Redefining Wellbeing Through Transformative Technology With Nichol Bradford

Technology has a transformative power over the world. Whether it takes us to a place of chaos or to a place of greater wellbeing is up to us. Hidden behind the noise is a small, global pool of forward-thinking innovators who are taking the preliminary steps in harnessing the full power of technology to improve human life. Wellbeing tech curator, Nichol Bradford is one of these people. The CEO and founder of the Willow Group and co-founder of Transformative Tech Lab, Nichol sets out on a mission to weave wellbeing and technology together to produce a range of practical possibilities that can transform the world as we know it. In this conversation with Dr. Diane Hamilton, she shares a number of powerful illustrations of how this idea works in practice. Plus, see what you can learn about the bracelet that she is wearing (It has superpowers).

TTL 755 | Transformative Technology


I’m glad you joined us because we have Nichol Bradford here. She is the CEO and Founder of the Willow Group. She is the Executive Director and Cofounder of the Transformative Technology Lab. She combines technology and many of the emotional wellbeing, social and emotional wellness issues that help people meet their full potential. This is such a fascinating show. I am excited to have her on.

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Redefining Wellbeing Through Transformative Technology With Nichol Bradford

I am here with Nichol Bradford who is the CEO and Founder of the Willow Group and the Executive Director and Cofounder of the Transformative Technology Lab. A global ecosystem dedicated to educating, gathering and activating wellbeing, tech founders, investors and innovators. It’s nice to have you here, Nichol.

Thank you for having me. I’m super curious about your work. Being able to be on a call with you is awesome.

I watched your talks. I’ve looked into some of the stuff you’ve done. I know you speak a lot. You’ve had an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. You’ve attended Singularity University. I’m looking at all the stuff that you’ve done. A lot of what you talk and write about is right up my alley. I can’t wait to ask you about this bracelet that you talked about, patients get feedback on and some of the stuff you’ve worked on. First of all, I want to talk a little bit of background on what you’ve done to get to this point. To become this tech-savvy and to have all this idea about innovation, emotional wellness and the stuff you talk about is important. What led you down that path? Can you give me your backstory a little bit?

I went to the Wharton School of Business. On the other side of that, I went into the global video game industry. In the global game industry, I started out at Disney Interactive, then I went onto another company called the Vivendi Games that led me to a company called Blizzard Entertainment, which made Warcraft. It’s one of the legendary games from the game industry. After that, I went to China and led operations for Blizzard. I lead operations for World of Warcraft China and all the other Blizzard properties, which at that time was the largest branch of one of the largest video games in the world. I was rotating to another regional position at the company. I decided to take a little vacation in my transition which included learning how to scuba dive in Thailand, going to Bhutan, and doing one of these meditation retreats.

On that meditation retreat, I had a profound experience. In ten days, I walked out of that retreat incredibly happier than I’ve ever been in my life and fearless. The big thing that I had was a drop in rumination, which is the inner chatter. Most people’s inner chatter is benign at best, but for the most part it’s critical or frightened. When your inner chatter goes away, it naturally gets happy and fearless. It had happened to me in ten days and I wanted to understand what that was. That sent me on a journey through neuroscience, psychology, and contemplative practice.

At that time, I didn’t have a community of meditators to ask like, “What happened to me?” I had to go and find those people. The other thing is I had such a positive experience with games because I was on the backend of World of Warcraft, which allows you to see friendships, communities and relationships. When most people look at games and they don’t play games, they look at games and they see people staring at a screen. They don’t realize that those people are surrounded by people. The games that people play the most are the ones where they’re playing with most people. They’re a community.

Since I had this positive orientation around technology. I thought, “How does everyone get the opportunity to be happy and fearless?” I’m a middle-class kid from Houston, Texas. I grew up on 7510 Lemon Tree Circle. I have a strong orientation towards highly accessible things. The reality is that even if a meditation retreat is free, the bulk of the world has to work every day, a free meditation retreat is a very elite experience. To be able to not work every day is an elite opportunity. Even not having to work on weekends is an elite opportunity. Most of the world works every single day. The thing about technology is it takes what is scarce and makes it abundant. That’s what it does.

