Teaching Emotional Intelligence To Teenagers & Undoing the Mess That Was Created By Progress

My Son came home from school and worked on an interesting project that teaches emotional skills. How to respond when things happen. It looked like this:

emotional intelligence at school
Expressing emotions after someone hit you. You just want to hit him back!!!

You have to understand, this is a typical 1st grade school (or not typical) where the kids are psychotic. It’s survival of the fittest here. Maybe that is just what we have to go through. Best friends one second, and then YOU are the enemy the next. Like the flip of a switch, these little devils will turn on you! It sounds brutal.

This project is apparently a technique to help the kids express their emotions or learn them. I never thought this was something that actually had to be taught (which could have been very naive) but apparently it does. I don’t know if this is because times are different or if it was always needed to be taught formally. As a parent, I am glad it is taught.

Is Technology Destroying Our Social Skills?

It made me wonder if technology is messing up the future generations to some extent? It’s not such a crazy thought to think that Social media and the advancements of technology are making us anti-social creating lonely creatures that don’t know how to interact with the outside world (watch: the innovation of loneliness).

This connection to a device is new.

I didn’t have a cell phone until I got my drivers license at 16. And it was the big Nokia phone that couldn’t access anything (you know, the one before snake 2). Now and days, every kid has some sort of portable device that is glued to their hands.  Perhaps our children are not learning important communication and emotional skills?

We humans understand each other by tone of voice or seeing facial expressions.  But all day we are staring at phones, computers, texting and tweeting. We lose all that emotional connection. My feeling is that kids basically don’t know how to talk to each other.

Facebook Teaches Emotional Intelligence to Future Generations

I LOVE this! Facebook has a great initiative aimed at teaching teenagers how to be respectful for one another. When it comes to cyber bullying, in the studies that Facebook has done, it turns out that most users aren’t trying to be mean but more than anything lack the emotional maturity to realize what they are doing might be hurtful. And the biggest problem is, they aren’t learning from their actions that it’s not nice.

Here is some of the fascinating information from Facebook which was written in a New York Times article (I first heard about this on TWIG). In a situation where someone posted a picture that wasn’t appreciated:

  • When Facebook gave kids a blank box to respond, often times kids said things that are not going to be helpful, including cursing out their friends.
  • When Facebook added pre-populated messages to tell a connection you aren’t happy with their post, they saw a tremendous change in responses.
  • When Facebook offered a significantly more developed responses like “This post is mean. It makes me feel sad and I don’t want it on Facebook,” 85 percent of teenagers who wanted a post removed sent a message.

embarrassing photo of Aaron Friedman

I read from this data that more than anything, the kids didn’t even know they were being hurtful.

“Interestingly, more often than not, the posts were not meant to hurt, but were jokes lost in digital translation. When Facebook asked people why they shared a post that hurt someone else, around 90 percent of respondents said they thought their friends would like the post or would think it was funny.”

Apparently this is where the idea of incorporating stickers came from, to help young people express their emotion. Next on the radar for Facebook is noises. That should be interesting. Maybe this is why I love Emoji so much.

Technology Undoing The Mess It Created

We live in a very digitally polluted world where we have videos begging us to put down our technology so we can go enjoy life… and these videos have millions of views. Kinda ironic isn’t it.

I think technology and progress are incredible things. But it does come with a price. Sometimes it’s in the form of privacy, and other times, it’s in the form of emotional intelligence. I don’t love that this is the case, but I do love that Facebook recognizes the problem and is trying educate its young users. I love their commitment to the social responsibility. It could have been easy for them to throw their hands up and say “not our problem”. But they didn’t. They put an 80 person team in place to help educate the side effects of progress.

I love this!

Additional Reading: I read an incredible article about mindcraft too which talks about some of the incredible lessons young people can learn from playing. Worth reading too.

Yo, Some Serious Branding Opportunity on @yoapp

Yo has been on my phone for the past 6 months. It started during the war when Android phones in the US couldn’t get Red Alert updates. I was talking with my friend who made the app and I said to him, “why don’t you send those updates out on Twitter using an IFTTT formula” or something like that. He says back to me, “no, I am doing Yo”. And I pushed him to do something else. But he was adamant. “No, Yo!” he says.

Yo Screen Shot

So he did Yo.

And he got a ton of press because of it.  The crowd went wild over Yo.  New York Times, Mashable, Washington Post, and tons of others have been writing about Yo.

All because you can say Yo to someone (that is another story)? Or is there another reason why?

What Is YO? Sounds Pretty Stupid.

Great question. They say they are a “Zero Character Messaging Service”. What that practically means is, I can click on my friends name, and it will send them a message on their phone. But you can’t customize that message. It just says Yo.That is the message.


