Rick Thompson is an advocate of cannabis, a journalist, and an organizer of the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Conferences. He is the Owner of Michigan Cannabis Business Development Group, the most recognizable name in cannabis business conferences and seminars. Rick was named Citizen Activist of the Year 2015 by national media source and was a Crystal Trichome Award winner as Journalist of the Year 2016.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in Flint, Michigan on the northeast side. Dad was a shop worker for General Motors and mom was a substitute teacher. My earliest memory is of being in my backyard when a litter of puppies from our beagle knocked me down and licked my face. It was incredible. But life in the city was difficult. Watching your city crumble around you while struggling to just be a kid was tough back then, I imagine how hard it must be now. The rivers are choked with carp. The buildings are falling down. Trees grow right up to the side of the expressway because they do not get trimmed or cut down. When things burn they are not taken away- they stand, like so many charred monuments to disinterest. I have hundreds of memories I would like to discard, and really none which I care to share.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

I wish I had realized the value of communication skills and family earlier in life. Opportunity comes to those with good communication skills. They are the ones in the right place at the right time, because they talked to somebody who told them where to be. Persistent communicators open doors. Effective communicators deliver more help to more people than hesitant speakers. No matter how great you are, if nobody knows it, you’re going to be alone. The value of family cannot be understated. I never appreciated what a comfort it is to know your kids are safe, your parents are okay and they all love you. Family lifts, they inspire, they catch you and they push you forward. Family is like a good sauce on a pizza- it’s everything!

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

I’ve heard people give bad advice on a personal and professional level for my entire life. Perhaps the worst advice ever is, do not say you’re sorry/apologies are for the weak. It is a uniquely human attribute that we can give pleasure and inspire comfort just by speaking words. We can also inflict terrible damage, alienate potential friends or lovers, and bring terrible consequence upon yourself through the poor use of words. To think that someone would suffer emotional damage because another person has an ego so fragile they cannot say the one thing that would give relief- cruelty should never be a part of someone’s personal code of ethics. Another common misunderstanding in the business industry is the belief that valuable education only happens at school. A man with actual experience in the field is often made an underling for someone with a shiny new degree and zero actual experience. More life is learned outside the classroom than inside it.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I am focusing on the positives in my life and that’s what I would like to focus on, instead of looking back at dark chapters.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

The biggest contributor to my success so far has been my personality. I find having a bright personality and an active listening skill has opened doors for me romantically, professionally, and personally. Personality can be developed, it can be cultivated, it can be honed into a life-enhancing boost. Zig Ziglar taught us years ago How to Win Friends and Influence People, and it was all about developing personality. Engage your best you by expressing the best you.

What is your morning routine?

I am up at 6 or 6:30 each day and start with coffee and news from CNN or MSNBC. After breakfast, I enjoy cannabis every day, and then begin being in charge of my life. My schedule is always different- I write or take meetings or build my personal infrastructure- but the start of my successful days begins like this. The exception goes to the sick days, especially migraines, and those manifest early in the morning- 3-4 am. There is no escape.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

I have used personal challenges as a way to improve my life. I challenged myself to keep a clean car. I challenged myself to improve my personal appearance. I challenged myself to use a day planner faithfully. These may not seem like changes of significance but the satisfaction I get when performing these tasks is real. Like, writing in the planner is a win. Inviting someone to ride in the car and feeling good about it is a win. Surround yourself with things that remind you of how awesome you are, and improve your self-image. Everything in life goes easier when you like yourself.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

My strategy for productivity and using time efficiently is to grab a task and wrestle it to the ground, focus on it entirely, then finish it all before looking to see what else demands your time. I know many people juggle lots of different tasks at once, but that means nothing ever gets your full attention. My style may not be an effective way to manage your time, but it is an effective way to generate high-quality output.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

The books which influenced my life are the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the short stories from Fritz Leiber of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. The trilogy taught me that there is a bigger picture at play, no matter how desperate your individual circumstance may be. Always things advance, things out of sight, even while you trudge on in lazy motions. The Mouser series taught me that there is always a friend out there for you, and sometimes your very best friend is someone very much unlike you. Barbarian Fafhrd and slight-of-frame city thief Mouser were the original Odd Couple.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

I do not, actually, have a quote that I live by. I have a quote that was said to me in anger that I repeat on occasion, in my head, or while I am alone. “Get your lazy ass in gear and get some fucking work done, you piece of shit.” Those words, if said by another human being right now, would be meaningless to me since I don’t let others control me. But when I was young, they cut like a dagger. Now, the only person who can make me feel bad like that is myself, and sometimes I need the push.