Why You Should Listen –
Jason Wachob is the Founder and CEO of mindbodygreen, the leading independent media brand dedicated to wellness with 12 million monthly unique visitors and the author of WELLTH: How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Resume. He has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Goop, and Vogue. On today’s episode of Bulletproof Radio, Dave and Jason talk about meditation, yoga, becoming an entrepreneur, WELLTH, values and motivation, soul-mates and more. Enjoy the show!
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Intro: Bulletproof Radio. A state of high performance.
Dave: You’re listening to Bulletproof Radio with Dave Asprey. Today’s cool fact of the day is that unborn babies are protected by the amniotic sac from harmful microbes like bacteria and things like that, but when they travel out of the birth canal, if they do, they get their first exposure to lactobacillus bacteria. The mom’s good bacteria that’s pretty much all over the place. I could say that having caught both my own kids. These bacteria coat the baby’s skin, and when the baby swallows, that beneficial bacteria goes right in, which kick-starts your whole microbiome. I did deliver both kids via vaginal birth, we were lucky that that all worked out. Just to make sure that it worked, I took lactobacillus infantalis, which is a probiotic that infants need. You actually pour it right on the nipples before nursing a couple times just to make sure that you get a good start there. We did that for my kids. Well now I got to say “nipples” on Bulletproof Radio. You knew it was coming.
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Today’s guest is Jason Wachob. He’s the founder and CEO of mindbodygreen and if you’re online, you’ve probably seen some of their stuff because the mindbodygreen website gets about 15 million visitors a month, which is pretty cool. Their content is all about bringing together leaders in fitness and medicine, health, spirituality, and nutrition, and the mission and Jason’ mission as the founder of mindbodygreen is to redefine successful living. The reason that I’ve invited Jason on the show today is that he just has a new memoir titled “Wellth,” as in W-E-L-L-T-H, “How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Resume.” I think he has a lot to offer you on the show today because he’s a lifestyle hacker who’s spending a lot of attention to what makes him perform better. Jason, welcome to the show.
Jason: Thanks so much, Dave, it’s an honor.
Dave: You and I met in person at your annual conference that you stream live. I think I gave a talk there, if memory serves. Yeah, I did.
Dave: I did give a talk, and just got to hang out with all sorts of cool people that you hang out with. I think I met Emily Fletcher there as well, if memory serves, and even a couple of people that are now members of the Bulletproof team, so I appreciate that you pulled together these nice groups of very influential people who are paying a lot of attention to how the world around them affects their biology and just health and wellness in general. What does “wellth” mean to you, though? It’s an interesting title. You spell “wellth” wrong. What is wellth with two L’s versus the wealth that Warren Buffet’s paying attention to?
Jason: I really believe in this idea that it’s time to redefine successful living. To me wellth, W-E-L-L-T-H is the way we should be thinking about it. I always start with, look I like money, but there’s more to life, and I believe true happiness, true success, is this blend of mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, and environmental well-being, and that life is about abundance, not just pure riches. Although once again, nothing against money. I learned that the hard way. I started out as an equities trader, and saw very quickly that money did not buy happiness. I went on my own personal health journey, and came to this new definition, which is something I’m passionate about.
Dave: You and I are kind of cut from the same cloth there. I remember I made $6 million when I was 26. I was like, “This is great.” Of course I lost it when I was 28. I always say that, and people edit that out. It’s like, “No. I felt it, and then I didn’t have it.” I remember to this day all I had to do was walk into the CEO’s office and say, “I quit,” and I could have taken my $6 million. Instead what I did is I said I’m going to keep working for the company even though the stock price is tanking and I’m not allowed to trade the stock while I work there. I watched my $6 million go away.
The reason I did that was that I knew that if only I had $10 million, I’d be happy. That was my thinking. That is exactly in alignment with what you’re saying there. It’s about abundance, but most people, especially if you’re younger and a lot of your audience is millennials with mindbodygreen, if you’re younger, you’re like, “Okay there’s all this stuff I want. I want freedom. It requires money.” What they don’t teach you in school and anywhere is that $75,000, that’s the price of happiness.
Jason: Yep. We all get caught up in this idea of keeping up with the Jones’s, especially here in New York and I’m sure where you are, where for some person it’s 10, but once you get to 10, well the next guy’s got 50. Look at the house he has, or look at the wife, or look at whatever it may be. It becomes very dangerous very quickly.
Dave: It’s one of the reasons I live on Vancouver Island because here we usually compete to see whether your old broken down Volvo wagon smells more like raw milk than someone else’s. Just kidding. I do live in a hippy area where keeping up with the Jones’s is less of an issue. I travel a third of the time, and I hang out with all kinds of people. You’re right. You can get caught up in that, “I’ve got to have the newest Tesla right now,” kind of thing. It stresses you out, and you’re happy for like five minutes after you get it, and then it’s like, “What’s next?”
Jason: It’s a balance, you know? I believe in goal-setting. I’m growing a business like you’re growing a business. It’s important to set goals, it’s important to work your ass off, it’s important to achieve goals. At the same time, it’s this process of being grateful every step along the way. That’s hard.
Dave: Let me ask you this then. What gets you up every morning? Why do you do this?
