July 15, 2022

Play the Game of Life SuperBetter: Keith Wakeman

Play the Game of Life SuperBetter: Keith Wakeman

The game of life may seem hard to play, but maybe we've got the rules mixed up! SuperBetter - invented by world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal - is a global leader in using the psychology of game play to build life skills, overcome obstacles & achieve goals. Over 1 million people have played the SuperBetter web and mobile app, and on this episode, Hersh chats with  CEO and Co-Founder Keith Wakeman.  

Keith is a purpose-driven innovator and brand builder, who has led development and launch of over $1B of new products in health, wellness and food. In response to the decade-long decline in mental health among youth & young adults in the US and globally, he is leading SuperBetter’s expansion to play a major role in ending the youth mental health crisis. His efforts are recognized by The World Economic Forum which recently named SuperBetter 1 of 14 top innovators globally in youth mental health.

Key Takeaways from his interview with Hersh:

  • Scientific studies show that playing SuperBetter increases resilience and reduces anxiety & depression. 
  • SuperBetter is recommended by schools, colleges, employers, therapists & peers. 
  • Find SuperBetter on Republic, a platform that gives people the power to invest in the future they believe in.

Additional Links:

Join 8 million people who have watched Jane McGonigal’s TED Talk with her story of inventing SuperBetter

Check out the website and play SuperBetter

Follow Keith on Twitter

https://republic.com/superbetter?utm_source=superbetter&utm_medium=truthtastesfunny&utm_campaign=issuer_ref 



Transcript

Keith Wakeman on the Truth Tastes Funny podcast 

[00:00:00] The funny thing about mental health is that while it isn't all fun and games, that might not be a bad place to start. This is my conversation with Keith Wakeman.

[00:00:47] hersh: My guest today is Keith Wakeman. He's the CEO of super better, which uses the psychology of gameplay to build skills, overcome obstacles and achieve goals. And Keith, thanks so much for being here. 

[00:01:00] Keith Wakeman: Well, thanks for having me. I look forward to it. 

[00:01:02] hersh: Well, tell us a little bit, cuz I know over a million people have played you know, super better.

[00:01:06] Keith Wakeman: Mm-hmm . 

[00:01:07] hersh: Break it down for the, the audience, cuz it sounds great. You know, in terms of what it accomplishes, but what is it? 

[00:01:14] Keith Wakeman: Yeah, so, Super Better is it's best known as an app. And the app uses a, we call it a framework or a methodology that uses as you, as you described in the beginning, the psychology of gameplay in real life or whole life.

[00:01:27] Overcome obstacles, build skills and a achieve goals. So if, if you were a therapist, you would look at it and say, wow, that's a psychological framework. That's helping people look at the world differently and, and improving their psychological strengths and helping them be more successful. Right. But the million plus people have played it you know, they, they look at it and say, wow, this is a way that I can use the same mindset that I use when I play games in the real world. So I can go for my epic win, which is my personal goal. You know, I recruit allies for support. So I've got a support system and each day I'm completing gainful activities that move me towards my epic win.

[00:02:00] So I'm activating powerups, you know, quick, simple activities. They give me positive energy. Usually they have both positive emotions. They battle a bad guy every day, which is an obstacle that gets in the way of. Goal and my epic win and I complete quest, which are steps towards my epic win. And so, you know, those in a couple of other simple, you know, gainful rules create that structure.

[00:02:19] And it turns out that it's a really powerful structure that helps people to build resilience and improve mental health and, and, you know, recover and overcome from obstacles. 

[00:02:29] hersh: Right. And this was designed by Jane McGonigal. That's right. Yeah. Fill us in a little bit on how all of that happened.

[00:02:36] Keith Wakeman: Yeah. So Jane McGonigal is the co-founder of our company she is, you know, a researcher, a world renowned game designer, a futurist, you know, she's recognized, you know, globally is really being yeah. A key thought leader in how we can use the science and the psychology of games to improve real lives.

[00:02:52] And so she created super better out of a personal incident in her own life that she told she has an amazing TED Talk with her story it's called the, the game. The Ted talk's name is , the game that gives you 10 extra years of life. She has another really amazing Ted talk too, that you should see too called gaming for can make a better world.

