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A Free Executive Training Program for BIPOC/Minority Business Owners in Cannabis; Meet the BCB Mastermind

A Free Executive Training Program for BIPOC/Minority Business Owners in Cannabis; Meet the BCB Mastermind

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2023 BCB Mastermind Southern Cohort, Credit: Honored Photography

Cannabis is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. In 2021, Statista reported that there are 20-28 thousand cannabis businesses in the United States. This year (2023), MJBiz Daily reported that in 2021, 20.7% of those businesses were minority owned but as of the date of their report published in 2023, only 15.4% of cannabis businesses in the United States are minority owned. This is one of the reasons the BCB Mastermind is a necessity in the cannabis industry. 

The BCB Mastermind is an immersive experience that empowers minority owned cannabis businesses to thrive in the cannabis industry with best-in-class leadership training and a unique “next-level “business development curriculum. This is a free executive training program for BIPOC business owners in cannabis/minority business owners in cannabis, and is sponsored by Parallel, a nationwide vertically-integrated, multi-state cannabis company.

This summer, the current BCB Mastermind cohort met in Tampa, FL and I had an amazing opportunity to join the cohort’s 2 day in person meet up so, I did! My attendance and media coverage was sponsored by Siva Seed Co., a company offering both CBD and hemp-derived Delta-9 edible infusions allowing for an option between therapeutic applications and enhanced hemp experiences.

The program name travels around the industry, with the instructors’ names creating a buzz like a swarm of bees. If by chance you haven’t heard about the BCB Mastermind and/or their instructors then brace yourself, you’re about to be dosed with inspiration. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to the BCB Mastermind and the instructors: Brandon L. Wyatt, Esq. and Todd J. Hughes, PMP. 

Meet the BCB Mastermind and the Instructors

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Graphic concept by Vee, vision came to life with: Write the Vision

The BCB Mastermind is a six-week online cohort coupled with 2 days of classroom, in-person meet ups. The cohort is a group of cannabis founders and professionals, and they complete structured exercises receiving expert training from leading subject matter experts and practitioners from the industry. When the program is completed, BCB Mastermind graduates are equipped with the business plans, knowledge, network, and know how to scale their businesses into ones that reflect their potential.

Brandon L. Wyatt, Esq., is a Maryland attorney, decorated army combat paratrooper, and disabled veteran. He attended Howard University School of Law and the Executive Business Administration program at The George Washington University. He has crafted drug control and civil rights policies for US Customs & Border Protection, designed compliance tracking programs for federal and Maryland EEO regulations, and executed Congressional corrective after-action mandates. 

He has been counsel for multiple Fortune 500 entities, and runs an award winning multi-disciplinary firm that provides management consulting and business development services to over 22 minority and women 8A, VA SDVOSB, and Maryland CBE/MBE entities. Mr. Wyatt is a founding member and current board secretary of the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), the nation’s first & largest 501(c)3 dedicated exclusively to minority and women inclusion in the cannabis industry.

 Todd J. Hughes, PMP, is a graduate of Howard University’s school of Computer Science, Architecture, and Engineering, a serial entrepreneur, community organizer, and mechanical engineer from Pittsburgh, PA. Todd focuses his attention on facilitating entrepreneurship through his company, EntreVation (Entrepreneurship + Innovation), a business accelerator and consultancy in Washington, DC. He has applied his engineering, analytical skills, and project management expertise toward helping establish numerous businesses that practice corporate social responsibility and diversity in the cannabis industry. 

Todd is also the board chair of the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), and has has forged a relationship between the MCBA and Cannabis Venture Capital Firm, Merida Capital Partners; in an effort to lower barriers to entry for minorities into the Cannabis Industry through the Inclusive Industry (i2) Accelerator. Todd’s extensive experience reflects his commitment to creating and maintaining diversity in the cannabis industry, through professional development, community engagement and governmental collaboration.

Together Todd and Brandon are owners of a Cultivation and Dispensary operation in Maryland, they are part of one of the largest hemp grants awarded by the USDA and support multiple clients in government contracting including Epigen Technology. 

The BCB Mastermind in Person Class Experience

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Photo of Instructors Brandon and Todd, credit: Honored Photography

Day 1:

Class started with high energy and vibrations from a group of BIPOC and woman owned businesses in cannabis. Eager, excited, and glowing under the hot Florida sun, this group of inspired people came to class as strangers, but quickly got to know each other and started feeling each other’s passions. 

Through introductions, each class member provided insight, expressed hardships, and offered a peek into their big and little ego’s. Within 2 hours of class time, deeper connections were formed; I was both grateful and inspired to witness and feel the energy in that classroom.

The first lesson was rooted in: the most feared song in jazz, John Coltrane’s, Giant Steps. It’s no secret that music and cannabis are a duo that has been showing up together since the beginning of time; but I was curious: why was John Coltrane’s music was the first lesson in a cannabis business ownership program? As I continued to listen; the why started becoming clearer. I asked Todd and Brandon about their choice of first classroom lesson and the “why”. They shared:

“Giant Steps serves as a powerful illustration of how proficiency in fundamental skills enables individuals to excel and clarifies points of improvisation as a right of passage for the well versed, not as an obstacle to be overcome by the amateur. 