Jason: I’ll give you my quick background. Fast-forward, I went to Columbia, I played basketball, became an equities trader. I became an equities trader because I didn’t have money. Back then, this was 1998, if you wanted to make money, you did three things: You became a doctor, if you had grades and aptitude for science, you became a lawyer if you had grades for law school, and if you had none of the above, you went to work on Wall Street. I didn’t have grades or an aptitude for science, so I became an equities trader. My best year, my second year, I made $800,000. I was able to pay off all my school debt, was able to buy my mother a car. Here I thought that was a lot of money. I was miserable. I was miserable because a relationship was falling apart, and talk about a contrast. Here I am my whole young adult life looking for this thing, I think it’s going to bring me happiness and freedom, and I was miserable.
Went on this journey, became an entrepreneur. Various businesses, a lot of them didn’t work, and found myself running a start-up about seven or eight years ago, flying 150,000 miles domestic. You can’t tell, but I’m 6’7″, you’re a big guy too Dave.
Dave: Oh, you got three inches on me. That’s a pain.
Jason: Sitting in a coach seat. It’s not fun. Combined with the start-up wasn’t doing well, I was stressed out of our mind. Two extruded disks in my lower back pressing on my sciatic nerve, basketball injury combined with flying and stress. Excruciating sciatica in my right leg, I couldn’t walk. Went to a doctor, he said, “You need surgery, non-negotiable.” I sought a second opinion, and I have nothing against surgery, I just saw it as something I generally don’t want to do. Back surgery, the success rates isn’t actually that good. He said the same thing, he said, “You need back surgery.” It was almost like an afterthought, he said, “You know, maybe some yoga or therapy might help.” I said, “Okay. I’ll try some really light yoga.” Started to do about five to 10 minutes in the morning and the evening. I started to feel better, and started to look at things like stress and sleep and nutrition and the environment, and started to make all these changes in my life. Over about six months, I completely healed. I never had back surgery, and I’m fine.
Dave: Were you still an equities trader when you were doing this?
Jason: That was gone, I was running another start-up, an organic chocolate chip cookie company that was in every Whole Foods Market in the country. 200 Whole Foods, back in like 2008. I completely healed, and I started to go down this rabbit hole. I was like, “Holy cow. Everyone has health wrong. Every print magazine leads you to believe it’s about vanity and weight loss, and the Internet is dominated by people Googling for symptoms and freaking out, running to the emergency room.” I said, “It’s more nuanced, it’s Eastern meets Western. It’s more holistic, it’s this blend of once again, mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, environmental well-being. No one’s talking about this.”
That’s how mindbodygreen launched, and our mission is to help people live their best life. We have a point of view on that. We have a point of view that’s narrow and that we believe it’s once again this blend. We also are open to whatever works for you. That is our mission, that’s what gets me up every day. It’s exciting. We’re changing lives. There is a media company, there’s always better content, more content, more things we can offer. That’s what keeps me going and gets me excited every day to come to work.
Dave: It’s a different thing than getting up every day to do some trades in the equity field. A lot of people don’t know I used to do a ton of options trading and day trading and things like this while I was working in tech. It’s like constantly chasing this, like “Yes I made some money, but I added zero value to anything.”
Jason: Exactly. I actually liked trading. As an athlete, I loved trading. I was a competitive guy. Absolutely right, at the end of the day I was like, “I’m not really creating value here.” I also have no skill set. I’m good at this one thing, but that doesn’t mean anything anywhere else. Yeah, I really want to help people and seeing a change in my own life, and in the journey meeting people like yourself who have amazing stories and are inspiring on a daily basis, that’s what keeps me going every day.
Dave: Let’s zoom in on your book a little bit. I want to talk about, you have different chapters in here, and certainly the big structure I’d agree with. You talk about steps and basic principles in the book. Kind of break it down for me.
Jason: I came up with these pillars: eat, move, live, breathe, love, work, believe, thank, heal, ground, I think I got laugh. I think I may have got most, I think I got 11 right there.
Dave: That’s pretty good memory. I was just testing your working memory, and you passed.
Jason: Well because of having Bulletproof every morning.
Dave: Oh, are you now? That’s awesome.
Jason: Yeah, every morning. It’s this idea of building a life and looking at your life holistically. To me, being healthy is a combination of multiple things. It goes beyond diet, although I think diet plays a huge role. If you’re not happy in your relationship, if you’re not happy with friendships, if you’re not connecting to nature, I think all these things are interconnected. Really wanted to dive in to each element of health and wellness, which I think are vital, and I’ve experienced that in my own personal life.
Dave: Okay. Tell me about what you did with yoga and your back. I think a lot of people are interested in that. I get people with back injuries all the time coming to Bulletproof or just asking me, and I’ve had lots of issues. I actually have spina bifida occulta, which means the lower parts of my spine didn’t fuse all the way because my mom didn’t process folic acid very well. [inaudible 00:14:51], what do you know? It’s genetic. There’s no symptoms from it other than maybe my low back is a little sore sometimes. Talk about your story. Why yoga, what form of yoga? What did it do for you?
Jason: Sure. I think the back pain actually probably started in college when I was playing in my junior year when I started to have weird hamstring pain. When you don’t, everything is the lower back, something I didn’t realize at the time. Then the pain started to reoccur towards my butt. Then it just went further and further south to my toes and my leg was a lightning rod. At the time, surgery seemed like it was a serious option that I was willing to consider, but saw it as a last resort. I saw yoga as this thing where hey it might work. I’ll give it a shot. If it doesn’t work, I’ll get surgery. I’ll be fine. Right away, mentally I’m starting to think, “No matter what happens, I’m not going to be a cripple. I’m going to be okay,” which in retrospect I think was very powerful in this healing process, this idea of letting go and being positive, and there’s science to support that.
