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AZ Brandcast Chris and Mike interview Brandon Clarke and Brad Snyder of CRADL to discuss AZ’s predictive youth demographic.
Discuss at https://www.facebook.com/azbrandcast/
AZ Brandcast is graciously sponsored by Conscious Capitalism Arizona – the global movement inspiring businesses to do good…because it’s just good business. Find out more about Conscious Capitalism and the many companies transforming our world for the better on their website: consciouscapitalismaz.com
Announcer: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Phoenix, Arizona, it’s time for Phoenix Business Radio, spotlighting the city’s best businesses and the people who lead them.
Mike Jones: Welcome everyone to another episode of AZ BRANDCAST.
Chris Stadler: AZ BRANDCAST.
Mike Jones: Where we talk to all sorts of awesome people from here in Arizona about the power of brand and how to build great brands in our remarkable State of Arizona. I’m your host, Mike Jones, and my co-host…
Chris Stadler: Christopher Stadler.
Mike Jones: Oh! Christopher. All right.
Chris Stadler: Right. Christopher.
Mike Jones: We’re going a little upscale today.
Chris Stadler: Inspired.
Mike Jones: I’m super excited to have Brandon and Brad from CRADL, C-R-A-D-L, on the show today. I’m really excited about having you guys on. I don’t know everything about you guys, so that’s part why I’m excited, so we’ll learn a lot more about what you guys are doing, and a little bit about CRADL, the Collaborative Research and Design Lab. Is that right? Did I get the acronym correct?
Brad Snyder: We change the C from now and then, but-
Mike Jones: Okay. That kind of flips someone out, I like it. We’ll talk about that.
Brad Snyder: We will.
Mike Jones: You guys have a line, “Two decades of child life research with socially impactful business development in order to drive exploration and innovation and technologies, media, and services.” I like this, it’s kind of the end goal is to “Save, help, and delight children, families, and educators.”
Brad Snyder: Right.
Mike Jones: That’s a lofty mission. That’s really cool.
Chris Stadler: I like that a lot.
Brad Snyder: We’re almost there. Clearly, we’ve almost [crosstalk 00:01:26] solved it, all of that.
Mike Jones: Then, just specifically, your guys’ roles. So, Brad, your role… I liked your little quote here you gave us. You say, “I explain children to adults, and adults to children.”
Brad Snyder: Right.
Mike Jones: That’s awesome.
Brad Snyder: Well, and that’s been my career so far. I started off, actually, in direct service here in the Valley running after school programs. But then I got involved in research. First of all, doing policy research for governments, so studying incarcerated kids, studying juvenile prisons, or violence prevention programs. I got sick of that, mostly got sick of being in juvenile prisons, and I was looking for something else. There was an ad for a company that studied media, and I convinced them that the same techniques I was using to study children in prisons could be applied to children in media, and they bought it. So for the first part of my career, after doing research on at-risk youth, then I got to study children as television viewers and as video game players and so forth. And that transitioned into my own company, because I wanted to do both.
Mike Jones: That’s really cool. You’re kind of the, I don’t know if it’s self-titled or not, but you are the resident scholar at CRADL. Is that correct?
Brad Snyder: I’m the brains and Brandon’s the beauty in the group for sure, or also beyond beauty, also the builder. I think that was the other term that we were kind of throwing around.
Brandon Clarke: That’s right. Making stuff happen.
Brad Snyder: That’s right. Yeah. Well, I think, and maybe we’ll get into this story a little bit about how Brad and I got connected, but I think for me, being the startup junkie that I am, I’ve been part of a number of startups. I started mentoring and advising a few years ago, which was about the time I met Brad. And it just seemed like his insight, his expertise in that particular audience, was really interesting and really valuable, not only just for me personally, because as my kids started getting older, I started to feel a lot more of their struggles, not just within school, but just kind of the school environment itself. Obviously, a lot of products and services that were being promoted to kids and teachers and families in general. And so it was just this kind of fascinating experience for me to understand his insights and how he was applying a lot of thinking to some of these big companies.
Brad Snyder: So what if we could do that for startups? And not just selfishly, what could we do, but what if we brought more of that insight into this ecosystem? What would that mean for this ecosystem? As you know, I’m all about building community, building communities around entrepreneurs and startups, and the performance around growing companies here. It felt like that was certainly a gap in this ecosystem. If you just focused in on that particular audience around kids, primarily, then kind of secondary around families and educators. And that was almost five years ago. So we’ve had time to work on some of those things. We’d love to share a bit of that.
Mike Jones: Yes, definitely. I’m excited to get more into that story. But first, before we do, I do have to mention our sponsor, Conscious Capitalism Arizona. So Chris, if you want to do our little highlight.
Chris Stadler: That’s right. Yeah, we’re thankful to our friends at Conscious Capitalism Arizona, who sponsor the podcast. This local association is on a mission to share with the whole world how doing good in your business is dot, dot, dot, just good business. This local chapter of Conscious Capitalism Incorporated hosts tons of local events, including the worldwide annual conference we just had in Phoenix, provides resources for business leaders to install a higher purpose in their company and engage all their stakeholders. Find out how to get involved at ConsciousCapitalismEasy.com, which has been updated since the event, and so we have new content up there.
Mike Jones: That’s great.
Chris Stadler: Everybody check it out. It’s awesome.
Mike Jones: Yes, thanks to all of our friends at Conscious Capitalism Arizona for supporting the show and making sure it happens.
Chris Stadler: Can I ask the icebreaker?
Mike Jones: Yes, let’s do the icebreaker.
Chris Stadler: Yes.
Mike Jones: And then we can jump back into what you guys are doing. I’m excited.
Chris Stadler: Yeah. So, it’s an emergency icebreaker. It’s kind of like “In case of emergency, break glass.” If you need an icebreaker, this is the one.
