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The Science And Magic Behind Music And Brain.fm W/ Daniel Clark

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“Find a goal, pick it, make it a little bit crazy, a little bit challenging, and work towards it.”
— Daniel Clark

Greetings, SuperFriends!

This week we are going to explore how you can become SuperHuman simply by putting on a pair of headphones…

No, I'm not talking about some crazy electrode that hacks your brain. I'm talking about music that is specifically designed to help you focus, help you fall asleep, help you calm down, or get you amped up.

You see, today I interviewed the CEO of a company called brain.fm, Daniel Clark. Some of you may have heard of them, seeing as they are creating scientifically-backed music that elicits specific states in the brain…

So, I wanted to figure out not just how this works, but why it works, and how we can leverage this new technology to improve our lives.

This turned out to be a far-ranging conversation. Dan and I really hit it off, and we just went into all the geeky things he and I both do to optimize our performance.

I know that you are really going to enjoy this conversation!

-Jonathan Levi

Every month, we’ll invite top experts to host their own 30-day challenges, solely for the members of this group… Plus, each member will get awesome gear delivered to their home, AND discounts on various of our products! Click on the banner to find out more!

Every month, we’ll invite top experts to host their own 30-day challenges, solely for the members of this group… Plus, each member will get awesome gear delivered to their home, AND discounts on various of our products! Click on the banner to find out more!

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Who is Dan Clark, and what does he do? [4:25]
  • What actually is brain.fm? [6:30]
  • The magic of music and human cognition [8:50]
  • Why music can have such an amazing effect on our brains [10:30]
  • How did brain.fm begin, and where is it currently? [13:30]
  • How does the brain.fm team test their products? [16:30]
  • How is the brain.fm music composed? [17:45]
  • Has the brain.fm team ever found similarities between their stuff and classical music? [20:10]
  • What is going on in our brain when we listen to the brain.fm music? [23:25]
  • Is the flow state similar to the state brain.fm can put you in? [25:40]
  • Our brain is a really complex thing [27:30]
  • What if using music can help us deal with important health problems, like ADD? [29:30]
  • What are some of the things Dan Clark uses to keep himself at maximum performance? [32:15]
  • The amazing tactic Dan has implemented to improve his creativity [36:00]
  • One product or service Dan can't leave without [37:35]
  • What kind of nootropics (if any) does Dan use? [39:20]
  • What are some books that have most impacted Dan's life? [42:20]
  • An offer for our listeners by the brain.fm team (use coupon code ‘superhuman‘) [43:30]
  • Dan Clark's final takeaway message [44:15]

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Favorite Quotes from Daniel Clark:

“All the distractions of today's life are amplified because we don't face life and death situations.”
“Just challenge yourself.”
“People are way more capable than they think they are.”

TRANSCRIPT:

Introduction: Welcome to the Becoming SuperHumanPodcast. Where we interview extraordinary people to bring you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here's your host, Jonathan Levi.

Daniel Clark: Before we get started, I want to tell you about an absolutely crazy idea that I recently had. You see every single week on the Becoming SuperHuman podcast, we share with you some incredible ideas that can change your life, whether that's meditation or the paleo diet or Tai Chi, or lucid dreaming. But the thing is, how much do you actually implement in your everyday life? 10%, 20%, and you're not alone. I mean, even I, as the host of the podcast and lucky if I implement 20 or 30% of what we talk about on this show. Why is that? Well, first off, in order to implement, we need more than a week. We need more like a month or even two months. We need a community of people supporting us, cheering us on, and we need actual guidance from the experts beyond just a one-hour podcast.

So I had a crazy idea. What if we got everybody together in a members-only group, and then we committed to one another that we were going to take on a new challenge every month? One month we would all commit to lucid dreaming, another month we would all commit to improving our willpower, another month, we might all try to wake up at five 30 in the morning. So I put this idea out there and we got over a hundred people committed and involved. And here's what it looks like. In addition to a regular monthly challenge, we also send out all the gear, all the books, all the whatever that you need to complete that monthly challenge in the mail and in your email. We then have an expert, one of the 200 world-renowned experts that we've had on the show, come into the private group and teach a lesson every single week for a month so that we can actually implement what we're learning. We already have started developing the first challenges, we're working on a lucid dreaming challenge, we're working on a willpower challenge, and many, many more.

So I want to invite you to come to try this out. Join us. There are over a hundred of us doing these challenges and we would love to have you participate with us. So to join this new, crazy experiment that we're calling the becoming superhuman mastermind, please visit jle.vi/mastermind. We can't wait to see what you achieve.

