About Michael Brandt
“Do not reinvent the wheel for 80% of what you're doing. Because the 20% of what you're doing that's really special and interesting, that's going to take a 100% of your time. It could and should.” – Michael Brandt
Michael Brandt is the co-founder and CEO of HVMN and Ketone IQ, which makes the world's first drinkable ketones. HVMN stands for Health Via Modern Nutrition. And in 2017, they launched version 1.0 of their drinkable ketone product after landing a six million dollar contract with the US Department of Defense to study how ketones could improve the performance of our special forces warriors. HVMM launched version 2.0 called KetoneIQ last year in November 2021. Michael is also an avid marathoner, long distance runner, and biohacker which we talk about a lot in this episode.
In this episode, Michael shares his product design and branding principles, including his theory of synesthesia or why every part of your aesthetic and brand has to relate to every other part. He talks about how he's gotten better at running over the years, including running for as fast as he can, and for as long as he can, while keeping his pulse below 140 beats per minute. He talks about how he uses drinkable ketones and KetoneIQ in his daily life, including what products he stacks it with. We discuss his favorite books on running, and the design and engineering thought that went into HVMN.
In this episode, we deconstruct Michael Brandt’s peak performance playbook—from his favorite book to the tiny habit that's had the biggest impact on his life. In it we cover:
- 00:00:00 – Introduction
- 00:02:02 – HVMN and ketones
- 00:04:17 – Barefoot running and improving running form
- 00:06:50 – Speaking multiple languages across the business as a founder
- 00:09:37 – Continuous glucose monitoring and heart rate monitoring for peak performance
- 00:13:27 – Embedding Ketone-IQ into daily life
- 00:15:58 – Creating brand synesthesia with design
- 00:22:22 – Recommended books, from Shoe Dog to Born to Run
- 00:26:43 – The importance of daily activity and the magic of walking
- 00:31:19 – Find more mentors and don’t reinvent the wheel for 80% of your business
Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Castbox, Pocket Casts, Player FM, Podcast Addict, iHeartRadio, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.
An Idea Worth Trying
Michael doesn’t take any meetings after 2pm. He finds that meetings always end with follow-up items, and he spends his afternoons processing information and following up on his morning meetings.
Our Favorite Quotes
Here are a few ideas we'll be thinking about weeks and months from now:
- “I think as I've matured as a leader, it's also just being really smart about getting a new initiative going with that founder grit, that B level execution, and very quickly getting out of my own way, hiring that A+ person.”
- “The best products just work out of the box. And everyone knows that, but then once it comes down to your own precious baby, it's very easy to forget that.”
- “Good product design is synesthesia; all of the surface area of your brand kind of rhymes with itself.”
- “One simple rule is do something active every day. I like it in its simplicity. It is not a hard rule to state. It's not a hard rule to follow. And I'm not saying that people need to run seven miles a day, but that doing something active every day seems to be this magic unlock.”
The following books came up in this conversation with Michael Brandt:
- Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight
- Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
- Run for Your Life: How to Run, Walk, and Move Without Pain or Injury and Achieve a Sense of Well-Being and Joy by Mark Cucuzzella
We covered a lot of ground in this interview. Here are links to the stories, articles, and ideas discussed:
- Barefoot running | Wikipedia
- Griffith Park | Los Angeles
- Vibram | Vibram FiveFingers Shoes, Furoshiki, & More
- Proprioception | WebMD
- Academy of Art University | Art and Design School
- Continuous Glucose Monitoring | NIDDK
- Garmin HRM-Dual | Heart Rate Monitor with Chest Strap
- WHOOP | Your Personal Digital Fitness and Health Coach
- Athletic Greens | Foundational Nutrition
- Nootropics | WebMD
- Breathwork: What Is it and How Does it Work? | WebMD
Daniel Scrivner (00:06):
Hello, and welcome to another episode of our 20 Minute Playbook series, where each week I sit down with an elite performer from iconic founders to world renowned investors and bestselling authors to dive into the ideas, frameworks, and strategies that got them to the top of their field, all in less than 20 minutes. I'm Daniel Scrivner. And on the show today, I'm joined by Michael Brandt.