[00:03:09] But the one about her story of super better is, is the first that I mentioned. And, and so Jane, you know, created super better out of a personal incident in her own life. She had a concussion, it didn't heal properly. Over time, Jane experienced anxiety, you know, depression. Suicidal ideation. Jane's damaged brain was saying, Jane, you have no reason to live.

[00:03:27] And she finally got to a point that she said, I'm gonna either create a game to help myself heal, or I'm gonna kill myself. And fortunately for the world, she created a game that's now super better and has helped over a million people overcome obstacles. In their own lives. Now the original, super better app was developed by a company in San Francisco.

[00:03:45] Jane had gotten together with, with a couple of, of co-founders of that company and they did some really good things and pushed out the original app and got some studies going. But they ran outta cash within six months of launching the app. So there was no company behind, super better for a long time.

[00:03:59] I had gotten to know Jane during that process. One of her co-founders at the time was a lifelong friend that kind of grew up in the same industry and innovation space that I did. And so you know, I, I was, was kind of helpful, you know, as, as friends were helpful in those kinds of ventures.

[00:04:13] And so, you know, I was watching after the, that company dissolved, I was just watching how. Even though there was no company behind supered, this amazing passionate community was forming around it. And I was watching how the study, the initial studies were come, were going to come out and saw that there were gonna be really good you know, outcomes.

[00:04:28] And, and more importantly, perhaps I was looking at the macro trends and just like, wow. You know, the, the challenges around mental health and well especially mental health and wellbeing among youth and young adults. You, it was clear that there was going to, that the major problem was happening in and on the horizon.

[00:04:43] And so kind of given the market needs and the opportunities in my background, in, you know, branding and innovation, it just made a lot of sense for Jane and I to found this company and, and really be the ones to take it, you know, from a million to 50 million players in the next five years. 

[00:04:58] hersh: I mean, that is why I was so intent on having you on was this moment, this crisis it's staggering as, as a parent.

[00:05:08] The best way that I can describe it as a parent with kids in a various ages. Mm-hmm is that it seems like mental health issues have become more sophisticated for the child. That, that all of a sudden they have this level of ideation and negative self talk and things that you might have expected a teenager to say, you'll see, in a grammar school student and I have relatives in education in other countries who are telling me the, the same thing.

[00:05:42] You know, the kids in second and third grade kids are, kids are. The, the trauma and the, the vulnerability and the fear that parents have as a result seems to me to be at a level that I don't remember ever seeing . 

[00:05:56] Keith Wakeman: It's a crisis. And everything that that you've shared is, is, is spot on. So kids are getting older, younger in some. And, not all of that is helpful for mental health and wellbeing. And it's a global issue. But we, you know, we see the, the, the trends and the, the dynamics, you know, here, here in the us, I mean, just the, the trends have been going on for a decade.

[00:06:13] So they started around 2011, 2012 you know, between 2012 and 2000. 17 for youth, you know, between the ages of 12 and 17, there was over about a 62 or 63% increase in incidents of prevalence of depression. Right. So it started well before the pandemic, but the pandemic kind of put, put, added pressure onto the lives of, of, of our children.

[00:06:36] So the, the you know, the pandemic is really what put it on the world's radar and the school systems and parents because the last, you know, two or three years has have just been really, really difficult for, for, for students. So the CDC tracks this as well. They did a study that showed that last year in 2021 , 44% of high school students felt overwhelming feelings of, of sadness or hopelessness as, as well. So it it's, it is pervasive. It it's unique. It's fairly unique. The trends in the increase to youth and young adults. So the trends and the dramatic growth is not necessarily happening among the baby boomers and the, and the gen Xers.

[00:07:11] But, but we really see it, you know, around gen Z and millennials, especially the younger half of the millennial generation, it's just really you know, the, the trends are there. And we, we call it a crisis. It's a crisis level. 

[00:07:22] hersh: Yeah. And, and you, and you say that the trend, you know, if you're looking at trends and they started.

