Hey there! I hope you’re doing great.
In a moment, I’m going to share with you some of the rules I live by. But first, I want to tell you why I follow them.
I’ve achieved a bit of success in my life. I’m healthy and fit, surrounded by an incredible team, and earn a good living doing what I love and helping a ton of people.
But it hasn’t always been this way.
When I was a kid, my family lived month to month, often barely scraping by.
And, like many in our community, I struggled in school.
Before starting my first business, I was flat broke. Everything I owned fit in five garbage bags.
I lived out of those black plastic trash bags, believing that someday I would make something of myself.
A few years later, in 1983, I built my first grow-op. But I didn’t ventilate the room properly and killed the entire crop within 24 hours.
For the next decade, I grew hundreds of indoor and outdoor gardens and did well for myself.
Then, in 1993, a warrant was issued for my arrest for a 1,896-plant grow in the Midwest. I fled the state, then the country. As a fugitive, I lived on the lam, under seven different fake identities, until my arrest in 2001.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), DEA, FBI, and over a dozen other agencies took part in the investigation and subsequent bust.
The RCMP estimated that over the previous year, the illicit organization I ran trafficked $50 million worth of BC Bud.
I lost everything and sat in jail for months, facing major cannabis charges, until the charges were stayed due to lack of evidence. My property that was eventually returned in the case was the largest asset forfeiture return in Canadian history.
While business associates and loved ones betrayed me, and the US and Canadian governments tried to ruin me, I kept my head down and focused on building my (legal) cannabis nutrient company: Advanced Nutrients.
In the early years of the company, a half-dozen of the most powerful distributors in the hydroponics industry — worth a combined $1.1 billion — tried to get my products blacklisted from stores.
Because, unlike the rest of the industry, I was honest that my nutrients were for growing cannabis — something that was considered taboo in the hydro space. I didn’t hide behind tomatoes, roses and azaleas like my competitors were.
The distributors threatened store owners, saying they wouldn’t do business with them if they carried my products. They spread rumors that I was an outlaw biker, a murderer, an undercover narcotics agent.
They even had their attorneys send a letter to the stores, warning: You could be arrested if you buy from Advanced Nutrients.
I was the new kid on the block, and every bully in the neighborhood tried to lord over me.
But I stood my ground, fought back, and continued to trudge forward.
More than once, life has kicked my ass. And hundreds, if not thousands, of more times, it’s tried to.
But the hard work and harder times aren’t the “life of BigMike” people see today.
They see the thriving cannabis businesses.
They see the social media posts.
The parties at my West Hollywood mansion.
The private jet and magazine covers.
They see the parts of my life that I share with the world.
But not the struggle it took to get here. The long hours and blood, sweat, and tears.
“How did you do it?” they ask and “What are the reasons for your success?”
I ask similar questions. I pick the minds of people who enjoy the sort of lifestyle I want to enjoy, own the type of business I want to own, or have the kind of mindset I want to have.
I study psychology, philosophy, and the human experience. I devour the autobiographies of leaders and innovators. I research the lives of the men and women who are changing our world.
Most importantly, I apply what I learn.
Every. Single. Day.
And, while on the surface it may appear I’m now at the top, that I’ve somehow won the game of life, nothing could be further from the truth.
Because I’m still striving to reach higher and higher mountain peaks.
I want to hit bigger targets, have more meaningful relationships, think better thoughts.
I want to make the world a more awesome place — where homelessness and starvation are nonexistent.
I want better cannabis laws enacted — no one should go to jail for possessing, growing or selling cannabis.
I’m sure there are objectives you’re working hard toward as well. I wish nothing more than for you to achieve them.
Here’s a set of practices I follow. To say I’ve benefited from them would be a giant understatement:
1. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, bring out the best in you, and force you to up your game. Cut out the people who bring you down.
2. Be cool to everyone and treat them well. A smile or a word of praise can go a long way in making someone’s day better.
3. Set clear and measurable goals, write them down, look at them, and see them in your mind. Make mental movies of yourself achieving your goals. Watch these movies as often as you can. Get fired up about it. Feel it with every cell of your being as if what you see is reality—because doing this can play a major role in bringing those goals and dreams to life.
4. Focus on contribution. On adding value to the world. A lot of people make financial goals their focal point — a mistake IMO.
Help others, and the money will follow. Think about how many people you want to help and how you want to add value to their lives. Make THAT your goal. Put people before ones and zeros. Always. It’s far more effective and fulfilling.
