Uprising Interview transcript
TEASE: Yeardley Love was a student athlete at the University of Virginia who in 2010 was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend who was another student athlete at Virginia. I first encountered Yardley–I guess the easiest way to say it is Yeardley’s cousin is one of my best friends. I got the call the morning of May 3rd, 2010, saying you need to get to Sharon house because her cousin has been killed. When you hear that, you sort of just jump in the car and go. I drove down the hill and walked in the door and encountered my friend Sharon in total shock, sitting there saying, “He broke down the door and beat her to death.”
INTRO: Welcome to Uprising. Each episode looks inside what it takes to make the most dynamic and successful and cultural movements. Some of them in the business world, some in the social realm, some in politics, and some in between to see why people start uprisings. What gives those initiatives momentum and keeps them going and most important what lessons can you learn from these movements and how to apply them to your business and even personal life. Let’s explore the secret to sparking movements that move people into action.
Passionate ideas, controversial ideas, uprising ideas. The power is now in the hands of anyone to start a cultural movement.
SCOTT:Welcome to the Uprising podcast. Today we are with Katie Hood who is head of One Love, a new movement that is something I want everyone to know about. It is something you don’t think about very much, but once you hear about it, it actually gives you shivers down your spine. It makes you wonder whether if you ever crossed someone yourself, and I think that is why this movement is so powerful and optionally global. Welcome to the show, Katie.
KATIE: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
SCOTT: It’s a pleasure. Could you tell us who Yeardley Love is and what happened to her?
KATIE: Yeardley Love was a student athlete at the University of Virginia who in 2010 was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend who was another student athlete at Virginia. I first encountered Yardley–I guess the easiest way to say it is Yeardley’s cousin is one of my best friends. I got the call the morning of May 3rd, 2010, saying you need to get to Sharon house because her cousin has been killed. When you hear that, you sort of just jump in the car and go. I drove down the hill and walked in the door and encountered my friend Sharon in total shock, sitting there saying, “He broke down the door and beat her to death.” That’s
not who Yeardley was; that’s how Yeardley died. Yeardley was an incredible young woman who worked her butt off to go to UVA and play lacrosse. Everything was in front of her. She probably was the last person you’d ever think would be in an abusive relationship. I think that’s why the media covered her story the way they did and that’s the opportunity to educate people that this doesn’t just happen to people we have a stereotype about in our head about where domestic violence is or where it lives or what the victims and perpetrators look like. It’s actually something that is everywhere.
SCOTT: From the tragedy came One Love. What is One Love? What does One Love stand for? What does One Love stand against?
KATIE: One Love was originally called the Yeardley Reynolds Love Foundation. Her mom had an instant desire to not let the book end on Yeardley’s life be the horrible way it ended. She started a 501C3 very quickly after this happened. I don’t think she really knew what she really wanted to do, except she knew she wanted it to be a positively good thing in the world. She thought that was the best way to honor Yeardley. The name One Love came from Yeardley’s last name, which is Love and the number she wore on the field, which was one. When her number was retired at the University of Virginia, it was students in the stands holding One Love signs that created this name. We’ve been One Love ever since. We started focusing in 2012 after the trial…we believe strongly that Yeardley was killed and her death was 100 percent avoidable. Everybody saw something. Nobody knew what they were seeing. What Sharon Love and her family’s desire became is how do we make sure other kids and other families and other friends have the information that none of us had. There were countless ways that people could’ve intervened in a way that people saved her life. That’s a pretty simple, orienting concept. There’s a missing piece of education here that if we fill it, we will save lives. From 2012-2014, the foundation really started to developing educational content designed to educate young people in particular. Young women 16 to 24 have three times a greater risk of being in an abusive relationship than any other demographic, and they have no understanding of that. They really just don’t understand that they are at risk. The idea became: How do we talk to young people in a language that they can hear, with content they want to consume, and that they want to share with their friends. This virality was always part of what we were going for. How do we educate people in a way they want to participate in. That’s pretty core to what we are doing. In 2014, I was an advisor when they showed us this film they created called Escalation. It is a 38-minute film that we quickly put into a workshop format that shows a fictional couple on a college campus from the exciting early days of their relationship to a horrible end. Nobody ever tells you that every abusive relationship starts as the best relationship you ever been in, but we wanted to ground that for people. We have brought to over 130 thousand kids across the country in a little over two years. What we stand for now is that we actually think there’s a space before abuse–a pre-diseased state so to speak. If abuse is a disease, then what is the pre-diseased state? The pre-diseased state is unhealthy relationships. Unhealthy
relationship behaviors are something that 100% of have participated in our life. This is not something that happens to others elsewhere. It is something that we do every day. When we started to realize the power of discussion we were bringing to young kids and their desire to be a part of it and to share, we started to look around and realize no one in our society are teaching our kids about healthy and unhealthy relationships. Where we are today, we think that our best shot at changing the statistics–which is both globally and the US are one in three women and one in four men will be in an abusive relationship in their lifetime. We the think the best way to change that is getting ahead, make kids more mindful about healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors, arming communities with information that can help themselves and their friends, and then spreading that as far as wide as we can.
