The cavnessHR podcast – A talk with Christopher Molaro of NeuroFlow
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Social Media links for Christopher Below!!
NeuroFlow Website: https://www.neuroflowsolution.com/
NeuroFlow Twitter: https://twitter.com/neuroflowlive
NeuroFlow Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/neuroflowlive/?hl=en
NeuroFlow Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/neuroflowlive/
NeuroFlow LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/neuroflow/
NeuroFlow Video Overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqTIzO9dyik&
Christopher’s Twitter: @chris_molaro
Christopher’s Book Recommendations!!!
"Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t " by Jim Collins. Link to look at and purchase is below.
“Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs” by John Doerr. Link to look at and purchase is below.
“The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. Link to look at and purchase is below.
Resources from Christopher!!!
Mental health is obviously a human issue and we want to be a resource to everyone. Go to https://www.neuroflowsolution.com/client-resources/ We have a bunch of resources there. I encourage you to go to https://www.neuroflowsolution.com/
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Jason: Hello and welcome to the cavnessHR podcast. I am your host Jason Cavness. Our guest today is Christopher Molaro. Christopher are you ready to be great today?
Christopher: Oh yeah. Definitely.
Jason: Christopher is a 2010 graduate of the United States Military Academy and was commissioned as a Field Artillery officer. He deployed with the 1ST Cavalry Division as a Platoon Leader to Iraq in 2011 and was awarded a Bronze Star. He co-founded the nonprofit, Things We Read. Books on enhancing the quality of lives of our Soldiers and inspiring them to pursue a lifetime of learning. In 2017, he earned his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and is now Founder/CEO of NeuroFlow. Thank you for being here today. I really appreciate it. You are doing some great things.
Christopher: First thank you for having me.
Jason: Can you tell us the story of NeuroFlow? How it came about and what your vision for it is in the future.
Christopher: Of course, I mean it really stems back from as you mentioned my military service and back when I was serving. I was a platoon leader and just like in any walk of life. A lot of my friends and my fellow soldiers could have benefited from therapy. If you broke your arm, you'd go to the physical therapist to get better. Why not the same thing for mental health and behavioral health. Anyway, I was not the expert. I'm not a psychologist by background, so there were limits in what I could do and that was frustrating. When I transitioned off active duty and I went to business school here in Philadelphia. I teamed up with Neuroscientists. The co-founder of NeuroFlow has a Bioengineering Ph.D. and we teamed up and really focused on bringing technology and testing. that could be used to enhance evidence based therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. We did a lot of research at the University of Pennsylvania and NeuroFlow was born. Today we are in over a hundred clinics and hospitals in four countries. I believe we're making an impact in helping lives and helping doctors help those patients that need it the most.
Jason: Can you tell us about some of the compliance challenges you had and the different compliance rules in different countries, states and cities as far as mental health?
Christopher: I mean for sure that's not even just limited to mental health. Health care technology in general as you can imagine is a very regulated base. As it should be because when patients’ lives are at stake and their health is part of the equation. You need to make sure that what you're putting out there and what you're selling is not only safe. But it does what you say it can do. So as far as the United States is concerned. We have to be HIPPA compliant first and foremost. Data security is a major concern of ours. We are the software that handles some very private data. Names, birth dates, emails and therapy data. Data related to cognitive behavioral therapy and other evidence based therapies. So, it's very private, very personal and we take that responsibility very seriously. So, from day one, We've had to be Hippa compliant and so if you were a patient on this platform and you were working with your Psychologist or your therapist. Using the platform, we would never see any of your data. In fact, we don't even know your name or your email. All that is encrypted. Behind a double firewall and that's private between you and your provider. So that is one example of Hippa compliance. Canada and the EU and Africa, they all have similar type situations. But, slightly different regarding their own countries. So, we've had to navigate all those. Another for regulation is I'm sure everyone's heard of the FDA. The FDA is making sure what is safe in the medical space and is it efficacious or does it work.