I started really light, like five to ten minutes, four or five exercises, reclining ankle to knee was my go-to, standing forward bend, just do five to ten minutes morning, evening. Wouldn’t go to a public yoga class. I found some stuff online, and just kept on doing it. Started to feel the pain subside. One thing I’ve learned about back pain is the further south it goes, the worse. The further north it goes and the more localized it becomes or closer to being localized, the better. Right away, I started to feel the back pain start to come up. I started to feel better. Right again mentally, I’m saying to myself, “wow there’s progress.” Once again, really beneficial in the healing process. It sucks when you’re doing something and there’s no progress, but then to see the progress, positive reinforcement.
It was really that simple to be honest with you. I remember I had this moment to in sort of my spiritual awakening, I was going to see a massage therapist and she was saying how the lower back, the root chakra was tied to stress and money worries. I was like, “Holy cow. Wow.” I’m blown away. The worries, the money, I didn’t have any. It just all made sense. You know when you look at these New Age things and all of a sudden they hit home and then you’re like, “Oh my god?” I had one of those moments. That just led me down this path, and I didn’t even go to a public yoga class for like a year. I was afraid to go.
Dave: How long after you started doing yoga did it take you to buy those spandex yoga nickers?
Jason: Never. Couldn’t do it. Never. I wear a T-shirt and shorts, that’s it.
Dave: I got to say, I don’t have any of that Spandex stuff. I did pretty advanced yoga for five years, and I did buy the male non-spandex tight Lululemon yoga pants that are really stretchy. They’re actually way better than sweatpants for yoga. I got to say. They’re not like nickers, and they’re not the spray-on yoga pants or any of that. There is something to be said for that. Tell me about your first time you went to a yoga class. Now you’ve been secretly watching Youtube or something, doing yoga at home, what happened when you walked in the first time?
Jason: The first time I went was actually Tara Style’s class. My wife went first. My wife would be my guinea pig, she would go test it out. She went to Tara and Michael’s studio, Strala, and she went to a class. I sort of caught the end, I’m peeking in the window, looks like I can do this. Then after class, and I had known Tara and Michael online just briefly in social media but had never met in person. Then after class I went in, and we started talking. Michael and Tara convinced me, “We’re not going to hurt you. We’ve got people with bad backs before,” and it seemed gentle. Then I asked Colleen after, my wife. She said, “You know, I think you can do it.” I really started practicing yoga in public classes at Strala. I started to go everyday, and Strala is very similar to a nice easy Vinyasa flow. I lived there for like a year. It was fantastic.
Dave: That’s a cool story. I was similarly, “I don’t know if I really want to go to yoga class.” This was about ten years ago. The reason I went is that I’m dating this hot Swedish blonde doctor, who’s now my wife. She’s in Sweden, and she’s like, “You should take up yoga.” Pretty much when you’re newly dating someone and they tell you to do something, you’re like, “Okay.” She said something to me that was really helpful. She said, “Dave, my advice is that you find a yoga teacher who’s extraordinarily attractive.” I go, “Really? Why?” She goes, “So you’ll go to yoga class.” Which was very, very wise. I found a cute yoga teacher in Mountain View. Eventually after the first class I was like, “It actually doesn’t matter.” I would do yoga probably four nights a week and once on the weekend. These are hour-long classes, and it made a difference for me.
For me I always had fear around my knees because I have had three surgeries on one knee. I had a screw in my knee and I’m like, “I really don’t want any more injuries.” Just like you, after doing this for awhile, a lot of pain goes away even though there’s this risk of like if I sit on my knees for awhile, I might not be able to walk for a day. That’s been the case for me since high school. All of a sudden, I can sit on my knees meditating, and it doesn’t matter. It’s kind of miraculous, right?
Jason: Yeah, and I have issues like that too. I’ve dislocated my shoulders, my knees are stiff. I’ve got an ankle that’s messed up. All these things too, and yoga my back was the big thing, but all of a sudden I started to gain mobility in my shoulders, and I started …
Dave: It’s nice to have a mobile shoulder.
Jason: In my knees, and everything, it all started to come back. I became a huge believer in yoga and still practice to this day, largely at home though.
Dave: I like to think about practicing yoga at home.
Jason: Well, there’s a benefit to that.
Dave: No, I’m actually working on having a teacher come out to the labs. I’m rural enough that I’m not in a position to spend 15 minutes driving somewhere and 15 minutes driving back at a time that works for them, where it’s just too much. I’m actually holding mini classes here at Bulletproof Labs, where I have a few friends come over and have a teacher come over, so I can get back into it.
Jason: I love that, and that’s the beauty of the practice. My practice today, I do twice a week for 15-20 minutes, and that’s all I need and it’s fantastic, and I think that’s part of the wellness journey. You find what works and you work it into your life, and then you evolve when you need to evolve.
Dave: What do you think about using yoga as a power workout?
Jason: I think it’s fantastic if you find the right teacher and class, but it’s all about the teacher and class. I think some teachers and classes just aren’t efficient and others are great.
