Ari: Hello? Aubrey?
Aubrey: This is Aubrey.
Ari: Hi, it’s Ari Meisel.
Aubrey: How are you?
Ari: Good, thank you. How are you and thank you for taking the
time to talk to me.
Aubrey: You're welcome. I'm doing quite well, thank you.
Ari: So, to tell you real quick… my website is called LessDoing.com
and it’s essentially a productivity system that I created as a result
of having Crohn’s disease, which I was diagnosed with 7 years
ago. And I really, really have severe Crohn’s disease; it nearly
killed me but I got over it with a long process of self-tracking,
self-experimentation. As a way of dealing with the stress aspect, I
created a productivity system that I now share with people and I
bring wellness into that in a big way as far as stress levels and
sleeping and nutrition in terms of human optimization. I'm also
a regular taker of Alpha Green and I'm just a big fan of this
Aubrey: Right on man. I appreciate that.
Ari: Yeah, so I've heard you on Ben Greenfield’s podcast after he had
interviewed me and I just thought your story was really cool. So,
anyway. We’re just going to have a conversation; we’re going to
talk about you, we’re going to talk about Onnit. The only
question which I ask in the end, which may sort of want to think
about the answers to is I always end by asking people if they can
give me their top three personal tips for how they stay the most
productive and the most effective.
Aubrey: Okay, top three personal tips for being most productive, alright.
Ari: It could be something, you know, a software, it could be
nutrition, it could be meditation, whatever. It could be
ideological. It could be whatever you want. So are you ready?
Aubrey: I'm ready.
Ari: Okay, cool.
Ari: Welcome to the Less Doing podcast. Today my guest is Aubrey
Marcus from Onnit which is a company I've talked about before.
They're the makers of Alpha Brain and some other really cool
supplements. But besides Onnit, Aubrey is – what’d you say – a
pretty awesome guy. He is an optimizer of people. He’s had some
amazing experiences in life – everything from [2:29] sessions to
MMA fighting and really, how do I show thanks being here
Aubrey: Ah, it’s my pleasure; glad to be on here.
Ari: So, first off, how did you get to here? Tell me what happened
after. I know you started as sort of an athlete in basketball when
you were in high school but where does it go from there?
Aubrey: Yeah, well really in college, I was just really taking classes that I
like, expanding my mind, thinking about things. I really didn’t
know exactly where I was going to go. I just had faith that if I
continued to exercise and stretch the capacity of my mind and
my own ability to discipline and improve myself, that eventually
I would figure something out. I didn’t really figure anything out
until after college. So I said, well, I'm good at improving things,
I'm good at problem solving, and I'm good at puzzle solving so I
decided to start my own marketing firm. With that, I was able to
get exposure to a bunch of different industries, public and
private companies, really learn how they work, and kind of find
the inner workings of e-commerce and business in general and
that’s embanking all of these tools that I would later have to
utilize in starting my own brand. While I thought probably right
from the start that I would have been ready to run a company
like Onnit; a lot of lessons I needed to learn and improve and get
better on. Finally, 2010, I really did feel ready and had a pretty
good idea, it wasn’t the ultimate idea, to start making some
supplements. I just went out and rose a little bit of money and
created my first two supplements – which bombed, which failed.
They were hangover remedy supplements and it was just kind of
the wrong idea and then I completed shifted course, learned some
lessons from that and accepted that my first go wasn’t quite right,
and then focused on a cognitive enhancer. I partnered up with
Joe Rogan and really got with scientists and doctors and athletes
and did a lot of testing and created what I believe to be the best
cognitive enhancer in existence. That was really the foundation
and starting of Onnit and then from there just applying the same
methodology of talking to the athletes, talking to the doctors,
doing the research, doing the testing, and picking categories that
can help people improve and optimize their life from other
supplements to function of food. Even, really kind of innovative
but old school fitness training equipment with all the same
principle. How can you get the maximum result from the
minimum and simplest – I should say - efforts possible.
Ari: That I would say went really well. One of your supplements that
you offer is called Shroom Tech. Now before we get into too much
about what Shroom Tech is, you do have some experience, right?
Personally with the natural psilocybin compound?
