064: Create An App To Track Your Mood (Max Webster)

Max Webster

Do you see a correlation between the emotions of employees and improving environmental sustainability? There certainly is one and our guest for today’s episode is here to talk about it!

Max Webster is the CEO and co-founder of Niko Niko, a company that makes tracking mood data easy and engaging. Join us as Max explains how he is moving the cause of environmental sustainability forward with his company and more on the 64th edition of How’d You Get Into That?


Max was born to two loving, creative and entrepreneurial parents who cared deeply about the environment. Growing up on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, his mother would take him to environmental rallies. As pro-business as she was, she also wanted him to understand the impact that business decisions have on others and the world around us.

He went to college in the northeast where he had his sights set on becoming an environmental lawyer. During his time in school he started a non-profit that sought to raise awareness of communities most at risk from the effects of climate change. Along the way he realized the pace of change through the legal system was too slow for him, so he decided to put the law school dream on hold.

Max looked to the internet as a game-changer, and decided to find something he could do online to further the cause he was so passionate about. So he and a few friends started a crowd-financed platform that did retro-fitting for buildings in various communities.


  • Why it’s so important to understand yourself and how you feel.
  • How Max used self-reflection to come up with the idea for his company.
  • Why mindfulness training should be mandatory in schools.
  • Why people don’t take the time to find out what matters to them.
  • And so much more!

He eventually scraped the crowd-financed platform and built a solar customer acquisition software product. But he had to stop that work because his mother fell ill. When he moved back home to take care of her, he became introspective and started to question why he cared about environmental issues.

The answers kept driving him back to sustainability issues and, in particular, the human element of them. In the Agile software community, he became familiar with something called a niko niko calendar. The term “niko niko” is a Japanese ideophone (a word that evokes an idea in sound) for smiling. These calendars are used to track the mood of the team, which in turn gives managers information they need to better manage the team.

A light bulb went on for Max as he realized this could bridge a gap for companies all over the world. Many companies say people are their most important asset. And yet, outside of the typical annual employee engagement survey, there is no data that gives management a real look into how their employees are feeling and thinking at any given moment.

Great managers know the power of a happy, engaged and high-performing team, and so Max decided to create an app that allows employees to record their mood at any given time. While not directly impacting sustainability issues, he realized that what underlies sustainability across the board is people and the decisions that people make. This, he believes, will create more lasting changes in the long run.

Max says that as technology continues to envelop our lives, it will become increasingly important for folks to stop, be mindful, and self-reflect. Please join me in thanking Max for sharing his personal experiences and knowledge biscuits with us today. Thanks for being here and we’ll see you next time!

Tweetable: “Put yourself in an environment that facilitates reflection.” Max Webster


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