Madison Campbell is the Cofounder & CEO of Leda Health & Creator of the MeToo Kit. Her company within 1 month of starting received 16 ceases and desists, 5 subpoenas, and 2 statewide bills introduced to ban a product that has aimed at helping the millions of sexual assault survivors across the globe which includes an estimated the 2 million a year in the U.S. alone. She wants to give survivors time with processing their trauma by developing an at-home sexual assault examination kit and provide the care and resources needed for a full recovery.
Madison Campbell is the Cofounder & CEO of Leda Health & Creator of the MeToo Kit. Her company within 1 month of starting received 16 ceases and desists, 5 subpoenas, and 2 statewide bills introduced to ban a product that has aimed at helping the millions of sexual assault survivors across the globe which includes an estimated the 2 million a year in the U.S. alone. This young sexual assault advocate and technological innovator’s hope to revolutionize the care on a holistic scale created a frenzy of over a thousand mentions in press outlets such as CNN, Buzzfeed News, ABC, USA Today, NBC and over 1 billion impressions throughout the world and growing.
However this serial entrepreneur understands there is no such thing as bad publicity, especially when it is helping bring attention to the 77% of sexual assault cases that are never reported each year including her own. After overcoming the trauma of her own sexual assault in college, she sought out to give survivors time with processing their trauma by developing an at-home sexual assault examination kit and provide the care and resources needed for a full recovery.
With an expertise in epidemiology, mathematical modeling, policy and women’s rights, and work in multiple prestigious research institutions, this revolutionary thinker has called her moonshot against the many systemic shortcomings of current government and healthcare systems. Hundreds of thousands of kits have already been requested by colleges, corporations, military, non profits, and even cruise ships and participants of burning man.
I think the way that we push the world to evolve is to think thoroughly on what are real problems. If you want to do something to help the world evolve, sit down today and spend 15 minutes thinking about what is a real problem out there. What is a real problem out there that someone is not addressing, or they're not addressing it in a fast enough way? It's killing people. It's not serving the rest of humanity. And of course, if you really want to help the world evolve, thinking about what is the solution to that problem. That is how we evolve, by thinking through what are the problems that the world is facing. And then really thinking through what are those solutions and what is actually going to create meaningful change.
This article is sourced from the Evolve Podcast, a top social entrepreneur startup podcast. Listen or subscribe below.
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Want to hear a founder explain how doing good maybe doing bad? — Listen to my conversation with Leigh Mathews, Founder & Expert Consultant at ALTO Global, where she shares the untold secrets of nonprofits and the dark side of doing good.
Madison Campbell Interview
Brandon Stover: [00:00:55] Hey everyone. Welcome to evolve.
Today's guest within one month, received 16, see synthesis, five subpoenas and two statewide bills introduced to ban a product that has been aimed at helping the millions of sexual assault survivors across the globe, which includes an estimated 2 million a year in the U S alone, this young sexual assault advocate and technological innovator hopes to revolutionize the care on a holistic scale, created a frenzy of over a thousand mentions and press outlets, such as CNN, Buzzfeed, ABC USA today, NBC and over 1 billion impressions throughout the world and growing.
However, the serial entrepreneur understands. There is no such thing as bad publicity, especially when it is helping bring attention to the 77% of sexual assault cases that are never reported each year, including her own. After overcoming the trauma of her own sexual assault in college, she sought out to give survivors time with processing their trauma by developing an at-home sexual assault examination kit, and provide the care and resources needed for a full recovery.
With an expertise and epidemiology, mathematical modeling policy and women's rights and work and multiple prestigious research institutions. This revolutionary thinker has called her moonshot against the many systematic shortcomings of current government and healthcare systems. Hundreds of thousands of kids have already been requested by colleges, corporations, military nonprofits, and even cruise ships and participants at burning man.
I'm honored to welcome co founder and CEO of Leda health creator of the me too kit and a self proclaimed expert in Ashgrove epidemiology who thinks Elon Musk should be concerned about astronauts getting sick on their way to Mars Madison Campbell.
Madison Campbell: [00:02:38] Oh, my God. I've never had somebody understand me better than you do.
When The World Resists Change
Brandon Stover: [00:02:44] Well, you have had quite an amazing story and I'm sure our listeners, their very first question on their mind is why such the backlash for something that seems to be really, really helping and trying to do something good in the world?
Madison Campbell: [00:02:58] I mean, it's kind of interesting, you know, we talk about the fact, you know, we're trying to revolutionize the criminal justice system, right. And when you try to revolutionize something that has not been changed in many years on it, people don't necessarily say that. Thank you. You know, they say, what is this girl trying to do?
You know, you know, why are you trying to change something which has not been changed for, you know, a large amount of time? innovation is really not in the criminal justice field. You know, there aren't people that kind of come up with new ideas. and so, you know, the first, point of backlash was, you know, kind of not really liking the Silicon Valley way of disrupting an old industry, you know, specifically from a for-profit angle, you know, everybody that has kind of been in the industry of making change, in this regard has done it from a nonprofit or a federal initiative.
And we're coming at it from a for-profit angle, which a lot of people in the government do not like.