Daniel Scrivner (00:24):
Michael is the co-founder and CEO of HVMN which makes the world's first drinkable ketones. HVMN stands for Human Via Modern Nutrition. And in 2017, they launched version 1.0 of their drinkable ketone product after landing a six million dollar contract with the US Department of Defense to study how ketones could improve the performance of our special forces warriors. HVMM launched version 2.0 called KetoneIQ last year in November 2021. Michael is also in avid marathoner, long distance runner, and biohacker which we talk about a lot in this episode.
Daniel Scrivner (00:57):
In this episode, Michael shares his product design and branding principles, including his theory of synesthesia or why every part of your aesthetic and brand has to relate to every other part. He talks about how he's gotten better at running over the years, including running for as fast as he can, and for as long as he can, while keeping his pulse below 140 beats per minute. He talks about how he uses drinkable ketones and KetoneIQ in his daily life, including what products he stacks it with. Talks about his favorite books on running, and we cover a ton more, including a lot about the design and engineering thought that went into HVMN.
Daniel Scrivner (01:31):
You can find the show notes and transcript for this episode at outlieracademy.com/119, it's 119. And you can follow Michael Brandt on Twitter at bdm_runner with that let's dive in and hear Michael Brandt's 20 Minute Playbook.
Daniel Scrivner (01:48):
Michael Brandt, thank you so much for coming back on Outlier Academy, this time for 20 Minute Playbook. I am thrilled to have you on and to dive into a few questions around performance, habits, books, a bunch of stuff. So thanks for the time.
Michael Brandt (02:00):
Thrilled to be back.
Daniel Scrivner (02:02):
So I want to start, and this is a little bit of a recap, I know we just spent a lot of time talking about your background, and what you're building at HVMN, but since this is a new episode, some people might not be familiar. Can you just share a quick sketch of a little bit about yourself and a little bit about what you're building at HBMN?
Michael Brandt (02:20):
Sure. My background is, I'm from Chicago, originally. I studied computer science and product design at Stanford. I got into biohacking and elite performance, became a semi-pro marathon runner myself. I run six minute miles for the marathon. And have built along the way this amazing community and company around HVMN, Health Via Modern Nutrition. Our flagship product is something called KetoneIQ. We have a six million dollar contract with the US Special Operations Command. Andreessen Horowitz led our seed round. We have a ton of momentum into this space.
Michael Brandt (02:58):
KetoneIQ, in particular, it's the most effective keto delivery product. Ketones you may have heard of, where it's the same ketone that your body makes, if you do a ketogenic diet, if you're doing intermittent fasting, if you're exercising a lot, your body will make ketones. Your body naturally makes ketones when you're pushed to your limits. They're this super efficient form of fuel. And what we've developed in KetoneIQ is a way to drink that directly, so that, instead of running a marathon to make your body make ketones, you can sip on it. And in 10 minutes, you'll have elevated blood ketone levels and all the benefits that come from there.
Michael Brandt (03:39):
So we see it very much as a nutritional primitive. Everyone is doing metabolism all of the time, whether you're a pro cyclist, or you're sitting at your desk working on spreadsheets, or you're an older person trying to stay sharp, or you're trying to lose weight, we're all doing metabolism all the time. And ketones are primitive that plug into our metabolism and have potential for wide array of people.
Daniel Scrivner (04:01):
That's perfect. And KetoneIQ is drinkable supplement. I highly recommend it. And end the show notes, which people can find at outlieracademy.com, we'll include links to KetoneIQ. But I highly recommend everyone at least look at it, explore it, and see if it's a fit for you and your supplement stack.
Daniel Scrivner (04:17):
But we always start by asking about a recent fascination. Is there anything you've been intrigued with lately or anything you can't stop thinking about?
Michael Brandt (04:26):
Yes. Barefoot running and spending time barefoot in general. It's something I've been dabbling with and just recently gotten really into. So my normal run, I usually run seven, eight miles in the morning, and I live in Los Angeles now and I go in Griffith Park and run this loop. And I've been dabbling with, I used to just wear running shoes, and then I started wearing Vibrams, the toe shoes that maybe people have... They look kind of freaky, and got into those. And then more recently I've been just running straight barefoot. So I've gone on a few runs now where I'm just barefoot for seven miles. And when I go to the gym, and I do deadlifts, I don't go barefoot at the gym, it's a little too grody there. I wear my Vibrams at the gym.
