Dave Asprey, Founder of Bulletproof
Upgrade Yourself: Dave Asprey on entrepreneurialism, bio-hacking and enhanced productivity.
It’s 4pm. You’re slumped in your chair, your eyelids are drooping, your head is sagging. You’re at work, and any mental activity feels like you’re wading through a swamp of molasses. Have you ever stopped to wonder why you’re so tired, or why some days you just don’t get anything done? For even the most successful people in the world, this is not a rare sensation. If you’ve ever felt a little more sluggish, more lethargic, more tired, and less productive than you want to be, you’re not alone. And the good news is, thanks to Dave Asprey’s inroads in the field of bio-hacking, you won’t have to feel that way for much longer.
When we spoke with the affable Dave Asprey, he was the font of all knowledge on productivity, e-commerce, and entrepreneurial innovation. A millionaire by the age of 26, Dave Asprey is a Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur who invented the juggernaut of ecommerce. Oh, and he’s also a pioneer in self-directed transhumanism. Simply put, he’s a bio-hacker. He’s spent fifteen years and a quarter of a million dollars hacking his own biology. He’s ‘upgraded’ his brain by more than 20 IQ points, lowered his biological age, and lost over a hundred pounds in weight with minimal exercise. His goal? To maximize the performance of the human body and mind, transcending traditional limits. And his results are startling to say the least.
Dave’s journey began when he was the first person to sell something over the internet. When asked as to whether he was one of the first, Dave corrects: “I don’t think I was one of ‘the first’, I think I was the first person to do ecommerce.” Quite a claim, but one that is supported. Dave modestly asserts this wasn’t out of sheer Steve Jobs-like genius or insight. He maintains that his experiments in the formation of ecommerce were out of necessity. As a student working at ice-cream retailer Baskin Robbins, Dave’s college increased the cost of his computer science tuition by 1500%. “I realized I couldn’t afford to go to school so I had to do something”, he says. His answer? Start a T-shirt company. “I sold ‘caffeine’ T-shirts to twelve countries out of my dorm room,” he says. “There was no web browser, so this was on a part of the Internet called Usenet.” Asprey claims it was “just a different way of thinking about the whole problem of connecting with your community.” But if you think T-shirts is how this aspirational computer scientist cracked his first mil, you’d be mistaken. “I would have loved that if the T-shirts made me a million dollars,” he says. “They didn’t come anywhere close to it. But they did pay for my school.” At the time, Asprey had an inkling that the Internet was going to be the next big thing. So he followed his gut and went to the global hub of all things technological: Silicon Valley.
For Dave Asprey, bio-hacking started in his early twenties. Immediately after he’d started the T-shirt company, he completed his degree and scored a dream job at ground zero in the century’s most fertile industry, working for a company that went on to host Google and Hotmail. However, Asprey soon found some major flaws in his productivity and efficiency in the office. “Not only did I weigh 300 pounds,” Dave says, “I felt like my brain wasn’t working. I would have these days where I would wake and just feel like I hadn’t slept. And then I’d go into the office and I was kind of a zombie.”
For most, that sounds just like another day at the office. And for a time, Asprey persuaded himself it was all in his head. Dave continues: “I would try to pay attention in these meetings, but at the end of day I’d be exhausted and have no idea what I did that day. I don’t think I did anything useful, I kind of just stared at my computer screen.” However, instead of just investing in just another box of donuts and soldiering on through the half-conscious waking-life that is office work, Asprey decided to uncover the root cause of the problem. “I started measuring my performance throughout the day,” he says. And from there, it was a slippery slope to completely decoding and revamping his mind and body.
In his spare time, he started quantitative research about how his brain was working, and “I realized I could change it. There were variables in my life that were affecting it.” He learned that “it wasn’t a lack of willpower or drive or motivation, it was lack of physical energy, because I was eating the wrong foods, doing the wrong things. Because I was in environments that weren’t compatible with my biology.”
His first move in upgrading himself? Nootropics, or smart drugs. These are a range of cognitive enhancers, supplements, nutraceuticals, and functional foods that purportedly improve mental functions. “The smart drugs propped my brain up but I realized that my metabolism was broken,” Dave says. Next on the list was his diet, which has become a major focus of Asprey’s highly successful blog, the Bulletproof Executive. “I started changing my diet,” he says. “I lost 50 pounds in three months without changing my exercise. Before that, I’d exercised an hour an half a day but I could not lose a pound.”
After seeing some marked changes in his behavior and productivity, his bio-hacking grew ever more ambitious, with a desire to upgrade his entire physiology. According to Asprey, upgrading yourself comes down to good diet, good sleep, prudential use of nootropic smart drugs, and the odd cybernetic device. Cracking the first two weren’t as simple as they might seem. The Bulletproof Diet is largely a variant of the ketogenic diet. With high-fats and low-carbs, it was developed by medical researchers in the 1960s to treat epilepsy in children. (The Atkins belongs to the same family). The Bulletproof Diet consists of avoiding sugar, gluten, most carbs and dairy, and eating grass-fed meat and organic vegetables in mammoth quantities. And, counter-intuitively, increasing levels of fats from butter, ghee and coconut oil.