[bctt tweet=”When your inner chatter goes away, you can naturally get happy and fearless.” username=””]

We have a lot of messy tech instead of the impact that it’s having on us. If we want to make happiness and fearlessness abundant, technology is certainly one of the tools that we can use. It’s not a replacement, but one of the reasons I’m excited talking to you is that the core of what I believe is amplifying people with these incredible skills or insights. Let’s get superhuman therapists and superhuman coaches on the road to enable people to be who they want to be.

I can relate to everything you said in many ways. I have a company where we always talk about everything’s amplified and you ended with that. The whole beginning of the rumination thing was interesting. I talked a little bit about my work with curiosity. I found that four things keep people from being curious. Those four things were fear, which you talked about, assumptions, which was that inner chatter you’re talking about and that rumination, technology and environment, which is the way people think as you grow up. You hit all four of those nicely in your introductory speech there. I love that because you’re preaching to the choir of what I think is important.

When you’re talking about this retreat and coming out with this fearless ability to come out of that inner chatter, that’s what I’m trying to get companies out with building curiosity because that’s what stops it. Having Daniel Goleman on the show was great because after studying emotional intelligence, he got a lot into the mindfulness area. We talk about some of those things on the show. A lot of people hear meditation and mindfulness, and sometimes they go, “That’s not what I’m into.” It’s getting away from that inner chatter to some extent.

To continue my journey, which is going to be interesting for you. My first big idea was, “Let’s use technology to scale meditation.” I came back to the US and I moved to San Francisco since that’s the place where if you are looking for the intersection of tech and consciousness, which is one of the first goals of meditation, it is the place to do it. That little middle-class kid that wants everybody to have it said, “Not everyone’s going to meditate. What about the benefits of meditation? Can we find tech that supported the outcomes?” One of the first outcomes of meditation is self-awareness, and from that self-awareness and emotional self-regulation, you get the ability to connect. As soon as the noise goes down, you start to see the people around you, as opposed to the projection of the people around or the reactions of yourself to what you think the people around you are about.

That’s one of the reasons why meditation is powerful. It’s because that’s what it does. I certainly don’t think that you have to use meditation to get there. There are other ways to get there. I started saying, “Where’s the tech that’s support self-awareness, emotional self-regulation and human connection?” After that I was like, “You don’t start asking those questions and not find moms with postpartum depression. You don’t ask those questions and not find families with parents who have Alzheimer’s and dementia.” We’re deeply trying to connect to these people. To lose someone who’s still there is difficult for everyone.

You don’t ask these questions and not find the entire human condition around stress, anxiety, depression, happiness, loneliness, self-awareness, emotional self-regulation, human interaction that’s tied to the future of work, or purpose and meaning, and enhancing emotional and cognitive capacity. All of these things, that’s the universe that I’m interested in. Everything that helps us become more human. I have a lot of strong opinions that counter the prevailing point of view on tech around that.

Those are interesting to talk about. Some of what you’re talking about are my research in perception of what you think other people around you are all about and all that. You’re talking about self-awareness and some things that fall into that emotional intelligence realm. Developing empathy is critical to developing that ability to understand what people are around you care about. As far as thinking about technology that goes along with some of this, I work with the Flerish Group. Reid Hoffman had backed this company. They’re doing this curiosity journey to go along with developing curiosity in the Flerish YOU app that they came up with. It’s interesting to try and use technology to build some of these behavioral interaction skills. We know we need empathy. We know we have to develop the self-awareness and self-regulation that you mentioned. What kind of technology have you seen that does some of this? You said with this ability to connect, how do we do that with high tech?

