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S1:E2 | Digital Wave Riders | Destigmatizing Mental Health with Robyn Hussa Farrell

Updated: Jan 19

We sit down with Robyn Hussa Farrell, CEO of Sharpen Minds. Robyn shares the importance of understanding the essential message and purpose of a company's mission during the development of a brand-new website and how that correlates to a strong relationship with her web design team.

Access these incredible educational assets regarding mental health at

Full Transcript.

BC Babbles (00:01.869)
it's all functions here. Oh, yeah. It's, it's great. So far, obviously, zoom is not like the go to or as far as like high quality podcast, it's not your go to for that kind of like remote virtual interviews. So I'm happy that I hopped on to this platform recently. All right, shake it out, get in the groove. Let's do this thing. All right. Good morning and welcome back to the digital wave writers podcast. I'm joined this morning by Robin Husser Farrell, who is

Robyn Hussa Farrell (00:02.244)
All the buttons and bells and whistles. It's a cool platform. It's kind of neat.

Robyn Hussa Farrell (00:14.475)

That's cool.

BC Babbles (00:28.393)
chiming in all the way from the West Coast, San Diego. Thank you for joining me at eight o'clock your time. I really, really appreciate you being up this early. Is this like a usual time you're up or is this like a special morning just for the podcast?

Robyn Hussa Farrell (00:43.758)
Yeah, you know, we get up early and we're still we have all of our partners and clients are on the East Coast. So we're like up and at them, you know, on zoom and things by 7am. So this is normal for us. Yeah.

BC Babbles (00:53.889)
Nice, nice. Now you were the CEO of this really incredible educational resource called, now clarify for me real quick, Sharpen or Sharpen Minds?

Robyn Hussa Farrell (01:03.934)
Yeah, good question. The name of our company is Resiliency Technologies, to make things even more confusing. And the platform that we built is called SharpIn.

BC Babbles (01:09.285)

BC Babbles (01:14.901)
Awesome. Now, Sharp End centers around providing, you're very focused on de-stigmatizing knowledge and education around mental health, making the conversation more feasible for everyone who needs or wants to be involved in those topics. So I know this was a 20 year long creation for you and your associates. So talk a little bit about what brought it to be, what was the inspiration behind it and how that development process looked for you guys.

Robyn Hussa Farrell (01:43.606)
Yeah, so I was working bringing kind of evidence-based programs that are scientifically driven into schools and that was really looking 20 years ago at trying to get ahead of mental health challenges that were affecting so many kiddos. And what we saw, which is kind of what is obvious, is that there wasn't a whole lot of stuff out there. So I have a background in the arts and I work with my husband who also has a background in the arts.

BC Babbles (01:58.674)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (02:11.946)
And we sort of married this idea of bringing high quality arts related programming with high quality research in order to reach more kiddos. And so what that looked like in the old days, that was live and we would do it analog. And then in about 2014, we built a platform that in essence can deliver this mental health educational content. And now we're evolving a digital therapeutic product.

BC Babbles (02:20.819)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (02:41.57)
that actually can help with clinical support.

BC Babbles (02:44.749)
Oh, very nice. So when it comes to the kind of, not to use the word typical, but like kind of a day-to-day operations, what does your day-to-day look like? I know you just mentioned that you have most of your clients on the East Coast, which is why you're up so early anyway. So talk about what your day looks like. What is your activity? What does a day in the life within this operation look like?

Robyn Hussa Farrell (03:11.31)
You know, Brandon, they say you are all the way from the janitor to the CEO when you run a new company. And I think nothing could be more true. So we I wake up, I try to get ahead of the three or four hundred emails that are, you know, in our inbox and also check in on all the team members and things and get caught up there.

BC Babbles (03:17.447)

BC Babbles (03:20.894)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (03:36.234)
And then we spend a good bit of our day doing sales and or demo meetings and things like that, trying to do outreach. Um, we also try and do a lot of communications in terms of media. So posting blogging, like all those things, try to keep that going. Um, and then also naturally all the research and sort of, um, sort of biz running the business side of running a business, which is not the fun stuff, but that's the stuff that has to get done as well.

BC Babbles (03:52.986)

BC Babbles (03:59.635)

BC Babbles (04:04.253)
Absolutely, I totally get you on that. And I love your mention of being everything from the janitor to the head. I have a great colleague who built and developed this really great co-working organization here in Charlotte. And if you're looking for the owner of this incredible business, find the person who's taking out the trash. And I love that phrase. So it sounds like you obviously, launching into Sharp and you have already this strong engagement with the digital sphere.

Robyn Hussa Farrell (04:20.502)
Yeah, exactly.

