At Say Hi and Hi&Low, we truly believe that as the cannabis industry grows, we can incorporate positive business practices and set an example for other industries. And so some of the most important values at Say Hi are diversity and inclusivity, which we try to capture in everything from the products on the site, to the audience we write for, to our partners behind the scenes.
June is Pride Month, a time of year to highlight the accomplishments of the LGBT community. We talked to a few of our collaborators and partners, who shared some of the stories and insights from their experiences as LGBT members of the cannabis industry. In the first of the series, we talk to Michael Finkbeiner, a sounding board for Say Hi from the beginning and a member of the cannabis VC community.
Tell us a little about what you do in the cannabis industry.
I work for a venture capital fund dedicated to early stage cannabis companies.
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered as an LGBT person in the industry?
Working in the cannabis industry as an LGBT person hasn’t been any more challenging than being an LGBT person in everyday life. My personal and work struggles are often based on my own perception of not being good enough in the eyes of others. This rears its ugly head at home and in the workplace. I will note that being a white man in an industry (venture capital) filled with other white men probably makes things easier. I know not everyone is lucky enough to have supportive bosses, coworkers, and industry colleagues, and Iencourage members of all industries to have more conversations with the people around them, especially those that don’t look exactly like them.
Are there any good learnings you’ve taken from those experiences?
Working in the venture capital side of the cannabis industry has reinforced the fact that people are people, sometimes good, sometimes bad, often insecure and just trying to make it through the day. Don’t assume malice and make an effort to recognize the hurt others are also carrying around with them. I spent too much time in the past trying to prove why my ‘hurt’ was more valid or more important than someone else’s, which never served me.
What has been an opportunity, or just something you’ve loved about being an LGBT person in the industry?
I love how much the average person in cannabis celebrates the uniqueness in others.
Do you think that being LGBT helped to equip you for a career in cannabis?
Being LGBT has equip me for life not just a career. That doesn’t mean it’s been easy. My strength has been earned by persevering through obstacles – sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding – but always growing and gaining valuable experience to help better manage the next obstacle.
Thanks to Michael for talking about his inspiring experience. If you want to share your story, leave a message on our Facebook page.