Jim Tousignant, co-founder and CEO of PositiveTALK discusses the massive communication problem he and his partner, Tom D’Ambrosio, co-founder and CTO, are hoping to solve: that people are being exposed to levels of negativity online that are 10 to 100 times greater than the exposure their parents and grandparents were. His solution? Change the quality of online talking.
So he came up with PositiveTalk, an original social media app that analyzes the positivity of users Facebook and Twitter status updates and tweets to dramatically improve their quality of “positivity” with their family, friends and colleagues. He debuted the app with his co-founder and CTO Tom D’Ambrosio at TechCrunch 2012, and it’s currently in controlled beta.
We believe the world is a negative place. For years there has been a natural negative bias in the media that’s been greatly exaggerated by the explosion of the internet, of social media and now on mobile devices. It’s a massive problem, and yet nobody really understands it — we believe that positivity is critical to life, success and happiness.
Research and studies have shown that the more positive you are, the healthier, happier and wealthier you are, and that you live longer and have better relationships. Yet something so fundamentally critical as positivity has never been measured before – if I were to ask people how positive or negative they are, most people don’t have a clue. So, PositiveTALK is really intended to try to solve that problem. When you load the app it authenticates with Facebook and Twitter. Then it downloads all of your posts and tweets as well as your friends and them through a set of sentiment analysis. What they get back is a score on every post of everything that they say online and what other people say.
Every post has a score from 0-100; 100 being highly positive and zero being highly negative — everything has a score. Basically, what happens is the post comes into a sentiment engine that looks at the words, the intensity of the words, the location and a bunch of other factors that ultimately determines the score. Once the post is scored, we run it through a set of other algorithms that ultimately comes up with PositiveTalk score. That’s your positivity index. Today I have a score of 783, which is generally a high score, but my daily scores have varied. I have good days, I have bad days and some days that I sort of wondered what happened.
Studies have shown that negative information affects us emotionally more than positively; which is why the media feeds on it. They know wars, deaths and disasters get’s people’s attention. The idea for our app struck me one evening in bed. It was 3’oclock one morning when this lightening bolt sort of came down and I couldn’t go back to sleep. So I got up started writing the framework for this about eighteen months ago.
Well, in our lives we’ve had a lot of challenges, personally and professionally. I’m a big fan of knowing what your outcome is first. What are you trying to achieve? Because if you don’t know where you’re trying to get to, no matter what you’re faced with, you won’t know how to deal with it. You have to be very diligent and very persistent. We’re all going to fall down. The trick is getting back up. If you’ve looked at any successful person, they’ve faced an enormous amount of challenges. And usually what separates the winners from everybody else is, is that everybody else stops.
The reality is that you can’t be an entrepreneur without being positive — you would never take the risk. If you’re not positive you won’t even start, you won’t live up to challenge andyou won’t believe you can do it. You won’t believe you’re successful. You have to have a positive attitude just to start it.