Kathryn Cross: TikTok Star Founder, Accelerating Learning Curves & Die Trying - E229

· Creators,Women,Purpose,USA,Podcast Episodes English

Just like Facebook's value of moving fast and breaking things, I've heard many variations of the same ethos. That really resonates with me because I have always been the type of person who likes to source a lot of information before making a decision and consulting with experts in the field. I have been learning that as a founder, sometimes you really have to take on that decision yourself and move forward with it, even if it's as little as how we edit the piece of content. Should we do it this way or this way? You need to make a decision and move forward and in the future, you can modify it by just moving fast and being okay with breaking things. -Kathryn Cross

Kathryn Cross is the founder of Anja Health, which she founded in memory of her brother, Andrew, who had cerebral palsy. Kathryn has cultivated a pregnancy and cord blood banking community on TikTok as @kathrynanja, where she raises awareness about the importance of cord blood banking and other issues related to pregnancy. Originally from Los Angeles, Kathryn graduated from Wellesley, where she received a B.A. in Media Arts & Sciences and Economics.

Jeremy Au: (00:29)
Hi, Kathryn, really excited to have you on the show, you have grown tremendously as a founder over the past few years. And for the context is that we came together because we had this crazy idea for making the world a better place for cord blood banking, and so forth. And I have been privileged to be an angel and early supporter. And yet I think you've obviously surpassed me on so many dimensions in terms of learning. So excited to have you to show, Kathryn could you share a little bit about yourself?
Kathryn Cross: (00:58)
I'm the founder of Anja Health. We help pregnant parents keep stem cells from their umbilical cords. So essentially it can help protect their child's future and use those stem cells for future disease human purposes. I founded it in honor of my brother, he had cerebral palsy and needed cord blood stem cells, and it was pretty difficult to find a match for him. So we're now making sure that other families don't experience the same issue. But that's basically the crux of what I do. And I'm based in LA.
Jeremy Au: (01:25)
Amazing. And how did you first come across this issue? Obviously, this is something that you cared about from a family perspective, could you share a bit more about that journey?
Kathryn Cross: (01:34)
When I was three, and my brother was one, he was in a near drowning accident that gave him cerebral palsy, before that he was completely healthy, but then suddenly couldn't walk or talk. And so my family was looking into treatments for the history of Palsy and found that cord blood stem cells was the most promising opportunity to be able to treat cerebral palsy mainly because children who are able to receive their own cord blood back into their body generally see motor and social skill improvements. So it's not a complete cure, but definitely really promising. And so we were hoping to find a similar option for my brother, but we couldn't find one because it's pretty difficult to find a match. As I mentioned, if you're a person of color, or mixed race, especially, and I've always been a part of social justice, discourse and human rights and really being a part of discussions around that. So this issue in particular spoke to me because it's not only something that could help impact a child's future and health, but it's also a matter of bringing more equality to healthcare options and accessibility.
Jeremy Au: (02:38)
That makes sense. And yet you also chose to become a creator. And eventually I found to do that, there are so many people who obviously, are adjacent to that. So people choose to buy something called Blood Banking, other people choose to volunteer, maybe even be working as employee in this space, but you chose to be a creator and a founder. So could you share a little bit more about how that transition happened.
Kathryn Cross: (02:59)
I was working as a product designer, as my first job out of college, and then my brother suddenly passed away. And so that was really what motivated me to do something that would have been able to help him. I feel like my strengths lie in social media. So I turned to social media first as a means of being able to create this business, because I knew I wanted it to be in this space, and really be able to speak to pregnant parents in this way about my story, and things of that nature. So for me, my first inclination was to turn to social media as a tool to do that. So I started producing tiktoks and creating a bunch of content around not only my story, but also just pregnancy in general, talking about different issues that pregnant parents can potentially face. And also more healthcare and accessibility related issues. Things like Roe V. Wade, I've made content on so I now have around 150,000 followers on TikTok that was my first step in the founder journey. So it was always with the intention of being a creator that is a creator acting for the service of being a founder, in a sense. I would say I'm a founder first and a creator second. That was my first method of being able to determine, demand and respond to the products. And then I set up the supply chain and started launching immediately off of my Tiktok.