I’ll give some examples. A friend of mine developed this prototype. This was a woman that I knew who worked with a nice and well-meaning guy who tends to talk over all the women in the meetings. Someone would say that to him and he never got it. She wrote an app using natural language processing because she was a data scientist. She used IBM Watson. She wrote an app where everyone would put their phones on the table and the app would know who was talking. At the end of the meeting, it would show who talks the most. In the numbers, he saw that he was overpowering all the people in the meeting. It also did another funny thing, which was if you said that the topic of the meeting was X, how long did you talk about X? It had that productivity thing, but it gave him a mirror that simply taking them aside in the hallway was not enough. He didn’t mean that. He never had a measured understanding of what he was doing. That’s a minor example.

I think that’s such a great example. I love that a woman created this because I’m giving a talk for Forbes and we’re talking about some of the things that women have done to prove that they have utilized this sense of curiosity. She wanted to help this major issue of being talked over. I love that.

TTL 755 | Transformative Technology
Transformative Technology: If we want to make happiness and fearlessness abundant, technology is one of the tools that we can use.


One of my favorites, and we’re going to have the founder and one of his lead investors speaking at my conference on November 13th and 14th, but it’s called Embodied. They have a product called Moxie. I love Moxie because it’s a perfect example of doing everything properly in terms of this tech, which is incredibly powerful. What Moxie does is teaches children social and emotional intelligence. It has an academic grade, gold standard exercises, the robot has a Pixar face and talks to the child and sent the child on a mission. A couple of things that they did great is one, the robot is only alive for one hour a day.

This can lead me to my counterpoint. We’re in this on-demand world. People often cite the marshmallow test as an example of a child knowing how to wait. That’s a part of it. Impulse control, the ability to wait, and understanding that there can be a greater reward if you control your impulses and wait, but how do you teach that? Where’s the parental manual that says that? Having access to figuring that out is yet another elite opportunity. The bulk of the world, especially working parents, don’t have time to learn that stuff and to know how to do it. What Moxie does is instead of talking about teaching children how to wait, children have to wait. It happens. It’s one hour a day.

The other thing that it does that’s essential is it is not the point of mediation. What I mean by that is that the robot is not driving the children into a solo relationship with a robot. The missions are things like, “Who is your best friend?” “My best friend is Katie.” “How does Katie feel?” “I don’t know.” “Go and ask Katie how she feels and then comes back and tells me.” It’s all about sending children out into the world to have experiences with humans and learn to identify their own emotions and the emotions of others and make sense of that.

It’s not about the robot. The robot is like a chapter heading in a good book. It’s a heading or the spine. It’s the instructional sign but in an engaging way. The other thing that they did that was wonderful is security. All of the child’s data like facial expressions, voice, everything is stored locally. The company doesn’t even have the password. If parents lose the password, they have to explain to their child why the robot no longer remembers them because the robot has to be wiped to be usable again.

I’m going to ask you a question about that because I’ve seen enough of these CSI technology shows where they hack into the kid’s camera and whatever it is that they’re using. Even if it’s stored locally, are they hackable at all where they can watch the kids? I know they use blockchain and certain things to keep track of things. You can’t supposedly get into things, but how safe is that part of it?

This was a priority for them. It’s probably a safe as it can be. They’re going to be at my conference, we’ll be sure to ask them. It was a priority for them, which is different. There was a version when someone tried to put something out a few years before and they didn’t. That was not one of the key priorities. I think this is a good example. You might say, “It’s a robot, therefore, how accessible is that? That’s expensive.” The thing about these technologies is they’re all on the curve. When cell phones first came out and I remember those, they were big as bricks and they cost $15,000.

Now they’re super tiny and you can get one for several hundred dollars depending on where you’re at. The same thing will happen, but in terms of how we need to raise the floor, it is true that we don’t have enough Montessori teachers in the world to teach social-emotional skills. Often, when the school budgets are being cut, 90% of K12 teachers in the US want SEL, but it’s the bulk of the offerings out there are Kajabi content drips that train the trainer off a video about how to teach SEL to children. It’s the absolute wrong way to do it. We need products in this category.