Mike Jones: I like it.
Chris Stadler: Because we’re in Arizona, and it’s the AZ Brandcast. And so what I’m interested in knowing is what’s the most ridiculous thing about the Arizona heat? Example. Summertime, it’s 100 and what, like, 17. What happens when it’s 117?
Mike Jones: Well, I’m just… Given our extended Spring, I don’t even think this is fair to even be thinking about that right now.
Brad Snyder: We’re removed.
Mike Jones: So, I’d prefer we find another icebreaker. Yeah.
Brad Snyder: I’m enjoying that it’s May.
Mike Jones: This is more of an ice melter than an actual breaker.
Brad Snyder: It’s a buzzkill is what this is.
Mike Jones: That’s true. That’s true.
Brandon Clarke: When my daughter was little, and we’d be at a family friendly restaurant, and they would give her crayons and something to color with. And then, days later, you’re looking at cup holders of your car, and it would be this abstract art in the bottom of all your cup holders. They had melted together.
Brad Snyder: Yeah. I don’t know. There’s so many things I don’t want to think about right now when it comes to the heat. I’m with Brandon. I’ve got a fun fact for you.
Mike Jones: Oh, yeah. Let’s go for it.
Brad Snyder: So the hottest day on record in Phoenix, does anybody know what the temp was or even remotely what the date was?
Mike Jones: Oh. I’m going to guess 123 just because it seems like the right number. That’s super high, but …
Chris Stadler: I’ll go 124. I’ll go for the over.
Mike Jones: Oh, all right.
Brad Snyder: If this is the Price is Right?
Mike Jones: Yeah. Right.
Brad Snyder: It was 122.
Mike Jones: Ah.
Chris Stadler: Oh, wow.
Brad Snyder: And it was in 19 … And I should know this, and the only reason I should know this is because I was pushing shopping carts at my first job, which was at a grocery store. Hottest day on record.
Mike Jones: What year around was it?
Brad Snyder: This would’ve been ninety … This probably would’ve been ’90 or ’91.
Mike Jones: Yeah. It was early ’90s. I remember that. It was a fairly big deal.
Brandon Clarke: I guarantee your kids know that date from all the times you tell them that [crosstalk 00:07:45]. You think you had it rough.
Mike Jones: Any time we go to a Target or a Costco, any grocery store where they have the automated cart pushing the carts, it’s like, “You know, kids? They didn’t have that in my day. I was behind … Now, there’s just a remote-controlled car moving carts in, so …
Chris Stadler: That’s what you need in Arizona in the summertime, the remote control. Anything outside should have remote control.
Mike Jones: Anything. I just think about walking on pavement. It gets sticky and soft, and you’re just like, “This is not supposed to happen.” That’s how freaking hot it is.
Chris Stadler: Wait. What gets sticky and soft? Your shoe?
Mike Jones: Asphalt.
Chris Stadler: It just feels like it gets squishy.
Mike Jones: Asphalt gets squishy.
Chris Stadler: I’m so glad we clarified that.
Brandon Clarke: What amazes me is the black from your tires comes off in your driveway way more here than it ever did in Oregon.
Brad Snyder: So soft. Yep.
Brandon Clarke: My only story is not really anything that happened, but it was when I got here I had ammo in the car. Gun ammo? I should’ve looked that up and find out how hot it can be before it just starts popping off. Turns out it has to be a lot hotter than what my car probably is at any given time in the summer, but worth Googling.
Brad Snyder: It’s good to know helpfully. Safety first. That’s funny.
Mike Jones: Cool.
Chris Stadler: Cool.
Mike Jones: I’d like to go back to what we were talking about. How did this happen, how did this form. It’s been in existence for five years, right? You’ve been doing this for about five years.
Chris Stadler: Live conversation for the first time.
Brad Snyder: As Brandon mentioned, he started asking me a lot of questions about some of the research and customer insight I was providing for some of my clients, so for Disney and Nickelodeon and then Marvel and Cartoon Network. He was asking whether or not if you kind of pooled the start-up communities together, if you could provide that same insight for them. If that would give our start-up here a competitive advantage. Well, the more we started to pick apart at that, we started to realize a couple of things.
Brad Snyder: Not only did we think that was possible and could be a really good idea for these businesses, but we also believed that by raising the value of that customer group here in the Valley, we could make the Valley a better place for them. When we start changing how we perceive them and make them into an asset, then we’re going to invest more in them also, because they’re important to our businesses.
Brad Snyder: Then we started to look at the demographics and quickly realized that the demographics of children in the Valley now or what the demographics are going to be for all of North America in the near future, and we saw we had a recipe to do something really special, or we hope we can.
Mike Jones: So you’re saying that you guys are looking at the audience here, helping businesses understand them, and therefore, kind of creating this lifecycle where they’re putting more money, investing more money into young people.
Brad Snyder: We brought you a T-shirt from our Cross Border Youth Summit, and one of the partners-
Mike Jones: Beautiful shirt.
Brad Snyder: Well, thank you. The sponsor of that was Cartoon Network, and they didn’t sponsor it necessarily out of the goodness of their heart, even though they’re really great people, but they recognized that this audience, these kids that we have here, are what their whole audience is going to look like demographically in the future. So this becomes a really great place to develop products and services for tomorrow.
Mike Jones: So in what way is … So are you saying that Phoenix kind of leads … Something’s happening here first, right? Because eventually if North America …
Brad Snyder: It could. That’s what we’re trying to … Well, we know that the population is here now, and it’s going to be in all of North America. The demographics are such that that’s pretty clear, and that’s all coming out of the U.S. Census Bureau. But no, are they actually paying attention to our children and youth now and considering them an asset? Not yet, but that’s part of why we’re working with CRADL is to try to reframe them.
Mike Jones: To reframe the view that business has of this demographic?