Jeremy Au: (04:23)
So it's a little bit of chicken and egg there, which is that you are a creator and a founder, which came first in putting yourself out there as a creator, putting yourself out there as someone who's passionate about a topic that takes something right. So could you share maybe in that first month of choosing to start that journey of sharing? How did you feel? Were you feeling like it was more about building something or was it feel more like you wanted to raise awareness about a topic?
Kathryn Cross: (04:46)
Yes, I really wanted to raise awareness, but I also wanted to get a sense of how people were responding to it and talking about it themselves. So reading the comments for me is really insightful. I initially started just talking about the concept of cord blood banking, in addition to pregnancy and I started talking about my personal story in relation to Cord blood banking and pregnancy. And then specifically the business and corporate banking and pregnancy and our product and what we offer. And now that's the main part of my content.
Jeremy Au: (05:12)
And what was it about that initial reaction that you got from folks? Obviously, it was a positive, so as you kept going, but what was that initial signal that you felt like, this is something I should keep doing. Versus this is an experiment that doesn't really work out.
Kathryn Cross: (05:24)
There was never so much a sense of like, should I do this and content is a litmus test for that, it was always I'm going to do this. And content is how I determine how I'm going to do it. Like I always knew that I would pursue this business and was always working on the business side of things, even as I was making content, but it was just finding what messaging in particular resonated. And so it was the experimentation on that, like channel market fit, as opposed to product market fit. Yes, I was testing different forms of messaging, and really understanding what resonates. And the comments in particular that were insightful were, things along the lines of like, you finally make me feel confident, or emotions that I was able to evoke in viewers. And if they were able to voice that back to me, or reflect my own rhetoric back to me. So if I talk about, like, there's little things that I've said in the past, you have like sparkles as opposed to like stretch marks, and you should view yourself as a unicorn if you're pregnant, because you're like doing something super magical, and you have something really cool sticking out of you similar to a unicorn, things like that, then people will reflect the language back to me, and especially about our products, people were like saying things along the lines of as you make me feel really confident about my decision and my birth decisions. I feel it's the emotional response that was really demonstrating to me that this was like the right way to go.
Jeremy Au: (06:46)
The interesting part of the topic is this emotional part about becoming a mother, the pregnancy, the delivery and becoming a parent. And I think Cord blood is a function. It's a moment of time. It's such a crazy thing. I've decided to do cord blood banking for my two daughters. But it's such a crazy decision to make. You're not thinking about it. You're thinking about everything else. And now you're saying this up, I should have an insurance policy in case something goes wrong years down the road, which is what you saw in your own family. So it's almost like buying an insurance policy, but for something you don't really want to think about. And yet to do that within a very short amount of time. So how do you think about decompressing or simplifying or organizing that conversation for folks?
Kathryn Cross: (07:30)
It's not like we are an external part of the conversation that suddenly parents have to consider, it's like, we become the conversation. So we not only talk about cord blood banking, but that's why I also make content about pregnancy in general, I talk about what to expect in each week, or like, this is what you should bring in your birth bag, that type of thing, really establishing trust around the actual conversation of what folks are doing to prepare for birth. And then they can see cord blood banking is a part of that, as opposed to like this external decision that they have to make on top of every other decision. It's a collective, this is the right way to go. And the right resource that we're turning to decide, just try to have us come forth with a lot of empathy for the birth journey, and parenthood in general, and really tried to make sure all of our sources are evidence based and truly backed by science, and that we have a lot of folks with a lot of domain authority and domain experts that are able to express those views. It's about coming forward with a true heart as opposed to like we're taking your money, you better make a decision on this right now, which is I think, how a lot of people perceive corporate banking in the past.
Jeremy Au: (08:44)
What are the common issues that parents are thinking about? Because it’s mentioned, for example, packing for the delivery bag versus should I choose to Bank A stem cells? So how do you think about that journey from your perspective?
