Which way next? Check the Signpost.

We’re another week into 2018 and, as promised last time, I’d now love to tell you a bit about what I did work-wise in 2017.

Then – hopefully the more exciting part – I’ll do my best to give you a feel for where things may be headed this year.

To be honest, ever since I began writing regular posts at Moodscope in 2007, I’ve always been deliberately vague about references to my own financial circumstances.

It was a conscious decision, as it felt that for me, our relationship (yours and mine) ought to be more about you than about me.

The truth, however, is that like the majority of people, I need to work to pay the bills.

After I moved to California at the end of 2013, I applied for a visa on the basis of the development I’d carried out with Moodscope, and was granted this in 2014.

It meant I could start earning money (phew), but only in a limited way (ooh).

Then last year, after submitting an application accompanied by more than 1,000 pages of evidence, I was fortunate enough to be granted a Green Card, which makes me a “permanent resident,” although not a full citizen, of the USA.

This gives me many more employment options than my original visa did.

For a couple of years after I got to the USA, I worked as a freelance copywriter for a San Francisco biotechnology company.

Among many other projects, I wrote over a hundred weekly newsletters about the microbiome (the bacteria that lurks in and on our bodies) which others said were more fun than they might otherwise sound.

In May last year, this same company offered me a full-time position as their creative director, which I happily accepted.

I therefore spent a sweet (but short, it turned out) six months commuting to San Francisco every day, to work with a talented team of really fun people.

Somewhat extraordinarily, this was my first proper employed position since I started my ad agency in 1986: other than this one job, I’ve always worked for myself.

It was fantastic to get paid every two weeks (which is the way it usually works here in the States) along with all the usual SF start-up perks like free lunches, all the snacks you could eat, even your commuting costs paid, but I soon came to see that it just wasn’t what I came to California to do.

My mission when I came here was to continue my work in supporting people’s emotional health.

It really wasn’t about writing newsletters about E. coli, pooping, and unpleasant diseases.

It really wasn’t.

Towards the end of last year, therefore, I bid a reluctant farewell to my co-workers, my paychecks, and the free lunches, and found myself with greatly renewed energy to get back to really making a difference in the mental-health world.

Hardest of all was turning my back on the unlimited snacks, of course, but sometimes these things just have to be done.

Almost exactly a year ago, I experimented with publishing one of my “nudges” in audio form, which met with significant approval from lots of readers or, rather, listeners.

Then in March, I took this concept a stage further, playing with an idea where rating your emotional well-being with a simple test took you to one of four audio nudges, each customised to a particular state of mind.

If you tried it, and many did, you would then have gone on to hear tailored feedback if you’d been feeling anxious, angry, or sad, for example.

Again, this met with gratifyingly positive feedback, and it’s this broad idea which forms the basis of what I plan to do next.

Measuring and tracking my emotional well-being has made the most enormous difference in my own life, so it’s not surprising that I’m a huge advocate of the principle that, as in so many areas of life, we can only manage what we measure.

Coming soon, therefore, is an app called Signpost that has three strings to its bow.

Sign up with it, and you’ll get a text message every day, prompting you to take a brief test that rates your emotional well-being.

You’ll take the test on your phone, where you’ll also be able to view a graph showing your progress over time.

Finally, you’ll get immediate audio feedback from me, tailored to how you happen to be doing at that very moment.

I’ll be recording fresh feedback every day, so my intention is that this will really strengthen the relationship we have, enabling us to work together on managing either occasional or even chronic emotional health challenges that you may face.

I know of nothing else quite like this, so it’s new and somewhat experimental work, but based on my now ten years of working in this field, I have a really good feeling about Signpost.

Offering it will have associated expenses, making it necessary to offer it on a subscription basis from the start, but I will all I can to keep the price as affordable as possible.

By this time next week, I plan to have a bare-bones version of Signpost working well enough to offer a (free) seven-day version of it to a small number of Moodnudges readers.

More details next Thursday, therefore, along with full information about how you can register your interest.

Thank you so much for reading today, and for hopefully being okay with rather more personal disclosure from me than I’ve historically been comfortable with.

Have a great week – see you on January 25.

26 thoughts on “Which way next? Check the Signpost.

  1. As usual, Jon, you’ve come up with a unique, innovative concept which sounds as if it would truly be of great help to your readers/listeners.

    I, for one, am glad you’ve mentioned the financial aspect. I’ve never understood how so much valuable content can be made available for free – I’ve been very grateful for it, of course, but it makes sense for you to get paid for the service you provide.

    As always, thank you and good luck with this new venture.

    Congratulations on the Green card, too – they’re difficult to obtain!

