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8Qs with a Silicon Prairie Founder: Carla White

Carla White, founder of My Gratitude Journal, is celebrating ten years on Apple’s top charts.

Carla White created and launched her app, My Gratitude Journal, as a one-woman shop ten years ago with zero funding. When she launched, she had to explain what both an app and a gratitude journal were, as neither were mainstream concepts yet.

She has since garnered over one million downloads and has regularly maintained a top spot in Apple’s App Store top charts for the past decade.  FastCo named Carla “Top Woman in Tech” in 2010 because she was the first woman to launch a mobile app that has since been featured on Oprah, Business Insider, The New York Times, Forbes, USA Today and NPR.

Carla has operated her business as a one-woman shop. She explains the benefits and why she took this path, saying “When you’re small, lean, and fast, you can make decisions quicker and fix your mistakes faster. You can change your priorities, your focus, or your mind.”

Carla added “Less is good because it forces innovation and creativity. I’m constantly asking myself “How can I serve them better? What more can I do?” This way of thinking inspires new products, services and offerings.” Carla knows that what is considered “normal” will continue to shift, and she remains dedicated to understanding the needs of the community she serves through this technology.

If you ever have the opportunity to meet Carla, you will be at once struck by her radiating energy and enthusiasm. SPN caught up with Carla who brewed for us a cup of raw cacao while we asked our 8Qs. Carla spoke with candid transparency, and here is what she had to say…


SPN: How did you get started in your industry?
CW: During the dotcom boom Microsoft sent me to London to launch a European consultancy practice. When my six-figure, first-class lifestyle ended seven years later, I found myself attempting to launch my own business. Without my Microsoft job title, no one returned my calls, expenses piled up fast, and when stress hit me hard, I hit back with gin & tonics, Ben & Jerry’s, and fish & chips.

My health suffered, my relationships crumbled, and I was a fraction of myself with insomnia, migraines, and and ulcers. Just when I didn’t think things could get worse, my brother called me in the middle of the night to tell me that our dad passed away unexpectedly. I curled up and cried for over 6 months. My husband, wanting to help me, suggested we move back to South Dakota to be closer to my family. But this just made it worse because it was the cusp of winter, and I had culture shock and a failed business behind me.

A few months later, I’m lying in a hospital bed with double pneumonia. This was my rock bottom. Not face down in my own pool of vomit, but rather up all night coughing uncontrollably until blood was in my mouth. Honestly, I thought the only way out of my constant emotional and physical pain was dying. And I was ready to go. But then I caught a podcast about keeping a Gratitude Journal: write 5 things that day that are pretty awesome.

I started writing and I instantly felt the pressure leave my body, so I kept writing every day. Two months later, out for a walk, it hit me that my life did a complete 180 because of that journal. I was sleeping better, lost weight, had job prospects and hadn’t cried in public since I couldn’t remember when.

It was such an epic moment that I decided I needed to make an app for it. Which was crazy because apps were so new, no one could make them, especially in SoDak. But I got up early each morning, worked on my app before heading to my day job and slowly figured it out. I was praying that a few people would download it. Ten years and over a million downloads later, I discovered that gratitude is more than an app, it’s a way of life.

SPN: Is your job what you thought you would be doing when you were a child?
CW: Of course, I had no clue that we would be carrying mini-computers in our hands all day long, so producing apps wasn’t something I thought I’d be doing. But I was always tinkering with old lawn mowers or building forts, so inventing was definitely in my blood. I used to sing my lungs out, pretending I was on stage. My singing voice never evolved but performing on stage and entertaining people through motivational speeches is one now one of my biggest passions.

SPN: What are you building right now? Why is it important to you?
CW: I’m creating a community for my tribe. A safe place where they can support each other through their journey, learn more and discover their true purpose and power. So my tribe isn’t just getting an app, they’re getting support, love, friendships, coaching and the tools to build the future they always wanted.

SPN: What is your favorite thing that you have ever built? Why was it your favorite?
CW: My Gratitude app is by far the best thing I ever built. It has helped so many people, including women healing from cancer, couples going through divorce, teenagers faced with bullying, adults losing their parents, and parents losing their children. My Gratitude app has helped them not only heal but also understand why life changed so drastically for them.

SPN: If you could improve one thing about your job or the place that you live, what would the change be?
CW:  Just as Headspace became FDA approved, my goal is to make My Gratitude Journal FDA approved as well. To achieve this, I need to connect with the people who can help me make this a reality. I hope to do this by improving the My Gratitude Journal app, amplifying its message and working through the systems that will bring this essential practice into more lives.

SPN: Was there anything looking back that you would do differently?
CW: Being one of the few women in the app market, there were no role models. So when I looked for mentors, I found the wrong ones. People who put profits over people. Looking back, I wish I would have discovered the mentors that I have now. It’s critical to have coaches, but also just as important is to have the right ones. My biggest financial investment is coaching and mentorship in all areas of my life.

SPN: What could the SPN community do to help you succeed?
CW: If I could ask you to do one thing, it would be to download My Gratitude Journal, use it daily and get your loved ones hooked on a gratitude habit as well.

SPN: If you could ask these questions to anyone else in the region, who would it be?
CW: Rachel Pederson: https://rachelpedersen.com

Visit https://carlawhite.org to learn more.

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