ladder work is a publishing platform for diverse picture books and online curricula with a mission to empower over a million children to become social entrepreneurs. Our latest series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring social entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship ecosystem builders driving the UN SDGs.
Hello friends! Spiffy here, your trusty interplanetary journalist brings you the news of entrepreneurs making the world a fairer place! Today I’m excited to chat with Brian Femminella, the co-founder and CEO of SoundMind. Let’s see what he’s doing to make a positive impact on the world.
Chic: Thanks for joining me Brian! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing?
brian: Nice to see you, Spiffy! At SoundMind, we work to address the widespread lack of access to mental health resources by providing a music therapy solution for people in the youth and Gen Z communities. Our mission stems from our passion for empowering members of society to live bolder and stronger, regardless of their past. Our academically driven research is supported by human emotion and deep engagement to ensure the strongest correlation between understanding and execution. SoundMind is committed to advancing the field of mental health research and connecting this to the latest mental health technologies now in your hands.
Chic: What motivated you to take on this challenge?
brian: Well, I enlisted in the US Army when I was 17 and have been in the public service ever since. This gave me the opportunity to also witness the struggles of my brothers and sisters in uniform and ultimately see firsthand the mental health issues (e.g. anxiety, trauma, etc.) of those who dedicate their lives to ministry. My motivation has always been to give back – and now with technology – and most importantly, to help those who are doing the same.
Chic: How do you and your team at SoundMind work towards a fairer world?
brian: We built a solution that targets those in underrepresented communities that we all belong to. As a military and LGBTQIA run company, we have found that music combined with artificial intelligence results in powerful technology that offers a different and much-needed solution for those struggling with their mental health.
Chic: Tell me about a recent SoundMind milestone. What are the implications?
brian: We recently completed our first round of clinical testing showing how SoundMind is able to reduce stress, anxiety and discomfort in Gen Z individuals! As a result, we partnered with NYC Youth Pride to bring our solution to a market similar to our recent testing, which in turn would help those in the LGBTQIA+ community (which has been one of our main goals from the start).
Chic: Congratulations on this achievement! Please also share an experience when you faced failure and didn’t give up. What did you learn from this experience?
brian: I used to have “tunnel vision”, a situation where I would spend 100% of my time trying to find a way to make the ideas in my head come true. While it’s important to be energetic, you need to remember the people around you. That’s what failed me, I let people down and in my life I didn’t listen to people who only wanted to help. Now I made sure to continuously hear from every single voice in our team and let everyone in our startup improve the vision I always had.
Chic: What did you unexpectedly learn from someone recently?
brian: That you can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you start being happy because we really don’t know how long we have left.
Chic: Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?
brian: It’s okay to have mistakes and mistakes. If you admit them and learn from them, you will already become a better leader.
Chic: Thanks for talking to me today Brian – it was an honor!
Brian Femminella is a TEDx presenter, USC graduate, US Army officer and current CEO of sound mind. Brian has a strong background in digital forensics and political politics having previously worked for White Sands Missile Range and the US House of Representatives. Over the years, he has grown into an influential LGBTQIA+ and mental health advocate through his stints in the corporate and military spheres as a Gen-Z changemaker. (Nominated by the Ladderworks team. First published on the Ladderworks website on August 1, 2022.)
© 2022 Leiterwerk LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Visit Spiffy’s Corner to see Ladderworks’ digital curriculum helping K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs here.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.