Season 3, Episode 2
Listen to the podcast at: Purpose in Retirement
Amy Giddon: It’s so that we can reflect, self-reflect, but not all by ourselves. Like, we’re built to self-reflect and share with others in a really safe and pleasant environment so that we can feel more uplifted and more connected not only to ourselves but to people around the world.
Scott Miller: This is a show where we’ll explore what it means to retire with purpose.
Juanita Fox: To make a difference, to invest in your family, your community, to live to your full potential, and explore abundant opportunities to live with purpose and community.
Scott Miller: From Garden Spot Communities in New Holland, Pennsylvania, welcome to
Juanita Fox: Purpose in Retirement.
Scott Miller: I’m Scott Miller, the chief marketing officer at Garden Spot Communities.
Juanita Fox: And I’m Juanita Fox, the storyteller.
Scott Miller: So in this season of Purpose in Retirement, we’re going to be talking to experts who are going to share different ways that innovation and emerging technologies can improve the quality of our lives and help us live with purpose in community.
Juanita Fox: In this episode, we’re going to be talking with Amy Giddon, the founder of the Daily Haloha app. She describes herself as a reluctant entrepreneur, but she’s changing the world one inspiring question at a time.
Scott Miller: Her app creates the opportunity to connect authentically with others. The platform is anonymous and it allows people to respond to a daily question. The app also strips away age and status. It encourages only nonjudgmental responses.
Juanita Fox: We’ll be talking about the powerful connections that happen as a result of her app and share how you can get involved too.
Scott Miller: In just a moment, we’ll talk with Amy.
Scott: Amy, thank you for joining us today.
Amy Giddon: Oh, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Scott Miller: Absolutely. For the 2022 season of Purpose and Retirement, we’re going to be talking with, you know, industry innovators like yourself and leaders who are offering new and emerging technologies that can help us discover opportunities to live with purpose and community. Soon after I heard about Daily Haloha, I downloaded it and I have been hooked ever since. I think that I missed one day and then I quickly caught up. But it’s just- it’s so positive.
Amy Giddon: Oh, thank you for those kind words. And hopefully you’re hooked in a good way.
Scott Miller: I am.
Amy Giddon: Yeah. But we are trying to put something positive out there. We all need that every day, right?
Scott Miller: We do.
Juanita Fox: Yeah. You know, Amy, I have the app on my phone as well. And one of the things I find most inspiring about it is after I complete my Daily Haloha and I get the the response back, is the inspirational quotes that go with the day are inspiring to me. And so thank you.
Amy Giddon: Oh, and thank you for that feedback. You know, I’ve always loved quotes, but sometimes it can be overwhelming to just be flooded with quotes. You lose the individual impact of just seeing one and one alone–that’s really meaningful. So we’re like a direct quote generator, right?
Juanita Fox: And it’s great.
Amy Giddon:Yeah. One meaningful quote a day. Yes.
Juanita Fox: Well, thank you.
Scott Miller: And so you sort of started along this line, but could you tell our listeners, like, how does Daily Haloha work? How does the app work?
Amy Giddon: Yeah, it’s actually super simple. You know, I look at it as a daily exercise or a daily practice. And it’s so that we can reflect, self-reflect, but not all by ourselves. Like, we’re built to self-reflect and share with others in a really safe and pleasant environment so that we can feel more uplifted and more connected not only to ourselves, but to people around the world. And based on one question a day that is posed to the world and accompanied with a lovely quote to inspire self-reflection.
Juanita Fox: What is your work history, Amy? How does it connect to what you’re doing now?
Amy Giddon: Yeah, you know, loosely, I would say. I entered the world of entrepreneurship about five years ago, and it was such a departure from my past working life. Although most of my working life has been spent in business. But I’ve worked for big, large global companies, you know, well-resourced, which is very different than start-up land. But I work mostly in management, consulting and financial services. Over the years, I did go to successively smaller companies and I ended up being the president of a mid-sized, private equity backed financial services company. And along my journey, which was spent in cubicles and big offices and everything in between, I became really interested in leadership and culture and business as I saw, what an impact on people, leaders and culture has at work. We spend so many of our hours at work.
So I ended up actually transitioning into leadership work. I went to work at Columbia University, championing women leaders and helping women fulfill their leadership ambitions in corporate environments. And that was really enriching work. And I still love supporting women in business. But it wasn’t until about five years ago that I found myself as a kind of reluctant entrepreneur. But most of my entire career was in business and leadership before that.
Scott Miller: So what was it that that inspired you to make that jump and start Daily Haloha? I’m saying that correctly, right?
Amy Giddon: You are. Haloha. Yes, it’s like aloha with an H.
Scott Miller: Okay.
