Shelpful founder Sharon Pope on Instant Human Accountability and ADHD
I want to thank you for listening and for subscribing to Faster Than Normal! I also want to tell you that if you’re listening to this one, you probably listened to other episodes as well. Because of you all, we are the number one ADHD podcast on the internet!! And if you like us, you can sponsor an episode! Head over to https://rally.io/creator/SHANK/ It is a lot cheaper than you think. You’ll reach… about 25k to 30,000 people in an episode and get your name out there, get your brand out there, your company out there, or just say thanks for all the interviews! We’ve brought you over 230 interviews of CEOs, celebrities, musicians, all kinds of rock stars all around the world from Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, Keith Krach from DocuSign, Danny Meyer, we’ve had Rachel Cotton, we’ve had the band Shinedown, right? Tons and tons of interviews, and we keep bringing in new ones every week so head over to https://rally.io/creator/SHANK/ make it yours, we’d love to have you, thanks so much for listening! Now to this week’s episode, we hope you enjoy it! ——
Sharon Pope is the co-founder and CEO of Shelpful, the instant accountability service that pairs you with a real-human buddy to help you build good habits (they nudge you and hold you to big habits like getting exercise, or small tasks like taking out the trash on time). Prior to starting shelpful, Sharon was a startup executive for 15 years, running marketing and product. She advised startups at the famous startup accelerator, Y Combinator, and was Chief Marketing Officer at ZeroDown, Green Dot (NYSE: GDOT), GoBank and Loopt. Prior to that she managed PR and content for a range of tech companies at leading San Francisco-based PR agencies. Today we learned how she started her super helpful company Shelpful, how she learned that for her that exercise is medicine, and how she was using her ADHD as a superpower even before she was diagnosed. Enjoy!
In this episode Peter and Sharon Pope discuss:
2:17 – Intro and welcome Sharon, founder of Shelpful
2:50 – What prompted you to come up with this kind of idea?
4:12 – It seems like it’s one of those things that truly requires getting to numbers of scale, right?
5:20 – Tell us about what kind of tasks people are using this for?
7:15 – What’s the difference between what you do versus someone just saying, Hey Alexa, tell me to drink some water in 30 minutes?
8:17 – Is there an accountability/human trust balance happening here?
10:10 – Why do you think that we don’t allow ourselves give ourselves the same respect that we give to other people?
11:35 – As this grows do think that you can find a category for pretty much anything?
13:07 – Is it a monthly subscription; how does it work?
13:48 – So if you are a shelper you’re basically on call like full-time?
14:50 – What is the one thing that you know about yourself now, that you didn’t know before you got diagnosed with ADHD, that has helped change your life?
[How can people find you?] @shelpful on TikTok INSTA Facebook and of course via www.shelpful.com
16:25 – Thank you Sharon! Guys, as always, we are here for you and we love the responses and the notes that we get from you; so please continue to do that! Tell us who you want to hear on the podcast, anything at all; we’d love to know. Leave us a review on any of the places you get your podcasts, and if you ever need our help I’m www.petershankman.com and you can reach out anytime via [email protected] or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterNormal on all of the socials. It really helps when you drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse!
16:57 – Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits
I want to thank you for listening and for subscribing to Faster Than Normal! I also want to tell you that if you’re listening to this one, you probably listened to other episodes as well. Because of you all, we are the number one ADHD podcast on the internet!! And if you like us, you can sponsor an episode! Head over to https://rally.io/creator/SHANK/ It is a lot cheaper than you think. You’ll reach… about 25k to 30,000 people in an episode and get your name out there, get your brand out there, your company out there, or just say thanks for all the interviews! We’ve brought you over 230 interviews of CEOs, celebrities, musicians, all kinds of rock stars all around the world from Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, Keith Krach from DocuSign, Danny Meyer, we’ve had Rachel Cotton, we’ve had the band Shinedown, right? Tons and tons of interviews, and we keep bringing in new ones every week so head over to https://rally.io/creator/SHANK/ make it yours, we’d love to have you, thanks so much for listening! Now to this week’s episode, we hope you enjoy it!