Michael Brandt (05:23):
But that basically getting obsessed around barefoot your feet have 20,000 nerve endings in them. They're like your hands. And there's a lot of proprioception that takes place when your feet interact with the ground that makes your feet stronger. And it also, importantly, sends signals up the rest of your kinetic chain. So the way that your foot hits the ground sends a signal to your calves and your quads and your glutes and makes them all fire correctly.
Michael Brandt (05:49):
So one way to think about shoes is it's like trying to type at your keyboard with boxing gloves on. You're just not getting the fidelity of resolution of signal that you ought to be getting. And now, look, if I'm going to run the Boston Marathon and I want to set a PR, I'm absolutely wearing shoes. Yes, shoes work. They're springs on your feet. They make you run quicker, for sure.
Michael Brandt (06:12):
However, when it comes to deadlifting, when it comes to running, your form will be significantly increased and improved, if you have that ground feel. I think so at least, and I think there's some good science to back it up. You're not going to run fast, but you're going to run better, such that when you do put your shoes on, you're going to be like lightning. So we can do a whole hour about barefoot and running mechanics and all that, suffice it to say, I run a lot, big marathon runner, and barefoot running has become an increasingly big part of my training.
Daniel Scrivner (06:45):
You've slowly made the move from shoes to toe shoes to completely bare feet.
Michael Brandt (06:50):
Daniel Scrivner (06:50):
I think it's about as far as it goes. No, it's fascinating. We always ask as well about superpowers. And one of the things that I wanted to ask is, when you think about building the company, product, and team that are HVMN today, what do you think of as your superpowers? And how have those helped you build company?
Michael Brandt (07:07):
I would say my superpowers are, I speak a lot of different languages, so to speak, across what it takes to run a business. I know enough about all of the aspects. I know enough about the core science of what we're doing. I know enough about design. I was a professor at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I studied design in undergrad. I know enough about building websites, I'm a computer science major. I know enough about finance. I know my way around a P&L and a balance sheet. A few of these things I do consider myself to be like A+, but for most of the aspects of running a business, I think I'm good enough to where I know what A+ looks like.
Michael Brandt (07:52):
I am not the designer on a team anymore, but I'm a good enough designer, where I can call out the difference between A versus A+. I'm good enough at retail sales, where I might not be the guy or gal on the phone, but I know what good sales motion looks like. I would say, that's my secret power. And I think as I've matured as a leader, it's also just being really smart about getting a new initiative going with that founder grit, that B level execution, and very quickly getting out of my own way, hiring that A+ person.
Michael Brandt (08:33):
And just being honest with myself, I'm not the best at the world at the new thing, I'm good enough. I think of myself as a spare tire. I can get any new initiative going to convince myself or other people that it's a new frontier and then quickly hiring the person who's actually world class at that. And, yeah, I went to a really cool public school in Chicago where I was in the honors IB program there. I was doing all the advanced classes, but I mean, there were fights breaking out. I got robbed a couple of times. It was a very rough part of my high school, too. I ended up being class president. In high school, I was captain of the soccer team, but also captain of the math team. In high school, growing up, I had to speak all these different languages.
Michael Brandt (09:16):
I rode the public transportation to school, but I also went to international science fair. I had to speak a lot of different languages. And I think that I always carry that forward with me as a leader through life.
Daniel Scrivner (09:31):
I think that's really powerful. I love, maybe the short hand for that is that you're a great spare tire, which I never heard that term-
Michael Brandt (09:37):
Daniel Scrivner (09:37):
... but I mean, I think it's really well said. It's really well said. I always love to ask people about tools as well, too. And as the founder of HVMN, you make drinkable ketones I imagine, well, and you talked about in the last interview that you've spent a bunch of time biohacking. So my kind of very broad question is what are some of your favorite tools or products around optimizing your physical or mental performance? And it could be biohacking products, it could also be work specific. What comes to mind?
Michael Brandt (10:04):
Off the bat, one of my favorites is continuous glucose monitor levels, there's an awesome brand in the space. There's a few others too. It's really cool to be able to see the inside of your own metabolism, what's going on. Your blood glucose is a key biomarker. It's really cool to be able to see how that is moving around throughout the day, based on what you're eating, based on how you're moving. I don't wear a CGM constantly, 24/7. What I have done is worn it for streaks of time. And you learn a lot about how your body's interacting with your diet and your lifestyle.