Aubrey: Psilocybin? Yeah. I see you bridging the gap between my
personal and professional life and I try to keep those realms pretty
distinct. Although, obviously when you're talking about
expanding the mind – which is something that I've always
looked to do and stretching the capacity of your consciousness, I
found responsible, psychedelic medicines in proper settings to be
a real advantageous tool. Now, psilocybin was a tool that I used
with some Shamans out in the desert in Mexico when I first
started getting going and then my later years I switched to
ayahuasca which I've done with some Shaman’s down in the
rainforest in Peru. That seems to be a better tool for me to do on
an annual or biannual basis to reconnect with the different
patterns of thinking and really expand the mind. The true test
for it has nothing to do with that, it is focused on the traditional
mushroom that grows naturally from the pa and the high
altitudes regions of China and have made up adaptations because
of the high altitude that it fosters in to allowing greater
oxygenmunization for anybody who ingest it and it’s called the
cordyceps sinensis mushroom. So that’s what we based our
prework out formula on; something that was not stimulant based
but instead would feed your muscles with more oxygen which is
something that every athlete, endurance or otherwise can use.
Ari: Oh, absolutely. You call it Shroom tech. I had an idea…..
Aubrey: Go ahead and put it out there. I set myself up for that one.
Ari: I love what you said because I'm a big – not fan – but I'm a big
proponer of sort of being aware of the cognitive bias that comes
from sort of getting too set in your ways. The whole very popular
idea of the head down. I feel like people get stuck in this mode
and they can’t see outside of themselves and that’s where our
really creative ideas come from. I think it’s a very important
connection to make. That’s really great mushroom now I want to
talk about Alpha Brain for a minute before I get into a couple of
other things. As a productivity person and as a biohacker,
everyone a lot of times they end up talking about neutropics.
Some neutropics are kind of scary that one of the more popular
ones that I'm sure you know is providual and herbanacinal .
Those are real drugs whereas everything in Alpha Brain is not
only really natural but there's some really good studies, really
well documented studies associated with the compounds in it. I
just personally want to say that my first experience with Alpha
Brain which was possibly and probably a little psychosomatic
but I was working on one of my online courses and I had finished
about 25% of it over the course of three weeks. I took two Alpha
Brain that day and I finished the course that night. I felt a sense
of clarity probably because of the fact that I have two 4 month
old and a 21 month old in my house but it’s something amazing
about being able to unlock that power. Let’s talk about how
Alpha Brain kind of came out because there are so many
compounds in it that have so many great properties.
Aubrey: What I wanted to do was focus on your neurotransmitters. Your
neurotransmitters are the basic foundation for cognitive function.
The neurotransmitter that I was targeting primarily was the
acetylcholine system. Acetylcholine is responsible for mental
speed, focus, clarity, sharpness. That neurotransmitter we
targeted with two different compounds particularly Alpha GPC,
glycerylphosphorylcholine, which is the raw source of
acetylcholine and then Huperzia serrata which is
acetylcholinesterase inhibitor and that actually prevents the
breakdown of acetylcholine once it gets produced in the brain.
You're creating a surplus of acetylcholine which really allows the
brain to operate on a much focused level. Now, we didn’t stop
there, of course. We created a lot of neuro specific antioxidants
and other compounds like vicopa and our proprietary AC11
which comes from cat's claw. Added in some vasodilators,
cerebral vasodilators like [10:37] to really kind of open up and
send blood flow to the brain because more blood is more
nutrients equals highest cognitive function. Then also because
when you get a surplus of acetylcholine you may feel yourself
being a little antsy. We put in some GABA, some amino acids
that are related to the GABA mechanism like elcini which kind
of tempers the action of the acetylcholine as far as the anti kind
of grow side that it could potentially get and so it mitigates that
but still allows all of the positive side to the benefits along with
ostraub which is another anti stress herb, traditional use. Then
of course focused on adding L-tyrosine which is the precursor for
the dopamine system as well to make sure you're getting more
balanced neurotransmitter mix and one of the reasons why we
call Alpha Brain a complete balanced neutropic.