[bctt tweet=”We don’t have enough Montessori teachers in the world to teach social and emotional skills. Technology can bridge that gap.” username=””]

We need the people who hear this show who have a desire to solve a problem, to engage, and to be a part of the solution like we need things in this category. That leads us to my first controversial point. Often when I’m talking about this, people are like, “That is so sad that we have to resolve to technology to teach us these kinds of things. Shouldn’t society be such and such?” I’m a female and I’m African-American. I’m also a real student of history. What history shows us is that the nostalgic golden age of a time where humans were awesome to each other. All your students read history and see that we have a long history of being terrible to one another.

Even in the United States, domestic violence was only a crime within the last two decades. We were never ever great. There’s this thing where when a child is born, we don’t expect them to speak English or Spanish or Russian. Even though they’re born with vocal cords, it’s like, “Don’t be a slacker kid. You’ve got the vocal cords.” On the same side, because we’re born with emotions, we think that means we’re born with emotional fluency and that we don’t have to teach them. It’s a sad state of affairs that people don’t magically have it. That’s not ever going to have happened because we never were great at it. What we need to do to create a future that’s sustainable for an abundance for everyone is to get busy. Teach the things that people need in order to be healthy and happy adults. That’s why emotion and technology go together.

I teach for a number of different schools still as an associate faculty. One of them is a technology school here in Arizona. One of the questions I ask them is, what is technology? It’s an interesting question because a probably easier question would be, what isn’t technology? Technology is one thing or another, if it’s bad or if it’s problematic. What seems high tech in the past is now low tech to us and everything is changing. For me, when companies want to be innovative, you have to look above and beyond and see what the good parts are of what your options are. In these courses, a lot of the times we talk about, “Are people getting addicted to technology?”

In the research I did on curiosity, some of the things that surprised me were that technology came back as a factor, but what it was over and under-utilization of it sometimes inhibit curiosity. If you threw somebody a calculator and never taught math, they may be the greatest mathematician in the world if you taught them the foundations behind it. Sometimes they’re over utilizing it in that respect and not understanding the basics. A lot of people are afraid of it or they’re overwhelmed by it.

There are many uses for it. I’m seeing a lot of different things with all these companies. You mentioned a couple of great things with the apps like with the apps I’m working on. My son-in-law works for Apple. I see the stuff that comes out with how they’re monitoring things. It’ll be interesting what cognitive things we can monitor. I’ve watched your talk where you were using a bracelet tied to some cognitive behavioral therapy where patients get feedback. I want to know about that. I didn’t get a chance to follow the whole thing of what you were saying. What are they doing with bracelets with cognitive behavioral therapy?

That is such a wonderful product. I am excited to tell you about it and they have such an amazing team. They have been committed and found the exact right thing. It’s a bracelet by a company called Feel. Their URL is The company name is Sentio Solutions There are biosignals that indicate a change in psychological state. Without context, what does that mean? Heart rate variability, galvanic skin response, signals like this indicate that something has changed. To get the signal on your own, a change in my signal could be excitement and a change in your signal could be fear or vice-versa.

What they’ve done is a practice behavioral therapy program. What they’re selling is not just a bracelet that tells you when your heart rate variability has changed. Heart rate variability is not the same as the heart rate. It’s the variability between your heartbeat. It moves instantly depending on what you’re experiencing. What they do with the program is you have a cognitive-behavioral therapist who is teaching someone CBT. They also have the bracelet on. Let’s say, I used to react in a certain way to something or I’m OCD or something that causes me a lot of distress. The therapist who in this case is an amplified human because of this bracelet. The therapist has been given superpowers.

TTL 755 | Transformative Technology
Transformative Technology: It’s not true that it’s a sad that we have to rely on technology to teach social and emotional skills because, historically, we have never really been good at it.


