NBT People: Mark Alexander [transcript]

Written by Christopher Kelly

Aug. 2, 2019

[0:00:00]

Christopher:    Hello, and welcome to the Nourish Balance Thrive Podcast broadcasting in glorious mono from my Bonnie Doon studio. I am here with a recent graduate of our Elite Performance Program. It's Mark Alexander. He is an electronics engineer currently living in San Francisco. Mark was just telling me about the new headset that he's been working on over at Dolby Labs. Can you just say again what you just told me? Because I thought this was super interesting. 

Mark:    Yeah, it's a super high function headset. It renders a full Atmos Soundscape in your living room. It's got a handset class processor in one of the ear cups. And we shipped it this last holiday season. 

Christopher:    All right. You're going to have to unpack all of that. It’s a what? Headset? 

Mark:    Think about what you want out of a headset. You want great sound. You want to be totally immersed in what you're listening to, whether it's music or movies or something. The immersion was really the guiding principle on this one. 

    So if you're in your living room and you want to watch Game of Thrones and you want to be in the middle of that battle scene with all of this glorious Atmos Soundscape, Atmos is like it puts the sounds everywhere around you. You don't want to drill 23 holes in your ceiling. You don't want to put speakers all over the living room. This headset watches where your head is and watches how your head moves. Then it rerenders the sonic scene so that it's as though the soundscape is staying in place in the room. 

Christopher:    Oh, wow. 

Mark:    Then it's got a transparency feature so that you can -- as opposed to like active noise canceling, it doesn't isolate you from the room. It will bring in any sounds in your environment. So if your kid wakes up in the middle of the night, you hear that. They did a lot of research into immersion and found that people really couldn't get immersed in a movie or in music unless they felt truly comfortable. And especially for parents who want to know what's going on in the house, you don't feel totally comfortable if you're isolated. 

Christopher:    That's really clever. So let me get this straight. So this is not -- we're wearing headphones right now, right? So there's a piece of foam covering our ears. That's not what you're talking about. So there is a headset that is like a motion capturing device, but you still got speakers in your room in the conventional sense. 

Mark:    Yeah. There's no speakers in the room. It's just the headphones. 

Christopher:    Oh wow. Okay. Wow. So what are you doing? You're like you sat there with your wife watching a movie and you both go ahead set this on. Is that how this works? 

Mark:    That is in the marketing material. I don't know how many people actually do that. 

Christopher:    Okay. Interesting. Then talk about -- is it a multidisciplinary team? So you work on the electronics. Who else is involved? 

Mark:    Yeah, exactly. That was what made it really juicy and really interesting work. It was that it was the mechanical engineering, the acoustic engineering, all of the industrial design, the cosmetics, the comfort, all of that. The electronics discipline has to fit in with all those other disciplines in order to actually ship this product and make it a great product. 

Christopher:    Then what was your involvement? Were you doing circuit design or what did that --

Mark:    I was running the electronics team. 

Christopher:    Okay. 

Mark:    That meant architecting the system, guiding the selection of all the parts, minding the supply chain, minding where we could buy, minding what are the ways we're going to fabricate this thing, what factors we’re going to fabricate it in, all that stuff. 

Christopher:    That's very cool. How much was this thing? 

Mark:    I think they're selling it for 500 on Amazon right now. 

Christopher:    Oh really?

Mark:    Yeah. 

Christopher:    Good grief. 

Mark:    It's expensive. 

Christopher:    It's expensive, but I'm still flabbergasted by -- I have some sense of what goes into making electronic equipment. I did a four-year apprenticeship as an electronics engineer. I worked my way around the various departments of an electronics company. I worked in like [0:03:08] [Indiscernible]. I soldered stuff together with a -- I don't know why it was all girls that soldered stuff together on the line. So I'd be working with this group of women soldering stuff together. It was at that time. Maybe it's changed. Maybe there is nobody soldering stuff together anymore for all I know. 

Mark:    No, that's still how they do it. 

Christopher:    Oh, is it? Okay. 

Mark:    Yeah, in factories in China.

Christopher:    I worked in the R & D department designing circuit boards and in the drawing department laying stuff out. So I saw everything that goes into producing even a moderately complicated electronic thing. And the idea of producing something that complex for $500 really blows my mind. 

