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A Day in the Life of a Cannabis Marketing CEO

john shute pufcreativ ceo day in the life blog

What else can I say besides the fact that cannabis has changed my life, and continues to change my life everyday. I’ve been consuming cannabis since I was a teenager, but entered the legal cannabis industry when I was 25 years old as a Marketing Director for a Cannabis Contract Manufacturer in San Francisco, California. This role taught me the ins and outs of the industry; from seed-to-sale from a business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C) and multi-state-operator perspective. 

After getting promised a long-term position with the manufacturer and then taking the promise back due to internal disagreements, I teamed up with my intern at the time, Katie Burrell, and childhood friend, Shamus Lahman, to form PufCreativ. 

I’m 31 now, and am proud to say that PufCreativ will be celebrating its 5th year anniversary this year! Over the years we’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for non-profits all over the country, and have won some awards for our community efforts (as well as for the top-tier quality of our work at PufCreativ). We’ve also made some of the best friendships, partnerships and client relationships that an agency can possibly experience. 

The purpose of this blog is not to brag about what my team and I have done, but to show you what it takes on the day-to-day to strive to be a good CEO, colleague, father, husband, dog dad, friend, son, business partner and human, while prioritizing my own personal well-being. 

(Also, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not perfect, so I’d like this blog to serve as my own form of accountability.) 

Mental & Physical Health

If there’s anything I’ve learned, my own mental and physical health are the most important pieces to the puzzle. I can’t do anything well if I’m not in the right headspace. 

I’m not in the right headspace if I don’t stay consistent with keeping my physical health on point. In turn, I focus on the following areas to keep my mind and body right: 

  1. Healthy Diet – “You are what you eat” is one of the truest statements ever said. I try my best to focus on eating ‘Keto’ and all-natural organic foods, while staying away from sugar, carbs and dairy for the most part. This diet keeps my brain functioning well and allows me to perform optimally when it comes to physical activities. (I stopped drinking alcohol a year and a half ago, so it’s really nice to have an opportunity to stay consistent with my diet.)
  2. Exercise – I typically work out 5 to 6 times a week, and sometimes multiple times per day. My favorite way to get exercise is by participating in extreme sports like snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing and wakeboarding.  At home I do a ton of yoga, HIIT training, core and cardio workouts (to keep my ninja abilities on point) so I can perform well when I have time to do my favorite sports. If I don’t exercise for a few days, it totally impacts my mental health, so it’s important for me to be consistent.
  3. Rest – As important as exercise is, rest is even more important. Knowing when to rest your body, rest your mind, not overexert yourself and go to sleep early are some of the best decisions you can make throughout your life. I try to get 8 hours of sleep per night, 7 days a week. My one-year-old daughter likes to wake me up a few nights a week.
  4. Music – On top of listening to music throughout the day and being a major live music fan, I also am a drummer and vocalist. I try to jam with my friends at least 3 to 5 times per month. One of the best possible releases a human can do for themselves is finding bliss through the music they’re creating. I also couldn’t get through my day without music and have had some of my favorite life memories at live concerts.
  5. Meditation – I’ve always struggled with meditation because I have a horrible time sitting still. When I combine cannabis with the right music, it allows me to close my eyes, focus on my breathing and find a meditative state. I don’t have much time to focus on breathing through my lungs and whole body because I’m so busy, so it’s great to give my mind, body and soul some oxygen and a rest. I’m also huge on setting intentions, so it’s nice to have a moment to do so without feeling pressure.
  6. Socialize – As much as covid has impacted all of our social lives, I think it’s good to socialize on a regular basis even if it’s safely and in small groups. Talking about your life and feelings, hearing about other people’s lives and feelings, and getting a fresh perspective can be healthy, eye opening and motivating. I sometimes find myself stuck in loops with my thoughts, feelings, ideas and routine. These loops can hinder my mental and physical health, so my friends and family are crucial in getting me out of these loops. I also love meeting new people!

As you can imagine, a lot of my routine, diet and activities are dependent on the season. I try to cater my day-to-day schedule around what’s realistic depending on weather, sunlight, and other factors that impact being consistent at staying my best self. 

