Ep 79: Positive Focus with Leo Skepi
Fertility Forward Episode 79
When you are consumed with negative thoughts or going through a difficult time, it can be really hard to pull yourself out of these thought patterns. Although there are so many affirmations and self-help apps out there, when Leo Skepi was going through a challenging period in his own life, none of these platforms resonated with him, and so to solve this, he created his own. Positive Focus helps interrupt and replace thought patterns. The app helps sends messages that stimulate and prompt you to think help you gain self-awareness, and improve your overall mental state. In this episode, Leo shares his journey of developing the app and talks about some examples of messages on the app. We dive into how he comes up with the notification quotes and where he draws inspiration from. This app is just in its fledgling stage, and we are sure there is so much more to come. Tune in to hear it all.
Rena: Hi everyone. We are Rena and Dara, and welcome to Fertility Forward. We are part of the wellness team at RMA of New York, a fertility clinic affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Our Fertility Forward podcast brings together advice for medical professionals, mental health specialists, wellness experts, and patients, because knowledge is power and you are your own best advocate. We are so excited to welcome to Fertility Forward today, a very rare male guest, not a doctor, but an app developer, Leo Skippy, who developed the Positive Focus app. He is sitting with us with a, I'm going to paint a picture, backwards hat, and he's very muscular…
Dara: Very cool looking!
Rena: And tank top, and definitely not the sort of guest we have on here. So we're so excited to have him on to tell you about this awesome app and hear how he got into it. I'm so curious to hear the story.
Leo: I love the intro. Thank you.
Rena: So yeah. So tell us Leo, how did this, like, muscular guy with a backwards hat and cool earrings develop this, like, amazing mindfulness app?
Leo: Like most self-help things I was in a very dark place. So I was going through some things that were really, really hard and negative things tend to steal your focus. Like when something intense is happening in your life, you can't really get away from it. And it's hard to direct your thoughts onto the positive, you know? So I'm in like this dark place dealing with these things and I'm very big on self-help and spirituality and all that type stuff. And I know you're supposed to like, think positive and focus on positive things. And like, you want, like, to raise your vibration, you know? But when you're in a negative spot, it's a chore to consciously direct your focus and look for the positive things. Like it's very hard. So I was like, if I could just passively have, like notifications come to my phone of, like, little quotes or messages or whatever that could help me focus positively, I was like, that will be perfect. Cause there's no effort for me. I just look at what comes on my phone throughout the day. So I was like, great. It'll just little, like, caught me out of my, like, negative headspace randomly. So I went on the app store and I was looking for something like this and I found nothing that was at the level I wanted. Lke there's affirmation apps, those little, like, positive things, but there's nothing for me that made me think. And that's what I wanted. I wanted something that would grab my attention and make me start thinking because reading a little affirmation on your phone, fun and games, you know, but it doesn't really it's like you are great. Okay. And then you're back to your negative headspace. I wanted something to pull me out of it, give me a topic to think of, or a new perspective. So I can entertain that for a minute and kind of escape my reality of what I was going through. So that's how I got the idea. I looked for it to see if it existed. It didn’t it. So I was like, here we go. I was like something to put my effort into while I'm going through this tough thing. So I had something to put my focus on. That was not what I was going through. So I was like, I'm going to make it. I don't care if it doesn't do well, I don't care what happens. I just need this right now. Does that make sense?
Rena: Yeah. I love that.
Leo: Everything about this app it's as much as for me as it is for everybody else that could benefit from it
Dara: Well that’s what I love about it is that, you know, it stemmed from something that you were struggling with and that you noticed there was a void in the market, but not only is it helpful for you, you also realize that it's something that we all could use and benefit from
Rena: So were you already like a developer or in tech or this was a totally new foray for you also?
Leo: So when I got the idea, like typically when everyone, you get an idea for something, I had no idea where to start. I'm 23. So when I was,
Dara: A baby.