Dave: It’s something that is hard to express for people. The quality of the teacher matters so much. I remember one time, this was back in Mountain View, California in Silicon Valley. I’ve always had a hard time where you sit with your legs straight and bend forward, probably because of my low back fusion thing, but I’m tall, you’re tall too. It’s been one of the more challenging things to bend forward. One day, I had a teacher, his name was Tony Jeanetti. Anyhow, he was like, “Just tilt your pelvis.” Just said this one word, and I gained four inches of forward fold with that one little word he said. I’d been doing yoga for two years. I didn’t have the control systems where I didn’t know my body would do that, so I never asked it to do that. It’s that learning process, it actually changes your brain. I think it’s fascinating stuff, I’d like to do more with it than I do now, but there’s lots of fascinating things out there these days.
All right. Let’s talk about aligning work with your values. This is something that you must hear this every day. I hear it every day from people saying, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t like this kind of job. I want a job that aligns with my values.” They think, “That means I have to go start a company.” I think most people aren’t cut out to be entrepreneurs. It takes a certain kind of brain and a certain personality type and a certain predilection in order to do it. What does it mean when you write in your book that make your work align with your values. What are examples of how people can do that?
Jason: I think it depends on the person. I totally agree, most people should not become entrepreneurs. I think unless you are comfortable with uncertainty, adversity, ambiguity, risk, I just think most people are not built, period. I would highly, highly discourage it. It’s funny because I think in 1998 when I went to become a trader, Wall Street was glamorized and today we’re in the age of Silicon Valley on HBO and start-ups and entrepreneurs, and it’s sexy and unicorns and all that stuff. It’s not the way things work.
Dave: There are a lot of want-repreneurs out there. “I want to do it because it’s cool,” but at their core, most really successful entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs because they can’t not become entrepreneurs. They get fired from everything else. I’m certainly like that. I was intra-preneur when I was in Silicon Valley because even then I couldn’t do the big corporate thing until I was pretty old. I finally tempered myself where I could make myself do it even though I didn’t like it.
Jason: Right. I agree. I think we’re probably similar in that way. Aligning work and passion, I think it starts with one doing a deep dive. What are you passionate about in life? What are you good at? Sometimes that’s more of an external thing, like, “I’m passionate about health and wellness.” That’s great. I think you need to go deeper. Are you passionate about connecting to people? Are you passionate about crunching numbers? Are you passionate about being creative? I think you have to drill down to what you really like doing, and try to build a life, build a career around that. Sometimes you can find that in a job, and I think sometimes you can’t. That’s okay. I think if you’re really passionate about travel or trying great restaurants, then there may not be a job out there that that fits into the job description, but you can certainty create that life by finding a job that gives you the time and the resources to go to great restaurants and travel. I think it’s a bit of a mix, and you have to really do some introspection. What do you really enjoy doing? What are you good at?
Dave: Did you ever think about becoming a yoga teacher?
Jason: Never. Never.
Dave: The reason I’m asking that is that a lot of people when they first discover yoga they’re like, “Wow.” That’s one of the problems, I actually did look into becoming yoga certified. I spent five days a week doing this anyway. I might as well get paid for it. I feel like I have something to offer people. I was looking at Anusara, which is a form of yoga that’s …
Jason: John Friend
Dave: Yeah, exactly. Do you know John?
Jason: Not well.
Dave: Not personally?
Dave: Yeah, this is an option on Iyengar yoga, but it’s a couple thousand hours of teacher training. It’s a hardcore training. I wanted the physical challenge and the benefit of doing it, but come on. I’m an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. I’m a vice president of cloud security, things like this. There’s no way that I’m going to make a living where I can afford food as a yoga teacher living in a big city.
Jason: Do I see Bulletproof Yoga in the product pipeline down the road, Dave?
Dave: No. I don’t think so. There’s so many good yoga teachers. I don’t have to do that one. I really did think about this years ago. Same thing like massage therapy. It’s not a good fit for me. I like getting massages, and I like working as a healer. I know all sorts of weird healing. A lot of bio-hacking stuff touches that. This is I think the problem people struggle with, and kind of telling some personal stories here and so are you because you write about aligning work with your values, but if your values are, “I really love yoga,” or like you said, “I really like to go out and eat at restaurants,” you’re probably not going to be a restaurant reviewer because we have Yelp and it’s free. Sorry. It’s just how it is, despite the fact that Yelp might extort those restaurants by deleting the positive reviews unless you pay them. Yelp we’re watching you, we know you do this.
What would you say to someone though, let’s just paint a stereotypical person who’s early in their career, 25-28, somewhere like that, and they’re like, “Look, I have a job, and my boss tells me what to do everyday. I don’t really like it. I want to do what I love.” Right now it’s like, “Well I should go out and start a company and live in Thailand and work a couple hours a week.” What would you say to someone who has that plan versus all these other things?
Jason: God, I’d say a couple things. One is I do think a good place to start is to ask the question, “What would I do if I didn’t need to make any money?” What would I do for free? When I started mindbodygreen, I didn’t make any money for three years. I was married at the time, my wife was very understanding. Ask that question. Then I think you need to ask some pragmatic questions too. “Can I make a living doing this? What does that look like?” If you’re young and single, you’ve got a little more freedom. If you’re not, you don’t. I think it’s important to be pragmatic about it. I think it’s important to ask people. LinkedIn, one of the greatest tools ever. Find people who are doing what you’re doing, and see if you can connect with them, or maybe you have a friend and ask real questions. Do they like what they’re doing? Are they earning money? Ask those types of questions.