Brandon Stover: [00:03:57] You share a little bit about the story of how that, backlash started up?
Madison Campbell: [00:04:02] So I am a growth hacker is what I like to call it. Right. So, you know, when I started the company, we had barely any capital and our goal was to try to create as much buzz as humanly possible. Right. You know, try to get as many opinions. Try to put ourselves out there and, and talk to customers, talk to people who would we thought we would be really interested in, you know, college women like myself, one in four college women will be sexually assaulted.
And so the first thing I thought of is. Why don't I just go and talk to every college in America. And so, you know, it's funny that you mention burning man, but, while everyone was at burning man last year, you know, before COVID, I did not go to burning man. I was stuck in my office alone. All my friends were way having fun.
And so during this time I decided to send out tons and tons of emails. and, one of the, of those emails that they sent out was to Michigan state university. Now, are you familiar with what happened in terms of sexual found at Michigan state university?
Brandon Stover: [00:05:03] Yeah, I've heard some of the stories.
Madison Campbell: [00:05:05] Well, then you will be, you know, you understand that Larry Nassar came from Michigan state university.
There was a lot of controversy there. You know, they essentially hid, lots and lots of reports of sexual assault for a multitude of different years. And so I sent them an email saying, Hey, we would like to donate key word, donate, kits, right? No cost, no pricing, right? Nothing like that. Not a sale.
Donate to the institution because it had a very high likelihood of being sexually assaulted. They were not happy that I sent that message. So they sent my donation letter to the Michigan attorney general, ms. Dana Nessel, who then in the next morning at 7:00 AM in the morning, sent us our first cease and desist letter.
Mind you, this was about 28 days into starting the company. From there on, you know, he went immediately into the press called me names, such as profiting off of the me too movement profiting off of sexual assault. you know, and I'm a sexual assault survivor, so that's kind of like, Oh, I'm profiting off of my own trauma.
Great. he then proceeded to send it to every attorney general in the country in America. And that's kind of how things, you know, started a effect, you know, a big. Yeah, Boulder rolling downhill just more and more and more and more and more. So is it only a few press outlets that picked it up at first and then it just started expanding.
And I remember, you know, in the midst of it, we were on ABC news and it was. Trump's impeachment, Bernie Sanders running for president at the time and the DIY, rape kit, a scandal. And,
Brandon Stover: [00:06:40] Wow
Madison Campbell: [00:06:41] you know, we were, it was, it was, but like you said, no, no press is bad press. And so it also really kind of helped us get the critique, you know, really understand who we were fighting against.
And if we're making this many people mad, then we definitely are probably disrupting something big.
Entrepreneurship In Her Blood
Brandon Stover: [00:06:59] Well, we're going to dive a little bit into that, but before we do, I want to talk a little bit about your background and I had read that you had started a consulting business, like getting calls booked for your parents and whatnot. And I was curious, like was being an entrepreneur and finding solutions, something that came natural to you growing up?
Madison Campbell: [00:07:16] I think I was always a delegator, like and delegators or leaders or people that just make other people do work. Right. You know, whatever you want to call it. that's a CEO, right. Is being able to delegate directly. You know, I, I knew that from a very, very young age that, I could do a lot of the work that I wanted to do when I was, when I was younger.
you know, not only was I doing like consulting for my parents, but I was a dancer and a singer. And I, I tried to be in kind of musical theater. And so during that time, I didn't really want to focus on school. right. Like, Oh my God, like, why do I need to focus on English or math? Like none of that's important.
And so I learned how to delegate because I wanted to focus, you know, 14 hours a day on building that side of my life. And so I had to get someone else to do every point of my schoolwork. You know, I was basically the CEO of my own education. and that kind of followed me right. Throughout life is I realized their goals and I wanted to accomplish.
And in order to accomplish those goals, I needed to become a leader in my own life. Be able to understand what I could accomplish and also understand what I needed to bring people, to help me. And, in order to, you know, thrive and to expand, you know, my capabilities, cause only one human can only do so much.
And so, yeah, it's kind of always been in my blood and my parents have encouraged me, you know, and allowed me to kind of be the human being I am today, did not put a lot of, you know, boundaries on my ability to kind of exceed standards and, and follow my own passions and dreams. So I'm very lucky with that.
Brandon Stover: [00:08:52] Well, in college, You studied epidemiology, cognitive science, mathematical biology. What were you going after? What was it that you were hoping you were going to be doing?
Madison Campbell: [00:09:02] So, you know how parents are kind of impressed if your son or daughter is a rocket scientist or a surgeon, right? My goal was to combine both of those and like, fuck you to do institution. So. I have a crush on Elon Musk. And I think that he's absolutely amazing. And I remember when I was in college, he came out with, you know, his revolutionary idea about doing a man mission tomorrow.
And at that time I was studying public health and I wanted to be a doctor. Although I slowly realized I did not want to be a doctor after looking at organic chemistry. but you know, at that time I said, well, It's very interesting. You know, Elan has needs glows about putting a hundred people or so in space at a time.