It was this continual desire for added productivity and efficiency that spurred Asprey’s career into a new direction. He decided to turn his experiments into a hugely successful business with one of the world’s top ranking websites, blogs, and podcasts. “I started Bulletproof while I was working full time as a vice president at a publicly traded company,” he says. (With Asprey at the helm, Trend Micro rose to be the number-one player in cloud computing security). And Bulletproof has been receiving some prominent media attention: their products have been covered by Rolling Stone, Vogue, and Men’s Health to name a few.
Asprey has now built a global platform based on the understanding that much of modern advice about health, nutrition and exercise actually encourages you to perform poorly. “With the help of more than a hundred experts I met as the chairman of an anti-aging research group,” Asprey says, “I found that aged 41, I could perform at levels that way exceeded what I could do when I was 20.” And he’s not the only one. Hundreds and thousands of people have visited the Bulletproof Executive website and have posted similar types of stories about how in only a few days, they felt like they got a Level up in a video game.
And don’t get Asprey wrong, this isn’t your average health fad. “It has nothing to do with just being healthy,” he says, “it has to do with being able to bring it everyday, and having all the energy you need. If what you’re doing everyday makes you weaker, you’re going to do less of the things you want to be doing and that’s what had happened to me.”
Now it would be remiss of us to write an article about Dave Asprey without mentioning his trademark coffee. Online, this strange buttered beverage seems to go hand-in-hand with the Bulletproof brand. Asprey’s recipe is fast becoming the perk-up drink of choice for thousands globally, with self-confessed bio-hackers downing this coffee-butter concoction daily. And many swear by it. “There’s 2.5 million references to Bulletproof coffee on Google right now,” Asprey says. “That’s how popular this recipe is, because its changed people’s lives and I don’t say that lightly or humorously.” To the skeptics, Dave invites them to try it for themselves (recipe included at the end of the article).
But one might ask, what’s the endgame here? Asprey reminds us that ultimately all this is not about becoming superhuman for the sake of it or dominating anything. “It’s about serving, and helping other people”. With an upgraded attitude, he continues: “Everything I am doing here is to help other people and that’s why I’m successful as I am,” he says. “Do what you do because you love it and because you are helping the world and you’re helping other people and it’s easy. That’s the trick. It’s the opposite of domination.”
If you want to get started on Bulletproofing yourself, here are some actionable steps:
- Try waking up to Bulletproof Coffee. Two cups of brewed coffee made from single origin, low-mycotoxin beans. Two tablespoons of unsalted, grass-fed butter. Two tablespoons of Brain Octane MCT oil. Blend and enjoy.
- Fix your sleep. That means bed by 11, and no LED lights or screens visible within an hour of bedtime. And making sure your room is completely dark. Any lights affect your brain’s melatonin production.
- Upgrade your diet. Thumbs down: sugar, margarine, pasta, bread, tofu. Thumbs up: Grass-fed Butter, avocados, white rice, organic vegetables and grass-fed meat.
- Dave’s rundown of his life as an entrepreneur and how he got started
- Learn more about e-commberce
- Tips on productivity hacking and bio-hacking
- Dave shares the important tools that you need in your business
- Learn more about Dave’s products and Bulletproof coffee
Full Transcript of the Podcast with Dave Asprey
Nathan: Hey, guys. My name is Nathan Chan and I’m your host of the Foundr Podcast. Thank you for taking the time to listen to another episode. This episode is with Dave Asprey. He’s otherwise known as the Bulletproof Executive. He’s taking the world by storm with his ideas and thoughts on bio-hacking, and bulletproof coffee. If you haven’t heard of bulletproof coffee, I think you will really like it especially if you want to optimize your performance. Dave’s an extremely interesting guy. I’m not gonna give or tell you too much about him because we’ll go in-depth about his life as an investor, bio-hacker, and entrepreneur. But this guy is an absolute freak. You’re in for a treat. Enough about what’s about to happen, just go and listen to this episode. I think you’ll really, really like it. Right now, it’s probably about Christmas time, so I just want to wish you a merry Christmas, happy New Year’s, and here’s to a big 2015. If you are enjoying these episodes, please make sure you subscribe to the podcast, leave us a review, check out the magazine. You can do that at foundrmag.com, all the relevant links are there. I won’t bore you with the details. So, yeah, let’s jump into the show.
Today, I’m speaking with Dave Asprey. He is a combination of nutrition, nervous system training, and anti-aging technologies to improve the performance of the human body and mind. He’s a Silicon Valley investor, bio-hacker, an entrepreneur who has spent 15 years and a quarter of a million dollars to hack his own biology. He’s upgraded his brain by more than 20 IQ points. Lowered his biological age and lost over 100 pounds without using calories or exercise. Extremely fascinating and interesting guy. So, Dave, thank you for taking the time, man.
