History of a Biohacker
This is a picture of me from entrepreneur magazine in the early nineteen nineties. You khun c I I kind of don't look like that anymore. More than a million copies of the magazine went out, so I'm pretty sure that that was actually my photo there's no arguing that I was fat. This picture right here is of the design on a t shirt that's the first thing ever to sell over the internet, I turns out and the first e commerce guy and there's a little problem with this, which you might have noticed in addition to being an entrepreneur, I was really fat. I only ate fifteen to eighteen hundred calories a day, and I was still fat and I thought to myself, this socks, I don't want to be fat, I don't like it that my t shirt has two exes in front of my size as an extra extra large, so I worked out an hour and a half a day, six days a week it's not that I was lazy it's that I was fat, they don't go together, I'm actually exaggerating here I really was only two hundred ninety seven pounds. I also started...
dating, um, I am a computer hacker, literally, I've worked in the computer security industry and cloud computing for most of my career I've learned how to manage big, complex systems, and the body and the world around us are both big, complex systems, so I learned howto do internet dating. This is another publicly available photo. This is my instructor photo from the university california my crew was doing really well, I kind of made six million dollars and I was twenty six very very fortunate timing, I don't think it's because I was an amazing entrepreneur, it's, because when you were in silicon valley at this time, if you didn't make a million dollars, it was kind of unusual. I worked out less because it's amazing how busy you get when you start growing up, I happen to cut my carbs not ridiculously so, but I lost fifty pounds in three months that was kind of a big deal, but then I got stuck my stress levels went up ah lot actually and I started getting brain fog. This is scary if you've ever had it. In fact, most people that I know of experience that sometimes I was getting in a lot most of the time you just think maybe I'm tired it's very hard to know am I working well? Am I not working? Well, in my case, I measured it, I literally use my computer every day to do the same task that required working memory and what I got out of that was some days I had a score that was high some days, they had a score that was low and I actually do a little graph and said something is messing with me. What could it be? So I started monitoring myself to troubleshoot what was going on. I looked at the world around me to see what the influences where so my conclusion was that I'm still fat. I've got fifty more pounds to lose, and I'm getting stupid, too. This is exactly what they told me in seventh grade, and my worst fears were coming true. I got into this phase where I was going to live forever, which is why to this day I still run an anti aging nonprofit group mentioned the six million dollars I was feeding a monster careers is how to use social networking to advance your career quickly, and then my company went bankrupt that is completely life disrupting, in fact, it's one of the more stressful things that can happen, according to the world health organization, when they look at stressors in people's lives, losing most of your money is one of the things equivalent to a death in the family or a divorce, so I experimented with intense stress. And I started putting my anti ageing research online when you see the bulletproof executive now this one online in nineteen ninety six and what that means is that you're not getting some sort of fresh thing you're getting some that's evolved and evolved with a lot of help from a lot of amazing experts I believe that in order to monitor and manage ourselves, we need to know what's happening instead of just sort of doing things and hoping they work so we started measuring my stress I apologize for the ugliness of this, but this is what lab tests look like this is a test of your ratio of adrenal hormones and you're in an optimal performance ranch if you're between three and six and this is easily read when you blow it out stress, tiredness, low energy and motivation if your score is greater than twelve so after losing six million dollars and working really, really hard, I kind of scored forty six when more than twelve is a problem. So now we got one big point. We know what stress can do and if you are listening to this right now, the odds are that you have a little bit more stress than the average person because, well, this is a stressful world right now, and people who are looking to perform better are almost always a little stressed that they're not performing well enough so we're going to talk not just about what to eat or how to exercise, but we're going to talk about what the nature of stress is stress is not good or bad it's just a thing that our bodies I do and it affects our bodies and we're going to talk about a use stress and control stress and manage stress in a way that increases your performance. I also got told before I was thirty this uh, lovely piece of information here says increased risk for stroke and heart attack, so this is not particularly fun here it is I've been working for oh a long time now ten years and I'm going to die and I think I'm eating healthy it was a serious problem in order to be able to do things I was doing, I cut my cows, I was eating a lower fat diet, I raised my protein, I tried all the things that I thought were goingto work, and this is the result if you're listening to this and you haven't and you haven't looked at what's going on with your own blood chemistry ever, even in a normal physical, I think you owe it to yourself to get a data point, do a test, how are you from a basic risk perspective? This is something that most people do for their cars you're going for a forty thousand miles service you