Kathryn Cross: (08:57)
It depends, like, I've seen parents that don't really feel inclined to make any decisions or have an opinion on their birth or basically, right before their birth happens. So like eight months. I talked to parents, were like seven and a half. And they're like maybe I should start thinking about this. But then I have also met parents who find out that they're pregnant, and then they're immediately beginning to plan. So it really depends on your personality. But one thing that I've seen that's true across the whole ecosystem of perinatal companies is that there's just a lot of noise and not a lot of signal. So there's trillions and trillions of pregnancy related blogs, but it's hard to tell like which resources are factual, and which are really backed by science and things like that. So even things like Placenta Encapsulation, like eating your placenta has become a common pop cultural artifact in history. But in reality, there's not like a ton of science that actually backs the process of doing it and in fact has resulted in some harm and infection in parents and children. But it's hard to determine what people are discussing. So it's a matter of developing that signal. And really making sure that parents feel they can trust their resources, and that it aligns with their own personal values. Yes, it's about the parents feeling confident.
Jeremy Au: (10:18)
What's interesting, and I've always appreciated about this is that on Tik Tok, your Kathryn, and you explain this. And then when I'm talking and collaborating with you, you're so science and fact driven. And this is an interesting bridge between these two. I wouldn't say mods or modalities or communication. So how do you think about that? How do you bridge that? How do you translate, for example, what you're saying about the facts and the signals, like I said, what really resonates on Tik Tok, which is about the emotionality and what it evokes in people?
Kathryn Cross: (10:50)
I try to do a lot of signaling my sources to make sure that folks know that it's legitimate information. And I tried to always tell the truth and do my best with revealing where my information is coming from. So very often all like green screen, PubMed articles or things like that, and peer reviewed studies and research papers that are able to demonstrate like where my information is coming from, because for sure, there's a lot of people on Tik Tok, who are just kind of like talking about random things. And sometimes it's even a joke when people pursue it as the truth. I think it's about sourcing, and then having legitimacy with the sources, having really credible sources rather than just a random blog.
Jeremy Au: (11:31)
And as you do that, what does it take to add that final step right of that, like I said, emotion, or emotionality, because what you're seeing is you're choosing in this space to be more signal oriented, but how do you make the science be relevant for somebody that's the other direction?
Kathryn Cross: (11:46)
Yes, I just tried to understand it myself and think about it from their point of view, and really empathize with what pregnant parents would care about. And then in the first, few seconds of the content, I tried to illustrate why it would be relevant for them, even things like if you're pregnant, and you have an anterior placenta, that immediately speaks to people of like, I have an anterior placenta, and I have experience to like my baby kicking in this way, rather than like how people typically describe it. So they tend to tune into that type of information and feel a little bit more attached to it in a sense, and just seen, so people feeling as though folks see them, is really important. So that’s an emotional aspect that I bring in. And then from there bring the facts and science behind, like what it is that they would want to know about.
Jeremy Au: (12:34)
What does this creation process look like for you? Do you sit down and write it out? Is it something that you're out? I don't know, walking, and then it pops into your phone and then you write on a Notes app? How does that process of all you just discuss? How does that work for you?
Kathryn Cross: (12:49)
I look through trending content in general under the pregnancy niche. And a lot of my algorithms have now been geared towards that. So if I open any social media app, I tend to see ads and suggested content that's in my niche anyway, so I get a sense of what people are talking about. Also look at my comments for inspiration, to get a sense of like, what it is that my viewers care about, and what they talk about. So that's where I draw inspiration from. But other than that, I honestly don't do too much planning for my content, because I feel like I'm a more effective public speaker when it's off the cuff. So when it's to rehearse, and I think about it too much. And there's this whole written effort that has to be done. So I tried to speak off the cuff and then afterwards, trying to put on the eyes of someone that I'm trying to reach with this content. And then from there, it's about editing and making sure that it's really going to capture the relevant target audience's eyes. So like I mentioned if you're pregnant and have this kind of placenta, then I'll make that a part of the edit. And then adding subtitles and other things that just makes it more accessible as a form of consumable content.
Jeremy Au: (14:02)
And what's interesting is that you've done this and you're also doing this primarily Tik Tok. And i also notice that you're starting to do other verticals, other channels as well, social networks. So how do you see the different channels or you are like, tick tock is the future. That's it right or die? How do you see that playing out?