And I kind of came from a public health background. So I said, well, when you put a hundred people with, you know, different age genetic backgrounds together that have never known each other, that might not have been in quarantine together. I think a lot of interesting things are going to happen. And I don't think that we, you know, have started thinking about this.
Simply because the most people ever in the ISS or, you know, under, under 20 individuals, right. Not at a large population. So that's kind of where I went into like mathematical modeling, and, and yeah, infectious diseases and epidemiology is basically saying, Hey, I think that, you know, space travel is going to happen.
And I think that what we need to focus on is what is the longterm effects of, you know, going to Mars and having a man mission to Mars. and what's, and my, my, you know, diagnosis, what I think will happen is people will get upset BARR virus, which is most commonly known as mononucleosis that will reactivate into cancer.
It was actually the first cancer virus ever found, and then it will create a lot of other health maladies on there. and you know, back in 2016, 2017, when I was doing that research and talking about it, you know, people definitely thought I was crazy. like, like with this idea, right. You know, every idea I think I come up with people think it's like, I think you're too early, or this is too crazy to happen.
And then recently there's a new show on Netflix called away with Hillary Swank. I don't know if you saw it recently, but believe it or not, they get EBV on their way to.
Brandon Stover: [00:11:13] Oh, wow. Oh, wow.
Madison Campbell: [00:11:15] Yeah. So, you know, it's kind of like the rape kit thing. People think it's crazy now because it's never been done before. and then in five years it'll be like, Oh, that's just, that's just how we do things.
Right. I've always kind of been the person who is about five to 10 years early and kind of my ideas and thinking, which I also think probably makes a good entrepreneur.
Discovering Her Calling To Stand Up
Brandon Stover: [00:11:36] Right. Yeah, absolutely. So when did this desire shift to doing sexual assault advocacy, and then launching a startup that challenge, this outdated process?
Madison Campbell: [00:11:46] So, it would be an easier story if I said it started with my sexual assault in college, but that actually is not how it started. So, you know, that was part of my narrative. even my narrative of wanting to go into science, you know, in my life story. But it really wasn't until after college.
So I, I was about to graduate right when Trump was elected. Right. And I don't know if you remember this, but in the first 90 days he came in and he started cutting, France and national health foundation, NSF, NASA, et cetera, et cetera. So my, my whole goal, my life was mapped out for me. I wanted to work at NASA. Wanted to go to Baylor college of medicine to do space medicine there. I had this whole trajectory and that all got smushed down with 90 days of his presidency. And so I, that was kind of how that ended. And then I, No left college. I ended up sleeping on my friend's couch in New York city, trying to figure myself out.
I ended up going and traveling the world, trying to do like the young twenties. He's like, who am I? You know, what am I going to do? And while I was living in London with my, my father's ex-girlfriend actually, I decided to do work, in outsourcing, which is what I did for my parents. So I went back to something that I knew, which was, building software engineering projects for other people.
And that's what I did with my father when I was in high school. And so when I was in high school, we would outsource to, you know, primarily India. So I went back and I started talking to engineers in India, and I realized that the prices had increased dramatically since the time I was in high school. So what I started looking for is a new economic, you know, condition in, in another country.
That's very similar to what India was five to 10 years ago, ended up finding, you know, Nigeria. Yeah, it has full of talent, a high level of unemployment. And these people are some of the smartest people you will ever meet. And so I started building the same consulting company, building software engineering projects, you know, mobile applications, web applications.
but instead of utilizing engineers from India, we utilize software engineers from Nigeria. And so that was kinda my first, you know, journey into like after college into more entrepreneurship. And, and while I was doing work there, we had a female employee and, and as I'm sure, you know, finding. women in Nigeria that are enjoying STEM is very few and far between, you know, we wanted to bring her up, you know, create the best environment for her and in doing so, something happened that was completely out of her control, which she was sexually assaulted.
and she was sexually assaulted on her way to work in a cab. You know, didn't tell anybody about it. and didn't talk about it. and she said, Hey, this is what happened to me. Can I get three days off? And I said, well, can we go to the hospital? Can we go to the police? What can we do? And she said, well, there is no justice in Nigeria.
and I never talked about it ever again. And that is the moment. Where I realized, you know, my, my big goals, which were, you know, ending unemployment, creating in, in, you know, Western Africa, creating employment opportunities for women, you know, getting rid of the gender equality, you know, gap in STEM.
Those things could not happen if you did not first make the environment palatable to women. Like change, you first have to get rid of sexual Rozman sexual assault. Because if not, you know, women won't have the confidence to go into these fields because of how you know, dangerous it is. Right. And in America you deal with certain amount of discrimination, sexism, and things like that.
But in a place like Nigeria, it's almost impossible to avoid, you know, a it's a very different culture. And so I realized that if, she can't get justice in Nigeria, there is no way, right. that, you know, the system will work for her. And so I thought back about my experience, which, you know, frankly speaking, I'm a privileged white woman, right.
Everything is going for me, absolutely everything. And I chose not to report. So if the system doesn't work for someone in Nigeria, the system did not work for a privileged white woman in America, there something dramatically wrong about how we report sexual assault, right. And not only in America, but you know, abroad as well.
