#38 - Why it's a tragedy to raise kids who don't know how to use tech with CEO of Troomi, Bill Brady

October 31, 2023
54
 MIN

Episode Summary

This week on The Aro Podcast, host Joey Odom sits down with Bill Brady, father of 5 and CEO of Troomi Wireless, a mobile phone company designed for children. With a deep understanding of the challenges faced by families in the realm of kids and technology, Bill shares his passion for addressing the effects of tech on our society. In this episode, he and Joey discuss the prevalent feelings of overwhelm and confusion experienced by parents raising their kids in this digital age. They explore important questions like the right age for introducing phones to kids and the right reasons for doing so. Joey and Bill also emphasize the significance of intentional parenting when it comes to fostering a healthy relationship with technology for children and why parents simply can’t afford to be lazy about it. Don’t miss out on this episode where intentionality meets technology, helping families navigate the complexities of raising kids in a digital world.

Spotify Icon- Radio Webflow TemplateApple Podcast Icon - Radio Webflow Template

Watch the Conversation

Episode Transcript

Bill Brady (00:00):

We have no idea the full breadth of everything that our kids are dealing with from a technology perspective. I do this for a living and it's a full-time effort, and I still have so much to learn. And so I think parents are feeling overwhelmed. They're feeling confused, they're wondering, just look at cell phones for example. They're wondering, when is the right age to introduce a phone? What are the right reasons for introducing a phone? When should I do that? Because all the friends are doing that. So I mean, every family in America is dealing with these questions.

Joey Odom (00:53):

Welcome back to The Aro Podcast. Hey, it's Joey Odom, co-founder of Aro, and I got one for you today that may surprise you. I just had a great interview with Bill Brady. Bill Brady is the CEO of Troomi Wireless. And let me remind you again, this is a wireless company, CEO, and he told me real life happens outside of screens, which was, I just laughed a couple of times in the interview and he explains why. And that's what Troomi is here for. Troomi is a kids safe phone, and it's more than just a phone. They really come alongside you, kind of link arms with you to help you walk through a topic that you may feel overwhelmed about that. That's what he described as kind of the pervasive feeling among parents when it comes to technology is just feeling overwhelmed, not knowing what to do.

(01:41)
And so they make it very, very easy on you and you'll have questions like, what's the right age and how does Troomi work? And kind of growing up with me, he answers all those questions, but it really is more kind of the heart behind it. The stakes are very high. We know that with technology in our kids, and as we were talking and reflecting, there are two approaches to technology. One of them is, Hey, here's a phone. Go do whatever you want with it. The other side of the spectrum is, Hey, you can't have a phone at all. I think in some of those, and I'd hate to use the term lazy, but there is a little bit of, there's maybe a lack of intentionality and effort on both of those. It's just a blanket yes or a blanket no versus kind of being in that gray part in the middle where it can be a little bit difficult to navigate and be a little bit more intentional and involve your kids and have more deep discussions and dig in deep.

(02:37)
So we talk about that. It's very interesting to hear his perspective on screens being somebody who sells screens for a living, but I think you're going to love it. And he's a super, super guy. Listen to the end. There is a discount code on Troomi Wireless for Aro podcast listeners, so check that out at the end as well. But for now, just sit back, relax, enjoy my conversation with CEO of Troomi Wireless Bill Brady. Gang. Just because everyone gives their kid an iPhone on the first day of kindergarten or preschool or they're christening, doesn't mean it's a good idea. Just because the text stats feel a little bleak doesn't mean there's no hope. Enter our guest. Just because he isn't wearing a cape doesn't mean he isn't a hero. Just because he lives a few states away from Silicon Valley doesn't mean he isn't building an amazing tech company folks. He's a husband, he's a dad, and he's here to prove that not all tech is bad for you. He's for me. He is. Mr. Troomi, please welcome to The Aro Podcast and CEO of Troomi Wireless, my friend Bill Brady. Bill, welcome to The Aro Podcast.

Bill Brady (03:46):

Awesome, Joey. Thank you. Great to be with you today.

Joey Odom (03:50):

I was going to say, will the real Bill Brady, please stand up? But I didn't know people would get the slim shady m and m reference, so I didn't quite get there.

Bill Brady (04:01):

I would've got it, but maybe we're dating ourselves. I don't know.