Kathryn Cross: (14:21)
We see if Tiktok is the future. There's been a lot of debate on Capital Hill about its existence in the US. So we'll see. But I definitely think the future is in short form video because tick tock has really proven that as the next form of consumable content. Secondarily, Instagram, for sure will continue. But people are looking for more authentic content, which is why I think certain apps like be real have been really successful. And YouTube, has the best engagement. So although short form videos will be the most popular in the future, it's still always going to hold true that if you can capture the audience's attention for a long form video, that you can do capture their attention for anything because there's so much demand in the attention economy that if you can manage the demand with a long form piece, then you know that you have this audience, like hooked, essentially. So if someone can dominate YouTube, then you've pretty much mastered at all. But there's for sure an increase in short form consumption.
Jeremy Au: (15:22)
These are all your learnings, as a founder and as a creator. And what's been interesting is to see you go through the steps. And the early stages when we had a composition, which was, again, how to see the market to building, product market fit to monetizing, to actually fundraising. So what would you say have been the lessons that you've had, as you have evolved from, as you said, an aspiring founder for testing the market with content to being a founder and the evolution personality?
Kathryn Cross: (15:48)
I feel like I've learned more than I have in any other period of my life, fundraising is definitely one aspect of it. So how to run a proper fundraising process, I have been trying to read a lot. So books, like fundraising by Ryan Breslow, was really helpful for my fundraising process. And then even how to run an effective team and build an effective culture that makes folks on the team feel welcome. So I've been reading books like high growth handbook and traction to really solidify those. And then with marketing in particular, and content creation, because it's so new, there's actually not that many really helpful resources in existence. So it's just a matter of doing it and being able to cultivate your own learnings. The fact that I've just been on social media for so many years, even prior to my business, like I've always been really interested in social media and posting content, I was like a Twitch streamer for a month and stuff like that. So I've done a bunch of different experiments that I feel like has helped me more deeply understand the different segments of people that are attracted to different platforms.
Jeremy Au: (16:49)
You mentioned that this has been the greatest time of personal learning. So what about it makes it a time of accelerated learning for you versus you at Wellesley, which is obviously a great place for learning as well, or at least they tried to be, and obviously you've worked as well. So what makes this period an accelerated curve for you?
Kathryn Cross: (17:10)
It's that there's so much responsibility involved, when you're a founder, it's not only your company's but your fiduciary responsibility to your investors, as well as a personal and fiduciary responsibility to your teammates, your well being in general, I feel a lot of founders end up tying their mental health to their business as well being as well, because it just becomes like a part of your identity. So then you have a personal duty to yourself, to really make sure that the business continues, because there's so much responsibility. And the stakes are so high for founders, I've tried to take in, every action that I've done, I least like cultivate some learning from it. Versus at Wellesley, it's like you have tuition. And that's the main incentive, in a sense to really learn. But other than that, there's a lot of like socializing and distractions, and you can justify it by like, well, this is what people do in college anyways. But when it comes to a business, it's really you pushing forward the whole ship, because of the weight of everything, I really take everything very seriously and try to soak up as much information as I can.
Jeremy Au: (18:16)
As you think about the acceleration, what has helped you stay on top of it. So you just mentioned reading books has been one way that you accelerate that learning Curve, that one is taking on more ownership and accountability. What are their reflections have you heard about how you've accelerated that learning curve?
Kathryn Cross: (18:31)
Turning yourself as well as your business into like an operating system, creating an OS for it. Like even for myself, most recently, I've started having a personal notion in the same way that my business has like a hub notion, and we have all these sub notions. And so I've been starting to do the same thing for myself of, things I learned in business, things that like spark joy for me, books that I've read, that I've liked quotes that have inspired me, and have just tried to create a second brain in a sense, there's a book called ‘The second brain’ that I actually haven't read, but I've read articles about the concept of it. And so this idea of creating a second brain and creating an OS for yourself is something else that can really help with that. And it's something that most founders I know come to a point where they do the same.
Jeremy Au: (19:19)
As you think about that, what advice have you got over the past few years that has particularly resonated with you. You mentioned talking to other founders and hearing about a second brain, any advices stood out for you.