Mark:    Yeah. That's what makes consumer electronics difficult. 

Christopher:    Would you say that that's your passion? Electronics? Is that something that you're very excited about still? 

Mark:    It's not. It's definitely not. It was my passion when I was about 13 years old. I really loved being able to create something and have some control over how it would work in the world. Then I ended up getting a degree in it because I knew I could make money doing it. 

    My first love was physics, but I wasn't quite sure about how well that would turn out. I wasn't sure that I could make physics pay. So I took an engineering degree and then immediately came out to Silicon Valley, started working at Xilinx at a chip company. And because the work kept changing, it stayed interesting. But electronics itself, no, I don't think that's ever really been a passion of mine. 

Christopher:    That's really interesting. I'm the same actually. I think it was just the fear of running out of money that drove me towards these subjects. Especially later on when you realize -- so I finished the undergraduate degree in electronics. 

    Then I thought -- I really think that software like the electronics is becoming a commodity. I saw that in even -- I mean this is 25 years ago now, right, that you saw that every single electronic design was basically the same. It was just all about that microprocessor thing that's in the middle of the circuit board. And the only thing that changes from project to project is the software. And I was worried that maybe the electronics engineer would go away and everything would be in software. But of course that hasn't happened. 

[0:05:00]

Mark:    Yeah, it hasn't happened. And especially in a device like this headset, it really has to be bespoke design in order to get that level of performance, that level of quality, that level of sound quality. In order to get that all into this little package, into that form factor for that price, it takes bespoke design. And it takes a big team. 

Christopher:    Talk about how you first became interested when your 13. This is a particular interest to me now with kids, five year old girl. And it'd be fun to mess around with some electronic stuff, try and really understand how a transistor works, this kind of thing. How did you get interested when you were 13 years old? I'm interested to know what is it that could spark even the mildest of interest in someone so young.

Mark:    Yeah. The thing that grabbed me was there was this magazine, Popular Electronics, that I just found in the bookstore. I was browsing in the bookstore looking in the magazines. And I find this one about electronics. There was a design in there that you could produce based on the instructions in the article, which was a prank. It was an electronic cricket. So it's something you hide in somebody's room. It has a photocell. And I thought photo cells were fricking incredible when I was 13 years old. I was like, “Wow, this uses a photocell. Amazing.” 

Christopher:    Oh, you better explain more a photocell. I think I'm not even sure that I know. 

Mark:    It’s a light sensor.

Christopher:    Oh, just a light sensor. Okay.

Mark:    Yeah, just a light sensor. Yeah, just a resistor that is one value with light and different from [0:06:14] [Indiscernible].

Christopher:    Okay. 

Mark:    So you hide it somebody's room. And as soon as the light goes off, it starts chirping just like a cricket 

Christopher:    Oh, that’s amazing.

Mark:    There’s this little analog synthesizer inside and it makes a cricket sound. I thought, “Wow, I've got to build this thing.” I was etching my own PCBs. I got the kit for etching printed circuit boards. I sourced all the components. I made 50 trips to RadioShack. I must've built this thing four times. It never worked. Finally, on the fifth try, I got some help from a friend's dad who did electronics and managed to make it work for about five minutes. But that was the start of it. 

Christopher:    Wow. 

Mark:    It was just like this doing a prank. 

Christopher:    I so remember that now. You bring it back all kinds of memories. I remember putting the PCBs in the acid bath. You had a pen and you drew on it. And the copper that remained was this protected --

Mark:    Yeah, I totally remember all that. 

Christopher:    Yeah. I wonder how that's going to happen now when RadioShack is gone and magazines aren’t a thing. How do you get inspired in 2020?

Mark:    Yeah, and Make magazine just went under, I understand. 

Christopher:    Oh, really? 

Mark:    Yeah. 

Christopher:    It’s all on me isn't it to feel like try and bring this stuff into the house and inspire the kids? Let's talk about health stuff. I'm really interested to know, what were the things that were most effective for you? 

    One of the things I'm really proud of, stuff at NBT, is our holistic approach to health. I don't think there is anyone out there either in a niche of athletic performance and cognitive performance, in any area that's really taking as many approaches. Nobody has a performance psychologists. Nobody has somebody that's excellent in strength and conditioning. Nobody has Megan's knowledge of biochemistry and her practical experience with dietary interventions. So it goes on with Clay and with the support of Tommy and Elaine and my wife and so many people that we've got so many different angles on this problem of health and performance. 