Michael Brandt (10:42):
And then you kind of update your personal brain's firmware and you learn, "Okay, yeah, this is good. This is bad. If I have sugar before bedtime, there's just a massive spike in blood glucose that interferes with my ability to sleep. Let me not do that anymore. Or if I'm going to do that, I'm going to at least know what I'm signing up for." So continuous glucose monitors I think is huge.
Michael Brandt (11:08):
I'm a big fan when it comes to running, a heart rate monitors really clutch. I got quick at marathoning quickly. I became a fast marathon runner within the course of a few years, because I would measure really specifically what I was doing. So specifically a heart rate monitor, there's different ones, the highest fidelity one that I've seen is the chest strap. So Garmin, a few other brands, WHOOP, I believe, makes a chest strap that it can talk to your wristwatch. Wrist tends to be little bit less signal than just actually on your chest.
Michael Brandt (11:48):
One way to get better at running. Just a quick fun fact on running is, I'll go on runs where I will constrain myself to not go above 140 BPM, but I'll run as fast as I can while keeping my heart rate relatively low. It's as very Zen exercise, because it's like as soon as you try to go too fast, you break the rule. So you got to go fast, but calmly and smoothly. And so it's really cool, because you're not going to be going as fast as you humanly can, but you will see that if you practice that for weeks and months at that 140 BPM, you go from, oh, eight minute miles to seven and a half minute miles to seven minute miles. It's really cool to see. And the whole time it feels really easy. And so then you're able to go and do it again the next day. So I love a CGM. I love a high quality heart rate monitor.
Daniel Scrivner (12:40):
Well, I love that tip on running. We talked in the last episode about that at HVMN you have a six million dollar contract with the Department of Defense, specifically around Special Operations Command. And your advice there around going slow, but to go fast actually reminds me of the Navy SEAL phrase, which is, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. So it's like that applied to running by just trying to-
Michael Brandt (13:01):
Daniel Scrivner (13:02):
... keep yourself at that 140 or lower pace is fascinating. I want to ask you a question specifically around KetoneIQ. And what I wanted to ask there was, we had talked before about, and you mentioned this in the interview, that people can take KetoneIQ, it's basically ketones, you can just drink that go through your digestive system, get into your bloodstream, cross the blood-brain barrier, and give you really high quality of energy.
Daniel Scrivner (13:27):
You can also stack that with caffeine. You can stack that with a nootropic. You can stack that with protein. You can stack it with a bunch of things. So I guess my questions are, how do you use and how do you take KetoneIQ day-to-day? And do you stack it with anything?
Michael Brandt (13:41):
I generally have it first thing the day with, I have a few things in the morning, I'll have Athletic Greens and coffee, and we also make a omega-3, vitamin D supplement. I'll have ketones alongside of those. It's really interesting, we talked a lot on the last episode about how ketones are a substrate. So whenever your body has an energy demand for any type of function, there's some fuel that is providing energy for that demand, and ketones, as this really efficient form of energy, are great for that.
Michael Brandt (14:17):
So they're this infinitely stackable supplement, where like caffeine, you don't want to just have it at night, it's going to keep you up. You want to have it in the morning, not at night. Ketones are more flexible, where, whatever you're doing throughout the day ketones can help them. And it's really interesting when you're taking something that's psychoactive in any way, like caffeine causes a psychoactive sense of alertness. It's blocking your adenosine. If you're taking caffeine, if you're taking other nootropics, other plant based medicines, then you are creating an increase in brain activity, and that's creating an increase in brain energy demand.
Michael Brandt (15:01):
And where's that energy coming from? So ketones plug into all these different nootropics. So my specific answer, I mean, I like caffeine plus ketones, and I think a lot of people are doing interesting things with microdosing or with breath work, or basically anything that you are doing to increase brain activity in some way. The question is where's that fuel coming from? And what's the best form of fuel? And that's where KetoneIQ is a really interesting addition to that stack.
Daniel Scrivner (15:30):
Yeah. It's super interesting. I mean, and that's a really helpful rule to just generalize it. Yeah, anything that's physical or... I mean, what was fascinating to me about diving into this more was it really is, one, it's just the ideal energy source. Anytime you want to operate at your peak, whether under physical stress or mental stress, or a little bit of both. Or where you want to just be able to be at the top of your physical capabilities and mental capabilities. So I love that as a generalization.