Greetings, Superfriends and welcome to this week's episode of the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. This week, we are going to explore how you can become superhuman simply by putting on a pair of headphones. No, I'm not talking about some crazy electrode that hacks your brain, I'm talking about music that is specifically designed to help you focus, help you fall asleep, help you calm down or get you amped up. I interviewed today the CEO of a company called brain.fm. Now some of you may have heard of brain.fm because they are doing scientifically-backed music that elicits specific States in the brain. So I wanted to figure out not just how this works, but why it works and how we can leverage this new technology to improve our lives. It's a far ranging conversation and Dan and I really, really hit it off and just went into all the geeky things that he and I both do to optimize our performance. I know you're going to enjoy this conversation with Dan Clark.

Jonathan Levi: Dan welcome to the show. How are you, my friend?

Daniel Clark: Hey, I'm doing great.

Jonathan Levi: Awesome. Well, we're really happy to have you here because it is always a pleasure to meet a fellow productivity enthusiast I guess I would say I self-identify as a geek, but I don't know if you do so I'll say, enthusiast.

Daniel Clark: I'm totally fine with both of those descriptions.

Jonathan Levi: Awesome. Dan, tell us a little bit about your journey and how you got to where you are today. I really want to get into what you do, but first let's explain to the audience who is Dan Clark.

Daniel Clark: Yeah. Sure. So let's see, my parents met on a beach and I'm just kidding. Um, so what we did is I've been doing technology since I've been about 13 years old.

I've been super excited about how technology can change the world and really how at a really young age, I can make a website and someone in Japan could see it. And what I had with that was also a feeling of wanting to help people, right? So I'm actually secondary black belt built out a martial arts schools and was building our lead generation business to help people get into martial arts and ended up going on a journey to Australia that changed my life, and then I came back and I wanted to do more things. I got into advertising was really excited and doing large global effects, but then I started realizing that it wasn't really the same feeling that I had a one day of helping people and giving them the feeling of making that magic connection, and I actually resolved to start looking for other, you know, things to do, other kinds of problems to solve, and right when I was about to believe I came across brain FM and what we're doing here today. And what was happening, I'm sure we're going to go into what brain FM is, but it was one of those things where you hit that magic moment of, wow, this is something that is going to change the world and I want to be part of this rocket ship and jump on onboard.

I ended up calling them about 12 times and saying, Hey, I really need to be part of this, I'm really excited, they finally called me back and they told me they couldn't afford me. And what I ended up doing was quitting my job and working for free, basically saying, Hey, you know, if you find value in me, you'll find the money and then fast forward to today, I'm now CEO of the company and, you know, running from there, yeah.

Jonathan Levi: That is really cool and I can tell why Brandon wanted me to meet you because that's a similar story to what we had with him and bringing him on board is, you know, we're not really hiring, but a kind of scratch your head and then finding the money as you said to pay for good people. So let's grab the bowl right by the horns and tell me what brain FM actually is.

Daniel Clark: Sure. So brain FM, we create functional music to help you focus, relax, and sleep better. It's all backed by science, evidence, and research. So what we're trying to do is we're basically trying to make mental States that you already are familiar with whether it being extreme productivity, having deep sleep, a great relaxation or meditation, being able to have that on-demand just by listening to music that's created by our AI engine and our composers and giving you that ability any time of day without any drugs or any kind of other stimuli.

Jonathan Levi: Insane, totally insane. Cause I mean, I have my perfectly honed productivity list, I call it my GSD mix and it's all the music that I've on Spotify but what you're saying is this is different. This is actually music that's composed from the ground up to make me either more productive, sleepy alert, attentive.

Daniel Clark: 100%. Yep. So what happens is we start actually, we don't even start with the music, we start with a brain protocol that we know what someone looks like in a focus state.

Some people call it zone, some people call it flow state, but we know what brains look like with that through EEG and MRI data and things like that. What we try to do from there is we model a, a song to help encourage someone to get into that state and then lock there. So we actually call the term neural phase-locking, we haven't gotten process to be able to do that and that's one portion of the things that we do to basically get you into that state, and then again, as long as you're listening to the music, stay there. The music and the actual, like, uh, soundscapes that are created around those brain protocols, they do matter, they matter based on musical preference, things like that, but that is the second or third step, rather than the first step in traditional music.

Jonathan Levi: Woah, you're blowing my mind. So here's what I want to ask because I just watched a phenomenal, not really documentary, let's call it a mini-documentary I don't know if you've seen, but Netflix has this amazing series called explained and they're 20 minutes documentaries, have you seen this?

Daniel Clark: I haven't yet.