Joey Odom (04:06):

That's actually a good point. I mean that feels like kind of a good modern day reference to Eminem, but maybe that's just past, maybe that's so past. Maybe we're just echoing back to high school here. Here's what Bill, one thing just to lead off that you never really know. You see kids safe technology and you just don't know who's behind it. You don't know what are those people behind it. And I'll just say from getting to know you and this one thing we'll really get into here is I just love and applaud the way you're going about this because you feel this. I mean, you have five kids, you are so passionate about this on taking care of families, taking care of kids, and you've put your career behind it. And just for the listener, this is the real deal you're hearing from today. And what Troomi doing is exceptional. It's extraordinary, and it's heading in pretty incredible direction. So that's more of a statement. There's no real question there other than to say this is the real deal. And getting into that, I would love to hear before there was a Troomi, take us back, what about this got inside and made you get passionate about this whole topic?

Bill Brady (05:24):

Oh, I appreciate that, Joey. Thank you. It really goes back decades and I'm not sure why. I don't know. Sure. I'm not sure why I was wired like this, but even before I was married and I was in college studying communication, I always had this, I don't know if fear, concern, vigilance about the effect of technology on people. And so go back to my college days, and this is before everyone had cell phones and it's before social media, certainly before smartphones, but I actually wrote a term paper about the dehumanizing effects of technology and just this concern that technology was changing the way we communicated and making us a little bit less human, if that makes sense. A little bit less in touch with who we are as humans, a little bit less engaged in our human relationships. And so as I got married, married, this incredible, incredible woman named Heidi, and as she and I were newlyweds and looking down the road toward having a family, we had all these conversations about how will we manage technology in our own household.

(06:50)
One of the decisions we made early on was, Hey, there's nothing inherently wrong with video games, but we're not going to have gaming systems in our house because we don't want that to be where time is spent. And thinking, if our kids are at someone else's house and they're going to play a video game, fine, great, but that's not going to be one of the choices we make. And then as different things came out, cell phones and social media, we just were always really intentional in our thinking about what would be a good fit for our family. And as those technologies evolved and as we had, like you mentioned, we've got five fantastic kids, as we had kids and we started raising them, we really got into the nuts and bolts about how are we going to handle the different technologies? As our kids were asking for them, they saw other kids doing different things. So it's just always been a conversation for us.

Joey Odom (08:04):

And it's one of the things that I was thinking about it all parents are really confronted with this moment where they're just think, gosh, what are we going to do? And it could be a passing thought, which is just like, oh, we'll just go with the flow. We'll just do what everybody else is doing. It could be a little bit more of an intentional approach. Do you find parents, as they're coming up to that technology discussion, what are some of the maybe common reactions to it or when they're confronted with it? Is it confusion? Is it fear? What are parents feeling that you observe?

Bill Brady (08:37):

Well, today there's no question. It's the feeling of being overwhelmed, overwhelmed parents. We have no idea the full breadth of everything that our kids are dealing with. From a technology perspective, I do this for a living and it's a full-time effort, and I still have so much to learn. So I think parents are feeling overwhelmed, they're feeling confused, they're wondering, just look at cell phones for example. They're wondering, when is the right age to introduce a phone? What are the right reasons for introducing a phone? When should I do that? Because all the friends are doing that. So I mean every family in America is dealing with these questions. When I do introduce a phone, what should be on it? What should the functionality be? What's healthy, what's not healthy? And some parents are very, very engaged in trying to proactively figure those things out, but there are so many that are just overwhelmed and they don't know where to start. And so we've sought to help them not just with a product solution, but really with an understanding of what are the issues that they should be thinking about.

Joey Odom (10:03):

I would love to go into some of that. What are the things that people should be thinking about? You mentioned a couple questions. What's the right age? What are the right reasons? What are some of those things that people, and by the way, I will say this, you do approach this very holistically. I agree. It's not just here's a phone and do your best. It's you really come alongside families. What are some of those questions? What are the things they should be thinking about as they're considering technology for their kids?

Bill Brady (10:31):

I think there are a couple categories. The first category are what I call the obvious concerns. And it doesn't matter your background, east coast, west coast, liberal, conservative, all parents would agree that we should keep our kids away from inappropriate content pornography, for example, we should keep our kids away from predators. We should keep our kids away from bullies. It doesn't matter who you are. Those are some universal concerns, but there are also what I call the less obvious concerns. And that's when you really look at what has become a very clear picture now about the relationship between screen time, social media, and things like stress, anxiety, and depression. And there's one author and researcher whose work, I've spent a lot of time on Dr. Jean Twenge, and she characterizes what we're going through right now as an epidemic of mental health crisis in this country.

