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Meet Shawn Gold of Pilgrim Soul

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shawn Gold.

Hi Shawn, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
For the last 20 years, I’ve been working with consumer-facing startups. 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. It seemed like a great idea at the time, though it was about 20 years too early. In the early days of blogging, I helped launch Endgadget, Autoblog, Joystick, and many other blogs that we sold to AOL. We were one of the first to create blog brands where we had multiple bloggers writing content 24/7 for a single blog brand. Before then, blogging was mostly individual. We were also one of the first to put advertising into blogs. This was a sticky situation because it had to be done, so advertisers added value to the community instead of detracting. From there, I moved on to work with MySpace as CMO, 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, helping to figure out their revenue model.

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. I have always been intrigued by the cannabis industry and started advising companies like MedMen and Charlotte’s Web. In business, I’ve often used cannabis to help conceive new ideas, go deep inside a problem, empathize with my customers, and make nonlinear connections I might not see otherwise. I like to think that getting into the cannabis space from a work perspective has been something I’ve been working towards my entire life. I’m sure I had the idea to create a cannabis brand for creativity when I was 15, though I had to wait 40 years until it was possible.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Early in my career, I had trouble fitting in large organizations. Frankly, I had trouble getting past human recourses. I was a bit ADD and took an unorthodox approach to most everything. The world wants us to specialize, and I was a bit of a meandering brook who did things differently. When you try to do things differently, it creates tension and pushback. Coming up with new ideas, you have to be willing to wrong. You also have to be willing to be right and have everyone think you’re wrong, and that can be painful. Even if you are right in the end, the middle can be very hard. So, my obstacles were more about the friction I consistently encountered in selling ideas. This led me to entrepreneurial opportunities and business yet to be imagined, where my bosses welcomed new ways of doing things.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Pilgrim Soul is a creativity company. The name comes from a William Butler Yeats Poem I used to seduce my wife 20 years ago. It’s about a man looking back on his marriage and reflecting on the depth of his love. “How many loved your moments of glad grace, And loved your beauty with love false or true, But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face.” — William Butler Yeats In our Brand’s context, the “Pilgrim Soul” is the native, creative explorer born inside of all of us. Our mission is to help people elevate creative thinking to give people a competitive edge in life and work. We try to help people look at problems in entirely new ways, get out of their comfort zones, challenge default thinking, and tap into what makes them uniquely creative. It is more about unlocking their innate creativity than it is teaching people to be creative. We are all born creative.

As choreographer Twyla Tharp said, “Creativity is not just for artists. It’s for businesspeople 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.” The Pilgrim Soul toolset is comprised of exclusive cannabis blends, expert content, creative curriculum, and a community of people helping each other. One of the most impactful things we have done so far is launching the Pilgrim Soul Creative Thinking Journal., which has been quite a hit. We get so much mail from people sharing how the journal has opened them up and helped them see things in new ways. It is an exercise book full of entertaining, creative challenges. The principal learning mechanism is a series of “Think Differents”, where people are challenged to identify and change their own cultural, habitual, and normal patterns of thinking.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Well, for Pilgrim Soul, success is about impact. As a business, that’s how we keep score other than money. Impact can be measured in many different ways, but for Pilgrim Soul, it’s about how we open people up and help them realize, visualize and get closer to their dreams. It’s about how we help people become a better version of themselves, and we help them start believing in their own ideas.


  • The Creative Thinking Journal: $29.95
  • Creative Thinking Pencils: $12.95
  • High-Deas Scratch Notes: $12.95

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

from Amy Neunsinger (AN Photography)

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