Seems stupid.

And it is.

At least that part is. There are only so many times you can Yo spam someone before it’s not funny any more.

That said, there is a huge opportunity for Yo that I don’t think people / brands realize right now. In fact, when all these publications wrote about Yo, I don’t think they knew why it was a big deal.

Communication The Simplest Possible Way

Yo is the simplest way to tell someone, I am here. It’s like the original poke on Facebook… except on your phone… and can actually continue conversations. Often times, that simple Yo reminds me of something I wanted to tell a friend, so I send them a lengthier message on WhatsApp.

Also, using the app, the simple double tap sends you the persons location.

Ariella Yoing her location

I send my wife my location when I am at the bus stop, and I have had friends send me their location when they are right around the corner. It’s quick and effective.

Desktop Integration Connects All Your Devices

There are apps that exist to bridge the gap between desktop and mobile. Chrome to Phone. PushBullet. And I am sure there are tons of others. But they are limited to me as an individual. How about sharing from my desktop to a friends phone? This is a struggle that has always existed between desktop and mobile. Simple sharing.

Using the Yo desktop integration is by far the easiest way to send links between your phone to other people. I had a chance to test it out with my buddy John who is in San Francisco. And you can also have some fun sending people incredible rickroles… they will never see it coming! :P

And sending RickRolls is only the tip of the iceberg (obviously). Articles that remind you of someone. Videos that you think they might enjoy. It’s simple. And its social, unlike other messaging services. This is a Social service.

Brand Promotion, Awareness, and Special Deals

Imagine following a brand that sends out a daily notification of a deal they are having? Or a flash sale. Why that’s not happening more right now is beyond me. But it needs to be. It’s a relatively untouched market. The novelty of it is it’s spontaneity.

I thought about building out a platform to allow that to happen, but turns out Yo made it already… but not many people know about it. But it’s right here! http://dev.justyo.co/

YoAPI Dashboard options

Any brand right now can go in, create a ‘sub account’, and send out promotions, deals, links, images… whatever. It is the fastest way to reach users.

But they aren’t as far as I can tell.

I have yet to hear of any brands REALLY using Yo.

The main difference between this service and others is that it’s a direct notification to the users phone. There is no logging into their platform and scrolling through the users like Twitter or Facebook. It comes as an individual notification to the users phone. Imagine a competition where 1 user a day could win a free laptop (I made one called LenovoYoGaSteal) and you just have to be the fastest to get it. That might get a bit of attention grabber for any major brand.

Updates On Real World Events and Being The First to Know All Things

What I wrote about brand promotion is huge. But how about Robert Scobles announcement that he is using Yo to get a notification every time a product gets 100 upvotes on Product hunt? How about the guy who get s a notification every time the milk is running low in his refrigerator. Or any consistency you want to be updated about. There is a YoIndex where you can find all that.

The opportunities are truly endless.

Challenges and Future Opportunities for Yo

After really playing around with it, I am a fan. I like Yo. But, I see a few challenges with the product as it is right now that need some work (and probably are being worked on).

  1. As Yo grows, managing all the notifications could become difficult. Especially if you have a big following. At the moment, I really use Yo with a small handful of people, but I could see that growing much faster and being more challenging. There would have to be some features and permissions put in place to make that more manageable.
  2. Speaking of growing faster, I would like to see a way to add friends from other networks. I have a huge network on Facebook, but know for a fact that I don’t have all of their phone numbers. The barrier to entry and “growth” of a audience is difficult right now since it’s very reliant on knowing the user name or the phone number… which I don’t have.
  3. There is little consistency between the various ways to use Yo (desktop Mobile, and the API). When I create a Yo on my phone, I can send my location. But I also might want to send something out to a list I made in the moment. For example, if I start a Yo list called ‘YoDogJacket’, if i’m walking down the street and I see a dog wearing a jacket, I have no way to send that picture to my list since at the moment, the only way to do that is from the desktop. Same with sending links. Better consistency across the product is necessary.
  4. Truth is I also might want to get those notifications on desktop. I need to think about that.
  5. Another issue I had is finding a way to retrieve the past information a friend sends me. Once I leave the Yo, it’s gone. But if I got an article at a time when I couldn’t read it, then I may nver get the chance again. I personally go save it to pocket, but it’s not the best solution (as much as I love pocket).

Yo is fun, easy, and a novelty at the moment. The biggest setback I have with experimenting on Yo is the sheer number of connections I have on the network. At the moment, I simply don’t have a lot of connections

Shipping a Minimal Viable Product

One other cool thing I will say about Yo is their shipping of a minimal viable product (MVP) and then growing from there. The service is not at the point it needs to be right now, but its good enough. In fact, it’s $1 Million dollars good enough. The product works. And it will grow by user feedback and listening to the criticism. It’s good enough. And that’s awesome.