Daniel Scrivner (15:58):
I want to ask a question, which is, to talk about the philosophy of how you've built a product. And this is specifically the product, not so much the company, and I'm talking about KetoneIQ.
Daniel Scrivner (16:09):
So, one, you have a fascinating background in that you've studied product design. You've also studied design. You have a lot of lenses that you're bringing to this work. And so the question that I wanted to ask was, if you had to distill down your product design philosophy into a couple of principles, or just a few words, what comes to mind? And I know that's a very difficult question, but the reason I want to ask is, you have it sitting right behind you, anyone watching the interview can see this. If you're listening, you can't.
Daniel Scrivner (16:37):
But you know, right behind Michael is this really beautiful poster of KetoneIQ, and it is just a beautiful product. And so clearly there's something that you guys have nailed and gotten very right about product design. I'm curious about the philosophy and principle behind that.
Michael Brandt (16:51):
Thanks, that's high praise. And there's tens of thousands of hours that go into being good at design, and to distill it down to a couple... The one that pops into my mind off the top is it should just work. That explaining is losing. And if you can have a general philosophy for yourself, for your team around sanding down edges. Making it so that requires less explanation. It's more obvious, more easy to use. People don't have to read the manual. It just works. You don't want people to have to spend a lot of cognitive overload understanding your brand. They just won't is the thing.
Michael Brandt (17:36):
It's not like, oh, it's going to make their life's heart. People are busy. We're in this attention economy. Attention is the ultimate premium. If people have to read this thing, click on this menu, talk to your support team, that can be there for the advanced users. I always think about it in levels, the product needs to just work out of the box level 101. You should also have a way for people to double click in. So a QR code on your bottle, your customer success team should be super responsive, you should have hour and a half long podcasts on your own channel, and talking to other people, where your customers can learn more. Have that 201, 301 level understanding.
Michael Brandt (18:18):
But you cannot forget, most people don't have the attention span for it. If you're going to build a mainstream product, it needs to just work. There's no onboarding to Uber. It's just, there's a map. Do you want a car? Cool. Tinder, do you like this person, swipe left? You don't swipe right. The best products just work out of the box. And everyone knows that, but then once it comes down to your own precious baby, it's very easy to forget that. Okay. So it should just work.
Michael Brandt (18:50):
The other thing I think is insightful, interesting is this notion of synesthesia, which is that the different senses across the way that people are experiencing your product should all map to one another. Synesthesia is, specifically, it's where some people, they see the color red and they have a certain taste in their mouth. Their wires in their brain kind of cross. And when they hear a certain sound, they think of a certain number. When they're experiencing the world, they're perception crosses different senses.
Michael Brandt (19:24):
When you're building a brand, you want to do that on purpose. So we made a decided effort that the way that KetoneIQ looks, we call it the Maui sunrise. Where it's got this, if you're watching, you can see behind me, it's like this red to orange, to yellow. It's this gradient of art direction that we have where it looks like the way that ketones feel like. And how do you map that? It's like, ketones have this... It's this drink that crosses the blood-brain barrier that switches on your eyes a certain way. How do you map that to like a color gradient? I don't know, it just feels like a sunrise. It doesn't feel like it should be blue or green or purple. It feels like it's this red sunrise.
Michael Brandt (20:14):
And then it translates into everything else. Like what sounds do you use when you post on social media or you have a podcast? What does it feel like when people are navigating around your site? So having your graphic design match to the type of language you're using in your copy, match to the type of sounds that you're using on platforms where there's sounds, having that all match, it sounds very abstract, because like is more art than science. Like how do you map that all together? But you know it, when you see it.
Michael Brandt (20:51):
You know it when there's this coherent experience, where, when you go into like a really nice setting, a really nice restaurant, or you're just experiencing a brand that you really like, where everything kind of matches across the senses, across the way that you like... The feel of the key of your car versus the way that it smells inside of your car versus the way that the UX panel looks when you see it. It all matches, it all resonates and compounds on a certain vibe that the brand is trying to build. It's hard to do that. It's hard to lead that, but that's the holy grail, I would say in good product design is synesthesia, all of the surface area of your brand kind of rhymes with itself.
Michael Brandt (21:33):
And it can be very tricky. How do you have like a color that matches to a sound?