Then three I think there’s something to be said for gaining real-world experience. If someday you want to be a bio-hacker, you want to be an entrepreneur, they should probably work for you, Dave, first, before you decide to go to Thailand and start a company. There’s knowledge, there’s experience. That’s the best way to learn. Don’t just jump out of the gate. I think it’s so rare you can be successful doing that.
Dave: I think Mark Zuckerberg almost did the world a disservice because he’s like, “Look. I started this company.” By the way, the first Facebook servers were at my company’s data centers. Bam, we were there back when they were “The Facebook.” Here’s the thing. He was phenomenally successful and is really good at what he does, but that’s an example of a unicorn. I see all these people who have no apprenticeship, no mentorship at all. They’re like, “I’m just going to start a company.” It’s like walking into a fan that’s running.
Jason: And burning at the same time.
Dave: Nice, exactly. How did you learn to become an entrepreneur though? Equities traders generally aren’t good entrepreneurs. Who taught you?
Jason: Well so being an equities trader, there was a lot of entrepreneurial spirit there. I had my own PNL, there was a lot of freedom. I ended up leaving and trading my own money. There was a lot of freedom there. Part of it was, there were moments in time where I thought about going back to the “establishment.” I just couldn’t get a job. In some ways was an accidental entrepreneur, and started to gain experience, first it was in healthcare, and then consumer products, and that got me into wellness. Then when I got to media, it sort of started at scratch. Look, it took three or four years before I thought mindbodygreen had a chance at being successful. I think part of that reason is I didn’t have experience in media, probably would have happened a lot faster. I thought I was smart, I’ll work my ass off. I’m passionate, I’ll figure it out. Sure enough, I did. I’m sure luck played a role in it.
I believe in experience. I believe in real-world experience, a lot of the stuff they can’t teach you in school, whether you go to Harvard Business School or what have you. Having mentors, having real-world experience is invaluable. That’s something I’ve gained, and it’s still something I’m working on. I have a great mentor now I’m working with, and I know I don’t have all the secrets. That’s important. I think the moment you stop seeking to be better as an entrepreneur, as a person, in life and in business is sort of when the music stops and it’s over.
Dave: Yeah. It’s very well said. I’m thinking back one of my very first companies, it turns out was the first company to ever do E-commerce. I sold a caffeine T-shirt out of my dorm room over something called Usenet before the world wide web was invented. It turns out, that’s kind of a groundbreaking thing. I sold these shirts to a dozen countries and it was born out of desperation because they raised tuition. It turns out it was by 900%. I went back and I did the math. I used to think it was 1500%. I’m like, “I can’t afford this. My summer job doesn’t pay for my college anymore, so I’m going to start this thing.” It worked.
If I had accepted the abundant offers of help from successful entrepreneurs, I would have probably gone to Silicon Valley and started some Vistaprint or some sort of amazing company. I didn’t do that because I was actually too stubborn and angry to take on mentorship. For people listening to this, it’s like “just go out and do it on your own,” is probably not a good strategy. Go out and find someone who just absolutely kicks ass at doing what you love, and offer to sweep the floor. You learn more doing that than you will doing it yourself and walking into the buzz saw a few times.
Jason: Yeah, and it’s hard. I’ve looked for mentors for years, and to be honest a lot of them aren’t that impressive once you meet them. I think that’s a lot of the challenge, where you grow as a company you grow as a person. I’m happy to say I finally have someone who’s fantastic and who’s really been incredibly successful and passionate, but it took awhile to get there. I think that’s the problem too. We live in an age, look everyone’s passionate about wellness and self-improvement, and there are countless numbers of 25-year-old life coaches. I love that people are trying to be positive and help other people. That’s fantastic, I think that’s great, but on some level, is there really knowledge and experience there? Probably not. We live in interesting times.
Dave: Very well said. There’s an awful lot of life coaches out there. I mean I run the Bulletproof Coach Training program there. One of the things that I look for are usually people who have suffered a little bit because having to learn to overcome something, whether it’s financially or from a personal performance perspective like, “My brain doesn’t work,” whatever it is, it sometimes gives you enough arrows in your back to be a successful coach. Then there’s the coaching skills themselves. I’m a little frustrated when you see people like, “I’m just going to hang out a shingle and call myself a life coach.” When I first got really serious about this entrepreneur stuff, well I’ve actually always been kind of serious about it, but I just started looking at personal development stuff going back more than 10 years. I hired three or four coaches. These guys are $300 an hour. It’s kind of like you’re saying, I realized after I was a couple thousand dollars poorer, I’m like, “You know, they didn’t have anything that I didn’t have.”
What I really should have found was someone who had 20 or 30 years more experience than me and was willing to share it. Most of those people you can’t buy. If you can, it’s a $10,000 engagement for a month, and they come in and spend two days with you. Man, there’s a lot of value there if you get to the point in your career where you can bring in someone who’s started a company that grew to $100 million in three years and done it twice. I’m working with a guy like that right now. Okay, that’s cool.
Jason: It’s fantastic when you get one. It’s really game-changing.