Leo: When I was 22 is when I was having this idea. It was last year around this time was when all this sprung to life. So I didn't know where to start. I was like, how, I don't know anything about tech. I'm not in tech. I didn't know where to go. So I just, I went to an attorney because I was like trademark, copyright, things like that. Let me, like, get myself secure. So when I do go find a developer to make it, they can't steal it. So I went to an attorney and then I found a developer and I went with my paperwork and my little work for hire agreements. And I, like, went in and I was all professional and I hired a developer. So I work with a team right now and they're the, I go to them with my ideas. And then we like shoot off of each other ideas of what we're going to, how we're going to make it, like, manifest and like how we're going to create it and how it's going to look.
Dara: I think what's really, what I really like about the app is you kind of mentioned it a little bit, we can go a little bit deeper into it that it's not just about positive affirmations that can really make you feel good, but there are often statements and or questions like open-ended questions that can really make you think and like sit with those thoughts that can help you in the healing process.
Rena: Leo like blindly emailed me and was like, Hey, I have this app. It could be cool for your clients. And I looked at it and was like, this is amazing because I have clients ask me all the time. Oh, can you recommend an app that will, you know, give me, you know, pop out affirmations or positive stuff. So I was like, this is amazing. And then I said, oh, this is great. Why don't you come on our podcast so we can tell people about it. So maybe share some of the examples of messages you might get. If you download the app on your phone.
Leo: They're a little bit deeper. Like I said, there's other apps that are more superficial, but I like, I wanted stuff that was a little bit deeper and what I go through in my daily life and the lessons I learn and the realizations I have, I kind of put into this. So today let me look up a couple.
Dara: I tell you what I got today cause I got one popped up that for sure, like, struck a chord within me. I had it, you know, today was a more challenging start to the day and this is what popped up: “on tough days any effort you can put into something is still helpful. You're still improving.” And that little thing, okay, like you're going to have a tough day. But even in those challenging moments, there can be, you know, a shining light, there can still be something that you can gain from it. Brilliant.
Leo: Right. And it makes you feel better about the little bit that you are doing. You're not like, oh, I'm not doing enough. You're like, you know what, even though it's one little step forward, it's still a step forward
Rena: It's progress, not perfection as we say.
Leo: Yeah. I'm a real hard on myself.
Dara: I think we all are, you know, and you know, that's something that I, I know I speak about a lot and I'm sure Rena also speaks about in her practice that we are typically tougher on ourselves than anyone else. And sometimes we need those reminders to be kind and to give yourself some grace.
Leo: Yeah. So one example of a notification that's sent a couple of days ago was “please trust that if it wasn't meant to be, you're not missing out.”
Dara: And that's good for, I mean, we all suffer from a little bit of FOMO.
Leo: Oh yeah. But it will help you stop dwelling on the situation. Oh, it could have been this. It would have, it wasn't so you're not like it just kind of gets you to stop dwelling. Another one I put was “always looking at what you're choosing instead of what you're losing”. So the weird kind of way that I came up with that was I've been dieting really hard and eating certain foods. Like I kept looking at it like, oh my God, I have to give up eating, like, cake and cheesecake, all the things that I want. And I'm like, I can look at it like I'm giving these things up and I'm having to restrict myself or I can look at what I'm choosing. So I'm not having to, like, deprive myself. I'm choosing to look better, to feel better, to have better health. I'm choosing these things. So it was just a matter of flipping from, oh, I'm like, I can't have these things to no I can have these things.
Dara: You’re speaking my language
Rena: And you're taking yourself out of this victim mentality. Right? And instead of looking at it as a deficit, as an active choice, you're in charge of your life.
Dara: Yeah. I think you're helping to, to reframe, you know, the messages that we often give ourself that's positive and really reframing it into something that is more empowering.
Leo: Another one I sent out was “don't ever beat yourself up for a choice you've made. You made the best decision you could with what you knew at the time.’
Rena: Love that. So do you come up with all of these?
Rena: Oh my gosh.
