RPP #219 Linda Bonnar Transcript

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Rod (00:00:00) - Linda, it's so nice to meet you. And, thank you so much for joining my podcast today.

Linda (00:00:06) - Rodney, it's so. I'm delighted to be here. I feel like we're just going to have a great conversation. I hope.

Rod (00:00:15) - That sounds good. First of all, where are you located? Where? Where are we connecting to you?

Linda (00:00:20) - I'm in Brooklyn, New York, and I apologize if you can hear sirens in the background. There's never a dull moment in Brooklyn at all, Rodney, that's for sure. You can probably tell from my accent I am not from Brooklyn originally. Okay, I'm very much from Ireland. I have lived in the States for five years now, so I'm quite an international. I'm a worldly citizen. I spent 15 years living in the Middle East.

Rod (00:00:46) - Wow.

Linda (00:00:47) - You're now in here in Brooklyn?.

Rod (00:00:50) - Well, that's usually what I want to find out from my interviewees is,. How did you get started in those? What's your background?

Linda (00:00:58) - My main background is in education, Rodney.

Linda (00:01:01) - So I am 42 years young at the moment, and I qualified as a teacher when I was 22. And I taught history and religious education. I have a degree in history and philosophy. So I started off with that in Dublin and really struggled to get a full time teaching position. And they were crying out for teachers in the Middle East, and my father rarely put his foot down his life. Rodney, he said, you are not going to the Middle East. And I said, well, dad, it's like this. Either I go and get a full time teaching job in the Middle East where they will pay me a very good salary, or I have to live here with you and mum, for I don't know how long. And he said, I'll get your suitcases for your love. And I moved to the Middle East, and I honestly, I didn't think that I'd stay a week. It was so different to what I was used to at home in Ireland, and then I just fell in love with it.

Rod (00:01:56) - Fantastic. Wow. So how long were you abroad?

Linda (00:02:01) - I did ten years in Qatar and then started six years in Qatar, and then I did ten years in Dubai.

Rod (00:02:08) - Wow. Yeah, that's that's really something very interesting..

Linda (00:02:12) - Fascinating places.

Rod (00:02:14) - So I understand you're a founder of Upstrive or co-founder?

Linda (00:02:18) - I'm a Co-founder. Yes. That's correct.

Rod (00:02:20) - So how did that come about?

Linda (00:02:23) - Yeah. Great question., and I always do this. I was trying to say, I'll tell a long story short, but I love a good story as well. So bear with me and I will do my best. I love education, Rodney, and I always loved being a teacher as well. And I was in my teaching career for maybe, gosh, definitely ten years. And I knew, I knew at the time my young people were stressed, but I was also stressed as a teacher, and I didn't have the tools or the means to help them manage themselves even better. So I started getting coaching myself, like I worked in quite a high pressured environment as a teacher in an international school, top fee paying school in the region.

Linda (00:03:09) - You know, pressure from from parents as well, who wants to their young people do exceptionally well and everything that comes with that kind of a role. So I started investing in coaching myself, learning new skills and techniques and ways of managing myself even better. And I loved coaching so much that I then brought it into the classroom and started almost coaching. You know, not just teaching the young people in my classroom, but coaching them to do better as well. And as soon as I did that, everything changed. And so I had a better relationship with the young people that I was teaching. They showed up to class with this different kind of mindset and positivity and optimism and resilience around their exams, and I loved coaching so much that I said to them one day, you know what I love? I love what we have more than marking 40 history essays a week. So and I was very open with them and I said, you know, folks, this is going to be my last year teaching.

Linda (00:04:05) - I'm going to get certified as a coach, and I'm going to leave my teaching job and I'm going to coach amazing young people like you all the time. Now, I always sidebar to this. I always wanted to write a book, Rodney, but I never really knew what to write a book on. So in conversation with some of these incredible young people that I used to teach, they said, miss, why don't you just write a coaching book? It's like, what? How would that work? And they were like this. You're really good at asking us these questions and being very solution focused and action oriented with us and not just telling us what to do. So write that. So that's what I did, Rodney. I wrote Press Play, which is my first coaching book for young people, which looked at 40 different real life challenges that young people face in their lives, no matter where they are in the world, and offer them coaching skills, tools and techniques to overcome those challenges successfully.

