In this week’s episode, I had a great conversation with Setsuko Hata, the Executive Director of We Are From the Earth.
WAFTE is building a social media platform that helps people cultivate compassion and live a socially conscious lifestyle. Yes, you can connect with like-minded people there, but the platform is focused primarily on educational resources and content that encourages idea-sharing and community-building. This is a really ambitious idea—but, admittedly, Setsuko is facing challenges around developing an app and platform with which people will interact.
A lot of our conversation focused on celebrating small wins to prevent burnout and keep yourself motivated on long-haul engagements. Anyone who is an entrepreneur working on big things can benefit from this conversation.
Setsuko and I also discuss how to identify your audience, how to craft content to encourage users to engage and get excited about joining a new social media platform. Then we look at creating MVPs for apps and using Invisionapp (a great prototyping tool) as a solution to provide “tactile” demos without having to invest in a full app design.
This is a great conversation; I hope you enjoy!
Appreciate how beautiful you are and express yourself.
Listen to the podcast here:
Maintain Momentum, Build Your Audience, And Prevent Burnout Through Small Wins With Setsuko Hata, Executive Director Of We Are From The Earth
My guest is Setsuko Hata. She is the Executive Director of We Are From The Earth. We Are From The Earth is a cool organization that is building a social media platform to empower people to cultivate their compassion and live a socially conscious lifestyle. They are bringing people together who are all wanting to live better. It’s an ambitious idea. One of Setsuko’s challenges is creating this app. We talked a lot about app development and how to make sure that you are building something that people are going to engage with. That’s one of the more interesting things that we discussed during our conversation. We also talked about how to keep from getting burned out as an entrepreneur and celebrate those little wins. Anyone who is engaged in a nonprofit and is trying to do big things can identify with that. It’s a fun episode. I hope you enjoy it. Here we go.
Setsuko, thank you for being on the show.
Thank you so much for having me.
It’s my pleasure. You are the Executive Director of a cool organization. Why don’t you tell us what it’s called? I’m spacing right now because my brain is not working.
It’s called We Are From The Earth. The acronym is called WAFTE. That’s the nickname. Everybody calls it WAFTE.
Tell us more about We Are From The Earth, when it was started, what you are up to and how things are going.
Our mission is to empower people to cultivate their compassion in their daily lives and then live a conscious lifestyle. It’s a very holistic approach we do. Initially, I founded this organization back in 2018. I was doing events and workshops to promote conscious living. I’m going to get into the definition of conscious living. We learned that to have a bigger impact, we may want to shift to a more technology-based platform. We are developing a mobile application, WAFTE App. It’s a social media function but an educational app. It’s fun to connect with like-minded people but also primarily, it’s going to be for learning.
We will list a lot of conscious content that will empower you. After you consume the content, you are asked to share your thoughts. Normally, people do input and then output. If we can have people do output, execution writing is going to be the best way because you have to organize your thoughts. Whenever you do that if you can share it with others, that will also make it more exciting. You are asked to share your thoughts after you learn specific content. That will be like social media. There’s a public feed and you can watch other people’s thoughts on the same content. You are like, “I like this person’s comments or thoughts. I can follow and message this person.” That way, it’s social media and you can find friends.
Self-love is the foundation of a happy life.
We don’t have the likes. Those are the negative aspects of social media. Consciously, we are seeking validation from others and not being authentic. We are trying to be popular. We eliminate that kind of negative aspect of social media but also we do keep the comments and then messaging. Also, a global map we are thinking of, which will be cool. You can find people from a virtual Earth and then visit the profile. That way, you can be, “I want to find somebody in Africa, India or Japan and go with same-minded people.” As long as they make a public profile, you can find other people. Mainly, the contents we will do are holistic. That’s conscious living.
Conscious living in our definition is we have a good relationship within ourselves. Self-love is the foundation for your happy life and then expanding to other people in your family, workplace, school or any communities you belong to. Mastering a relationship is the foundation for our happiness. We do want to also empower ourselves to cultivate our creativity and maximize our potential so we can actualize our dreams. That’s another aspect. Also, financially, many people don’t get educated about it. I never had a financial education. Those practical things we are going to talk about to empower people to become the best version of themselves.
