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    Why I Joined Pinwheel

    by Isaiah McPeak

    Pinwheel Co-Founder

    It was 9:30pm. I had just tucked my 11-year old daughter in bed – a moment I cherish, as I share custody with her Mom.

     

    But afterwards I had quite a bit of anxiety to let out. Why? It had turned into round 192 of “why can’t I have a phone?”

     

    I was really torn. I saw the benefits and had put in a ton of research. Deflated by my inability to choose a good solution in this case, I had a conversation with my fiancé, who works in child psychotherapy. This was where we got to that night:

     

    • Bad Choice 1: Flip-phone. Good in an emergency but terrible at everything else. A band-aid solution that would breed resentment over time.

     

    • Bad Choice 2: Smartphone with parental controls. Discovered that (A) parental controls don’t help you navigate which apps and what rules are actually healthy for your kid, and (B) parental controls are trickier when parents don’t live in the same house/share the same parenting philosophy.

     

    No solution seemed viable.

    The next morning, I had a meeting that changed my life.

    A former-CEO-turned-investor that I barely knew said he had a new adventure and was looking for a product leader.

     

    I was intrigued.

     

    The conversation went something like this.

     

    • Dane: I’ve started a company to build healthy tech for kids, starting with their first phone.
    •  
    • Me: Go on…
    •  
    • Dane: After a whole ton of research, I’ve concluded parents are stuck between two bad choices—a smartphone or a flip-phone. But kids are getting phones now on average between 8 and 12 years of age—it’s unprecedented, and most tech is just adult tech dumbed down. We’re going to flip it.
    •  
    • Me: You have no idea. I just had this exact same conversation, with the exact same conclusions, last night. I’m in.

     

    The rest is history.

    "Changed your life?"

    Think I’m exaggerating? I’ll give you 5 examples.

     

    Since joining this company, I have:

     

    1. Learned how my own habits are crushing my cognitive capacity by reading the book Tech Generation (2018)

     

    2. Discovered that the mere presence of a phone is making me dumber (see Brain Drain in the Journal of the Association of Consumer Research).

     

    3. Taken my two daughters on a 50-hour road trip with no iPads at all and had a great time.

     

    4. Radically changed tech habits in my home: we don’t check out with tech, we use it together (e.g. playing Minecraft in the same world).

     

    5. Started turning my phone off for hours at a time (I did six the other day), experiencing the best workdays I’ve had in a long time.

     

    My productivity and satisfaction with work are even higher, and everyone in my family (kids included) agrees these changes have improved our lives.

    So here we go...

    No matter what happens next, I’m grateful for these life changes. But my hope is that I can impact other families like mine. There is a way to foster healthy tech habits in kids and families that enrich and connect us -- that incorporate the good side of phones without draining our brains or pulling us apart. That’s why I’m now a part of Pinwheel. And I hope you’ll join us on this ride.


    Isaiah McPeak is a Master Yoda of building and scaling teams, product management, brain science, communications, teaching, and coaching, with an Aristotelian rhetoric twist. He has started six organizations (and 2 bands!), designed and shipped multiple B2B and B2C products, successfully been part of four startups raising pre-seed funding and journeying to or through growth stage (5 money raises, $6M total), personally sold over $35M in services and software, and coached CEOs and keynote speakers. He is coauthor of Upside Down Debate: A Deeper Why to Persuasion and frequent tech speaker and trainer in Austin, TX. He paints, musics, sews, dances, adventures, and road trips with his wife (a future Brené Brown!) and two daughters, 11 and 7.