November 14

Episode 1261: Invest in Others – Interview with Founder of Cope Notes Johnny Crowder – Part 2

Inspired Stewardship Podcast, Interview, Invest In Others


Join us today for Part 2 of the Interview with Johnny Crowder founder of Cope Notes...

This is Part 2 of the interview I had with suicide and abuse survivor, speaker, musician, mental health and sobriety advocate and founder of Cope Notes.  

In today’s interview with Johnny Crowder, I ask Johnny about how we can help others without trying to “fix them”.  Johnny also shares how you can find and live your calling.  I also ask Johnny to share with you about mentorship.

Join in on the Chat below.

Episode 1261: Invest in Others - Interview with Founder of Cope Notes Johnny Crowder - Part 2

[00:00:00] Scott Maderer: Thanks for joining us on episode 1,261 of the Inspired Stewardship Podcast.

[00:00:06] Johnny Crowder: Hey, I'm Johnny Crowder and I'm challenging you to invest in yourself, invest in others, develop your influence and impact the world by using your time, your talent, and your treasure to live out your calling. Having the ability to train your brain to combat anxiety is key, and just one way to be inspired to do that is to listen to this The Inspired Stewardship Podcast with my friend Scott.

[00:00:35] Only two

[00:00:36] things. It is knowing full well that I experience firsthand the problem that I'm solving on a daily basis, so deeply intimately understanding the pain associated with not solving this problem, and then prayer around how to solve. That's literally it.

[00:00:57] Scott Maderer: Welcome

[00:00:58] and thank you for joining us on [00:01:00] the Inspired Stewardship Podcast.

[00:01:02] If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be, then you must learn to use your time, your talent, and your treasures for your true calling In the Inspired Stewardship Podcast, who will learn to invest in yourself, invest in others, and develop your influence so that you can impact the world.

[00:01:24] In today's interview with Johnny Crowder, I asked Johnny about how we can help others without trying to fix them. Johnny also shares with you how you can find and live out your calling, and I also ask Johnny to share about mentorship. One reason I like to bring you great interviews like the one you're gonna hear today is because of the power in learning from others.

[00:01:49] Another great way to learn from others is through reading books. But if you're like most people today, you find it hard to find the time to sit down and read, and that's why today's [00:02:00] podcast is brought to you by Audible. Go to inspired to sign up and you can get a 30 day free trial.

[00:02:09] there's over 180,000 titles to choose from, and instead of reading, you can listen your way to learn from some of the greatest minds out there. That's inspired to get your free trial and listen to great books the same way you're listening to this podcast. Johnny Crowder is a 29 year old suicide and abuse survivor, a 10 x speaker, a touring musician.

[00:02:36] Welcome to the show, Mental Health and Sobriety Advocate. Thank you so much for having me, and the founder and CEO of Koch Notes, a text-based mental health platform that provides daily support to users in nearly 100 countries around the world. But in the years leading up to these incredible leaps in advocacy, every day was a battle against schizophrenic hallucinations and suicidal idea.

[00:02:58] After a lifetime of [00:03:00] resisting professional care and shying away from sharing his story, Johnny's curiosity flowered and the healing slowly began. Earned with 10 years of clinical treatment, a psychology degree from the University of Central Florida, and a decade of peer support and public advocacy through the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

[00:03:18] Johnny's youthful figure for mental health has impacted millions of lives across. Since his first keynote in 2011, Johnny's refreshingly vulnerable and candid perspective has attracted praise from hundreds of outlets, including Upworthy, CNN, and Forbes, even when commanding a virtual stage or touring with his metal band prison.

[00:03:38] His infectious positivity and firsthand experience with multiple mental illnesses ranging from bipolar disorder and PTSD to O C D and beyond. Uniquely equip him to provide realistic, yet hopeful insight into the pains of hardship with authenticity, levity, and unconventional win. Welcome to the show Johnny.

[00:03:59] Johnny Crowder: Thank you [00:04:00] so much for having me, dude.

[00:04:02] Scott Maderer: Johnny, last week we talked a little bit about that pattern interrupt and when you're looking for somebody around you that maybe is dealing with some things and seeing that idea of them changing their pattern of behavior. I think part, sometimes one of the traps that we can run into when we're trying to help the people around us is we get stuck on this idea of we're gonna fix them.

[00:04:26] We're gonna, we're gonna make things better, we're gonna fix everything. How do you think we can legitimately focus on serving others, helping other people, but not get into that mindset of fixing them. So to.

[00:04:41] Johnny Crowder: Dude, this is one of the hardest questions in the world. Like I, and I'm a tough person to ask too, because I literally have saved them tattooed on my knuckles.