My name is Peter Shankman. You are listening to Faster Than Normal. We are going to be talking about ADHD in all forms of neurodiverse today on this episode. And I am thrilled. That you are here. I have recorded an episode of in about two weeks. It has been a while. So it’s great to be back. It is a, I don’t know what day it is. It’s Thursday. I believe it was a gorgeous day, outside, a little cold here in New York city, but still beautiful. And, uh, it is lovely to be with you today, wherever in the world you happen to be including Portland, Oregon, where our current guest is from. Let’s just say hi to Sharon Pope. Sharon Pope is the co-founder and CEO of a company called. Shelpful It’s an instant accountability service that pairs you with a real human buddy to help you build good habits. They nudge you. They hold you to big habits to get you exercise, and small tasks like taking out the trash on time. 5 years, running marketing and product. She advised startups at the famous startup accelerator, Y Combinator, and was Chief Marketing Officer at ZeroDown, Green Dot (NYSE: GDOT), GoBank and Loopt. Prior to that she managed PR and content for a range of tech companies at leading San Francisco-based PR agencies. I love the idea because it’s well, well needed and way overdue. Sharon, welcome to Faster Than Normal and first off, tell us what prompted you to come up with this kind of idea other than just finding another thing to do during COVID.
Yeah. Thank you. It’s really great to be here Peter. Um, yeah, I started this to solve my own problem. So I was, I think for my whole adult life, um, I’m 38 now. Um, was 37 when I started Shelpful. I I’ve really struggled with this kind of 10:00 PM feeling of Looking down at my to-do list and realizing I did everything for everyone else, including work, and my two kids and all the “me” completely just fall off the list. So, you know, I to work out for like 20 minutes and that just got blown off because an email came in and that just drew me in. And so, I mean, after struggling with it forever, I tried to build a bot for it, like in 2018 and it sucked, I had kind of a fever dream one night and I was like, oh my gosh, we could do this with real people. So I put up a site overnight, convinced my friend to do it with me and that same week we launched the first version of Shelpful, um, to just try to answer that problem for everyone else, that people kind of needed more support and could use a real human accountability buddy, kind of sitting on your shoulder and saying, Hey, you said you were gonna work out at 8:00 AM. It’s time to work out. I’m gonna ask you in 20 minutes, if you did it or not. And that kind of thing was what I needed desperately. And I felt like I wasn’t alone.
I love the concept. It seems like it’s one of those things that truly requires, um, uh, getting to numbers of scale. Right. You know, if you don’t have enough people willing to be the accountability buddy then you gotta problem.
Right. And so we have our own, we’re kind of structured more like an Uber. So we find the accountability buddies. We train them. I mean, we’ve found some amazing people who. Are way better than I was in the early days. Uh, just having strong empathy and note-taking, and following up with you and we have them, we staff them, um, you just have to sign up and we put you with them. And honestly, as I dug more into this and looked at what else is out there, everything else requires you to just go find a friend. So you either find a friend in your real life, or you ask your mom to tell you to do something, or you go to Reddit and say, or Twitter or Google and say like somebody, please be my accountability buddy! And the answer is silence. And so that’s kind of why we feel like this is working because the people who really need it, get it fast and you’re instantly within a day you feel support like you’ve really never known.
Tell me about, um, what kind of tasks people are using this for? Cause for someone with ADHD, I mean, this seems like an easy and easy way to, to, to kill a lot of birds with one stone. What are people primarily using it for?
Right. So the thing that I was solving mostly was the health stuff, right? Like getting movement in and like planning my lunch instead of freestyling my lunch. For instance, when we saw people signing up, the first things were those things, for sure. But also things like. Help me remember to pay my bill. Um, can you remind me to take my trash out on Tuesday nights? Um, like the small, like kind of any range of things that falls off your list you could ask for help with; also just the habit of making it to do list in the first place. Right. So make sure I do my to do list every night before the next day, so that I can go into the day with, with fresh eyes and a clear idea of what I’m gonna do. Um, when we saw people starting up, we left, we left it really open-ended and now we have a bit more structure because we’ve seen what people ask for, but the open-ended thing we still get to this day. If people writing in saying I have ADHD and I could use a help with this because I forget to drink water. And I forget to do really simple things that may seem easy to other people, but aren’t easy to me. Um, and I think as I, as I told you, that was really eye opening to me because I thought this was a problem that I kind of uniquely had. Cause I was quirky. And when people started saying that, it was this big ton of bricks that hit me, that I realized I actually had ADHD or I, you know, at that point I kind of had all this flashback of me asking doctors throughout my life, why I have to wait to the last minute to do things. And, and they just said, oh, well, you’re good at your job, or, oh, you get good grades and you just don’t have, you don’t have this. Um, and so it was really eye opening to me because my mentors actually ended up kind of telling me that this was working for them. And it was because of the same reasons it worked for me.
