Shawn Gold has worked for a vast array of amazing companies with the intent of introducing new products into the marketplace. Recently, Shawn started Pilgrim Soul which is a mission-driven company focused on optimizing human creative performance to gain a competitive edge in business and life. I had the opportunity to speak with Shawn about […]
Shawn Gold has worked for a vast array of amazing companies with the intent of introducing new products into the marketplace. Recently, Shawn started Pilgrim Soul which is a mission-driven company focused on optimizing human creative performance to gain a competitive edge in business and life. I had the opportunity to speak with Shawn about his work within the cannabis industry and his new venture with Pilgrim Soul.
STEPHANIE SHEHAN: Tell us about your background.
SHAWN GOLD: For the last 20 years, I’ve been working with startup companies. I thrive on introducing new ideas to consumers and doing things that just haven’t been done before. Before the internet, I had a company called Touch Tunes, where you could listen to music on the telephone. In the early days of blogging, I helped launch Endgadget, Autoblog, Joystick, and many other blogs that we sold to AOL. From there, I became the CMO of MySpace, helping to scale that business from 25 to 110 million users worldwide and figuring out how advertising was going to integrate into social media. Then I got into the storytelling business with a company called Wattpad. At the time, Wattpad was one of the fastest scaling mobile content sites in the world. Now, it has about 60 million active users a month who share serial stories. That eventually led me to TechStyle, the first company to make subscription fashion work as a business and make it popular with consumers. I helped scale brands like ShoeDazzle, JustFab, and Fabletics with Kate Hudson and Rhianna’s Savage x Fenty brand.
SS: Have you previously ventured into anything in the cannabis realm?
SG: As a longtime consumer, I have always been intrigued by the cannabis industry and started advising companies like MedMen and Charlotte’s Web four years ago. I had also been helping Lowell Herb Co, and in 2018 I jumped in full time as the brand’s Chief Marketing Officer. Lowell was one of the first great cannabis brands because it was mission-driven with a strong belief system. The brand was about heritage, craftsmanship, and sustainability, and those became our guiding principles. We were best known for our beautiful pre-roll packaging, and in 2017, that was about elevating the integrity of the cannabis industry. We wanted people to be proud to own, consume, and share cannabis products, similar to how they share their favorite wine, chocolate, or Kentucky whiskey. We then went on to open the first cannabis café in America in West Hollywood, California.
SS: What was your inspiration for the journals?
SG: In business, I’ve often used cannabis to help conceive new ideas, go deep inside problems, empathize with my customers, and make nonlinear connections I might not see otherwise. I wanted people to benefit from creative thinking the way I do. I created the journals to help people rethink how they see themselves and the world around them and uncover new possibilities and ideas. I studied almost every creativity, brainstorming, and innovation book to create these after realizing the creative guide I wanted to use did not exist. The journal uses proven ideation techniques; we just made them more broadly accessible and a lot more fun.
SS: What other products does your company offer?
SG: At PilgrimSoul.com we have many articles about the creative process and how to tap into it for personal benefit. We also have information about the best strains for various types of creativity and the history of cannabis for creativity. You can also find additional products we are creating to be used with cannabis. We recently launched the Cannabis Creativity Project with online creative exercises. Here you can submit ideas online for our collective. We will also send you a copy of your answers.
SS: Are you a cannabis consumer?
SG: I have been for over 40 years. Today, I look at cannabis as a purpose-driven recreational activity that helps me see business and personal issues more clearly. Cannabis helps me to step back and look at motivations. I am more apt to look at all sides of an issue if I’m high and admit I am wrong instead of automatically defending my position. And for me, being present is another great benefit I get from cannabis. I find this interesting because the stereotype is, “He’s a stoner; he’s so out there.” For me, cannabis helps me to focus and connect. I used to love playing with my children when they were young while I was a little bit high. It made empathizing with them and seeing the world from their perspective so much easier. Being present and connecting with people can be hard to do as we deal with the daily grind of life.
SS: What are your feelings on Cannabis as it relates to creativity?
SG: If you choose, cannabis can be a shortcut to unlocking your innate creative ability and increasing your creative output. Cannabis has been used by artists, scientists, and thinkers for thousands of years to help provide the proper mindset to express new ideas. It allows you to live in the moment and embrace new thoughts as they come to you. People tend to feel less inhibited on cannabis because they can relax and connect more deeply with themselves and their surroundings.
We believe that everyone is born creative; we just repress it. Cannabis can be a great shortcut or ‘hack’ into one’s creative flow state. It tends to stimulate the frontal lobe, which is the brain’s area attributed to idea product, and it represses the dorsolateral cortex, which is an area of the brain associated with judgment.
Like happiness, creativity is a way of traveling more than a destination. Creativity is an individual thing; it is about opening up the aperture of understanding and seeing things in new ways. It is about empathizing with others, experiencing new feelings, expressing yourself, making non-linear connections, experimenting, reinventing, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. Cannabis can help with all these things.
SS: What are you working on for the future?
SG: In 2021, we will be releasing two additional versions of the Creative Thinking Journal.
We are releasing our exclusive live resin cannabis blends for Creative Awareness, Creative Focus, Creative Imagination, and Creative Reflection in California in April via PilgrimSoulCannabis.com.
Outside of the cannabis industry, Pilgrim Soul is hard at work to ensure that creative thinking is easily accessible to everyone who may need it. We will have a version of our Creative Thinking Journal that excludes cannabis references and makes our journal an appropriate creative crash course for all ages.
SS: How can readers order from Pilgrim Soul and follow on social media?
SG: The best way to order from Pilgrim Soul would be through PilgrimSoul.com where we offer our products’ full range. Follow us on social media on Instagram @Pilgrim_Soul_Creative, Facebook @PilgrimSoulCreative and Twitter @creativitycanna.
SS: Anything you would like to add? A quote maybe?
SG: My favorite quote about creativity this week is by Choreographer Twyla Tharp who said: “Creativity is not just for artists. It’s for business people looking for a new way to close a sale; it’s for engineers trying to solve a problem; it’s for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way. In the future of AI and outsourcing, creativity will be an essential skill that means job security.”