Brad Snyder: For so long we talk about the Cs in Arizona, right? This is this climate and the cotton and the cattle and the copper.
Chris Stadler: And citrus.
Brad Snyder: And Citrus. Thank you. We want to cast a sixth C, which is our children. Again, because if you wanted to develop something now that you knew wasn’t going to hit market for a year, two years, three years, why not develop it for an audience that looks today like the rest of the audience, the rest of the consumer group, is going to look tomorrow. And that’s here now. So demographically, we have a population here that looks demographically how all of North America will look in the near future.
Mike Jones: Interesting. Okay. So are you guys having a lot of success with companies starting to realize that?
Brad Snyder: Well, this is the second year that we’ve done the Cross Border Youth Summit, which is all about making the preferences of this generation heard to a larger audience. The first we did as a proof-of-concept. Can we just get it off the ground? Can we fund this? Well, can we get kids together to talk about these issues? This year, we almost tripled it in size, and we have our first money coming in from outside the state to sponsor it. Again, we also break the bubble of Arizona. We want money to come in from outside the Valley. We think that will also go far to not only raise the start-up environment here but also help children and families in Arizona.
Mike Jones: That’s very cool.
Brad Snyder: That’s major growth in just two years at that event.
Mike Jones: That’s awesome. Well, and it’s super interesting to ask, because we’re always trying to ask what is special about Arizona? What qualitatively is special? Not just it’s cheaper to start a business here, right? I’ve said that a thousand times. And so that’s really interesting. This is actually a way that Arizona can lead. It’s something, not just money, not just cheap.
Brad Snyder: Exactly. Well, I think we knew that … 2014 was the first year that public schools had a non-white majority across of the United States public schools, and yet, I look at my own clients, and they’re only now starting to think about these other demographics as they’re developing products. They’re behind, they know they’re behind, but they don’t actually know where to go to study some of these rapidly growing demographics, and they could study them here, for example.
Mike Jones: Yeah, and I’m sure there’s another layer to that, too, when they’re thinking not only like an ethnic diversity issue, but also a generational issue, right, where they’re having to look at that intersection of both challenges.
Brad Snyder: Exactly.
Mike Jones: That’s really interesting. So you guys talk about values. Values are important to you guys. Brandon, you have a lot of background with values in the business community. How is that kind of showing up in this, because we’re talking about kids now, too, and it’s sinking into me. I think Sweden has laws about how you can speak to kids and advertise to kids, so there’s probably a lot of responsibility inherent to what you guys are doing. Do values play into that?
Brandon Clarke: No, of course. I think what’s interesting with that is to go back to the event, because I think the event for us, the Cross Border Youth Summit, really defines, I think, the opportunity beyond any kind of products or services or things that we develop within this more of a lab environment with CRADL. So what’s been fascinating for Brad and I to see over these two years, really a year, because we just held our second event, has been the values that have been shared amongst these kids, because half of the kids that come up for the Cross Border Youth Summit, which has been about 450 this past year, half of those students come up from Sonora, Mexico, and so primarily from the Hermosillo area.
Brandon Clarke: What’s been fascinating for us is we wanted to create this opportunity to give both regions this collective voice around some of the big topics that we discuss around education and media and society and commerce. I think the values portion is this exchange of what being a friend means in these different regions, what being a good family member, or how the values of family. In fact, we see in some cases that that’s perhaps more of a priority with our friends down in Sonora. They value those relationships maybe a little bit differently.
Brandon Clarke: And so we think that there’s something interesting, as we felt just bringing kids together is going to be amazing. Anytime you can bring that many kids together and keep it fairly organized and not lose one of them, that’s a success. But we’re seeing this cross-pollination of just values of 12 and 13 and 14 and 15 year olds, and so that’s been really, really strong.
Brandon Clarke: I think at a company level, maybe slight segue for me, is when you look at the core values of any organization, so it can be an event or it can be a company, be a start-up, can be whatever, the core I always go back to is this idea of family. Your company is your family. The CEO of the company is the patriarch or matriarch of this family. Immediately, I’m going back a little bit to your original icebreaker, but I think there’s a misconception there, because there’s something unconditional about family. Your little brother can screw up in whichever way a little brother can screw up, but the love there is unconditional.
Brandon Clarke: Where companies, start-ups, projects, whatever it is, what’s unconditional there is performance and execution. Running companies through a core value of a team-like atmosphere, right? We’re a team. This is a professional team, in fact. So a lot of my work or a lot of my visibility into what it takes to start and grow a company is through more of that mindset. Just to touch on the values side of things. So I think that’s a real valuable perception to have, distinguish between the two of them.
Mike Jones: That’s really interesting, because I notice that it seems like in pop culture, the family is becoming maybe less important in the United States, anyway. That’s just my perception. I don’t know if that’s true or not. You guys are saying that there’s actually …
Brandon Clarke: No, and just to that point, to kind of go back to the event, so last year we had an opportunity because we had a smaller group of students, we had about 117 that came up from Hermosillo visit us last year for the event, the final event for them was a community service project with St. Vincent de Paul, and so we took the buses to the campus in South Phoenix. One of the kids on the bus remarked, he said, “Well …” You’ve got homeless all over the place there. They’re waiting for the kitchen to open and some of the services to open, and one of the kids remarked, he said, “Where are their families?” That particular student, and that was kind of a shared sentiment across the group.
Brandon Clarke: Now, it’s not like there’s not homelessness in Sonora or in Hermosillo, in particular, but that was their initial reaction is they could see through the windows of these buses people in despair, people that were displaced, people that were struggling, a couple of people trying to get on the bus, which was a little bit hairy. But that was the initial reaction. The initial reaction was heartfelt, incredibly genuine. And that was just a unique take for us, that was one of the stronger takeaways I think we took away from it, from the first year event.