(11:43)
And you see that through, and I think this is a national thing, but here in my state, if you have a child that needs to get in to see a child, a pediatric psychiatrist buckle up, it's going to take four or six months because the waiting lists are that long. And that's stretching across the country now because family's finding these mental health issues coming up. Statistically, there's a 52% increase in measurable mental health problems among our young people over the last 10 years. If you look at the inclination thoughts of suicide ideation or suicide attempts, those statistics are through the roof. If you look at suicide among young people itself, 125% increase. This is from the CDC between 2007 and 2022, a 125% increase. And that should be heartbreaking to every person in this country. And we're seeing now that it's not just a question of correlation or causation. The studies are clear there is a causation effect between the time we spend on screens, the dehumanizing UNC connectness that comes from that, the dehumanizing effect and feelings of despair. We've got to do something about it.

Joey Odom (13:21):

And you did. And it, it's one thing for a parent to be aware of this, it's another thing also that together to go start a wireless company, which is what you did, which is a step about a hundred times further than most of us when we're thinking about it. What was that moment where you just said it is probably a confluence of need in seeing with all the stuff that you just described, this desperate need, the things happening in our kids and along with just like, Hey, there's a market that really is looking for this. So it was that confluence of those two things. What was that kind of moment where you said, you know what, we got to actually do something about this. This is going to be my life's work.

Bill Brady (14:00):

For me, it was looking at the experience of my second daughter and she was 12 years old and we don't have a home phone like most people now. We don't have a landline. And so she was to that age where she needed a phone if she was going to babysit, and we had purchased something for her that was a very limited, very limited talk and text only kind of device. And she never had it with her, ever. And I sat her down to say, Hey, Jenna, give me some feedback here. I thought you were excited about getting a phone, but this just sits on the kitchen counter. And she was pretty articulate actually in explaining what it was missing. And she said, why would I keep this with me? I know that we're not doing social media, I get that, but I need digital classroom apps for school.

(14:58)
I'd like to have an app for graphic design. I need this app to participate with my sports team, et cetera, et cetera. And it was this moment where I realized it's not practical to say to a 12 year old or a 13 year old or a 14 year old, or frankly even a 10 or 11 year old, you can only talk in text. There are other tools that are good. They're good. They can lead to help in school and the development of hobbies. And so it was really this realization that the market needed something that was safe for sure, but also flexible. And so my partner and I decided to do something about it, and that's when we started Troomi.

Joey Odom (15:46):

And there's nothing and truly there's nothing out there. What are you going to do in that case? And we all know, and I'm sure you won't disparage them, maybe you will, but Apple, if you try to go through parental controls there, it's a mess. Well, they literally, they can't even do it. They've admitted all the gaps in it. So there's nothing you can do. And so as a parent, do you do that and then do your best? Try to figure that out maybe. But what I like about you, and I want you to talk maybe about this tension a little bit. You are a tech company, but you're very much not anti-tech and some of this approach, because we're 17 years into the iPhone, people are still figuring it out. And so the natural response in many cases is just, alright, don't use it at all. But to your daughter's point, that's not practical. That doesn't work with my life. So can you talk about the tension between being, you're not anti-tech but you're a tech company, but there's some bad things. What is all of that navigating that?

Bill Brady (16:44):

I think it really comes down to having an intentional relationship with technology. So we look at kids, this is right in our mission statement in what we do. We believe in the limitless potential of every child to learn, do and become anything.

Joey Odom (17:02):

We

Bill Brady (17:02):

Love children and have a passion for their potential. And so on one hand I think what a tragedy, if their potential is lost to dangers that are lurking under our noses and at their fingertips on one end of the spectrum, that would be a tragedy. So we have to be safe. But it would also be a tragedy if we raise kids who don't know how to use technology because it's going to be part of their lives. They have to know how to use it. And frankly, they have to be able to find those areas where technology can enhance their potential.

Joey Odom (17:44):

If

Bill Brady (17:45):

A child has an aptitude for music, I've got two daughters that are extremely musical and gifted, and I can look at the ways that technology helps them develop those talents. Wonderful. But it really comes down, Joey to being intentional. And I always say to families when I speak is you can't let technology become the default for how our time is spent. That's true for kids and adults. It's not just a kid thing, which is why we love what you're doing at ARO so much. And it's don't let technology be the Tyra. As soon as our lives are dictated by that phone that's in our hands, well, that's not a tool anymore. It's a tyrant. And if you go down that path, then all of a sudden you're out of balance as a person. And so we think technology has a place introduce the right amount of technology at the right time in an age appropriate way, scale it with the kid as they grow, but don't let it be the governing factor of life. Don't let technology be the default for everything that you experience. Think about spend your time on real. Life happens when you're not on a screen. And I drive that home to people.