Dave: Nathan, I appreciate you having me on.
Nathan: Absolute pleasure. Can you give us a quick rundown of your life as an entrepreneur and how you got started. I know you were a millionaire by the time you were 26. You’re one of the first people to ever sell anything online, is that right?
Dave: I don’t think I was one of the first. I think I was the first person to do e-commerce. And I don’t wanna sound like Al Gore, the American politician who “invented the internet” and was widely ridiculed for it. There were two companies in the very early days of…I can’t say the web because we didn’t have the web back then. There was no web browser. So, this was on part of the internet called Usenet. And I sold caffeine T-shirts to 12 countries out of my dorm room. And within a day of when I was doing that, another company called Virtual Vineyards, who eventually became one.com also started selling. I was in Entrepreneur Magazine in my very early 20s in the U.S., you know, with photographic proof in all this. So, as near as I can tell from a historical perspective, I think I was the first e-commerce guy.
Nathan: Wow. And what started that? Like how did you see that vision?
Dave: Well, I worked at an American ice cream company called 31 Flavors or Baskin Robbins. But they increased my tuition by 1,500%. And I realized I couldn’t afford to go to school so I had to do something, so I started a T-shirt company. And I sold T-shirts at special events, and since I work in computer science, I had access to the internet. And I made a special shirt targeted for a specific audience. And I was quoted in about 80 different periodicals in magazines and newspapers about e-commerce, because I gave this quote that said, “The internet’s amazing.” People sort themselves into interest groups, so you can sell a product to them that you could never sell at a grocery store, because I was selling to people who really loved coffee. My T-shirt said, “Caffeine, my drug of choice.” So, the 500 people who were in that Usenet newsgroup all over the planet, who would totally want that shirt, could all find it. Now, that seems like common sense to us.
But back in the day, that’s not how it worked. We used to send, you know, dead trees to people in envelopes, and you sent to 100,000 people and hope that 2% of them would open the envelope and 1% of them would buy, and then you could make money. So, it was just a different way of thinking about the whole problem of connecting with your community. And when you start looking at community-based marketing, which evolved into what we now call social media marketing, the rules are different than they are for regular business. And, you know, fast forward 20 years later, now we all know that, but at the time, you had to sort of live in that culture. And I did because I studied computer science.
Nathan: Did you ever think that e-commerce would be as big as it is now back then?
Dave: I was quoted in The Miami Herald, a big newspaper out of Florida, saying that within five years we would have no need for print catalogs anymore, because there was such a waste of paper. Now, being young and egotistical, I really did believe that the internet were changing that fast. I have a good track record of being right about the direction of things but wrong about the timing, like most futurists, it’s one of the two. And the problem I had there is I did not understand institutional resistance to change. And today, when you order something on the internet, for most companies, what do they put in the box? They put a giant catalog on paper on dead trees for no apparent reason. Actually, there is a reason because they learned that it increases sales by some percentage. But I think the right thing to do is not do that, and to actually work on sending. By sending the product the person wanted and forming an online relationship with them, so they have a reason to come back and buy from you again.
Nathan: Yeah, I know. It’s interesting, right? So, let’s go a bit deeper on your journey as an entrepreneur. So, you started with the T-shirts selling them online, and you obviously made a lot of money. So, can you tell us what happened after that? And I really wanna delve into the whole productivity hacking and bio-hacking…
Nathan: Yeah, this stuff really excites me.
Dave: I would have loved it if the T-shirts made me a million dollars. They didn’t come anywhere close it. They did pay for my school, which at the time was a huge win. You know, when you’re…I must have been 19 or 20 when I started doing that. I think that the average minimum wage was $4.25 at the time. So, for me to be able to pay thousands and tens of thousands of dollars was pretty substantial. And what really, though, made the difference for me was when I went to Silicon Valley and I started my career in technology. I realized the internet’s gonna be something big, so I started working for big networking internet companies, realizing the infrastructure had to be built. I went to work for the company that ended up hosting Google’s first server, Hotmail’s first servers, when these companies were just getting going. And I was an intrapreneurial founder in that company.
So, I joined when the company was 300 people, but I was one of three people that started a professional services team that grew to 1,500 employees and 100 million a quarter in revenue. And that’s what made me $6 million when I was 26. I was the stock options at the company that created Cloud Computing. The other company was called Exodus Communications. So, top performing stock in the U.S. on the Nasdaq in 1998, if memory serves. So, hitting my wagon to an industry that was growing rapidly like the internet, so being in the right place strategically, finding a company that had the right infrastructure assets, and then finding an opportunity where I could make a difference. And that was, instead of selling what was essentially real estate with fat Internet connections, I looked at how we could sell a service offering on top of it in order to make e-commerce easier.