read the computer in your car but are you getting this for your own body were the very forefront of a revolution where you can use simple devices even like your iphone and we'll show you how to do some of that but you should also make sure you get a blood test because you will find things that are are important to know in my case this is my brain I injected radioactive sugar to do a spect scan and then I tried to pay attention when I try to be attention they found there was very little blood flow in the parts of the brain the frontal parts of the brain that makes you more human and two pages of things about here's what is not normal in this brain in fact, I was what they called an interesting referral now if you ever gone to a psychiatrist and heard you're an interesting referral it's not good news uh a quote from the guy who did this work was dave inside your brain is total chaos I don't even know how you're standing here in front of me I kid you not you can fast forward ten years I'm doing pretty well cognitively this is the power of the techniques that I'm showing you so you might say why do I have a guy with brain damage on the screen in front of me right now talking to me when this scan was taken, I was working at a startup that we sold for six hundred million dollars, and I was getting my mba from warden at the same time. So this is a picture of, ah, high performance brain with tons of stuff that could be even higher performing now in the studio audience. You don't know this, but I put a radioactive sugar in the bulletproof coffee this morning, okay? Maybe I didn't really do that, but if we had and you injected anyway, then if we did the scan, none of you would have perfect brains either. And this is an example of the fact that all of us have significant capacity for cognitive improvement. We can improve the basically blood moves in the brain and the way our cells themselves work. So you fast forward ten years and actually more than a quarter million now over that time, that instead of spending on cars or something I spent on upgrading this, my car's been amazing. In silicon valley. I mentioned the mba. I've been an angel investor. My first book came out the better baby book about what to do before and during pregnancy published by wiley uh very, uh, very detailed book thirteen hundred references, but also accessible. I spent five years working on that book. I'm pretty grateful about that exercise is something that I do about once a week, except I'm on an airplane a lot, so sometimes I skip a week, but I'm happy that I'm forty and I look like I do with minimal exercise, not saying you shouldn't do more. I'm not saying that movement is bad for you, I'm just saying that if you want to actually get the most benefit in the least amount of time, you could get this amount of benefit in that amount of time and that's kind of a cool thing. I went two years on five hours of sleep or less per night while monitoring myself to see if I could find some problems that it caused, and at the end of it, my twenty four hour cardiac monitoring showed no problems in my auto gnomic nervous system and the conclusion there is you can teach yourself to sleep more efficiently. Also, my nutrition is pretty highly optimized it's there for my performance it's there to turn off food cravings and this is something that you'll get when you want tch this course, you're going to learn how to completely decimate food cravings. They're one of my pet peeves because I had such strong food cravings for so much of my life when you really, really learn the basic reasons you have food cravings, you can stop them and you stop wasting willpower on them we've learned and you'll hear about more details on this later in the course that your will power is something that is limited there's only so much you have per day no matter how stronger, no matter how much you want it, you have an amount of it that you can run out of if you waste your willpower on food cravings, then you're not using it on things that are much more important like your family or your career or something else in your health or your friends there's lots of places you can apply your will playing it too basic biological functions not worth it not worth the trouble I've raised my acute by more than twenty points we will talk in this course about techniques you can use in fact one technique that doesn't cost anything you can use we'll talk about and that will give you least ten points it gave me twelve my anti aging physician who I've worked with for more than ten years says my risk is a slows it gets my hdl the protective good cholesterol is higher than men are supposed to be able to have. So the kind of nutrition we're talking about here it's counterintuitive things like egg yolks things like coconut oil and butter those have moved me from stroke heart attack land before thirty two looks like this without a lot of effort and risk profile is good so how do you do this kind of thing? What are we going to really talk about in this course? We'll talk about hacking systems, thinking this is what computer guys do if you wanted to break into, say, a company on tv or most people would think you find a firewall and have to hack the firewall but a real hacker, you know, we do. We get a usb stick, a real shiny nice one. We put a virus on it, we drop it in the parking lot of the company, so one picks up. Oh, this must be someone's. They stick into the laptop, you're in. So this is the system of a company. The firewall is well protected. You go somewhere where it isn't protected some of the systems in the body, you know, you could open the body up with a knife and do something, but maybe there's another way in. And this is just a way of looking at the world that's geeky and we'll show this works. But this is what worked for me. Careful correlation over time. What that means is if you look at, say, a stock market chart, you can see something changed back then