Jonathan Levi: Okay. So they do too this is, I am in no way affiliated with Netflix and I get nothing from referring people, but if you're a guy like you and I, you're going to love this, they do 20 minutes explaining some subject that you think you understand, or maybe you don't think you understand but, you know, they have one on weed. And so like, how does marijuana actually work? What's happening in the brain, what's the historical social and it's all in 20 minutes. They have one on K-pop, they have one on cricket, like things that you really don't understand as well as you could and they did one on music and I thought, what's the big deal? Like music, you know, there's timing and there's beat and there's melody, well, it turns out humans are actually the only brain that can recognize both rhythm and melody. Birds can recognize melody, dogs can recognize rhythm, we're the only ones who can do both. And that's like a miracle of cognition and it opens up this whole debate in this little 20 minute documentary about like, How music is actually magic in what it's doing in our brains.

I just thought it was so fascinating so I want to ask, talk to me about that. I mean, talk to me what's happening? Why music? Why not just making calming or uplifting noise? I mean, what's so magical about music for getting us to feel a certain way?

Daniel Clark: You know what, there is so much here that I don't know how much time we have, but it's really exciting. So there's a lot of different theories and some of the things that I'm about to say are theoretical, some of the things are factual and I'll try to do my best to explain the difference or in the different things, but I may get really excited so basic it stuff. So music is really interesting because music or hearing specifically is something that we can't turn off, right? It is ingrained into a lot of our neurological systems and reactions. Hundreds of thousand years ago when we were, you know, in caves and things like that, salients and distractions, they kept you alive. So a rustle in the bushes was really a tiger about to come and eat you, you know, and what happened is the people that ended up surviving were the people that could understand that pattern, understand the difference in sound, and that alert system is really what kept us alive you know, every day. There's a lot of different theories on what came first, language or actual music instead? And whether, you know, we, our language was developed through musical communication, through different kinds of patterns and things like that, but it's really interesting because like I said, you can't turn off those things, and what happens is if you're sleeping and I see your name, you're going to wake up. Why? Because of that alert system, right? And what's happening now is in today's society, we actually can't turn that system off. Right? And that's some of the reasons why we used to lay in bed at night and you have a million things in your head and you can't fall asleep.

And it's because you have all these different things coming through you, right? And you can't actually go to sleep because all of the distractions in today's life, they're amplified because we don't face these life or death situations. What we're trying to do with our music and one example is actually help you feel safe on a psychological level, right? And something is more vulnerable, but when you are maybe listening to a rainstorm, most people actually can fall asleep better in the rain. And it's looked to be that predators don't really hunt in the rain. And that's one of the reasons why evolutionarily we have these distinctions on music and how it relates to us because it actually relates these evolutionary measures, like falling asleep next to a fire or sleeping in a rainstorm or being next to a babbling Brook that actually kept us alive and the reason why we're here today, does that make sense?

Jonathan Levi: Yeah, it's just so fascinating to me and it just, this whole idea that music is special in this way and that it engages the brain in a completely unique way, even unique to language, which is, of course, another thing that we can do at, at this level, no other animal can do, completely fascinating. Now, what was the origin of brain.fm? Because I imagine someone sat down at one point and said, well, okay, if music affects our brains, then some kind of music is better than another kind of music. Did it start out with research? Did it start out with experimentation? I mean, how, how did you guys get to this?

Daniel Clark: Yeah, great question. So Adam, who is the original inventor and founder, he has been working on this for 18 years. He was actually one of the first people to play with those video games that you can control with your mind, and w how you do that do you have like UGS hooked up to your brain and you measure responses and neurological activity and you try to capture it and, you know, respond to that way.

And Adam is a amazing, amazing producer of music. He actually works for a symphony when he was eight years old. I think you can tell that he's a very intelligent person.

Yeah, right. He's our secret weapon. And basically he started doing this and realized that there was a correlation between the music he was playing and, uh, the EEG, EEG data, he was recording in this like video game stuff and he actually transitioned. So one of the reasons why those video games never came to play or haven't yet was because of the technology and some of them, just the cost of it and all that stuff, but then he goes, what happens when I listen to Mozart? What happens when I listened to this other thing? And he started realizing he's like, well, everyone already knows that mental States can change our mode, right? If you go to the gym, everyone has headphones. Right? And I know I personally can't work out without music, right? And you know, 18 years ago, he basically was like, what if we could take music in superpower and supercharge it with data and AI? And he was actually one of the first people to start doing this. And after, you know, years of working, he actually started building systems to help encourage mental States over long periods of time, it would take six months to play a CD you'd have to listen to an hour a day for six months, and then you could track that people have increased focus. And he did this with certain kinds of research institutions and things like that and eventually it started going for six months to three months to two months to one month to two weeks and now when we started bringing up them about three years ago, it was about 30 minutes. And where we are right now, we have actually complete control over the neural phase-locking values, and we can make someone feel that zone that we're talking about in 10, 15 minutes. And that's really where we are the whole premise of the product changes your mental state, you know, in that time. And the actually the fun thing is that the more you use the product, the faster you can jump back into that state.