So becoming an expert, and then focusing on internet and e-commerce instead of, kind of, flopping all over the place which is what most young entrepreneurs do. When you’re young and you haven’t learned the amount of time and effort that it takes to become an expert in something, versus just to be able to kind of do it, it feels like you can do everything. And the best advice I think I ever got career wise early on, was I gave my resume to an executive. And he looked at this and he said, “Dave, I don’t know what to do with you.” He said, “Yes, it’s true, you’ve done a lot of interesting stuff. You could do a lot more. But when I look at this, I don’t know where to put you. So, I get confused and I just set your resume off to the side and I’m never gonna call you.” So I deleted everything from my resume that didn’t say the things I wanted to do. And that helped me clarify my goals, both as an employee and as an entrepreneur. And that let me take my entrepreneurial energy into a company where I could really apply it, and get a piece of the upside.
On the flip side, it could have taken that same energy directly into a startup, but then you start looking at capital costs. It’s simple to do a startup now. We’ve put together the clouds. You can do something on Amazon Web Services today in one day that would have cost… In fact, I would have written a quote for you to do that for $2 to $6 million dollars in 1997. I’m not joking, it’s that big of a difference. So now starting a company, I, like, got a friend, we met over coffee, we started a website, we wrote this app overnight, and we tossed it up online, and we’re charging for it now.
My first e-commerce products, I had to help people fax me their check, and then I had to re-fax the check to the bank. It was literally e-commerce by fax machine. So, we’ve spent like…In fact, I’ve spent most of my career in technology working on these fundamental problems just to remove friction from the system and, wow, the world is so cool now, because you can start a company with pennies. And, in fact, that’s something that I’ve done with my Bulletproof Company. I leveraged those things that used to cost millions of dollars to start a blog that’s now globally ranked in the top 15,000 websites on earth, and in the top 10,000 in most Western countries, including Australia. In fact, it’s particularly popular there.
Nathan: Yeah, look, it’s a brilliant blog and there’s a ton of gold nuggets in there. And it’s extremely fascinating, it’s extremely fascinating. So, the people that are listening to this, you need to go check it out, and there will be links to that in the magazine. You seem like to be a bit of a Nostradamus in predicting trends. So I want to know, actually, where do you see things happening with the future of start ups and business, and the internet, and everything e-commerce in the next, you know, two to three years. Maybe even five years.
Dave: Well, the advantage that Nostradamus has was that he predicted, I think timelines and the directions. And my keep thinking things will happen before they will. So, my career answer may very well be a five-year answer. I like to think I’m getting wiser with age, but only time will tell. So, I think we see, from a startup perspective, there’s going to be an explosion of brands that don’t succeed, call them micro-brands. Over the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion of information products. It used to be a lot of work to create, you know, a newsletter series. And you had to coordinate physical printing, you need a lot of money. But now, for 100 bucks a month you can have a blog and an email list, and all this other stuff. So, there’s lots of people doing that. And now, there’s in countless number of email and newsletters you can subscribe to. So everyone went to podcasts, because podcasts are relatively easy to do, like this one.
The only problem is that, podcasting, also it’s a signal to noise. Every one and their mothers starts to podcast now. And I’m incredibly fortunate, I read the tea leaves right, I started mine relatively early. And the Bulletproof Executive Podcast is now number one ranked in the health category on iTunes. And I’m really honored that last month, 4,000 people heard it. So, the problem is, if you look at the net number of podcasts, and the fact that someone who engages with your podcast or with mine, they’re giving up 45 minutes of their day, most of their commute. How many podcasts will the world support before there’s just an endless number of them and they become almost like YouTube channels, where most YouTube channels no one ever sees anything.
As an entrepreneur, you better be starting to pay attention to the quality of your content, because it’s easy to generate content, it’s really hard to generate quality content. And I still think content is king, you know, content is eventually going to win. Because if you have products that are digital or physical, if you want people to come in and see them, you can play the advertising game that says, you know, “I’m gonna spend $7 to sell my products, and my margin on the product is $7.10.” So, you give $7 to the advertising company, and you keep 10 cents and you sell your product. That’s kind of the direction that it goes. There’s a competing side where there are multiple advertisers you can go to, but let’s face it. Google is a pretty big advertiser and if you’re not gonna be doing that, where else are you gonna go? And there’s a lot of meat on that bone for advertising, but the model that seems to work really well is have original content. And that’s hard work.
And the reason the Bulletproof Executive blog has gone to where it’s gone. In about two and a half years to, you know, very highly ranked in terms of traffic, and visitors and all, its because a lot of the stuff there is my best content. The stuff that I could have put in a book, I could have charged $100 in an e-seminar for it, and I just put out there for free because I think it’s useful stuff for people. But, it’s also because a lot of it you can’t find in another place, like it’s new and it’s different. And for every one of those new and different blogs, there’s 25 I copied some other blogs out there. So, there’s a lot of like want and ripping off of content. And as an entrepreneur, it’s tempting because there’s such a demand for good content, and it takes time and energy. You’re better off to upgrade your time and energy, and to write the good content or to create it, or to hire the best film crew that you can afford to do your documentary, or whatever it is that you’re doing to create the quality content.