Joey Odom (19:18):

I want people to understand what just happened. You just heard the CEO of a wireless company say that life does not happen on a screen. Again, it's almost hearing the statement, you accept it as fact, but then you realize who it's coming from. What a great thing to say. It's so true. And the fact that you are looking at it as a tool and helping the, I think you say you grow with the child, Troomi grows with the child. Will you talk about maybe that progression of, and I know you probably won't give an absolute answer on what would it look like generally for a kid on this is the right time for a Troomi phone, and what do you mean by that that it's going to grow with you?

Bill Brady (19:56):

Yeah, so two great questions there. The first, in terms of the right time, it's different for every child and it's different for every family I have just in our own family, we recognize the individual personalities of our kids, we recognize the individual needs of our kids. And that introduction of a phone doesn't always happen at the same time for my older kids, our three oldest, our daughters and we're getting into babysitting and there was a specific need that had to be met. Our two youngest are boys and my older son is 11 years old, almost 12. He does not use our product because all this boy wants to do is build campfires and whittle sticks and collect knives and go hiking and camping. And I'm not going to change that. I'm in no rush to put any influence in his life that would change his desire just to be a boy. I love that. I love that he just wants to be a boy and isn't worried about, well, when am I going to get a phone and when am I going to have social media? I would just want him to be a boy.

(21:34)
But the time will come where because of an opportunity with school or for a certain hobby that he has, the time will come that it makes sense for him to have a device. And then I'll introduce a device that can be introduced to him at an age appropriate level and then grow with him. So you asked what that process looks like. So we wanted our phone to be custom fit to every kid without having to replace the hardware. So we developed an operating system that we put on Samsung devices and you could give a younger kid and some of our kids, some of our customers are eight and nine years old, and in their family circumstances that makes sense. But for an eight or nine year old, you would say, you know what? You don't need more than talk and text. So you start them with that, and then as they learn and mature and grow and develop some responsibility, you say, okay, great.

(22:34)
Now we're going to introduce MMS for picture messaging and group messaging. Great, okay, now you learn how to do that responsibly. Okay, now you need Google classroom or canvas for school. Okay, we can introduce that app and we curate a suite of apps that we've pre-vetted to make sure there's no inappropriate content, no back doors to unintended communication with predators, for example. So predators can't get at your kids. And so you'd look at this suite of apps and say, Hey, for your sports team, you need this for your Sunday school class, you need this for whatever. You go through the apps with your kid and add the ones that are useful, intentional. And then you could say, you know what, it's time for my kid to learn how to use the internet, but I do not want them to have this just wide open browser and wide open window to everything. So we have a safe browser where you as a parent can predetermine the domains that are available and again, have a constructive cooperative conversation with your son or daughter and decide, Hey, what are the domains that make sense right now? And they learn how to use those safe domains that they learn how to use those responsibly and with discipline so that in time you can introduce a chrome or whatever else as a full browsing experience, which they need to learn how to use with discipline before they leave home.

Joey Odom (24:19):

We like hearing stories of people who have been trying similar things to Aro. Before we got an email from Emily in bc, she said, I'm surprising my husband with Aro, as he often puts a bowl out for our phones when he wants quality time with the family. I like that others are trying this for themselves. We'd encourage you to try it for yourselves. If you'd like to take it to the next level you're interested in checking out Aro and learning more, just go to goaro.com. How does that on the chrome, this is now getting into personal questions. My kids don't have Safari on their phones and my daughter for one is not super excited about that, but she doesn't have internet, they don't have browsing access on their phones. And just candidly, one of the fears for me in doing that is there are huge ways around filters on those. Not that my kids would do it in nefarious way, but it just kind of happens. You search something and then the Google image search pops you with a bunch of stuff you didn't want to see.

Bill Brady (25:21):

So

Joey Odom (25:21):

Are there safe ways to protect that browsing experience? And does Troomi have safe ways to protect that browsing experience when someone gets the internet? Are those filters, are those good filters now or is it, there's still some gaps in there. And this maybe just a general question, not necessarily about Troomi, but

Bill Brady (25:36):

More

Joey Odom (25:36):

For my own, while I have the expert on the line, I need to get some coaching.

Bill Brady (25:40):

So there are definitely some filters out there and I wouldn't say anything is foolproof by way of just a guaranteed, if your child has safari chrome, even in a filter experience, nothing's foolproof there. So I prefer until they're at an age where they're ready to deal with some of that potential risk, it's safest justice to limit that experience to specific domains so that if they get a link that goes to one of those domains that's not approved, they get a little message that says, whoops, it looks like that's not an approved domain. And they literally can't go to a site that's not on that approved, that approved list. I think technology is improving and in the future I can see that some of the filtered experiences will get better, more reliable, but nothing abnegates the responsibility of being a parent, even with all the safeguards in place as a parent, if your kids have technology, if you've got to be involved, you've got to be a parent and keep an eye on things.