Jonathan Levi: That's incredible. And you do this without your end-user having to wear any kind of equipment or anything like that, you guys are basically able to figure out what's going to work for the average brain.

Daniel Clark: Correct. Yeah. W what we do is we use principles that make us all fundamentally human, so what we do is we have, um, like I said, the MRI, those EEG readings, and then we also actually have video game testing. So we use mechanical Turk on Amazon, and we've designed these games, which we can test people's accuracy, their motivation, some of the games are incredibly boring and the way mechanical Turk works is the longer you play the game, the more money you get paid. And even if you're motivated, with money, sometimes people will all drop off around the same time. So we play our music versus placebo music, which sounds exactly the same but doesn't have the neural phase-locking values or silence or whatever, and we can show over time that for a very large percentage of the population, the results, they speak for themselves. And then as we keep going and moving forward, we continue refining that protocol, that brain protocol we talk about, and every time, you know, we have an update, we get that feeling either faster or with different musical depth, quality, et cetera, et cetera.

Jonathan Levi: Very very cool. Now, I wanna I think what we're going to do is we're going to have to splice in a clip here for people to listen and actually hear what some of this music sounds like because otherwise, I imagine it's, it's hard to get a feel for it and I imagine there's all different kinds of music that you guys have worked on.

Daniel Clark: Yeah. So what we do is we first build like step three, after we built those brain protocols, we understand what we want to do. The reason why we have composers work with an AI is because even though an AI is really good at creating things quick, it doesn't always know what sounds good and what sounds bad. Right? So what happens is actually every single millisecond of the song is synced to a certain kind of pattern and what we have our proposers do is they're actually the ones developing the soundscapes, the different crescendos, the different kinds of variances. So we have electronic music, which I'm the biggest fan of, we have piano, we have classical, we have jazz, we have lo-fi, we have all these different kinds of things. So, the goal is actually not to be able to take you away and have like computer music or focus music, it should be regular music that you can't tell, but has the secret superpower built into it.

Jonathan Levi: Awesome. Why don't we take a quick pause and let people listen to a quick sample of this to get a feel for what this music actually sounds like?

Daniel Clark: Sounds great.

Jonathan Levi: Awesome. Thank you for sharing Dan. Now I want to ask because you mentioned Mozart and I would be remiss if I didn't ask, you know, All this like 1980s hype about naked baby listening to Mozart. How close, I mean, if we were to take some of these greats, like Bach, like Mozart, like Beethoven or even more modern symphony, even modern electronic music, I mean, have there been anything things that you guys have compared up against your research and your algorithm and been like, Holy crap, this guy got really, really close or gal?

Daniel Clark: Yeah. Great question. So just to pre-phase, this is, I do not have the musical background believe it or not. So it's been interesting, you know, jumping into this company and being involved because I'm learning too. But to answer that question, people have gotten it close, you know, it's interesting because if you look at Mozart, Mozart, wasn't creating music for babies.

Yeah. You know what I mean? He was creating music for a whole nother thing. Now, while I think it's unarguable that he is one of the greats, he had a different function for the music, and there are some certain paradigms that you work, but there's a lot of things that are missing. So, you know, it is, there's a lot of common knowledge on things that do help you get into a mental state, like focus music or sleep music. One of those is not having lyrics, right? So one of them, like if you look at Mozart's, that's already one step in. And when we look at our rules system, we actually have about nine different rules that we follow about two to three rules are probably ones that people guess like no music, different frequencies, so not like a huge jump in different kinds of like from one really low sound and one really high sound. That's like a salient difference. So people can guess those and then we actually start getting into some of the secrets that we have and some of our patents that apply all of these other ones. Believe it or not, I think the closest music we have found that's in like just normal production was one of the music I have to tell you about it afterward because I can't remember, but it's one of the songs on the Facebook. What is it called? The Facebook movie soundtrack is one of the closest sounds that we found that just. They got it really close.

Jonathan Levi: Wow. I'm so glad you said that. Trent Reznor wrote that soundtrack and you're going to laugh, but a big part of my GSD mix, all this stuff that I've refined on Spotify is actually that soundtrack, particularly the one where they're rowing, let me think real quick of the name, it was in the hall of the marching, something like that.