[00:04:50] So I am, I, it's funny, I go give keynotes about like compassion fatigue and I encourage people to not be that person, but then [00:05:00] I find myself and then you do it. Becoming that person with people in my life, and it's something that I actively work against and it's. It's this tendency to and this is, this might sound callous and I don't mean it to, I think it is a product of an over assumption of our level of authority over the lives of other people.

[00:05:27] If you think that, Level of influence and the life of someone else is such that you can fix them. When there are literal professional clinicians who make no claim to do that, they literally sit with you and help you work through something as you learn to cope. Just like you were describing, if clinicians and board certified psychologists and psychiatrists and counselors and [00:06:00] licensed clinical social workers and all these people, Do not have the authority over the life of someone else to fix it, then it's a, it's like a reminder to check in with yourself and be like, Okay, what is my level of influence?

[00:06:13] And it might be that of a caregiver, it might be that of a sounding board or a friend, or a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on any of those things. I think it, it's not dangerous to want to help people. It's dangerous to assume the obligation. The opportunity to help that person is solely your responsibility, and you're the only person who can do it because it, it is a, even though you might be a wonderful person, it is a gross over assumption of your level of authority over that person, and I think it doesn't necessarily serve it doesn't make you a bad person.

[00:06:52] At all to have that desire, but I would switch the word fix to help, and you can do a heck of a lot more good that way,

[00:06:59] Scott Maderer: in my opinion. [00:07:00] It's the difference between walking with someone and telling someone what to do. Yep. In

[00:07:07] Johnny Crowder: a way and I still have to learn that every day. I'm sure parents have to learn it.

[00:07:11] I'm sure people in long term relationships have to learn it. Leaders in business have to learn it. It's like a lifelong lesson. At least for me. It has been.

[00:07:20] Scott Maderer: Unless you live in a cave, you probably need to learn it. Yeah. that that, it reminds me too, of the saying that one of the best days in my life was when I realized there was a God, and the second best day was when I realized it wasn.

[00:07:34] Yes.

[00:07:35] Johnny Crowder: I just heard that quote like this past

[00:07:36] Scott Maderer: week. Yeah it's because it's true though because I think a lot of times we take on that authority of, Cause to me that's the idea of fixing other people is taking on that authority of. The God relationship and it's like probably not healthy for either one of you to kinda

[00:07:54] Johnny Crowder: set up that.

[00:07:55] Yeah. So

[00:07:57] Scott Maderer: with we mentioned again [00:08:00] last week that you, you worked on this idea called COPE Notes. Tell us a little bit more about COPE notes. What is it and how did you know, how did that come about as something that, that you wanted to build?

[00:08:11] Johnny Crowder: You know that I went to school for psychology and that I've always been a big nerd about like neuroscience and abnormal psych and how the brain works.

[00:08:19] And I was the kind of person who I would go to treatment. So I would go to, to meet a clinician and we might have a great session, we might have a bad session somewhere in between. And then I would leave her office and I would spend six days and 23 hours in a non-clinical. And as even if we had an outstanding session on Thursday at 6:30 PM what happens Thursday at three in the morning?

[00:08:53] What happens on Saturday at noon? What happens on those days in between? And I found [00:09:00] personally that it felt like my approach to my recovery was I would do one big thing every once in a while and then hopefully that will help me. And it's saying I'm going to.

[00:09:13] Four pounds of green beans once a week, , and then I won't eat anything else healthy for the entire week. It's like that is really gonna wreak havoc on your system. And I felt like that's what was happening in my mental health and in my recovery. I would make progress, but then I would backslide.

[00:09:32] I wasn't actually maintaining that on the days in between. And what kept me from maintaining that? The things I was going to therapy for, so my depression and anxiety. I really wanted to create something that could walk with me on those days in between. And I don't mean a whole hour every day.

[00:09:50] There's a lot of people who don't have time for that, don't have money for that. And honestly, I didn't really want to have an hour long conversation about my mental health every day. It felt [00:10:00] so overwhelming at the time. So what I created as a solution is something called Coke Notes, which is.

[00:10:07] This resource that sends you one text per day at a random time, just a few sentences. And that text contains a psychology fact or journaling. Prompt and exercise, some type of helpful health education information based on positive psychology. And all of the texts are written by peers with lived experience, reviewed by clinicians, super easy to understand and then delivered so that no two people ever get the same text at the same.

[00:10:36] And the coolest part of all of it is whether you journal back or not. Like you can text back and use it as a digital journal, but even if you don't text us back, ever those randomly timed text messages interrupt the automatic negative thought in your brain and provide catalyst for positive thoughts. So over time, your brain forms new neural pathways associated with coping skills and resilience.

[00:10:59] I [00:11:00] really, ultimately, this is making me sound really lazy, but I wanted to make a set it and forget it mental health resource. And this is exactly that. There could be weeks where I don't feel like opening a book about mental health or listening to a podcast about mental health or logging into an app.