Kathryn Cross: (19:34)
Just like the Facebook value of like, move fast and break things, I've heard in many different variations of the same ethos. And that always really resonates with me because I have always been the type of person that really likes to like source a lot of information before making a decision and consult with experts in the field and things like that. I have been learning that as a founder sometimes you really have to take on that decision yourself and move forward with it, even if it's as little as like how do we go about editing the piece of content? Should we do it this way or this way, but it's like you need to make a decision and move forward. And in the future, you can modify it, just moving fast and being okay with breaking things.
Jeremy Au: (20:19)
As you think through what have been the positives you've seen from moving fast and breaking things from your personal perspective versus I think times that it hasn't worked out? Sounds like you've decided on moving fast and breaking things, but just curious about your reflections about integrating that mindset.
Kathryn Cross: (20:36)
I don't really have any regrets, like affirm my mindset, because I think if you fail, you still learn from it. Upon reflection, the mindset is something that should be employed across all startups, because I've also met quite a few founders who get stuck on an idea. They don't know how to execute. They're researching for months, and then nothing really happens. Just because they were scared to make a decision or didn't feel confident in their own decision. You won't move forward. So you may as well die trying.
Jeremy Au: (21:15)
Die trying okay. Tell me more about that. Why die trying?
Kathryn Cross: (21:17)
I feel like you should experience things rather than not. I really love like TV and movies and things like that. But I've always strived to live a life that makes me feel like my own life would be more enriching than watching TV. So I usually use how much TV I yearn to watch, as KPI for how enriching my own life is. You always want to live a life that is more scintillating than any TV show you could find. So you may as well try everything that you can, even if it means that you'll fail. And it's better than being stagnant and watching other people's lives.
Jeremy Au: (21:55)
You measure how much you have going through life by how much TV you consume. And you're also creating content across Tik Tok and YouTube, which is our generation’s television. I always do remember the personally that I was like, I'm pretty proud. I don't watch that much TV. And I was cutting myself Wait. And I looked at my YouTube, my Netflix all day. And I was like, wait, I am watching this much TV. So how do you feel about that? Obviously, there's always that push to like produce and also to consume. So how do you feel about that content me or that trade off between those two sides, personally?
Kathryn Cross: (22:26)
I would say you should definitely try producing content, if you're looking to do like one or the other. Because like I said, you always want to be living a life that's worth watching not to watch others is the way that I've always seen it. But also I have never shied away from the camera and find social media really interesting. And even things like when I was in high school, I used to model and stuff like that. So I've always enjoyed being centerstage, essentially. So in that way, content comes naturally to me. But consumption of social media, to me feels like a different form of consumption versus like TV and movies, because you're watching really organic content, for the most part, that is usually one person's vision, or one person's take and mindset on the world. So I think tick tock has actually opened up a lot of empathy because there's so many memes. And memes make people feel closer to one another because there's so many experiences everyone thinks is so unique to them. Like a few days ago, I saw a tweet that was I've never had an original thought. And it's because you'll see a tweet that or a Tik Tok or anything that has a thought that you thought was original. But in reality, there are really no original thoughts.
Jeremy Au: (23:41)
I love that point about there being no original thoughts left in the world.
Kathryn Cross: (23:45)
I don't actually think it is a sad thing. It's a beautiful thing, because that's why people assemble in communities when they have the same thoughts.
Jeremy Au: (23:54)
I want to double click on that. So the beautiful thing is that you get to join a community where everyone has the same thought. And that's a good example. Reddit isn't great. But subreddit is where the magic happens, where everybody's looking at, stopping drinking, or everybody's looking at personal motivation. So the subreddits are very own as a niche, but it's hard to find. So what are your reflections around building community where everyone is thinking or aspiring the same?
Kathryn Cross: (24:21)
Really great thing to be a part of, I've always loved the idea of being a part of communities and building communities because it's what the core of society is built on. So human nature is to want to know about other people's lives and to share our own. And that is best done through community. It's really comes down to exhibiting empathy for others' experiences and also being vulnerable enough and honest enough with yourself to be able to share your own, so that others can empathize with you. So that's my general philosophy on community building, the foundation has to be empathy.