[00:07:28] You know, 11, 12 years ago. So, you know, we live in it's. So, you know, we live in such in the moment that, you know, we think, oh, well, of course this is happening. You know Boris Johnson just, just survived a no confidence vote. It's like, Well, no, this started this started before COVID this started before before any kind of crises that people are going through in the moment.

[00:07:54] So this has its roots earlier on. So do you know what, what, what was brewing that, that pushed this trend out there. 

[00:08:04] Keith Wakeman: Yeah. So, so there are a lot of, you know, really smart researchers and PhDs that are, that have been working in, in, in this area. It can be hard at the population level to show causation, but it's easy to see correlation.

[00:08:15] And the strongest correlations, you know, what, what, what happened the tipping point in, in. 2011 is when, you know the mass prevalence of, of, of smartphones. And what is, what is smartphones allow, you know, young people to do while they spend more time on technology? Some, I, I really appreciate the, the, the research of A woman named Jean Twenge.

[00:08:34] And so she follows, you know, she's been following this trans and, and, you know, she's, she's been able to correlate social media as one of the, the, the causal factors. So there, there are studies that, that she has published and, and pointed to that shows that you know, when, when, when the usage of social media starts to get above, you know, 2, 3, 4, 5 hours a day, that's when we see the greatest correlations to increased levels of depression, anxiety, and, and, and so on.

[00:09:00] So there's, there's a relationship with social media. We're not, we're not necessarily, you know, we don't know enough to say that that's the, that's the only problem, but it, but certainly it's a, yeah, it's a correlative issue and and is as well now what happens with. And in social media you know, some of the, the more recent studies shows it it's, so the correlation is much higher with social media and there's very, you know, much less with kind of, you know video game playing or watching TV or those kinds of things.

[00:09:26] So there is, you know, it's not tech, you know, the, the, the more that research comes out, the, the more, it's not technology in general. But what does happen is you know, because young people and people like me are on our devices, you know, a lot more, it means we're not doing things that we're once protective factors.

[00:09:44] So, you know, get sleep. Sleep is a big one, right? We're all, you know, many people are sleeping less. And our are young people in, in around the world in the us are sleeping less and getting adequate sleep is a protective factor that helps. Mental health and depression and anxiety prevalence the you know, getting outside and, you know, in nature and physical exercise and those kinds of things, again, is we're spending, you know, more time on devices.

[00:10:08] We're spending less time in other kinds of protective factors as well. So it it's, in some cases, it is, you know, I think the, the, the relationships, especially with girls and social media is, is, you know, fairly strong, but in other cases, it's, you know, what, what is social media replacing and how is that impacting overall mental health and wellbeing of, of youth and young adults?

[00:10:30] hersh: Well, that's a, that's a good point, Keith, because I hadn't thought of that as well, which is, it's not just what they're doing on social media. It's what it's taking away. The protective factors as you describe them. So it's a double whammy. They're getting engaged in, in hyper emotional and also hyper disseminated stuff because you're one person can send a message out to all their friends.

[00:10:58] Everybody they've ever met. People who don't even know them and it can create a firestorm and that, you know, isn't the healthiest. to, you know, on the one hand, this idea of social media that connects us, that allows us to share emotions. It allows us to, to put our, our ourselves out in a way, you know, there's good parts to that.

[00:11:22] Mm-hmm but the idea that, that you can destroy things as well, destroy your reputation, destroy someone else destroys your reputation, someone, and it's all exponentially out of control. And. and then that's also taken away the things that would've made someone feel a little more secure, a little happier, a little healthier, a little more well rounded probably just the exposure to the outdoors and, and things that they're not doing, you know, mm-hmm, that are good to start young.

[00:11:54] You know, And what age, so, so super better. What's the age range. How does that, how does that work? 

[00:12:02] Keith Wakeman: Yes. Yeah. So, so today super better is anyone over the age of 13 can create an account. We're introducing new features in some enhancements this fall that will actually make super better available for youth of all age.

[00:12:14] For children under the age of 13, there are special regulations called Copa laws. And it's to protection is to protect young people in their privacy you know, for on any type of a, of a web or, or digital or mobile mobile mobile device. And so we're adding, you know, new features.