Brad Snyder: Well, I think it’d also be a mistake to confuse how families are portrayed in entertainment media with the values being held by the people in our society. People have dysfunctional families in TV shows and movies because it creates drama. That’s part of it. In fact, there are networks that have guidelines about not having complete families, because it undermines the dramatic potential of the shows that you’re creating. They literally write that down as a guideline. When you’re writing shows, mother and dad can’t be present, because that creates drama.
Brad Snyder: But when we talk to our kids, they’re very, very clear about that. They value the relationship with their parents, they value their family. We did a survey not that long ago, and we gave teenagers in the Valley a list of things that they could choose from about what would make them happier, and it included a better body, more beautiful whatever they define that as, more money, more popularity, and the number one was more time with my parents.
Chris Stadler: Interesting. Wow. It’s a little bit not surprising. At the same time a little bit heartbreaking.
Brad Snyder: Right. Parents on the other side, especially if you’re a parent of a teenager, it doesn’t seem like your teenager wants to spend more time with you. They’re not terribly great at giving you that feedback about it being valuable to them, but it is, and we talk to them in surveys and we talk to them in focus groups or interviews, which we do. It’s very, very clear that these are the relationships they value the most. You’ve talked on this show before about trauma, that the number one antidote to trauma is relationships.
Chris Stadler: It’s interesting, because my son, he always wants to play with his friends or play video games or something like that. And I took him camping last weekend, and I’ve never seen him happier. Leading up to it, he was on Cloud Nine all day long. Nothing could burst his bubble. It was amazing. And it was like wow. This is really special for kids.
Brad Snyder: Absolutely. We blame technology, but we have to remember it’s the technology that we as adults created and we gave it to them. The reasons that they like the technology are baked in, because we built them to be liked, we built them to match how they want to learn, really, so these video game and virtual environments are very, very comfortable because they match our developmental needs and how we want to learn. The real world is a little less comfortable but ultimately more rewarding, and they would prefer to be there.
Chris Stadler: It’s interesting. It’s really interesting.
Mike Jones: That’s awesome. Maybe I might switch gears a little bit. First of all, I hate to be the one to tell you guys this, but I think you spelled CRADL wrong. But I don’t know if now’s the time. Maybe I was wrong. Anyway. Next [inaudible 00:22:55]
Brad Snyder: You’re just going to drop that bomb and then …?
Mike Jones: It was a segue question. It’s a segue comment. Just to go over the acronym again, rather the [inaudible 00:23:07] initials or whatever it is, Collaborative Research and Design Lab.
Brad Snyder: We agreed on CRADL, and then I think that we both came back and thought it stood for something else. So we decided not to actually lock it down, but we kind of stay fluid with that. I always say Child Research and Development Lab, but Creative is nice, too. Brandon.
Brandon Clarke: The C is fluid.
Mike Jones: Why Phoenix? So we did talk about the demographic is changing here. It’s predictive to what the rest of North American demographics are going to be, so there’s one reason. But are you guys both from here? Why Phoenix, and is there anything about Phoenix that this makes sense and that made this work?
Chris Stadler: Or Arizona.
Mike Jones: Or Arizona, yeah.
Brandon Clarke: Certainly, both natives, so there’s that. And I think as a native, there’s obviously a certain draw, a certain loyalty to a region. This is just where my wife and I decided to raise our kids, and like most families, a lot of families, we could live anywhere. There’s something about this region, though, despite the 117 degree summers that it’s incredibly inviting. I think for me, particularly when you look at pockets of the Valley, seeing how quickly they’ve developed and how they’ve developed has been really interesting.
Brandon Clarke: But then again, so all of the superlatives of the region, you kind of take the good with the bad. There’s a political angle here that makes it challenging to where even the idea of being very serious about adding the sixth C, getting people to really focus in on children, because when they focus on it, then there’s the benefits of an education system that needs to be improved. Not across the board, but there’s pockets where there’s opportunities for improvement.
Brandon Clarke: And so I think seeing that there’s an opportunity to have an impact in a space that is broad and complex and entangled in incumbent thinking that makes it very difficult. We can kind of come in as sort of insider/outsiders and be very proactive about some of the things, not the least of which being this event, which when you pitched it, in fact, we were 8, 9 weeks out of the event, and you alluded to this, Mike, and we hadn’t raised a dime. We were just scrambling, trying to figure out how we’re going to …
Brandon Clarke: For us, it’s all about the content and the experience. Keep in mind the investment that our guests from Sonora made to even get up here. That was for us kind of this awakening. Well, is the region accepting of this idea? Not just the event itself, but this just this idea of it. Or is status quo sufficient, because I think wanting to play this change-maker role is constantly faced with those obstacles of barriers that already exist.
Brandon Clarke: I think for us, I think the breaking point for us was also an epiphany. Well, nobody’s doing us any favors by supporting an activity like this, supporting what we’re trying to do for the Valley. In many cases, we’re the ones doing the favor, the heavy lifting that it takes to bring this type of group together to have this imperative. As soon as we started to frame it that way, things started to make sense quicker for them, we started to connect with them.
Brad Snyder: Yeah, what’s the value in it for them.
Brandon Clarke: Yeah. And so that started to relate. I think that at the end of the day was really valuable. There’s also a lot of challenges that mimic challenges other regions and other cities and other states across the country face. And so to go back to Brad’s point to be able to develop products and services related to that and to have them proven out in a market like this makes them more scalable, I think, than if you were, say, in another market where you’re kind of isolated on your visibility on who the end user is.
Brandon Clarke: So we’re looking at projects to benefit the foster care community, right now. We look at projects to, which we can get into if we want, and we’re looking at projects to help mental healthcare in schools. So these are pretty big, audacious things, but if you can prove them out in a market like Phoenix and across a state like Arizona, there’s nothing preventing it from expanding into other states. So that’s the way we look at market penetration beyond …
Brad Snyder: Yeah, it’s kind of a test bed, and then you can see if it’s replicable.
