Written by Steve Peralta – Chief Content Officer, December 2017
Over the past year, we’ve been collectively breathing life into Unmind. We now have a solid foundation for what is a very real opportunity to help support the mental wellbeing of many people. We’re humbled and motivated by this opportunity, and although our small team comes from mostly different backgrounds, we’re tied together by the common goal of creating the most helpful, beautiful and user-friendly mental health platform we possibly can. Being a digital platform, we generally won’t get to meet the people who use Unmind face-to-face, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce our team to you…
This is 6/8ths of our current core team at our recent office Christmas party. The other 2/8ths didn’t have a suitably festive jumper, and so were shunned by the rest of the team. From left to right we have Lori Lee (Lead Developer), Simmy Grover (Chief Science Officer), James Privett (Developer), Daisy Corfield (Client Success Manager), Ry Morgan (CPO) and Nick Tong (CTO).
Here, we have Nick Taylor (CEO) sharing the Unmind story and vision.
And this is Steve Peralta (Head of Content), aka me, after a talk on mindfulness at Employee Benefits Live.
Remembering the year that was…
2017 has been an exciting year for us in terms of what we’ve learned and achieved together as a team, but rather than use this post to reflect on that, I thought I’d ask each team member to answer the following three questions instead:
Your highlight from 2017?
The key lesson from 2017?
A favourite book or podcast from 2017?
So, here we go…
Moving to London from San Francisco.
I learned to not get worked up over little things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. Now I’ll just ask myself if in a year I’ll remember or care about whatever it is I’m getting worked up about, and the answer is usually “no”.
“Never Broken” by Jewel – I grew up listening to Jewel but I had no idea about her life story until I read this memoir. Her perspective on dealing with hardships is very inspiring.
“The Four Agreements” by Miguel Ruiz – This is a really short book but it gives great advice on how to deal with basically any difficult situation in your life.
Meeting so many people; colleagues, clients and users, who are passionate about improving mental health.
People love dogs, especially cute ones like Duke!
Unmind’s cute canine companion
“All We Have to Fear” by Horwitz & Wakefield – because they discuss emotions, specifically anxiety, as being the equivalent of fossils, which provide a window into our evolutionary past. I love any books that challenge existing views because they help the field learn and grow. (Book)
Taking my family on holiday to Florida (takes a lot of planning and saving). Also, learning new technologies and working with a great team.
I’ve learned to slow down and not rush into situations. This means taking a step back and contemplating my actions.
“The Art of the Good Life” by Rolf Bobelli – clear thinking for business and a better life. (Book)
“How Did This Get Made?” – a funny look back at some classic films that are so bad they’re amazing. (Podcast)
Joining the Unmind team and seeing The Rolling Stones
I learned the importance/benefits of being grateful and focussing on the positives – have actively built this into my weekly routine by noting down three things to be thankful for on a Sunday morning.
“Homo Sapiens” – combines pop-culture guest speakers, comedy and social commentary. (Podcast)
“The Power” by Naomi Alderman – an interesting/fictional take on gender inequality and what would happen if roles were reversed. (Book)
My personal highlight was the user feedback – it doesn’t get much better than someone saying Unmind helped “change their life”.
That it’s possible to interview three final-stage prospective hires at the same time in a hotel lobby bar (N.B – all vying for different roles!).
“Heavyweight” by Gimlet Media – genuinely touching stories about human nature delivered in a hilariously bone dry, razor-sharp manner. (Podcast)
“Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek – I’m a huge believer in servant-leadership models and this book encapsulates a lot of the “why / what / how” behind such approaches. Research is perpetually showing that authentic, candid, values-driven businesses outperform their cloak-and-dagger counterparts and I feel this is a great read for anyone who wants to (a) become a better leader/peer; and (b) build a lasting, meaningful venture/team/group.
When you work on something and put it out into the world you have no idea how the “real” world will react and respond to you. Sure, you’ve done research and gathered anecdotal evidence, but when you put it out to the real world, you feel fully exposed. So, I sat and watched anxious thoughts come and go… thoughts like “have I absolutely nailed this and done all I can do?”… until finally… someone sends us feedback and this, this is what it’s all about. When a “real” person tells you that what you’ve helped produce has had a profound positive impact on their life, well… it doesn’t get much better than that.
As Reid Hoffman, one of the founders of LinkedIn, says: Entrepreneurship is jumping off a cliff and assembling a plane on the way down. (attributed originally to Ray Bradbury) – while I highly resonate with this sentiment, 2017 has been about learning more about aircraft mechanics before one jumps off the cliff.
“Towards Artificial General Intelligence” with Greg Brockman by TWiML & AI, hosted by Sam Charrington – gives great insight into whats going on at OpenAI and some insight into Artificial General Intelligence. (Podcast)
“The Art of Stalking Parallel Perception” by Lujan Matus – this takes you on a real mind journey. (Book)
For me, it’s the progress of building from just a few ideas to a fully fledged mini company with a team of amazing people. What an incredible journey it’s been!
I’ve learned that team-work is key, that every option is available and that creative thinking can have great outcomes.
“Startup” by Gimlet Media – loved this podcast!
Seeing the Unmind seed we planted not so long ago start to grow this year has been an ongoing highlight. Also, I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to live on the edge of the ocean in Cape Town for a short while – one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
I’ve learned that when my workload increases it’s even more important to make time for sleep, exercise, human connection, playing my guitar and being in nature.
“Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow” by Yuval Noah Harari – brilliantly written and provocative look at one potential path our future may take. Captivating. (Book)
“The Ten Types of Human: A New Understanding of Who We Are and Who We Can Be” by Dexter Dias – a fascinating book using ten very human stories to introduce ten different types of human that live inside all of us. A brilliant mix of science and artful storytelling.
So that’s our core team and some of the things that stood out for us this past year, but there have been many other people who have contributed to the foundation we’ve laid as Unmind in 2017. We’re grateful to our investors, advisors, researchers, academics, content experts and fantastic freelancers who have given various forms of energy to Unmind this past year.
And of course, we’re truly thankful for our clients and the people who use Unmind each day.
Our team and our platform will grow a lot next year. This will help us provide increasing value to our users, which makes us happy. We know we have a lot to do in 2018 and beyond, but when you’re truly invested in the work you do, and you’re doing it alongside a bunch of great people, this inspires rather than scares you. So, here at Unmind, we’re inspired!
I thought I’d end this post with a quote from T.S Eliott…
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.
But for now, take a few moments to Unmind and enjoy the festivities that lie ahead : )