SCOTT: Katie, you said that you want to shift the stigma from the abuse to the abuser, and you want to teach bystanders to intervene and engage. How do you want bystanders to get involved?
KATIE: Sharon Love was the first person–when I was trying to help her figure out what she wanted One Love to do. I asked her, “What do you want One Love to be?” She couldn’t answer that. Then I said, “What do you want One Love to do?” She said, “I want One Love to do what Mothers Against Drunk Driving did and shift the stigma from the abused to the abuser and to teach bystanders to take away the keys.” What we mean by that in our space, is that all of us see things that make us uncomfortable–that in our guts we know didn’t feel right. Something in our society and the way we are raised has conditioned us to not have a voice or to be uncertain. One of my favorite expressions is to think about what if we were wrong? What is the social capital this is going to cost if I’m actually wrong here? Could I lose that person as a friend? Would I be embarrassed? Our view is that the more people in any single community with the same access to the information about what is risky behavior, what is healthy behavior and what is not. If we can educate whole communities, then it costs less to speak up. A huge part of our strategy has to be about total community engagement. With that in mind, how can bystanders get involved? We tried to teach ways that are easy. If your friend says something derogatory about his girlfriend or about her boyfriend, you could say that’s not cool, they seem like a great person, don’t do that. Put the social checks in place that come way before they get to I think you’re in an abusive relationship. What we are trying to do again is really try to escalate and elevate people’s sense of especially in the emotional sphere what is ok and what is not ok. We really find that is a gray zone. People really easily say, “Not my problem. Not my thing.” But, the truth is that is the best time to intervene before it goes down the pipeline towards abuse. What we want bystanders to do is have a voice and view it as their responsibility as friends to speak up–not in an accusatory way but in a loving and helpful way.
SCOTT: As a movement that is on the rise, you have to attract joiners and you have to make yourself accessible to lots of different people out there. What is your model for doing that?
KATIE: We are really focusing on co-creating this with young people. Our target demographic are young people. Yes, a lot of their parents want to be involved too, and we need their parents to be involved in growing as quickly as they can from a funding perspective. We really design everything with an eye to how does this help a young person educate themselves and mobilize their peers. There have been something about Yeardley. She was sort of the aspirational version of yourself. If I worked hard enough, I could end up in this situation like Yeardley. There’s something inherently interesting about just her as the person that spawned this. I think in our society we value college athletes so highly. Just that alone–let alone the person that she was–means that it’s aspirational. But, on top of that athletic departments have really gotten on board with this. At many schools, athletes are leaders. What athletes are involved with is interesting to other students at the school. I do think that we have also benefited from partnerships with NFL teams. Powerful brands and communities that bring both men and women to the table are great allies for us in this movement. When you stand with the Baltimore Ravens or the Jackson Jaguars or the Seattle Seahawks or the New York Jets, people listen to you in a different way. I think the last thing is that our content is really good. Our content is best in class. I feel content is so important in this world today, especially with young people. They spend so much time online, consuming content. We have incredible partners that help us create content that kids see themselves in. I don’t want to underestimate that piece. Part of the reason that this movement is working is that when people see our content, they recognize their life. The tone of everything we doing is we can do better. It’s not accusatory and it’s not judgy. It’s a call to action. You just did the escalation workshop. You didn’t just complete a program. This is the beginning of your engagement with this movement. At every stage, we are rallying young people and encouraging them to celebrate their leadership because they do amazing things and we would be nothing without their involvement.