[00:11:16] But if these texts are coming every day at random times and I don't have to choose to use it, that's when the real consistency starts taking. .

[00:11:25] Scott Maderer: And yeah, you're to some extent, you're creating that easy button we talked about last week, that idea of putting something that I don't have to take action to reach for.

[00:11:40] It just

[00:11:40] Johnny Crowder: shows up, right? Yeah. It's if you use the easy button analogy from last week, it's like someone taking the easy button from the dresser. and dropping it on you , so that it the weight of your body presses against the button due to gravity, it presses itself. . So with [00:12:00] with that, how how do you think or who is cope notes for in your head? Who do you think avails themselves of this kind of. So

[00:12:11] We famously say it's for everyone with a cell phone and a brain. That's like our tagline. But I will say that if I want to get a little more specific, I'll just use myself as an example.

[00:12:23] So we serve lots of people with or without diagnoses and everybody in between. So people from all walks of life. But I'll say that a particularly relevant use case is probably me, which is someone who. Especially early on, if you look like before my mental health challenges were super severe where I needed like intense clinical treatment.

[00:12:45] If you look early on, I knew that I was facing. Some kind of mental or emotional distress. I could tell something was funky, but I didn't want to use a crisis resource cuz I didn't feel like I was in crisis. I didn't [00:13:00] necessarily want to go see a clinician because therapy was super expensive and I didn't I felt weird about medications.

[00:13:06] So I had all these reservation about reservations, about other resources. and I really needed something light and simple and easy. Like my, Have you ever tried to get in a really cold pool? And you have some people who will jump in and you have other people who get in step by step and they first take that first step and they're like, Oh, it's so cold.

[00:13:28] I'm the step in person. And I needed that first step. And for a long time I thought the first step was therapy. and I was like, Oh, that's too deep. That feels like jumping in. I need something in between to help me get there. And I think Coke Notes is exactly that.

[00:13:45] Scott Maderer: That's awesome. Yeah. One of the expressions that, that I use a lot is it's a process, not an event.

[00:13:51] Talking about the idea of, I think a lot of times we look for that quick fix or the one time go to therapy today and I'll be better [00:14:00] forever. And it's that, Oh, that sounds great. Sign me up for that . Exactly. But that's not how, that's not how most of these things work.

[00:14:06] And so Coke Knows is that event in between. The event, so to speak. It's that the process to keep programming your brain in between to help interrupt that, That's awesome. One of the areas that. We talk a lot about on the show is this idea of calling. What do you think you know for yourself, What do you think your calling was?

[00:14:30] How do you think you found that, and how do you think we can help work with others who are maybe struggling in that area?

[00:14:38] Johnny Crowder: If you look at my life, you couldn't predict that I would be a tech startup ceo. It doesn't line up that way, but doesn't it totally make sense looking back that like the guy who needed behavioral health support and didn't want it created a behavioral health support for people who don't want it.

[00:14:59] Like [00:15:00] it actually makes perfect sense after a while. So in terms of identifying my calling, Because I completely, a thousand percent believe that Coke Notes is my calling right now. This is what I am called to do. Every morning I wake up and I'm like, I know that I am stationed here to do this work, and I have complete certainty about it.

[00:15:21] There's not a question or doubt in my mind that this is how I should be spending my time and this is what I should be building. And I think that certainty comes from only two things. It is. Knowing full well that I experienced firsthand the problem that I'm solving on a daily basis, so deeply intimately understanding the pain associated with not solving this problem.

[00:15:47] And then prayer around how to solve it. That's literally it. If you look at your life and identify the worst pains that you've experienced and think critically and [00:16:00] pray about what you can do to help other people who are facing those things, there is no one in the world more equipped. And I'm gonna say, I don't mean this to sound presumptive or over confident or anything, but there is no.

[00:16:15] Harvard MBA grad, or PostIt tech ceo, that could be a better steward of the COPE notes mission than me, and that is because what uniquely equips me to carry this is not a degree and is not previous experience running a business. It is a deeper level of understanding around the pain and the problem that we're solving.

[00:16:42] Than other people have. That's it. And if that's the criteria for qualifying you to pursue your calling, then everybody on this, everybody listening to this podcast is uniquely qualified more than anybody else to solve some [00:17:00] problem. And where you look first is the pain,

[00:17:02] Scott Maderer: and if there's someone out there, Really wants to help others or mentor somebody or support someone in their journey. But one of the biggest pushbacks I hear from people when you start talking about serving others is I'm not ready. I don't know enough. I'm not good enough. I, whatever I'm not ready for it.

[00:17:23] What advice would you have for somebody. Start seeing that pain starts thinking that there's something they wanna do in that area, but feels unprepared. Unready,

[00:17:32] Johnny Crowder: unworthy. I love that. Dude. I was talking to my so I have a lot of friends who are having kids Right now, I'm 29, turning 30, and I'm of at that age where a lot of people are like, Ha having kids.

