Name: John Shumate
Profession: Marketing Executive; Director, Strategy & Innovation Hydration, PepsiCo
One Word That Describes You: Motivator
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
It’s a true honor and a privilege to be a part of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction. I grew up reading Black Enterprise and was inspired to see successful African Americans making a positive impact. I would save the magazines and tell myself, “One day I hope to inspire the next generation of innovative leaders that positively impact the world!”
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
After undergrad, I thought I was going to go to law school because my father was an attorney, and I wanted to be like my dad. I took the LSAT and completely bombed the test. I took it two other times after taking LSAT prep courses and tutoring, and I still didn’t do well on the test. I took a chance and applied to a few law schools, with the hope that they would let me in and give me a shot. That did not work. No law school would give me a chance, and I quickly realized that I needed to find something that would be a stronger fit for me.
I knew I had a creative mindset and a strong work ethic. I worked for a small urban apparel clothing line and wore many hats. I had strong people supporting and mentoring me through the process. I took an unpaid internship marketing partnership activation with the Columbus Blue Jackets, which was a new NHL franchise in my hometown, and learned the ropes in the industry. After my internship, I decided to pursue my MBA at Florida Atlantic University in an emerging Sports Business program. From there, I was given the opportunity to work for the Miami Dolphins, the Orlando Magic, back to the Dolphins, then with Gatorade, followed by PepsiCo. Now I’m with PepsiCo’s water portfolio (Aquafina).
Like anyone, I’ve had challenges during the course of my career, but I was blessed to have a very supportive family and friends that encouraged me and kept me focused. What really made the difference was my faith in God and believing that what I went through would not only help me, but help others. I believe in servant leadership and paying it forward.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
I look for an honest, authentic, team-oriented person that is willing to work hard, never give up, and has the drive to be the best.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
It is an exciting time to be at PepsiCo and working on an important part of our business. I pride myself on whatever project or task that I’m given, and I always strive to exceed expectations and make a positive and immediate impact.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Do the job that no one wants, and then make it into something that everyone will want when you’re done.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Don’t follow the crowd; create your own path! There will be plenty of twists, turns, and bumps in the road, but don’t ever give up. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Believe in yourself, and you will make a difference.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
Conduct as much research as you can. Ask questions and listen. Surround yourself with talented people and go make it happen.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
I need to do a better job of taking vacations. I’ve been fortunate enough to live in amazing cities (Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Orlando, New York) where I felt like I was already on vacation. When you love what you do and you are having fun doing it, isn’t that a vacation?
I really enjoy spending time with my family and friends when I am not working. There is no better time than going home to the great state of Ohio to visit my family and friends and catch an Ohio State football game. (Go Bucks!)
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
This may not be the answer you are looking for, but as long as I am with my wife, Shana, and my twin boys, Jackson and Chase, I would go anywhere that allows us to be comfortable and make a positive impact on people’s lives.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Negative thoughts come to every person. The key is to not verbalize them. Be positive, or be quiet!
Sometimes, you have to get knocked down lower than you’ve ever been to stand up taller than you ever were.
Make up your mind that no matter what comes your way, no matter how difficult, no matter how unfair, you will do more than simply survive—you will be great!
People with great passion can make the impossible happen.
If someone offers you a ride on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat you’re on, just get on it.
As long as you are breathing, it is never too late to do something meaningful.
Your capacity to be effective is directly related to the quality of people that you closely surround yourself with.
You have to believe in yourself, even when no one else does. That is what makes you a winner.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @blackenterprise and join the BE Modern Man conversation using #BEModernMan.