Joey Odom (27:05):

That's one thing I like as you were describing the domains, it's almost like it forces you as a parent to be engaged. You have to, because you have to sit down with your kid and say, what domains do you need? Hey, what do you need? And then you can go through and you can talk through it. And I had a conversation like this with my kids the other day and I said, Hey, let me just explain to you why that domain doesn't make sense. And it's not in and of itself bad, but let me just explain some things and it gives you a chance to actually gather your thoughts. And it's almost like I haven't really developed this thought, but it's almost, and I'm going to say lazy parenting is a general term, but lazy parenting can look like two things. Lazy parenting could look like, here's a phone, do whatever you want with it. Or lazy parenting could be, no, you can't have a phone or No, I'm going to block everything. Neither of those really required intentionality. You just made a blanket statement on two sides of the spectrum where what you're describing is no, you have to sit down and you have to be intentional and have that discussion, right?

Bill Brady (28:08):

And that is important on so many levels because there's a trust that develops when you sit down with your child and look at some of those questions together. And you have the discussion of why as humans, we don't like being told No, no, no, no, no, no. But if we understand why behind a rule or a regulation, it's a completely different experience. And so I always give parents the advice that don't just make rules for your kids. Help them understand why you feel a certain way and why we do things a certain way in our household when they understand why. It goes from, oh, my parents don't let me do anything to a feeling of, hey, I may not love it all the time, but I know my parents love me and care about me. We had that experience with our kids where our oldest daughter, she kind of got through before I was in this industry, she had an iPhone, but on that iPhone we did not allow social media.

(29:28)
We did tailor the experience that she was having to match our goals as a family. And there was no social media and all of her friends had social media. And there were definitely those moments where she would say, Hey, what do you think? Is it time? But it never, and I'm not exaggerating, Joey, not once did we have a yelling match about it. Not once did we not, did we have this contentious blow up about it because from the beginning she understood why and we were very open about the dangers of social media and she understood, Hey, yeah, mom and dad have this rule and I know it's rooted in the love they have for me and the concern they have for me. She actually came to us one time, this will blow people's minds. She actually came and said thank you as she was looking at all the drama and problems that her friends were going through, and she actually came and said, Hey, I haven't always loved it, but I get it. Thank you for caring enough to not let me get into all this stuff.

Joey Odom (30:50):

And that's going to be, I have a feeling that's one of many thank yous she's going to give over the years because that's as you mature and you kind see, okay, I see why they did it that way. I didn't like it at the time. You start getting a lot more thank yous. And I think what's cool about that too, for you as a parent knowing you, my suspicion is not only did she feel the love from you, but my guess is that you also heard her out to me. I've had this little phrase in my mind lately as a parent of sometimes I have a tendency to give an answer before I've heard them out. I tell myself, listen before lesson, listen before lesson, listen before lesson. So listen, before I give a lesson to them, my guess is it's a two-way street that she actually was able to present her thoughts and ideas to, and you really did hear her out. And you're a reasonable guy. You probably, it's sometimes good to give a little bit to let them know. No, I'm listening to you. I get it.

Bill Brady (31:42):

In our family, my wife and I have a mantra, and it actually came from my wife's uncle. We were newlyweds and Heidi's uncle and aunt had a whole bunch of kids, like eight kids. And we were at a family reunion one time, and I was watching these kids from this particular family and they were so kind to everyone and so considerate and just, I had to talk to her uncle and say, man, what are you doing? These kids are exceptional. And he said something to me that I took to heart, I've never forgotten it. I said, if you have one piece of advice for a soon to be new dad, what is it? And he said, I say yes as much as I can so that when I say no, it means something. And I've never forgotten that. And I've tried to do that, Heidi, and I've tried to do that with our kids where we do listen, we do have conversations and we do say yes, even if something is going to be inconvenient for us, can I have X, Y, Z experience with a friend? Whatever the situation is. And I'm thinking, oh man, I just wanted to go to bed early tonight and relax, but this is going to mean I'm staying up till 10 o'clock and I didn't intend to. I say yes, because then when we do have those, no, this is just something we don't do in our family. The child doesn't feel a need to rebel. They're like, okay, I get it. That piece of advice from Heidi's uncle has made all the difference.

