JOCELYN SHELTRAW – DIRECTOR OF INDUSTRY RELATIONS, HEADSET
What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry?
Being a connector and bringing the community together, especially during the pandemic where so many people were lacking human connection. I facilitated in-person gatherings and digital meetups at a time when people were alienated because of Covid, but also struggling through the turmoil of the cannabis industry. A lot of people in our industry were reaching out asking if what they were experiencing in their business was like others, and I was able to help people feel less alone by sharing insights and bringing people together.
Do you feel that the cannabis industry has more opportunities for female-identifying people than other industries?
I don’t know that I would say that the cannabis industry has more opportunities for women, but it is an industry unlike any other I’ve been a part of because it’s an industry built on community, and because of its prior illegal nature, there’s an air of non-judgment, and therefore acceptance.
Think about it…up until a few short years ago cannabis was illegal, and so the type of person working in the industry generally was someone comfortable with discomfort. There’s a camaraderie that happens between people navigating unknowns, and that often overpowers someone’s gender or ethnicity.
I came from the ad tech industry, and while there were about even rates of women in executive positions, it felt much more closed-minded to me. It felt hierarchical. Maybe this is our American values changing, or the fact that people in cannabis are bound by similar beliefs, but there does seem to be a shift happening where people in the industry are building companies on a culture of openness and acceptance.
Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that?
I don’t feel I have to work twice as hard in executing on the core functions of my job, however, I do operate in an environment that requires more thoughtfulness, which is ultimately more work for me in certain areas.
I don’t know that a man has to think as much about how he words an email, how he comes across in meetings, how he dresses, how close he gets to another when he speaks, how late he stays out during conferences or events. I think about all these things, all the time. It’s a lot of exerted energy.
For example, I co-founded an executive cannabis meetup called CannaPac and when I’m co-hosting I have to think about all the aforementioned, but I also have to be cognizant of how to drive more diversity of attendees. It’s been a challenge…our first event we had about 80 men and 10 women attend. This has shifted over time with more conscious planning.
Ultimately, people gravitate to people that are similar to them. This is why men, or people in positions of power, have a responsibility to lead with diversity in mind. You have to be proactive in changing the environment, and I believe the companies/programs that do that will be more successful in the long run.
What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge in business is learning to navigate my ego so I can be the leader I want to be.
I’m a fiery type-A personality…I’m passionate, a perfectionist, and have high expectations, which can be great qualities in a leader, but I’ve learned these traits have to be managed thoughtfully.
I’ve found myself in situations where my passion and perspective don’t take into consideration my colleagues’ differing, yet valid points of view. For example, I tend to get hyper-protective of our brand at Headset and want every touchpoint with our team and company to be thoughtful and perfect. This is a great goal, but when things are as busy and unstable as they are in this industry, it can be hard to prioritize attention to detail over the speed of execution.
I’m learning that if I lead with empathy and understanding, I get the end result that yields a better outcome for the team and company.
What have you or your company done to help give more opportunities for women?
At Headset, our founders have strived to create a diverse work environment…almost half of our leadership team is women. I’m proud that our company is well above industry averages.
For me personally, I’ve mentioned the CannaPac executive meetups and that I’ve been working to increase female attendees. We had an event on February 22 in LA and we had 3x as many women as our first event. This is great progress as many people come to the events to network with other leaders, and to find new jobs or opportunities. To increase the percentage of women in executive roles, there needs to be more connection to break down social barriers.
What are your personal goals for 2022?
I rarely set goals for myself. Goals suggest I have to be working toward something and I prefer to live my life in the moment, with the “goal” being to live as intentionally and consciously as possible.
Living intentionally means being thoughtful about my physical, spiritual, intellectual, and mental well-being. I live this way because I find that the more present I am, the more I know and take care of myself, the more people I know and treat well…the more a fulfilling life manifests itself.
The end result of living life in the present is that I don’t live in a state of fear or anxiety over what my life should be like. My “goals” right now are to focus my time on the things that bring me fulfillment…my partner Claudio Miranda (he’s also a part of the cannabis industry), spending time with my family and friends, destigmatizing cannabis because I believe there is far more positive impact to our society than negative, helping build Headset so our team can have a successful exit and contribute positive growth to the industry, and fulfilling my creative outlets by devoting time to playing music, writing, and photography.
I often feel like people overcomplicate what life should be about…just be present and enjoy all the beauty, good and bad, that your life has to offer.