    I really want to know, what were the things that move the needle the most for you as you went through the program? Everybody comes at it from a different place, right? Like you'd already discovered some of the diet pieces. Was that the same for you? It's usually the first thing that people discover. It’s like, “Oh, what I put in my mouth has quite a profound effect on the way that I feel and the way that I perform.” Was that the place that you started? 

Mark:    Yeah, that was where I came in. It started in the beginning of 2011 with The 4-Hour Body. And up until that point, I hadn't been a huge athlete or anything. I did a little bit of weight training, a little bit of swimming. It wasn't a big thing for me. That book really unlocked a lot. The thing that excited me about it was just how powerful these little interventions could be, just these little shortcuts. And that was where I saw the connection between diet and how I feel and minimalist physical training and how I feel like with kettlebells and stuff. 

    So I did that. And meanwhile, I was traveling to China a lot to do these consumer products. So I was really beating myself up. A friend of mine was doing the same thing at the same time. We both discovered The 4-Hour Body. We're going through it together. And he was getting incredible gains and I was not. 

    So for the first six months or nine months of that, I chalked it up to my own lack of diligence. But then after a while, I realized, “No. I'm training just as hard as he is. And I'm not recovering.” So I wasn't getting gains and I felt terrible. So I begrudgingly wanted to get some personal testing done because I got in the end of the road on the best practices in a book like The 4-Hour Body. 

    So I found a functional medicine doctor. I had tried experiments of taking gluten out. And I saw an improvement but it wasn't a massive improvement. So he did a workup on everything -- the genetics, the hormones, the food sensitivities. It ended up being about six grand in tests, the whole first round.

Christopher:    Wow. That’s bold. 

Mark:    I just wanted to get to the answer. I didn't want to do it serially. 

Christopher:    Yeah. Sorry to interrupt you but, yeah, there's been a lot of people out there bashing this approach of spending six grand on mass spectrometry to try and understand the problem before you've even done some basic stuff. But there are people out there where the “cash-rich, time-poor” and -- I mean if it solved all your problems for six grand, you would have been happy as Larry, right? You would have been stoked.  

[0:09:59]

Mark:    Right. Exactly. And that's exactly where I was. I had more money than time at that point. And I needed to perform in my job. So what we found was it's not Lyme disease. It’s not all these 20 different possible problems, “Mark on gluten, you light up like a Christmas tree. And dairy isn't good for you and eggs.” So the first thing to do was just cut out all that. So for about three months, it was a very strict elimination of gluten, dairy and eggs and a couple of other things that I don't think ended up mattering. But at the end of that, acne that I’d had since middle school was gone.

Christopher:    That’s amazing.

Mark:    The fatigue was gone. I was getting better gains than ever in physical training. So that was a huge first step. But then I still had problems with energy. I still had some pretty bad allergies of constantly sneezing. That ended up lasting for a few more years. 

    So I stayed with that doctor for a couple more years. We tried to work on those issues, but eventually got to the end of the line. And it was basically, “Well, I can't do anything for this fatigue. I think we've gotten this far as we can in the allergies. And your cholesterol is too high, so here's an herbal stat.” And I was floored at that point. I thought, “Oh wow, you're throwing in the towel, aren't you?” 

    So that was when I came over to NBT. So that was what I was coming in with. I brought over all the labs in my previous doctor and said, “What do you guys make of this? 

Christopher:    Yeah, that's one of the other things I pride to say. And it's the depth of our investigation, which is different for each and every person. We don't just run all the same labs on everyone in. Each person's going to be unique. 

    Yeah, I remember that. I was just looking at some of your labs. I should confess that I don't actually know that much about your situation because it's not me as per usual. It's not me that's done all the hard work. All the graft has been done by people I work with. So this interview is somewhat genuine in that I don't really know, but yeah, I do remember. I looked at some of your labs. So that's one thing I do see. It’s all the labs. Like I like to look at all of the labs and understand what's going on for people. 

    And you can't really know someone from looking at their labs, but you can know something. I do remember seeing the anti-gliadin IgA antibodies on a stool test. And they keep changing the damn reference range on that thing. At first, it was like, “Yeah, it's not normal to be producing antibodies to this food protein that you're eating.” 