Joey Odom (33:30):

That's so good. That is amazing. I I'm probably quicker to know then. Yes, and you're right. As a result, it probably loses its meaning. So that's one I'll take to heart. I'm curious if you would talk us through the Troomi parent portal, and this is what's, when you were describing all of the things you can do and help your phone grow, you're not just leaving the parents out to themselves to figure it out on their own. You are helping them. And this, as I'm reading through the parent portal, I thought, my goodness, this is something that we all need. It makes it so intuitive and easy. Will you walk through what that experience is like for a parent?

Bill Brady (34:09):

Yeah. When we were designing the product, so we spent the first six months as a company just figuring out what we were going to build and how we were going to build it. And user experience was the top of our list. We knew that we could have the best controls in the world, but if they were hard to use, parents wouldn't use them. We're trying to come into a situation that feels overwhelming for parents and make it less overwhelming, not more overwhelming.

(34:42)
So in the parent portal, it's almost like a wizard kind of scenario where the functionality possibilities are so easy to understand and toggle on or off that there's no time. You don't have to spend any time trying to figure out, okay, now what do I do with texting? Okay, now what do I do with apps? Okay, now what do I do with web browser, it's so easy. And the default is experience is that it's very limited. And then as a parent, you just turn things on as you want to. One of the greatest compliments we ever got was from a mom in Texas who had nine children and she got Troomi phones for five of them, her five oldest, and she posted on her social media, I set up five phones in less than 30 minutes. Unreal. And I was like, okay, it works fantastic.

(35:45)
So in that parent portal, you've got a couple things going on. It's setting your preferences for each child. It's maintaining a family contact list, but then making a specific contact open or not open to a given child rather than maintain a contact list for Bobby and for Susie and for Janet, it's one contact list and you just turn on and off the contacts for each individual child. And that makes it easy. You're not having to duplicate your effort. And then if a contact, if you have the contact safe listing is what we call it, if that's turned on, your kids literally cannot talk to anyone who's not on their contact list. And that means no bullies, no predators, no spam, literally it can't get through. So those are some of the aspects. The other thing we do in the parent portal that our parents love is what we call remote text monitoring.

(36:52)
So even though we have that contact list dialed in, so you're starting with a high level of confidence that the people that your kid is talking to or texting with, you have some level of trust, you still should be keeping an eye on things. And this should not be a hidden process. Your kids should know that you can keep an eye on their text messages. What we wanted to get away from was the experience that every parent and every kid hates. And that's the, okay, log into your phone, I'm going to read your text messages now no one likes that. And so what we do is we just make all the text messages and images available right in the parent portal so you can pop in and keep an eye on things. And you can even do that on a contact by contact basis. I'm a little worried that Ainsley's been spending so much time with Michael, let me see what they're talking about, and I can just look at those conversations with the snap of a finger.

Joey Odom (37:59):

Can't trust that. Michael. That was the one thing whenever I was maybe a little shocked by this, that there's no way that remote text monitoring as a parent, to me, that's one of the killer features here because I was a little shocked honestly when we were looking at phones for our kids and iPhones, there's no way to do that. They make it so difficult to do that, and it's exactly what you describe. You wait until they're asleep and you look at their phone and you scroll through all the things and my kids are aware that's happening. But there is a certain level of when it's so out in the forefront, it's neither convenient, nor is it really an experience anyone who wants to have. So I think that's such a killer feature and it just makes it easy. And again, it goes back to, Hey, I have this. And so it makes them think for a second, should I be texting? I know mom and dad could see it, versus knowing they can delete it right after they send it. So I love that. Will you tell me? Go ahead.

Bill Brady (38:59):

I was just going to say, and even on a Trim Me device, even if they do delete a text message, it still shows up in the parent portal. It's already been captured.

Joey Odom (39:09):

I love that. So you mentioned the story that the woman in Texas, I would love to hear any others, and I'm putting you on the spot here. Any of that may be your fingertips on stories that you're hearing from Troomi Families of success stories or great stories, or I also want you to tell, well, I'll ask that one later. There's a story you told me a couple of weeks ago that I love, but I'd love to hear any of those success stories within that Troomi community.

Bill Brady (39:36):

I'll tell you one that made me cry. I got a letter from a girl in New York City and she's very formal, dear Mr. Brady, and she said, I have to tell you my experience. And she said, I'm a 14 year old girl. I live in New York City. And some time ago I got into trouble with my iPhone and my mom took my phone away and for two months I didn't have a phone and I thought I was going to die. She said,

Joey Odom (40:12):

Did she really say that?