SCOTT: Movements thrive when you use all sorts of platforms. You talked about content. You obviously in social place, in digital, and you do live events. What are you doing digitally and what are you doing on college campuses?
KATIE: I actually think this is a secret sauce for us. We started out with the film Escalation. It shows a violent death. It could be triggering to watch. That is an in-person experience. We pair with a live workout. We have nearly 10 thousand people across the country trained to be facilitators of this workshop. I can’t emphasize enough. There have been 130 thousand participants and ten thousand have decided to become trained and bring it to others, which is very cool. What we hear about the live experience is: One man that just graduated from Duke said, “It’s not just that your content is great. You make us sit in a room together and
make us watch something really hard and then turn our chairs around and talk to each other about it. We never talked to each other about this before. He said my generation is a generation that exists through our phones. This face-to-face piece of talking through something hard with each other that everyone can relate to is super powerful.” I think our most powerful moment is the live event where peers are listening to each other and learning from each other and realizing that they are all pretty much in wild agreement of what is ok and what’s not ok. Powerful moment. With that being said, it’s not super scalable. It’s amazing that we got to 130 thousand young people, but we realized pretty early on in Fall 2014 that we needed to have a digital strategy as well. What we want to do is surround people with this reinforcing message. We worked with a firm called Now for Good to come up with a campaign called #ThatsNotLove. The That’s Not Love campaign attempts to do what Escalation does, which is basically show a highly recognizable and emotionally compelling education piece. But, instead of 38 minutes, do it in three minutes or 30 seconds or one minute. A huge part of that strategy is also different kinds of content. Some of it is really dramatic. Some of it is very light. But, how do you just insert this hashtag and this conversation into people’s days-to-days? That campaign since its lost a year and a half ago has been viewed 60 million times online. It’s also how we get broadcast in-kind contribution around. If you look at the conversations online, what you really clearly see is that people want to have this conversation online. As opposed to the beginning, we were really focused on school-based outreach. When you’re online, you’re interacting with everyone. It’s a much broader cross section of people engaging online. We love that. While Yeardley was a white, upper middle class, a lacrosse player from Baltimore, Maryland, one of our major points is that this is not just Yeardley’s story. This is everyone’s story. Our digital stuff not only help us reach new audiences, but it gives our fan base tools they can share with their friends as educational pieces. Tools that can help us spread as part of what they do, as part of a movement.
SCOTT: What is fascinating here is that you’ve taken this tragedy–Yeardley Love–and you created this idea that stands against abusive relationships and goes beyond that to extend it to everyone so that they can think about how they interact with other human beings. You’ve built content around it and used digital and social media space in order to help spread that after doing live events. All of those steps sound like really smart strategy. A lot of people who are listening will learn a lot about what you are saying. Can you talk a little about how you activated your digital strategy so that you are able to reach all those people out there? Is it through influential people or are others means that you’ve done that?
KATIE: I wish we had more key influencers involved in what we are doing. In the first couple of years…how we did it basically is we had a pretty substantial say 100 thousand people Facebook following already. Those people have been following Yeardley’s story. They remain highly interested in the work that we are doing. They were great sharers of our stuff. That number doubled pretty quickly once we started growing. The sad truth is that for an
organization like ours that has not a high profile board, not a high-profile benefactor. We are sort of the definition of a grassroots organization. This film was created and I looked at my friend Sharon and said this needs to get to every person in America. We are a product-focused company from the beginning and we’ve been reinventing the wheel ever since. We don’t have key influencers that are our celebrity voices. There’s not doubt that the NFL sharing on social and spreading the word. We have some allies that believe in what we are doing and have covered the story of what we are doing. Katie Couric would Tweet some stuff out. But, mostly it has been grassroots peer-to-peer engagement. The sad truth is that we had to put some paid media after it to get really any traction on Facebook. You wish you could get donated space on Facebook like you can on broadcast media but the truth is you really can’t, so we have to put dollars after that. To us, that is not a hard decision to us. While we are resource constrained, there’s no point for us to create content that never gets out to people. We have to look a content creation and distribution hand-in-hand.
SCOTT: Do you feel that your movement as it spreads creates converts or are you really just aligning with people who already feel the same way you do? Do you feel like your movement is a lightbulb moment that people are waking up and saying wow this is a profound a meaningful for me?