Also, we talk about consumption, which we do every day by food and drinks and then buying clothes and other stuff. We can make a change by being a conscious consumer by purchasing socially conscious and ethically made products. That’s also a big aspect that we talk about and then also the business. We spend eight hours a day on average work. What kind of work do we do? Mission-driven work is something we encourage. If you are hired by a company, why don’t you pick a company which is aligned with your value? If you do your own business, do something to make a positive change.
That’s the mindset instead of seeking profit. Let’s focus on the purpose. The profit will come as a result. That’s something we also encourage people to do. We also encourage people to use their creativity, free time or any resources to do extra push to help the world. It could be volunteering and donation. Run a new project. Maybe it’s some new projects in school or in the community neighbors. That’s holistic conscious living. It’s a lot.
We are unique in our mission because most of the traditional nonprofits identify the problem and then find the solution. Those are very needed. The program is coming from human beings. All the environmental issues, racial issues or any social issues are stemming from us in our hearts. We have to change inside and become more conscious. We are going to reduce the problems as a result. That’s the approach we do. That’s the basic summary of We Are From The Earth and our mission in what we are trying to do.
There’s a lot going on there. It’s interesting. I love that you are grabbing all of this, tackling it and going for it. That’s cool to see you recognize that there might be some root fundamental issues that we could resolve that would solve problems down the stream. How did you come up with this concept? Was it something that you stumbled upon as you were navigating other social media platforms? What was the onset of this idea?
I was raised with the philosophy of Buddhism, which is the interconnectivity of our lives, other lives and the environment. If you change, everything will change. That’s the big philosophy I have been subscribing to since I was little. That’s why all the things happening good and bad in the world are collective reflections of our inside. If we want to change the world, we have to change the inside. That’s my philosophy. When I moved to the US, I lived in New York for a while. I was engaging with the barriers in volunteer work especially through music since I do singing and playing the piano.
One of the most empowering experiences was singing at the hospital weekly for mentally-ill patients. Those are beautiful moments whenever we connect with people in an authentic way, even though we just met in uplifting the hearts. After all, I felt like I changed this little moment. It did not make me feel like I’m solving the fundamental issue like, “This person didn’t have to go through a mental illness if there was more awareness around. Maybe the person could have led a different way to live.”
I could encourage this moment but I wanted to do something with the root cause of all the pain. After all, I decided to come up with this idea like, “We need each person to do good, the little thing or do the right thing. There will be no trust. There will be no pain on the planet. Everybody needs to take a tiny bit of responsibility and compassion. That’s not easy but that’s all we need. One person cannot change the world but if everybody does a little bit, that’s going to be huge.”
This is my need and desire like, “What can I do to address the root cause after doing all kinds of other volunteer experiences to make a cause?” I come up with this idea like, “Let’s talk about lifestyle. Let’s talk about how we do things every day and moment-to-moment decisions. What do you eat? How do you interact with your mom? How do you treat your body?” Every little moment, this is it. Eventually, this idea came. That’s the answer to your question.
It’s very aligned with the idea itself. One little small change can create a lot of changes elsewhere or a lot of changes within other people. I like that it’s all aligned. That’s pretty cool. We talked. At that point in time, I’m assuming you are still trying to raise money for the app. Is that still the primary focus at the current time?
Yes, we need to raise money to complete the app and then successfully launch it for sure. We are not in a hurry in a way. We need to make sure that all of the designs and contents will be crystal clean and then on point. I feel like once we have more substance to show, it’s going to be very easy to raise money. We prepared for the crowdfunding campaign, which we already created. In a way, we have not polished the contents yet.
The money will be needed eventually but it’s the quality volunteer who can dedicate to creating the contents together and then also the specific talents. It’s a UX designer and then a software engineer. Those are the real people we need. I feel like once that product is ready to go, it’s going to be super easy to launch the crowdfunding campaign in the market. We need money but still, we are at the stage where we want to polish the product better.