Brandon Clarke: And it all comes from kind of this strength-based approach, so we do have great businesses that are starting here, but we don’t have great direction or their direction is the exact same as every other start-up community on the planet, right? So there’s nothing that they really have to focus on or to distinguish themselves. And then we have this great resource in our kids, our own market that looks like the rest of the United States is going to look in the future. So we take those two things together, and we think about, well, what can we do, what’s the product, what’s a need that’s out there that benefits kids, that our start-up companies can work on, and that we can develop here and then take outside of this region. And we’re doing that, we’re pretty selfish in how and why we’re doing this, because we live here, and we want this place to be better for businesses, and we want it to be better for our kids. And we think that we can do both, and that rising tide will raise both of those boats.
Mike Jones: That’s awesome. So what are some other … So you mentioned there are some other advantages, other ways that Phoenix is a test market. You mentioned the foster care system. Have you guys thought of many other things about the …
Brandon Clarke: Well, one of the things is our identity is pretty wide open. That’s something we complain about a lot, actually, in this space is what is Phoenix’s signature event, what are we known for? So a lot of our discussions have been about the fact that this kids’ space is wide open. Sometimes, we talk about it this way. We say, “Okay, so let’s say that you’re new to the automotive industry, and you wanted to go somewhere in the world for a week to be immersed in it and learn everything you could about it.” And you’d say, “Well, you know, of course, I’d go to Detroit Auto Week.”
Brandon Clarke: You say, “Okay. What if you wanted to learn everything about the fashion industry?” “You can go to the Fashion Week in New York City or in Milan.”
Brandon Clarke: “Okay, so what if you wanted to learn about the kid business?” And the kid business is a real business. This current generation is personally responsible, is the single largest consumer group in the United States. They’re responsible for $143 billion in spending themselves, and they influence an additional $333 billion. So where do you go to learn about that market?
Brandon Clarke: Nobody’s claimed that. Why not us? And if we claimed it, not only would it benefit the region, because people would come in here to study kids, it would help our businesses here because they’d have a focus. And then if we’re treating our children here like an asset, then we’re going to start investing in them in a real way and at levels that we see great education communities and great healthcare communities investing.
Mike Jones: That’s real interesting. I think that’s not a conversation that we’ve … We’ve been running this podcast for over two years.
Chris Stadler: We haven’t heard this one.
Mike Jones: We haven’t heard this one. That’s one of the questions we’re asking every person that comes on is what is the identity of our state, the major metro area in particular? I think different people come with different angles and maybe some ideas, but you guys are, I think, ahead in that you’ve done the homework, you’ve done the research to understand where is there opportunity. Not just what is it feel like our identity is, but where is there actually a competitive opportunity to take ahold of something that isn’t claimed yet and own it as well as matching that with what’s already here, because you have to have both.
Chris Stadler: I have an off-skirt question for you. So there’s some quantitative data in there. Do you guys do qualitative research with the kids? Have you run across any insights that are particularly interesting that surprised you?
Brad Snyder: Well, surprise is the exact word. We rolled the dice with the first Cross Border Youth Summit. Sometimes, when you think summit, you think of people sitting, and they listen to speakers. So at all of our summits, they’re geared to figuring out ways for the youth to talk and then present a story back to adults. The very first one we did, we knew statistically, we had an idea about how they were going to respond to different questions, but we had no guarantee, and we were report out what they said no matter what. We were kind of locked in.
Brad Snyder: In fact, in this last Cross Border Youth Summit we didn’t filter what they were saying at all. They had direct digital feedback, and they were sending all of their responses, all their insights, all their ideas to giant screens in real time. The surprise was maybe exactly how great this generation is. You can look at it on paper, but then to hear it from their mouth is wonderful. They’re incredibly hardworking, they’re very dedicated to the future. It’s one of the reasons why you see their stress levels being much higher than previous generations, because they are so worried and dedicated to this future. What other insights surprised you, Brandon?
Brandon Clarke: It’s the Kino Bay kids, I think. So there was a community down in Sonora called Kino Bay. There’s a group of students there that really wanted to participate. They heard about the summit from last year, really wanted to participate this year. They’d been spending 8 to 9 months, working in the community, raising money to get them there, because it’s quite an investment of the families down there. You’ve got travel visas, you’ve got obviously transportation, hotels, and things like that.
Brandon Clarke: Right away, the day of the event, we had a chance to meet some of these students. “These are students from Kino Bay.” “Oh, that’s great.” And hearing some of the stories, some of the stuff that they worked. A lot of it was manual labor. They were just trying to do whatever they could to raise enough money to go. So at the end of the summit, the group of kids from Sonora were all on stage, and Brad and I were there, and they have gifts for us. It turned out it was gifts from the kids from Kino Bay. They had raised enough money to not only get them there, but they had leftover, and they chose to use that money for gifts for us. There’s just not a dry eye in the place. I’m doing everything I can to hold it together. It does maybe go a little bit back to the values question, right? I’ve worked so hard. What else can I … Oh, I need to show my gratitude to a couple of guys with an idea, right? We put in the work to host the event, but that was incredible.
Brad Snyder: And this isn’t an amusement park that they’re going to.
Brandon Clarke: Exactly.
Brad Snyder: They spend their time in discussion and they’re creating policy statements, and some of what they’re doing is actual, honest-to-goodness market research. They’re responding to products and services, and they’re giving their opinion. So they paid their own way to come here and to give their opinion on issues and work pretty hard, and then thanked us for doing it. Not bad.
Mike Jones: It’s an opportunity.