Leo: I have like a little arsenal where I stash them, but I, I swear as soon as you start becoming aware and you start digging into your subconscious, it's like the realizations just come like three a day now. And I'm like constantly like mentally bombarded with new things I'm learning. And then there's some days where I have like none, but the days that I have a lot, and then I think of what I'm realizing and then I turn it into a quote or whatever I'm struggling with. So this app is very me. And, I don't like to say that I don't want people to know, but like when they criticize the app or like leave it a bad review, I get so upset because it's me like, it's my…
Rena: It’s your voice it sounds like?
Leo: Right. So I do have a couple of pages on Instagram that I follow with like messages and all that. And then I will get ideas from them because there were a lot, a lot of them are along the lines of like the superficial I was talking about. And I'm like, how do I make people think for themselves? That's what I want to do with the notifications. You know?
Rena: And I really like, you know, I think it's this, almost like fake it till you make it sometimes. And this, like, accountability. And when you're getting these constant reminders, you know, at first, if you're in like the dark place, you're kind of like, okay, this is stupid, you know, go away notification. But the more you get them and the more they're in your mind, the more you might start to believe them. And once you kind of start to believe them, and then you can flip the switch and sort of, you know, move over to this, you know, frame of thinking and mindset and believing in yourself and like drink the Kool-Aid so to speak, the more powerful it is.
Leo: Right. And I think, I don't know if it's just me, but whenever I'm dealing with things that are emotionally heavy throughout the day, I feel such a broad range of emotions. Like in the morning, like you said, I could be like, get out of my face. I don't want to read no nothing positive right now. I don't want nothing. And then two hours later I might get a notification and be like, oh, okay. And then I'll entertain it. So that's why I like the sporadic spread out cause it’ll catch you in the moments that show you don't want it. And then you will catch some moments when you do want it.
Rena: Totally. Yeah. And I think it's all about being open to receiving and yes, sometimes I'm like, I just, I can't deal with this right now, but sometimes, you know, you're open and it's when you're open, you have to really receive it and then you file it away for later. For those times when you're just not feeling it,
Dara: I find it so empowering and such a, I mean, when you think about it, it is such a simple thing, but it hasn't really been done. So I love that you created something, something that we all can use, I think, and it's, it's whatever we're going through, whatever we're going through, even if we're feeling great just to have those reminders that can help lift your spirits. I think it's remarkable.
Leo: Thank you.
Rena: Yeah. And again, you know, this is not a paid thing, not an advertisement. Leo just blindly emailed me and I checked out his app and I think it's really cool. And I get patients who ask me for this sort of resource all the time. So I thought let's present it in our podcast because people are looking for this resource and I downloaded it on my phone. I love the pop-ups. I think it's really great.
Leo:Thank you. So right now it's only available for iPhones, but part of the change I was telling you guys about is I'm having a version developed for the Google play store. So it's going to be for iPhones, Androids, everything in between that uses Google or apple. So I'm excited about that. Everyone's going to get the same quotes at the same time, which I like. So it doesn't matter what kind of phone you have. It's like, you're going to get the same things sent out. Does that make sense?
Rena: That's cool. You can even like create a community and then people could connect and chat about the quotes.
Leo: I want to make some kind of Facebook page or
Dara: I see a different vision. I even see like, you know, now I'm not sure if you know, but on the jet blue flights, like they have the calm app. Like if you want to do a meditation, like how great would that be? Like how many people travel and are nervous travelers or have, you know, at the end of their destination, have something, you know, that they don't necessarily want to do or they're, they're not feeling great. Like to have those messages pop up would be I think really calming..
Leo: Wait, are you saying like in the back of the TV on the plane.
Rena: The sky's the limit for you, Leo? I really think. And it's like your voice too. I mean, this is, this is you, the sky's the limit as to how much you're going to influence all of us with your wise positive sayings. So I think it's funny. You just brought up like a specific, like traveling people are scared about traveling because that's something, but like I said, I was revamping the app in my email. So what I'm going to do and what I've been working on is I'm going to create an entire separate section inside the app. So when you open the app, there's going to be a menu and you can click it and it will come up with a list of issues, topics, struggles, whatever you could be going through. And then you're going to be able to click into each topic. And there's going to be a set of questions that you can ask yourself, that completely flip the way you're experiencing what you're like, it's a whole new perspective. Each question is going to make you see things from a whole different way.