Daniel Clark: I'm not sure. We actually had someone from end gadget. Uh, we did this interview with, and they picked some of their favorite tracks, it's funny that you came to some of the similar ones and we actually put it through a cochlear gram and some of our different kinds of testing equipment to see the validity of it. So I can find that out and send it over to you. But yeah, it was, it's very interesting that you guys both came up with those mixes.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. In the hall of the mountain King, I just looked it up. It's that really extreme version of a classical song. How interesting. Now I want to ask and I know, you know, you're learning as well, I appreciate you saying that. What's going on in our brain, neither of us are neuroscientists, but what's actually happening I mean, I saw on your websites really interesting scientific research. Let's get nitty-gritty. Tell me a little bit, I mean, is this a matter of hormonal balance in the brain moving more blood to the PFC? I mean, do we understand how this is actually working?

Daniel Clark: Yeah. So I think we, we understand a majority of it, but there's still some things that we don't, just to be honest. So what's interesting is that we know more about like the stars than we do about our brain, and every day we try to push that boundary.

So one of the reasons why brain FM is science first. Is actually to mandate that we are pushing the boundary of neurological research and improving the product. And that's something that the company has always standed for and always will, one of the things that we do know in the brain and how it's designed right now, you know, there's some common misconceptions that you only use 10% of your brain.

So if you're in the zone, you're using a hundred percent, that's just not possible. Right? But what is interesting is that if you look at the brain and how things are firing, like how it communicates to itself, right? What is a really good representation is actually Christmas tree. So think about when you plug a Christmas tree on and the lights, all sparkle and blink at random different times, right?

It's kind of like what your brain is doing. What's happening when you're listening to our music, through the process of the neural phase-locking, we actually start aligning the different modules of your brain to start blinking in unison. So what happens is, that's why it's called the neural phase-locking, they locked the same phase and the same blinking, right? And the Christmas tree starts all random different colors, and then it starts all turning on and turning off at the same time. And that's the, really the main effect in the brain because it's the way it communicates with itself, and there's, you know, there's obviously way more here we can dive into, but that's the kind of the main premise is how it's working.

Jonathan Levi: Well and that's, and again, I'm not a neuroscientist and I don't play one on the internet, but that's similar to when we get into flow, right? Is unison uterine lobes of the brain, but also what's so interesting about flow is it's one of the only times, if not, the only time that we know of that the brain is producing all five chemicals at once, you know, your oxytocin, your serotonin, your effort, and all of that. And I wonder if you guys have played around with that and, and experiment I mean, I know that it's really, really hard to actually detect the chemicals that are going on in the brain at specific times, but.

Daniel Clark: Yeah, we haven't yet. That's something, unfortunately science is expensive so right now we're spending about a quarter of a million dollars on just our focus product to help us make it better to test it, things like that so for us to go into that too, you know, really, we will be there one day, but right now, you know, obviously startup business and trying to figure out how to grow the company, as well as doing it right with valid science is really important. So it is a balance and as the company grows, we'll be able to devote more time and energy into research.

But it's really interesting as we talked about flow state and, you know, I'm sure a lot of your users have experienced that before, or want to experience it all the time, and I think just a very interesting thing about flow state is actually, it's like being less aware of your environment, right? It's, you're sitting at a computer and you know, normally like we're talking right now, it's a lot of the frontal cortex.

It's a lot of us, you know, reasoning, thinking, conversating, talking about, you know, thinking about what we're going to talk about next, right? And when you're in a deep flow state, you're actually almost like a step back in your head where instead of thinking, it's more like just doing. And I think that's really interesting, like, just feeling in general. What would be your thoughts on that?

Jonathan Levi: Well, you know, I think first off, as you said, we're so far from being able to actually understand what's going on in the brain. I mean, if anyone doubts this, I would point them to depression is like affecting literally billions with a B of people. And, you know, we still can't actually figure out what's going on.

It's like, are you missing dopamine or are you missing serotonin? And you know, we have band-aids to put on it, but, uh, if you know, one who's been chronically depressed, like we're still far from solving that problem, much of that and like, Postpartum depression and things like that that are affecting millions and millions and millions of people.

So all of this, like tweaking and stuff, we're a long ways away from actually getting it right, and that's because on some level and I'm going on a pretty wide tangent here, I realized, but it's kind of like the human brain is the most complex object in the known universe, and we're trying to study it with our human brains.

So you have to wonder if it's not going to take some pretty serious AI to help us understand and map out all the neural connections. I think we need something smarter than us to understand and that's partly what I think Elon Musk wants to do with Neuralink is give us the capacity to understand our capacity.

So I think that's really, really interesting and yeah. I mean, you guys are also, I want to point out at a pretty serious disadvantage scientifically because you know, most companies test on animals and as we discussed first thing in the episode, music doesn't work on animals. So you guys can't put headphones on an Orangutan and test this out or put electrodes on and orangutans brain and test this out because it just won't work.