Amy Giddon: Yeah. I had an experience that really transformed me, and it was so simple, yet profound. And here’s the thing that happened. I live in New York, I’m in Westchester County. But most of my career has been spent in Manhattan. Most of my jobs have brought me into the city. And so I commute, I’m a commuter, and I take the train and I take the subway. So I had an experience in a New York City subway station called Union Square. And it happened after the election of 2016. And I probably don’t need to remind you or your listeners that that was a very different kind of election than most of us had experienced in our lives. I’ve certainly participated in many elections in my life, but I never saw that level of division and polarization that happened right during that election.
Scott Miller: It’s unfortunate.
Amy Giddon: It’s really unfortunate, right? It was division at every sphere and political spheres, but also socially. And for many of us, myself included, like around my family dinner table, right? So we were feeling disconnected and kind of stupefied by like “what happened to the us here?” right? There’s more “us versus them” than “we’re all in this together” right now, and I was feeling the weight of that. It really wounded what I hold dear, you know, my greatest value, which is that we all belong. We all belong, and we belong to each other. That’s what I believe. So I was feeling that, and I came upon this collective art experience in the subway station, and it was super simple. It was based on Post-it notes. There’s a participatory artist named Matthew Chavez who started it. And people were posting notes of affirmation and unity and hope on the subway walls in the wake of this polarizing election. And at its culmination, it was 50,000 Post-its.
Scott Miller: Wow.
Juanita Fox: Gives you goosebumps.
Amy Giddon: Right. It’s a big number, but the visual impact of it- it’s hard to describe. But if you go on subwaytherapy.com, you’ll get the visual. But I took notice of this thing, felt this magnetic attraction to this display, felt called to participate and contribute something positive to this experience. Just in 2 minutes, I felt uplifted and connected in a way that I hadn’t for many, many weeks.
And when I looked around at all the other passersby, I saw that they were uplifted too, it wasn’t just me. So this set me on a steep exploration of participatory art. Like what is it about these public installations that can bring our shared humanity back, and in just about an instant. And the more I learned about it, the more I learned that it’s pretty different than what our social media and digital platforms were giving us. I felt like, “huh, maybe there’s something even I can do here to bring us back to each other in a small way every day.” And that’s what happened and here I am.
Scott Miller: That is so cool. Why did you build Daily Haloha the way that you did or that you are?
Amy Giddon: I had a couple of North Stars, I would say, because, you know, I have this idea that I wanted to bring people closer together. I wanted to cross the divide and let people have a way to connect around our humanness versus what, you know, divides us. So I had some ideas but there were just so many different ways that our product could show up in the world, right?
So I had a couple North Stars. One of them was keeping an eye what I’m trying to accomplish, which is “I want to be a container for belonging.” I’ll tell you a little bit more about that. And then the second North Star is how I want people to feel when they use our product every day and, Juanita, I think you said it felt pretty positive, right?
Amy Giddon: The other North Star is “I want people to feel uplifted every day.” So the belonging piece and the uplifting piece. So here’s what I learned from that sticky note project about belonging and why I felt such a strong sense of togetherness when I participated. Participation was anonymous, right? So there was a freedom and a safety to participate that came with the anonymity.
And the other thing that I noticed in these projects is that there’s no judgment. Unlike social media, which I’m not a huge fan of, which has judgment, right? And scorekeeping as its business engine.
Scott Miller: Yep.
Amy Giddon: These art projects–there’s no room for judgment. And then the other thing that’s stripped out of these artworks is that there’s no status. Everybody’s welcome to participate. You don’t have to have a social network. And everybody matters the same. There’s not a follower count, there’s not a like count, there’s no influencers, right? We’re all welcome and we all matter. So I thought, “oh, these are really the ingredients for a container where we can all show up as our authentic selves, feel free to participate, and we all belong, right? Anonymity, no judgment, no status.” So I baked those into our daily experience. And then the-
Scott Miller: Just a-
Amy Giddon: Oh, sorry. Go ahead.
Scott Miller: I was going to say, just as a comment, you know, in the middle of that is that every once in a while I’ll see a post that looks like somebody is hurting, right? Or it’s not positive. And I think “I wish I could just go give them a hug.” And so, you know, it’s amazing what it inspires.
Amy Giddon: You know, it continues to be remarkable to me every single day. And I’ve been at this for a while now. Like, what is allowed to flourish when you strip out judgment and status and this, like, quick-to-react environment, reactivity, right–all of that stuff. Like, all the beautiful emotions that you’re describing are allowed to take root. We can just react and not be reactive, but respond with our humanity. And it’s amazing. So thank you for sharing that. I experience that every day. Every day.