The therapist teaches me how to deal with my OCD. I skipped my first CBT lesson. I then go out into the world. When I get distressed by the thing that was distressing me, I see that I’ve got a bracelet on my arm which reminds me to use the tool that I have been taught. I can then see in the HRV or signal, what happens when I apply the tool that my therapist taught me. I’m getting real-time feedback and I see it in numbers. One of the things about feedback is that on its own, it can be a mixed bag. Humans love feedback. When you’re learning to walk, gravity is an excellent feedback mechanism. When you’re learning to talk, whether or not people understand you, is a feedback mechanism.

This is a feedback mechanism. I’m out in the world. I’ve got a stain on my shirts. It wasn’t there before. My OCD kicks in. I remember what my CBT therapist told me. I start to apply it while I am doing breathing and going through the table of how I changed my thoughts, and then I can see it on the device, on the mobile app part that ties to the bracelet. I can see that it’s working. I can see over the course of the week that it’s working. When I talked to my therapist by phone, my therapist can see that it’s working. We can talk about specific things as opposed to often therapists all they’re left with is, “How did the week go?” The reality is that human memory is bad.

It’s qualitative versus quantitative, you’re getting much more specifics in reality.

It’s like all the witness studies. There’s been plenty of studies on what people remember about what they saw and mostly, you don’t remember. This is the reason why food journals work because people don’t realize what they’re putting in their mouths. It helps. This is like a food journal that’s digital and real-time. It’s tied to the moment that has this anchor memory so I can remember to do my things. I can see the change and then I can share it with my therapist. The therapist can say, “This thing on Tuesday, tell me what happened.” I can be, “I remember. On Tuesday, I was at my mother’s house. I got triggered over there.”

Their trials and studies are showing higher efficacy rates than a bracelet alone, which makes a lot of sense. In some cases, a therapist alone because instead of the therapist being with someone one hour or one day a week, you’re essentially with someone digitally every day, even though you’re not monitoring the stream. You’re having an impact on them every day for eight weeks. It gives you such power to help people. That’s what they’re doing. It represents human-in-the-loop. That’s an important thing. Especially this kind of technology should have human-in-the-loop.

That’s fascinating in the research from having Albert Bandura on the show and some of the stuff he would talk about. It’s getting people who were afraid of snakes one step closer, baby steps, what about Bob kind of treatment. You get people eventually petting the snake or whatever it is to measure that to see the reaction other than to witness them getting closer. You can see much more data. The data is getting fascinating to me because now you’ve got so much data. You said something in one of your talks that comes up a lot in my discussions in class and in different things. You said that if we knew ourselves as well as Facebook does, we would know ourselves well. There’s so much data out there. Do you think we’re getting too much data? Do you find it a problem what Facebook knows about us? I’m curious what you think about that perspective.

There are two questions in there. One, is there too much data? Yes. We have a ton of data and what you can learn from pure healthcare is that we’re awash with data but not much insight. As you’re moving from gen 1 to gen 2 to gen 3 of any product category, it gets to the point where it needs to be integrated and accessible in a way that’s actionable and meaningful. That’s what needs to happen. There are a couple of great examples, but it’s an early category. In terms of Facebook, I would say overall, the attention economy is bad. Unwrapping that is terrible. It’s going to take some regulation for sure and it should.

[bctt tweet=”We face two futures: one looks like Starfleet while the other one looks like Hunger Games. The difference is in the state of the human mind.” username=””]

I loved Tristan Harris in the Center for Humane Tech. The way I view my work and their work is like every football team, basketball team and soccer team have multiple positions on the team. People are doing different things. I see our work as complementary. They are focused on unwinding the hairball and I support them. It’s going to take some regulation. I personally think that the people at these organizations by year three knew what they were doing. It’s going to have to work its way out. I think of some things like when you look at the things that we used to think were okay, that we now know we’re not. Long before, it’s one of the things that I think is interesting. I read about this history of early childhood attachments.