And that's kind of how I got into to building this company is. No seeing the problem, both, you know, with my own story, my friend's story, you know, the stories of my employees when I was working in Nigeria and realizing that if it wasn't me, I don't think anyone else is going to, you know, put a foot in the ground and say, I'm going to solve this problem.
Brandon Stover: [00:16:21] Yeah. Well, I read when you were starting the me too kits that you were only sleeping. It's an hour a night because of how determined you were to get this out there. What is it that like really internally lights you up about this?
Madison Campbell: [00:16:36] I mean, so I think of it like this, like any business, right? If you were to tell me you started a business back in the 1950s, And you had no competitors and you were only able to ever get five to 20% of your total addressable market, right. For, you know, 50 plus years, any venture capitalist or anyone frankly would say, I don't think you're right. You have a good product, right? Like, I don't think you're doing a good job. I mean, no compensation. You're the only one in the game. And you're telling me, like at best you get 20% of people to use your service. Right. And so that's kind of what fueled me is knowing the fact that 77 to 95% of people do not report, which to me is a business problem. And if failure by the system, you know, any other business would have gone bankrupt. If it wasn't a government mandated service. And so that is what, you know, put, you know, fire to the fuel of building this company. It's realizing this was a problem for years and years on end that no one has had frankly, the balls to go and address, because it is a very touchy subject that people are afraid to touch.
For Profit Social Impact Companines Make The Most Change
Brandon Stover: [00:17:47] You mentioned in the beginning, like part of the backlash was because you guys are for profit company. So what are your views on, you know, helping the world, but also making money, doing that?
Madison Campbell: [00:17:57] I have a lot of opinions and you sure his way of saying it is I think that being a for-profit social impact company is the way to make the greatest amount of change in the shortest amount of time. and I believe that being a for profit company and understanding how to create sustainable revenue for your company, you know, allows you to not focus only on am I going to receive that grant? You know, do I have to fit, do I have to focus on donations? You know, for instance, in COVID people's pockets tighten up, right? You might not be able to get that donation, that grant, or even like me with, you know, the former research that I used to do, right. I in in 90 days, right? You had a new administration come in and cut all the grant money.
Right. I did not want to rely on these phones versus which can come and go with administrations with, you know, these crazy events have happened. And so that's kind of why we started a for profit company is, you know, we wanted to create sustainable growth. We wanted to help a lot of people and we wanted to scale, you know, very fast.
And not in a way that nonprofits scale, which often take, you know, 10 plus years in order to make a big result in the world.
Brandon Stover: [00:19:06] You mentioned Elon Musk. He's a really good example of, you know, how a for profit company can Excel far beyond what, you know, a government or a nonprofit agency may be able to do. And as we've seen in COVID like the government's very ill equipped to do testing these days.
It's funny that you say that because you know, Trump went. You know, and he said, Hey, a good way for us, you know, to have the COVID cases go down as we just stopped testing. Right? Yeah. We'll shift. We'll stop testing. They go down. And I, and I, I now tell people I'm like, okay, so you, you you've heard that quote I'm sure. And you, you know, his sentiment.
Madison Campbell: [00:19:42] Well, that's basically the same thing that is happening with sexual assault cases. You want sexual assault to go down. Cause don't test the cases. That's why there's 200,000 of these kids backlog. No one is testing them. You know, like the government does not want these reports to go up the cases to go up.
You know, they don't care about sexual assault survivors. And that's a huge problem that, you know, I, I view as a institutional failure that I would like to privatize and fix.
The Fronteir of Sexual Assualt Advocacy
Brandon Stover: [00:20:09] So part of the backlash was if the kids would be able to use in court, I miserable in court and you guys have spent a lot of time addressing the software and the hardware technology of this. So can you kinda talk about what you guys have done to address that?
Madison Campbell: [00:20:24] Yeah. So on admissibility, first up, attorney generals do not determine admissibility. No one can determine admissibility and hospital kits. Are not automatically admissible nothing, in fact is automatically admissible. So, you know, the fact that they came out and said, Oh, it's not going to be admissible.
That was, you know, theory. The only people that determined miscibility are judges and juries, and that varies court by court. But on our side, what we're creating is, you know, technology that rivals what the government currently uses for chain of custody, which is pen and paper. They use pen and paper. In fact, you know, they tell it. Some States tout their tracking system. You know, when a decade ago Domino's had a tracking, right? Like where's my pizza in delivery, you know? And they're like, we have this amazing tracking system. It's so great. It does this. And I'm like, okay, like I can track my pizza on dominoes. Like when I was back in high school. Yep. You guys are so advanced, right?
You know, we think that by creating technology, which does not exist in the criminal justice field, specifically around, you know, chain of custody and evidence collection, we are going to create something that will eventually replace how the government currently uses, not only from consumer, but also, you know, from a hospital examination.
And I know this sounds really geeky and I'm horrible at the technology. My CTO is the better one, but. We've also started using a theory, to create immutable, timestamps, and records that can't be changed or altered. So we are, you know, really looking into how we can build blockchain around these chain of custody systems, which has never been done before, you know, only theorize with kind of luxury goods and things like that, but that is the way the future.