You are collecting and building content now to seed the initial round of stuff.
We select high-quality content and then find the engineer to make a beta version. We are going to do the test run among the community and then get the feedback. If we have money, we can hire anybody. That could be also a way to do it. Also, I want to have people who truly believe in our mission and want to help instead of hiring somebody, which we could do. That’s where I am. If through this show somebody is a UX designer software engineer, volunteer or anybody who wants to help create the content, we will be happy to connect with you guys.
What else are you doing to recruit? It sounds like getting the content and volunteer group together is pretty high on your list. What are you doing to recruit people to start generating materials for the site?
Empower yourself to cultivate your creativity and maximize your potential so you can actualize your dreams.
We can use VolunteerMatch, which is a website to recruit a volunteer. The only thing is once we opened the gate so many people will come. It’s exciting but also I did not know how to manage everybody while I’m also working because I’m not paid through this nonprofit at all. I will select the quality people who have the skillset and passion to help. We reduced the volunteers. We have only a few people who dedicated and helped. We become more productive to get things done.
Many things are happening but nothing is done. That was the experience I had. Maybe that could be because of the lack of my leadership too. I’m also a human so I’m learning. I have never run an organization. With the limited time and energy, we are looking for specific talents who are passionate about conscious living and then good at writing and researching or UX designer or software engineer.
There are quite a few places to go to start that. I noticed that you have several social channels that you are engaged in. It’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You are up on YouTube and LinkedIn as well. Depending upon what your audience looks like in each of those platforms, those might be good places to start trying to recruit particularly for people who like to create content. If you are looking for individuals who you are hoping will create good environmental-type content, good nutrition content or things like that, that’s a great place to start reaching out to people and creating those two-way relationships where they become “friends” on social media. It’s easier to ask for a favor or their engagement once you have established that friendship. It sounds like you probably have a pretty good idea of how to tackle that at this point. Keep up with that platform.
I have read your mini-book about purpose-driven marketing. Thank you so much for sending me that. I’m excited to learn more about it. Also, I appreciate that you try to help nonprofits to be successful. Marketing is important because if you do something and nobody knows, how can you make a change? We are at the stage where we need to polish our product a little more and then we will be super confident to promote it to the mass audience. You are right. We could recruit specific talents through marketing. That could be the stage we are at.
One of the things that I usually recommend for clients who are talking about creating an app is to use tools. There’s one called InVision App. That allows you to design what the app is going to look like and then allow people to click through the app. It’s live but it’s a working model. Usually, that’s my recommendation when the primary next step is fundraising if the next step was, “We need to get people on board to understand how this is going to work.” People like to be able to see and click through. There’s a tactile component to the way that we like to do things.
An app lacking a physical manifestation at least will let you click through things. InVision App is a great tool to let you mock things up and then show how it’s going to work. If you get in front of investors, you can say, “Here is how it’s going to work. Feel free to play with this and see what the experience is going to be like without having to have build the whole app.” It tends to save people a lot of time and money.
It’s not even the beta version. It’s touchable or movable.
You create hotspots within the design that you can click on. You can create a button. When someone clicks on that button, it goes to the next page or the page that button is supposed to relate to. It can show what the user experience is going to be like, which helps people wrap their arms around, “What is this thing? How is it going to work? How are people going to use it?” If you decide to go that route, that’s a good tool to use to mock things up.
That will be our next step because we are almost finishing the actual design and accumulating the quality content. Once we have enough polished content, we go to that level and then start to talk about fundraising. Maybe that’s a realistic step.
I have seen a lot of money put into app development for either a concept that needed a lot of reworking. Before you could beta-test it even, it needed a lot more massage. Instead of doing a preliminary step like using InVision App, they jumped in and started developing. It’s expensive to develop an app. Most quality apps are six figures at least. They require a lot of ongoing maintenance to keep up. Whatever you can do to reduce your risk in that department can go a long way. If you dumped $70,000 into an app that needed challenges versus working those challenges out in the design phase and the user experience phase, that’s a pretty good chunk of a good developer salary for the year. Thinking about how to leverage those things can be important.