Dave: Well we got off track a little bit, but that’s part of what’s actually in your book. Your book is very broad-reaching. You talk about, that was your work chapter we’re going there. I look to give value to people who are listening to the show, and I figure that that’s an area where they can be really helpful. Let’s switch gears. You talk about meditation and you talk about the chapter called “Feel,” about how the concept of energy is real and how it affects your work and life environment. Are you some kind of like a New York hippy? I mean, energy is real? I’m kidding. What is “energy is real?” What does that mean to you? Describe this energy.
Jason: I think we’ve all had those moments when you’ve been in a room and it feels tense. Yeah, you can cut it with a knife. The story I tell in the book, this is as far from New Age as possibly you can go in this story, I was talking with my old basketball coach at Columbia Armont Hill, who is now with the LA Clippers. I was talking about violence in the NFL, and just getting his take on it as a guy, his professional sports world. He said, “You know look. These guys practice violence. Think about it. How can you turn that off?” He said, “You know, I’ve been in rooms with NFL players. You can feel it, man.” You know what? He’s right. I think we’ve all had experiences like that. I think we’ve had experiences where you’ve been in rooms with people like yourself and inspiring people in the wellness community who are doing amazing things, and you just can’t help but feel the energy. You’re uplifted, and it’s great.
We all have those friends who there’s that friend you have who whenever you see him or her, they’re just always positive and upbeat, and you’re like, “You know? I wish I could see this person more often.” You just can’t feel nothing but joy. Then I think we all have friends too where they’re just the Debby downer. Hopefully we don’t have a lot of those friends, and hopefully we’re slowly eliminating them, but you get together and it’s one complaint after the other, and the conversation just goes south. You just walk away feeling like, “Why did I do this again?”
Dave: Yeah, I just took a beating over dinner, right?
Jason: Yeah, like, “I thought we were going to talk about me. What happened?” Sure, friendship has ups and downs and there’s give and take, but that’s what I mean by energy. It is palpable, specifically with relationships. I’m a big believer in who you hang out with really sets you up for success and vice versa if you’re hanging around the wrong people. I think there’s truth to this notion that you’re a combination of the five people you hang out with most.
Dave: As you become more successful, it becomes harder and harder to hang out with really successful people because they’re all too damn busy.
Dave: I look back at my Wharton class. I haven’t seen most of my Wharton friends. I E-mail them occasionally, but we see each other maybe some subset of them maybe once a year, if even that. How do you go about hanging out with people more successful than you because you’re already pretty successful with mindbodygreen.
Jason: Sure. You know, it’s quality. It’s trust. The inner circle becomes smaller. I think in your 20s, the inner circle is pretty big. We all recall going to that first wedding in our 20s, and it’s like everyone’s invited and everyone’s there. I’m 41 now, I think your circle starts to shrink. You’ve got family obligations, you got work obligations. I think it becomes more about quality versus quantity.
Dave: It does, and that’s a good observation. When I said “more successful than you,” I hope it’s really clear there, I mean more successful at something, not necessarily, “I only hang out with people who have more money,” is like the biggest asshole thing you could ever do.
Jason: Yeah. To me it’s about hanging out with people who are inspiring and doing incredible things in their life and success in that, whether it’s the beauty of mindbodygreen, our office, community is at the center of what we do. Every day, someone’s coming in there. It could be some person who’s a yoga instructor that not a lot of people know, but he’s got an amazing personal story, and that person comes in and you’re talking to him, and you just get amped, or a celebrity who’s incredibly passionate about acting and being the best they can be. Or a doctor an entrepreneur, I think those people even if the interaction is not frequent, the quality that you get out of that conversation, that interaction is just fantastic. To meet with people who are living their passion, living their best life, inspiring people, it can’t help but rub off on you. The quality is just so important.
Dave: It’s something that I spend a lot of my focus on as an entrepreneur, especially because I live in a more rural area. It’s like, if I’m going to go somewhere, I’m very conscious about, “Okay how do I get to you?” Right before we started recording, I was like, “Oh that’s right, you’re in New York.” I literally sent a note to my assistant saying, “Okay next time I’m in New York, Jason and I are going to hang out. We’ll do a recording at mindbodygreen, we’ll have dinner, whatever.” I actually now have a list in all the cities where I travel that’s like okay here’s the people I want to go spend time with. That is something that no one teaches you to do that in school. Your parents probably didn’t teach you to do that. If you become conscious around this, you end up building community and end up having these people there that have the kind of energy that rubs off on you and that hopefully you can benefit as well in those relationships.
Jason: It’s absolutely critical. The friends will change, and the community will change. It’s absolutely critical. There’s not enough time in the day period to do what you do and I do, and so you just have to be super conscious of your own time because at the end of the day, you will not be successful if you’re not taking care of yourself. If you’re taking care of everyone else and trying to meet everyone else’s demands, you’re the one who’s going to suffer, and everyone suffers. You’re not going to be able to fulfill the mission, they’re not going to be happy. Then it’s just terrible for everyone.
Dave: It’s amazing. This is one of those things you’re not going to learn as a first-time entrepreneur in your mid-20s. You’re in a different stage in life, and there’s the Eriksonian stages of adult development and all that stuff. I should tell you, I wish someone had explained to me what’s going to happen with your relationships over time and here’s how you cultivate them and all that. It’s funny, I’m sure that if I asked my dad who’s in his mid-70s now the same thing, no one told him what was going to happen between 25 and 35 either or 35 and 45 or whatever. Honestly, I haven’t really asked that many people what happens between 43 where I am now and 53. Now that I think about it, I’ll ask a couple people because they’ve probably lived it.