and you sort of draw a nice graph it's nice to know well, I'm gaining a pound a week it's not really visible on a daily basis but if I draw a big graph, I can do that so analyzing myself overtime was important and it is for you too, but really the gloves come off when you start looking at real time feedback now if you're sitting at home going, what is real time feedback here's the deal with your phone with very inexpensive device is things that would have cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a decade ago. You can now have get a signal off your body and play it back to yourself in a way that feels very natural but teaches your body and more specifically your nervous system to do things that you probably didn't know how to do before this khun let you cut years off the amount of time it would normally take to say teach yourself to control your stress I didn't invent all this stuff it helps that I've learned from some of the best people in the industry so this is an amalgamation and a distillation of an enormous amount of knowledge it helps that I learned to read when I was eighteen months old something I don't recommend you do if you're eighteen months old in listening and that's because it doesn't do good things for other parts of the body as your nervous system developed but I will tell you that I've read more than the average person and in the course of doing this, when I realized my brain was failing and I was overweight and I felt like there was nothing I could do about it, I spent four hours a night for four years going through medical studies and learning how this stuff works. So this isn't mi this is tens of thousands of people's research that I boiled down to the most important stuff I also mentioned for that lovely two year period of time, I was quite wealthy as a young man, and that let me have access to resource is that normally I would have on ly fantasized about, and I feel very grateful that I decided to invest the money that way instead of in a bmw wait not that I didn't also invested in a bmw, I also hacked my sleep all this time I learned how to sleep more efficiently, how to have less sleep and it's not that I'm saying sleep is bad thing sleep is a wonderful thing, but if you increase the efficiency of your sleep so you can wake up feeling rested and ready to go and full of energy that's a pretty valuable thing, and that does free up an hour or two or three hours a day for you to do the things you want to do, and that really matters. The short thing? Try what's supposed to work there's common knowledge everyone says it works try it, but if it doesn't work and your own measurements say, wait! I've been eating a low calorie diet I've been drinking diet sodas I've been doing all this stuff and I'm still overweight. Well, it's not because you didn't try hard enough it's because your assumptions about it didn't work, it doesn't work, you can ignore it and you can try what shouldn't work like bulletproof coffee if you believe this set of things about calories, then great if that's working for you enjoy being thin and healthy except it doesn't work, so I tried something that shouldn't work because I noticed it did we'll talk about how bulletproof coffee came about, but why? Adding fat to your beverages makes you thin, it's counterintuitive but hey, the data is pretty clear at this point on what it does. I also talked to some people outside my comfort zone this is me in south america in peru I did in iowa squish ceremony with a shaman down there. This is a traditional ceremony going back thousands of years and I'm not a shaman, but I decided that it would be really interesting tow learn from people who'd studied human consciousness from a very different perspective than my silicon valley geek you know, spreadsheets and rose and tables I don't think that this was something that changed the world for me, it was really interesting, but bringing eastern knowledge bringing knowledge in that I was unfamiliar with was part of the path that I went down in order to distill all this knowledge I learned advanced yoga, I don't practice yoga on a daily basis today or even a weekly basis because I am my time is in every five minute block is measured right now, but learning this taught me a lot about movement systems in the body and even about breathing rates and about thinking and about meditation. It was a very valuable practice for me. Also, I wanted too bad if you want to talk about some serious brain hackers, they didn't have the ability to put electrodes on the head in tibet a thousand years ago, so instead they just said, you sit in that room for twenty years and tell us what you notice that's kind of a lot, so I'm not a buddhist, but I can tell you that I think there's something we can learn from a society that spent, ah lot of time focusing on what's going on inside your head because in my case I didn't always like was going on inside my head, a little voice in your head saying that guy cut in front of you in traffic, you should kill him and all the other various things that all of us have little voice in your head that says do they like me do I look fat in these pants all those things that that go on inside your head you can control those things I've certainly learned to do that and it is an amazing feeling when you realize that that voice is within your control and that's what a lot of the buddhist practices are really about some more of that sort of thing I even spent four days fasting in a cave all by myself in the middle of the desert why would I do that? I wanted to see I want to feel being really alone so is that something that causes stress for me? Who knows because you're never alone if you live in a city it never happened so I decided I'd figured out what I found was I don't really have a problem being alone and I was really hungry but it was a good experiment along the way I met this woman named barbara fynn dies in barbara actually taught