Bill Brady (40:13):

Yeah, goes word forward. And I thought I was going to die. And then she said, and two months went by and my mom decided it was time for a second chance, and she gave me a new phone and it was a Troomi phone. And when I found out that it didn't have social media on it, I thought I was going to die. She said it again and she said, but I'm writing you a letter to say thank you, thank you, thank you.

Joey Odom (40:43):

I

Bill Brady (40:43):

Didn't know how happy I could be and I just wept, man,

Joey Odom (40:49):

Because

Bill Brady (40:49):

That's why we're doing this.

Joey Odom (40:51):

That's right.

Bill Brady (40:53):

It's helping kids get away from all those things that are causing the stress and the anxiety and the depression and letting them focus on technology where it is constructive and helps them, but really focus on just being kids. And this girl's story epitomized that for us, and I'll never forget that. I'll never forget it. I shared that with one of our early investors and he just went, alright, if that's all the good we ever do, it was worth it. I'm done. That was fantastic that think

Joey Odom (41:28):

About all the people that she encounters that will have some impact on the way she raises her kids in the future, even giving other friends of hers and other parents confidence. That's one thing I don't, even as parents, I don't know that we give our kids enough credit sometimes. She's like, oh, literally we may be projecting on them and like, oh, they have to have social media, they have to have, no, they don't. They're going to be fine. And I think when we give them to this girl and she learned that also gave her confidence to learn that she can get through hard things. And so the cascading effects of that story alone and your investor is exactly right. That may be enough because you changed a world there, an individual person's world just by making that change in her life. I love that you've been known to talk people out of getting Troomi phones. I love this story. Will you tell that story of your friend who reached out to you? Right?

Bill Brady (42:30):

Yeah. Yeah, that's a good one too. A friend of mine reached out before the school year and with some urgency, he said, Hey, my daughter is starting kindergarten in five days. Can you get me one of your phones in time? And I said, Nope. And he said, what do you mean you can't get it to me in time? And I said, no, Steve, don't get your daughter in kindergarten a phone. Let her be a child. And I knew him well enough that I could be pretty frank and blunt, but we just had a great conversation of, yeah, there's a time and a place and a very definite role for technology. But don't rush it. Don't rush it. Let kids be kids. And I love to say this to parents too, just because everyone else is doing it has never been the right reason to do anything.

(43:36)
Be intentional, make the right decision for your family and for your specific child relative to the time that technology's introduced. There's a much bigger thing at play here, Joey. And there's the safety factor, great. There's the stress, anxiety, and depression factor that's becoming more and more clear, but it's even bigger than that. And I believe, and I alluded to this earlier, like I said, real life happens off of screens. And when we think of our kids, I think the number one thing we have to do with them, obviously we want to instill good values. We want to raise confident, productive adults, people who are going to be happy, genuinely have in their lives and become good people that contribute to society in that process. That's so much easier to do if we have real connections with our kids. And in society over the last few decades, there's been this pushback on that where this heightened individualism is become part of our social fabric, this sense of self even over family.

(45:06)
And you see even pushback on our traditional mores of family values. And now that's all exacerbated by people being on devices all the time. And the connections that are so essential for kids to have with parents, if they're going to learn the values we want them to have the habits that we want them to have, the behaviors, everything. It starts with the connections that kids have with parents. And if they're seeking those connections through peers instead of parents, which society is pushing them to do, that's one barrier. But now they're trying to get those connections in superficial ways through social media, and they're trying to connect with fleeting friendships and these superficial standards of what they aspire to. And it's all meaningless. And the more we push kids to devices, the more we push them away from us. And again, I know that's a contradiction coming from me, but it comes down to that intentionalism. And again, why I love what you guys are doing. You're saying, yeah, technology has a place and it also has a time and a place to be put away and you can experience life and connection in your family if the devices are put away. And I can't agree with that more.

Joey Odom (46:46):

Again, I'm going to remind people this is ACEO of a wireless company who just said all of that. And Bill, it's so refreshing and it is important for all of us to hear. And you're right, I was reading an article this morning about how young men are just more angry than ever. And I've learned this through discussions with David Thomas and Sissy Goff, who are great child therapists. They say that boys, their anxiety comes out through anger. So I think that anger that they're seeing is a reflection of the anxiety, their feeling, and you feel anxiety when you aren't connected. That's when the boys don't feel that foundational sense of connection. What you just said is exactly right. So you seek synthetic connection, which doesn't do anything for you instead of actual connection. That only happens truly only happens apart from your phones.

Bill Brady (47:37):

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So when you do introduce a phone, make sure it's a phone that doesn't come with all of that extra stuff. Give kids what they need. Don't give them the stuff they don't need.