KATIE: It gives me chills when you ask me that question. In every audience that we go to, it is a lightbulb moment. Everyone. In the beginning, we would have to drag people into the room to see Escalation because who wants to see something on domestic violence. It’s so much easier as human beings to be like that doesn’t apply to me. That’s other people elsewhere. We still prefer schools to make this mandatory to get kids in the door. We prefer going to the athletic departments and the women’s center. Although women centers are incredible allies for us, we need to get to a mainstream audience. As soon as we show the audience, the mainstream audience is going oh my god I’ve seen this before. I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept a commitment curve. It basically shows the curve of somebody knowing nothing about your issue and not caring to move through various stages of awareness and engagement to the point that they are actually preaching the message that they’ve adopted what you are putting out there. This is something they talk a lot about with brands. How does your brand become something that your consumers become like completely wedded to and are evangelizing for you? The same applies for movements and nonprofits in general. The second stage of the commitment curve is awareness. A lot of nonprofits stop at awareness building. Something about our content rockets people through several stages to the point that it is personal. People realize they’ve seen a friend go through this. They’ve gone through this. They grew up in a family where this has happened. Once it’s personal, that’s where the action curve really steepens. Once it’s personal, people want to participate and then they want to recruit their friends and then they start to incorporate the learnings and the knowledge of their own essence so to speak. So I think we are just so lucky that the content, the first piece that was done, has that effect on people.
Every sort of a bit of content since does too. This is an issue separate of One Love…until Yeardley was killed I had never thought seriously about this issue. But, it took my friend’s cousin being killed to start learning and realize every one of us knows somebody. We have not large discussions about this. This is an issue that everybody has a selfish in solving. We are very much recruiting new people. I have no problem with a selfish motive. I have no problem with the fact that people watch our content and they are nothing thinking about everyone in the world; they are thinking about helping their kids, helping their friends, and they are going to do something about it. That selfish motive is very powerful.
SCOTT: Do you feel that for the movement to accelerate in the trajectory of the commitment curve, you needed it to be almost shocking–the story, the film. Would you describe it as shocking? What is your thinking around that?
KATIE: I would say it has to be recognizable. The first film which where the young woman is killed by her boyfriend, it’s shocking. It’s almost too much. It’s oh my gosh. This extreme thing just happened. But, to be honest most people say if the movie stopped right there, they would be like well that’s gotta happen once in a blue moon. But, we close the film with a seemingly endless cycle of young people who have lost their lives in violent relationships. It’s their photo, their birthdate, and their death date. Everybody just stops. This isn’t just Yeardley story. It is 30 people who have lost their lives to this issue. That is shocking and that’s definitely where we use shock to communicate. Most of our other stuff is focused in the emotional realm. It’s focused on the day-to-day things that you see. You just keep moving by. The reason that it is powerful is that it is so recognizable and people realize they just never looked at their lives this way before. I would say in my own family: I’ve been married for a long time. We have a great marriage. We are best friends. But we do unhealthy things. It makes me more mindful to go back and be like listen I’m sorry I did this. Let me explain. My kids, if I yell at them, would say, “That’s not love.” I’m ok with that because I want them to learn the difference between the healthy and unhealthy resolution of things. It’s ok to speak up and this is a conversation we should be having with each other.
SCOTT: There’s definitely areas in our society where abuse is definitely a bigger issue. It’s being opened in ways we haven’t thought about before. Obviously in professional sports and not even just in professional sports but sports in general. There is a culture of abuse in relationships. We’ve all seen those professional sports videos where some male has done something very violent in an elevator or something. Jonathan Krakauer’s book Missoula about rapes on college campuses in America. There’s obviously a lot of these issues that are just coming to light now and people for the first time are opening up and realizing One Love has a much bigger and more profound meaning in our society to be able to right this wrong that started as a tragedy for this young woman. It could potentially be so much bigger and touch so many lives in so many ways. Is that something you thought about?
