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7 key questions for Debra Borchardt, Co-founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of GreenMarket

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Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, CEO, and Editor-In-Chief of Green Market Report, a financial news site for the cannabis industry. After over 15 years working a variety of jobs in the securities industry Debra left Wall Street to focus on obtaining her Masters Degree. Since then, Debra covered the cannabis industry from its infancy and her work in the cannabis space won her an AZBEE award for the video “Where People Want To Buy Pot“.

LA: Tell us about your professional journey – how did you end up in the cannabis industry?

I worked in the securities industry for many years with my last role as a Vice President at Bear Stearns. I left Wall Street to receive my Masters Degree in Business and Economic Reporting at New York University. I embarked on a career as a financial reporter largely covering the Wall Street industry I knew so well. During the work as a reporter at TheStreet.com, I began covering the cannabis industry. While many of my colleagues ridiculed my coverage, I truly believed this would be the biggest business news story of the decade.

LA: It’s still a largely stigmatized plant, so jumping in early in the industry – and often, especially as a woman – requires a lot of bravery. What in your personal life enabled you to be such a brave woman? Do you believe you are brave and if so, do you purposefully cultivate your bravery and badassery? How do you do this?

I come from a long line of fiercely independent women. My ancestors on my father’s side were pioneer women in Texas before it was a state. My great aunts in Texas all went to college in the 1940’s when women just didn’t do that. Several worked and never married. My maternal grandmother worked all day at the family business and my mother worked, so I was raised to work hard.  I also worked side gigs as an actress and that taught to me to disregard other’s opinions of my actions.

Having said this, starting a media company at a time when most of them are failing was a huge risk and I couldn’t have done so without my Co-founder Cynthia Salarizadeh. Any honest entrepreneur will admit they have bouts of self-doubt and question the wisdom of starting a company at times, so having a good team is essential.

LA: Women in the c-suite are underrepresented in the cannabis industry. Realistically, what can we do to change this?

As a journalist, I often challenge CEO’s when I see a board that isn’t diversified. By putting them on the spot and forcing an explanation as to why the top level of management has no women shows that it is no longer acceptable.

LA: Do you or have you had any mentors during your professional journey and did they make a difference in your career trajectory? Are you mentoring others, or do you have any plans to mentor – women or men?

My biggest mentor has been Jim Cramer. I worked with him on a daily basis at TheStreet. Jim has shown me how to handle criticism with grace, but also how to stand tough in the face of criticism. He is a tireless worker who is always over prepared for anything he agrees to do. Jim started a media company during the dot-com boom and thousands of those businesses no longer exist which is very inspirational. Most of my mentoring has been with students. I often take time to help journalism students with their projects and give guidance.

LA: Can you tell us about one or two key decisions you made that helped accelerate your cannabis business?

The decision to hold events was essential to bringing in the revenue the company needed. While the cannabis calendar is full to the brim, Green Market Report has managed to carve a niche in the financial cannabis conference genre. This move has been critical to giving GMR a solid footing.

LA: Tell us about your greatest challenge and your greatest achievement in your current role.

The greatest challenge is one that faces all online journalism today. Companies do not want to pay for advertising and readers do not want to pay for news. However, the news can’t be produced for free. Trying to find steady streams of revenue with limited resources has been a huge challenge. The greatest achievement will be celebrating two years as a company that has built a credible brand name while going toe to toe against much bigger and better financed and staffed competitors.

LA: As a woman in a very male- dominated industry do you have any advice for female entrepreneurs, about leadership or obtaining funding for their businesses?

Never be too stubborn to listen to feedback or criticism from experienced professionals. Seek out professionals for advice and admit to know what you don’t know. Vet people before you work with them and treat people with respect. This is a small industry that likes to gossip, so always choose your words and actions carefully.

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Leslie Andrachuk

As a bilingual pioneer in global digital publishing and marketing, Leslie is happiest when creating new things and inspiring her teams. She is passionate about changing biases that hold women back from realizing their true power and is grateful that at this point in her career she has the skills to make real change.

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