    Then I think what happened is maybe the people who regulate the labs -- I know you can't say that everybody is allergic to this thing. You need to adjust your reference range. So the normal level of anti-gliadin antibodies keeps going up every time I look at GI-Map stool tests. They seem to have increased the normal reference range for anti-gliadin antibodies. 

    So tell me about your gut. I feel like -- if I was to specialize in one thing, I think that the gut would be a key place. So not just the food antigens, but then also we find bad bugs. So I know that we found an overgrowth of C. diff on one of the stool tests. And I'm sure that was having an impact --

Mark:    Well, that was the good news. It was that that first pass on the test. They said, “Well, look. You got Klebsiella in here. And that could be accounting for the dyslipidemia in the blood panel. It could also be accounting for the fatigue. Let's see what we can do about this and see what changes.” 

    So that was a great first step. We're able to knock that out with like, I think, a three month antimicrobial protocol. The bad news was that in its place H. pylori showed up. Then that whack-a-mole happened over the next four antimicrobial protocols because in the wake of H. pylori, came E. coli. In the wake of E. coli, came C. diff. So it was whack-a-mole for about a year and three months. 

    But then once that was all clear, things got dramatically better. Then at that point, it was a matter of mopping up the remaining things. Like my libido was low. My energy was still fluctuating. Then we went down the road of, “What's going on in the mitochondria? What interventions can we try out here? Some sort of experimental interventions there with nicotinamide riboside and lecithin and creatine.” And that ended up being kind of the final piece that once that was in place, my training just took off. 

Christopher:    Oh, that’s great.

Mark:    And over a six month period, I gained six pounds of lean muscle mass. I’d never gained that much mass in my life. And it didn't change anything about my training. 

Christopher:    That's pretty fantastic. I do wonder about that gut stuff. I've been wondering about it for a long time. And I'm not sure I have all the answers. But I'm pretty sure that the gut is an ecosystem. And it's not good enough just to discover a pathogen and remove it either with botanical herbs or with pharmaceutical antibiotics. You have to think about what's going to come in and replace that thing. Wherever there are resources, there's going to be some organism that's going to thrive on those resources. And if you take one thing away, then something else is just going to show up. 

    And I wonder -- so there's other explanations too. Is that's what's happening when you see someone? You go, “Oh, I found Klebsiella. Get rid of that. Oh now, H. pylori. Oh now, this…” What's going on there? Is it just you're like taking one thing away and you create this land grab, that something else comes in? It's possible. Or is it that you're just picking away a biofilm? I think about that as well. Everybody knows what biofilm is because it's on the inside of your teeth, like at my teeth. 

    I’m really terrible for this. And I still don't really understand why. But my guess is there’s some biofilm producing bacteria that’s predominant. Then I have to go to the dentist and they chisel this thing away. It's like the same thing happening in your gut. So as you -- these aromatic curves, that biofilm disruptors, almost like a lot of things disrupt biofilms. I just wonder whether you've got like this two decades worth of biofilm accumulate in the pipes in there. And you're just like chipping away. So even though all those things didn't show up on the stool test, as you go through these rounds of herbs, you’re just chipping away. 

[0:15:16]

Mark:    Yeah, we finally did it.

Christopher:    Yeah, now we're at the bottom of the barrel here. Like we can call this good. You reached the end of the road with that. It wasn't like that continual whack-a-mole. And it just never ended and you just gave up on it. You actually got to the end of the road there. 

Mark:    Yeah, that's right. I mean at least that was the case nine months ago. And I just did a uBiome. So we'll see if somebody else shows up. 

Christopher:    That was the case to me actually as well. I mean I want this to be about you. But the same thing happened to me. I spent a lot of money on herbs and a lot of money on stool testing and other types of testing. And I eventually got to the point, “You know what? Screw it. I feel pretty good. I'm not going to do these tests anymore.” Then I waited a year -- maybe even two years actually -- and then did all the tests again and everything was gone. H. pylori was gone. You name it. All these bugs that I'm pretty sure they were bad news. But yeah, just doing nothing was, in the end, what I needed to do. But that's great. 