Linda (00:04:57) - Now then, one of my very good friends, also in Dubai, kept saying to me, Linda, you need enough. Young people don't read anymore. I was like, that's rubbish. Of course they read and they also love their phones and their devices, right? So he said to me, I was getting ready to move to New York at the time, Rodney. And I said to my friend, I don't know, like I have no money. I'm moving to New York. All my money's going to go on rent, so I don't have money to invest in this. But he said to me, look, start writing, start writing content for, you know, for our app and start thinking about what this could look like. And I will do my best to find a designer and a developer. And true to his word, he did. And we started working on creating what wasn't called of stripe. Then we went through a series of it was, I feel like it was like our child, like we had to have this,, this yeah, this wonderful product together.

Linda (00:05:52) - And we eventually created upstart. And of stripe is currently four years of age and is being used by approximately 25,000 students, mainly in the Middle East at the moment across several schools there. Yeah. So we're looking to get it into schools. Obviously here in the US we have our first school in Ireland coming on board shortly, and some other schools around Europe as well, which we're incredibly proud of.

Rod (00:06:19) - Wow, that's an amazing story. So in the Middle East, is it all English speaking or to use different languages? Right now we.

Linda (00:06:27) - Have we've primarily started off with English because we focused on international schools, mainly in the Middle East as well as that's where most of my relationships and my my teaching connections are. However, we have translated into Arabic and German also, and we're currently looking at a Spanish translation. And what's what's interesting is, you know, when it comes to it's almost like there's a, there's a global language around wellbeing as well. Rodney. You know, no matter where you are in the world, it's not that things are done like they were.

Linda (00:07:02) - If you can get the foundation to your wellbeing, if you can create a solid foundation of well-being and that works in the same way, no matter what language you speak or where you are, and if you can understand how your mind works and how you can manage your mind even better. Like that's almost like your own language with yourself, right? And how how you understand yourself to be also.

Rod (00:07:24) - Well, now I've had the advantage of looking at your website now. My listeners have not many of them have not right now. So how would you describe what Up strive does and who is your main audience? Is it K12? Is it,, higher? Higher ed?

Linda (00:07:43) - So we've branched out. The the Upstrive family continues to grow. Rodney. And we started off with obsessive education that was primarily for secondary school students. And it worked on several, several different levels. Right. The whole idea was that we created a system to, first of all, empower teachers. You know, teachers don't have a lot of time.

Linda (00:08:03) - They want to make sure that their young people are, well, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically. They simply don't have the time to do all that. So up stripe is the one system that a teacher would use to efficiently measure, effectively manage, and positively impact the well-being of the young people under their care. As such, and then for the young people using the app, it's all about empowering the young person with the skills, tools and knowledge that they need to to overcome the challenges that they're facing on a daily basis. Whatever those challenges are, whether it's around studying or, you know, it's again around understanding how their mind is working a bit better, building a better relationship with their teachers. So it really is almost like there's a dual process to strive and on several different levels. So we've launched up strive. We launched a primary school version of UP's Drive as well. More recently, because our secondary schools are our high schools that we're using and investing in Upstrive, they saw the benefit of it and we're like, look, this is great for older students.

Linda (00:09:09) - We've got younger students. We've got like we want to be teaching our younger students the power of emotional literacy. And so we created and, you know, just a simplified version of, of stripe where even a younger student of 5 or 6, you know, can look at a particular picture and say, that's how I'm feeling today. This is it, you know, and helping them,, equipping them with the language, different kind of words to describe how they're feeling as well.

Rod (00:09:36) - Okay. So you're touching on a little bit how how it works with the students. So give me a typical scenario or typical student interaction and how that how you know what kind of data you collect, how that fits into your system.

Linda (00:09:52) - Absolutely. So I'll take you back a couple of years to Mrs. Bonner's form class. Right. You can be one of Mrs. Bonner's students coming into class, and we would have simple registration. I mean, it works really well. We'll say at the start of the school day. It can be used at any time throughout the school day.