Brad Snyder: It is. But we were getting similar feedback from youth from the Valley as well, that interaction. We make it a Cross Border Youth Summit, because we aren’t exactly sure where the values and perspectives are being defined, but we know that it’s porous, so that we know that as immigration continues and as, again, if you believe the Census Bureau, the continued Hispanification of North America, where exactly are those values being formed? Well, they’re being formed somewhere in that transition, and so we want to get the range of values as we start to talk about this generation to companies and educators and governments and media.
Mike Jones: That’s really interesting. The range, but also, I’m sure there’s some extremes in there, too, as you’re looking at that range.
Brad Snyder: Exactly.
Mike Jones: Seeing where it’s shifting and how it’s shifting.
Brad Snyder: What’s interesting about the range, though, is how accepting they are of their differences. Again, it’s because it’s the world that we built for them. So when kids right now get on Fortnite, and if they get into a group match where they’re forming teams, they don’t know where the other kids are playing from. And they’re joining in from really all over the globe, and they’re forming teams, and they’re speaking different languages on these teams that they’re forming. And then they’re forming friendships, people that they play with online, and they’re forming those friendships based on how those people play that game with them. Did they cooperate, did they follow the rules, did they help, were they selfish?
Brad Snyder: And some people, adults, can complain about, “You form a friendship online? That’s crazy.” But forming a friendship based on how somebody plays a game is not such a bad way to form a friendship, and they don’t care where they’re from, they don’t care what language they speak, they don’t care what the color of their skin is or anything like that. They’re using how they play, how they treat one another. So they’re used to that.
Brad Snyder: When they go on YouTube and watch videos, which I’m sure if you have children in your home, you’re sick of them doing that, but notice, they don’t first go, “Okay. Let me only look at videos from the Arcadia region of Phoenix, because those are going to be the best.” Right? They’re looking at whatever video’s resonating with them, and they’re looking at videos produced all over the world. Sometimes, these borders that we put up, or these barriers that we’ve put up, we’ve already created a generation that thinks differently about them. We need to recognize that, and we need to incorporate that into products and services that we develop.
Mike Jones: Another transition here, talking about Phoenix, taking it back to Phoenix and Arizona, how has Arizona contributed to what you guys are doing? How is being here been a good place for CRADL?
Brandon Clarke: Yeah, and I think for the obvious reasons around the diversity of the market. I think that’s definitely a benefit. Actually, I don’t think we talked about the diversity enough to the extent that when you look at even just spoken word, even just languages, and the fact that legislation you might hear about or we’d say, “Well, with the kids that are English is their second language, we’re spending too much time, and they’re being split from the other kids.” I think as a region, we need to come around to just embracing this fact. I think that’s going to make things much more powerful. You’re going to see that start to permeate through things that we don’t necessarily have any control over through things like legislation.
Brandon Clarke: I think at the end of the day, I think we … And I think because of the worlds that we also live in, we’re getting pulled into, I’ll abuse this kind of to sloppily slightly segue into the foster care project that we’re working on, but Brad and I got pulled into a group, and it was a round table discussion that was really focused on some of the bigger challenges that are facing the foster care community here. And as they’re going around, a lot of the things that we were picking up on were not unlike a lot of the things that the start-up community … They feel disconnected, they feel under-resourced, and they feel their voices aren’t being heard in an effective way.
Chris Stadler: And these are foster parents that you’re talking about?
Brandon Clarke: It’s a consortium of foster parents, young adults that had grown up in the system, agencies, agents, executives, executive directors of non-profits that [crosstalk 00:39:49] everybody.
Chris Stadler: All the stakeholders you just mentioned, they are all feeling disconnected?
Brandon Clarke: They in their own bubbles, again and again, this time they feel it’s like, “No. We feel like we have things connected.” But if you look at what a community like that exists to serve, it’s at risk and displaced children. There’s roughly 18,000 in the State of Arizona that at any given time are displaced. So in the foster care system, within group homes, or …
Brandon Clarke: And so as you start to understand this market, you start to realize really at the end of the day this is just an ecosystem, if you will, that hasn’t been necessarily touched by technology in a way that we use Slack or we use Facebook or we use whatever. Now, things like Facebook they’ve been using. It’s this group of foster care parents, create their own private group. That’s how they stay connected. Their biggest challenge was actually finding relevancy in the resources that were out there. So whether you’re an entrepreneur or a newly minted foster care family, foster care parent, what are the resources that are accessible to me, because now I have a four year old on my doorstep. I don’t have a lot of history on them. What do I do?
Brandon Clarke: Okay, I can revert back to my training, or I can have some way to understand that. So as you start to look at some of these things … And then the next layer was them having an understanding of, for example, open beds. It’s like the agencies didn’t know who had been through the process, who had been properly licensed to offer temporary or respite care for kids in need. So what comes to mind if you’re finding open beds? Air BnB. So these are technologies that exist that all of us, even people in the room, were like, “Oh, yeah. I do use that.” Even if it’s a matter of effectively organizing resources, whether it’s video-based trainings or content. Everybody’s done indexing before. None of these things are a challenge.
Brandon Clarke: Slack and other utilities have kind of perfected communications. So we’re looking at this from the perspective of well, if you blend all these different technologies in a community that is badly needing this, is badly under-resourced, is looking at statistics like for every new foster care parent in the system, one is exiting because they’re frustrated. They’ve thrown their hands up. They say, “I got into this for all the best intentions. I don’t have the resources to be successful as a foster care parent.” So we look at those as tremendous opportunities. We’re working a wonderful local non-profit called Foster Arizona to help solve some of that, and we’re actually prototyping some solutions to them. But that’s one example. It’s regional-based, but again, that’s another thing that these are consistent challenges that lots of markets face, and so the diversity and uniqueness, I think maybe perhaps, of our market helps us scale a project like that.