So great example is a drug. If I take a little drug and I put that in my body. Is it actually going to do what it says it can do and two what are going to be the side effects of that and am I going to be put in harm? The FDA regulates drugs and also regulates medical devices. We are just careful with the claims that we can make. NeuroFlow is not a diagnostic tool and we are not a treatment tool. We are meant to be used in conjunction with clinical therapy. But under the supervision of a provider. We are assessed by the FDA as what is called clinical decisions work tool. That assessment is a lower threshold for having to go through clinical trials and that sort of thing. So that was another big regulation thing that we had to go through.
Jason: This next part is just personal opinion and then a follow up question. I retired from the Army a few years ago. I did 25 years. Before in the Army, you couldn't show any sign of weakness. It was like here, take some Motrin. Now it is like Ok maybe we should look at things. But it was still like, you can come to us with these concerns. But the unsaid thing was that doing so would really affect your career. Do you think the army will ever get past that point? Personally, I don't think they will just because of the mentality you need to be in the army. Then the follow up question is have you found that the civilian side is having an easier time dealing with this?
Christopher: Those are great questions. The good news is that these behavioral health issues like anxiety and depression or PTSD. They have effective means of dealing with them and treating them. I mean that's the good news. So cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, is a proven way of effectively treating anxiety and depression. Cognitive Processing Therapy or CPE and prolonged exposure therapy. Are evidenced based protocols that are proven to help with PTSD. So, the good news is that these things are not chronic illnesses that you're going to have to live with for the rest of your life. You can get better. You don't have to live with them forever. These different protocols take the investment and the time and buy-in from you and me as a patient. If you're going through CBT. There's work to be done on your part. It's not the pill you're going to take and you're going to feel better on something you have to be invested in that and do the exercises that you're supposed to do. In order to improve and get better.
Christopher: The reason I bring that up is because that's the sort of mentality that I see changing in both the civilian and the military world. If you're depressed if you're struggling with depression or PTSD. You're no longer really looked at as broken so to speak. You're not broken, and you can't be fixed. You're struggling with something like anyone else. There's a way that we can get you better and so we're gonna get you better. That's a really important shift that I've experienced and have witnessed. I think a lot of other people will attest to that as well. That's not to say that it's a perfect solution so far and that there still exists pockets that have a negative towards mental health issues. I think really that's a function of just people not necessarily understanding what's going on. They don't struggle from depression. So, if you're depressed, they don't understand they just get a hold of yourself. So, I think we have a long way to go. But I think that we're headed in the right direction both on the military and the civilian side.
Jason: I think it is the mentality, I scored a 300, how come you can't score a 300? If I can run two miles in 10 minutes, how come you can't? What's the matter with you?
Christopher: But the good thing is if you worked at it and you put the practice in. You can improve and you can get up to that level right. I think that's a good analogy. You know you're not going to be able to just wake up the next day or take a pill and get that three hundred. Three hundred for listeners out there that aren't Veterans. Three hundred is a perfect Army physical fitness test. So, no I'm not going to just wake up or take a magic pill to be able to get a perfect score. But if I work at it and I invest the time and I'm motivated to get that improvement. You'll start to see the positive change. Same thing for behavioral health.
Jason: You talked about this in our pre-talk But, do you target market hospitals or do you go straight to patients?
Christopher: NeuroFlow is a clinical tool. We have two different subsets of that tool. Two different products. One is called Engage EH. That is meant to be used by psychologists and therapists. The other is called Integrate Health. That's meant to be used by primary care providers and pain management specialists. That don't traditionally use behavior or treat behavioral health issues. But either way, NeuroFlow, where it stands right now is a clinical tool meant to be used by the providers and the health systems. So, we're selling NeuroFlow and access to NeuroFlow to hospitals and to doctors. Then they are inviting their patients to join and to monitor track and assess their behavioral health issues. The good news is that it's free to patients. No cost whatsoever as long as you get invited by your provider. They can download it and use it and experience the platform.
Jason: What type of pushback have you received? We really don't want to use your product because of this.