And that is how we are not only going to make the product admissible and meet all of chain of custody. current standards, but exceed those standards by creating new things that have never been done before.
Brandon Stover: [00:22:16] Amazing. Well, let's talk a little bit about the. Emotional side of it. And I'm talking about how evidence collection can help survivors know that it's not their fault or it's not them. can you speak a little bit about that?
The thing about evidence collection. And I know this because, you know, I I've been in situations where I've collected evidence in order to prove to myself that I was not the crazy one. Right. Madison Campbell: [00:22:43] you know, one of the things that any trauma survivor, whether it's domestic violence or sexual assault, you know, the first thing that you start thinking in your head is, was this my fault?
Did I do this myself? and so, you know, I've been in a kind of psychologically abusive relationship where at, in, in that relationship, I used to think that it was my fault that he was treating me so badly, you know, that he was yelling at me screaming at me. And so I got to a point where, you know, I thought I was the problem.
And the way that I started handling that is I started taking voice memos. You know, of the screaming of the yelling of all these horrible things, kicking screenshots of messages. Sending them off to my parents and friends to realize, you know, to get their opinion, to have somebody else say, Hey, no, you're not the crazy one here. This is a very crazy situation. We need to get your help and get you out.
And so the same thing applies, in my opinion, to sexual assault, you know, the act of evidence collection, the act of having, you know, that bar mint or, you know, that vaginal swab is the act of showing power and control that, you know, this happened to you.
You've proved you biological proof. Maybe you have photos as well and videos, you know, maybe you have all this thing. So when you want to look back in two weeks, when your, your mind is racing and saying, Oh my God, I did this to myself. And, and sometimes even your mind is saying, is that even really happened to me.
Like there are moments of my life where I totally forgot that happened to me because of this associative amnesia. Right. My mind, trying to protect me from the trauma and in those moments, having, you know, having. Photos, having videos, having things that I wrote and even biological evidence would have helped me overcome a lot of the emotions I was feeling.
And that it's the same thing that we're trying to build, you know, for sexual assault survivors, with our kids.
Brandon Stover: [00:24:35] You had mentioned, your family and friends being there, like part of a community to help with the trauma. what. Sort of things. Are you guys doing with community and why is that so important for the recovery part?
Madison Campbell: [00:24:47] So community is so important realizing you're not alone because institutions will make you. Feel like you're alone in order to not have you move forward with the process, you know, specifically institutions like universities, right? Oftentimes universities will try not to get you to, you know, go forward with a civil case criminal case because they're like, Oh, this is an isolated event.
It doesn't happen often here. You know, it's this will, Oh, that fraternity. No. Oh my God, that never happens. You know? Meanwhile they're like, well, this is the 15th complaint this month. Right? You know, community is important because once survivors know that they're not alone, they speak up, they act and they try to get justice.
And, you know, the clearest examples of this is, you know, the Weinstein survivors or even the Larry Nassar survivors, you know, once one person came forward, then it who is, you know, 90 women, right. You know, hundreds of women who have had their own story. And so the way that we're creating a community, the first thing that we're doing is creating support groups for sexual assault survivors. So really following the journey, not only after evidence collection, but then pairing you with eight people that you know are of a similar background to you, who have all encountered sexual assault and pairing you together in a support group to talk about what happened to get group therapy, to do movement therapy, art therapy, music therapy, all these different types of therapy to really start talking about what is justice.
What is healing and we've seen great, you know, great results out of that. We started them in the summer, you know, we're now moving forward into the fall. And what we're really super psyched about is we're starting the first ever male sexual assault survivor group as well. because you know, it's not only women who are impacted by this, you know, males often times have a higher stigma, you know, they're definitely not reporting their sexual assault.
And we're super proud too. Be able to put a community together of male sexual assault, the survivors, so they can talk about what happened to them.
Brandon Stover: [00:26:47] I don't know if you're a listener of the Tim Ferriss podcast. but Tim recently had come out about, being sexually assaulted as a young boy. And I think it was a great thing because there are so many men that, you know, have had some sort of instance, but there is a ton of stigma around it. So I think that's really great that you guys are focusing on both sides.
Madison Campbell: [00:27:07] Yeah, it's not a gender issue and that's, you know, We've done a lot of rebranding, right? We were originally meets you can. And we went into Lita health and the reason why we did it, that is because we wanted to make it a, you know, gender neutral company. You know, we went back and we changed our colors. We used to be pink, you know, because we, we really liked, this is not something that happens only to women.
This is, you know, yeah. A non-binary, you know, event that happens so many people's lives, young and old. And so we've really focused on branding and messaging. You know, that talks about this is not something, you know, that only happens to your sister. This is something that is happening to, you know, your brother to your father, you know, and, and they are also the ones who are incapable of talking about it and oftentimes very ashamed.
Finding A Co-Founder
Brandon Stover: [00:27:53] Well, speaking of, surrounding yourself with people, how did you and your cofounder come together?