5. Believe deep inside — know it in your gut — that you can achieve your goals. Because, like Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”
6. Charge headfirst at your goals. Do not hesitate to take massive action. Success is attracted to speed of implementation. Don’t worry about figuring everything out before you get moving. Just set a target and GO. The path will reveal itself to you once you’re in motion.
7. Be willing to make mistakes. Remember, there is no such thing as failure, only lessons to learn. View challenges and setbacks as opportunities for improvement. When knocked down, get back up, and: Never. Fucking. Relent. Cliché? Yes. But I wouldn’t be where I am today if I lived any other way.
8. Walk through your fears. Face them head-on. The things you want most reside on the other side of that which scares you. But if you try to tiptoe around it, you’ll get lost in an abyss of trepidation.
Don’t let your anxieties paralyze you. Bravery isn’t lack of fear; it’s acting in spite of it — penetrating the boundaries of your comfort zone and expanding it. It’s part of what forges you into the bold person you need to become to live the life you want to live. It’s about becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Never around. Always through.
9. Study. Everyday. This could include reading, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, attending seminars or mastermind meetings, watching educational videos, meeting with a coach or mentor, etc. Whatever you need to learn to get to where you want to go, learn it. There’ no excuse not to in this day and age.
10. Say no. Success requires saying no a lot more than it does saying yes. Saying yes to too many things leads to being bogged down with shit that will pull you off course. So be selective with your yeses. And, YES, this may rub a few people the wrong way. But would you rather (a) please everyone or (b) achieve the badass life or thriving business or whatever it is you’re after? It’s a or b — can’t have both.
11. Do work that ignites the fire in your soul. I LOVE the cannabis community and am crazy about the science of cannabis and finding new ways to take the plant to its true genetic potential. Every morning I wake up pumped to get to work. The happiest people I know do work they’re passionate about. It’s so much more rewarding than punching a clock at some job you don’t care about just to make a buck.
12. Give selflessly — through philanthropy, charity work, donations, random acts of kindness, etc. You can give time, money, attention, goods — you name it.
In my experience, the more I serve and contribute, like through my Humanity Heroes programs, the richer my life has become.
Albert Schweitzer said it best, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”
13. Remember, everything comes back around. Everything you do affects everything else. Put out good, and good comes back to you. Put out shit, and that’s what you’ll get in return. Period.
14. Take care of your health: exercise, eat nutrient-dense foods, sleep. Health affects every aspect of your life, including productivity, confidence, mood and lifespan.
That said, sleep is an area I could improve. However, I’m one of those people who do well with four or five hours a night.
15. Keep a positive mental attitude. Thoughts have a major impact not only on how happy you are but also the results you get. Most people who don’t live the life they want haven’t gotten the head stuff dialed in. Research the science of the mind and the power of beliefs, practice, practice, practice, and develop a mindset bulletproof against shitty thoughts.
16. Anything you don’t excel at, have no interest in excelling at, or don’t enjoy doing — DELEGATE.
17. Hire those who are the best at what they do, treat them well, pay them what they’re worth, and take them with you as you rise to the top.
18. Be present. While having goals is critical, living in the moment — the NOW — is the key not only to peace of mind but also the quality of your results. The juice is in the journey and your best outcomes will come from work you throw yourself into 100 percent.
19. Be grateful. Even though I’m perpetually striving for more, I’m thankful for everything I have. Gratitude gives rise to both joy and peace of mind.
I have friends with almost nothing but who are grateful for what little they have and far happier than others I know who, for all intents and purposes, have the world — millions of dollars, huge houses, fast cars, every toy you could imagine, trophy spouse, etc. — though are miserable and empty because all their money and possessions don’t fill the hole inside them.
That hole should be filled with things like gratitude, spirituality, contribution, quality relationships, mindset, doing work you love, and having character.
The good news is, we can have it all — joy, out-of-this word experiences, financial wealth, relationships that nourish our soul, rewarding career or business, and almost anything else we want — provided we’re willing to work for it.
The principles in this post have been invaluable to me in so many areas of my life.
There’s nothing groundbreaking on this list. You may be familiar with every idea I mentioned.
But are you living by them?
Knowing and doing are two very different things, and only the latter gets you results.
The above list is by no means exhaustive. These are merely the rules that came to mind when I sat down to write this post. And, while I do my best to abide by these practices, I’m as human as the next guy, and at times I drop the ball.
For the most part, however, I live in accordance with these guidelines. I’ve programmed myself to. When I stray, my results suffer. When they do, I quickly get back on track.
I trust that if you embrace these practices, they’ll serve you as well as they have me.