Christopher: Let me kind of back this up for you. We've been doing beta testing in a lot of locations since September of last year to March of this year. March 1st of this year 2018, we fully launched and we fully launched in 12 clinics and now we're in over 100 clinics and hospitals. We had a lot of growth and not all that happened overnight. One of the biggest pushbacks that we had was the notion of interoperability. A lot of the hospital systems work with large systems called electronic health records. These are where everyone's health records live and so when you go to your doctor in a hospital. You may see him or her type a few notes or something like that off to the side on their computer. They're typing those notes into the electronic health record. The pushback for us was they're going to have to log into a whole different platform to take notes. All in a brand new platform or on a platform in addition to the electronic health record. So we have a very talented team of developers and engineers at NeuroFlow that have been able to work on this to make us interoperable and so to fit right into the electronic health record. So that a doctor and a hospital can interact with NeuroFlow tools. Within their system without having to go to NeuroFlow's website. That's been a key component of our success and growth.
Christopher: Can you talk about how you how your military service has helped you in building your company?
Christopher: In the military, what we care about is our team. The men and women that fight alongside of us that support us and without them, you don't get the mission done. Without a clear definition of what the mission is your whole team isn't on the same page. It's the exact same thing in a small company. Your mission is just a little bit different. We're not kicking in doors in Iraq or Afghanistan. We're trying to solve the problem and grow a business. But we're doing that as a team and each person on the team has their own individual job. It's just like in the Army. You have your supplier, military intelligence and your infantry, and your artillery. Each has their own specific job, meant to help the mission move forward. So, taking that same problem solving mentality. That mission driven mentality and leading our team with a clear focus on the vision and building the camaraderie. I think has done us a huge benefit for NeuroFlow and our growth. I mean from day one of running the company. When it was just me and my co-founder and really this was just an idea, we've had a value system. Everyone that is now an employee learns those values. We use those values as an accountability tool. If anyone isn't following one of those values or does something that's not in line with one of those values. People call other people out and they hold people accountable to them. Just like we would in the military. So, it's those things that really I think help us effectively run an early company to accomplish our mission and build a culture that is effective.
Jason: Can you tell us a time you have been successful in the past. What you learned from this success and what we can learn.
Christopher: The success I am picking started out as a failure and that's be as focused as possible on a measurable outcome. You have to be absolutely focused. At first, I didn't think I did a good job at this. I got distracted pretty easily or I got excited about other opportunities that were on the horizon. I saw opportunities that we may be able to take advantage of. Different marketplaces, different type of technologies we could integrate with and what ended up happening was we were a mile wide but only an inch deep. Never really did anything. My co-founders are really the opposite of me. We balance each other very well. You know we sat down and we said look we have to start focusing on one marketplace. Understanding that maybe in the future we could expand to other marketplaces. But for now, we have to focus on one market. So, we've done that really well now and this is why we're selling only to providers and we are not doing direct to customers right now. We want to do the provider tool really really well and become the expert there. Where we need to be with this initial product offering. I would say it's remaining focused and we've done that well now. But not after learning the hard way first.
Jason: You already answered this a little bit. But next talk about a time you failed, what you learned and what we can learn.
Christopher: I think the focus thing is huge. Understanding that whether it's through the CEO and founder of a company. You have three jobs really and that's it. If you're able to stay focused on those three jobs and do them really well. Your company is going to be better off. So. The way I look at it as founder of NeuroFlow. My three jobs are making sure that the vision is set. That the strategy for what we're trying to accomplish is done. Then making sure that everyone is on the same page. Number two is making sure that we have the resources to get that done. That could be money, that could be office space, technology, funding. Making sure that we have the resources to do that. Three is making sure that we have the best people possible on the team.
Christopher: Build that culture around them and to get that done I had to stay focused in doing that. I think from a failure on my part was something in the beginning. I tried to do too much. I tried to do everything. I wasn't effectively leveraging the talents of my team. So now I've been able to readjust from that and have each person on the team really focused on what they're supposed to do with their expertise. Jim Collins is the famous author that writes a big book that I really like that I recommend the book called "Good to Great". Jim Collins talks about you have to get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus. So, get the right people on the bus, get the wrong people off the bus. But then once the right people are on the bus. You need to get them in the right seats. So maybe you know if you have a salesperson doing engineering work that's probably not the best bet. You have to get the right people in the right seats and then the bus can move forward in the right direction. You can create something special.
Jason: You bring up a really great point. You see all the time someone starts a company. I need someone to do sales or I need a need a developer. You bring on your friends, but they really don't have the skills you need.