Linda (00:10:09) - But I know a lot of our clients, this is how they feel. It works best. Students come in in the morning, simple registration. And then as part of that. Right folks? Let's get up, drive out on our devices. Now, the first thing that the students will see when they log in, Rodney. And it's a really simple process with a school email simple password. The students are asked to answer that simple question of how are you feeling? And they've got a range of 12 different emojis and motions to select from. They click on the one that best represents them in that moment. Now they can stop the process of self-awareness process there, or they can move on to a second step. And that question, it helps them understand their emotional factors like what's behind this emotion. So maybe, Rodney, you know, you're feeling quite inspired. You're about to do a great history lesson, Mrs. Bonner. And it's like great, you know. So you click on inspired. What's got you feeling this way Rodney? And then you've got a list of factors and maybe it's,, your health, your,, friendship, your peers, things going on at home.

Linda (00:11:12) - Right. So you can select up to three of those now straight away as your teacher, that data is instant. So if I'm looking at my USB drive account on my phone or on my computer desktop in the classroom straight away I see that Rodney is feeling inspired straight away. I see the reasons behind that particular emotion as well. And if you've chosen to add a comment for me to see, I also get that. Now again, we can stop it right there. That can all be done in the space of, you know, 30 40s straight away I will have a classroom. I will have data on, let's say, the 26 students who are sitting in front of me.

Rod (00:11:53) - Wow. Okay. So I assume this, you store this data and you could see,,, what's happening over time? Any any trends? If students are starting to feel,, feel bad.

Rod (00:12:10) - Can you tell us about any,, the biggest challenges you faced in, in using this kind of technology for tackling student and, you know, teacher wellbeing?

Linda (00:12:21) - One of the things that we pride ourselves on and, you know, as a, as a teacher for 16 years and as a mental health advocate, right, we and I think just generally and I know this is a strong generalization, anybody in education would be very aware of the fact that early intervention is best. Right. So if you can get real time emotional or data on a young person's emotional experience, you can you can create so much positive change with that. You can choose to have a conversation. You can choose to speak to one of those young people's peers,, to another teacher who might know them a bit better to a parent, and you can intervene appropriately. One of the one of the biggest challenges that we've had is all of it. It's it's fascinating. Rodney and I get very emotional when I speak about these things. It's fascinating what a young person will share when you give them a safe space to share it. And so one of the biggest challenges that we've had is where teachers have sometimes, not always, of course, been a little bit overwhelmed with the data.

Linda (00:13:23) - So the more comfortable that the young people get with,, striving with sharing their information, and they know that there's only so much data their teacher sees and there's so much data then that's kept personal for them and their account. So we've had teachers say to us, help us with this. I have all of this great data. Thank you for that. What do I do with it all? How do I analyze it? How do I make best use of the data? Because we we see schools and teachers and educators all the time collecting data, data day to day to day to data. What are they doing with it? How are they utilizing it to really help those students to optimize their academic performance, their wellbeing, their overall mental health? And that that's a challenge. And so we pride ourselves then on working on having really strong personal connections with our educational clients and saying, right, let us help you with the data. What have you got? We've got a fantastic you know, we're always getting feedback from our clients around.

Linda (00:14:21) - It's great that it does this. Can it do this? And we're like, you know what? I can actually let's speak to our programming team about that and see what we can do. So we've taken that feedback and we have this incredible analytics function on the app that will do so much for you. So if you are feeling overwhelmed with the comments that your student has has submitted, you can filter through all those emotions, right? You can find your students who are potentially just sitting under the radar a little bit and are at risk of slipping through that net completely. So filtering by emotions, filtering by particular words, you know that a student has shared in a comment as well. And it's, you know, none of this is that there's no perfect solution to young people's wellbeing either, Rodney. But I think we all work as a team. And when, you know, we help our clients again, just get the data that they want and use it and speak to the young people about what it is that they need from Upstrive things that are bothering them.

Linda (00:15:25) - It's amazing what happens.

Rod (00:15:28) - Wow. Very interesting. What is the breakdown between the different,, your different groups of audience, you know, primary, secondary,, university level, the mostly primary and secondary. Are you getting into the higher ed space as much?