KATIE: It’s sort of what we realized over time is the only way to say it. When we started out, we had a film that we wanted everyone to see. By interacting with young people and hearing their responses and hearing their questions, we started to realize that the young people do not want to talk about domestic violence any more than older people do. What they are really excited to talk about is healthy and unhealthy relationships. That whole pivot earlier really came from listening to the people we were working with. That language change, you cannot underestimate how much more accessible it makes this issue. That becomes an issue everyone can find common ground around. That’s really powerful. In making that pivot, you start to realize that healthy and unhealthy relationships happen in a dating relationship. They happen in a family. We are going to build a healthy friendship curriculum because guess what the same behaviors that are not ok in a dating relationship are actually not ok in a friendship. Our vision now is if we can teach young people to recognize the signs–we have ten signs on our website–of an unhealthy relationship and teach them to navigate through them or teach them how to get out of them before they become bullying, then how are we preparing them down the road to recognize the signs very quickly in a dating relationship when the stakes are higher and get out early or resolve it and get it to healthy. We had no idea how big this could be. You point out sports. One of the very common responses from young men who watch Escalation–let’s say middle age men like my age–watch it and do not experience as a potential perpetrator. They experience it as a victim. Many talk about hazing and hazing they experienced on sports fields or hazing they experienced in frats. That feeling of being controlled and manipulated–that’s a human feeling. The great news for us is that the stats show that the vast majority of people would never be abusive. We are sort of waking something up in the good guys and the good girls and hoping and all together and reclaim the control of the situation or at least change the tides. There’s no doubt that bad behavior has been normalized to an unbelievable degree in our culture. It’s time to change that. We always say to kids to trust your gut. Your gut was given to you for a reason. You know in your gut doesn’t feel right, don’t dismiss that. I think a lot of have been dismissing our gut for too long.
SCOTT: I think accurate. I think that and some basic that parents can teach their children. I know schools can teach their students or professionals teams could teach their players.
KATIE: If Yeardley’s mom were here, she would say Yeardley grew up in a great house. She didn’t learn this stuff at home but the social context matters. It really matters for young people. If young people don’t feel empowered to have a voice, if young people feel like it costs them too much socially to speak up, they’re not going to do it. That’s human nature. We were all that person once.
SCOTT: It’s having the permission to speak up.
KATIE: Yes, and making it easier. SCOTT: And socially rewarded in a way.
KATIE: That’s a huge part of our strategy. We want to celebrate what young people are doing. They are the heroes and we want to make them heroes. We are sort of the vehicle for getting them all together and galvanizing them around this big idea. I talked to kids who educated single handedly with no money from us, they educated 100 kids on campus with a workshop. What’s that about? We want to celebrate that person and lift them up.
SCOTT: That’s fantastic. Can you talk a little bit about the Escalation workshop?
KATIE: The Escalation workshop is a 90-minute workshop that we bring to colleges, high schools, community groups. We thought we were bringing the workshop to college campuses. Now, we want to bring the workshop to every youth group that loves their kids and let them to use this tool to teach their kids about this issue. We give it away for free every where. We are raising the money philanthropically to help ensure that we can provide the program for free. We never want any kid any where or in any community group or school to not be able to to bring this to their school. It consists of a 38-minute film. The rest of the time is spent in a guided discussion. It isn’t really open ended. It really goes through specific scenes in the film from the beginning to the end. It gets the kids talking. The first thing we teach the facilitators is when you ask the first question, nobody is going to respond because this is such an awkward topic and no one has talked about it before. Your job is to sit and wait. Somebody will save you. It takes 90-minutes to two hours. Kids love it. The purpose to get the dialogue going. Ninety-seven percent of the kids who did the workshop, whether it is a high school student or a Stanford University student or somebody in the Navy, 97 percent said that would recommend it to a friend if it wasn’t required. Nearly 90 think it should be required in their community because they see these things all the time and never understood what they were seeing. That’s the product that I inherited. I did not create that workshop. That’s the raw material we were given and it’s great launching pad for engagement. We also have the That’s Not Love digital content. We are going to be building discussion guides around each one. If a coach or teacher only have a half an hour a week for four weeks to cover this issue, they can find the content and discussion guide to lead it in a shorter session. Nothing is evidence based yet. That’s probably one of our biggest barriers. People are used to that I want evidence that this is changing behavior. Hopefully, we will have that at some point. Our attitude now is, we are going to be confident in the fact that the more discussions we are starting about this everywhere the better. We certainly know from the letters we get from young people and what they say about what the experience was done for them, that we certainly aren’t doing any harm through this process. That’s where we are today.
SCOTT: You certainly seem like a force of nature in order to galvanize people for this movement. That’s quite remarkable. What motivation do you pull to sort of drive this forward? You, as a human being, you have this passion. Getting up every morning and focusing on this every morning. But, what is it as a person who leads this type of moment–what do you have?
