“Learn What Matters” Platform – An Interview with Mallory Rothstein

Sitting alone and without her electronics, Mallory Rothstein asked herself a question leading to the ‘Learn what Matters’ initiative- a platform teaching high school students about the importance of personal development, officially launched in 2019.

Mallory Rothstein / Photo: Marco Sierra Photography
Mallory Rothstein / Photo: Marco Sierra Photography

“What Makes Me Happy? is the eye-opening question that Mallory Rothstein aimed to answer by writing down all of the people, places, and things that brought her the most joy so she could find a way to incorporate as many of them in her life as consistently as possible. However, as she began to write all these things down, she was not the only person benefiting from this idea.

Thinking about young people, Rothstein asked herself if they knew to ask themselves the same kinds of questions or do any personal development exercises when they found themselves in a similar dark place, as she was at the time.

These are only glimpses of the inspiring story of the young American, Rothstein, who in this interview elaborates the crucial importance of personal development in people’s wellbeing, with emphasis on youth. Rothstein, who also works as an Administrative Business Partner at Google dwells on how working at Google impacts “Learn what Matters” and to what extent these two things complement each-other.


The ‘Eureka’ moment of ‘Learn What Matters’ Initiative

Photo credits Marco Sierra Photography
Photo: Marco Sierra Photography

During the summer of 2017, Mallory had to unexpectedly cut ties with someone in her life with who she was very close. This experience made her think of life in more depth.

“The whole situation crushed me. Weeks went by and I felt I was lacking a real purpose so I decided that I needed to do something to get me into a better mindset.”

“This led me to sitting alone without any electronics focused on answering the question, “What Makes Me Happy?”

She further asserts that her goal was to write down all of the people, places, and things that brought her the most joy so she could find a way to incorporate as many of them in her life as consistently as possible.

“It was never my intention to find my purpose or a potential career.”

Nevertheless, simply naturally she began to think about young people.

“But as I began to write everything down, I started thinking about young people and if they knew to ask themselves the same kinds of questions or do any personal development exercises when they found themselves in a similar dark place.”

She went on “One thought led to another and I had the “Aha! Moment” that I was meant to help high schoolers understand how to best invest in their personal development.”  


Learn What Matters Unusual Foundation Scholarship

At the classroom Photo by Duane Erickson
At the classroom / Photo: Duane Erickson

Learn What Matters Foundation Scholarship is the scholarship given to high school students, based on how one can communicate himself/herself and not based on grade or standardized test score. This scholarship also doesn’t need to be used for college, it can be used for whatever helps them invest in their personal development and helps them get closer to a life goal. So far, there are two scholarship recipients.

She explains what’s the main message of this and how it is going so far.

“My goal with the Learn What Matters Foundation Scholarship was to create a scholarship that hopefully disrupts and changes how all scholarships are eventually awarded. “

“That’s why ours is not about metrics, students can answer however they want (artistically, verbally, or written, etc.), and we provide coaching/mentorship for the next year to ensure the student has support.”

According to her, the key message is that students are more than their grades and grades don’t always determine how successful a person will be long-term.

“There are a lot of variables to why a student might not be good at testing and I wanted to create a scholarship focused on the present and future instead of the past. As a result, my hope is that every student who looks at the scholarship will believe they have a real opportunity to win it and apply.”

“In terms of marketing and scaling, I haven’t done much because I’ve wanted to first see naturally what would happen and make any adjustments before taking it national and global. The next step is to get 501c3 status so we can give out more scholarships with a greater financial amount. “


A closer look at Rothstein’s TED talk

As a huge personal development and achievement, Rothstein, in her TED talk mentions that although she had rough times during her high school years, however now it brings her joy.

Although, how exactly the “Learn What Matters” platform assists high school students in the importance of such personal development.

“I am blessed that nowadays I can find gratitude and purpose through any past pain I have been through. It’s not always easy but I have found a way. “

Currently, she is focused on coaching and creating content specific for high schoolers through workshops, an Instagram live show, and hoping by early 2021 to launch mobile messaging.

“Mentorship is so important at an early age so I’ve been working to help high schools develop stronger alumni engagement so students can benefit from hearing about alumni’s personal development journeys. I’ve launched the Learn What Matters Foundation Scholarship two years ago so I’m working on trying to take it from solely being available to students at my high school to nationally then one day globally. “

Working for Google experience Photo credits Marco Sierra Photography
Working for Google experience / Photo: Marco Sierra Photography

Working at Google and “Learn what Matters”

Rothstein always jokes that Google is her 9 to 5 and Learn What Matters is her every other hour of the day.

How working as an Administrative Business Partner at Google, coo-exists with “Learn what Matters”? and impacts it.

“They [Learn what Matters and Google] are separate but my role at Google has helped me tremendously with Learn What Matters. From working alongside top executives, I have been able to learn what it takes to be a great manager, run a successful business, and understand the challenges that come with scaling.”

She concludes by saying that there are actually quite a lot of people at Google who also have multiple side hustles “so I have developed a network of people who I go to for advice on finding balance, staying creative, and being able to continually execute effectively despite having a side hustle.”

Rothstein, who describes herself as ‘Authentic, vulnerable and passionate.’ believes that every young person should have the necessary tools to go after their passions and a great way to begin this is by Learning What Matters.

Photos: Duane Erickson, Marco Sierra Photography

More stories about start-ups and initiatives:

Project Syahi: Reducing Plastic Waste and Challenging the Patriarchy

Health Matters – the Platform for a Better Healthcare in Pakistan

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