Linda (00:15:45) - So it's mainly our main focus so far has been secondary school students, second level education. And what we notice now, one of the things I hope I'm not jumping the gun, but we have a new addition to the Upstrive family coming out very shortly as well. New things hopefully, hopefully arriving in summer. And because look, one of the things that we we find as well is that working with educators is great. And sometimes for some educators it's like, oh gosh, another tool. You want me to use something else in my classroom? I mean, come on, please give me a break. Which I totally get it, Rodney. If somebody had presented abstract to me a couple of years ago, pardon me, would have been yes, where do I sign? And another part to me would have been something else to do as well.

Linda (00:16:33) - And that that can be tough, right? So we're working on our, our B2C version at the moment because we also have we get a lot of requests from parents. It's like, the school, my school, my child's school won't invest in this. How can I get it on my own? Because I want to learn more about this. I want to be able to connect, connect even better with my child. So what can we do? And we're like, my gosh, well, of course, why don't we have a why don't we have basically an individual and a drive? Me right. Why don't we have that? And so we've been working on that for the past couple of months as well. And there will also open the door for higher ed students because we've spoken to some, some higher ed, higher ed,, organizations. And while they like it, some of the feedback has been they're like, is it is it very focused on a younger person? Right. We want our higher ed student to feel like they're they're adults now.

Linda (00:17:28) - Right. And we're worried that if we present them with this particular content, are they going to feel like, oh, are you still viewing me as a child? So we're like, right, let's let's change this up a bit and we're doing things on different levels because so we have higher ed students, but also across our international schools, we have a lot of students who English isn't their first language their second or their third. And neither is Arabic, German or Spanish, let's say. Right. And so we want to produce we produce content that is so easily accessible for potentially a higher ed student who might struggle with, with English just in general. Right. And so how can we make that even easier for you? Well, let's create little videos. Let's have audio files that you can listen to the content on your way to school or just instead of reading as well. Some students enjoy just scrolling through those short snippets of information that scaffolded space, especially for their learning. Now the young people just want to sit back and listen, right?

Rod (00:18:35) - You know, I I've been in higher ed,, my whole career, but,, mostly on the administration side. Although I did teach,, medical students for quite a few years., recently, I had the opportunity to teach,, undergrad students,, at a local university. And,, several of my students had,, emotional issues and had to have accommodations and,, and some it was a hybrid course. I had, you know, on site,, one day a week and online and,, it was very interesting. It was an eye opener for me. You know, some student couldn't come into class because, I don't know, they they just they barely could leave their house. But they could. They did just fine., online,, one thing occurred to me is,, you know, collecting information, especially from minors., how do you,, collect data and protect their privacy, especially, you know, for these younger students, I'm sure that's an important issue.

Linda (00:19:36) - So important. It's so important for for schools, educators, for their parents, for the young people themselves. And what we see more and more, which is a love is young people themselves questioning us on that. What are you going to do with this data? How is it protected? And so,, as a company of survivors based on Germany, in Germany and Germany, it's based in Germany. And we're we're heavily guided by GDPR and all of the all of the data protection acts that exist there. And, you know, there's you have to be you have to be so careful, careful with all of that, with all of this. And by all of this, I mean, there's no point in us harping on about well-being if in the background we're doing something dodgy with people's information, like what's really a frown upon that? And I hear myself getting ready to go up and around. That as well. So I bring myself back down. So that's all really important. We have parents questioners on these things, which again, we love.

Linda (00:20:37) - I keep asking it is so important. Ask questions, ask more and more questions and get the information that you need. And I think about anything in life.

Rod (00:20:47) - Right. Great. Can you give us a specific example of a particular school or class where,, you demonstrated an improved well-being? Are there any anecdotes you can speak of?

Linda (00:21:02) - Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, straight away, I can feel like I said to you earlier, I get emotional when I think about these things. And no matter how many times I share this story with other schools who are sitting on the fence thinking, is this worth investing in? There are two schools that stand out in particular. And, you know, obviously, you know, not going to mention their names., we had one school counselor in particular who messaged us. School was on a on a Sunday in the middle, Easter Sunday to Sunday to Thursday week. And so she messaged us on a Monday morning because it's something that happened on a Sunday.