KATIE: It just makes so much sense to me. It’s so logical to me. First of all, at this stage, three years in, we are starting to hit a tipping point. We were pushing this uphill for a long time and trust me there are many sleepless nights. There were many sleepless nights where I was like are we going to be able to raise the money to scale this? Are we going to be able to recruit the talent? Are we are able to build the partnerships? It always made such common sense to me. This approach which no one really tried, which is getting ahead of the problem. There are plenty of groups that have educated about domestic violence or bullying in a one-off way that is not attached to a campaign. But, this idea that we had identified that this is an issue that affects everyone and that no one is teaching in a systematic way about the unhealthy relationship and healthy relationships. Because of Yeardley and her story and the power of the concept we created, we might have the opportunity to raise it up. It’s intoxicating. It’s the only way to describe it. Who are we to think we can change the statistics around relationship violence. It’s a ridiculous, audacious goal, but I remember a year and a half ago saying to my board, “At the end of the day, we may be the only people in the world who can take this shot on goal on right now and it seems like the best way to honor Yeardley is to take the shot on goal.” I think that’s been a fundamental mindset of her family. I don’t think it’s been easy for her family. It’s easier now-now that it has been building. It’s not easy to talk about this horrible thing every day. Now they realized how many people they touched. The next phase of One Love that we added in is that we are going to do a ton more storytelling. We get stories every day from men and women across the country that have been affected by this issue–and around the world actually. What we want to do is let them tell their story. Their story has educational value for people who can listen, who want to listen and learn. It also has a great healing power to let the genie out of the bottle. This had me. It doesn’t have me anymore.
SCOTT: Is there one story that you think of that moved you recently?
KATIE: We ended up getting a check in the mail from a company that we never approached for money. I immediately started calling and trying to figure out who this nice person was who gave us $20,000. It took me awhile to get in front of the CEO, but when I finally did he listened to my story of the plan and the strategy. He was nodding his head. He looked at me at the end and said, “It all sounds great. It makes a lot of sense, but I also want to tell you that if you save one life, it is all worth it. My daughter was a student in college and we got a call saying her boyfriend had knocked her out at a party. We had no idea that she was in trouble.” It turns out that his daughter was one of our best student leaders on campus at
one of the schools we were working at. I put two and two together after the fact, connecting the names. I’m like oh my gosh, this was her father. She is very public now with what she went through. She says One Love and having this purpose of sharing this information to help others has been a critical part of her healing. It’s that whole loop about how there is a hopeful piece of that. You can get out of these relationships. I don’t want to over simplify this is a very hard thing to do. But, you can recover and find multiple ways to help others. This pay it forward of what we are doing is incredibly powerful and that gives me oxygen. I say to people all the time yeah it’s really hard and I work constantly but it’s oxygen given. I walk around with an oxygen tank strapped to my back because I know we are changing and saving lives. That ultimately benefits me and my kids, and my community. It’s a nice virtuous circle.
SCOTT: What I love about it is that it starts as an educational process but then it does move beyond that, kind of transcends to this sort of healing process where those who are giving their time have gone through this of finding a little bit more comfort and power.
KATIE: The biggest thing we are doing now–you asked about the digital. One of the things we realized is that we can educate that way. To build a movement, you need boots on the ground. We are in the process of starting regional offices. We had an executive director on the ground in San Francisco and in Boston. We will soon have one in Baltimore, DC. The reason that is important is that it’s a lot like a political campaign. You can have national media, messaging, whatnot. Volunteer engagement, volunteer recruitment. People have the instinct to help, but you have to catch them and nurture them along until they are ready to launch. Now, having teams on the ground that can do that five days a week versus us traveling in and ou. I think we are going to see a really big pickup in activity and action because of that. Community action is totally key.
SCOTT: Well I think part of this is also about finding individuals and organizations that have a common interest–whatever that is. What is interesting, you have to put it out into the world because you don’t know who may have a common interest.
KATIE: You asked about key influencers. I’m going to just keep talking about this because one of these days somebody with an incredible amount of ability to influence is going to raise his hand and say this is me or this would’ve helped me. How do I help you? But, we are still building the brand to the point that we are even findable.
SCOTT: I’m sure there are a whole bunch of Hollywood relationships. The Hollywood sphere has a lot of abusive relationships. Every sphere.