[00:12:28] The one, one of the things that needs to happen for youth under 13 is a as a parent or in some cases, a teacher needs to. And authorize the account, right? So we're building that in for, for the future because we wanna start taking super better to, you know, also be a tool that can be used with, with younger children as well.

[00:12:44] hersh: Yeah. I was thinking that, and then not having played it or, you know, and I I'm looking forward to experiencing it. And gameplay obviously has been a part of various therapies and therapeutic and is something that's used with younger children. Mm-hmm what do you think about the fact that it's technology that's being used to combat a problem that isn't strictly technological, but we're like fighting fire with fire in a way 

[00:13:13] Keith Wakeman: mm-hmm yeah. That's, it's a, it's a great, it's a great question. And you know, what, what we see and what we, our belief is that, you know, kind of the answer is in the co always in the combination of high touch and high tech. So technology is a tool and we should use that tool you know, but, but it's also not a tool.

[00:13:30] Especially in the case of mental health and wellbeing, where it's like, well, here's, you know, here's an app, go figure it out on your own so philosophically and kind of where we're taking the, the platform is to make it, you know, today Super Better is a great self-help app that, you know, many people recommend, you know, teachers, therapists, others recommend it to young people.

[00:13:45] But where we're going is, is you know, a platform there's also a, a tool, a practical and engaging tool. That can be very, you know, very helpful as well. Now around the, the, you know, kind of the, the technology for good, you know, we Super Better is definitely a tech for good platform. We fit all the criteria we're recognized as global leaders in the science and psychology of games.

[00:14:06] And there's a lot of psychology and understanding around all of that. So the knowledge that we have to drive more usage and create business models and revenue models that, that, you know, really play on and, and, you know, would make the money, the company, a lot of money.

[00:14:20] We're not gonna do that. So we're, you know, there are no algorithms that drive, you know, we're not an advertising model business that, you know, that uses algorithms that are intended to keep. You know, young people or, you know, anybody on the platform longer, you know, we, we see philosophically, we're a tool that's there when people need us.

[00:14:37] And, you know, the, the research behind super better shows that, you know, any interaction every day is leads this positive outcome. So there's no reason for us to, you know, encourage people to stay on super better for longer, you know, than, than, you know, than they would need. We also won't sell data or, you know, the privacy is extremely important, you know, to us as well.

[00:14:56] So that's not our, you know, that's not our, our monetization kind of a, you know, kind of a model either. 

[00:15:01] hersh: Yeah. If we could get other technology companies that are simply in the. In the, you know profit sector to take those considerations in, in mind, you know, when they're selling their stuff, if they could just be a little more human, for lack of a better word.

[00:15:17] And you know, some are, some are well intended, some stand out for. For some of the standards, like, I, I believe I'm not an expert in this area at all, but Roblox for example, has been, you know, exhibiting responsibility when it comes to kids and all of that, because It, it, this is a, this is a, a cultural thing that, you know, we have responsibility.

[00:15:43] Mm-hmm we, if we start a business, if we have an endeavor, you don't have to be in the public service as a, as an entity in order to follow public best practices for, for mental health. Mm-hmm . You know, you mentioned 13 and up, so what is the, the trust factor there when you're trying to get teenagers mm-hmm to to get on board with something and to have, have an attraction appeal mm-hmm faith in something what is that challenge like?

[00:16:16] Keith Wakeman: Yeah. So super better uses the psychology of gameplay. So we're not a video game, but we borrow from the popularity in the cultural phenomenon. Sure. Which is video game. So in the us, you know, 75% of children under the age of 13 regularly play some type of video game. You know, among adults is two thirds.

[00:16:33] So the, the, the appeal is very, you know, there, the, it is familiar, but it's also different enough. So to be, to be able to use that mindset of gameplay in the real world to achieve goals is, is very it's very familiar. You know, but, but again, also very very novel. 

[00:16:49] You know, so it is fascinating. Really digging into gen Z and looking at their research about, you know, what they, who they trust and who they don't. You know, it, it's fascinating research. So today, You know, from an institutional perspective, you know, who don't, who does, who does young people who do not, excuse me, who do young people not trust?