Linda (00:21:43) - Because she was so she been school counselor because she was so invested in,. Strive and her team of teachers and support staff also invest in UB strive. She was able to flag a student come and straight away she noticed the week before the students emotions. First of all, they had changed dramatically, right? So the student had been kind of, you know, happy, calm, happy, calm. And then,, then there was a lot of anger and then there was sadness. And so she picked up on that straight away and she checked in with the student students said, no, no, no, they were fine. They were absolutely fine., but as the days went on and the students started logging particular comments, nobody cares about me and things like this. And what actually transpired then over the weekend was that that young person had tried to commit suicide. And they said one of the reasons why they, they didn't,, carry on with, with their, their thoughts or turn those thoughts into action was because the school counselor had continually, continually intervened.

Linda (00:22:49) - And continually checked up with that student. And and sometimes that's what we've got to be right. We've got to be we've got to be consistent. And sometimes we've got to be persistent as well. And I've had the same myself as a teacher, Rodney, where I've, I've been concerned about a student and that student has, has lied to me to protect herself. Right. And I kept checking in. I just kept doing it. Are you okay? You know what's going on for you? Here's what I, here's what I. And it's the facts. Here's what I've seen. Here's what I've heard. This leads me to think this. What what's your experience around this right now? We also had a another school and unfortunately a year group of younger students in this school. They saw one of their peers collapse and die in the lunchroom. This young person had a medical condition. And so they witnessed this firsthand. And they witnessed their their young peer being taken out of the school in the ambulance arriving.

Linda (00:23:49) - And all of the all of the trauma that comes with that. So the reason I'm sharing that particular story as well is that this is a team effort at all. Strive. We never say that we are we're we're one solution with this kind of like panacea is something for all mental health as well. So what we loved about our partnership with this, with this particular school was they said to us, this has happened, we're going to use up strive. But we also were bringing in other school counselors from our sister schools in the region. We're also doing this, and we're doing this. We created particular content around grief and dealing with trauma for students and for different age groups throughout the school as well. And the difference that that made. And again, just speaking to the teachers and giving the teachers, you know, maybe like just some some tools that they can use and having these conversations in the classroom also. So the different setups I've made and the difference that all these different intervention tools and techniques made for the school throughout, even just a period of three weeks, was phenomenal.

Linda (00:24:55) - When we analyze the data afterwards, and the comments that the young people were sharing is fantastic, I mean, horrendous. I'm not saying that it was fantastic, but they had to experience this fantastic that a school was able to use a tool to use our system to help identify how over 900 students are feeling. That's a lot. It's a lot for a group of 88 teachers to handle and support stuff a lot, right? But again, being able to break down the data, being able to to filter through the comments and to find to find things that were really standing out and that really needed to be addressed, then the school could what they could create a, you know, almost a policy of, right, where do we need to go first, what students need our top priority? And do they need psychological, psychological, and, you know, actual professional mental health care or trauma care? And what group of students will benefit from having a conversation with the teacher or from interacting on a program in grief via the observer?

Rod (00:26:03) - Understood.

Rod (00:26:05) - Well, that's that's an amazing story. I, you know, in my there's a lot of tools and automation in higher ed that I've been involved with and promoted, but none at this level. It's usually about the academics and, you know, performance,, raising flags when students don't come to class or they their, their grades are falling. And,, so this is sounds really important., I don't know, what do you think about this, but sometimes you hear on some sometimes it comes from comedians or other,, people,, in the news how how this generation is a little bit more fragile. And maybe it's because. Our world has become so crazy and because of social media. And maybe, maybe that's,, I don't know, maybe. Maybe I'm just thinking back, you know, when I was going through this and there weren't any resources like this, and we all had to tough it out.

Linda (00:27:11) - Yeah. My gosh. Listen, I, I think I could do a whole separate podcast on this topic alone with you, right.

Linda (00:27:18) - So growing up in Catholic Ireland, that was a that was a lot of the feedback that you got, right. Pull yourself together, toughen up. There's people in the world who have it harder than you. Don't complain. Think positively. Sure, it'll be fine. And sometimes it is and sometimes it's not right. And there is a lot of research and a lot of data out there to say that young people's mental health has been deteriorating for a long time, and got significantly worse ten years ago when we saw this boom on social media.