That seems really important to me, versus kinda cranking something out by re-purposing someone else’s post, and, you know, changing a few words in it. And I’ve seen a lot of that explode. And if you do that, you’re gonna end up with one of those blogs that’s not that well trafficked, that people don’t really pay much attention to. That said, even if you do make great content, you better have a strategy if you’re gonna be able to see it. And that means consistency in writing the blog every single month. And most people don’t succeed because they start then they get bored when nothing happens. You have to just keep doing it even if nothing happens until something does happen. It may take you a year.
Nathan: Yeah. Look, that’s a killer advice, man. It kinda leads on well to our next question when we talk about the consistency pace. Now, I just wanted to ask you like I consider you a productivity guy. You’re a bio-hacker but, in essence, you’re making yourself be able to do things more faster and you’re becoming more powerful as an entrepreneur, as a human being. And I wanted to know, how do you manage your time so efficiently apart from actually doing these hacks?
Dave: I’m not sure I’m as efficient as I would like to be.
Nathan: That’s what everyone says.
Dave: Yeah. I find that I’m the opposite of Tim Ferriss.
Nathan: Okay, interesting.
Dave: As much as… I really like Tim Ferriss’ work, you know, he’s inspirational and I admire him. I read the four-hour workweek years ago and I immediately hired a full time EA who worked in the Philippines, but was available during my time zone. And it didn’t work. I spent more time managing my virtual admin than I did actually benefiting from the work she did. And she wasn’t a bad employee, it’s just that she didn’t have the skills required. Was she better than nothing? No. Actually, she wasn’t. And I finally decided that I would let her go, because she wasn’t saving me time at the end of the month. What I do now, is I work with a professional executive assistant who, you know, has had some years of experience working with executives. And this is the same thing, by the way, that the guys and the CEO of IBM does.
And all of the senior executives I’ve been fortunate to work with over my career in big companies, and even in something small, they have administrative assistants who really focus on making sure that the data is efficient. Because the act of managing the day itself can take an hour or two every day. Who are you gonna call when? That kind of a question, I never think about that. Our call was scheduled entirely by her, I just knew I had to show up on the phone. This last week, I had 15 minutes of my schedule that was not booked. Literally, the entire week there was one segment like that. The rest of the time, I knew what I was gonna be doing and I didn’t have to think about it, and that relieved a lot of cognitive burden for me. So work with a professional executive admin, hopefully one that you can at least see on Skype, and ideally, even someone who you might see in person at least once every couple of weeks. Mine lives 45 minutes away from me. I don’t see her very often in person but we talk most days.
Nathan: Wow. So, in essence, have a good assistant.
Dave: Yeah, have a good assistant. And, by the way, good assistants are worth their weight in gold. And they’re not, you know, $4 an hour remote workers. They are people who think and they’re someone who helps to plan every day. And if they are good at their job, you can get 30%, 40%, 50% more done. And if they’re bad at their job, you can get 50% less done than not having one, because of, you know, the mistakes they make and the relationships they can damage. So, do not skimp there. Find someone and consider that person to be like a partner in your success every day.
Nathan: Hmm, interesting take. I wasn’t expecting that answer, interesting. Thank you. So, let’s delve deep into the bio-hacking. How did start? And then, let’s get into the good stuff. How we can supercharge our body and, you know, sleep less and have extreme focus like the movie, “Limitless”. Tell me all that good stuff.
Dave: Boi-hacking for me started in my early 20s, right after I had done that T-shirt company. I had a job in Silicon Valley, and not only did I weigh 300 pounds, I could feel that like my brain wasn’t working. And I would have these days where I would wake up, and I just would feel like I hadn’t slept, and I’d go to the office, and I was kind of a zombie. I would try and pay attention in these meetings, but at the end of the day, I’d realize I’m exhausted and I have no idea what I did today. I don’t think I did anything useful. I kind of stared at my computer screen. I thought maybe it was just in my head, like maybe I just wanted to be more productive, but I wasn’t. So, I started measuring my performance throughout the day. Just taking a little note, like, how I’m I feeling right now? And I realized that some days, when I would test myself with, you know, a precursor to one of those brain training software things, a little computer-based solitaire game. Some days I really…I was foggy. I didn’t perform well.
So, I started saying, “What can I do to turn this around?” And the first thing I did was I started taking smart drugs. I’m very fortunate because the smart drugs propped my brain up. Well, I realized that my metabolism was broken. I started changing my diet. I lost 50 pounds in three months without changing my exercise. Before that, I’d exercised an hour and a half a day for six days a week, for more than a year and I did not lose a pound. I got strong, but it didn’t lose any fat. I just realized, “Okay, I have to be responsible for this by myself with my cognitive function and my physical performance, and how I look, and how I feel. But also I have to measure it, because our own perceptions of how we’re doing often times don’t match the reality of how we’re doing.