And then the other piece about how I want people to feel: I want them to feel uplifted and positive. I thought, “okay, what environments really let people feel refreshed, rather than that digital overload.” So I thought, “okay, this is an experience that needs to be really simple, really fun and probably pretty brief. I don’t want to hijack anyone’s day. I want to enrich their day without taking over their day.” So I knew it had to be simple and it can be enriching, but it can also be fun, right? Like, self-reflection can be very thought-provoking, but it can it can also be pleasant, right? It doesn’t have to be heavy.
So I choose our daily questions with care. I mix them up throughout the week. Sometimes they’re a little more rich and bring forth, like, some real deep thinking. And sometimes they’re just kind of fun, right? And it’s just fun to participate and see what everybody else says. So I think about belonging and I think about positivity, and those are my North Stars, and that’s how we built our products.
Juanita Fox: So how do you keep the content fresh? Because there’s a different question every day. Where do you personally get your inspiration?
Amy Giddon: Everywhere. As I mentioned, I’m already a fan of quotes, and I also love poetry. I am inspired by a lot of different inputs. Most of our questions are rooted in positive psychology. So, you know, positive psychology tells us, and the science shows, that connecting to certain kinds of emotions are really positive for us as humans and allow us to thrive. And those are things like gratitude, happiness, joy, and presence, and mindfulness, right? So I lean really heavily on helping people connect with those feelings by asking questions about what’s going well in people’s lives, what are their strengths, what brings them joy, what are their positive memories, what do they hope for in the future. So, you know, I lean on all of the principles of positive psychology quite a lot.
But I also don’t want to be, you know, a Hallmark card. We want to be a place for real emotions to be invited. So not every question is dancing through a field of flowers. I also do ask people to reflect on things that make them them and make their lives real and vivid.
So I’m inspired by art. I’m inspired by poetry. Certainly psychology and quotes. And people suggest questions to me. I don’t know if you both have found this in the app yet, but there’s a place for our participants to suggest questions. And I think I’m at over 5,000 suggestions from our participants.
Juanita Fox: Wow, that’s exciting.
Scott Miller: That is.
Amy Giddon: It is. And it’s great because I don’t have to do all the work myself. We’re crowdsourcing questions, so I’m really lucky that way.
Juanita Fox: So what do you believe is the value of the social connection that people are experiencing through your app?
Amy Giddon: Oh, boy. I mean, I really hope it just makes people feel good. And we know so much more now about how important social connection actually is to our overall well-being. Many people, workplaces and others are now looking at social wellness alongside physical wellness, mental wellness, financial wellness, emotional wellness. It’s the other wellness, it’s the other part of well-being. And, you know, as humans, we are wired to connect, like we need it. Belonging is sitting right smack in the middle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, that human need, right? So we know we need it. And we also know that as a country and even globally, people are struggling. We don’t have the level of connection that we want.
And that shows up in statistics around loneliness. And loneliness is simply the subjective assessment that our relationships aren’t as rich and rewarding as we want them to be. So we want more than we’re getting. And certainly the pandemic has done no favors for those that are working and working in the, you know, hybrid, and virtual work has done us no favors.
So it really takes an effort to feel connected. It doesn’t always just happen. We have to cultivate connections in our lives. So connection really matters. And well, you know, one thing I’ve learned in doing my kind of deep exploration about connection is that we all need it. But it doesn’t manifest the same way for everyone. You know, in the same way that we all need physical activity but you might like to run and I might like to do yoga and someone else might like to swim or dance in their chair. It shows up differently for everyone. You know, for some, they get the sustenance they need relationally from just a really small group of intimate connections. And for others, it’s larger friend groups that help them thrive. And for yet others, it’s really feeling like belonging to bigger communities where they’re united and share values and purpose for activities.
So it can look different for all of us. And so it doesn’t matter what it looks like. I think what matters is that we understand where we derive that source of connection and we invest time, and making it a priority in our lives.
Scott Miller: Oh, that is very thoughtful. You know, one of the things that I’m thinking about as you talk through that is a lot of the social media platforms have a tendency to skew towards an age demographic. This seems intergenerational. So how do you see it in terms of intergenerational connections?
Amy Giddon: Yeah. I agree with you. Social media is very stratified by age, and I wanted to make sure that that wasn’t the case for us because, you know, I really believe in the value of intergenerational relationships. In my own immediate family, I’m really fortunate. We have every basically living generation represented. My parents are the silent or the greatest generation that are in their eighties.
Scott Miller: Yep.
Amy Giddon: I am among the youngest baby boomers. You know, my siblings are Gen X, and many of my friends are, you know, either baby boomers or Gen Xers. And my kids are millennials and Gen Z. So I have the really good fortune to have that cross-fertilization of ideas and caretaking and wisdom and perspective just in my own life. And I’m so grateful for that.
And it’s really apparent to me that social media doesn’t really allow for that. You know, millennials and Gen Xers won’t be caught dead on Facebook, but it’s the only way that my father has to connect with family. And I personally have never tried Snapchat, I’m not yet on TikTok.