[00:17:07] Right. Well, certainly they don't trust the government, you know, the presidency, the Congress, all that kind of stuff, you know surprisingly, you know, organized religion scores, very, you know, very, very low, you know, big, big corporations, you know, score very, very low, you know, but who do they. Small, you know, gen Z and this is actually not just gen Z, but you know, who yeah.

[00:17:27] Is, is small businesses. And, and while super better is, you know, recognized as one of the leaders within our space, you know, we're very much a small business and you know, we've chosen to bootstrap to our success so that we can control our north star, which is impact. And you know, this, this.

[00:17:42] You know, bold vision of, you know, unlocking the heroic potential of 50 million youth in the next five years. And so, you know, we, we've kind of set up our system and how we, you know, how companies fund, you know, everything is a system in a company, right? So everything from funding to target, to product, to execution, to marketing, right?

[00:17:59] It's all, it's all a system. And if one part is, you know disproportionately profit motivated then, the north star becomes well, what's our quarterly numbers. Did we hit, you know, what, you know, what kind of a return are we delivering to our investors? All those things are important, but which is the north star.

[00:18:14] What's the first thing that we want to talk to, you know, at a quarterly board meeting, we want it to always be impact. How are we helping, you know, to, to impact and, and, you know, help contribute to ending the youth mental health crisis. And what do those numbers look like? And of course the second or third thing we're gonna talk about is, you know, how are we doing financially?

[00:18:31] And you know, where can we invest? And, you know, what's the profit, all that kind of stuff is really important too. But to have the best shot at achieving a, a really bold north star you know, the whole system needs, you know, needs to be aligned 

[00:18:43] hersh: one good thing I think that's that's happening over the last few years is this north star. That's a great analogy. Is this north star driven? Model where for-profit companies nonprofit comp, nonprofit organizations can all be driven by a purpose by a north star that they don't deviate from. Now, if you're making a cereal bar or something, you could, you could have your, you know, a north star of a certain thing to nutrition or whatever it might be.

[00:19:13] But this is more of a, of a step back where you say, look, I. I have an ethos that is, it has to accomplish certain things for humanity and for the consumers and for everybody involved. So I can't, I can't deviate from that. And this is a time where people are in such disarray and in such flux that, you know, the flip side of it is they have to survive.

[00:19:40] But I think we are recognizing through some of the. some of the horrors that we're, that we're experiencing as a species we're recognizing the need for mental health mm-hmm to not be swept under the rug. Let's talk for a minute about the stigma of mental health mm-hmm which I've noticed it's yet another cog in that wheel that turns on social media, because if someone were to reach out on social media and say, Hey, I need help here, I'm having a hard day or I'm, you know, it's just everything that we say. Every, we could say something on Twitter, you could say something on. So what is the stigma? What is the stigma's role in this, you know, in this environment? 

[00:20:22] Keith Wakeman: Yeah. So me, yeah. Mental health has always had a lot of stigma. We've seen progress in the, especially in the past few years and especially among younger generations, but there's still a lot of stigma out there. And, and so you know, what we do with super better, I mean, super better is, is, you know, it it's a game played in real life. You know, it it's, you know, our core promise is that we build resilience and that resilience leads to, you know, skills and, you know, overcoming obstacles and achieving goals.

[00:20:47] So it's, it's very, it's a very flexible platform with resilience is the core. Now the reality is two, two of the top 10 reasons that people play super better today are to overcome depression and anxiety. So we're, we're within that, that mix. But because super better is, is, is a platform and can be used for all kinds of good. And, and, and obstacles. You know, you know, one, one element is, you know, just because I, you know, just because I'm playing super bad, doesn't mean I have a, a mental health challenge. So that's at one at one level, you know, if somebody looked over, you know, Looked over and you were, if you were in public transport, you know, and you know, saw that you had the super better app on your phone, they'd be like, oh, what's going on with you kind of a thing.

[00:21:24] It wouldn't be that at all. At the same time, we're part of the conversation that you know, mental health is normalized, you know, it's just like, it's, it's, you know, it should be, you know, normalized like our physical health and, especially today, you know, Almost everybody dealing with the stress of the pandemic.