I read about the wire monkey studies where the monkey would choose fur cover feeder, even if that fur cover feeder hurt them versus a wire feeder. The person who did that study, one of the things that were the prevailing wisdom at the time among the upper-class family was that if you touch children, it was not good for their health. Where it came from originally was before you came from Europe, before there was a real understanding of germs, people didn’t understand what germs were doing. If you did kiss and hug your children a lot, maybe they got sicker than the ones that you didn’t.

It was one of those things. There are lots of things that at one point we thought were good and then we learned were bad, and now we do something about it. With the attention economy, that hairball needs to be cleaned up. It needs to be regulated and people need to have data privacy, sovereignty and security. That being said, we also need a way to close this gap that I’ll describe to you and to your reader. The fundamental issue that we’re experiencing now isn’t just that technology is draining our attention. There’s a wider issue. What that is, is that our technology is on exponential curves and our crises are on an exponential curve. Climate is on an exponential curve. Inequalities on an exponential curve.

We have all these things that are on exponential curves and human growth development is linear and analog. It is poorly distributed. It is driven by luck and that gap between the linear line of how we become healthy humans in the world that we face is dangerous. We’re on a timeline to close that gap because fundamentally, what’s happening is there are two futures. One looks more like Star Fleet, that’s the one I want and the other one looks more like a Hunger Games. All I have to do is watch the news, and you can see that both these futures are percolating at the same time.

The difference is the state of the human mind. It is our mental and emotional health, our ability to connect with one another and all of those things. Technology is the only thing that can pollinate. I’ve gotten rid of the word scale because it’s just gotten a little too dirty. It’s the only thing that can pollinate at speed. It’s technology. We can raise that and start to get people to things that they need to heal to upskill and to become who they want to be.

As you say the Star Fleet thing. They got this great future, but they crashed and burned before they got to it. They have World War III or something first that made people be able to get along later. Do you think we’re going to have some major thing that happened that’s going to force us to be able to have that great future?

We’re in it now. Also, for the people who haven’t watched Star Trek, one of the fundamental elements of that is that humanity for the most part is decided that they’re on the same team. They decided that they were on the same team. They decided that the environment matters and it’s a meritocracy. I’m in a lot of contemplative circles and I love contemplative circles. Those would be like monasteries, churches, and things like that. It turns out that all of the world’s major religions and philosophies have a meditative branch. Those people would be called contemplative whether they’re monks, nuns, priests or Carmelite nuns. For a variety of reasons, I’m in a community with people across the board. Sometimes, there are people who question, is it cheating to do any of this in an easier and faster way? I don’t think we have the luxury of a great deal of time. Which branch? Which road? Star Trek or Hunger Games, that gets decided in the next fifteen years. It’s the one that we live with for 100 years or more. That’s happening now.

TTL 755 | Transformative Technology
Transformative Technology: The fundamental issue we are experiencing today is that technology is all on exponential curves and crises are on exponential curves, but human growth and development is linear and analog.


Some people are saying that we’re already past the point. Even if you stop climate change right now or whatever different things that they’re worried about, are we passed the point of making any changes that are going to destroy us? Is there that reality?

We’re always on the verge of destroying our self. In your role at business schools, you’ve seen a lot of the literature on what happens when a team becomes a high performing team. There’s a wonderful organization called Startup Genome that publishes what are the top reasons that startups fail. I was looking at it and they had things at the top like the product-market fit and a bunch of other things, and team was down at the bottom. I was like, “All these things are people problems.” The person I was talking to was like, “What do you mean? They built something the market did not want.” I said, “They built something the market didn’t want because there was someone on the team who was afraid to say this sucks.”

They weren’t listening to each other, to the market and to customers. There was some part of them that was not aware enough and not in tune enough to listen. That’s a people problem. You can call it a bunch of other things. It doesn’t have to reflect that on your social, emotional skills, but that’s a people problem. The thing is that, is it too late? I don’t think so. Humans are extraordinary and resourceful that if you focused on solving our problems, the current conventional wisdom about where we are with climate change and I take that seriously. I live in California, the sky was orange. It’s the answer.