BC Babbles (04:31.397)
When you were building up your ability to provide access to these resources and planning out your plans for communication, what were your initial strategies and what do those look like for you guys?

Robyn Hussa Farrell (04:43.978)
You know, in the early stages, you don't have a lot of, it felt for me anyway, like we didn't have a lot of time or bandwidth to even do any strategic thinking around marketing or comms. And so when a resource, especially like NextWave, came around and it happened to be our CTO, recommended it naturally, Brian Denstead. And I think, you know, why it was essential is because you actually don't,

BC Babbles (04:54.458)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (05:11.766)
realize when you're trying to do all these things at once, how essential communications are. And even coming from the communication field and having a background in that area, knowing how important it is, you just, it feels like one of those things you don't have time for, but it's absolutely essential. And so that, I think what it felt like for me in the early days was more, oh my gosh, I'm so behind on communications.

BC Babbles (05:17.52)

BC Babbles (05:20.945)
Hmm. Yeah.

BC Babbles (05:31.267)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (05:41.454)
we're not posting and we're not keeping our site updated. And there's no sort of strategy around what's happening on our tools, both social media and website. And so I feel like that, you know, is in hindsight. I think I wish I would have done that a little more strategically because it's so essential.

BC Babbles (05:50.226)

BC Babbles (06:02.245)
Now, did you have any kind of initial marry between concerns with your business goals and initial communications plans that have been able to be kind of sub, not subverse, but that have thankfully you guys have gotten past? Like any concerns that you initially had that you've been able to bypass and just see better development from there?

Robyn Hussa Farrell (06:26.846)
Yeah, so it's funny, 20 years ago when I started doing this kind of research and work, the concept of mental health in general was not back then even talked about, right? If you think back, we liken it a lot to talking about cancer back in the 60s and 70s, and I have family members that were researchers in that field. So.

BC Babbles (06:39.282)

BC Babbles (06:46.36)


Robyn Hussa Farrell (06:50.746)
in the old days, like talking about mental health was something that you just didn't do. And therefore, like your communication strategy, you really had to think creatively in order to get people to engage. And then COVID happened. And since 2020, everybody's talking about mental health, because finally, there was a paradigm shift. And so now our communication strategy is a little different, because we don't have to educate people about mental health while we're, you know, extending outreach about it.

BC Babbles (07:01.193)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

BC Babbles (07:06.909)

BC Babbles (07:10.034)

BC Babbles (07:19.962)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (07:19.986)
So that's kind of how things have pivoted for us in terms of our trajectory, I guess.

BC Babbles (07:27.517)
Gotcha. And so in talk, get a little bit more into how that verbiage has been able to change over time, because obviously, like, like you said, 20 years ago, you had to find a way to kind of subvert people's like taboo mindset about it. And nowadays, I feel like there's a lot more capacity for transparency now. And as you mentioned, the COVID obviously propelled that forward. So has that provided a kind of a

Robyn Hussa Farrell (07:49.01)
Oh yeah. Yeah.

BC Babbles (07:55.285)
a liberation from on your end with how transparently you can talk about these topics.

Robyn Hussa Farrell (08:01.246)
Yeah, for sure. So that shift for us, the way it kind of manifest is on the one hand, it was a great thing. Because like you're saying, we didn't you didn't have to do a whole lot of teaching while you were doing your communications plan. You didn't have to explain what mental health or mental disorders were because it was like, what is anxiety? What are eating disorders, et cetera? Now everybody gets it. They know what those are. However, the downside of that is now there's just an avalanche of content out there.

BC Babbles (08:22.217)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (08:30.834)
not all of it vetted, but we cite a lot of research. And one study that I like to reference says that there's over 20,000 different mental health applications. Only one to 3% of those are evidence-based or use science. So you know that it's trusted and Sharpen is one of those, but you now have to sift through all the noise in order to find those quality products.

BC Babbles (08:30.857)

BC Babbles (08:44.167)

BC Babbles (08:55.865)
Right, and so your advice to anyone who needs to find an educational resource on any topic within mental health, save that they happen to not find smart. What would you say are things to look for to disqualify sources that are not vetted, that are not from trusted sources?

Robyn Hussa Farrell (09:12.141)

That's a great, great question. So I think the first thing a person would wanna look for is to make sure that there are research studies supporting whatever it is that they're engaging in. So if you're downloading an app, if you're accessing tools online, just kind of look deeper and read about who did the research and most importantly, how the research was funded. So the research that I have been doing for 20 years,

was mostly funded by families and mostly funded by foundations supporting children and adolescents who are struggling. So there is a kind of an autonomy there that's different than, for example, if the funds come from whatever, some other type of corporate or other funders. So I think that's a really important thing to just do your own due diligence around where is this information coming from. And then...