And when I started getting quantitative about how my brain was working, I realized I could change it. And that there were variables in my life that were affecting it. And a lot of those variables were outside of my body. It wasn’t just that I wanted to do good, and it wasn’t a lack of willpower or drive or motivation. It was a lack of physical energy because I was eating the wrong foods, because I was doing wrong things, because I was in environments that weren’t compatible with my biology, and all these things. So, I started writing about those. And what I realized is that a lot of modern advice about healthy and nutrition, and exercise, actually encourages you to perform poorly. It makes you weak. And it had seriously damaged my health.
And when I looked back at ancestral eating habits, and I looked at the biochemistry of how all this works, I realized that I was doing it wrong. And when I started doing it right with the help of more than 100 experts I met as the chairman of an anti-aging research group, I found that I could perform at levels. Now that I’m 41, that way exceed what I could do when I was 20. And hundreds of thousands of people have come to the Bulletproof Executive website, and have posted similar types of stories about how in just a couple days. So we’re not talking huge amounts of time, they feel like they got a level up in a video game, or all over a sudden, like, I didn’t know I could do this. And I live like that every day now. I did for almost two years straight, less than five hours a night of sleep on purpose because I had a lot to do. Plus, I ate 4,000 calories a day and I stopped exercising, just to see if I would gain weight. I grew a six pack and I put a picture of it on the website. How was that possible? I should have weighed 616 pounds, if the stories we’ve been told by marketing companies selling cheap food were true.
Those stories make you weak. It has nothing to do with just being healthy, it has to do with being able to bring it every day. When you want to have all the energy you need to do whatever it is, whether it’s to start your company, or to do your job and then come home, and then start a company, or just to be there for your family, or just to party harder, it doesn’t matter. If what you’re doing every day makes you weaker, you’re gonna do less of the things you want to be doing. And that’s what had happened to me.
Nathan: It’s an amazing story. Can you take us through some tools? What’s your top three tools that you would recommend? First line action for people that want to have a high level of focus and be a lot more efficient in what they do.
Dave: First off, download the Bulletproof Diet Infographic. This thing took almost two months to create. And it’s got more than a thousand references that went into the research behind it. And so, one page thing you can print out and put on your fridge, it’s free on the Bulletproof Exec website. And what this does, is it teaches you how to eat, so that you can choose a protein that’s less inflammatory. You can choose the fats that make you thin instead of the fats that make you fat. You can choose the vegetables that causes less inflammation than other vegetables.
And people don’t know this, but a lot of vegetables, particularly grains like wheat have a defense systems, naturally occurring pesticides in them that are there to keep animals from eating them. And when you eat those things, they cause auto-immune conditions like allergies and gut problems, and brain fog. When people go on this diet, it turns off the inflammation in their body. And when that happens, the first thing you feel is your brain clears up, because a less-inflamed brain thinks better. And you also experience your love handles getting smaller because most love handles aren’t all fat. There’s a huge amount of inflammation, just built up fluid in the body. And getting that out it really, really makes a difference.
When you get this right, you’ll have enough calories to fuel your body. Calories don’t make you fat, but a lack of calories will make you dumb. Whoever said that you should eat less calories and burn more calories by walking around, didn’t take into account the fact that around 20% of your daily calories go to fueling your brain. If you eat less calories and you burn more calories walking, you have less left to think. Is it any wonder that you feel tired and slow, and you can’t remember stuff.
So, I have accounted for a huge number of biological effects in nutrition, and engineered this diet that’s easy to follow, completely eliminates food cravings because your body gets what it needs, and it gives you enough energy to perform well. And when you eat like that, weight loss just happens naturally with no hunger and no willpower involved. So, I say start there, because if you have a lack of fuel and if you have toxins clouding your brain, it’s gonna take way too much willpower to achieve the other changes you’d like to have in your life.
The second thing people should do is they should fix their sleep. When you look at how much you sleep…I don’t mean sleep more. What I mean is sleep better. This means, don’t waste so much time going to sleep. Stay asleep longer, sleep deeper, have more dreams. All of those things are possible and you’re probably making some mistakes most people make in their sleep environment. Because they don’t know what to do before they go to bed, that they don’t know how to stay asleep.
There’s a whole series on hacking your sleep, is also free, it’s just blog posts. You didn’t even have to sign up on the website to see them. I recommend you read those. But one of the tricks is tape over every single LED light in your bedroom. If you sleep in absolute darkness, make sure your windows actually block out the street light outside. You shouldn’t be able to see anything in your bedroom. When you do that, you will find that you sleep deeper and you sleep longer, and you wake up less. And your quality of life will improve. And it didn’t cost you anything other than the cost of some the electrical tape to cover up those blue LEDs that turn off melatonin production in your brain. We are animals and animals are used to having darkness at night, and brightness during the day. If you give yourself brightness at night, even small amounts of it, it messes with the animal parts of your mind. You don’t wanna be doing that.
Nathan: Interesting. Fascinating. And can you tell us about your products, you know, like Bulletproof Coffee.