Rod (00:27:54) - Yes.

Linda (00:27:56) - There's a strong correlation, strong correlation to say that the more time young people spend on social media, the lower their subjective well-being is, and it's more so for girls., and again, there's our fear and there's there's more research then don't end around that, you know, are people are, are people who are born like of the female gender. Are they more susceptible to thinking in a particular way? And actually, we are right. We're generally generally speaking, not all females or anything.

Linda (00:28:29) - Generally speaking, we are more prone to the worry cycle, to the catastrophizing right, and to other things as well, which can make us even stronger or better in certain topics as well. Right? We're more attuned to particular. It sounds right. We pick up on certain things differently. However, one of the things when the many things that I love about this generation, Rodney, is that they want answers and they want support, and we're moving away slowly. We're getting there. We're moving away from that whole stigma and silence around mental health. And I love hearing young people talk about, you know,. Oh, well, when I was having this conversation with my therapist the other day, I said to them, you know, and they're just you walk down the street. I walked and was walking around Brooklyn early this morning. And, you know, kids are out. Our young people are out or are breaking things, and they're having these conversations just so openly now. Sometimes. Yes.

Linda (00:29:29) - Then. Right. Part of the challenge around that is how the language is used. Oh gosh, I'm so depressed. I have a test today. And we hear some things like that. However, the more that we can educate them on the language, on the emotional literacy right, and how to describe and be more aware of how it is that they're feeling and what has them feeling that way. Then they're less likely to use the word depressed in that context, and they're more likely to say what? This is how I'm actually feeling about this test. You know, I'm having some I recognize that I'm having mild anxiety around it instead of my anxiety is really playing up right now.

Rod (00:30:12) - All right.

Rod (00:30:13) - Do you see much? Do you see that difference in gender with with boys,, not taking advantage of it or being more difficult to,, adapt to your product?

Linda (00:30:24) - I think it's,, so it's I'm smiling to myself because when we work with one particular school they were looking for, they want an extended survey to really find out, do a deep dive into their wellbeing culture and see how their young people were doing.

Linda (00:30:40) - And it was interesting. You know, I read through,, I think it was like 240,000 comments I read through, I don't know, in all of this data, and I feel like I got to know some students very well, even though I didn't have I didn't have all their names. There's like a student number, right? I feel like I was gosh, I feel like I know. Student 625551 very well now, you know. And I think sometimes there is right. This is my own personal experience. The data will also say that still unfortunately young men, this is a very strong generalization. And making them aware of that, they're still not as open about mental health or well-being as young females.

Rod (00:31:24) - Yeah, I guess that's to be expected.

Linda (00:31:26) - Still the thing. And thinking about what what you mentioned earlier is, well, about higher ed the the more we can, the earlier that we can teach young people all of this incredible, this wealth of knowledge, the better. Because as a coach, I work with adults and I meet some adults who aren't incredibly self-aware and and aren't incredibly emotionally literate.

Linda (00:31:53) - And it's like, so it's not even that this is about primary school children, our high school, our higher ed. This is for everyone. For everyone just to start to, you know, to press pause a little bit and think, how am I really feeling today? Like really feeling. And gosh, that's so uncomfortable. What has me leaning back from that emotion? Someone you just don't talk about in my family, you just don't. Our gosh, I don't know what's there as opposed to isn't that interesting that I'm nervous again about this meeting? I wonder what's there. So instead of forcing ourselves to box it and never look at that thing again until it comes back to bite us in the bum, you know, I wonder. I wonder what's there.

Rod (00:32:44) - Yeah, yeah. Very interesting. You know, as a business, I'm wondering how how you,, measure your return on investment. How how has this school measured the success of using your product? Is there some metric you go by or.

Linda (00:33:02) - Yeah, absolutely. Whenever we sit down with a school at the start first, right, we talk to them about their objectives and their KPIs for working with us. We want to know what's their current, what's their current wellbeing status, what are they currently doing. And we meet schools at all different all different parts of their wellbeing journey Rodney. And sometimes we meet schools who think that they're doing well, being well, and when we have that conversation with them, it turns out that actually they're not. They have a beautiful, pretty flyer that says that they're all about, you know, the holistic wellbeing of the student. And they pay hundreds of thousands to have these glossy brochures. And, you know, all everything else that goes with it. And they do yoga once a year and they bring a speaker in to talk about stress management and, and look, I'm you know, I'm again and there's a I hear that generalisation as well. What we want is what we often find is the schools who are honest with us, they get the most out of the system.