Jeremy Au: (25:00)
I think empathy is the tricky part in today's world because it feels one-sided. Obviously, when I'm consuming TikTok, or YouTube or Instagram, obviously, I feel that empathy has been channeled on me. But from a production basis, as done by a video creator. Sometimes it just facing a camera or a mirror, consuming it, it does feel like there's that empathy. But when you're producing it, there's a bit of otherness. How do you deal with that?
Kathryn Cross: (25:21)
Whenever I'm filming content, I never think of it as, I'm looking at a camera. I always think of it as I'm looking at a camera for the city edited, for this to be seen by pregnant parents whose lives I hope to impact. So to me, there's a huge amount of empathy. In fact, maybe more so because there's something really special about like the promise of a lot of reach, which on Tik Tok is usually like undeniable, because of the way that the algorithm is built. It's different than having like a one on one conversation. Making content is a place that it will definitely be able to be amplified. And because of that, it's almost more likely that you'll find people that resonate with your content versus one on one conversation. So that's why flogs and the nature of Get Ready With Me videos and stuff like that has become so popular because they're able to find other people that are having the same unoriginal thoughts. Just like create community around that.
Jeremy Au: (26:17)
You made me laugh the word vlogs. Because a video logs, it came out super hot, 10 years ago, it disappeared. It feels like it's coming back. What do you think is the appeal of logs and video logs, journals? What do you think went away? What do you think about it coming back?
Kathryn Cross: (26:32)
I feel like I didn't even know a time when it wasn't. I didn't consume that much of YouTube until I was like 21. But I feel a lot of my friends did. So since we were like 13, they would watch Emma Chamberlain vlogs or whoever was getting really popular or makeup videos are really popular. But I think that they've become really popular because people crave that social interaction. And it's probably like the least intensive personal consumption that you can do to still feel social interaction. So vlogs is the same feeling that you get from FaceTiming a friend, but you don't have to have the energy and exertion to reciprocate the interaction, which is something that I learned when I was streaming on Twitch for a month, our goal to stream for at least an hour every day for a month to test out the platform. This is prior to me being a founder. But that was really insightful because Twitch is very much so different than any other social media platform versus like Tik Tok, Instagram, Twitter, they all somewhat have the same feel. But to me, Twitch felt very different. And it's because there are way more people viewing than creating, versus on Instagram, almost everyone will post one photo in their life. But not everyone will Twitch stream, but a lot of people will view Twitch stream. So I got quite a few viewers who would comment pretty regularly on my Twitch streams. And I would ask if they want to join me and we can co stream or whatever. And a lot of people would say no. So that's when I realized that they've liked the social interaction with me but didn't want the same sense of exertion, sociability that's required with also producing content and engaging in a real conversation.
Jeremy Au: (28:11)
That's an interesting theory or construct that you put in there. Which is that there's differing levels of social interaction that people want to have in terms of effort versus on your end, as the creators, and it's about that point of view. So how do you feel about that? Is that the trend? I guess society is moving towards that direction.
Kathryn Cross: (28:28)
I think people are just becoming more and more honest about social anxiety. I see a lot of memes about social anxiety. And definitely, as we move to an increasingly remote world, people can be more open about the fact that they have major social anxiety, and the human need to socialize, can be fulfilled through social media. That's why people even could survive, like the lockdowns during the pandemic, because we have FaceTime and YouTube and you can consume other people's content. You can be honest about the fact that you have social anxiety and not have to confront it and get over it.
Jeremy Au: (29:05)
The interesting part is that the world is increasingly trending towards it. And I think 100 years ago, you either turned up for the tea party, or you didn't turn up at a tea party. You went out for lunch, you didn't have lunch, there was a few opportunities to be part of a gallery, and you're watching the musicians play on stage, and they're producing and you're watching. But now, it's everywhere. I can go for a walk. And I'm engaged in terms of consumption and interacting by pressing a like button or hot button. But that aside is that of a conversation. So there's a differential in that piece. So I guess there was a trend more towards it, feels like a lot of folks don't like that future. They say it's bad or evil. People don't know how to get out anymore. Kids don't know how to socialize. What do you say to that?