[00:21:40] I mean you know, you know, whether it's low level or high level, but you know, things like anxiety are, are pervasive or feelings of low mood. Right. So, so, you know, we're, we're kind of all in this together. And so, we have a seat at the table and with our, partners and allies, you know, to help spread that, spread the positive message, you know, to reduce the stigma and, you know, a lot, a lot, you know, many companies are using, you know, so better is not at this stage.

[00:22:01] You know, but they're using, you know, celebrities, you know, who have, can tell their lived stories around dealing with mental health to help reduce that stigma. So there's, there's a lot of good things happening to reduce the level of stigma. And again, our approach was super better.

[00:22:15] And you know, kind of the, the message that we're, that we try to elevate, you know, is very consistent with reducing that, that stigma. 

[00:22:22] hersh: Yeah. That's why I started the truth. Tastes funny podcast was because truth does taste funny. It's weird. The real life is weird. It's not clean and it's not pristine and it's not perfect.

[00:22:35] And. You know, on the entrepreneurial side, there's always a lot of talk, which is, which is perfectly reasonable about learning from your mistakes. Why can't we have the same room emotionally? You know, if you bang your knee, you skin, your knee. People say, how, how bad is it? Oh, well it's fine. It's just a scratch.

[00:22:54] Or I just got a bruise or, Ooh, that's gonna, that took the skin off. It's not like that with mental health. Mm-hmm you say? Oh, I'm feeling a little depressed and people are worried or, or like, oh, that guy's, that guy's a little, is a depressed. It's like. I, I realize that that, you know, whatever, the clinical term, you use, depression being sad, being Seasonal Affective Disorder which is one that I like to talk about living in a place where the climate can be brutal.

[00:23:23] You know, why can't we just say yeah, I was feeling very sad or I was feeling very depress. And so I love the idea of, of gameplay, the rules of gameplay, because it really is better. It is about getting, making yourself better than you than you are at this moment. Mm-hmm and anybody could be doing that.

[00:23:46] And in fact, I think as super better continues to grow it will become more of an emblem of health to be playing. Do you think that as human beings, we take the world itself too seriously? 

[00:24:03] Keith Wakeman: Oh, that's a very, that's a big, that's a really big question.

[00:24:06] I think as, as humans, I'm gonna answer it a little bit of a different way. So as you know, humans are designed in a certain way. Our brains are designed in a certain way. Yeah, none of that is just, you know, none of the way that we were designed, you know, is for the environment that we're living in today.

[00:24:20] Right. And so, you know, and and so, you know, it, it's not necessarily surprising. We're seeing both, we're seeing, you know, physical and chronic diseases have, have increased dramatically in the last, you know, few DEC, you know, few decades because of that, you know, and this is not it's, you know, in some respects, it's not surprising to see, you know, mental health challenges as, as well.

[00:24:38] We've got these, especially in technology, we've got almost these godlike capabilities, you know, that are really, in some cases exploiting, minds that were developed, for, you know, a very different kind, kind of a world. So, you know, so you, are we taking the world too seriously?

[00:24:53] I don't know. I mean, there are serious issues to be addressed in, in world and we don't you know, and, and those are really important how we approach those are really important. Jane McGonal has a new book you know, called, called imaginable that really leverages kind of the, the, her expertise in game science plus futures thinking to help the readers learn how to imagine potential futures so that we can be more prepared for them. And, and also you know, take action so that we can be, you know, more, more motivated to make those changes. So there are tools that we can do use to you know, kind of help ourselves feel more empowered to deal with some of those more serious issues, especially those big issues, you know, that feel often can feel out of our control.

[00:25:33] And there's a lot of those right now. So there's kind of that one saying, you know, there, there are a lot of serious issues, you know, happening in the world. Sure. And, and those are placing a burden on many people's mental health and, and you know, so there is, you know, you know, I, I believe a, you know, how do we prepare ourselves to control what we can do, but also how do we how do we in our own minds interpret the things that we can't control right now and, and you know, not let those become burdens that, that, that, you know, increase the, the amount of stress, you know, and the, the burden that we have on, on our own mental health as well. So I think there are those two, those two dynamics happening at the same time. 