Madison Campbell: [00:27:59] So when I was working at , he was, one of my first employees and Liza. And, is one of the most amazing women you will ever meet in your life. I'm originally from Kathmandu, Nepal, first generation immigrant, one of the hardest workers, amazing software engineer comes up with crazy ideas that I'm like. Oh brilliant. Like, you know, that he took the words out of my mouth, but is oftentimes very complete opposite to me.
So I'm more of the energetic, you know, aggressive, put my reputation on the line, you know, swear to public officials and, you know, he's the one behind the scene actually being like, okay, let's get the product out there. Let's move forward.
And you know, when all the controversy was happening, Every single day. I like to tell the story. I don't get to tell the story often, but. Every single day, I would wake up around 7:00 AM with a text from her and it would only say one word and the word would be a random state and she didn't need to say anything else.
Right. It would be like Wyoming and I'd be like, Oh, okay. Wyoming added to the list, right. Of people that don't. But we, we created a language very early on in the company where I knew with her saying one word and still to this day exactly what she meant. I mean, It is. And two founders out there trying to find a cofounder until you find that until you have that, like almost like sister, like, or family, like, you know, where you can say one thing or you have one look across the room and you know, immediately what to do, you know, you haven't found the right founder, the right co-founder until you find that.
How To Turn Tramua Into A Company
Brandon Stover: [00:29:37] For the time that you are speaking to media or on a podcast or whatever, you know, 11, 12 times a day, you have to share your story over and over again, kind of, you know, repeat re living stuff. how are you able to turn, you know, your trauma into a company that helps thousands of people?
Madison Campbell: [00:29:55] Yeah. good question. So I was at, I was talking about this a couple of days ago, where. I said, it's kind of like being a trauma Barbie, right. And it's like, Barbie knows like five catchphrases. One of them is, you know, I was a sexual assault survivor. Here is my story. Here's why I didn't report you. You end up getting these catchphrases and, and every entrepreneur actually ends up getting them right.
You know whether or not you're a sexual assault survivor or, you know, you're, you're starting a mortgage company. Right. And you're like, this is how I started the company. You ended up saying the same things over and over again. And eventually it just becomes something it's just natural for you to say, I don't feel any emotion talking about my sexual assault anymore.
It feels like. You know, a story that I tell that helps people understand me better. and I want them to understand me better. So I don't care that I'm telling that story. So, you know, it took, it took a long time though, for me to even talk about my trauma. I didn't tell anybody about it. Right. I didn't tell anybody about it for three years about my sexual assault.
I didn't tell my parents, I didn't tell my boyfriend. you know, I didn't tell any of my friends and family. And so, you know, it took me getting over to that point and it has been an uphill climb, but, and I'm not saying that I'm perfect either, right. There are days where I'm like exhausted. And at the end of the day, I cried because I had to, you know, really go into detail about what happened to me because I, because someone said.
Oh, are you sure? Like, you know, that was really considered Ray up and I'm like, well, let me put it into detail and I'll, you know, and then you'll realize, and then they shut up. Right. But, but yeah, I mean, I think in order to do what I do or for anyone to take their trauma and turn it into a business, you kind of have to see the broader point of what you're trying to achieve.
you know, with, with your trauma. And is it healing and moving on and creating a great life? Or is it making sure that no one else has to be impacted by the trauma that you were impacted with, you know, for cancer survivors who started cancer companies, you know, doing new chemotherapy or new drugs, you know, their goal is to make sure nobody else has to go through what they went through.
And that's the same way that I think about our product and why I'm here doing it.
Brandon Stover: [00:32:17] There's a sense of resiliency that you have to in your story. And I'm wondering where that comes from from you and especially going against, you know, people were giving you subpoenas or putting, Hey, on Twitter or whatever. How, how have you built that resiliency for yourself?
Madison Campbell: [00:32:33] Oh, lots of years of trauma.
Brandon Stover: [00:32:37] Okay.
Madison Campbell: [00:32:37] When I was when I was 17. I think the first there's been lots of trauma in everyone's life. The first big point of trauma that I remember is when I was 17, our house burned down the house, my family house that I was sin. So I was involved in a house fire. I was in the house when the house caught on fire.
it was very traumatic. We lost everything. and then, funnily enough, yeah, two months later, the house that we were living in also caught on fire. So I was right, like talk about bad luck. you know, at that moment I was like, I got used to trauma and like, I, it became something where I, you know, realized in that moment after losing basically every material possession.
Material possessions don't matter. It's relationships that matter. It's what you can do, you know, for the rest of the world that matters because at the end of the day, no one is going to remember how many Hughes you had or dresses you had, or, you know, what you build. It's going to be about how you made people feel.
And how have you impacted their life? And so I think I learned that at an early age from trauma and I think victims of, of trauma and people that have had that resilience early on, you know, can kind of take it and run with it, you know? and, and I've been lucky enough to be able to not kind of crash into myself and, and not be able to push myself up, but be able to take it and say, you know, fuck this.
Like, I'm, I'm going to like overcome it, you know? and here I am today.