me more about how the nervous system works than any of these other experiences we're going to go into this maurine the stress module but would she explained to me was that there's a part of your body that operates much faster than we think and that that's a part of the body that gets programmed very very early in life in fact, it's programs when you're born it's program in the first seven years of life and this is like an automated defense system that keeps the meat of your body alive and for most of us the things that your body thinks it has to do to stay alive are very different from the things you actually have to do to stay alive and a large amount of the stress that you're feeling. The useless stress that doesn't help you grow comes from these automated rules and I will literally tell you several different techniques to reset your body's response and when you do that it unleashes this extra amount of energy right now that your body is wasting this very second on trying to make sure you don't die from things like tigers of course hacking the brain is part of it that would be a sixty four channel eeg head net this is a picture of me doing my first forty years of then training this is a pretty amazing training in seven days you spend most of the time hooked up to this giant eleven million dollars a computer system that looks at your brainwaves and teaches you to do what advanced zen meditators do now I signed up for this because I wanted to get the dozen extra acupoints that comes from this and this is the single most impactful bio hack I've done the way I rationalized the expensive this was an hour a day of meditation for forty years is a really big investment of my time and energy. If I could compress that down into seven very grueling days, it was a great investment of time, and I think it was something like fifty cents per hour for what it would've cost for all the meditation. These kinds of technologies are are out there, they're oftentimes not talked about, but man there's, some big stuff you can do to yourself. If you went back twenty or thirty years, you couldn't get this kind of data off the human body. It was always there, we didn't know it same thing for things like acupuncture. We used to think it was complete voodoo, but now that we have really sensitive measurement technologies, we realized, oh, there are paths in the body that match the meridians that the acupuncture people talk about their past of low resistance in the skin, and they're not nerves. We just didn't know they were there because we couldn't measure them before. So this explosion and cheap technology that lets us measure and monitor things has totally changed the way we can look at the brain at the heart, at the body, at the skin and it's also, it means that you can have control of those things in a way that wasn't accessible to you ever in all of human history and you don't have to go to a big university laboratory anymore either you can do it at home in bed this actually pictures of my brain waves I mentioned that I learned from the experts and the chairman of s e t h I dot com silicon valley health institute that's that twenty year old anti aging nonprofit group there's free video on that site for the last ten years every month we've had a two to three hour lecture and as a public service we put that up online people like steve folks steve wrote the book smart drugs and nutrients to he's an adviser to silicon valley health institute aubrey de grey, one of the most famous bio gerontologists on earth out of cambridge university has spoken there and bruce lipton, one of the leading writers on epa genetics. Gary top's, author of good calories, bad calories one of the most exhaustive books examining the history of nutritional research. I was really pleased that gary came and spoke there because gary not only is a writer for either science or nature magazine, I forget he also took the time to look at the political and economic factors that went into why we've been taught teo eat a certain way and it turns out there's a lot of politics behind your belief right now that you should be eating eight to ten servings of bagels every day? If you still believe that nonsense, we've had people come in and talk about strange things, like not just western medicine, but even what's the scientific validity of, you know, energy like what does that mean? What about human energy? What about this acupuncture sort of thing? And we've had people talk about metal metabolic hacks, how do you change the mitochondrial function in yourselves? So when people have something to say there and it's really impactful and actionable versus just interesting, I try to bring that into the bulletproof recommendations, and if it's something that you're not really going to be able to get access to or something that's very difficult to do, I probably won't talk about it very much, but I'll do my best to mention it because I feel like I owe that to the people who come to the site to say, look, this may not apply to you, but you should know about it if you look at feeling versus thinking this quantification idea, we talk about measuring the body there's also, what do you do when you measure the body, this is this respond and modify side of things, and here is measure and record. Historical feedback looking backwards behind you what what happened yesterday? What happened day before and this is what's happening right now in fact what's happening right now before I noticed it happening is a pretty cool thing to know and we're gonna look at some technologies here that teach you to know what's happening inside your body bio hacking which is a really interesting term when that physicians air using dr sarah gottfried ah friend who's a harvard trained gynecologist author of a book about hormones is talking about bio hacking hormones now and we have a variety of people who are saying this is the word that says I don't actually want to just be