Ari: So, there's two I want to talk about specifically. It is really
interesting how you sort of figured out this really interesting or
really well-balanced mix. The cat’s claw; I'm excited about the
cat’s claw because cat’s claw was one of the supplements that I
discovered through my Crohn’s journey that was really helpful to
me not only as an anti-inflammatory but a smooth muscle
relaxer, which is probably why it’s helpful for Crohn’s. How does
the cat’s claw really play into brain function? Is it because we
have inflammatory properties or what else?
Aubrey: Partly, partly. The studies done on, well, first of all, it’s not just
cat’s claw. Its cat’s claw then it’s gone through a proprietary
process by a publicly traded company called Oxygenic that only
produces this one compound called AC11 and they have tons of
studies on it. Actually, studies show that it has been shown to
repair DNA at a cellular level, it’s that strong. So, it takes cat’s
claw and it isolates some of the natural compounds in it and
magnifies those. It creates basically a super powered cat’s claw.
What’s that going to do is just going to help the other ingredients
work better. It does do some things to the inflammatory system
but it also clears up a lot of these free radicals and the cellular
damage that’s happening to those neurons and other cells and
that’s what we’re hypothesizing it’s doing. Obviously knowing
and kind of being able to prove that it repairs DNA on a cellular
level, we also feel that it’s improving things on a neuronal level
and possibly even having some effects on the synaptic prosticity
and some of the other positive benefits of the brain but we’d have
to really get in there and take a look at it. But the results are,
when you add it to the formula you get a whole different animal
than if you don’t have it and that’s something that we can feel
and test within different batches of the formula. So, it’s a great
product and I'm really happy that I made that alliance with
Oxygenic to get access to that product.
Ari: When I saw that in there I was like, oh, I've taken this before but
this seems like a better version. It’s pretty cool so I was excited to
see that and then the vicopa is something also interesting. So,
vicopa being an ayurvedic herb, right off, I think it’s really
interesting to see any company in the US that is [14:20] or
method using ayurvedic herb which is great but……
Aubrey: Hello? Hello? I'm not sure if you can hear me but your audio
cut out. Hello?
Ari: Hey. I'm sorry; I don’t know what happened there. Where did
you lose me?
Aubrey: Ayurvedic herb.
Ari: Okay, alright. So, I’ll back up then. It’s also nice to see that
you're using vicopa which is obviously an ayurvedic herb so
right off it’s cool to see an ayurvedic herb that’s part of it. Bacopa
is often referred to as the queen herb of ayurvedic. What I've seen
in the research, which there's been a lot on how it can increase
your memory and everything but it seems that it takes about a
month for that full affect to be realized so is this sort of a
modified version of Bacopa also?
Aubrey: No, we definitely standardize it to make sure that you're getting
enough bactericides and some of the useful parts in there so every
batch is going to be the same but it’s not anything that’s
particularly innovated as the cat’s claw product is. But there's
certain elements of the Alpha Brain and they're going to work
immediately and certain elements as you suggested are really
going to improve over time. I think Bacopa is one of the ones
that’s going to give you more and more benefits the longer you
take the Alpha Brain whereas some of the affects as in the
cholinergic affects and days of dilation affects, the more blood
flow. Those will take place pretty much within the first dose
that you take. We just started working doing some brain scans
analysis of people before and after taking the Alpha Brain and
we’re starting to notice some significant changes in the brain even
after the first dose. So, we are excited to kind of expand our
research into that and really be able to present those findings
when we’re able to.
Ari: Well, that actually leads me into my next question which is how
are you primarily doing the testing? Are you having people take
tests? Obviously you're using brain scans, is that the primary
Aubrey: Well, we have a clinical trial that’s ongoing. We have a dataset
that’s kind of from the pilot to this clinical trial that should be
presented in a conference in February but as far as when we first
started it was just get all your friends and tell your friends to
their friends and get as much feedback as you can on sample
batches. Now, we have obviously a lot more data coming back
from our thousands and thousands of customers that have created
subtle modifications in the formula based on the larger dataset.
Then, of course, the final step is the clinical trial to really
validate and also explore perhaps what we could be doing better.
Ari: Cool. As far as the supplements, I know you have food and
everything, do you take everything?
