while making each person feel and see the message as real and personal to them.

Interaction – The best speakers on earth are the ones who engage the audience in both substance and style. Audiences spend valuable time, money, and energy to attend your event and listen to the keynote speaker you selected. The last thing the audience wants is to be bored; the last thing you want is that their boredom is blamed on you. For this step of AIM, you will need to talk to your speaker about engagement techniques and interaction. Do they simply deliver a boring PowerPoint and scripted message with no interaction? If so, you better get the pillows out for your participants so they can rest their weary heads. Remember that we also live in a world of hyper-customization. What I mean is that we customize everything from our cell phone screens to our Facebook profiles and now, as a culture, we expect everyone to customize themselves to us. This includes speakers. You need to ask your speaker how they will engage learning and how it will speak to audience members. For example, if you are hosting a large conference with both leaders and their spouses, you will need a speaker who can take the key learning and integrate the concept of personal relationships so that each member of the audience is engaged. WARNING: if your speaker utters the words, “I don’t really customize and there is not much interaction,” you need to run the other direction. Your very reputation could be in jeopardy, the audience is headed for dissatisfaction, and your event will become a disaster.

Message Clarity – Message clarity and organization are the final keys to an event that hits the success target. Many speakers take the “overlay” approach, in that they take one or two simple facts or specific details about your group and then simply overlay it onto their learning. For example, if your participants are 2,500 managers of fast food restaurants, it is not enough for your speaker to say, “So life as a manager is tough,” and then immediately move on to an unrelated topic of their speech. I would suggest you pay for your speaker to go visit restaurants and meet managers and then integrate the real world, actual language, and circumstances into the presentation in a way that sounds as if the message was customized just for that group. This level of message clarity from your speaker will earn you star status from your group and you will be seen as an expert in speaker selection.

So now what? The parts of AIM are specifically tailored to create a filter that you can pass all your potential speakers through to ensure your group is motivated to take lasting actions and apply powerful lessons. Hopefully, this strategy will motivate you to take specific actions in selecting the winning presenter. Think about yourself for a moment. Are you driven to deliver impact, to make sure each participant is fully excited and engaged? Is it critical to you that your efforts deliver learning while creating memories which turn into takeaways for each person that they can use daily to enhance their lives? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you are a person who cares about outcomes. You deserve to find a speaker who matches your commitment level so that every event is a success. For you to become the star who took the conference to the next level, take AIM and hit your target!

Please comment below if this was helpful and tell me if I missed any other critical points. 

Todd Mitchem