Chris Stadler: Yeah, I actually heard … Our church is kind of big. It’s always encouraged, right, and there’s actually a group that meets there. So it’s all that community there, but probably, it sounded like they’re with … Arizona has a particularly high per person rate of kids who need homes, kids in the foster care system.
Brad Snyder: Yeah, we were going the opposite direction of the national trends for a long time. Some of that has been corrected a little bit, but we still have a very high number.
Chris Stadler: So our kids are both, Mike, you know this, they’re both adopted. Ryan, our oldest, came through the state awarding, and one of things I notice out of what you’re saying is that, so you get your training. At the very beginning, some of it seems so irrelevant and theoretical, and you don’t really know what questions to ask. Not that you would remember it 10 years later when they’re 17 and a teenager, and you start getting these. It seems like I would want something now, but if you asked me right now, and I think we have pretty good stability right now. He’s 7. But if you asked me in 5 years, I don’t know if I’d know what to ask, if I’d know where to go for that information for authoritative, something that’s well thought out rather than someone’s experience that may or may not relate to my particular situation. And so I can see that being kind of handy.
Brad Snyder: And again, it’s not necessarily-
Chris Stadler: In the rebellion. “You’re not my dad.”
Brad Snyder: And I don’t think we’re inventing anything, but rather we’re taking this need, this real market, this need that’s child-based, and we’re looking at solutions that our own start-up community can create. So it’s going to benefit these start-ups, because it’s going to give them something to work for that’s going to give them a goal to develop their business towards, it’s going to benefit kids, because every time they get moved to a different home because that home was unable to meet their needs, they weren’t prepared for them, they didn’t know how to handle it. That creates a tremendous amount of trauma that then the whole state has to pay for tax-base-wise.
Brad Snyder: So it’s benefits kids, and then as that grows and expands beyond the state, it really benefits our entire ecosystem. That’s what we’re tying to do, so we’re trying to do that first with foster care system. We have another project we’re working on around school counseling. Very similar approach. We have a tremendous lack of school counselors in Arizona, and so we’re looking at how to leverage technologies to bring more counselors into classroom and help kids de-escalate and cope and have healthier, better outcomes.
Mike Jones: That’s very cool. It’s very cool it’s happening here, too. Of course, I’m biased and partial, but yeah. Chris, do we have another question or did we cover the main points?
Chris Stadler: So I think we covered the main points. Yeah.
Mike Jones: Cool. You guys are doing the Cross Border Youth Summit again, right? When is that coming up?
Brad Snyder: Three weeks.
Brandon Clarke: No, we just had it. I don’t know if we’ve fully recovered like that last one there.
Mike Jones: You’re doing it again in three weeks?
Brandon Clarke: Right.
Brad Snyder: Just to say one of the other things of why Arizona, too, is we do have amazing forward-thinking foundations and institutions here. We have the Flim Foundation here, probably one of the better foundations in the entire country in thinking about education needs and looking forward in technology, not just in the bio sector, but in the arts, as well. We’ve had tremendous support from the City of Phoenix in recognizing that more needs to be done with this population to benefit the businesses in Phoenix. We’ve had a tremendous amount of support from the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith, and Families, who are, again, looking at not only how we better understand children so we can decrease their needs, but also make them healthier, more productive citizens in the future.
Brad Snyder: We’re getting, and if you think about maybe political leanings of the different groups you’ve mentioned, they’re not always on the same side of the aisle, but we’ve been getting support from them, because this is about kids and this is about the future, and I do give Arizona credit for that. We have a long ways to go, but I think we are impressed by some of the leadership we’re seeing.
Mike Jones: What do you see as some of the bigger challenges facing the ecosystem in regards to moving this forward with kids in our state?
Brandon Clarke: I think for us in … I think the freedom, I guess, that we don’t feel beholden to any particular group. We’re kind of renegades, but kind of not. We’re still disciplined in the idea of what the vision is all about. So when we look into the future, I think what our view of barriers are probably a little bit different in the sense of just the event itself. I mean, clearly there’s a demand. And so this not having the pressure of having to promote a big event and have all this thing and just kind of hope that if we build it, they will come kind of thing.
Brandon Clarke: The demand on the Sonoran side has been incredible. The demand on the Arizona, or I should say the U.S., side’s been incredible. So for us, it becomes a challenge of really, again, zeroing in on what content is and focusing on really the product. What do we want the outcome to be? Because if we just wanted to put together a field trip, we could put together a field trip. But this is really about the experience, of the feedback we get, not only from Sonora, which has been incredible, but also our Arizona schools is really kind of driven what the future of this looks like.
Brandon Clarke: So next year it could very well look more like a conference. It could be more of an open, collaborative experience where we can bring in a lot more students than we did this year. We have some incredible partners down in Sonora that make that whole thing work. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to do this. And so that being said, we’re still understanding what those numbers kind of look like.
Brandon Clarke: Both of our kids are in middle school. It’s the zoo and the science center and kind of a couple of core things as far as experiences outside the classroom, and I just listed off three great venues, right. But at the end of the day, what are we providing our kids, what are those experiences outside the classroom, do they involve other schools, and if they involve other schools, do they involve other kids from other countries. That’s really powerful. Why not get kids from Canada or from anywhere for a Cross Border Youth Summit?
Brandon Clarke: So I think that’s our biggest challenge is really what are we willing to take on and commit to, because we feel like this was going to the painful year. This was going to be the difficult year. We had to tell that story, we had to fine tune it, we had a budget that required us to fine tune it, because we had to raise the support to pull this off. We’ve got a lot of people’s ear now, so I think that’s going to be interesting.