Tell me why, and I’m just playing devil’s advocate here. Um, why couldn’t someone just, What’s the difference between what you do versus someone just saying, Hey Alexa, tell me to drink some water in 30 minutes?
It’s a really good question. I have had a notification on my calendar to meditate since 2017 and I’ve done it once. Um, I think that we, I mean, especially, I mean, people have ADHD. We have a million notifications and snoozing them gives us zero guilt and makes us think zero seconds about it. It’s gone. I snooze the notification and it’s out of my life and I’m going back to whatever else I was doing. It’s really different when you have a real person on the other end. So if you have a shopper, you know, Chanel, we call them shelpers our accountability buddies, you know, she knows asking you, Hey, did you know, have you drank water? Like how many ounces are you? If you ignore her, you feel kind of guilty, but the guilt kind of works in your favor because it’s fueling your own habit, right?
Is there a, well, that was my next question. Is there sort of a, I don’t wanna say, I don’t wanna call it guilt cause I don’t want to put it down. Cause having to kinda build it out is not sensitive to be embarrassed, but is there a word I’m looking for a, a…. I don’t want to disappoint my accountability. Like, you know, I. Have a trainer at the gym at five 30 in the morning, because I’ll probably go to the gym if I didn’t have one, but I might not work out as hard.
Right. And so he makes sure I do so is it? And if I don’t, he calls me on it and I don’t want to, you know, I don’t want him to think that I’m a loser and not doing it. So is there, is there that level of, have you seen that at all? Have you seen people like, oh yeah, I love this. Because again, for lack of better word, it shames me into making sure that I’m doing.
Right. I mean, there, I shame, shame, disappointment. All those I think are, are mixed in with even just the word accountability, right? Somebody is waiting for you and asking you, and they’re just there on the other end. Just kind of like hanging in the balance until you answer them, or you show up at the gym or you show the evidence that you did your to do list. So the fact that it’s a real human, I mean, This is something we can all relate with, right, If somebody, if you’re doing something for somebody else or in, in community with somebody else, you’re much more likely to do it. And I can relate with you, Peter. Like I, the best and healthiest times in my life were admittedly. Pre-kids when I had like a, every single morning workout group that I went to and if I was late, everyone would be delayed in getting like the run around the block that we started out with. I, that, that fear of letting someone else down. Was yes. Maybe shame isn’t the greatest word, but it works and it, and I felt good at the end of it. And it wasn’t something that stuck with me and made me feel sad. It made me feel good. Cause I got the energy I needed from a workout.
In this case and not in a negative way, but why don’t you think we place other people’s feelings and not wanting to hurt their feelings or, or, or not show up and disappoint them above our own. I know that if I wake up every day and do an hour of hard workout for 10 minutes on the treadmill or Peleton, whatever, you know, it’s going to be beneficial to me. Right. But I don’t give myself the same. I don’t offer myself that same ability, uh, to, to not disappoint myself that I might offer it to someone I’d have to meet someone else. Why do you think that we don’t allow ourselves give ourselves that same respect that we give to other people?
Right. If only I had had the answer for that!! I feel like that’s what, I’ve the question I’ve been asking myself for a decade, right? Like, and I, that’s what I think that. That’s that’s why shelpful. That’s why we created Shelpful, because it’s the fact that there’s somebody else invested in your personal health and habits on a daily, hourly minute level basis. It, it, it triggers that part of your brain wants to do something for others or that, that get stuff down because somebody else’s depending on you. And I mean, that’s, that’s, you know, for me, a thousand percent why I would get something done over just the fact that it’s good for me. Um, I know it’s good for me. I could tell you the calories and pretty much any food. I know, I know workouts to do, like I know how to work out, ..but the question is, do I do them just because they’re good for me. And that’s what I’ve always struggled with.
Do you think that, um, as this grows, I mean, the categories you have right now are pretty much anything, you know, you can find me accountability, buddy, for virtually anything. Are you breaking it into certain sections or certain, how does it work?
