SCP E132 Using technology to make people happier and healthier, with Declan Edwards

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In this episode I had a fascinating chat with Declan Edwards, Founder and CEO of BU Coaching and non-technical founder of the soon-to-be-launched PocketCoach App. Declan tells us how his background in physical health and wellbeing led to his passion for the mental and emotional health and wellbeing space, and how despite only hearing about the term Smart Cities and Smart Communities this year, he’s right on board with the concept. Declan and I discuss how Smart Cities can make people happier and healthier, and the importance of doing so in order to tap into the vast amounts of human potential that is unfulfilled right now. We talk about the cultural impact of Tall Poppy Syndrome on the willingness of Australia as a country and Australians as individuals to act on big ideas. Declan then tells us about his PocketCoach app, including how it was an advantage to be a non-tech founder and the way his team works remotely. We finish our chat talking about the emerging trend of measuring Gross National Happiness, as Bhutan has done to great success. Other countries are now catching on and it’s a really interesting emerging trend to be wrapping up this month of #selfcareseptember topics on the podcast. As always I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

 

What we cover in this episode:

  • Declan’s background in physical health and wellbeing and how it led to his passion for mental health and emotional wellbeing
  • Why he’s on board with Smart Community concepts (even though he only learned about them this year)
  • How Smart Cities can make people happier and healthier
  • The importance of using Smart approaches to unlock the vast amounts of human potential currently unfulfilled
  • How Declan sees Newcastle and also Australia embracing Smart concepts
  • The cultural impact of Tall Poppy Syndrome
  • Why Australia and Australians need to be more comfortable acting on big ideas
  • Projects Declan is working on now, including his PocketCoach app
  • How the app development process has been and why it was an advantage to be a non-tech founder
  • The way Declan’s team uses technology to work remotely
  • The emerging trend of measuring Gross National Happiness, as Bhutan has done to great success

Quotes:

“My background was I was actually originally in the physical health and wellbeing space… I was loving that until I started to feel that what was really missing was the mental and emotional well being, and really having this more holistic and proactive approach to looking after ourselves.”

“I saw the traditional approach to looking at Smart Cities, which is how do we use technology to enhance services. So things like how do we make energy work better? How do we make transportation better? How do we make the actual process of living in and running a city more effective and more enjoyable? And I think that’s incredibly valuable. But I also started thinking how do we also use technology to help people be happier?”

“If we can make things run more smoothly, more efficiently, and we can free up some resources in the form of time, money, energy, and have that space… I think it allows humanity and societies and communities to tap into some potential that’s really unfulfilled at the moment.

If we’re just focused on survival and physiological needs and hitting our basics, there’s really not as much capacity to go into things like community building, self-esteem, and self-worth, and self-actualization. But if we can start using technology and smart cities to cover some of those more fundamental human needs, I get really excited by what does that mean, on the back end of that? What can we then do with those extra resources?”

“Humanity and a lot of societies around the world can still be very reactive. We won’t do anything till it really hurts. But the more we use these technologies and [create] Smart Cities, I think the more we’re going to have the space to start [asking] where do we want to see humanity moving and how can we facilitate that?”

“When people are happy and fulfilled, they have better contributors to society, they are more innovative and creative. It creates this really nice ripple effect [as they’ve seen in] Bhutan, which is the country that now measures Gross National Happiness alongside GDP.”

“I do worry that culturally, Australia does have a bit of a Tall Poppy Syndrome issue. What we really need to see change culturally is [to] not be afraid to think big and encourage big ideas together. Don’t be afraid to adapt and to innovate.”

“What we realised is if we want to change the number of lives we want to change, if we want to leave a mark on the world and really make humanity happier, then technology was the way to do it—to democratize it and to make it more accessible time-wise, money-wise, geography-wise.”

“I think not being in tech has actually almost been a strength at the start, because it’s allowed us to be quite innovative, because I genuinely didn’t know the confines of what was and wasn’t possible.”

“Yes, use technology to make things more efficient. But how can we also use it to make our country happier? And the classic rule of thumb is, what we measure we can manage. Let’s start proactively measuring wellbeing, and use technology to manage it and improve it.”

Links:

SingularityU Global Impact Challenge

IQ Talks Newcastle

Maslow’s Heirarchy

Easy Park in Newcastle

Thinkific

Survey Anyplace

Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology

Connect:

Find the full show notes at: www.mysmart.community

Connect with Declan on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram @declanedwards_bu

Connect with BU Coaching on Facebook and Instagram @bu_coaching or via the website

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

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