[00:26:10] hersh: Right. Very good points. And and the fact that we. We have exceeded, we've gotten ahead of ourselves. We've shown off, you know, our ability to create all these amazing things and do these amazing things. And it's like a star Trek episode, you know, where there some aliens you know, light years ahead of us, but it's, you know, they've wiped out half the plant, you know, whatever it might be, they're too smart for their own. and, and in a way, I think that's, that's what happened to us, you know, we're not stupid. We're maybe too smart. So when I say taking it too seriously, I think you, you put a good kind of point on that because that's, that's kind of what I think I was looking for is, you know, not that we take it so seriously, but it's it overwhelms us.

[00:26:58] Mm-hmm and given the overwhelm that's out there, 2 more things for you. One, what can we all do as a concrete step toward better mental health, which is a big general question, but you can take that wherever you feel is is right. Mm-hmm and then and then how can we support super better and what, what is happening there that we can, that we can engage with?

[00:27:24] Keith Wakeman: Terrific. So, you know, what, what first, what we can do around our own mental health. So there are a lot of good, you know, tools and resources in the world for mental health. So depending on the nature of mental health, it may be, find a good, you know, find a therapist, find someone of that you can talk to.

[00:27:41] I realize there are access issues and it's not a, you know, that that's not in every case. And you know, that's not as straightforward as, as it should be. But you know, that, that. That very much is a tool. We can also, you know, one of the things that, you know, in, in, you know Jane wrote Jane wrote a New York times bestselling book called super better, the power of living gainfully and in, in the introduction you know, she, she talks about, you know, how, you know, we're the hero of our own story, you know, we're stronger than we know we're surrounded by potential ally.

[00:28:07] So some really big kind of foundational, you know, elements, but as she describes, you know, kind of what some of those things means, you know, she, she points out something that's profound. But simple, which is we have the ability to control our attention and therefore our thoughts and feelings. Right. So when we're in this, these feelings of overwhelm and we're, we're, you know, doom scrolling on, on Twitter.

[00:28:29] Yeah. And, and kind of feeling like that you know, the, you know, it, sometimes it can be helpful just to take a step back and say, I have the ability to control my attention. If dooms scrolling on social media is, is not serving me right now, I have the ability to stop, or I have the ability to, you know, you know not watch this, you know, media channel or that media channel because of the way that it, it impacts me or, or, you know you know, how, how it makes me feel.

[00:28:53] So that level of control is really powerful now, super better. You know, we, we we have published studies that show, you know, in particular, a randomized control. That university of Pennsylvania shows that playing super better for 30 days significantly reduces anxiety and depression. And, and as I mentioned earlier, a lot of people, you know, are using super better within that area.

[00:29:12] You know, there are in the world of mental health solutions. There are a lot of organizations, you know, really focused on, you know, treatment and that's good. We're, you know, as we continue to grow and kind of see where, where super better has its, its. And while we, we can resolve, you know, we can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

[00:29:29] You know, one of the biggest areas that we can do is to help build skills protective factors, and to reduce the barriers that get in the way of, you know, of, of mental health as well. And so you know, the other area is to kind of think about, you know, we don't have to wait until.

[00:29:45] We're in a mental health crisis to, to get, you know, to, to get help. Our, you know, as humans, we're all inter every all aspects of our health and wellbeing are interrelated. So our physical health and our mental health and our emotional social health. And so we, we can care for all of those, you know, four areas and super actually has a mechanism that, we call it, building resilience either, social resilience or mental resilience or emotional or social resilience. Right. So we have a way that helps to ensure that, you know, as we're taking care of ourselves, that we're doing it in a, a whole person, you know, kind of a way as well.

[00:30:18] So so those are things, you know, prevention of course seeing, you know, seeking resources you know, where, where, you know, that, that are available to help. And so again, there are a lot of, of, of good resources that are out there. And I love that you asked about how you can help super better.

