Spotlight on Michael Zaytsev

Meet Michael Zaytsev - Founder of High NY, New York's leading Cannabis education and advocacy group and TedX speaker on a mission to change the stigma around Cannabis and how others view leadership.

You taught a Leadership & Teamwork training course at Google. What were some of the staple principles?

The first thing we worked on in the course is defining leadership and understanding that it begins on a personal level. Too many talented people sabotage their own leadership potential by not viewing themselves as leaders. I like to compare leadership to creativity. We all have the power of creativity and leadership within us, the difference comes down to how often you practice and exercise your skills. Secondly, we did a lot of work around defining core values. What's most important to you? Once you have clarity on your core values, you can measure whether or not your actions are in line with those values. Then you can set smarter goals. Difficult decisions become much easier because now you can optimize for outcomes that are in line with what you value. Lastly, leaders take intentional, courageous action. 

Tell us about your recent TedX talk, "Think Differently about Cannabis."

It was so awesome to give the talk in my hometown, Brooklyn! The purpose of my talk was to raise awareness about the fact that Cannabis issues are intersectional, institutional, and being innovated right now! Due to the stigma around Cannabis, a lot of people brush off Cannabis as just being about stoners getting high. In my talk, I share a few very simple, but shocking facts about Cannabis prohibition to illustrate how much life changing impact this plant has and can have in the world. We're living through a global paradigm shift in terms of how society engages with Cannabis. With my talk, I tried to show the world that the Cannabis revolution will be a gateway to greater public health, much needed criminal justice reform, and incredible innovation. Because of that, we need more good, smart people to pay attention and get educated about Cannabis justice issues.


What is your best advice to entrepreneurs seeking a coach?

Entrepreneurship is extremely stressful and can be isolating and demoralizing, make sure you have a strong support system to keep your mental health pristine. I love NGS because it provides me with a community of other entrepreneurs who understand the grind and the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. When shit hits the fan, high achievers and entrepreneurs often sacrifice self-care first in order to keep up with the other demands on their time and energy. Unfortunately, this has negative effects on your business, personal relationships, etc. Having a coach, or someone who is a champion for you, is a great way to ensure self-care always remains a top priority. I highly recommend entrepreneurs work with a coach in addition to having several mentors, peer support, maybe a therapist, etc. Find a coach that is results oriented and has a track record of performance. It can be extra valuable if you work with a coach who has expertise or experience in your industry or business model. Get to know the coach before committing, and make sure your values and style are aligned. Successful coaches have the luxury to be selective in who they work with. They will be evaluating your fit and ability to perform, so you should be doing the same for them. It's important to have appropriate expectations. Don't expect a coach to just do the work for you. When it comes to personal development, there is no substitute for hard work and commitment. For example, Lebron James has multiple coaches and trainers, but, ultimately, he himself is in the gym everyday doing drills and working hard to grow and improve. The coaches are there to help him get farther, faster. 



Learn more about Michael at, and watch his TEDx talk here -

Haley Smith