Jason: They have, and there’s certain things that I remember someone told me one time, “Nothing good happens after,” and inserts time at night. “Nothing good happens after 9:00 or 10:00,” and these things. I’m sure I had to find those lessons out the hard way before I started to realize that.
Dave: Are you one of those morning people?
Jason: Not really. I wake up around 6, 6:30.
Dave: You wake up in the middle of the night. I knew it. I just did a post yesterday. It looks like 40% of people are not morning people, and the 60% of people who are morning people try to do sleep-in shaming. Now I’ve just rebelled against that, and I became a 5 a.m. riser for two years just to prove to myself that I could do this. Then I realized one day that, “You know what? That’s not natural for my body. It just isn’t.” I have a long Circadian window, and I’m way happier, and I sleep better if I sleep in a little bit. Ideally I’d wake up around 8:30 or 9, but I have kids so I wake up closer to 7:30. I stay up late and I get my best writing done after 11. I’m working on my next book right now, so I stay up late.
You wake up early. I’m going to ask you this because you do health and wellness, you do all this stuff. I think people listening want to know, what do you do in the morning? You wake up around 6:30. Do you meditate, do you ring crystal bowls? I have no idea. Give me your morning.
Jason: My wife and I actually don’t set our alarm, and our office is three blocks away. Sometimes, 6:30 will go to 7:30, but usually on the early side. First thing I will do on most days is meditate. I will brush my teeth, go back to bed, sit up straight, and I practice Vedic meditation or tiem, mantra over and over, 20 minutes.
Dave: No kids, then.
Jason: No kids yet. We will soon hopefully.
Dave: By the way, get ready to give up your meditation practice in the morning once you have kids.
Jason: Yeah, I’ve heard that.
Dave: It’s called the knee in the groin while you’re sleeping meditation. I’ve got that one down.
Jason: We’ll meditate. My wife will join me sometimes, sometimes she won’t. If for some reason we’re running kind of late, we don’t meditate. Next thing we do is breakfast. Like I was saying to you earlier, I’ve been doing Bulletproof coffee for the past three weeks, which has been fantastic. What’s funny for me there has been I’ve always been such a big breakfast guy. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper. This is a bit of a new thing. I’ve been feeling great, I’m huge Bulletproof.
Dave: Has it changed your meditation? I’m curious. Do you feel a difference?
Jason: I always meditate before.
Dave: Oh, before. Okay cool.
Jason: Yeah always before I put any caffeine or food. Then we do that, and then we always get the print edition of the Wall Street Journal. I’ll look at the website, I’ll look at work E-mail immediately, see if there’s anything pressing. Then we just walk to work, which is really nice to do as a couple. Our office is three blocks away, and so we just roll into it and get going.
Dave: Do you exercise in the morning? Do you exercise every day? What’s your deal there?
Jason: Oh wait, there’s one key thing I forgot to mention. The first thing I do, before I even start meditation is I repeat the words “thank you” silently over and over in my head. Big believer in a gratitude practice. Before I even begin the meditation, the moment I open my eyes and I’m awake and I see my wife and we’re here, I just, “thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you.” Before I do anything, I do that. I’ve done that since I was a little kid. My mother ingrained that in me. I change all the time. Currently, I meditate every day. I don’t always do twice a day, but I never miss a day, so I’m always going to do once a day. If I miss the morning, I’ll do the afternoon or vice versa.
There was a period in my life where I did yoga everyday. What happened there was mindbodygreen started to grow. I started to work more and more. My everyday became three days a week, and then it became three days a month. Then all of a sudden I said, “What happened to my yoga practice? All this wellness is making me sick. I’m making everyone better, but what about me?” I came to the conclusion, I said, “Look. Work isn’t going to change. What’s more realistic than me hopping on the subway for an hour and a half yoga class and carving out three hours door-to-door is I’m just going to start a home practice.” Now every weekend on Saturday and Sunday I do a home practice. 15, 20 minutes, I never miss it. I do that. I meditate daily.
There was a period where I got back into weights. We have a gym in our building. I started to lift weights twice a week, doing once set for each body part to failure. Quick, 20-minute workout. Lately I’ve been doing push-ups and sit-ups and dips, getting back to body weight. Do that to failure, do it a couple times a week. That seems to be working for now, and I’m not bored with it. I’ll see what’s next, so currently I do my push-ups, my sit-ups, my dips. I do yoga. I meditate, and I walk a lot. That seems to work for me. Until it doesn’t, and we’ll see what’s next.
Dave: Constant change is part of it.
Dave: Well we’re coming up on the end of the interview here, but you have one more chapter in the book that we haven’t talked about too much, but you’ve touched on it three or four times. You have a chapter called “Love.” You talk about having supportive, healthy relationships. You actually go into soul mates. Tell me about the three types of soul mates.
Jason: I believe we have multiple soul mates, three types. I believe there are two romantic types and one non-romantic type. The first kind I believe is the one that we’re supposed to be with, but the one that isn’t supposed to work out. It’s the one that probably pushes your buttons, it’s the one where you have that super passionate, fiery relationship. It’s the one that helps you grow as a person. At the same time, it’s the one that is a moment in time that you’re probably not supposed to be with forever. I think they’re painful. That’s what I’ve seen in my own life. I’ve experienced this. I think we’ve all probably had that one way or another. Then I believe there’s the forever kind. I believe that there’s that one that one and one makes three. I think with the first kind, one and one maybe made one and a half. Maybe two on a good day. I think the first kind probably brings out your insecurities. I think the second kind eliminates your insecurities.