Linda (00:34:02) - And an example of that is we're currently we're starting our a partnership with the school who say, look, we we recognize we have to make drastic changes, right? However, we don't want to just stick a Band-Aid on something. We want to do this right from the beginning.

Linda (00:34:20) - Right. But our parents pay. The parents pay a lot of money for their sons and daughters to grow here. So we have to give them something now. Like we have to show them that we're doing something so right. We'll put a plan together, get a wellbeing policy together, get your school think tank going, and think about what it means to be well in this school. Get your students involved. And that's a huge part of wellbeing, right? Being seen, being heard, being known and feeling a sense of belonging. And when somebody turns around to us and says, how are you? It's like, oh, who, me? Oh,, yeah, I'm okay. And it's like, if we were to do things differently in this school, what's one thing that we could be doing better? Oh, you know, the school uniform.

Linda (00:35:07) - Okay. And I will take that on board and listen, when it comes to wellbeing or when it comes to looking after the student community or the, you know, the staff community, but better, what could we be doing? Oh, you know, Sarah, I think it'd be really good if we could have this. Or can we do less of that? More that. And again, fascinating what young people will share with you when you give them the time and the safe space to do so.

Rod (00:35:30) - Right. Great. Yeah.

Linda (00:35:32) - So sorry to answer your question. On the return and the ROI.

Linda (00:35:37) - It's identifying at the start what it is that they want and setting up like a Smart goal. Right. Setting those mile markers in place along the way. How are you doing with this? How do you know if your students are happier? How do you know if your students are well right? Let's tell them that we're going to be doing this check-in survey every two weeks. And why are we doing it? We're doing it because we care.

Linda (00:35:59) - Yes, we want data and we want why do we want the data? Well, why can be so important and can make such a difference to someone.

Rod (00:36:08) - Right? Absolutely., I have to get into more a little bit of the technical aspects. I'm a technologist., and,, a little while ago, giving one of your anecdotes, I said,,, a teacher noticed,, something about a student. Is it automated such that certain red flags or trends,, pop up and,, alert the teacher? Exactly. Or do they have to be constantly looking at the the data through the analytics, or is it automatically pushed out?

Linda (00:36:42) - So we have one of the great things about our new analytics feature as well is that the the teacher is able to see they're able to notice patterns and trends that are emerging quicker. And we've got a report feature on the app as well that will put together. We'll say it could be like a little well-being report on Rodney, and it'll show you how Rodney's been doing over the past week, over the past three months, so a teacher can do a deeper dive.

Linda (00:37:07) - That way they can look at their classroom overall when it comes to the comments. So we're currently building in,, a really good we're working with AI as well so that we can train. I'd like to pick up on certain words, which is interesting because then of course you're looking at like young people slang.

Rod (00:37:26) - Slang. Yeah.

Linda (00:37:27) - And, and everything else, you know, OMG and all the, the photos and everything else that can show up. But it's, it's really, it's really interesting. Right. And we obviously want to we want to highlight it. We, we want to be able to target like certain words as well. So the more and young people are great for helping us with this. You know, that's where and again, that sense of belonging. Right. It's not just a sense of belonging as a as a user. It's like, give us feedback on this. What can we be doing better? I don't like the way that you do that. And you know, this would be better as well.

Linda (00:38:03) - So we want to make it as easy for for teachers, for educators, for support staff, for anybody in that school community. And with our new version of the app coming out as well, we want to be make it easier for parents to identify certain patterns and certain trends that are starting to emerge. And the young person, you know, this is it. It's like if you're feeling every Tuesday morning at 9:00, if you start to recognize that you're feeling a little bit uneasy and you start to connect that with, my gosh, it's right before I go into history with Miss Bonner, like, what's this about? Gosh, I just don't like her. That woman puts way too much pressure on it. What can I do? But and she did. And like she honestly did. What can I do about that. So again there's you know the the self-management aspect as well. Not just not just blaming Mrs. Bonner for it, but what's, what can I control in this situation also.

