By Tereza Nemessanyi
Honestly Now, Inc.
“As I sit down to write this, I’m nervous.
Our team is jamming to complete the data migration from 1.0 to 2.0. In 1 hour 7 minutes, the announcement is set to break in the press. It will tell the world, or the part of the world who cares, that Honestly Now has a new product, and got funded.
So – why am I shaking?
It’s certainly not our team. They are off-the-charts awesome. I am sure they’ll pull it off. And if there’s a glitch, we have contingency plans.
It’s not the product. We know it won’t be perfect at the start. And we plan lots of quick releases, to get it to “good enough” and beyond.
Is it the messaging? A little. We’re trying to change the world here. And when you’re transversing different areas, it’s hard to get people to “get it”. A Q&A site? A social game? An expert network? A social network? A women’s thing? Well, yes. But, no. Er, kind of. So we tweak, instrument the machine, read the tea leaves.
What makes me tremble is how badly I want this to succeed. I just told a reporter my crazy goal: one billion honest moments. One billion honest moments will make the world a little better. It’ll help a whole bunch of people feel confident in their decisions, and not feel alone like I did that chilly October day a few years ago.
Standing in front of my bedroom mirror, I did not recognize myself. I hadn’t slept or eaten in days. My baby was crying in her carseat on the floor. I was trying to decide if I should wear Mom’s red satin blouse.
It was her favorite color, and the outfit I’d wear to deliver her eulogy, in an hour. This was following a battle with cancer that started and finished with breakneck speed. And just delivered Dad’s eulogy months before. So fast we didn’t even have time to bury him, and his urn was still in the living room – it seemed, waiting for her. We’d be burying them both today.
In a moment of forgetting, I turned to ask, “Hey, does this look okay on me?” – to Mom. She was always there in my darkest moments. But now, not. The dissonance of her not being here slammed my body with full force. My best friend, my biggest fan, and my single truth-teller, was gone.
Her loss hurt most when I had decisions to make, big or small. It continued for weeks, months, and a year. Did I always do what she said? Hell no. But I did value her opinion, deeply. And always, her affirmation — her “You go, girl!”
Mom and Dad were political refugees who defected from Czechoslovakia in 1967. Unable to speak openly there, they landed in the U.S. eager to express themselves –unfiltered by American cultural norms. As the eldest child and a striver, I was on the front line of their feedback. They were eager to dish it out. Nothing was off-limits.
With them gone, the silence was deafening. Should I suck it up and make decisions on my own now? I tried. But this depressed me. I just couldn’t feel great about decisions I’d made in a vacuum.
I started reaching out to friends for advice. They were nice, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that they might be whitewashing the truth. Our relationships were conditional, after all. That honest voice was missing, and as a result, total self-confidence was elusive.
I learned about the science behind social decision-making, which women understand instinctively. When we enlist the help of others, we feel better. We also make measurably better decisions. It turns out we gain from giving advice, too. Across the board, our stress levels go down, and our health improves.
The question emerged: could we leverage today’s technology, so no one ever again has to be alone when making an important personal decision? Could we make people, across the board, feel more confident, by calling on each other when making our decisions?
Yes. And we built it. A bite-sized chunk of market research on yourself, creatable and accessible anywhere and anytime, in a dynamic multi-player game. It had to be snipe- and snark-free, with an expert layer of great advice. Let doing the right thing give you a delicious dopamine rush.
We put out a beta website. Some aspects outperformed our expectations. Others failed. We decided to be bold and blow it up and rebuild the front-end, based on everything we learned. We fell in love with what this new product would become. And we talked to lots of investors along the way. Lots didn’t get it. Many said come back later. And some great ones totally got it, and signed onto the vision. We expanded and upgraded our team.
Today, we’re ever-adjusting, and will for a while. But oddly, somehow closer than ever to that very first honest moment – being alone, needing honest feedback, and no one there to give it.
So – one billion honest moments? I say, game on.
Anyone care to join me?”
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Note: Honestly Now is powered by Experts across all fields, to give their advice and power their personal brands over social media. Is that you? We welcome awesome friends of Mom-entum to apply to be experts, here.