I think the second kind is the one that helps you develop as the person you’re supposed to be and together collectively, you are stronger. I believe that to be my wife, and we have a fabulous relationship. Not to say that kind is easy. Relationships are hard. They require work. The friends who are always there when we need them, they’re the people in passing that have serious impacts on our life, whether they’re with the right comment at the right time or being there at that moment when we need to hear the right thing at the right time, or it’s that instance that’s happened so many times to me. You hear one thing from the people close to you over and over and over, but they’re so close to you, you don’t listen. Then you hear it from an outsider, all of a sudden then boom. It hits you like a rocket ship. Finally it sinks in.
I think those types of soul mates are abundant. I think they’re everywhere. I think that’s the beauty of life. I think the overarching theme with soul mates is I think we need to reframe them. I think once again it’s operating from a place of abundance and not scarcity, and that’s how I choose to look at soul mates. I think there’s lots of various opinions on this one. That’s how I’ve seen them in my own life. Once again I don’t believe you necessarily need, I think a soul mate can help you become a better person and it can help complete you in some way, but in no way am I saying that I think you need someone else to complete you. Once again, you’ll never be happy if you’re not happy with yourself.
Dave: I’ve had lots of people ask me, “How do I find a soul mate?” You got any advice for people on that?
Jason: You know, I always start with work on yourself.
Dave: Great answer, man.
Jason: You’re never going to be happy in a relationship if you’re not happy with yourself. Become the person you want to be. I do believe like attracts like. Other rules of thumb, I think go to places that you like. If you love living a healthy lifestyle and you live in LA, go hang out at Bulletproof. Go hang out at Whole Foods Market. Go hang out at places where you’re going to find like-minded people. Probably not going to find your soul mate at a bar at 2 a.m. I’m sure it happens, but it’s rare. I say work on yourself, and be open to that. Be open to the possibility of chance encounters at various healthy establishments around the world.
Dave: That leads to the obvious next question. Do you play Pokemon Go?
Jason: I do not. I hate video games.
Dave: There’s so many people in the last few weeks have been like, “It’s my new dating strategy. I play Pokemon.”
Jason: I don’t even know how the kids do it with all these dating apps and tools and everything. I don’t know. God bless them, but I don’t know how they do it.
Dave: It sounds a lot more complex than it was back before the interwebs, back before you and me.
Dave: Well it’s been a fascinating interview, and there’s that question that I’ve asked everyone who’s been on the show. I’d love to get your answer on this, so I think it’s going to be interesting. If someone came to you tomorrow and said, “Look. I want to kick more ass at everything I do.” What are the three most important pieces of advice you’d have for me? Three things I need to know based on your whole life experience?
Jason: Sure. One, find a mind-body practice that works for you. I think we’d all agree that stress is a killer. Stress is toxic. Find some sort of practice that works for you to help deal with stress. Stress doesn’t go away. Stress changes. Your problems change. An entrepreneur told me that once. You think you get to one level, and then you get there, and then it’s the next thing. Your problems don’t go away in life. They just change. One, find a mind-body practice. Two, gratitude. I am just such a huge believer in a gratitude process. Once again I believe in goals. Let’s kick ass, let’s take names. Let’s accomplish all these great things, but you’re going to lose a lot if you’re not being appreciative for what you have in that journey. It is a journey. It’s not a cliché, it’s real. Enjoy every step of the way. Don’t wait to lose something for you to appreciate it. Two, gratitude practice.
Three, I would say focus on quality versus quantity with relationships, with your interactions. I think we could all do a better job there. I think in the age of social media, we’ve got thousands of friends and followers and these people everywhere, but the quality of those relationships aren’t really there. I would say focus on quality relationships in business, in life, with your family. I would say focus on quality. I think you’re never going to be successful, you’re never going to accomplish the goals you want to accomplish if the people around you are not supportive and the type of people you need around you. I would say those three things. Mind-body practice, gratitude, and quality of relationships.
Dave: Awesome. You did not disappoint with your answers. Thanks Jason. I think people probably have already figured, they can go to mindbodygreen.com. Anywhere else they should go to maybe find your book or where else can they go?
Jason: The book “Wellth,” W-E-L-L-T-H. It’s on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. You go to wellth.mindbodygreen.com, and I’m on all the social media channels, Jason Wachob, W-A-C-H-O-B as in boy. Check us out.
Dave: All right Jason, thanks for being on Bulletproof Radio.
Jason: It’s an honor, thanks so much Dave.
Dave: If you enjoyed today’s show, you know what to do. Head on over to your favorite book seller and pick up a copy of Jason’s book. Check out some of the cool content on mindbodygreen. While you’re at it, pick up some brain octane. Get some ketones going in your brain. Get some of the two new roasts, well three roasts in total we have for Bulletproof. We’ve got the Mentalist, which is my new favorite. It’s slightly darker than our original roast. We’ve got French Kick, which is dark but not burned to a crisp. It turns out dark coffee can taste good. Give it a shot. Have an awesome day.
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