KATIE: Every once in awhile read the police blotter. There’s a domestic dispute at so-and-so’s house. I’m like we live in this little bubble.
SCOTT: What I find fascinating is that no one really prepares you for this world. I was actually having a discussion the other day about how much time we spend educating ourselves for a career. Fifteen years, 20 years or more. Then we meet someone at a bar or a social event and then boom we are married. And then we are having kids. There has been no education. There is an outlet for people to resolve conflicts when the relationship becomes toxic or one of the two decides to end it or you both decide there is an issue. There is never really an education for a young woman or a young man in terms of what is a healthy relationship and how should it be? Especially, today where so much of what we think relationships are, are fantasies on the internet. It strikes a chord in my mind in so many ways. It’s fascinating.
KATE: I would love for you to see a workshop in person. I know you don’t have the time. But, that lightbulb moment you’re talking about is profound. You sit there and you can look around the room and see—it’s everyone. This whole fact that whether we go into a low-income high school or an at-risk girls group or Standford University or a minor league baseball team, it is always the same percentage. Ninety-nine percent want their friends to see this and nearly 90 want it mandatory in their community. I think we are tapping into what is a human issue. It is like threading a needle on a number of different things. Our President basically models unhealthy and abusive behavior all day long, every day. I’m a big fan of the book Contagious. One Love has all six of the things you speak about needing to have to start this viral stuff.
SCOTT: What are those six things?
KATE: They are: social currency. People care how they look to others. They want to seem like a healthy relationship person. Trigger. Top of mind stuff. If there are things in the news or in your life that make you think about the issue, you’ll think about the brand. With us, unhealthy relationships are all around us. They are on TV. They’re everywhere. Emotions. When we care, we share. Emotional content often goes viral. This issue is emotional and then this content is emotional. Public. Built to show, built to grow. The more public something is, the more likely people will imitate it. We were doing this already, but it’s why we are celebrating our heroes and why we want to tell stories. The combination of getting that out there makes it more public and easier to jump on. Practical value. News you can use. All of our stuff is about tips that you will help with your friends. Finally, stories get its own letter. People want to talk. Information travels in stories. Our content is all fictional. I love documentary, but documentary enables you to distance yourself and think about those poor people there versus when you’re watching something fictional, you watch it like you are there. We didn’t plan that, but I think that’s why our content is very strong. If we just did a documentary on Yeardley Love’s life, these many people would’ve cared. But, something fictional people are going oh my gosh, that’s powerful.
SCOTT: I was at a bar mitzvah in San Francisco on Saturday. It was an unending line of individuals getting up to talk about how bright and kind and wonderful this 13-year-old boy was. I had written his speech that was pretty much in the same vein. And I sat there like oh my god I can’t do this. This is going to be the 7,000 speech and people are going to roll their eyes. So, I made up a story on the spot. I got up there and said, “I was 13-years-old and there was this girl named Susanna. I was standing on the back steps of our high school and we promised each other that we would love each other forever. I felt in that moment that tingle you get when you like someone a lot and I kind of leaned in to give her a kiss but pulled back because it has to be perfect because it was my first one. It was her first one. So, we had to find that moment in time that would be perfect. I waited three days later when I knew my friend was going to have a party. We were both at the party. she invited me into the closet. I was standing there in the closet. I realized in the moment that it wasn’t about wanting the kiss. It was about the technique. I didn’t know anything about the technique. So I had to go back and do the research, so I didn’t do it at that time. Two days later, we were at a disco party. I said that would be the perfect moment. I will wait until the end when Led Zeppelin is playing. I’ll lean in and give her a kiss. I danced her. At the end, I was going to lean in, but I choked. I didn’t do it. I didn’t have the courage. But it was okay. The next day. My friends and all were going on a walk in Montreal. We were all together. They have these fireworks that go off every summer. Under the fireworks, I was standing next to her and I thought this would be the perfect moment to kiss her. And I leaned into kiss her and again I choked. I said it’s ok I’ll go by her house tomorrow and ask her for a walk. I did. I walked. Who was there? My best friend who was there before me and I realized don’t make this mistake in life.” I just made that story up. It wasn’t a real story at all. But, everybody in the room was rolling. All the fathers came up to me afterward and said the exact same thing happened to me.