Dave: Sure. Bulletproof Coffee is a combination of three things. Number one is coffee made with bulletproof processed beans. These are coffee beans that are engineered and tested to be free of toxins that form in coffee as coffee is being processed to be green coffee. There is a certain amount of spoilage that’s allowed in coffee as part of processing it, and the cheapest possible way to process it. And that kind of fermentation creates flavor, but it also creates things that slow down your mental performance. In fact, it’s such a problem that some countries have regulations for one of the toxins, but we track eight different toxins in our own coffee. And we use laboratory testing to validate that the toxins are not present and as it which the bulletproof process work.
So you get coffee that in a study we conducted, there’s a noticeable difference in the executive function in cognitive powers in people who drink this coffee versus people who drink mass market coffee and from the corner coffee shop. So, that’s kind of amazing. But just the quality of the beans makes a huge difference. So you take that, and you brew it, and you blend it with two ingredients. One is grass-fed butter and you have a ton of that in Australia. This is butter from cows that eat grass. In the U.S., we feed most of the cows corn and soy, and the fat in that butter isn’t the right kind of fat for the human body. But in Australia, when you get the good quality, kind of bright, yellow butter with good flavor and no salt. That’s what you wanna put in your coffee instead of cream. And don’t worry, you’re gonna blend it. It’s creamy and frothy and delicious. It’s not butter or anything gross.
And the final ingredient that is a whole new level of performance is called Brain Octane Oil. Or, for less performance, you can use upgraded MCT. These are two products that I manufacture, that are highly extracted from coconut oil. It would take 18 spoons of coconut oil to equal one spoon of grain octane oil. What these oils do is they directly fuel the cells in the brain using a kind of energy different from sugar. So, they put your brain in fat-burning and sugar mode burning mode at the same time. It’s like having an after burner. Your brain loves it and you can feel the difference in how you think and how you feel, and the kind of energy you have. And don’t take my word for it, just Google Bulletproof Coffee, come to the website. There’s thousands of people, in fact, there’s 2.5 million references to Bulletproof Coffee on Google right now. That’s how popular this recipe is, because it’s changed people’s lives. And I don’t say that lightly or humorously.
If your brain has been turned off for years and you struggled to have the energy you wanted all the time, and then you drank this ridiculous concoction of a certain kind of coffee bean with butter and this other kind of fat, and the world’s woke up for you, you’ll feel it. And it’s happened so many times now, that I don’t think there’s great dispute that it does increase your energy levels far beyond what normal coffee does.
Nathan: Yes. It sounds amazing and I can’t wait to try it off the call. I spoke with David about a few of my food allergies. And, you know, there’s even a recipe for me. So, I’m extremely excited to try them. After the call, I’m gonna get them and buy a whole ton.
Dave: And get this. We are, right now, working or actually in about, let’s say 70% of the way through opening up a grocery in Australia so we can roast Bulletproof processed coffee there.
Nathan: Wow, that’s so cool.
Dave: It’s really cool because Men’s Health covered Bulletproof in Australia, and so did the Rolling Stone. Bulletproof is so popular in Australia that this year in 2014, I’m hoping to come out and do a, like a conference of some sort, just to hook up with more of the awesome people that I met last time I was out in Australia.
Nathan: That’s awesome.
Dave: And you know about the guys at Optamax, they actually carry both our products in Australia, so you don’t have to pay international shipping.
Nathan: Yes, yes, yes, yes. I do know about them. Awesome. So, you know, look, thanks for sharing that. And then, you see, even after hearing that about how it all came about, and what you do to I guess increase your brain power and take things to the next level. I can see how excited you are and it excites the hell out of me. And one thing I wanted to ask you was your fascination with tracking and measuring, and learning. Because the way you came up with all these, I guess, hacks and bio-hacking, it’s measuring and tracking, and learning. And do you think that that relates to your successes as an entrepreneur, or has a part to play?
Dave: Creativity and passion, and willingness to take risks are probably more important. And believe it or not, I’m not the most quantitatively rigorous about my company. There’s a lot I would like to do but I don’t do it from tracking metrics. One of the problems is that tracking yourself, or tracking your company takes energy to track every report someone has to write and look at. It takes time away from doing something. So, as an information scientist by training, I look at what’s the one report that I need? And I only wanna look at that one report instead of 10 reports. And I also look at the cost of gathering the data. If I had to bring in management consultants, and it took $100,000 to make a report, that’s kind of a pain versus a report that came in painlessly.
So, whether I’m tracking my own performance or my company’s performance, the numbers that I look at the most are what are the ones I’m trying to change? And you might say you need to have all the numbers to know the ones you wanna change. But honestly, if you know your company or you know yourself, you kinda understand where the big problems are. And then you use the cheap and easy to get data to help you highlight areas for improvement you don’t know about. But you use the data, the fine grains detail data that you can get to help you do focused improvement and to measure whether the improvement work.