Daniel Scrivner (21:38):
But it's thing.
Michael Brandt (21:39):
You know when you see it, though. That's where-
Daniel Scrivner (21:40):
Yeah, it's a thing.
Michael Brandt (21:40):
... it becomes... What's that?
Daniel Scrivner (21:42):
No, no, it's a thing. And I think it's incredibly well said. The way I've always heard that referred to is like, you want a family... Oftentimes in design, you'll hear people talk about family and things or that this should feel familied. And, really, it's just a sense that, to your point, it's like, you want symmetry and that everything reflects all the other pieces of the brand. And it kind of creates a sum is much bigger, much greater than the value of each of the individual parts effect. I have never heard anyone describe it as synesthesia, and I've never heard anyone articulate it that way, but I mean, it's incredible. I'm learning something, and I've done design for a number of decades. So I love that point.
Daniel Scrivner (22:22):
I want to switch text here and talk about books. And the question I wanted to ask was, one, I know you're a runner, there's a lot of great books around running that I've heard people refer to. And so the question I wanted ask is just, are there any books that come to mind around athleticism or peak performance that you'd recommend to others? And then, similarly, maybe there's fewer in this category, any books that have been helpful to you as a founder and entrepreneur?
Michael Brandt (22:47):
Yeah, there's a few different answers to that question. Top of the list, got to be Shoe Dog, Phil Knight's book at Nike. Amazing. It's a perfect blend of business, how he built Nike, how he just was staring into abyss and chewing on glass, and built one of the most impactful companies of the last 50 plus years. And it was not easy, not obvious. He dealt with a lot of really difficult aspects, just some major pivots. And he is a big runner, he was on the Oregon Track and Field team. And really cool how he ties it all together across business and running. So whether you're a runner pick up that book, if you're into business, pick up that book. I think it's got something for everyone.
Michael Brandt (23:36):
Couple specific books, so I love Born to Run, that's a big one in the running world. Where they talk about how the running communities... And there's a group in Mexico called the Tarahumara, where they run, essentially, barefoot or very minimal shoes, and they're some of the best ultra-endurance athletes in the world. That book talks a lot about the anthropology, about how humans are literally born to run, in how our body is built. The fact that we're upright, the way that our metabolism works. It goes into a lot there.
Michael Brandt (24:10):
Humans can outrun a horse over a long enough time horizon. So over 24 hours, humans can go further than a horse. You can't go faster than a horse around one lap of the Kentucky Derby. Horse is going to win. But over long enough time horizon, humans are the best endurance creature on the planet. And so there's a strong hypothesis around endurance hunting being a big part of how we survived. That we were just, we weren't like racing, but just like jogging 10 minute miles and chasing down antelopes until the antelope got tired. And then you're close enough to be able to hit it with a spear. And maybe that's 10 miles, 15 miles, and humans are very much born to run.
Michael Brandt (24:51):
It kind of runs counter to the whole Nike thing, where we didn't have Nikes during that whole period. We were running barefoot, and Nikes are this great innovation that help us run really quickly. But our feet work really well, going back to barefoot. And humans are, in a lot of ways, born to run.
Michael Brandt (25:09):
Third example, I mean, if we're talking about on health and fitness in general, I really like this book called Run for Your Life. It's a little bit more practical. Born to Run, I would say, is more of a non-fiction anthropology about how humans have evolved and how running has been part of it. This book called Run for Your Life. It's by this guy named Dr. Cucuzzella. What's interesting about Mark Cucuzzella is this guy has been running sub three hour marathons for three decades.
Daniel Scrivner (25:35):
Michael Brandt (25:35):
So he's not the fastest person in the world. He never won the Olympics or anything like that. But he's an MD and he's been running Boston qualifying times for decades. And his whole stance on running and how he has managed to avoid injury and how he seems to get stronger as he gets older is all based on really good moving patterns. He's also into barefoot, minimal running. He's into really good movement patterns. He's into do a lot of running at lower heart rates, but do it consistently.
Michael Brandt (26:11):
Run for Your Life is a great one, even if you're not a super serious runner. He talks about how he likes to go golfing. But when he goes golfing, he'll do it barefoot or in super minimalist types of shoes. And just spending more time as a barefoot or close to barefoot human is a big part of how he's been able to have this longevity of career as a elite runner, without having major injury.