Daniel Clark: Yeah. I mean, there's some things that we could maybe potentially do, but then we would be helping out the orangutans and the dogs and the other things, which I'm happy to help them sleep too, but the first thing is let's figure out how we can help ourselves. And, uh, I do agree with you. I think one of the reasons why I get so excited and why one of the reasons I quit my job to be part of this is because there's billions of people that have these challenges, right? Whether it's ADHD ADD, you know, insomnia, and what we try to do right now is we try to, like you said, bandaid and we try our best foot forward. And one of the things I'm really excited about is what if for your kid that's eight years old has been diagnosed with ADHD, they try using something first, like brain.fm, you know, so maybe they try it and they're like, Oh actually this is great. I don't need to do it. Or they try us with combination of something else. So now you take less drugs or, you know, use the replacement altogether if they're already trying it. And that's the thing that excites me the most, because right now we prescribed millions and millions of prescriptions because it's just safer to do so, you know what I mean? And we're trying to be another alternative, not necessarily replace that I don't want to take everyone's drugs away that needs them, but I want to give someone an alternatives to try and make a decision on their own.

Jonathan Levi: Oh, it's so important. And I echo your concern that for some people, I mean, for me, medication was the saving just to get through school, but boy, it would have been nice to have an alternative, and boy, it would have been nice to have a little bit more awareness when I was first prescribed Ritalin meditation wasn't a thing. It was kind of like a, this niche thing that Buddhist monks did. And we're talking 50 years ago, only in the last five years, has there been this incredible Renaissance of mindfulness and actually understanding the power of researchers have known for a long time, but for the public to understand the power, you know, it's taken a long time.

Daniel Clark: And we're still on that wave. I think, you know, I said wave, it's kind of like the ocean thing where people meditation, it's like, actually let's make it a metaphor. It's like running. So I don't know if you've ever run or heard about shoe dog or a, you know, the whole Nike and how they built their empire, but running if you went back in a time machine and he went for a run, I think it's like 80 years ago or 50 years ago.

No one did it. You were crazy. Do you know what I mean?

Jonathan Levi: Right.

Daniel Clark: And it took a little bit for it to crest and it becoming a very, Oh that, yeah that person's running no big deal. That's awesome. You know, and I think it's going to be happening for mindfulness in the next 10 plus years is now it's not going to be something that only, you know, people that are really a certain kind of people doing, it's just, it'll be nationally recognized in society to be something that's beneficial.

Jonathan Levi: Totally now on that note, I want to transition because I always, when I meet someone who's fellow productivity and optimization geek, I always want to discover other things that you do on a day-to-day basis to optimize your performance.

Daniel Clark: Yeah, of course. I'm happy to do that. I'm very sensitive to that stuff.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. So what's it look like? I mean, do you have tools, tricks, techniques, habits, routines, what are some of the things that you do that keep you at optimal performance?

Daniel Clark: Sure. So I think the first thing is habits. So it's funny before, and this is, I guess, an important distinction. Two is before I was working for brands, what I would do is I'd actually work at 10:00 PM till 4:00 AM five days a week, because that was when I could find that flow state, that zone on demand, and I restructured my whole life to do it. I actually went to Asia for a long time, just so I could stay in that same kind of cycle, and then I get used to it I come back. So nowadays what I'm doing is trying to replicate that flow state as early as possible in the morning. What I do is I wake up every morning and I either do two things. One is I put on a brain.fm, the focus music, or I play with some things that we're experimenting down the road, so one of the things that we're, it's not publicly available unfortunately yet, because we're testing it, but we have wake-up music. So basically it's like an alarm clock, it starts playing, and it helps you wake up less groggy, right? So what happens is I start my day with some kind of music that, you know, we're trying to solve problems. I always start my day with an iced coffee, no matter what time or temperature it is, people think I'm crazy when I go down in New York and I go to Starbucks and I get my iced coffee, but then what I do is I sit down at my desk and I take out a journal and I write down two things. First. I do gratitudes unstructured, so I write things that I'm grateful for. Now, not always every single thing, but I try to think of new things that I'm very happy for. So this morning, actually, I wrote down that I'm grateful for the opportunity to chat with you, Jonathan, and also, um, your whole audience.

Right? And that helps me figure out not only you know about what I'm doing in the day, but also about like, you know, what's important? Like what do I have to focus on? Where do I have to put my time into? Then from there, I do unstructured journaling. So I actually do a maximum of three pages, but then I just like write anything on my mind whatsoever.

So it could be relationships, it could be family, I guess that's a relationship too, it could be like spheres, it could be anything at all. And I just write things down and like, get that out of my brain, I guess. And during that, I actually come up for to-dos during the day. So I'm fearful about X, Y, and Z.