  2. Wow Jon, what bountiful experiences!!!

    Action for Happiness have an app called ‘What’s Good’ which asks you to write 3 good things and then score your happiness level. It puts the scores into graph form so you can see the fluctuations. Take a look, it’s only available on iOS at moment,

    I look forward to using Signpost


  3. Hi Jon,

    I echo Rebecca’s sentiments above and congratulate you on your achievements so far. Moodscope and Moodnudges have been invaluable and and brilliant concepts that you have created. Really looking forward to seeing and hearing about Signpost!

    Perhaps Caroline on Moodscope, can give you a write-up about it or you can do one if your own ‘blogs’.

    You deserve to be writing and publishing about mental health issues rather than poop!

    All the very best


    1. Super to hear from you Karen. It’s always a bit scary launching something new, but I went to a talk last night that boosted my courage. And yes, definitely good to be back working in mental wellbeing again, even though the poop diversion was interesting!

  4. Thank you for opening up a bit more, Jon!

    Over the years (been here since the Moodscope days) you have grown to become some sort of friend, at least that’s what it feels like, so it’s always nice to hear more about your personal life 🙂

    I like the sound of this new Signpost app!

    1. Thanks for your enthusiasm Martine, and for putting my mind at rest about my decision to be a bit more forthcoming. I’m happy to hear I’m regarded as one of your friends. Watch this space!

  5. Thank you for your continued passion to offer help to others.

    Congratulations for stepping out to share some details (and thank you, there, too). I look forward to experiencing this innovative approach. So clever!

    I’m grateful you want to motivate folks to monitor and assess their mental health. You have made a difference in the lives of others.
    What a legacy, Jon!

  6. Hi Jon, I’ve followed you from Moodscope days, and enjoy reading your emails – a change and relief from opening so many others. However, I don’t have a smart phone so won’t be able to take part.

    Does this mean you will be stopping Moodnudges?



    1. Hi Mary, Thank you for your kind comments. Although Signpost will work best on a phone, it will also be accessible from a computer, so perhaps all may not be lost.

      I’m not sure, yet, what will happen here at Moodnudges, but rest assured that it/I won’t suddenly disappear without giving proper notice. Let’s see what can be fitted in. You never know…

  7. Love the idea of Signpost. I really enjoyed your book but having something on the phone would be fab! Well done you to keep putting yourself out there and do what you believe in.

    And love the microbiome stuff! As a breastfeeding counsellor I am always wittering on about how we’re only in the very cusp of understanding our gut…

    1. Thank you Polly, your enthusiasm is infectious. Great that you’re banging the drum for the gut microbes in your work! One of the many things that amazed me about the microbiome was how much a baby’s is affected by her/his method of birth.

  8. So impressed with your ideas and innovations and your wonderful helpful messages. although I finally got a smartphone a few months ago I don’t really know how to use it so am a bit nervous about obtaining and using an”ap.” this could be interesting……

    1. It’s going to be as easy as possible, Gayle. Have no fear. In fact, in its prototype form, Signpost will be something you access online, rather than being a standalone app, if that makes sense.

      So if you know how to access Google, or BBC News, on your phone, you’ll be fine and dandy with Signpost.

      He said, hopefully.

  9. Hi Jon

    Thank you for the update. Although I didn’t always read your emails I was always lifted by seeing another mood nudge e mail, and have missed having them during your break. I have recommended them to many of my clients as a way of helping them recognise and acknowledge the good things in life . I really liked hearing your voice on the audio nudge and will be signing up to Signpost

  10. What a brave man you are! Whether it’s conscious or not those kind of life changing decisions are maybe not so hard to make but harder to implement. Walking the walk so to speak. I love the idea of Signpost and will definitely sign up. I’m doing Headspace right now and I like it very much.

    1. Wow, thanks for the encouragement, Lostinspace. Happy to hear you’re enjoying Headspace. Its founders, Andy and Rich, are both here in California, despite – like me – being originally from London. There must be something in the water (literally for them, as they’re both surfers!)

    1. Well, thank you Caroline. Kind of you to say. Fingers crossed.

      As for the poo blogs, after a hundred of them I think I’d pretty much used up my collection of lavatorial humour.

      Reached its bottom, you might say.

  11. Jon-
    I first discovered you on Moonscope and was upset when you left until somehow I found you in CA and Moodnudges. I have your book and your charting device. I have been following my mood in various other formats for about 25 years-more or less. Yes, it is helpful–especially when accompanied by a note to remind you why you went up or down. One of my doctors developed a small pamphlet for charting–medicines and a line for notes and enough extra places for things like exercise and lightboxes.
    I was impressed by your book and how you could tailor your comments to a particular person’s need in a widely sold book.
    Your new endeavor is an extension of the book and, I must say that there are few people who could make this work. Except for you–I have no doubt that you will make a significant contribution to keeping people like me afloat and alive. Thank you.

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