It’s how well you do the preparation. If you do a good design, you test it before you do the actual development and get feedback before you spend a lot of money to improve it.
All that time goes to streamlining your development work as well. If you can get things built out in a facsimile in a non-completely functional version of what you are trying to do, you can work through a lot of the pitfalls and then you speed up your development time, which saves you money as well. As far as the other two, it’s a software engineer and UX design. Certainly, there are lots of options out there. I would go back to that network. It’s all about relationship building. I would continue to try to build out that network and get those people who are passionate.
I love that you are coming at this from the perspective of wanting to make sure people are aligned with your mission and passionate about the project because that’s a great place to start. If more organizations and businesses started from that perspective, we would see better workplaces, better retention and all of those other things that fall in place after you are doing those things.
It’s going to be easy for both parties because there’s love, fun and passion. That’s going to be the glue. If the money is the only glue, it’s going to be difficult. We care. The money is just a reward. It’s the community and love. The work itself is fun. People want to do it and they are self-motivated.
There’s so much research now coming out, particularly the younger generations. They are making things happen and making big changes in the way that workplaces are run. It’s refreshing to see that more and more people are thinking about, “I have to spend 1/3 of my life here. I want it to be a place that I’m excited about being and that I feel cares about me and then I can care about the overall good that we are doing.” It’s great to see that shift. It sounds like you are very aligned with that lead.
I had so many opportunities to speak to teens and twenties because those are our main volunteers. Gen Z and the Millennials are conscious and very smart. They don’t just do it because of the profit. They do it because they like to do it. They know who they are more. I feel like the new generation will make a change. There’s so much negative news out there but also there’s so much hope. The power of the youth is a miracle.
Focus on the purpose, and the profit will come.
When are you hoping to launch? Are you letting it be pretty organic?
It’s better to have a more specific plan too. Also, it’s unpredictable sometimes because all the volunteers can come and go. I’m also doing it as a volunteer and founder. I could treat this as a paid position eventually when the app is launched so that I don’t need to worry about hustling my life too much but right now I’m not there yet. I have to hustle with my own life too in that way. Naturally, you become a little more push and then pull. We have created the plan but also we could not get there.
I realized if I’m so stressed out, I could execute the goal and then I feel like, “What is the point?” I want to also keep my excitement and passion. It’s not like feeling that obligation. I’m trying to be nice to myself too. I was nonstop working too much and spending so much money in the beginning, especially I was doing events and then I was taking financial risks too. The lesson that I learned is this is a long journey. It’s not a 2 or 3-year journey. It’s going to be lifelong. Maybe I may run until I die. I should not torture myself like, “This is the deadline.”
In a way, I want organic unfolding. At the same time, if there’s no North Star, we will be lost in the world. I’m sure it’s a middle ground. We need to have some goals but not too many. I want to also encourage other founders of nonprofits especially those who are still new. I’m sure they have the exact same program. They are doing it out of their passion but they also have to hustle on their life. Most of the people are not rich to be able to sit there and do the mission. They are not alone.
There are many beautiful moments where you connect with the volunteers and then talk to the people. They appreciate the mission we do. Those are the reward for the hard work like, “These are the moments I work hard.” People are seeing the positive change in their lives by applying a conscious lifestyle. It’s a lot of hard work but a lot of beautiful moments.
It’s good to do a few things there in my experience and what we have seen working in the space. One of those is to celebrate those little wins. I wrote a blog post about this. As soon as we are getting close to the finish line, we push that finish line out and we say, “If this is within reach, we can do more.” We are constantly moving that finish line out and never crossing it. We are never taking the time to recognize that we signed up for a marathon but we have run 50 miles at this point.
The finish line, we still have never crossed it because we don’t take that time to stop, look back and say, “This started in 2018 as this very small idea that has blossomed into this great big thing. Here are all those milestones that we have met. Here are all those small opportunities that we have been able to experience.” It’s making sure to celebrate along the way and take the time to reflect and understand how far we have come. Likewise, it’s setting little goals. It’s not necessarily thinking about all of the stuff that we have to accomplish. If we can break that down into small chunks then we get these little wins all through the day.
