When it comes to all the amazing specialists we have on our team, it is much better to point out the problem and leave it to them to solve than to push the solution you’ve already got in your head.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adi Segal, Co-Founder of SendThanksNow.
He is a volunteer EMT, med school drop out, and health tech entrepreneur. These days he spends his time thinking about building the “positive internet” through gratitude and how we can all pay it forward.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I left med school to innovate healthcare. I worked in telehealth, tele psychiatry, and built a business focused on price transparency in healthcare. One thing I learned in the clinical setting is that healthcare jobs are often thankless. I always like to say, if working at a hospital were like working at Google, we would have many more young, happy, motivated, and energetic physicians. Pre-COVID, we were building a healthcare-specific platform with a B2B model to improve morale, recruitment and retention in the industry. When the pandemic hit, we were able to transform our technology from a niche tool into a global gratitude network that harnessed the pent up gratitude of a thankful world to connect us all personally and directly to essential workers near and far. Gratitude is one of the oldest and most powerful gestures in society. One we can always use more of. And we believe, by creating a digital environment where you can only speak in gratitude, it will become the next social currency.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Only a week after we launched, in the same day, from separate people, we heard that the simple gesture of receiving hearts made a nurse cry of joy because she was being recognized and appreciated. At the same time, we spoke with someone who had been stuck in West Africa, and upon arriving back home in America, SendThanksNow was the first thing she heard about.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We thought we could save money and time by hiring a dev shop. It turns out, we went through three iterations made by three different companies, before it became clear that we could really only bring our vision to fruition with an in-house team I had previously worked with in building other companies.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
Because we are built to help gratitude find a way, we are creating a more grateful world. Through our research we have found that those who practice this kind of daily gratitude are more healthy, happy, and resilient, all things we could use more of, especially now.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
The entire ICU team at Hackensack-Meridian University Medical Center, led by Sarah Monchar. They were the biggest hotspot (per capita) of the pandemic for some time and these folks were working around the clock with limited resources. When they started running out of beds, the hospital turned their staff cafeteria into an overflow ICU. We started fundraising and, through a grassroots effort, we were able to feed the entire team 3 meals a day for 2 months straight. Sarah has always been a champion for effective healthcare technology and improving the work environment for providers. These efforts were part of the reason SendThanksNow was created. When she received Hearts for the first time, she saw how delightful the experience was and immediately enrolled her entire team to send them hearts. Now, in addition to that cold pizza and day old caesar salad, these nurses, doctors, PAs, and technicians are now receiving thanks from friends, family, and people they’ve never met who wanted to thank them through SendThanksNow.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Our root problem is the barriers we face connecting with others we want to thank. We know that if our platform is in enough hands it changes from a way to thank essential workers into “the venmo of gratitude.” This transformation comes around because no matter what happens in people’s lives, they’ll know they will be able to connect directly and personally with the person they wish to thank and no action will ever go unthanked again. The fact that gratitude could happen so seamlessly would not only make us all better people through the practice of giving gratitude (as I said above) but make every thankless task, every thankless job, every unthanked action a thing of the past.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
By empowering the team to perform at our highest level and produce amazing, world-changing products is one way of defining leadership. I believe one the most important things you can do as a leader is listen. As our hiring process goes, I always try to be the stupidest person in the room. With that comes trust in every team member. I see myself as bringing the vision and the glue; but every team member is an integral piece of our puzzle.
I know where the product needs to go in order to impact society and delight users, but I don’t always know the best way to get there. In almost every meeting, we make sure to virtually white board and see issues from every angle.
We always like to recognize each person for themselves in addition to part of the team. “Allowing” folks to take some summer time off and flexibly parent only makes us stronger. I also encourage budding mentor/menteeships to blossom into productive relationships. In one of our recent “week-end update” meetings, one person, who doesn’t give compliments lightly, and another who hardly ever reacts with emotion, were giddily sharing their collaboration with the team.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Don’t hire by title, hire by skill.
- Doing is better than planning. Our Motto: GSD — Get Sh*t Done.
- We know nothing compared to what our users know.
- When it comes to all the amazing specialists we have on our team, it is much better to point out the problem and leave it to them to solve than to push the solution you’ve already got in your head.
- Build a strong product, and then a successful company. If you don’t have the first, you won’t get the second.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It’s actually our vision statement, to create a more grateful world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain
I am an experiential learner. Textbooks don’t do it for me. Maybe that’s why I dropped out of med school 😉
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Reid Hoffman because he’s built and invested in multiple successful platforms. Both PayPal and LinkedIn are extremely USEFUL and I believe in those networks. He believes in taking risks on founders and supporting their growth. Most importantly, he’s a humble teamplayer. Bonus: I love his podcast!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@sendthanksnow on IG, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok and more coming soon.
Sign up at SendThanksNow.com → Everyone gets 7 Hearts, one from each of our founding team members, to start them on their gratitude journey!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!