Okay, that's it to do. Let's fix that. You know, things like that. And this whole process probably takes me about 30 to 45 minutes, and then from there, what I'm doing is I open up my email and I just try to crank through as many emails as I can and try to set things up. So in this block of time, it's usually about 90 minutes at the end of that, And by then I have intentions for the day, I have to-dos, and I have, most of my emails responded to, and then what I do is I'll usually have a block of time where I do interviews, podcasts, things of that nature, I have team meetings, all that stuff. Then I'll go to the gym. A workout, you know, I'll get pumped up, whether it's cardio or yoga or anything like that, really, and then I'll do another 90-minute focus session where I'll start the session with brain FM and I will try to conquer like one major to do in that time.

Jonathan Levi: Wow. So you're pretty regimented.

Daniel Clark: Yeah so actually we do that four days a week, I do that Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Wednesday, I actually treat unstructured like a weekend.

So what I do is I usually zone the whole day, I blocked the whole day out and I do it completely unstructured. So I wake up in the morning, uh, my coffee, I actually don't do the journaling that day, and I just look at what are things that I want to do, and I give myself the opportunity to rest, but also be creative, And that's something that I've been doing now for at least six months. I introduced that Wednesday zone day and that's something that has had tremendous effects on the Thursday and Friday of the week and having the same effect from this on a Monday and Tuesday.

Jonathan Levi: I love that. So you don't schedule out the maker or manager days or anything like that, but Wednesday is a free day for you to kind of creatively roam, which I think is so important for executives, many executives don't realize how important it is to take free days.

Daniel Clark: Yup. Exactly. So I still do work, but I go through things that I probably would never go through, like customer support or looking at design or looking at what the product is going to be like in the next year. And I really can sit down and have no time constraints and just like come up with like, You know, it's just a challenge or a problem, or maybe there's no problems, I just kind of try to take a really deep look at like what's going on. And that usually leads to me getting really excited and, you know, figuring out what to do with Thursday and Friday.

Jonathan Levi: I love that. I really love that. Now, besides brain FM, what's one product or service that you just could not live without?

Daniel Clark: Great question. So I love different kinds of things that help you learn, so audible, things like that, I don't think I can live without I crushed books on that all the time, I usually have about two books playing, so that's really fun. Recently, I started getting into trying CBD. So there's this organic water-soluble CBD that I've been using just to aid in that kind of creativity.

I use that, not really every day though, I use that in certain kinds of States, because the idea is, um, and I'm sure it sounds like you're pretty important with that, but the idea is basically taking out all of the psychoactive, like THC and only having these other things with like, and it helps like neuroplasticity and things like that, so I've been using that as well that's what's really interesting. I mean, I really enjoy it, and then I would also say, the last thing is really just a good quality headphone. I think that's important, especially because of the music and how it's such a big part of my life and my work schedule.

Jonathan Levi: Wow. You know, in 200 plus episodes no one's ever said that, but I think that's probably one of my best productivity hacks is like a good pair of Bose noise, canceling headphones, I'm wearing them right now. I lost them once in an airport I think they got stolen out of my bag or something like that. And within an hour I had another pair. I was like, there's no way I'm taking a flight without another pair of these things.

So important. What about, Nootropics? You talked about CBD, which is an interesting one that I haven't actually had a chance to experiment with too much, but I mean, you're in the business of helping people focus if I dig around in the pantry at brain FM, what kind of nootropics stimulants are you? A coffee guy? Tea guy? What kind of stuff are you taking in the mouth in addition to in the ears, that's helping you focus.

Daniel Clark: I really liked that in the mouth and in the ears. So I've actually one of the reasons, again, we kind of glossed over this, but one of the reasons why I was especially excited about bringing the foam was because I am a biohacker myself.

