This article is part of a series, The Wisdom of Women: Bold Insights From World Change.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
— Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
I drop my daughter off at school at 8:00 a.m. exactly. Every day, just before she gets out of the car, both of our phones buzz. Although I’ll look at mine as soon as I say goodbye, and she won’t look at hers until lunchtime, that moment when they both buzz is a beautiful reminder that we are connected: to each other and to the world through our experience of being human today.
This moment of connection is brought to us by Amy Giddon, the co-founder and CEO of Daily Haloha. Daily Haloha is a mobile app that is designed to incorporate all the good stuff in our lives into our daily practice and to uplift us, as individuals and as humans. Every morning, the app sends an open-ended question that the user answers. Once you input your answer, you choose a mood to attach to the answer. Honestly, if it stopped there, it would likely be game-changing for many of us. Just taking the time to stop and answer these questions and then acknowledging how the answer makes us feel is powerful.
But, it doesn’t. It sends your answer (anonymously) to one person somewhere in the world, and sends you one other person’s (anonymous) answer. You then get to send back a (still anonymous) response. After that, you are taken to the wall where you can read (and respond to — only with an emotion-related emoji) all the answers submitted from around the whole world. Sometimes I see lots of answers that are similar to mine, which always results in my feeling connected to people everywhere.
Sometimes my answer sticks out, and this provides me with the space to think about how I’m understanding the information other people are presenting to me. Sometimes there’s an answer that is so off-the-wall hilarious I am instantly reminded that the world is made up of people who will take every opportunity they can to insert a giggle or light-hearted moment. Every time I am reminded that the world is full of humans — in some ways alike and in many ways different — and that we are all at once individuals and connected.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Giddon and asking her why she thinks Daily Haloha is important, what motivated her to create it, and how it is different from other forms of social media. The excerpt below is a few of the things we discussed.
Why is Daily Haloha important as a counterbalance to our current social media experience?
Amy Giddon: Traditional social media is built on the financial model of extracting and selling our attention, which has also led to algorithmic manipulation that preys on our outrage and insecurities. We are replacing algorithm with serendipity, status with anonymity, outrage with curiosity, reaction with reflection, judgment with compassion, and approval with authenticity.
While I didn’t set out to disrupt social media, I knew in my bones that projects like collaborative post-it walls made people feel connected — and uplifted in a way that social media didn’t. I also had this vague feeling that my own social media use didn’t make me feel good. So I researched and explored and have now talked to scores of people — academicians and everyday social media users, Baby Boomers and Gen Z-ers, who shared that feeling. I have also become much more aware of my own tendencies to compare, assume, and judge.
My work in creating Daily Haloha has slowed me down in how I respond to others and consider their viewpoints. I feel like I am becoming a better human. My hope is that is what it does for our users, as well.
What has been the hardest part about launching as a profit-focused social enterprise from day one?
AG: The hardest part is when the values we have for the company clash with our finances or growth metrics. Over time, we have made certain decisions because we know they are in line with our values and we believe they are in the best interest of our customers. Some of these decisions have made it more difficult to increase our customer base or revenue.
The other side of this though is that it also encourages us to be creative and innovative in how we think about our business. Running this company has given me permission to research, explore, and connect with others in this space of empathy and connection. As a conscious company, we are dedicated to reimagining the monetization of connection media. We are constantly exploring what this means and how we make our company profitable while also perpetuating the values we want to share with the world. Frankly, we are new in our exploration of this, but we are confident that if we are delivering value to both individuals and society at large, the path to financial success will be there.
What is the legacy you hope to leave with Daily Haloha?
AG: I hope that through my work on the Daily Haloha app I can create a little ripple of wellbeing among our users that spreads outwards to those they, in turn, touch. Our app is intended not only to be uplifting to individuals but to all of us collectively. Kindness, empathy, and acceptance truly are contagious — and start within. When we can practice being kind and accepting of ourselves, we can spread that to others. This is deep stuff, but we hope to make it accessible and enjoyable through our simple daily routine. In addition, our app is “training wheels” for practicing non-judgment and replacing reactivity with curiosity and compassion. Also big stuff — but we think people are tired of constant judgment and outrage on social media and ready for a refreshing change. Let it ripple!
On a personal level, the journey of envisioning, creating, and nurturing Daily Haloha has been transformative for me. It has encouraged and even required that I look inside myself. It has caused me to reflect on my career and appreciate how it prepared me for this work. It has also caused me to acknowledge the fear that kept me from serving my own vision for many years. I hope that my mid-career reinvention may inspire other women to pursue their own dreams. I also think about my three adult kids and what they see when they look at me, as a mother, as a role model, and as a business leader. I hope that part of my legacy is in the values and confidence of my kids.
How do you think being a woman has helped you get to this point with Daily Haloha?
AG: Many women have natural leadership abilities that have become increasingly important in our hyper-connected, distributed, fast-moving world. These skills, such as collaboration, empathy, deep listening, expansive vision, and even humility, have been both a motivation and an asset to me in my work.
Also, being an entrepreneur can be very isolating and the startup journey is challenging and sometimes lonely. When I realized this, I looked for community and reaching out to communities of women felt very natural. Connecting with other female founders has been enriching and motivating. The level of support and encouragement I’ve received from other women has lifted my spirits and upped my game. Hearing the stories of the women farther along in their startup journey has been both daunting and motivating.
I’m so grateful for the chance to chat with Giddon and to get to know more about her story. We are meeting — in person — for the first time at the Women’s Summit this year. One of my favorite things about her is that she is the embodiment of the company (and world) she is creating. She is community, inclusion, and peaceful expression. She is a picture of what it looks like to be human (and a female in tech) today. She is someone who holds space for you. She is someone who takes every chance she can to play. She is someone who gets to the deep authentic truth sooner rather than later. She is all of that and so much more.
See the rest of this series at The Wisdom of Women: Bold Insights From World Change.
LaKay Cornell is a culture critic, writer, speaker, and feather-ruffler. She is on a mission to change the way we create change. Using her unique combination of exciting anecdotes and enticing data, she positions her clients’ work in the context of the social problem they are solving. LaKay also writes, speaks and moderates discussions on Intersectional Feminism, the Language of Empowerment, and Womxn’s Entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit lakaycornell.com.