Rena: Ah, well of course we encourage you to make infertility and trying to conceive a topic in there.
Leo: Absolutely. So a couple of I'm actually going to talk about this in gmail now because that was a good idea. But when I have now is like, like being broke or not having enough money like being in that situation. Or you have pain or you get an injury. There's going to be new ways and questions that are going to flip the way you're perceiving it. Because your perspective is what, it's like is how you experience. I don't know how to explain what I'm saying. Like just the perspective you hold can change the way you experience your life. The meaning you assigned to things can completely shift your reality. So I want to make this a resource when someone is going through something that they can instantly reframe their mindset about what they're going through, because it will instantly change what you're experiencing. Because when I was going through what I was going through, looking for an app like this, I would have given anything to have someone just like smack me, upside the head with the new perspective and make me see everything different. It's really hard when you're in it and try to do it yourself and try to come up with it. So I want that to be a resource available for people that they can go to.
Rena: I love that. And I love how you've taken your situation. It sounds like you went through something pretty dark to to take what you would have wanted. And now you're trying to make the world a better place.
Leo: Working on it.
Dara: We're all a work in progress, but you know, I think it sounds like this has helped you in your healing process and, and also, you know, you'll be helping other people too, which is remarkable. So we're, we're excited to see where this, where this goes and how it evolves over time. But for all of our listeners, it's the positive focus app. Right now it's on, you said apple on iTunes and soon on Google play and maybe one day on jet blue. Leo, how we like to end our podcast is I'm sure something that you probably have done before, but we end with words of gratitude and what we're grateful for today. So Leo, what are you grateful for at this very moment?
Leo: You put me on the spot, I like it. In this moment, I am going to get real deep, I'm extremely grateful that you have allowed me to come on this podcast because it means that you see value in something that I've created. And that is a feeling I could never pay you for and never thank you for enough. Because it's, it's one thing when you feel something in yourself and then when it's reflected to you, it's like, chef's kiss. Like it's the best thing ever. So thank you for the way that you've like taken a chance on this and just thank you like it means the world.
Rena: That is so sweet and so is so genuine and authentic. Dara, what about you?
Dara: I guess a little more broad, but I'm, you know, I'm grateful for the power of our mind of how we, you know, we are the holders of, of what thoughts we want to think. And, you know, we have the ability to think negative thoughts, which definitely happen, but we also have the power in us to think positively and to reframe. And I feel like even like this app is the perfect example that we really have the power to heal, but it's up to us and really this is one tool to help get you there. So thanks for inspiring me and for, you know, continuing my positivity and my positive thoughts. So thank you. Rena?
Rena: I, I'm going to say Dara, I love that. I love the mindfulness, but I'm, Leo - I'm just so grateful for you. I, you, you were, you were like a Phoenix rising. I see your Phoenix rising and people know, I love that analogy. I love it so much that I have my own version of Phoenix wings tattooed on my arm, but I just, I love how you came on here and you were just super brave and you know, it's pretty incredible to me that at 23 years old, you have this perspective and depth and you know, you had this experience and then you went out there and you're trying to make the world a better place. And you seem to have done a ton of work on yourself and really have a great understanding and I think that's really, really impressive. I certainly had none of that when I was 23 years old. So I'm so grateful for you for coming on and sharing and developing this and just putting these vibrations out there.
Leo: Thank you. That was so sweet.
Rena: So we encourage everyone check out positive focus app, download it. We love it. And we can't wait to see what else you come up with.
Leo: Thank you. And anyone that downloads the app make sure to leave a review because I want to know what you have to say, what you think of it. If you have any ideas about how I can improve it, leave it on there and let me know.
Dara: Amazing. Thank you so much for listening today and always remember: practice gratitude, give a little love to someone else and yourself, and remember you are not alone. Find us on Instagram at fertility_forward and if you're looking for more support, visit us at www.rmany.com and tune in next week for more Fertility Forward.