Rod (00:38:58) - Well, this has been really enlightening for me.

Rod (00:39:01) - I've never known about a product like this that comes anywhere near this. Now, you mentioned the word AI, and I have to ask everybody these days how they're using AI., it seems like you are planning to use it more within your product. How about within your staff? Your business itself? Are there things there? Are there? As I crept into,, your everyday business.

Linda (00:39:31) - Yeah, absolutely. And I have become. My relationship with AI has improved. Rodney, I have to say, we're getting on very well. I, I love it in so many ways. I still have. And maybe the recovering perfectionist within me, right. Because I've been using various different platforms for,, turning text into audio and things like that. And I'm like, I don't like that. It's just not doing it well enough for me. And I've spoken with a group of people from one platform and they're like, no, no, no, you don't understand. Like, this is our best yet.

Linda (00:40:08) - And I'm like, and your best just isn't good enough for me right now. And thank you. And maybe my best isn't good enough for somebody at this moment in time. It is what it is. One of the things I love about it. So I will use it for I have. And you've noticed this probably, Rodney, have a tendency to use a thousand words when only ten is good enough, right? So I'll go to my friend ChatGPT and be like, oh, I have 100 words here and I just need ten. I'm like, wow, of course. So it's like the teacher becomes a student and it has taught me and continues to teach me about conciseness and brevity. And I'm like, I love it. And I also used it., I recommended to a friend of mine one day. She said, I am having awful trouble with a particular student in my class and their personal hygiene, and I do not want to have that conversation with them. And I said, now come on, we need to lean into tough conversations, right? Radical candor.

Linda (00:41:07) - Can't do it. And I said, use ChatGPT and ask it to help you write an email. You know, just that you have words together to use. She was like, what? And I said, yeah. I said, look, I'll do it and I'll send it to you. And I did. And she's like, Linda, this is amazing. And I said, when you're really clear about a prompt, it's like, I want to come from a caring and supportive place. And I also want to give clear and concise feedback to this student.

Rod (00:41:31) - Yep, yep. I'm amazed I use it every day for something. Yeah, well, this has been fantastic. I think it's probably coming to the end of our time here to be respectful of my audience's time. And I think this is really a unique product. Like I said, I do you know of any competition in this area?

Linda (00:41:58) - Yes. Okay.

Rod (00:42:01) - You don't have to mention them. We won't give them a plug.

Linda (00:42:06) - It's funny, but we know of other competitors who have similar features, but not competitors who have all the features together like we do. And that's what makes us a system. And that's what separates us from the other people, the other companies out there that will say, we'll collect your data. Great. Collected. We'll analyze your data. Great. Do that as well. We'll give you evidence based content for your teachers to save them time when you want to have, you know, a program on on grief, a program on well-being, on stress. Great. We do it all.

Rod (00:42:46) - One last question. How's I want to give you an opportunity to say if there's any new feature or perhaps what your long-term goal is,, for your impact on education.

Linda (00:42:58) - Yeah., and I just, I want to hit that inspired button on my little emoji now. Right. We are a love what we stand for, Rodney. Right. And we stand for making young people mentally strong, making them even more resilient.

Linda (00:43:16) - Get more tools in that toolbox. Equip yourself with more and more knowledge about yourself, more skills, and to be able to navigate this ever changing world, right? Because it just keeps changing. Change isn't always, not always well accepted, right? However, when you feel equipped and you feel in control, then it's like, oh, that's different. Okay, so I'd be more flexible in my thinking. I'll adapt this way. And that's what we want to do for young people, right? I want to give them that feeling of empowerment and control where they where we know we can.

Rod (00:43:56) - Well that's a great note to end on. So thank you so much Linda. This has been great. I wish you the best. And, getting your product into the US, especially in higher education where I think it's really needed as well.

Linda (00:44:10) - Rodney, we will have we will have many conversations about this about Upstrive.

Rod (00:44:15) - Haha very good.

Linda (00:44:18) - Thank you. Well Rodney you're welcome.


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