It’s like what you said earlier that there’s a mathematician who was given a calculator so we never knew. If we were able to get rid of the things that keep us from truly working together, are there inventions that in a green swan way fix our problems faster in the way that we never imagined? Yes. The good example that’s amazing and it happened a few years ago is I’m interested in deep brain stimulation, noninvasively. You have a lot of people out there that are putting things in and those are certainly important evolutions of neuro checks, but the ability to stimulate the brain without cracking the skull, which is dangerous.

The ability to do that came down to math and it happened at MIT and Avoidance Lab. The understanding of how to alternate the waveforms, whether you’re using ultrasound or electricity or a magnet so that you can have a finite point of impact inside the brain. What that means is that before, the only people who would be able to qualify for your brain surgery are people who have life-ending or all the things that have to be wrong for you to have any kind of brain surgery that includes opening up your skull. It is the last resort as it should be.

What this does is it makes it not necessarily the thing of last resort. This needs a long time period of trial. There are people who have something that doesn’t quite ring the bell on last resort and work that now have something, and it came down to math. It’s a profound thing. There are innovations that are on the cusp that once they move into safe and once they move going from correlation to causality what it will unlock. We’re in a few years from what I consider to be these major unlocks that I think will be transformative. Are we cooked? Is our goose cooked? I don’t think so. It certainly is if we believe it is and if we don’t do anything, but I don’t believe that it is. The next great frontier is the human part, the human mind, and the human heart. That’s where we have to double and triple down because that’s the part that gets in the way of us working together in a way that could solve our problems.

You bring up many great points and it reminds me of some conversations I’ve had on the show. I’ve had Richard Stallman on. He’s the creator of Linux and GNU, the software and his concerns about technology and where it’s going. We hear much about people not wanting to have an echo in their home or different things of that’s monitoring. We already talked about if Facebook has too much data on us. Do you feel uncomfortable having an echo or some of those devices? Do you have some technology that you think we shouldn’t have facial tracking software or things like that? Where do you stand on what’s too much and what’s not okay tech?

[bctt tweet=”The next great frontier is the human mind.” username=””]

We spent a good chunk of our time at our conference. We have an online academy for people who are interested in becoming innovators and entrepreneurs in this space, to learn about all of the technologies and to join a community of like-minded people who also want to build things. A big chunk of our stuff is on data sovereignty, data privacy, data ethics, on design principles around things like human-in-the-loop. The technology shouldn’t make you dependent on it. You should be better without it.

We’re in a middle space where we didn’t know enough to make the good stuff yet. By me, it’s the royal we, the tech and everyone around it. We didn’t know that second-hand smoke was bad and now we know. We have to make the good stuff, but going back to where we are from a data standpoint, there’s a role of government and regulation around what happens to the data. There is something about like Amazon launched their health app. There’s a voice thing on it. What on that date is going to be HIPAA protected? Your psychological data selfie that Facebook uses is precise and it’s such a clear image of your psychological state, which includes your psychological health. Should that be HIPAA protected? At what point does it become that? There are things to unwind to navigate here.

For people who are not in the medical field, HIPAA is the protection of your information that the medical field can’t disclose about you. In education, it’s FERPA. There are all these different things you have to keep confidential. It will be interesting to know. Having worked as a pharmaceutical rep for fifteen years, my husband’s a physician, it’s interesting to see the medical field and where they are in the tech space. I was surprised by how far behind doctors were, to be honest with you. It took them forever to get out of a DOS-based system in the hospitals around here. The COVID situation has unfortunately made people move it at a different pace than they were moving in the past. There’s so much that we need to learn individually and as groups.

I want to talk about your event, but I wanted to ask you about one thing that you had mentioned about the Japanese concept and I couldn’t quite figure out what you were talking about. I thought it was interesting because you were talking about, “You have to question who I am before you can contribute to the question who we are,” and you got into some of that. What was the Japanese concept? The meaning as a reason for being is what you were discussing.