BC Babbles (09:43.706)

Mm. Yeah.

BC Babbles (09:58.173)

BC Babbles (10:05.139)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (10:09.182)
I think the integrity and the trust and validity of the people that are involved with the product. So really dig, look at, just because somebody may have the word MD or the letters MD after their name, doesn't actually mean they may have a lot of training in the world of psychology. So you just have to kind of really know what, look a little more intentionally at the folks, the people that are involved as well.

BC Babbles (10:13.969)

BC Babbles (10:21.846)
Mmm. Yeah.

BC Babbles (10:35.017)
Hmm. Yeah. And I love you mentioning the kind of funding that you had with those initial research that you did, because when it comes from families, there is a kind of a positive subjectiveness there. You know, again, they're supporting kids, they have kids. So it's like, we need to make sure that what's being funded is going to provide back to us real resources, real education, so that there's a lot more development in this.

world of topics that needs to be elaborated on. I love that.

Robyn Hussa Farrell (11:05.598)
Yeah, 100%. And you know, when families are funding things, it's typically because they have they've seen it firsthand, they've experienced it firsthand. These are hard earned dollars that are coming out of the pocketbooks of regular humans in the trenches versus big corporate dollars that are funding these things, which it's great to and I believe in you know, our economic system, but I think that there is you really when you're working with families who have been there,

BC Babbles (11:12.76)

BC Babbles (11:16.59)

BC Babbles (11:20.049)
Yeah, yeah.

Robyn Hussa Farrell (11:35.443)
they've experienced loss, they've experienced illness in different ways, it changes you.

BC Babbles (11:37.395)

BC Babbles (11:43.725)
Yeah, and it's not just that they know firsthand, it's that they know what it's like to not have those answers, to not have that information. So that's what they're trying to make sure other people can not experience. That's the...

Robyn Hussa Farrell (11:49.482)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (11:54.678)
Yeah, we build these tools, but listening to the audiences that need them. And that's the essential thing, is you really gotta learn from who your audience is that you're trying to serve.

BC Babbles (11:59.719)

BC Babbles (12:06.321)
Hmm. Now shifting over a little bit onto your current communications strategies, the avenues that you guys are exploring, you obviously have a website, a beautiful website. And by the way, anyone who's watching this episode, be sure to switch on over to sharpen and check them out after this episode, of course, watch the whole episode first, and then go check them out. So obviously, so Brian pitches to you and but obviously, building a website, especially one with this kind of

topic as the focus and acting of course as an educational resource is a process, right? So for you and going through this process, you hit the green light on it. What for you was important regarding how you were being kept involved while this was being built for you? Because obviously, based on what we've just discussed, we got to make sure that what's being represented.

is high quality and reflects that capacity for education, non-stigmatized education.

Robyn Hussa Farrell (13:08.266)
Yeah. So I, for us, it was a bit of a two-pronged approach to developing our, communication materials on the website. The first was we worked with a fantastic marketing and, communications expert. His name is Will Rothschild. And what you do is sort of look over the personas or the individuals whom you're serving most. So who's coming to your website? What is the very first thing you want them to do within one second on that website? And how would you like them to engage?

So we went through a big strategic kind of mapping process that sort of as a team. And then what was so great about working with NextWave is then we were able to break that down and say, so now here's what the site map should look like. Here are the pages that we think would be the most essential. And then I love the model with NextWave because as always, you always need to keep your site updated and fresh. So I'm able to...

BC Babbles (13:44.339)

BC Babbles (13:54.889)

BC Babbles (14:03.826)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (14:06.986)
directly kind of delegate. It's like I suddenly have a whole communication team daily, practically. I'm sure a lot of them may be eye rolling right now because I harass them, Angelo, so many times. But I'm able to give updates almost weekly, monthly, and that is so helpful to a CEO who has a small team. So for me, that has been just an amazing way to...

BC Babbles (14:13.715)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (14:32.898)
kind of building a strategy and then delegate and execute on that strategy using a resource like NextWave.

BC Babbles (14:38.286)

And let's also mention, and we I don't think we can ever understate this the importance of clear navigation as well with this with the website with this kind of topic, right people need to be able to find what they're looking for and perusing it on my end and not and not myself being incredibly versed within this realm. It's like if I want to find something I know where to go it's very nice and so anyone who is like me and has no idea what they're doing or no idea what they're looking for, they can find it super easily. And I love that for you guys. So

With that in place, how have you seen engagement and communications change for you guys in regards to people finding resources, being able to contact you? What does that look like for you guys?