healthy I want control I want to outperform I want to feel better than normal so it's not just this table stakes I just want to be good enough this is the antithesis of good enough this is how dowe I'd be as good as I can be on the quantifying side over here you have the opposite perspective how do you how do I change what I'm doing right now how do I explore what's inside myself and what's the quality of my experience when you get further down you talk about what's in it for me when you talk about measuring and quantifying the quantified self movement how do I change my behavior so let's say the end of the week you realize I ate fourteen bagels this week my goal now is that next week I want to eat ten or less bagels so you could make a contract's decision to do this and next week you're going to work on eating only ten bagels. The problem is that some sometime between your decision tio on the ten bagels and actually eating ten bagels something happens in this realm the subterranean fifty milliseconds this is one of the things that will explore in our course what can you do in order to make sure that your decisions on a split second basis match what you want them to be versus what they actually are because there's something in there that isn't working right for most people but when you measure what you've done you can actually map yourself out you can draw a map and you look at the date the data you look at the quantities the measured amounts how do I how I feel and how do I think might be a good way to separate bio hacking from just measuring what you're doing and there's a side benefit here aside from hacking yourself if all of us effortlessly gather some data about what we're doing and then we put it up in the cloud what happens is that we learn things about the state of being human and that's really impactful and that's why bio hacking the quantified self is a revolution that I firmly believe is more important to us as a society than even the internet or cloud computing has been over the past twenty years, the next twenty years are gonna be so exciting because of this first question you mentioned quantified self a few times, but you haven't said what is, could you explain what that is? Thank you. Quantified self is a movement that started in two thousand eight from one of the editors of wired magazine, and this is the idea that you, khun, gather data on the human body. So these guys went out, started tracking their sleep. They started tracking all sorts of things about their behavior, and it's become something that you might hear about on tv occasionally and the easiest, most normal example of that is these little wrist bands like this one. This wristband without me doing anything seven wearing it is going to tell me how many steps I took and when hey, whenever you get around employee into my computer, it'll draw a graph of this howyou schools that data for me not very useful, but it cost me almost nothing to gather it. And nike, who makes this device, is getting data from millions of people who all upload when they were walking, so nike now probably knows more about when people go for a walk than any other company on the planet. Which is kind of cool if you sell shoes right? On the other hand, it's sort of interesting to know when our most people walking so there's things that no one's ever thought to ask in the history of business and cloud computing. What we've done is we've taken huge amounts of data, and we've crunched through it using supercomputers and figured out a way for some reason. On friday nights, people buy beer and diapers together. That's an actual fact why? Well, there's theories about why, but once you know people by beer and diapers together, then you put him next to each other by the cash register, and you sell more beer and divers, this is a fundamental thing we do on websites it's how amazon makes its money, so we look at human behavior, but in those cases, we did it for purchasing behavior because there were lots of dollars attached, and we spent hundreds of millions of dollars for, you know how to measure that. Well, now, this thing is one hundred forty nine box and it's, a one time expense there's, no monthly fee or anything like that. So what happens now is the cost of game. The data is almost free, but the data goes up there and we can still analyze it toe learn new things about what our species does stuff we never noticed before. I am really intrigued by learning more about this, because the more we learn, the more we can take control. In fact, this is how it works. Bio hackers might occasionally do crazy self experiments, like only sleeping five hours a night for a couple years to see what'll happen, but then you can measure them, because now we have tools to say what happens if you try and do this before I try to do, and I felt good, I didn't feel good didn't make me healthier, less healthy, there wasn't really way to know, but now data we can know, and then we can use that data to draw a map, and then that map tells us where the edge is and where the dragon's gonna say we're the dragons and the early explorers believed when you went to the edge of the earth and you fell off that's where the dragons were, well, we don't know the edge of the map. We haven't drawn the whole map for what we do from a data perspective and it's time for us to start drawing that map. If bio hacking is interesting to you, there's a giant infographic one that's not going to be visible in full detail in the screen if you go to bulletproof exact dot com and drop in your e mail address. This is one of the things that's in the bio hacker toolbox. This will explain all the different domains that come together in order to get the different disciplines that help you improve the basic things, your body, your mind, and what here I'm calling spirit or your emotions, but there's different levels of consciousness. And when you change one, you can change the others above it.