Aubrey: I wouldn’t have made it if I didn’t want it; that’s kind of one of
the criteria for what I do. Now, do I take every single thing every
single day? No, of course not. I do, in the course of week, I'm
pretty sure I hit every single thing. These are all things that I
love and all things that help me in my life so I wouldn’t carry it
and I wouldn’t put it through Onnit if I wasn’t a huge fan of
what they're able to do and how they're able to help you lead an
Ari: I like that. The last supplement that I want to talk about,
actually, is your testosterone supporter basically. I know that you
read that all the time but I've seen where a lot of people that
there seems to be this dip in testosterone that’s happening earlier
and earlier to people. There's all sorts of magical ways to boost
testosterone and a lot of them are legitimate and a lot of them are
not legitimate. So, what makes your tea different?
Aubrey: Well, you know one of the things that we really wanted to focus
on was we don’t any of our products to have any negative
repercussions down the road. So, if you add…
Ari: That’s nice.
Aubrey: Yeah, exactly and not a lot of companies care about that. They
want to just give you an immediate effect.
Aubrey: So if you're adding something like DHEA or some exogenous
source of testosterone or androgenic compound basically what's
going to happen is your own body’s engine produces testosterone
naturally is going to start to shut down as soon as it sees
testosterone coming in from other sources and it may not start up
again once it shuts down. People who have taken a lot of steroids
and testosterone, that’s why they have to stay on testosterone
replacement therapy on a permanent basis because their body
would have a very difficult time recovering production. We
wanted to focus on androgynous production and to do that we
wanted to make sure that we just provided the body with the raw,
natural ingredients that could help their engine – the
testosterone engine – run more efficiently. So we just focused on
that and then also some compounds, natural compounds that
minimize excess estrogen because the same engine that makes
testosterone will also make estrogen. So to be effective in
balancing the two you have to mitigate some of the excess estrogen
it produces as well. We feel like we got a kind of ideal
combination that’s able to both of those things. Then we threw in
a few extra things to help with some athletic performance as well
because doing squats is going to help you produce testosterone too.
Ari: Yeah, absolutely. I always tell people eat good fat, sleep well, and
lift heavy stuff.
Aubrey: That’s the foundation.
Ari: That’s the magic formula. So, now, on the food side – this is
going to get more personal to you. I think this is kind of cool. I
looked at your food stuff and I see good fats, I see bulletproof stuff,
I see paleo stuff, I see chocolate. There's basically…I'm looking at
my diet when I do the pull down menu of food. This looks like
it’s come from several different sources, is this sort of molded on
your personal feelings toward food or how’s that come about?
Aubrey: Well, it’s interesting that you say that because it touches on a
deeper, philosophical point.
Aubrey: I was a philosophy major in school. You get all of these different
schools of philosophy and they spend so much time defending
their position that they're unwilling to acknowledge the kernel is
good that comes from pretty much every school of thought. I
think diet is another one of those arenas where everybody spends
so much time defending their diet plan that they don’t just open
up to possibility to say, okay, this is a good idea from you and
this is a good idea from you and this is a good idea from you but
let’s not get crazy; you don’t need to take it to the extreme. Let’s
just make the best of everything. That’s what I tried to do – make
the best of the bulletproof kind of concept, the best of Mike Dolce’s
earth grown nutrient concepts, some of Tim Ferriss’s concept from
4-hour body. Put them all together and come up with a basic
middle ground system that touches on the mutual points of
agreements of all of these things. That is basically don’t put GMO
crap in your body, try to eat as much raw food as possible, make
sure you get enough fat. If it didn’t come from the earth at some
point, it’s probably not a food so don’t eat it. That’s just basically
the philosophy of our foods and we try to make stuff taste good,
too. That’s something I really try.
Ari: That’s always nice.
Aubrey: Yeah can do that and have something taste pretty sketch but our
stuff is delicious. Food is one of the main pleasures in life; food
and sex is just some of the magic of living in this dimensional
realm that we’re in so you might as well enjoy it.
Ari: I love that. You're obviously, clearly performing at a high level.
