20 Questions With Michael Zaytsev, Founder of High NY

Before working in Silicon Valley for Google, Michael had gone away to college in LA and was beginning to get used to the California lifestyle. After returning to NYC, Michael was astonished at the differences in attitude towards cannabis in New York compared to California. In California, the medical benefits of marijuana are well known, especially for cancer patients. 

The attitude towards marijuana use both recreationally and medically in New York is viewed in a much harsher and less welcoming environment than in California. Surprised by this Michael has taken the initiative to educate New York about the benefits of medical use, especially for cancer patients along with the business opportunities for states where marijuana is already legal. High NY hosts monthly education and networking events designed to empower leaders who want to create a more healthy, compassionate world in which Cannabis prohibition does not exist.

His monthly Meetup group is the largest cannabis-focused event in NYC every month and his new eBook focuses on interviewing 50 leaders in the cannabis industry. You can get it here

Is this your first business?: My coaching business is my first business. High NY is technically the second, but I don't consider it a business.

What is the biggest reason for your success so far?: Strong habits, great mentors and coaches, and a dedication to my vision. Also, I've done my best to create value for others. This approach has served me well.

What were the earliest indications that this business could be successful?: Seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of community members at our events.

What position did you hire first?: The first team member I brought on was a media pro, Tim, he was able to record and produce video, photoshop and had great knowledge of content distribution. It was important for us to leverage the education happening at our live events and turn them into shareable content that could extend our reach.

What is working best for your marketing right now?: Giving community members great experiences and resources. Word of mouth is our best marketing channel.

What is your biggest differentiator?: We have the most diverse crowd I've seen at any event. Our members are passionate, generous and very open minded.

What is the toughest decision you've had to make in the last few months?: Turning away sponsorship money from brands/people I felt were not in line with the community's values. Limiting the number of projects I take on to better focus on core work.

If it was possible, what advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?: Begin practicing entrepreneurship sooner and take comp-sci classes. Also, take a gap year in college.

Favorite place to travel to?: The Beach.

What book are you most likely to give as a gift?: Books are my favorite thing to gift, so I really like to personalize them to the recipient. My default go to is The Four Agreements.

What is your favorite small business in the town you grew up in? : Pizza Den, it's a local family owned pizza place that's been in the neighborhood for 30+ years.

Do you have a favorite freelancer you have worked with?: Writer Sasha Grafit. 

What is your favorite app or online tool?: Trello. 

What was the best event that you recently attended?: The Next Gen Summit

How did you finance your business?: Bootstrapped / organic growth.

What advice do you have for new founders?: Choose something you're passionate about, work with a coach or multiple mentors, fail forward, trust your instincts and take imperfect action then adjust.

Twitter: @thecoachnyc