Daniel Scrivner (26:33):
Yeah, those are fantastic books. And you're maybe the second or third person that's recommended Shoe Dog. I still haven't read it. So it's a good note that I actually need to read that book.
Daniel Scrivner (26:43):
I want to for a second just talk about habits, and my favorite way to kind of frame this question is always what tiny habit has had the biggest positive impact on your life for on your performance?
Michael Brandt (26:55):
I have a couple, one is simple rule of do something active every day. I like it in its simplicity. It is not a hard rule to state. It's not a hard rule to follow. And I'm not saying that people need to run seven miles a day or whatever, but that doing something active every day seems to be this magic unlock. Where, even if it's a 45 minute walk, while you're taking calls or meetings, or you have a certain calisthenics that you do first thing in the morning, or at your lunch break, that doing something active every day seems to be this magic unlock.
Michael Brandt (27:36):
Where, the human body is meant to move around, a lot of us are in this mode where we're cerebral. Our occupation is we're working on spreadsheets or sending emails or making calls. And we're very much in our own head, but our head exists inside of our body and you can't escape it. And you don't have to be this like super athlete, but you can't deny your body. And you have to do something to respect the body that you are inside of.
Michael Brandt (28:10):
Your brain's going to have a hard time getting peak performance if your body is not dialed in. So I think doing something active every day, again, it's an easy rule to follow it's. It's easier to do something a 100% of the time than it is 80% of the time, I find, because you don't want to ever be negotiating with yourself. You don't want to be, "Oh, it's Tuesday. Is this the day off?" It's like, go for a walk man. Go do pushups.
Daniel Scrivner (28:36):
Well and do and do what you can do today. I love that principles, is it's also very democratic, in that it's not like, I think, in my experience, the way people shoot themselves in the foot is they set this unrealistic daily goal. I used to, for myself, always have like, "I need to go exercise for an hour," and there were days where that was possible. There was a lot of days where it wasn't. But by just having setting the bar really, really low, I mean, it makes it, so just do something.
Michael Brandt (28:59):
Oh, yeah. Set the bar super low. I think walking is the most underrated activity. Walking is amazing. Walking gets you significantly, most of the benefits of running, it's way easier. You can listen to a podcast. You can make a phone call. It's not that hard. Stop and smell the roses. Go walk to the coffee shop that's like the third furthest coffee shop from your house. Park further away from your office. Whatever it is, walking is amazing.
Michael Brandt (29:34):
And, yeah, go for whatever level you're at. I think you said it well, you don't have to set the bar super high. Whatever do something active every day means for you-
Daniel Scrivner (29:46):
Yeah. That day, do it. No, it's a great... It is great.
Michael Brandt (29:49):
Just to answer the question, the other little thing I do is, I'm a high stamina person, but I actually, I block off most of the afternoon for no meetings. I don't generally do meetings after 2:00 PM. I have a block on my calendar. If something's P0 on fire, I'm available, I can talk, but I don't operate that well... I think a good meeting generally leads to an abundance of follow ups off of that, where there's, "Oh, I got to connect this dot. I got to do this, this." I don't understand how people take meetings all day.
Michael Brandt (30:21):
I take meetings and it's kind of like you go hunting and then you got to bring it back and process what you just hunted. A little trick that works for me is I got to spend at least several hours in the day defragmenting my brain and following up on things for meetings. I just do not do all day meetings.
Daniel Scrivner (30:42):
Yeah, no, I love that. I mean, I love that principle and it totally makes sense. And, yeah, I mean, similarly, I can relate to that a lot. And I mean, the way I would describe that is I just often feel like people don't allow themselves enough deep work time or deep thought time in a day. And on those days, I mean, my least favorite days are the days where I go from meeting to meeting, to meeting, to meeting, to meeting and they have to happen. They have to happen sometimes. But at the end of those days, I'm like, "What the hell just happened? And what did I get done? And where am I? And what am I focused on?" Leads to just a feeling of, I don't know, not being centered and grounded and having a clear sense.
Daniel Scrivner (31:19):
So, no, I'm very much with you on that. Last question, and again, I could talk with you for another hour, so thank you. Last question, if you could go back to the start of your career or even go back to yourself in college and whisper some words of advice in your ear, is there any advice you would give your younger self?