Brandon Stover: [00:34:03] Yeah, I think, that's very important too. You know, we obviously don't wish this upon ourselves or anybody else, but these things happen in life. It's so be able to reframe it, have gratitude for it and know it makes us a stronger person, I think is crucial.
Madison Campbell: [00:34:18] I've been very lucky also just to have friends and family that helped me reframe what happened to me. And plus I always used to joke, I, I try to bring humor to trauma. I'm very like sarcastic, dry humored person. But I used to say, like, after my house burned down, when I was applying for college, I was like, well, it made one hell of a college admission essay, and people would look at me like, wow, okay, thank you, Madison.
And you know, that's kind of how I've always been is, you know, can I take humor and can I, you know, address the trauma with humor instead of saying woe is me, right? Because that doesn't really help anyone.
Brandon Stover: [00:34:55] Right. so I had seen that one of your favorite books is the 48 laws of power. And I was wondering what laws or lessons from that have helped you navigate your journey?
Madison Campbell: [00:35:06] What the actual law of power that I really like. so I D I forget exactly what law it is, but it's, create a cult following. and you know, I think Elon Musk has done this, and a lot of other CEOs have done this where. Or Tesla, right. Tesla is a good example. When you're a Tesla owner, you know, you were part of like a tribe, you know, like you, I'm not a Tesla owner.
I don't have that much money yet, but one day. Right. But, you know, I know Tesla owners and they look at other Teslas and they're like, yeah, yeah. You know? Okay. You're yeah, you're in the, in crowd, right? So that is, you know, one of the things that I try to do with products and with how we build a company is to kind of create a cult like following, right.
And to, you know, create something that is so great, you know, that no one can imagine life without it. And that's kind of how we think about the products that we want to build. And we want to launch out there is we want the people that are behind us to say, you know, I can't imagine life without this. so that's one of the laws of power I really like, is, you know, looking at how you create a company and create a brand and create the people that like that brand with a almost, you know, cult-like persona.
Brandon Stover: [00:36:17] Awesome. Well, I am a huge fan of that book as well. so it was awesome to hear
Madison Campbell: [00:36:22] What is your favorite, law of power.
Brandon Stover: [00:36:24] You know, it's been a while since I've read it and I need to reread it to, remember which one, but, the one that comes to top of mind right now, now is the connecting it back to something in history of like mythological thing and bringing that to the present and basically wrapping everything you do in a drama and mythology to inspire others.
Madison Campbell: [00:36:44] Yeah. I mean, I'm, I'm so wrapped into mythology that we named our company effort after a Greek goddess, you know, I, I loved the fact that he used, you know, historical examples. Here's a fun fact. Did you know that Robert Green was an advisor to, Dov Charney of American apparel, the CEO of American apparel. Yeah. So he, occasionally we'll sit as, you know, an advisory board member, two companies. And one of those was Doug Charney who obviously is a very controversial CEO as well.
Brandon Stover: [00:37:19] Right. Yeah. I mean, there's so much in there that can be used for marketing, for sales, it's all human psychology. so it completely makes
Madison Campbell: [00:37:26] Yeah, exactly.
Brandon Stover: [00:37:28] so another question I have is, you know, the backlash from your company. That you received, it started from a university and higher education is an industry that I'm passionately looking to address.
so what do you think higher education should look like?
Madison Campbell: [00:37:44] Well, first off, I think we could have for my high school, starting in high school, I think we could have mandatory training about consent. And about sexual assault. I, you know, I don't know about you. It's been a long time since I was in high school, obviously, or middle school even, but I don't remember ever being taught anything around sexual assault ever, ever.
Brandon Stover: [00:38:09] it was, it was don't have sex. And here's what you're going to get. If you do have it
Madison Campbell: [00:38:13] Yeah, I grew up very Catholic, right. So I had a very Catholic upbringing, which was like abstinence only, you know, it was like, you know, a leave leave room for God, even when you're, you know, dancing with somebody that was, you know, that was kind of what I was taught. And so I think we could equip high school students with an understanding of consent.
or even middle school students with an understanding of consent and high school students with an understanding of what to do after you've been sexually assaulted, because you have no idea about any of this stuff. And then you end up going to college. You end up being surrounded by alcohol, surrounded by upperclassmen.
And of course, people don't really have an understanding of, you know, consent because it was never taught to them. And I don't, you know, I don't want to blame parents, you know, for not teaching their kids. You know, these certain things. I think it is a major problem, you know, both with higher education, but also with K through 12 and not equipping students to be ready for what, you know, the college atmosphere is actually like.
How To Better Address Trauma
Brandon Stover: [00:39:14] well, sexual assault is like one of the many unaddressed problems like concerning mental health and processing trauma. how do you think we can better address these? I know you've done like psychedelic therapy in the past and other things, so.
Madison Campbell: [00:39:26] Yeah, it was, it was so funny. I'm just coming out of right before this, I went to a doctor's appointment and it was like, do you do any drugs? And I wrote only at burning man. Like he's like, but seriously. And I'm like, okay, I guess you don't get my humor. It's fine. No big deal. I think addressing trauma, I think psychedelics are so interesting to address trauma, but I also think it's, you know, you have to be in a mindset to be willing to open up about your trauma.