This exercise intricately weaves into the subplot of active listening, emphasizing the importance of gaining insights into others’ perspectives. This equips students not only with the ability to understand diverse viewpoints but also to harness this understanding for the benefit of creating superior products and fostering cohesive teams. 

This holistic and integrative approach not only enhances their problem-solving capabilities but also positions them to better assist clients in achieving success”.

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Photo of Todd during class instruction, credit: Honored Photography

Day 2:

It was easy to see that the group continued to vibe and pour into each other after class on day 1. Everyone had a heightened glow, making the first discussion on day 2 (which was to share their homework), my favorite part of the day: Reflections. 

The homework assignment was to write a blog post reflecting on their day 1 experience, and to share it with the class. Each class member stood up and shared their words; I was emotional as I listened to passionate people bare their souls. Like many others, these business owners were there to learn everything they could so that they could build a business that will make the world a better place. 

The BCB Mastermind is 6 weeks long, everything with the exception of these 2 days are online. I didn’t understand why until I experienced the 2 in person days: Community, connection, and networking. These are vital for success in many areas in life, especially business. 

Q & A with the Instructors + Founders of the BCB Mastermind 

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Todd and Brandon during class, Credit: Honored Photography

It was a pleasure watching you all in Tampa this year! I’d love for you all to share the story about why the BCB Mastermind was born and the program means to you.

“We started this course because black and brown people represent less than 4% ownership in the cannabis industry. This course was created to provide the nation’s top BIPOC CEOs with the knowledge, network, and capital required to facilitate a competitive advantage and sustainability in the cannabis industry.

This program holds immeasurable significance for us. Our dedication to our students often rewards us with witnessing their moments of clarity and profound realizations firsthand. Beyond academic growth, students forge meaningful connections and professional partnerships with their peers, all while ardently pursuing their aspirations in the cannabis industry.”

In class, you all discussed: EntreVation, which is a combination of Entrepreneurship + Innovation, can you all share with readers what you all shared with the classroom?

EntreVation was intended to be a venture capital firm, but landed on business consulting across multiple industries with the goal of helping our friends and family monetize their talents. We specialize in cannabis consulting, advocacy, government contracting, and marketing. Our team has over 15 years of experience specifically building small cannabis businesses and helping them deploy operations in multiple states. 

EntreVation, stands by the core values of radical integrity, quality, and growth. We have cultivated a team of EntreVators who are trained to capture client goals and create actionable plans for achieving them. We pride ourselves in going the extra mile and establishing lasting relationships with our clients by actively listening, going below the surface, and extracting value.”

I love reading physical books; I love turning the pages and folding the pages, and weirdly enough… smelling the pages. I love that you all recommended: The Art of Dealing with People, and share a love for physical books as well. Why does the BCB Mastermind recommend that book? 

“As Howard University graduates, we sincerely believe books are important and should be cherished. Not just digital books, but the physical vessels of information. This particular book was gifted to our team about a decade ago and deeply impacted our business mantea and pace. “Mirror the behavior you endear to receive.”

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The Art of dealing with People highlights that organizations, businesses, clients, and customers are people. We encourage our cohorts to be curious about clearly defining business purposes and their target serviceable market areas. 

In our opinion, this book has the potential to provide students new human centric perspectives and engage deeper thought regarding how and why people operate.” 

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Inside the classroom, Credit: Honored Photography

Why is the Day 1 reflection blog assignment a part of the program’s curriculum?

“Self-reflection holds particular significance for socially economically disadvantaged groups or minorities in the business world for two reasons. 

(1): These individuals often face unique challenges and biases that can impact their career progression and workplace experiences. 

(2): Minorities often find themselves overlooking the importance of personal and professional self-reflection due to a combination of factors such as: miseducation, a historical legacy of workplace abuse and disenfranchisement, and other societal pressures. By maintaining self-reflection as a focus, we hope to empower our cohorts to visualize and navigate these obstacles more effectively.

These assignments offer a safe space to document personal experiences, confront biases, and explore strategies to overcome adversity. This process not only fosters resilience but also helps individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds build self-confidence and assertiveness.”

I heard you all share a beautiful quote: “Who cares who makes it home first, just make it home.” Can you share what this means?

“This is Brandon L. Wyatt’s saying. As a combat veteran and paratrooper, he faced some interesting challenges in his service to the country and return to America. He relates a few bits of his training regarding tactical team building within our curriculum. 

Unfortunately, this country is still recovering from a War on Drugs. Many of our students have been affected and deeply traumatized in both business and personally due to cannabis regulation. 

In crucial situations, like journeys or emergencies, the saying “Who cares who makes it home first, just make it home”, emphasizes that personal competition or speed should take a backseat to ensuring everyone’s safety and well-being. It urges people to prioritize collective welfare of commitment to community over individual achievement. 

For the now, generation of cannabis leaders, these are crucial times and having a foundational understanding of our economic, social, and environmental responsibilities is key to success.” 

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Cohort touring Surterra Wellness, Credit: Honored Photography

Interested in applying? There is a 3 step admissions process:

Submit the application which takes less than an hour of your time > the team reviews the submission and gets back to the applicant within 5 business days > if the application is accepted, confirm your participation. 

Learn more here

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