Christopher: This is a natural human tendency. We like to hang out with people that are like ourselves. Coming from the Wharton Business School. There was a lot of business type people, a lot of people just like me. Not only did they look like me, but they looked like me in experience. So, we had similar experiences and all that stuff. But like I said my co-founder and I were very similar in a lot of ways. But we're very very very different in a lot of ways. We complement each other. We think about problems and the way that we approach problems in different ways. I would challenge anyone that is looking for partners or employees that they should bring on people that can complement you and help you fill in those weaknesses.
Jason: I understand you have a couple of books to recommend for our listeners.
Christopher: Yes, I mentioned "Good to Great" already by Jim Collins. That's a fantastic one. I just finished reading "Measure what Matters" by John Doer. John is a famous venture capitalist. "Measure what Matters" talks about how companies even early stage companies like ours need to measure their progress intermittently. You can do it on a monthly basis. You can do it on a weekly basis or quarterly basis. But to put some methodology behind measuring your progress in the business and measuring everything. He calls them objectives and key results. So not only your sales numbers and your revenue. Obviously, you want to measure that stuff. But, also how many sales calls did I do today. Or for engineers, how much code did I write this week. Was that on par with what I'm trying to aim for and holding everyone accountable in that way and you can help drive your business forward. Really identify what is inefficient and what's efficient. What you do to fix that sort of thing. So "Measure What Matters" by John Doer and then a fiction book. That I like a lot. It's an old one, but it's a classic is "The Fountainhead". By Ayn Rand. It's a classic. When I was the founder of Things We Read the nonprofit that you mentioned in my bio. Mark Cuban recommended "The Fountainhead". So, I read that and it was a great book. Those are the three I would recommend.
Jason: I understand you have something for our listeners.
Christopher: First and foremost,t we may be selling to providers and our commercial relationship is with Health systems. But mental health is obviously a human issue and we want to be a resource to everyone out there. Whether you could benefit from support or you know someone a friend or a loved one that could benefit. So if you go to https://www.neuroflowsolution.com/client-resources/ There's a bunch of resources there. It's a resource guide. Where patients and people, in general, can see what's out there for them to get the help that you need. To get help, there's no shame in doing that. I think it does show strength and it shows that you're stronger. If you're able to go get help when you need it. Look if you broke your arm, no one is gonna judge you twice for going to get a cast on it. So, if you need a little bit of help with depression or anxiety or PTSD. No one is going to judge you for that. Like I said earlier there's good news. There's evidence based protocols that really really do help and are effective. So I encourage you to go to https://www.neuroflowsolution.com/ and you can check out those resources. If you are seeing a provider and you think that technology could help enhance your experience. There is a way for you to invite them to the platform. Or at least tell them about the platform and we'd love to talk to them as well.
Jason: Can you share your social media links for both yourself and your company, so people can reach out to you.
Christopher: You can follow me on Twitter @chris_molaro. For the company @neuroflowlive. For Twitter. Instagram and Facebook, you just go to NeuroFlowlive.
Jason: For our listeners, we will have the links to his book recommendations and his social media links and his other recommended links on our show notes. You can find the show notes at www.cavnessHRblog.com. Christopher, we are coming to the end of our talk. Can you give us some last minute advice on any subject you would like to talk about?
Christopher: Yes. Two things. So, one on mental health issues. If you're going through a mental health issue or crisis reach out for help. Like I said there's help there. If you think that you know someone that's going out there for help. Ask them, talk to them. It's been proven that it doesn't increase the chance for suicide. If you ask them, are they thinking about hurting themselves? If you ask someone are you thinking about hurting yourself. It's not like a light bulb is going pop on and they say Oh yeah actually I was. It can only help. So be proactive in reaching out. On the entrepreneur side of things. Being an entrepreneur is a lot of fun. It's not always easy. But if you find something that you're passionate about and a problem that's worth solving. So wish you all the best of luck. If you choose to do so.
Jason: Christopher, thanks for your time today. You are doing some great things for society and I really appreciate your time.
Christopher: Thanks, Jason. Thanks for having me.
Jason: To our listeners' thanks for your time as well.