So I've done every single diet and I feel like nootropics ever. So one of the things, you know, just experimenting with different ones, I still do like I said, I mentioned CBD, there's actually way like tons of different types of CBD. I actually use one called OHI energetics because some CBD is extrapolated by using nano, what is it called? Um, nano petroleum, which turns into formaldehyde in your body, so it's very important that we even with that and especially with yourself and when you start experimenting with that, there's different grades because it's just something it's so new no one has any kind of schedule on them, I guess. But secondly, I do LTE mean a lot, so I drink a lot of coffee, I just love the taste of coffee actually, but LTE really helps me balance out some of the jitters, things like that, and then I try to keep it pretty open, if I look in my, I guess my pantry right now, I have some stuff from human HV MN, so they have a stack of different kinds of things to try. And it really depends on what. I'm going for, to be honest, one of the weird things that I do or weird to some people is, um, I actually do oil pulling. So that's something that I, I end the day with an oil pulling is basically just taking coconut oil, putting in your mouth, swishing it around for about 20 minutes or so, and that's really interesting cause it helps strengthen your teeth, but it's something that's been around for thousands and thousands of years. And it's something that I feel like it's weird. I feel healthier after doing it, and there's a lot of science to show that like, you know, it's debated. But for me, I know it keeps my teeth white and I've been doing that and then also my mom, actually, she, I recommended this to her and she has an autoimmune disorder where she has been on chemo drugs for eight years and she started oil pulling and she's completely off all of them now. So that's one very specific thing, and I'm not an expert in this field, so I'm going to stop talking about it right there, but just from personal use, it's been an amazing thing.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah, we actually had someone on the show and of course now the memory expert is blanking on her name, but she was a paramedic expert and she talked about oil pulling as being just like this miracle and I promised myself that I was going to check it out and I never did. So I think I'm going to go pull some oil. It was Shivani Gouda. Now it's coming to me. So if anyone wants to listen, Prior episode, we talk all about oil pulling there. Then I know we're coming up on time here. So I want to ask you, you said you crush books on audible. What are some of the books that have most impacted your life?

Daniel Clark: Oh, great question. Let's see. I think a relentless. It was one of my favorite books by Tim Grover. He is the gentleman that was the coach to Michael Jordan, as well as many other athletes, basically, a synopsis is that you have these things inside of you that are, you know, the true reason of why you, maybe some people want to do things, and instead of pretending they don't exist or not maybe going into them, being able to use them in a constructive way to power and what you're doing. And I think it's just a tremendous book on that. I love actually Zig Ziglar, I used to listen to him a lot, growing up currently I'm reading Richard Branson's losing my virginity and talk about how he became the person he is. I love autobiographies. I'm always listening to at least one of them at a time.

Jonathan Levi: Love it. Love it. All right. So I know you guys have a very generous offer for our audience. I'll let you tell them about it if they want to try brain.fm about and figure out how they can take advantage of it.

Daniel Clark: Yeah, sure. So what we do is for everyone, we usually get five free sessions for everyone to try it so it's not just me saying this or showing you the science, but also personally experiencing these different States on demand. So that's open for everyone, and then for your group and people that are listening, we're going to pass over 20% to them when they sign on onto a year or a monthly subscription so they can save on that.

Jonathan Levi: Awesome. I really appreciate that. And I guess we will put the coupon code for that in the blog post at superhuman.blog. So people can go ahead and check that out. Then I want to thank you very much for spending your time with me today, but before I let you go, I want to ask you one question we ask every single guest, which is if people take away one big takeaway from this episode and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives, what would you hope for that to be?

Daniel Clark: Great question. Let's see. I would say to just challenge yourself, right? I think a lot of people are, and especially from what we're understanding on our point is that people are way capable of more than they think they can do and some people already know what they want to do, but just pushing and having that goal in mind and having all these things set up to get there, you'll be really surprised with all the results you get. So find a goal, pick it, make it a little bit crazy, a little bit challenging and work towards it. 'cause as long as you put the effort in you'll achieve it.

Jonathan Levi: I love it. Dan Clark, thank you so much for spending your morning with us. I really appreciate it. I know our audience learned a lot and I sure did as well.

Daniel Clark: Sweet. Cheers.

Jonathan Levi: All right. Superfriends. That is all we have for you today, but I hope you guys really enjoyed the show and I hope you learned a ton of actionable information tips, advice that will help you go out there and overcome the impossible.

If you've enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, or drop us a quick little note on the Twitter machine at go superhuman. Also, if you have any ideas. For anyone out there who you would love to see on the show. We always love to hear your recommendations. You can submit on our website, or you can just drop us an email and let us know that's all for today, guys. Thanks for tuning in.

Closing: Thanks for tuning in to the Becoming SuperHuman Podcast. For more great skills and strategies, or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode, visit www.becomingasuperhuman.com/podcast. We'll see you next time.

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4 Comments

  1. Luiz
    at — Reply

    Thanks, I learned a lot of interesting things in past episodes.

  2. Shivaditya Purohit
    at — Reply

    loved th heart and the depth of the conversation. The way that Dr. Metivier shared from his enormous experience and insights was just amazing. Thank you Jonathan for doing this podcast!! 🙂

  3. Rob
    at — Reply

    Great interview with Dr. Greg Wells! He mentioned a doctor from Colorado around the 42:30 point of the podcast, discussing turmeric and black pepper. I couldn’t make out the doctor’s name. Can you provide me with his full name and maybe his website or contact info. Interested in his products.

    Thanks,

    Rob

  4. Muhammed Sani Ibrahim
    at — Reply

    I am new here, and learning really fast.
    Thank you.

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