Joey Odom (47:53):

That's so good. Bill, oh, quick question. What does Troomi mean?

Bill Brady (47:59):

So my background before I got into this, my background, I spent two decades as a marketing executive and one of my areas of passion was name development and brand development. So Troomi is a reflection of, so there's some layers of meaning there, but it's really pointing to, Hey, let's be in touch with our true selves, our who we really are. And then we changed the spelling on that to make it just a little bit unique and have a layer of meaning to it. But it's really about aligning ourselves with our real human potential.

Joey Odom (48:43):

I like that a lot. Last question for you here, bill, and again, I'm not prepped you for this, but I'm curious if you could summarize what is the world that you hope Troomi helps create? Will you describe what that world looks like?

Bill Brady (48:59):

Yeah. It goes directly into that mission of ours and it's helping children to have all the confidence in the world to have real human connections, to tap into their potential, to really feel their potential that they can do and learn and become anything. And for technology to be a tool in that process as opposed to being a tyrant that governs who they are. It is really let technology be the tool that helps them to reach their full potential.

Joey Odom (49:48):

We call that a mic drop moment, folks. Bill Brady just gave it to us. Bill, where can also, you are generously as we close here, you're generously giving a code to Aro podcast listeners, the code Aro at checkout, right? We'll get you $50 off. Did I get all that correct?

Bill Brady (50:05):

Yes. Yep. And that will be evergreen whenever you're listening to this podcast, that code will work.

Joey Odom (50:13):

I appreciate that very much. Again, code a Aro at checkout. So where can people go? Give us the domain, give us all the socials, anything where you would like direct people?

Bill Brady (50:22):

Yeah, so Troomi.com, T-R-O-O-M-I, that's where we do all of our sales is online. So go there and you choose a phone and choose a plan and that's where you can look at devices if you're interested in that. Also on the website, we write a lot of content on our blog intended to help parents maneuver all of these questions that we're talking about. You can also find us on Instagram and Facebook at me wireless.

Joey Odom (50:55):

You are right, the blog is great, the content is great. You really are coming alongside families as they're kind of going through this. So we appreciate that very much. And Bill, one thing we didn't even mention, just for parents, this is not a budget buster by the way. We're talking 20 to $29. That's what people may you think wireless plans and you think really expensive. This is incredibly affordable. So it's starts three plans, right? 19 99, 24 0.9, 29 99. So it's not going to bust the budget as you're introducing this to your kids. So I think that's certainly worth noting.

Bill Brady (51:31):

Yeah, we wanted to make sure that it was affordable. And again, those plans reflect the level of functionality you're opening up for your child. So if they're talking and text only, it's 1995 a month. And then as you introduce picture texts and group text, that goes to 24 95. The majority of our customers are actually at 29 95. What's giving them the full functionality of the safe apps and the safe browser and that full experience.

Joey Odom (52:01):

I love that. Bill, thank you so much. Thank you for what you're doing. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for being on the podcast today. We're grateful for you and everything you guys are up to.

Bill Brady (52:11):

Likewise, Joey. Pleasure to be with you and your listeners and keep up the good work on your end too. You guys are doing a phenomenal thing for families.

Joey Odom (52:20):

Thank you. Appreciate it. Bill. Bill Brady from Troomi Wireless. Thank you so much for joining us on the Aro podcast. Isn't it comforting to know who's behind a company like Troomi? You see ads and commercials for that sort of thing and you really don't know what people's motives are, their intentions. And here's a guy who wants kids to flourish and he wants the generation to be as great as they can really tap into all their greatness. And again, hearing him say that real life happens outside of screens. There's something about that that's just so counterintuitive to hear that from the CEO of a wireless company. But I'm a huge Bill Brady fan. I'm a huge Troomi fan. Please do go check them out. And for his parenting from his wife's uncle, I want to leave you with that. I like that a lot.

(53:07)
Said great parenting advice says I say yes as much as I can because when I say no, it means more so can we say yes as parents a little bit more this week? That's a challenge for me. Again, I naturally go to, no, probably a little bit more as my kids would attest, but can we say yes more? I love that idea and I'm thankful for Bill for giving that to us. Go check out Troomi.com, use the Aro code for $50 off, and will you do me another favor as well? Will you go give us a five star rating wherever you listen to podcasts? We want to continue to bring you great content, boost up those ratings, and we're grateful for you for listening and being part of the Aro podcast. Thank you so much. I hope you have a great week and I can't wait to see you again next week. The Aro podcast is produced and edited by the team at Palm Tree Pod co. Special thanks to Emily Miles for video and digital support and to our executive producer Aro's own, Katelyn Farley.