Levitt: MJ Entrepreneurs Should Seek Out New Ideas

By John Schroyer

Elicit professional feedback, and seize on new ideas wherever possible.

That was a primary business message to hundreds of cannabis entrepreneurs who packed into a second floor ballroom at the Chicago Hilton on Wednesday to hear a speech from economist Steven Levitt, co-author of the best selling book Freakonomics.

Levitt, who spoke for nearly an hour as the keynote address at the Spring Marijuana Business Conference and Expo, said there are a few core tenets that he believes serve all businesses well, including the cannabis industry.

“The power of ideas. That one idea can make all the difference,” Levitt stressed. “Steal and steal and steal ideas from wherever you can. There’s nothing wrong with a stolen idea… Wherever you see a good idea, take it.”

Levitt said his father, a career medical researcher, was a primary example of how a person can rise to the top of their respective field by riding the power of a single idea, all because he decided to become an expert in “intestinal gas” after a colleague offered that as a suggestion.

As a result, his father became a nationally renowned medical expert known as the “king of farts.” Though the line got a solid round of laughs from conference-goers, Levitt insisted the lesson was a serious one.

“In a new world, like the world we’re in, the power of ideas to change a career, to change a company, to change a life, there’s incredible potential for that,” Levitt told audience members. “You’ve picked a spot where there are opportunities, where things can happen.”

So, he suggested, spend a few hours a week simply trying to think of new ideas to capitalize on.

Levitt further noted that many business owners don’t consciously look for criticism, which can be a serious mistake.

“Most decisions that you make, you will never get any information as to whether it was the right decision or the wrong decision,” Levitt said. “There’s no reason at all that you can’t experiment with that.”

For example, he suggested ancillary marijuana companies could test offering different pricing structures to prospects and clients, to see what types of responses they receive back.

John Schroyer can be reached at johns@mjbizmedia.com