KATIE: The whole healthy friendships thing. I am teaching reformed school at church. It is my one community service activity. I teach 5th graders. They really only care that I work with NFL teams. I walk in and they’re like the Seahawks and the Falcons are both in the Super Bowl. I’m like guys do you actually know what we are doing? And they’re like ugh it’s about dating. I’m like yeah, but we are also trying to teach people healthy and unhealthy relationships when they’re dating but it also applies to friendship. I said how many of you had a friend who said you can’t be friends with them if you’re going to be friends with me? How many have a friend that makes fun of your family? How many have you had a friend who is really nice to you one-on-one but when you are in a group, they make fun of you? I said those are unhealthy behaviors. You gotta figure out how to talk to your friends or just get out. I don’t think twice of it. Two days later and a mom calls me, and says, “You were talking about One Love at Sunday school.” I say, “Yeah.” She said, “You know how I know?” I said, “how?” She said, “Catherine came home from school Tuesday and she thinks she’s in an unhealthy friendship.” I was like that was a four-minute conversation, but
when you speak with examples that people can relate to, the learning happens so much faster. Our next piece that’s going to come out in July is really focused on social media and in using social media, we really hide the authentic from ourselves and from our friends. Our friends can’t even help us when we are posting an endless stream of positive pictures about our relationship online. We are pushing away the friends that can actually be helpful. We’ll see. It’s definitely fun. I’ll definitely keep you posted. I love that you’re doing this.
SCOTT: It’s a pleasure. It’s so fascinating. It opened up a bunch of thoughts. When I was in university in Canada, I actually lived beside a safehouse for battered wives. It was the first time I ever heard of anything. My mother wasn’t battered. I didn’t know anyone in my neighborhood who was that way. I got to know some of the women that were running the place. It was literally the house beside us. Occasionally, in the middle of the night, there would be a knock on the door and there would be some woman standing there thinking our house was the house or some boyfriend coming to try and find his girlfriend. I’ve seen that kind of rage and the result of it’s pretty scary. What you’re doing is pretty amazing.
KATIE: Let’s just hope that we can keep thinking. The question now is can we scale? I think the regional offices are a huge part of it. I just raised a bunch of money to invest in the core business so that we actually have an infrastructure that can support a national movement. One of the things that I think I’ve done really well is talking to smart people who all have different perspectives on this and then trying to leverage whatever brilliance they have into what we are doing.That includes the smart, young people we are working with too.
SCOTT: That’s wonderful. How do I join? It’s very moving. I’m interested. Where do I go? How do I find out about your organization? What can I as one individual can do?
KATIE: The great news is I use to work at a organization where it was really hard to recommend anything. But, you can give us money. Money still matters. Our vision is that we should have 20 million people giving us a dollar a year around the world. There’s no reason we can’t. This touches everybody. You should go to joinonelove.org. That’s one way. You can do what you did and see what’s up there and see the content and read more about what we are doing and sign up for updates or send us an email at email@example.com. You can also follow us on social on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram @joinonelove. Sometimes it’s one and sometimes it’s the number one. Basically, you can then share the content with your network. You can share the content with your friends so that you can start being a digital ambassador for us, helping people find information that can help them but also find the organization. Finally, anybody that really wants to get involved and become a volunteer in either on campus or the community,please let us know. There are countless opportunities to share this information with people. We are only just getting really good at it. We would love to work with you to bring it to your community and the people that you love.
SCOTT: And if you have ideas for that, you can reach out to you on the website? KATIE: Yes. firstname.lastname@example.org
SCOTT: This has been incredibly enlightening. What a wonderful story. I mean obviously it started as a tragedy but it is a beautiful life story. I’m sure Yeardley is smiling down and seeing what’s going on.
KATIE: She may be architecting it all from above. I’m a really good leader but I feel like somebody up there is buttering the bread on both sides in terms of making this work. I do believe that. It’s been incredible. I think a lot about her family and what they’ve done. They want to put the credit to everyone else but them. But to face this and say we are going to Yeardley’s life by making sure others have the information that she didn’t, it is profoundly inspiring to me. I’m just glad it’s working.
SCOTT: Thank you for having the time to talking to us today. It’s been enlightening. I appreciate it. Congratulations on your success and keep on going.
KATIE: We need everyone listening to help. Reach out for sure. Thank you so much for having me.
SCOTT: Yeah, it’s a pleasure. This was great. Thanks a lot.