Robyn Hussa Farrell (15:17.047)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (15:22.418)
Yeah, so what we've seen, especially over the last two years, again, given COVID and given people really searching for mental health, we are working currently on kind of getting our SEO and some of the search functionality really strengthened on our website and on our social media channels. And so to do that sort of, it was a learning curve for me because I'm a little old school and it's just, I'm trying to keep up with like all of the different tech.

BC Babbles (15:31.141)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (15:52.142)
kind of changes. So one great example, we're seeing more of people coming to the website now because just a simple trick on social media, adding hashtags to every single post that we do and always having a call to action that brings people back to the website. Some of these things seem super simple and obvious, but actually I wasn't doing those things. I was just doing a post and then I wouldn't redirect somebody.

BC Babbles (16:02.334)

BC Babbles (16:11.826)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (16:18.262)
like back to the blog on the website or back to a certain page on the website. So those are little tips and tricks that we've been seeing benefit from in terms of more folks coming to the Sharp and Minds website and then more people engaging in our services. So we are getting more folks contacting the, our primary goal is to get people to sign up for a demo.

BC Babbles (16:28.186)

BC Babbles (16:38.247)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (16:45.202)
or to just connect with us to do research. That's our number one priority. And we've seen an increase in that over the last two years.

BC Babbles (16:47.901)

BC Babbles (16:53.821)
Beautiful. And I'm and I love that you mentioned the calls to action and adding hashtags, because when you really engage with it, you finally kind of realize, I think there's this kind of assumption where communications, sometimes you just you just send stuff out, it's just one way. But then you realize, no, it's a lot more cyclical. It's a lot more there's, there's got to be a reach out, but then you got to draw something back, you have to make it work and become a kind of a self feeding kind of thing. So I love that you mentioned that.

Robyn Hussa Farrell (17:07.894)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (17:15.107)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (17:19.49)
That's right. Yeah.

BC Babbles (17:22.501)
So is there anything unique within Sharpen, I'm gonna keep Ms. Brown's sharp in mind, sorry. Anything important coming up for you guys, anything you want people to be aware of right now that they should hop onto if they're looking for this kind of resource?

Robyn Hussa Farrell (17:38.57)
Yes, and this is also applicable to NextWave. Another shout out to Angelo and Caitlin, team members there on NextWave, who've been working with us to get our e-commerce site up and going. We're about to launch that. So we used to say that we needed to kind of have this paradigm shift in mental health, but we also wanted people to know there was an area where you could come

BC Babbles (17:54.983)
Oh, that's so good.

BC Babbles (18:03.151)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (18:08.13)
purchase items that support you in your mental health journey. And so there will be many, many items on this storefront available on Sharpens website. And that it's taken, it was, it's what I say to my family. It's what I did this summer. What I did this summer is I got like a whole e-commerce storefront ready. So it happens to be my artwork, which I also developed and

BC Babbles (18:24.389)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (18:35.406)
utilized when I was working in treatment centers for kids, children and adolescents, and use it as mindfulness and as ways to reduce stress. So it's a whole library of products that support mental health and resiliency. So we're super excited that that's coming up here in the next seven days, actually.

BC Babbles (18:43.987)

BC Babbles (18:56.197)
Oh, that's so cool. I'm so excited for you guys. You gotta make sure, keep us in mind. And I will like, I will like shout that out once that it's launched and available for everybody. That is so awesome. Well, we're about at the end here with my time with you. And I really appreciate you hopping on again, this morning from the West Coast. Before I let you go though, how can people find you? Obviously there are Where else can people see your activity?

Robyn Hussa Farrell (18:58.285)

Robyn Hussa Farrell (19:04.172)
Thank you. Nice.

Robyn Hussa Farrell (19:20.066)
Most, I'm on Instagram mostly and also on LinkedIn. So those are two great places, if not just at

BC Babbles (19:25.766)

BC Babbles (19:29.745)
Perfect. Well, thank you again, Robin, for joining me this morning. This has been a fantastic convo, especially with us touching base a little bit beforehand on the theater stuff. I told Robin before I have like a really elaborate masks. I have the simple one, so it's not too distracting, but I'll, I'll share those with you later on. Thank you again. And I hope you have a fantastic day, Robin.

Robyn Hussa Farrell (19:51.094)
Thank you, Brandon. Thanks for having me.

BC Babbles (19:53.262)
No problem. I'll go ahead and end the recording.

Destigmatizing Mental Health with Robyn Hussa Farrell
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