Interviews with purpose-driven business leaders who have dedicated their work to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Johnny Crowder, and I’m the Founder & CEO of Cope Notes. We use daily text messages to improve mental and emotional health for businesses, schools, and governments, all the way down to individuals like you and me.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
This question and the next one will bleed together, so I’ll do my best to separate them. I’ve been touring in a band for over a decade, singing about mental and emotional health on stage, speaking at conferences and events about stigma, consent, sobriety, self-harm, and so on. I went to UCF for psychology and wound up doing advocacy and peer support through NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), which effectively changed the course of my career forever. I’m a long-time player in the mental health space, and all of that comes from lived experience.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I’m a suicide/abuse survivor who grew up with multiple diagnoses, from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to OCD and PTSD and beyond. I’ve felt this pain, I’ve lived through it. I’ve scrambled for resources, been denied care, and grown furious at the healthcare system for neglecting people like me. Cope Notes is the tool I always wanted to find but never did. In a mind-blowing full-circle kind of way, I get to work on the solution to the problem I’ve faced for my entire life every single day. I can’t explain how wild that feels, or how much it drives me on a daily basis.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
We’re texting thousands of people around the world every day, interrupting their negative thought patterns and helping them cope with life’s challenges. We’re in the business of training people’s brains to think healthier thoughts, and we’ve literally saved lives with our work. We have users in 93 countries around the world and counting! There is absolutely nothing more fulfilling than knowing that people are still alive because of something we texted them.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
My lived experience, without a doubt. Knowing firsthand how difficult it can be to struggle with mental health, I can never stop fighting for people who feel like I’ve felt. Once you experience a pain like that, you’ll do whatever it takes to prevent other people from feeling it, even if only for a moment.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
I want Cope Notes to change the way people think and talk about mental health. I want mental health to be just as culturally accepted as brushing your teeth or eating your vegetables. By the time I die, “mental” will be a permanent (and sizable) player in the overall “health” conversation.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
Without any venture capital or rich uncles, Cope Notes has been 100% bootstrapped. It’s been a challenge to grow the company this way, primarily because we can’t just throw a bunch of money at every roadblock we encounter. But when you don’t have money, you have to get creative, and we’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons by rolling our sleeves up and digging into this creative process.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
Mental health doesn’t only apply to people living with a diagnosis, or people struggling with a symptom or two right now. If you have a brain inside of your head, you should be making an effort every day to take care of it, so this conversation should be at the top of your list right now.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
“Make it easy for people to do the right thing” is a phrase that’s always stuck with me. If you just focus on helping people make good decisions rather than trying to make those decisions for them, you’ll make a much longer-lasting impact on the world.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU AND YOUR CAUSE?
Go to copenotes.com and grab a subscription for you, a friend, a family member, or a group you’re a part of! You never know who it might help, or whose life it might change.
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