The CEO Who Saved My Ass

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.


At the end of 2019, I quit my job as the regional manager of a cannabis retail chain in Vancouver. There had been too many incidents in which the owners of the company demonstrated their lack of respect for my staff members.

Honestly, it was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made; but enough was enough.

It gave me no pleasure to inform the owners that I was losing my best and brightest hires as a direct result of the company culture they had created. 

Fortunately, I landed on my feet, and less than a month later was hired as the inventory manager for The FARM, a company located in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

I stayed with this company right up until the end of 2019, when it was acquired by a larger cannabis retail chain called Trees Island Grown. 

(📸 / Trees Island Grown)

With this acquisition, all of the staff members at The FARM were informed that we would have to re-interview for our positions in-store. 

It was my intention to become the store manager, but I was offered an alternative: to move to the company’s head office in Victoria to effectively “solve their inventory problems.”

On the one hand, this was a pretty big opportunity for me; on the other, packing up everything I had and moving to an island off the coast of Vancouver wasn’t something I could do on a whim.

I asked for some time to weigh the offer, and over the coming days, I took the opportunity to review every one of their seven stores’ monthly inventory reports. I needed to understand exactly what I would be signing up for.

By the end of this, I hadn’t the faintest idea about how I would solve these problems, but I decided to accept the position. Better yet, I informed the CEO of the company that I could solve their supply chain problems within three months.

Probably not the wisest words that have ever come out of my mouth.

After spending hours and hours analyzing datasets I realized that I needed to understand this problem from the perspective of our store managers, who knew the process better than I did.

It was Matthew, one of our top store managers, who helped me to realize that budtenders simply weren't scanning products when things got busy. Instead, they were entering the wrong products into the point of sale and creating inventory discrepancies. Bingo!

With the knowledge that this was the core problem at play, we made sure to instruct staff members at all locations to ensure that every product was scanned in-store with no exceptions.

The results were positive and immediate. Just two weeks later, we had reduced the number of inventory discrepancies by 30-40%.

Still, we were a long way away from the 90% reduction that I was targeting so I knew we needed a different solution.

I reached out to Albert Kim, the CEO of our point-of-sale provider Greenline POS, to explore possible solutions. After meeting with him in Vancouver, he had an idea.

(📸 / Greenline POS)

No less than three weeks later, the Greenline team delivered a game-changing solution that allowed me to check whether each and every product had been scanned in-store, with a detailed breakdown of each employee’s percentage of products scanned.

Over the next four weeks, we resolved any and all inventory problems, which meant that I was able to deliver on the assurances I had made to our CEO eleven long weeks earlier.

Had it not been for Albert and his team’s ability to produce such a simple but elegant solution to this problem, I am certain I would have been eating my words. 

I learned an enormous amount from this experience and my three biggest takeaways were -

1. Simple solutions are usually the most effective solutions. 

2. Always ask the smartest people you know for their perspective on problems.

3. Set the bar as high as you can, and even if you miss you will likely still surpass your greatest expectations. 

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