February 28, 2013

Procrastination – There’s An App For That


Michael Hansen and Ryan Orbuch, app developers
A 16 year old Friends’ School graduate and his high school buddy have been getting some serious attention lately.  Serious, as in national news: featured in The Huffington Post, interviewed on a national broadcast of Fox News, highlighted in Apple’s App Store, and receiving shout-outs on dozens of technology websites.

The reason?  High school juniors Michael Hansen (Friends’ School Graduating Class of 2007) and his fellow Boulder High classmate and business partner Ryan Orbuch have created an app that, in its first month since launch, has sold over 20,000 copies, with daily sales reaching the thousands.

The app is called ‘Finish’.  It’s designed to overcome the clutches of procrastination.

If you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ll know that I started a recent entry with the line, “We’re all busy people, and like all busy people….” This app that Michael and Ryan designed is for folks just like us! 

They created software that helps users take advantage of how they naturally think.  ‘Finish’ gets in your face to remind you to get stuff done when you need to, and stays out of the way when you don’t. It’s making a big splash at the App Store.

The 'Finish' app
Apple receives close to 15,000 apps every month.  Getting one noticed by the public at large is against the odds. Getting the kind of press that ‘Finish’ is getting is like finding a four-leaf clover.  It rarely happens.

At Friends’ we can’t take a ton of credit for Michael Hansen’s technological prowess. (Though I can vouch for his mom Meg being a virtuoso at keeping our website and communications purring along.) He learned how to write computer code long after leaving Friends’.

But something Michael said on the TV news caught my attention. While talking about developing the app, Michael said, “It was a lot of experimenting and trying things and stuff didn’t always work out most of the time, but after a while we learned the skill sets.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a 16 year old’s way of saying, “I have grit.  I will persevere. I’ll reach my goal. I have a growth mindset.”

That growth mindset is something we value highly at Friends’ and we instill in our students every day, from our youngest preschoolers to our 5th graders.  Our teachers are experts on this subject and use language like this around our kids all the time.  We will grow our brains and set the bar high and keep going until we reach those goals.

In Michael’s case, if ‘Finish’ sales keep going the way they have, he’ll likely be writing the checks for his own college bills.  He may even find a way to pay his parents back for the investment they made in a Friends’ School education.

The Fox News interview

Reflecting on his time at Friends, Michael's mom said "I remember how his 1st-3rd grade teacher at Friends’ taught him that it’s ok to make mistakes, fail, and then to move on. Kelli really instilled in him that life isn’t always perfect and you learn from mistakes. She taught perserverance but also reminded him to be a kid and to have fun.”

Congratulations to both Michael and Ryan.  We’re proud of you. 

And, for any procrastinators out there, you can get more information on the ‘Finish’ app right here.  Just don’t delay!

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