[00:17:43] And I ask my friends, Are you ready? As their wife is pregnant, and I swear that every single one of them says, No. Absolutely. Every single one of my friends says, Absolutely not. I'm not ready to have a kid. Are you kidding me? How on earth is nine months [00:18:00] enough time to prepare your entire life to be different forever?

[00:18:03] So my encouragement to anyone listening is and it might sound like a put down, but it's not supposed to. You weren't ready to get a driver's license. . You weren't ready to get your first job. You weren't ready to propose. You weren't ready to have a kid. You weren't ready to buy a home. You weren't ready to pay rent.

[00:18:21] You weren't ready to get your own insurance. You haven't been ready for anything

[00:18:25] Scott Maderer: yet. , but you've

[00:18:27] Johnny Crowder: done it

[00:18:27] Scott Maderer: all. If you wait till you're ready, you never have kids. Or get married or , I believe it. Any of those other

[00:18:38] Johnny Crowder: things either. And I'm not saying to rush, I'm saying Don't disqualify yourself.

[00:18:42] That's all. Right and it's let's explore that a little bit. How do you know the difference between rushing and holding yourself back?

[00:18:53] So number one, I think so everything that we're talking about requires an incredible level of self-awareness. [00:19:00] But also the things that have helped me the most are one, obviously prayer, but two, ask people who are doing what you want to do.

[00:19:13] Success. And then ask people who tried to do what you want to do unsuccessfully and get feedback and input from those people. Learn from them. There are books out there written by these people. There are TED talks given by these people. There are articles. There is so much you can learn from people who have already done what you'd like to do, and I encourage you to do all of that research in advance of actually stepping into what you want.

[00:19:43] You might realize that there's a much better and smarter way to help people. Like when I was starting Coke Notes, for example I read up on all of the lawsuits that had arisen as a result of digital behavioral health solutions being rolled out.[00:20:00] I read up on all of these issues, all of the other things that came up when other people tried to start it, and I built Coke notes around.

[00:20:08] The things that other companies got wrong. I was like, Okay, I'm gonna let that company's huge lawsuit around this issue decide that we don't collect this piece of information from our users. And I learned through observation. I encourage anybody listening, if you don't know people who have done what you want to do, I can guarantee you that through Google, YouTube, Reddit podcasts, you can learn from them.

[00:20:35] Scott Maderer: And even if it's not exactly what you wanna do again, COPE notes is probably different than a lot of those other solutions, but the concept behind it has some similarities to some of those other solutions. So yeah, you're looking for the overlap.

[00:20:50] You can follow Johnny on LinkedIn or Facebook is Johnny. He's also over on Instagram as Johnny Crowder loves you and he has a [00:21:00] If COPE notes was something that you want to check out, you can also find out more about COPE notes over on Of course, I'll have links to all of that in the show notes as well.

[00:21:11] Johnny, is there anything else you'd like to share with the listener?

[00:21:14] Johnny Crowder: I just want to say I've gotten in the habit of saying this recently. There. People who are listening to this right now, maybe you who think I'm not doing enough, or I'm too far away from where I want to be, especially when it comes to mental health.

[00:21:30] They think, Oh, I can't be helped, or, I'm too far behind, or I'm too broken. I want to encourage you to say that if you just spent your time listening to a conversation like this, you are already past one of the hardest parts, which is gearing your brain up to. About this. So I encourage you, please, after this ends, listen to another podcast about mental health.

[00:21:58] Google a question you have about mental [00:22:00] health. Look on YouTube and watch a TED Talk about mental health. Does not have to be mine. Check out a book from your local library about mental health. Don't let this be the end of the conversation, and if it's any encouragement at all to you, at least in terms of from the perspective of my journey, you're past the hardest.

[00:22:16] Scott Maderer: Thanks so much for listening to the Inspired Stewardship Podcast. As a subscriber and listener, we challenge you to not just sit back and passively listen, but act on what you've heard and find a way to live your calling. If you enjoyed this, Please. Please do us a favor. Go over to inspired

[00:22:44] Rate all one word iTunes rate. It'll take you through how to leave a rating and review, and how to make sure you're subscribed to the podcast so that you can get every episode as it comes out in your feed. [00:23:00] Until next time, invest your. Your talent and your treasures. Develop your influence and impact the world.

In today's episode, I ask Johnny about:

  • How we can help others without trying to “fix them”...
  • How you can find and live your calling...
  • Mentorship...
  • and more.....

Some of the Resources recommended in this episode: 

I make a commission for purchases made through the following link.

It is knowing full well that I experienced first hand the problem I am solving and prayer around how to solve it. – Johnny Crowder

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About the author 


Helping people to be better Stewards of God's gifts. Because Stewardship is about more than money.

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