There was one idea that a friend of mine told me, which was fantastic. It was a couple of years ago. He said that one of the things that he would do is to make sure that he had small little goals to achieve during the day so that he would get that little satisfaction of being able to check the box of getting something completed. Even if it was not to launch the app but it was to hire a UX designer, interview two UX designers or whatever those little bitty steps are, those are all opportunities for little micro-wins which can help keep us going when things get hard.
Thank you for the reminder. This can be applied to my own personal life too. It’s like, “I have a goal and I achieve it. I can do better.” I push and never take a moment to celebrate. That’s very true. We have got to be conscious when it comes to that like, “Today, I’m going to celebrate this little victory.” Take a moment in how much you feel that victory. We need to do that for sure.
Share that with your team, volunteers and social media audience in terms of like, “This is a milestone that we overcame. It’s one small milestone on the way to this bigger one but we were able to get past this point that we thought maybe we won’t ever get past.”
Otherwise, we are going to become so old, “What did I do? I worked so hard when I don’t even remember.” We don’t want to live like that. We want to make sure that a special moment will be treated special.
You took the time to read Mission: Uncomfortable, which is the book that I wrote. Did you have any specific questions about it? Was there anything that you found interesting or did not quite understand in terms of what I was talking about?
Everything you said in the book aligned with everything I think and also researched. I’m not an expert in marketing at all but I did it because I’m the Executive Founder. I had to do basic research. I did some YouTube videos. I got the audiobook about marketing. Everything that’s written makes sense. I totally agree that many people are afraid of the term marketing, especially nonprofit people like, “We don’t have money for that.” It’s the glue between you and the people. You can make a huge change. You should not be afraid of marketing.
Also, it’s coming from an authentic self. It’s not coming from the sugar-coating shiny object. We become authentic. That’s purpose-driven marketing. I like that. I don’t have any specific questions or anything. I wanted to say thank you for that knowledge. Once we are at the stage where we need to do real marketing, like not just recruiting the people but talking to the potential users of the app, I would love to apply everything written there.
The biggest mind shift that one can make when thinking about marketing is that it’s not an expense. It’s an investment and understanding that there are objectives with marketing. It’s not just something that you are supposed to do and so you do it. It’s something that’s supposed to make a difference and that’s why you do it. If one can come at it from that perspective and keep that mindset, it makes it a lot easier to commit to that consistency which is important and then reap the rewards of that. That’s the main idea of the book itself.
One person cannot change the world, but if everybody does a little bit, that’s all we need.
Thank you so much for doing that. You are also working with the other nonprofits specifically helping their marketing. That’s also what you do.
As much fun as I have in doing podcasts and writing books, my main business activity is Relish Studio, which is a digital marketing agency here in the Denver Metro Area. We are trying to primarily work with nonprofits and purpose-driven business leaders to help them expand their mission and reach their goals through marketing.
Do you have any social gatherings? I know maybe it’s not face-to-face but talking about networking and connecting with people. I’m a member too.
I have participated in a lot of networking in the past. I did host a weekly happy hour there for a while during the heart of the pandemic. People started to get a little burned out on those. We pumped the brakes on them. One of the things I am hoping to do and that’s a great reminder is to do a networking event with all of the people who have been on the show. You are the 47th or 48th guest that I have had since I started this. The vast majority of them are from the Denver Area. As soon as we can all get vaccinated and get released to meet up, maybe we can throw a little get-together and see if we can put a bunch of great nonprofit leaders together in a room.
That’s going to be amazing. You can also do hiking or something in the outdoors. It’s almost like hanging out but also organically, we can talk about what we do because we have so many mountains here.
That would be fun. Maybe I will do that. Once we get this snow out of the way here, we can put together a Relish THIS hike or something like that.
It could be going to the lake and having a little picnic or potluck so that you don’t need to hustle. Go to the park and then bring your drinks and lunch.
Have you been continuing to do events throughout the past? Have you stopped those?