Try it out for yourself. Add me to your network and Yo me http://justyo.co/ajfried … but brace yourself for a possible RickYo ;)

You Have No Privacy Online, Fine. But Where Do You Draw the Line?

To think that you have some semblance of privacy in this digital world is likely one of the biggest fallacies of our time.

Even on an extremely basic level,  if you email me, I know exactly who you are, how you communicate, and when you are ignoring my messages (because whatsapp and facebook show me). I also know when you saw my email and when would probably be a good time to follow up with you (because I have a gmail plugin). I even have the ability to know how you enter my name into your phone (have you heard of noknok). And forget about how every single profile you create online likely has some privacy vulnerability or setting you didn’t do right. Snapchats are not gone forever. Whisper might not be fully anonymous. All the information is there.

Leo I know your watching my posts

Attempting to Control Our Privacy

We all go to great lengths to create a perception for how people see us, which by definition means we are hiding something. We have secrets or try to keep parts of our lives private. I know I do. But I sometimes like to tell myself that I am not really hiding anything and that I am pretty consistent with how I behave online, offline, and in the isolation of my own home with the people I love. In fact, I basically broadcast it online for everyone else to see. Because I have nothing to hide.

But that is completely false and such a messed up way to think. We all hide parts of ourselves. Human beings need and crave some privacy in various degrees. I have things that are more private than others. I have a lock on my home and a shower curtain in my bathroom. I keep a password on my email because I don’t want people snooping around there, because frankly its none of your damn business. I will talk to my mom about things that my business colleagues will likely never know.


Why Privacy Matters

If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest watching Glenn Greenwald’s TED talk on “Why Privacy Matters“. He argues against the infamous quote by Eric Schmidt in which he said “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

Glenn says:

“a society in which people can be monitored at all times is a society that breeds conformity and obedience and submission, which is why every tyrant, the most overt to the most subtle, craves that system. Conversely, even more importantly, it is a realm of privacy, the ability to go somewhere where we can think and reason and interact and speak without the judgmental eyes of others being cast upon us, in which creativity and exploration and dissent exclusively reside, and that is the reason why, when we allow a society to exist in which we’re subject to constant monitoring, we allow the essence of human freedom to be severely crippled.

Am I Pro of Against This “Invasion of Privacy”?

I never thought I would ever have to really ask myself that question, and oddly enough I find myself struggling with it. Where are the boundaries? Are the boundaries any information unless you give permission? Is it all information as long as your name isn’t given? Is it ok as long as it keeps the world a safer place? How about a free tool vs. a paid one? Shouldn’t they be treated the same? After all, my data is my data.

I still am trying to decide how I feel about all this when it comes to modern day technology where my information is used to give a better experience. When Google uses my information, it’s not my name. I am a number with attributes that define me and those attributes are being used to enhance my experience. I have decided to trade some of this privacy for this enhanced experience. That said, I certainly don’t wan’t the government snooping in on me at their leisure (there is a tool to block that by the way). Until reports came out about Uber’s ‘god view’ mode in which they display on screen all the people using UBER in a given location, I didn’t really think much of it. Google is tracking your every move and storing that history with their location history tool as well.

When I logged in, this is what it looked like on the day of the ALYN bike ride:

And even though I am ok with Google using this information, there was an incredibly invasive feeling when I discovered this because I don’t remember ever opting into this. Maybe I did.

The bottom line is, we can all go to great lengths to conceal who we are online, but the social internet doesn’t exist that way. And it’s a problem. And to Glenn’s point, it’s not something we should accept. But by “opting in” we sort of are.

I am still trying to wrap my head around this and decide my beliefs on the subject, but here are a few thoughts I have:

  • Google and Facebook are businesses but they are free for us. We use their technology for free. But that free obviously comes at a price. If you don’t like it, don’t use it. In my opinion, its that simple.
  • You will argue “but then I can’t use their maps to get me from place to place” or “I won’t be able to search on the go” or “I won’t be able to keep in touch with my friends”. This is true, but that’s not their problem. This is a choice you can make to control your privacy.
  • UBER is a business that I pay for and displaying actual user information is a horrendous breach of
  • I know Google lets you opt out of all sorts of tracking AND delete historic data. I have heard UBER makes it extremely difficult to delete your account. You use their service and give them data to use, but its still yours and you should be able to go anywhere you want with it.

That’s my brain dump. Really curious to hear what other people think about privacy online. Let me know!