The same thing works for myself. I don’t track all my numbers every day. I have a life. What I do is I track the numbers that don’t cost me anything to track. And then if I’m working on a specific part of my biology, then I track those numbers during that time, most of the time, and if I miss some, I don’t worry. There are people who are data pack rats. They gather every bit of data they can about themselves without any idea what they’re gonna do with it. You could just as well be a stamp collector. I respect both of you very much, I’m not either one of those. I just want the numbers that are gonna do something for me.
Nathan: I see. So, let’s switch gears and I wanted to talk about your experiences as an entrepreneur and what you’ve learned from them, because you are a very successful entrepreneur. And you…to know the companies and you’re working at a massive company right now, Trend Micro, and, they pay you of cloud security?
Dave: Believe it or not, yeah. I started Bulletproof when I was working full time as a vice president at a publicly traded company. And let me tell you, during the two and a half years when I was starting Bulletproof, Trend Micro rose to be the number one player in cloud computing security, and it was my job to help them do that as director head of Angel’s List for cloud computing and cloud security. So, I performed well, in fact, I outperformed at Trend Micro during the time I was starting Bulletproof. And I did not, you know, steal from my day job in order to do my own company, and that’s something that entrepreneurs, especially young entrepreneurs are always tempted to do. Oh, I have a day job. But I sit at my computer all day long, and I do work on my own company. Not only may you have intellectual property considerations, there’s also like integrity issues. It doesn’t feel like it when you’re 20 or 25, but those people that you screw over then, if you screw someone over.
They are still gonna be in your industry when you’re 40 or 50. And they’re gonna remember what you did. And you wanna make sure that no matter what you do, whether your company succeeds or fails, don’t compromise your integrity at all ever. Because getting that back is just about impossible to do, especially with the internet, the way it is now, mistakes follow you. It used to be, “Ha, I moved to a new industry. No one really knew.” But now, all it takes is a social network posting from someone that you, you know, were rude to, or someone who knows that you acted unethically when you were younger and you’re trying to start your company, and you worked at their company, and life is too short for that. It doesn’t feel like that when you’re in the fight of starting a company. Just keep in mind, everyone you meet, no matter how big or how small, you might meet them again in 10 years and you have no idea who they’re gonna be. So, be kind to all the people, be respectful and show high integrity, and your business will win more, anyway. But over time, your success will grow.
Nathan: That’s great advice. And that that’s words from a world class entrepreneur, so thank you. We have to look and wrapping things up, man. I just want to say, do you have any final words of wisdom? Anything that you would like to share in the final? You know, your success with entrepreneurship, your success with bio-hacking, and all the other crazy things you’re doing?
Dave: There’s a quote that’s on the T-shirts that I wore for the First National Magazine that I was in when I was 22 or something. And this was a piece in Entrepreneur magazine. And the words on the T-shirt said, “If you exploit it, it’s gone.” And what I was talking about in that quote was, what would happen if you exploited the online environment? I was telling people that they shouldn’t spam. This was before the word for spam was invented, and before the first spam ever happened. The first spam happened two weeks after that. Sorry about that guys, if that article actually influenced the first spammers on earth. By the way, they were attorneys.
So, the reason I bring that quote out now is that if you’re starting a company, think about the impact you’re having on the world around you, because we just have too many people consuming resources that are unnecessary to consume. When you’re making the little decisions setting up your company, and you realize, “Oh, I could maybe avoid using Styrofoam for that, because Styrofoam floats in the ocean and ruins our beaches. I could use ethical packaging. I could design my new store to use more energy efficient lighting.” Those things matter more than you might think. They are long term plays, and business people tend to be short term thinkers. But if you’re a young entrepreneur right now, you don’t actually have long term to exploit these things, because there’s lots of people out there more so than ever have been.
And if you make the right decisions now and you’ve lead by example there, we can cause other people to do the same thing. If you don’t do that, you’re not gonna like the business or the physical environment that you operate in in 20 or 40 years. It’s way worse now that I’m 40 than I was when I was 20. And when I look at what it’s gonna be like when I’m 60, I’m not that happy with what I see. So, this is something I’m doing with Bulletproof, and something I would encourage you to do. Look at the sustainability of your business the day you decide you’re gonna start it, and build it in to how you think and how you operate. And I will thank you personally.
Nathan: Love it. It’s been an awesome ride chatting with you, Dave. You’re an extremely fascinating guy. And it seems that everything you do, you seem to dominate in. Whether that’s all your bio-hacking at play, whether that’s just something about you, I don’t know. It’s fascinating. So, thanks.
Dave: Nathan, just before we finish, just to put a point on that. It’s not about dominating, it’s about serving. Everything I’m doing here is to help other people, and that’s why I’m as successful as I am. And if you’re an entrepreneur and have greed, it’s not gonna work. Like do what you do because you love it, and because you’re helping the world and you’re helping other people, and it’s easy. That’s the trick. It’s the opposite of domination.
Nathan: Love it. Yeah, look, spot on. Spot on answer, so thank you. Thank you very much.
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