Kathryn Cross: (29:45)
I don't know. Not something that can even be combated, because it's due to the fact that like the world is so dynamic, back when people didn't have social anxiety, they also didn't have much to be anxious about because there was not a lot of stimulation 200 years ago, for instance, versus now, like I remember my Nana would always tell me, Pride and Prejudice is so long and boring, because that's all they could do during that time, was sit around and talk about marriage, versus now, I forget the exact number. But it's like every human consumes the equivalent to 74 newspapers worth of information every day. And that's the foundation of the theories behind this idea of a second brain and creating a second brain is, how do you take all the information that you're receiving, process it in an efficient way, and be able to recall it later on when you need to. So that's why I started writing down like my favorite quotes and books and things like that, to really build upon this idea of a second brain. But because we have so much stimulation, there's so much that we can take. So an increase in social anxiety is probably natural, and can't really be stopped as tech and society advances. You just have to choose what you want to be stimulated by. And it's interesting, because there's almost like a Gen Z trend to take on less stimulation, I've seen quite a few tiktoks of people buying flip phones and like throwing away their iPhone. So even things like that, stimulation grows, social anxiety could grow. But likewise, a conscious decrease in stimulation will probably also grow.
Jeremy Au: (31:14)
I love for you to share, by all the time that you personally have been brave.
Kathryn Cross: (31:20)
I feel like I've been brave my whole life. When I was 12. I wrote a 100 Page memoir, because I was like, my life is so tragic. When I was three and my brother was one, my first memory is my brother's near drowning accident. So although at the time, I wasn't consciously trying to be brave, I was really trying to process everything at once. I had a brother that was perfectly healthy and would like follow me around and like to do everything that I did, to the point that my mom said that when I was younger, I would get annoyed. And then suddenly, I didn't have that anymore. And I didn't have a brother who played soccer games, I could go to or things like that. I felt I was grieving that potential experience, throughout my life. And then when he passed away, suddenly, it was a separate grieving experience. That whole typical American dream, like nuclear family vision, losing different pieces of that, like my parents getting divorced or what have you. I've been something that I've had to brace. So I feel like I've always felt brave for just navigating that.
Jeremy Au: (32:24)
I think that personal loss obviously is tough. And I think for a lot of folks, as they grieve, they process that grief in different ways. And so you're right, I think we laugh a little bit at a memoir, but your life was tough. And because you're dealing with that emotional processing as well. My last question is, for folks who obviously are driven by a sense of mission, a sense of loss, a sense of processing, is there any advice you have for folks who are trying to make that their purpose? Was there any advice that you would give to them?
Kathryn Cross: (32:53)
I think it depends on how you want to channel grief. Some people don't want to continue to be reminded, for me, it felt okay. But I honestly never used to talk about my brother's accident because I really don't like the idea of soliciting pity or people feeling bad for me. So it wasn't until I started this business, that I really started publicly talking about it. A lot of my friends wouldn't find out that I'd a sibling until I had known them for like a year thing. It just depends on folks, comfortability with any grief that they experience. I really encourage everyone to be a founder. So I think a business is the best thing you can build in honor of someone. To me, it's the most efficient way to create impact. So you can honor someone through that.
Jeremy Au: (33:37)
On that note, I’d love to summarize the three big themes I got from this conversation. The first is thank you so much for sharing about your journey from someone who grew up in that family and your own person experience of grief, to how you process that and more importantly, chose to heading channel there, to become a founder to do something about a problem. And in the process of that became what you're more publicly known as like a tick tock star. But it's this nice to see that juxtaposition. And also the sequence of which one is really came first and which one is actually more primary to your personal identity. So that was a really interesting arc and journey as well as to where you are today. Second, I love this part about accelerating your personal learning curves, especially for this last chunk of time, from Product Market Fit to fundraising. And a lot of your learnings about community, about origin of thoughts and how everybody's learning from each other in terms of differential social interactions and finding each other. And there is the consumption now, 74 newspapers of information every day, versus having to sit and discuss Pride and Prejudice, because it's the only book that's available. And lastly, I really appreciate the phrase you said, which is about this die trying right. I really appreciate that spirit that you have about going forward and pushing forward every day. So thank you so much, Kathryn for coming on the show.
Kathryn Cross: (34:53)
Yes, thanks for having me. This is definitely the most I've got to on a podcast and it was really cool.