Yeah. So we started out thinking, okay, let’s start with health. Right. Cause that was my personal thing. And um, it felt like from my marketing background, like start with a niche and expand and we found really, really early people were clamoring and kind of yelling at us like, well, the reason I don’t get my workout done is because this happens that I also need help with. Right. So we’re not just the reason we don’t get things done. Isn’t because we are bad or just go sit in front of the TV. It’s because the life happens and makes the other things not work. So we ended up just kind of blowing it up and within like a week of launching and making it just be like, well, you tell us what you need help with. Um, any habits that you want to form our buddies, our shelpers can hold you to they’re really. Uh, limit and it’s almost, self-limiting like, so Peter, if you came in and said, I want help on 20 things. Well, the shop would probably say, well, let’s start with a few so that you don’t just snooze me and just put me away or turn off your phone. Like let’s kind of start working through it. But once you get a few things established. You could always add on, like while I watched, after I washed my face, I want to like, some people have skincare as, as a goal, right? So after I care for my face, I want to do 20 squats. So you can kind of just keep layering on habits to the ones you’ve already established a few, and it really is limitless.
Is it a monthly subscription; how does it work?
Yeah, it’s monthly. We have a weekly option too, um, like as, as low as $13.75 a week. And then for month it’s a little over $50. Um, and it, yeah, I mean, it feels, people are feeling like it’s a really good value cause you get, um, Monday through Friday, basically unlimited access to your shelper so you’re kind of just text them and anytime you have an update, they usually respond pretty quickly. And then they nudge you along based on kind of habits that you’ve established. So you want to work out Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 8:00 AM you’re going to get a ping from them saying hey, time to work out, um, and a follow up to make sure you did it. Um, so you.. and then weekends are a bit quieter because shelpers are human, um, so they kind of recharge their batteries on the weekends and then hit it full force again on Monday.
So if you are a shelper you’re basically on call, it’s like a full-time.
It is, it’s a really, it’s a flexible gig, right? So they, um, they end up working. I mean, depending on how many have just a couple hours a day. Um, but they are able to, we have technology, we’re a technology company, as well as the service. So we have helpful technology that helps them plan and, um, take notes and get things organized. So they’re not having to be glued to their, their phone, but they have. The ability to work from their mobile phone. Um, so people who are shoppers are people who really appreciate flexibility. So, um, you know, imagine caregivers stay at home moms, um, hairstylists, we have a few, so people who are- it’s a gig, but they’re just these naturally empathetic people who are, who care a lot and have great memories and are skilled note takers and they, they really make it happen for their members.
It sounds fascinating. A shelters.xom? www.SHELPFUL.COM Sorry. My bad. I meant shelpful, shelpers the people who work at ShelpFul. Awesome.
What is the one thing that you know about yourself now, that you didn’t know before you got diagnosed with ADHD that has helped change your life?
Wow. Um, I think so.. starting, I started this company in March, kind of had the lights go on in my head that this is something I had in, I don’t know, April and by May I had a diagnosis in my hand. Um, I now know that for me, exercise is medicine. Um, it’s not something that’s optional for me. It actually changes the whole way my day goes. Um, and so now that I’m able to look at it as that I’ve actually been able to be successful in making it happen. Um, and I, I’ve joined a shelpful group, which is, we also have a group product. Um, and that allows me and I have group and they hold me accountable to it too. So I have what, you know, I’m trying to put a focus on making sure that I have that fuel that I need. Um, and that awareness of ADHD actually helped me just reframe how I looked at that.
What an awesome answer, thank you Sharon. Very cool.
Guys. You’ve been listening to Faster Than Normal, our guest today is Sharon Pope. She runs a phenomenal company that I’m falling in love with more & more called Shelpful, and I am definitely check it out. You can find it a www.Shelpful.com you can find me @petershankman and @fasternormal and on www.FasterThanNormal.com anywhere you grab your podcasts, the book. On Amazon. It’s actually, I think it’s fourth printing, which blows my mind. I get emails every day that people really liked what they were reading and I helped them and it just makes me so happy. I love, I love that. So I will keep doing that for as long as I possibly can. Guys, that feel free to reach out, say hi, tell us any guests that you’d like to see on the show. We’d love to hear you. Anyone who sends me any info tells us of the guests, whether we use them or not. I will send you a shank point, uh, for those who don’t know. Uh, it’s a long story. I’ll tell you another time, but I say anyone who sends guest info to me, I will send you a brand new shank point is currently trading around 10 bucks a coin. It is a cryptocurrency, and it’s a lot of fun for some of the ADHD. It’s fun because you have to stop yourself from watching everything.
Oh, it’s up? It’s down. Okay. Anyway, squirrel!! Sharon. Thank you again, guys. Thank you for listening. We will see you next week. Have a wonderful week. Stay safe, stay happy.
Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week.