We had to stop. It’s a lot of work in the events and then preparation, coordination, financial thing and marketing. I was doing more traditional marketing, like knocking on the door and putting the flyer. That worked too because people feel your passion but it’s only at a local level.
There’s a lot to be said for a handwritten note. That’s something that has fallen by the wayside as we have moved to more digital stuff. Relish is primarily a digital agency but we still use handwritten notes fairly frequently when we can. They are pretty effective.
Since I did music, I was using live music as a vehicle to promote our mission a lot. Maybe I can seek the opportunity here in Denver too. I organize the band. Back then, I was in California. I was performing for more government events or local community events. People love music. In between the music, I talk about WAFTE and then giving the flyers. At least, they will know the website. It’s up to them if they want to click and then learn more about it. That’s something maybe I should go back to do. Maybe in Denver they have some outdoor live music. I miss that a lot because it has been a while.
Some of my good friends are musicians. One of the things that they miss the most is being in front of an audience and being able to experience that collective joy and watch people get all excited about playing. Hopefully, we will turn the corner on all of this so we can all be in rooms together or at least be in closer proximity outside. That would be fun.
We all use music and the human connection.
It’s cool to hear that you are trying to create a platform that’s going to help with that human connection and help people live more purposeful and conscious lives. I’m excited to hear how things go. I appreciate you being on the show.
Thank you so much for having me.
People can find you at WAFTE.org. Are there other good places for them to find you where you are particularly active?
Those little steps are all opportunities for small wins, which can really help keep you going when things get hard.
We have social media too. The website has all the links. That might be the easiest way. There’s an email address, which will be sent to me so I can directly contact them.
If you are a developer or UX/UI person or would like to volunteer as a content coordinator-type person then people would be welcome to reach out.
I have a LinkedIn. My personal is Setsuko Hata. If they feel comfortable reaching me directly, people can message me too. Thank you so much.
I love having these conversations. I like to end each show with an ask, which is something that people can do after reading the blog that they can take action on. It can be anything. If you had somebody read the blog and say, “This is great. What should I do to make the world a better place?” What would you ask them to do?
There are so many things you can do. The first thing you can do right away is to talk to your body and mind and appreciate how beautiful you are and then all the things. Your body is digesting your food every day. Your eyes are watching everything. Your ears are like, “Thank you. A miracle is happening in my body.” Your mind is like, “There are many ideas coming to you. Thank you so much.” If you live with your friends or families, you can also find something that you can appreciate to the person and express your appreciation. If you go to a store, maybe you buy organic food. Those are very simple that you can do to be conscious.
I’m going to go take a few moments to appreciate the miracle that is my existence. Thank you for sharing that. Thanks for being on the show. I will talk to you soon.
Thank you so much.
There you have it. It’s another great episode. Thanks for reading. If you would like to learn more about how to apply the Audience Engagement Cycle to expand your organization’s mission, there are two things you can do. You can go to MissionUncomfortableBook.com to download a copy of my book. While you are there, you can get your purpose-driven marketing score to see where you can unearth some gold for your organization. If you would like to read the back episodes of the show or sign up to be a guest, go to RelishStudio.com/podcast. That’s it for this week. I will be back for another great episode.
About Setsuko Hata
Setsuko Hata is the founding executive director of We Are From The Earth(WAFTE), whose mission is to elevate humanity’s consciousness to become more compassionate and realize a humanistic and sustainable world. WAFTE is currently developing a socially conscious social media called “Joy of Compassion” which is purely dedicated to uniting people for solving global issues and making a positive change.
She is a singer, keyboard player, dancer, songwriter, composer and has been dedicated to using her music to instill people with hope and share a humanistic philosophy at various shows, festivals, and charity concerts. Inspired by the power of music and arts, she also has founded a 503 (C)3 non-profit organization, Compassionate Universe Within You (CUWY)in July 2019. CUWY’s mission is to create and share music, arts, and movies which cultivates people’s compassion and raises social awareness. Setsuko holds B.F.A Jazz Vocal Performance from New York City College and B.S Food Science from Osaka City University in Japan.