Michael Brandt (31:40):
I would tell myself to find more mentors along the way. There's something really tricky about being a founder where the whole reason that you're a founder is because you know something that goes radically against the grain of the status quo, and you have to be stubborn about it. You have to be willing to be loud about something, where, especially in the early days, like nine out of 10 other people, aren't seeing what you're seeing. And so you have to have this stubbornness, this bullheadedness about it. You cannot just go with the flow. If you go with the flow, you're going to get the same results as everyone else.
Michael Brandt (32:23):
You're trying to do something iconoclastic, and new and different. At the same time, 80% of the way your business runs should be like super boring and super pattern matchy, just use Gusto and QuickBooks and Shopify, and use the normal boring stuff, do not reinvent the wheel for 80% of what you're doing. Because the 20% of what you're doing that's really special and interesting, that's going to take a 100% of your time. It could and should.
Michael Brandt (32:54):
In the early days, I think my co-founder and I, we had a lot of energy and we were building our own Ruby on Rails stack for our e-commerce store, and we're doing ketones, and we're doing this. And it's like, whoa, chill. We don't have to do everything-
Daniel Scrivner (33:06):
You don't have to reinvent every wheel.
Michael Brandt (33:09):
Right, don't reinvent every wheel. And so I would say be more open to some mentors along the way. If I can convey that sense of copy/paste for 80%, focus on what's really special sauce about your company, and other stuff don't reinvent it.
Michael Brandt (33:30):
And buy Bitcoin, that's what I tell my [inaudible 00:33:34]-
Daniel Scrivner (33:35):
Buy Bitcoin the day after was minted, which no one's ever... it's impossible. And also Ethereum. And there's probably a couple others you might want to add into that mix. Well, that is the question to end on.
Michael Brandt (33:45):
Whisper Bored Apes.
Daniel Scrivner (33:49):
Yeah. [inaudible 00:33:49]-
Michael Brandt (33:49):
19 year old you has no idea what that means.
Daniel Scrivner (33:51):
Yes. And then also whisper the date of the peak price to your early self-
Michael Brandt (33:56):
Daniel Scrivner (33:56):
... so you know exactly when you should be selling. Thank you so much for the time Michael. This has been so much fun. I really admire what you've built at HVMM and the thoughtfulness with what you've approached it. And it's just been so much fun to talk with you today. So thanks for the time. I appreciate you coming on.
Michael Brandt (34:12):
Appreciate you Daniel. Thanks so much.
Daniel Scrivner (34:15):
Thank you so much for listening to this episode. You can find the show notes and transcript and outlieracademy.com/119, that's 119. For more from Michael Brandt, listen to episode 116, where he joins me on our Outlier founder series to go deep on HVMN, which makes the world's first drinkable ketones. HVMN stands for Human Via Modern Nutrition. And in 2017, they launched version 1.0 of their drinkable ketones product.
Daniel Scrivner (34:41):
After landing a six million dollar contract with the US Department of Defense to study how ketones could improve the performance of our special forces warriors, they launched version 2.0 called KetoneIQ in November 2021. Ketones are what your body naturally produces when it breaks down fat for energy, when your body is in a state called ketosis, which you might have heard of. Everyone from Tim Ferriss to Ben Greenfield has been raving about the health benefits of ketosis for years.
Daniel Scrivner (35:06):
HVNM was the world's first company to bring drinkable ketones, which are ketones that you can drink and that pass through your digestive system, to the market. And today they're used by everyone from Navy SEALs to Tour de France, cyclists, hedge fund investors, athletes, and executives all around the world. For more on HVMN listen to episode 116, or visit outlier academy.com/116.
Daniel Scrivner (35:28):
You can find videos for all of our interviews, including this one on YouTube at youtube.com/outlieracademy. On our channel, you'll find all of our full length interviews as well as our favorite short clips from every episode, including this one. So make sure to subscribe, we post new videos and clips every single week. And if you haven't already, follow us on Twitter and find us on LinkedIn at Outlier Academy. Thank you so much for listening. We'll see you right here with the brand new episode next Friday.
On Outlier Academy, Daniel Scrivner explores the tactics, routines, and habits of world-class performers working at the edge—in business, investing, entertainment, and more. In each episode, he decodes what they've mastered and what they've learned along the way. Start learning from the world’s best today.
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