The Importance of A Good Headshot Is Huge

I remember when I was working at Spark and got my first company head shots taken. It was a big deal for me and I knew I wanted them to come out good. So I went to the store and probably bought a new shirt and jacket to wear on top.

When I finally got them… YIKES! I sat in the office reviewing them with my friend. Nothing like a couple grown men literally making the biggest deal out of a silly little head-shot. And we proclaimed out loud how vain of a conversation it was. It was funny.  But it was ultimately decided that while it was one of the most vain conversations of all time, the head shot needed a re-do.

The outcome of round 2 is the head-shot I use on everything.

My Name is Aaron Friedman and This is My Headshot


I always wonder about the people who change their Facebook and Twitter avatars. For me, this is it. It’s the perfect picture that looks exactly like I do in real life. Which believe it or not, can make all the difference.

People See The Avatar Online and Recognize You Offline

It was right after the ALYN bike ride and to celebrate the long ride, my grandparents took us to a hotel in Jerusaelm. There I am, sitting at lunch and someone comes up to me and says ” Aaron Friedman, right?” Sure enough, my friend Clark who was visiting from the states. We never met in person, but he recognized me from my Facebook picture.

Aaron Friedman Blue

Aaron Friedman Black and White

Believe it or not, that was the second time it happened that week. And it happens all the time where someone recognizes me from my head-shot.

It’s kind of wild.

A Few Tips I have on Head-Shot-Optimization

  1. Get one that looks like you  and really shows what you look like.
  2. Make sure no one else is in it. If you have to pay a few bucks for a professional one, it’s totally worth it.
  3. Be consistent and use that image EVERYWHERE. Anywhere you have an avatar should have that image.
  4. Don’t wear layers. Keep it really simple and modest. This is the first impression people will have of you.
  5. Other Varieties of the same image. That should work

Aaron Friedman Green

Aaron Friedman Orange

So before you think about changing your head-shot, remember that a picture is worth a thousand words, and often times, this is the first visual people will have of you. So make it count.

And in the event you don’t want people to recognize you, then just do whatever the heck you want :)

Aaron Friedman Border

Aaron Friedman Image Strips

A Parenting Slap in The Face From A Growth Hacking Conference

I learned a valuable lesson today at the growth hacking conference in Tel Aviv and it had nothing to do with marketing. It had to do with parenting. This post is dedicated to my first born, sweet little boy. Thank you for being compassionate on your old man :)

My Son Lost His Pencil Case

See, the other day, my son came home from school and his pencil case was missing. It was a 3 section case that contains basically every piece of school supplies he has inside f it. They call it a “kolmar” here in Israel. And it was gone. He made some kind of crazy excuse, which truth be told I didn’t really doubt at all. Something about how his teacher needed to borrow a pencil so he took out his case, lent her one, and then he doesn’t remember what happened to it.

Dovid Morning Reading


But I was frustrated. “How could you lose your pencil case?” “That was so irresponsible of you!” We went to go look for it together. And when I couldn’t find it, I probably made him feel like crap then too. Some horrible passive aggressive punishment to destroy his self esteem.

Even this morning, I told him I was going to buy him a new case, but I probably didn’t really say it in the nicest way.

And Then I Lost My Notebook

There I am at this conference in Tel Aviv. My computer was dying (poor planning) so I took out my notebook to write down a few tips. The day progressed like any other with good speakers, a stop at Facebook to visit and old friend, and then a visit to Stratasys to see 3D printing in action, and then it dawned on me… “WHERE IS MY G-D DAMN NOTEBOOK!!!!”



I am panicking.

For real.

Every note I have written down in the past 6 months is in that book.

So I am driving, trying to make sense of this, explaining to myself that its going to be ok, when it dawned on me…

I deserve this.

Dovid Hiking

I deserve to lose every single thing I had written down in that notebook in order to learn this lesson.

I Gotta Learn to Chill Out and Accept Mistakes

He is a boy. He loses things. It happens. Clearly I lose things too.

I walked in the door,  and reminded him about his missing pencil case, and I saw that look in his eyes, thinking how disappointed I must have been at him.

But then I came clean and told him I lost my notebook. Immediately his expression changed from dejected to sort of confused, and then what looked like relief and validation. I explained to him that I lost my notebook too, and I was wrong to make him feel bad. We all lose things and its ok. Mistakes happen and that I was sorry.

We had a moment.

He said, “it’s ok, I forgive you” and gave me a hug. I didn’t deserve it, but I gladly took it.

Dovid and Abba

I would happily lose that notebook any day just to make me a better parent. And I am thankful for that moment of clarity.

(And now that I have learned the lesson, if anyone sees it, please let me know :) )