So we need a place to come together where we can benefit from, you know, the intergenerational wisdom. I really feel like it’s a gift for younger people to experience the wisdom of elders where older people have a level of equanimity, I think, from their lived experience. I certainly am entering into a period of “this too, shall pass” that I never had in my earlier years. I’m no less ambitious and motivated, but I just have a greater breadth of perspective that I know that the younger people in my life really appreciate and like hearing from.
And vice versa, I think it’s really important for people that have much more lived experience to stay fresh and current with what’s on the minds of youth. People that are, you know, aging Americans and elders really care about being a part of a cultural conversation. They want to know what’s on the minds of young people and want to be able to contribute to those conversations.
So it’s just a real miss on social media that there’s not that mechanism for cross-fertilization and discussion. So we have stripped out age as a marker or as an identifier in our app so that people can hear the perspectives and thoughts and feelings from all different folks without a rush to judgment. It’s so easy for us to dismiss others that we think aren’t like us. But when we don’t know if they’re like us or not like us, it creates a space for sharing ideas across all different kinds of demographics, age included, without making assumptions and judgments. And we can really hear each other.
Juanita Fox: That’s really cool. You know, as I look at the app each day, Amy, I’m amazed by the breadth of the countries that are represented. I’m curious to know: how many users do you have and how many countries are represented?
Amy Giddon: At last count, we were over 150 countries.
Scott Miller: Wow.
Amy Giddon: Which I think is getting close to how many there are.
Juanita Fox: Fantastic, that’s amazing.
Amy Giddon: I think we have at least one brave soul in most countries of the world. And, you know, people tell me that the global footprint of our app is a pretty integral part of what delights them about participating because, you know, you might say something about how you feel in a given day and you see someone in Indonesia, you know, expressing the same thought. And it really does contribute to that feeling of, “boy, we’re just all human, aren’t we? We’re just doing our best, doing that human thing. I’m not alone. I’m far from alone. And the world feels a little cozier.” So I actually didn’t set out with a deliberate intention to be as global as we are. It just sort of happened. And it’s really fortunate because it I think it accelerates our mission to make the world feel a little bit more interconnected. So we’re super fortunate there.
As far as how many people are participating: thousands. Since we launched, we’ve had about 35,000 people subscribe. And, you know, they come and go. They participate for a while. They come back. I do have some stalwarts who have been participating every day for over two years now, which is a great thing.
Juanita Fox: Wow.
Amy Giddon: But in a given week, we have at least a thousand people that are contributing.
Juanita Fox: That’s pretty cool.
Scott Miller: Yeah. We hope our podcast adds to that number.
Amy Giddon: I welcome all your listeners. Come, come join us.
Juanita Fox: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our listeners before we go?
Amy Giddon: I guess I’ll just share one other element of our journey as a company, which is that we have this beautiful public app that we’ve been talking about. And what I’ve learned from our participants is that they love participating with these global others all over the world, but they’re also interested in participating in their communities, right, to bolster the sense of community and the relationships that really mean the most to them in their daily lives, where they live, where they work, where they study, where they learn and grow. So we are branching out and becoming a tool for communities who want to use our daily routine to bring their members closer together. So we’re really excited for that next leg of our journey.
Scott Miller: Yeah, that is really cool because I know I experienced that same things and sometimes “oh, wow. I just got a hug from Pakistan.” Right? And in others, it’s like, I wonder how many people, you know, within ten miles of me are using the app. So it’s fascinating. Thank you for everything that you’re doing.
Amy Giddon: Oh, and thank you for everything that you’re doing it and for inviting me on your show and for your great questions.
Juanita Fox: Thanks, Amy.
Scott Miller: Okay, bye now.
Amy Giddon: Have a good day.
Juanita Fox: The Daily Haloha app is really inspiring. Amy’s quiet confidence and desire to simply make a difference makes me feel even better about my daily interactions with her app.
Scott Miller: You know, she mentions the app is really easy to use. It draws you back in.
Juanita Fox: Amy gets her inspiration for the Daily Haloha from the principles of positive psychology. We summarized those principles in a PDF entitled Five Principles of Positive Psychology, and you can find a link to the PDF in the podcast description. The PDF lists the principles. One: gratitude. Two: happiness. Three: joy. Four: presence. And five: mindfulness.
Scott Miller: Thank you for listening to Purpose and Retirement. I’m Scott Miller.
Juanita Fox: And I’m Juanita Fox.
Scott Miller: Special thanks to Amy Giddon for joining us for this podcast.
Juanita Fox: Our senior producer and host is Scott Miller.
Scott Miller: And our co-host is Juanita Fox. Our producer is Gavin Sauder.