There's a couple pictures online of you especially [8:52 2/3],
you're clearly pretty ripped. So, what's your diet like? Is it what
we just talked about or generally how do you eat?
Aubrey: As much as possible. I end up entertaining a lot of people so
going out to eat is difficult to kind of keep these principles in
mind. So when I'm eating at home I do my best to stick to these
principles, I’ll always stick to earth grown nutrient principles
and I stay away from the crack like soda and really processed
junk and things like that. All my grocery shopping I do at the
natural grocery stores and things like that. When I choose
restaurants I try to choose cleaner restaurants. I’ll go into a
steakhouse and ask if they have any of the grass-fed beef but I'm
not crazy about it. I think some people get really, really stressed.
If it works for them, great. I know that … like I've had dinner
with Dave Asprey before and eh sticks to the code and that dude
does not bend but I'm a bending dude. Sometimes I’ll bend so
much that you won’t even recognize me. As far as the diet point
of view I’ll just say screw it; today I'm going wild. Have drinks
and food and just enjoy myself and make sure I get, again, back
on the other side to bring things back into balance. That’s just…
Ari: It’s funny… I'm sorry, go ahead.
Aubrey: No, that’s it.
Ari: It’s funny you say that because I'm sort of the same way. Having
been through an experience where I was in chronic pain and
food was the enemy for me, now I try to go the extreme opposite. I
eat very healthy and I’d say my wife and I eat probably 90% of
our meals at home but I'm also not opposed to bending those rules
quite a bit. I was interviewing Jimmy Moore the other day,
Living La Vida Low Carb guy; you've probably heard of him,
Aubrey: No, I haven’t but that’s hilarious though.
Ari: Okay, well first of all I think it’s the greatest website. He’s really
cool; he lost 180 pounds on a ketogenic diet and now he’s a
cholesterol expert, he’s awesome. But, we were on the interview
and I said to him I am not low carb. Like, I would be really
lying if I said I'm low carb because I really love to have
sandwiches sometimes and I really love to have a bowl of pasta
but the cool thing was that I actually had the numbers to back it
up. Apparently, your triglycerides are an indicator of your carb
tolerance and anything below 100 is considered really good.
We’re on the interview and I had my numbers out and my
triglyceride number is 54. So, I was like, I guess I can bend the
rules quite a bit as far as carbs go.
Aubrey: Right, right. I imagine them kind of similar. My body responds
as long as it’s the right kind of carbs not just a bunch of sugar
then my body responds pretty well. I could eat quite a bit of
whole grain rice or quinoa, brown rice, pasta or something like
that, my body feels pretty good. So I don’t really stress too much
about that I just try to make sure the nutrient quality is strong in
what I'm eating.
Ari: I think that’s a really good way of looking; stressing about food is
probably the worst thing that you can do. Now as far as fitness
goes, you have some really cool stuff on your site for fitness. You
got [12:28 2/3], you got some really primal stuff. Things where
you're really moving in a sort of natural way. They're
unbalanced and uncoordinated in some ways. You’ve done MMA,
you’ve been around the world, like, how do you work out?
Aubrey: Man, I play with all the toys that we have here. That’s what's
been really fun for me. I did more traditional kind of exercise
for athletes back in the day which was basic plyometric mixed
with weightlifting then actually just playing this board and
doing running and suicides and things like that so that now
really working with a lot of these young MMA athletes in
particular were bringing in a lot of these highly functional
components that are a lot of fun. The steel mace; the ropes. I still
do some traditional weightlifting just for I think the mass
building potential that it has; it’s something that it still really
valuable. But if I just do that I feel impossibly slow and my
joints start to hurt so I just blend that in with a lot of the other
stuff that’s more free range of motion. I feel stronger and better
than I ever have, truly. I was talking to the top UFC fighter Cub
Swanson who was out here. Basically, he does a ton of stuff
involving balance and explosion. The balance stuff he does is
really incredible. He basically explains that you're never in a
situation where …you're not in a perfect world especially in
fighting. You're going to be off balance. You're going to be more
on one leg than on the other. You're going to get moved around.
So, getting strength as well as stability and range of motion is
crucial. I've really kind of adapted my training to that
methodology and honestly feel better and look better.