[00:30:30] So you know, we have we're planning the introduction this Fall, a new feature and we call it squad play. So I alluded to, you know, today Sobe is a great self-help app. You know, squad play transforms super better to not only be a great self-help app, but also a tool that can be used to help and, and support and empower groups and communities.

[00:30:51] So with squad play and one of our targets is teachers. A teacher will be able to host a super better challenge that they can either select from our library or create on their own, but they can host a now host a challenge for their classroom, for their students. And so, you know, one of the use cases, right?

[00:31:07] Yeah. So teachers, you know, a, a lot of. Almost all teachers today, you know, believe in the power of social, emotional learning, which is deeply connected to mental health. Right? So but, but it can be hard to find, especially at the middle and high school and older, you know, levels, you know, kind of really practical and engaging tools to help.

[00:31:23] So super better, you know, this one of the use cases for super better, that we've gotten really positive response on is, you know, this could be a great tool for teachers in those areas. So that's coming. So, look for that. We're also. So, you know, we talked a little bit about, you know, our north star and how we, how we wanna stay focused on our north star and, and how, you know, how funding allows that.

[00:31:42] So we're bootstrapping, and we're, we're using, you know, revenue from, some contracts and, you know, to you know, fund the new features. You know, but by bringing in additional funds, we can grow faster. And you know, because our goal is 50 million and there's a crisis of mental health.

[00:31:56] There's good reasons to, to grow faster. So you know, we, we are, you know, we're an organization that's been built from a grassroots standpoint. We've never spent a penny on advertising to get to, you know, over a million people having played and people talk about super better and media likes are right about it.

[00:32:09] And you know, some people see Jane's Ted talk or read the book, but, you know, but we see ourselves as a small business. That's there for the people that we're serving. And so we're doing something really unique you know, which is a crowdfunding investment campaign. And we're partnering with an organization called Republic and it really takes advantage of some, fairly recent, you know, in the last 10 years, regulations that have changed some of the rules that allow kind of a different approach to investing.

[00:32:34] Historically, you know investment in the private market. So things that are not on the stock market, you know, would would've been, you know, were, are, was limited to institutional investors and, you know high net worth individuals that, that, that have adequate income or, and, or net worth to qualify as an accredit investor.

[00:32:53] And so, you know, in 2012 a the jobs act the. Was was approved that authorized kind of a new way to fund you know, earlier stage in, in, in startup, small businesses, like, like, like super better. So Republic is one of those platforms. They were one of the first, they're, you know, amazing and you know, well vetted in within that area.

[00:33:13] And so we are, entering a phase where it's called test the waters, but it's, it is a phase where we're asking individuals that might be interested in joining our journey and, and addressing youth mental health and, and be, you know, being being part of that with us as a financial stakeholder you know, to to, you know, express their interest on, on Republic for that type of activity.

[00:33:33] If youth mental health is an, issue that you're passionate about and really believe in, and you wanna be part of our story and our journey it's an option and, we would love to invite you to, you know, look at the Republic field page. And again, if it, if it's something that's that's of interest you know you know, we would encourage you to, you know register that interest level.

[00:33:51] hersh: Great. I mean, look, we're gonna do this together. This is how, this is how any progress is made with buy-in from whether it's your audience or whether it's within your audience, the enthusiasm that comes from it. But the reason super better jumped out at me was because we're all looking for innovative solutions, in this case, they've, it's been tried and it's proven to work. It's a matter of it growing and developing and becoming more prevalent. . The world that we live in at this moment and using every possible avenue to affect a positive outcome.

[00:34:30] Mm-hmm, you know, to be one of the good guys to be part of the solution. And I really appreciate your coming on Keith and and I wish you tremendous continued success with this because everybody of every age needs tools that work and that don't deny the reality of an immersion in a virtual universe to a great extent.

[00:34:52] Mm-hmm, , you know, we, every day we hear about the metaverse every day we hear about crypto and NFTs and that's fascinating, so there's great stuff. There's great aspects to all of it, but it isn't it isn't all designed to make us healthier. And this is. 

[00:35:10] Keith Wakeman: That's. That's exactly right. And, I appreciate you having me on the podcast today, and this has been a fascinating discussion for me as well.

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