And one of the things that I like to talk about is sometimes it's not the right time to address your trauma. Right. You know, if you're it's a Friday and you have a job interview and you're about to, you know, get the weekend and go hang out with friends. Maybe it's not the best, you know, idea to, you know, dive deep into your childhood trauma that you've been ignoring.
Right. I think it's about finding time first. And being able to put time away time, box it, to really start digging into why do I feel this way? You know, can I feel a different way? And sometimes being able to, you know, enter that space requires, I think in my opinion, certain psychedelics, you know, it allows you to kind of be in an open and freeing space.
Whereas the majority of time trauma survivors, you know, feel closed off, right. We want to keep it in a black box in our mind where we're like, Hmm, I'll see you later. Doesn't exist. We've been under the rug, but, you know, I think that's okay. And I think it's good to acknowledge it, but what I think is bad is to say, I'm never going to address it.
I think you should time box and figure out a safe environment with friends and family, you know, get into a space where you are going to be open enough to talk about what happened. and then, you know, really move through, figuring out what that means to you and, and you know, how do you move forward?
What does healing, you know, what is your definition of healing, which is very different from me or you or anyone else.
Yeah, well, for the listener that is listening right now, who may be house trauma, or they're going through a really hard time in their life right now. Brandon Stover: [00:41:22] what would you say to them to let them know that this experience doesn't have to become their story or a part of the rest of their life?
Madison Campbell: [00:41:29] the first thing I say, I say to folks is one, we believe you. And, and we're here for you and we understand, right. You know, I think that the most important thing you can say to a trauma survivor is we believe you, right. specifically, you know, a sexual assault survivor is, Hey, first off we believe you.
you know, I think the first thing to basically look at and, and, you know, try to move forward is to say, it's not your fault as well. you know, I often say it does not have to define your narrative, but that might be hypocritical of me to say, because my narrative is a sexual assault survivors started as company, but, you know, I say that and I I'm that person today, so you don't have to be right.
And there are people out there that are crazy. People like me who handled trauma with comedy. Right. And there are people that don't want us to define their narrative. Maybe it's not even one sentence in the book that it's their life. And I think that is totally okay. I think it's really trying to determine how big of a part of your life do you want this to be?
Right. and how personal do you want this to be? and then, you know, figuring out, you know, how do you suppress it or how do you, you know, expand on it to actually turn, you know, Ron lemons into lemonade, right. Which is what I was able to do, but, you know, realize there are people like, like myself and other, you know, trauma survivors who've put themselves out there.
And well, you know, turn trauma into this company so you don't have to, right. So it does not have to be your narrative. You know, my statement is sexual assault survivors is look, I will put my reputation on the line and I will, I will, you know, I will fight for getting justice for you every single day. So you don't have to think about it ever again.
That is my goal.
Brandon Stover: [00:43:13] Amazing. Well, before it gets to my last question, where can everybody find more about you and the resources and everything else?
Madison Campbell: [00:43:19] I was lucky enough that my father software engineer bought me the domain Madison campbell.com very early on in the.com boost is so, you can find firstname.lastname@example.org, LinkedIn Madison Campbell. If you see a girl with blonde hair, you've stumbled upon the right person. I think there's also a lot of Madison Campbell's out there.
One of them is a USC basketball player. That's not me, I wish, but I'm very short and unathletic. but, yeah, and follow Lita, Lita health company lead a.com you know, follow us for more updates. We'll be launching soon and we're super excited to talk about, you know, what we've become.
How Madison Believes We Can Push The World To Evolve
Brandon Stover: [00:43:56] Awesome. Well, we'll put all that in the show notes for everyone. my last question is how can we pursue the world to evolve?
Well, I knew you were going to ask me that and I still. It's a hard question. I, you know, and I think the way that we push the world to evolve is to think thoroughly on what are real problems. Madison Campbell: [00:44:19] if you want to do something to help the world evolve, sit down today and spend 15 minutes thinking about what is a real problem out there.
You know, what is a real problem out there that someone is not addressing, or they're not addressing it in a fast enough way. You know, it's killing people. It's, it's not serving the rest of humanity and sitting back and thinking, what is that real problem? And of course, if you really want to help the world evolve, thinking about what is the solution to that problem, you know, that is how we evolve, but we evolve first by thinking through what are the problems that the world is facing. And then really thinking through what are those solutions and what is actually going to create meaningful change.
Brandon Stover: [00:45:02] Yeah, finding that problem, that lights you up puts that burning desire
Madison Campbell: [00:45:06] Yeah. That burning desire that makes you, you know, get up after 16 subpoenas. One more. Let's go. Here we go. Let's do it.
Brandon Stover: [00:45:15] Absolutely. Well, Madison, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and sharing your story
Madison Campbell: [00:45:18] All right. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
The Evolve Podcast is focused on evolving the world through evolution of the individual. Brandon Stover unpacks the stories and mindsets of extraordinary social impact founders, visionary leaders, and social enterprise experts as they share how they built startups that are solving the worlds greatest problems. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.Leave A Review