Brad Snyder: Bringing in investment from outside the state, we also are still overcoming an obstacle about some perceptions that people from outside of Arizona have because of how Arizona has made national news in recent years. So because of that, specifically in the kids space, people who are investing R&D dollars on product services media for children, they haven’t always had the most favorable view of our state because of those past laws that we’ve passed and maybe law enforcement officials that we elected and things. They know all about that, and so they’re still adjusting their perspectives on the state as a great place to come and do work. So we have to overcome that, too, but we’re slowly chipping away at that, as well.
Chris Stadler: So is there room for more than Cartoon Network or have they pretty much locked you guys down?
Brad Snyder: Actually, we had meetings with people at Nickelodeon, people at NBC Universal, people at Cartoon Network. They all got it, and maybe was just trying to figure out how it fits in their strategy. I can tell you that anybody in the kids space is recognizing that they have a big chunk of their audience that they aren’t developing products and services for. It’s right for children to look at a franchise and say, “Where am I? Where am I represented?” And if we know that a huge percentage of the United States, for example, self-identifies as Latinas, and you look at the Avengers, and there’s not an Hispanic Avenger. Now, where am I? It’s right for the kids to ask that. They want to be able to relate. And so everybody is kind of scrambling now to say, “Yeah, my products, my services have to reflect who the United States is, and we’ve ignored some people so far.” So anyone can benefit. I think they all know, and there is room. There’s plenty of room. How big of a check are we talking about? That’s good, so we’ll take it.
Chris Stadler: We’ll ask our listeners. Well, then what is. Oh, let’s see. Time check. Five minutes. Should we get to close or can I ask one more question?
Brad Snyder: No, ask one more. Let’s do it.
Chris Stadler: So what’s an example of what a company has gotten out of this and maybe put into it?
Brad Snyder: I think that we did a session at this most recent Cross Border Youth Summit around arts organizations, and it was funded by Flim Foundation. We know that this current generation, sometimes referred to as Generation Z, we’d like a different name for them, one that Frank Maggot created, which was called the Plurals Generation. They value the arts very much, and they create art at unprecedented levels. But do they have the relationship with arts institutions the way that these arts institutions want to have?
Brad Snyder: What we were able to provide for some of the cornerstones of the arts environment in the Valley is feedback from these youth on exactly what they wanted and how they wanted to engage with a Mesa Center for the Arts or Ballet Arizona or Phoenix Art Museum or a Child’s Play. That’s information they got in real time from them in response to things and programs that they were thinking about that they can then turn around and use to more effectively reach out to them and involve them.
Chris Stadler: That sounds like a big win.
Brandon Clarke: A big win, win, win.
Chris Stadler: Well, I just remember that story from Shoe, that company that does all the property design in the Bay Area. Anyway, you’ll think of them. They’re the biggest one. I do. Talking about the toothbrush thing? And they’re like, yeah, the assumption was always you just make a toothbrush smaller for a kid, right? But they went in there, and they watched kids brush their teeth, and it was swimming around in their hand, and they were punching themselves in the face, and it was just really hard to brush their teeth. So they made, just because of the research, ask them … They didn’t even know what question to ask, right? They were just watching. They ended up making a fat-handled toothbrush, and it ended up being the best selling, for 9 months, the best selling kid’s toothbrush. You can just make a smaller … Make it pink for girls, and then it make it smaller for kids, and then assume that it’s just going to work.
Mike Jones: It’s awesome. Thank you guys so much for coming on today. Is there anything in particular you want to plug or give a shout out to? Outside of things we’ve already talked about?
Brandon Clarke: Yeah, so I don’t think so. I think Brad and I are looking forward to a break or something for a couple of weeks, but CRADL.co, C-R-A-D-L.CO. Stay tuned there.
Brad Snyder: And that’s where all the information on the Cross Border Youth Summit is. Just put up there. If you have ideas for products and services for kids, and you want to see if we can benefit by bringing in the research or the resources from the local start-up communities, we’ll be happy to … You can reach us there, and we can help out with that as well.
Mike Jones: That’s awesome. CRADL.co. Cool. That’s awesome. Thank you, guys, so much for coming on today. I really appreciate the conversation. A few closing remarks.
Chris Stadler: Can I do it?
Mike Jones: Go for it, Chris.
Chris Stadler: Well, this is it for another episode of the AZ BRANDCAST where we delve into the makings of remarkable brands here in the State of Arizona. Thank you all so much for joining us. If you’d like more of the AZ BRANDCAST, you can subscribe to all of our episodes on iTunes, Stature, Google Play, or wherever you prefer to get your podcasts. To contact Mike of I to find out more about the AZ BRANDCAST, check out our website at azbrandcast.com. There, you can also get on our newsletter list and make sure you never miss another episode or update from Mike or me … or I. Special thank you to our producer, Karen Nowicki.
Mike Jones: Thanks, Karen, as always.
Chris Stadler: Of Phoenix RadioX and our gracious host here at MAC6 Conscious Workspace, where we spend most of our time. And don’t forget, you are remarkable. Thanks, everybody.
We are so incredibly stoked to be hosting a live podcast from the Phoenix Design Week conference – Method + Madness!
What’s this, you say? A live podcast?
Yup. You got it. On October 29th, we’ll be podcasting live from the Method + Madness conference in sunny downtown Phoenix. We’re rounding up some awesome guests for the podcast as we speak. We’ll be talking with some of the speakers from the conference as well as other members of Phoenix’s remarkable design community to help us unpack why design is important in brand strategy as well as get their take on what makes Arizona a unique and special place to start, grow, or relocate your business to our fine state.
How can you listen in? Two simple ways:
- Grab a ticket for the Phoenix Design Week Method + Madness conference on October 28th and 29th! http://phxdw.com
- Or you can stream the podcast from your device of choice. Be sure to check back here on our website for the link. We’ll try to make it super easy to find and get connected.
If you want to hear more about Phoenix Design Week and all the awesomeness going on, go check out our interview podcast with the event organizers. We had a hilariously good time.