Self Fulfillment

I don’t think I’d be able to do what I do on the day-to-day if I didn’t feel fulfilled. Growing up, my parents were entrepreneurs and used their businesses to fuel my mother’s nonprofit. She had childhood cancer, so she’s dedicated her life to education, helping others and giving back. I feel that growing up in this environment led me to my destiny, the cannabis industry.

Growing up in the soon-to-be-legal state of New Jersey, I was shamed by my friends and their parents when they discovered I used cannabis. Despite the way this made me feel personally, I continued to use cannabis over the years and have always believed in it. 

I saw what it did for me and my friends, and especially those friends who were trying to get off opiates. After losing a number of friends to overdoses, I left my job as the Marketing and Operations Director of a nightclub in South Florida to pursue the cannabis industry.

I thought, “Why not use my marketing skills to educate and work with the right cannabis businesses who are doing it right, and educate folks the right way on how to navigate the industry as a consumer and/or business owner?” 

After years of being in the industry and doing this, I still feel fulfilled every single day of my life. I’m excited to wake up in the morning to crush it with my team, educate humans, help communities, fight social injustice, help the environment and make the world a better place. The beautiful part about cannabis is that it can help with all of these things. 

The Importance of Quality Leadership

My goal with focusing on my mental health, physical health and feeling self fulfilled, is to be a quality leader in my household, family, friends and work. I have so many people that rely on me, so if I don’t take care of myself, I can’t be the best leader I possibly can be.

I think the most important aspects of being a leader that I’ve learned are patience, clear communication, being able to admit you’re wrong, understand you can’t do everything alone, and have the ability to hear other perspectives. I think there’s others that may beg to differ, but this is what I strive to be better at on a daily basis. 

Finally, I think the culture you create as a leader is extremely important. If your leadership doesn’t make folks excited, motivated and passionate, all while feeling comfortable, it’s going to make your role as a leader extremely difficult. I’m proud to say that I’d do anything for anyone I’m leading and strive to create a culture that is simultaneously comfortable, encouraging and productive. 

My Daily Routine

I thought it’d be cool and helpful to try to outline my daily routine for reference. For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to speak in terms of it being my winter snowboarding season: 

  • 6:30 – 8:30 am 
    • Wake and Bake
    • Walk and feed dog
    • Yoga
    • Shower
    • Prepare my daughter for her day 
    • Cook breakfast 
      • Eggs
      • Fruit 
      • Coffee (1 cup) 
      • Greens juice (1 glass) 
      • Water (2 glasses) 
  • 8:30am – 12pm 
    • Work Session 
      • Check-in with staff
      • Check-in with clients
      • Emails 
      • Calls 
      • Project management software 
      • NJ Dispensary project 
  • 12pm – 1pm  
    • Walk 1 (I try to get outside once or twice per day with my wife, dog and daughter) 
    • Lunch
      • Smoothie Bowl or Salad
      • Water (2 glasses) 
  • 2pm – 5:30pm 
    • Work Session 
      • Check-in with staff
      • Check-in with clients
      • Emails 
      • Calls 
      • Project management software 
      • NJ Dispensary project 
  • 5:30pm – 7:30pm 
    • Post work bake =) 
    • Walk and feed dog part 2
    • Dinner 
      • Protein 
      • Vegetables
      • Water (2 glasses) 
    • Clean-up dishes, house, etc. 
  • 7:30pm – 10:00pm 
    • Put daughter to sleep 
    • Workout (Skateboard, Yoga or HIIT training) 
    • Protein Shake
    • Water (2 glasses) 
    • Social media, TV or more work
  • 10pm – 6:30am 
    • Before bed bake or edibles =) 
    • Sleep 
  • Weekends 
    • Snowboarding, hiking, live music, band practice and chores. (I do like to squeeze in snowboarding and band practice during the week when I can) 

Keep an Eye out For What’s Next for PufCreativ & Me

  1. Since 2020, the Cannabis Impact Fund, a nonprofit we co-founded, has raised nearly $45k for 5 different social justice focused nonprofits. 
  2. I’m now officially on the board of the Tri-State Cannabis Alliance
  3. My business partners and I are currently in the process of applying to open our first retail cannabis dispensary in New Jersey, Pinelands Apothecary. 
  4. We’ve officially launched Minerva, which is a vegan edibles brand that we’re now partners of.  
  5. In May of 2022, we’ll be launching our first case study of our Cannabis Mobile Application Development Program.

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