It’s called Ikigai. What it means is the thing that you do that’s at the intersection of what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you’ll be paid for, and to find something that’s right at the middle of it. I think a great use of technology is to help people find that.

That’s why we have such bad engagement in the workplace. A lot of the big factors is that people aren’t allowed to ask questions or explore or provide input sometimes, and all the things. If we could let people explore to some extent, you can find things that you find much more engaging and you can align yourself. As AI is going to take over some of these jobs, it would be great to align yourself with something you feel passionate about. I was interested in that and I know you do many things. You have members in 72 countries and 450 cities, and all these events that you hold. I want to talk about that because you have one coming up and I know you’re offering something special if they use the Dr. Diane code. I want to get that in before we ended because I know a lot of people will be interested in what you’re doing.

We have a conference and we’re calling it Redefined Wellbeing. It’s on November 13th and 14th, online. It’s completely digital. People can participate from anywhere. How I came to that theme was right after COVID started. I sat with the idea of, “What would it take for this moment to be the one that set off decades of abundance? What would it take?” What I came to was that taking this idea of wellbeing, which we define as it’s health and happiness. Specifically, what we look at is mental and emotional wellbeing. With that, we’re looking at the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, connection and sleep, and then social and emotional wellness, human interaction, self-emotional, and self-deregulation.

These are all the future of work skills because when the role tasks go away, what’s left is how we work together. We don’t teach that at the scale that matches the problem in terms of job elimination or task elimination. The last one is the human purpose and performance. As we’re thinking about it, we have to take these things and we have to put them at the center of our models, not some side thing. It has to come to the center of our models because it’s the thing we haven’t tried yet. There are lots of cases where people do it and you see amazing results.

TTL 755 | Transformative Technology
Transformative Technology: When the rote tasks go away, what’s left is how we work together, and we don’t teach that at the scale that matches the problem.


If you are an entrepreneur and you’re interested in building something in this space, or if you are an innovator, so you can be a teacher, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a doctor but you’re like, “There has to be a better way,” this is also for you. If you’re an investor, maybe you’re a healthcare investor who is now more interested in prevention, or maybe you’re an ed-tech investor who now thinks we finally should do something about social and emotional learning. If you’re any of these types of people, founders, innovators or investors, this is the event for you. You’ll meet lots of people and hear the most cutting-edge things about how we redefine wellbeing as well as seeing over 100 companies that are doing it.

Many people could benefit from that. I’m looking forward to it. What’s the main website to get to it?

The website is We have a 15% discount for anyone who codes Dr. Diane.

It sounds like an amazing event. I could talk to you about this all day. This is fascinating and I loved watching your speeches. I know you lecture at Stanford and I’ve had Barry Ryan who teaches a curiosity course there, and a lot of people from Stanford. I was excited to have you on the show because I thought you do an amazing job of touching on many fascinating areas in technology. Thank you, Nichol. I enjoyed this.

It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

I hope everybody checks out your site.

I’d like to thank Nichol for being my guest. We get many great guests on the show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can catch them at We air on all the podcasts stations and AM/FM shows that are listed on our website. Everything can be found there. I hope you check out the Curiosity Code Index and the Perception Power Index there as well. If you have any questions, you can contact me through the site. I hope you join us for the next episode.

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About Nichol Bradford

TTL 755 | Transformative TechnologyNichol Bradford is the CEO and Founder of the Willow Group and the Executive Director and co-founder of the Transformative Technology Lab, a global ecosystem dedicated to educating, gathering, and activating wellbeing tech founders, investors, and innovators. Today, they have members in 72 countries and 450 cities and offer tentpole events online or in person that attract 1K+ attendees. They help founders leveraging exponential tech for mental and emotional wellbeing, social and emotional wellness, and human potential and performance find feedback, funding, and friends. They help investors find the best wellbeing tech founders and companies. They help corporate innovators understand and apply these powerful tools.


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