    So some of those supplements, Megan's really good at this now. Talk about -- did you understand the process that she went through that led to those recommendations for nicotinamide riboside and creatine and all of that. I always wonder whether people are truly understanding her as she walks through that biochemistry or whether you're just saying, “Okay, sure. I'll just take the supplement. Just tell me -- just send [0:16:21] [Indiscernible].” 

Mark:    Yeah. Yeah. I had done my homework. So I had a sense of the principle on how it worked. And we were always in a lot of conversation around exactly what the next step was going to be. So I felt like I did understand her reasoning on it. And I appreciated that she was open about the fact that she didn't know if this was going to work. This was an experimental intervention. And whether it worked or whether it didn't, it was going to tell us a bit more about where the dysfunction was happening. 

    So when we found such a good result with nicotinamide riboside, I don't know exactly what that told us, but that was the finding we were looking before. 

Christopher:    That's one of the supplements I've not stuck with because A, it's so expensive and B, I couldn't really tell anything. And maybe I can link to – actually, maybe it was behind a paywall. Tommy talked about the indications that you might see on a urinary organic acid test that would make nicotinamide riboside a good thing. But what did you notice exactly? Can you -- 

Mark:    More consistent energy. So cognition was better throughout the day. Energy didn't flag in the afternoon. And my training and recovery went well. 

Christopher:    That's great. Fantastic. So let's talk about heavy metal testing. I know that you measured blood levels of some metals. And you found some things that were interesting, right? 

Mark:    Yeah, that's right. There's surprisingly high levels of lead and mercury in my blood and have been for years. We tried a handful of different interventions on it. The biggest ones being -- with the first function medicine doctor, it was just like long-term Calcium D-glucarate, not a whole lot more than that. 

    But then with NBT, continuing to see the mercury and the lead in there, I was happy to be prescribed a sauna. And I had been thinking of getting a sauna for years just because I love saunas. But then when Megan said, “Hey, I think you need to buy a sauna.” I didn't have to be told twice. I went out and get myself there, the Clearlight, two-person model sanctuary. And it's --

Christopher:    I've got the exact same sauna in the house here. 

Mark:    I love it so much. It’s about seven grand. It's a lot of money. But oh man, if you talk about bang for the buck and how much I've used it over the last two years that I've had it, it's incredible. I've use it most days of the week. So I did some Bryan Walsh detoxes, some ten-day detoxes, some fasting mimicking diet detoxes. And it's moved the needle. Some of those numbers have gone down. They haven't gone down as much as I would've liked. So I'm going to continue doing the detoxes because --

Christopher:    So did you redo the blood metals test after you did the Walsh protocol? 

Mark:    Yes. Yeah. 

Christopher:    I think Bryan designed that protocol with nothing specific in mind. He's thinking about, “We all live in a toxic soup of stuff that we've introduced into the environment no later than 100 years ago, probably much sooner than that.” So Bryan's just thinking of a general detox. And I know that Tommy has done some research and has a slightly different protocol. And Tommy was going after metals more specifically. And we've seen some phenomenal results with that actually, but only with the metals. So we don't know -- 

Mark:    Yeah, some of the early detoxes were on Tommy's guidance with Niacin. I don't know if that's the one he does now. 

Christopher:    There's a crap ton of supplements. Obviously, it's the temptation. We'd have seen -- and this is with the Quicksilver Tri-Tests. We've seen phenomenal results where the blood levels have gone done. 

Mark:    Oh great. Okay. 

Christopher:    Where'd you think the source of that exposure is? Do you have any idea? 

Mark:    It's really hard to say. It could be lead paint in the house that I live in. It could be the dust. It could be that it came from my mom. She grew up in industrial era of Pittsburgh. And as I understand it, a lot of the mercury and lead gets passed on to offspring. 

Christopher:    Oh, interesting. 

Mark:    So that's a possibility. 

Christopher:    You've not thought about anything at work? I almost thought about, “What the hell was in that solder that I use? I didn't even really know what was in it at the time.” I don't think modern solder’s like that now, is it?

Mark:    No, it's lead free. 

Christopher:    Okay. 

Mark:    Yeah. It doesn't work as well either. 

Christopher:    Yeah. Of course, I did work at a gas station pumping gas. 

Mark:    Pumping a lot of gas.

Christopher:    Pumping a lot of gas. [0:19:55] [Indiscernible] have done it too. Yeah, that's interesting. Then did you do anything specific to clean up your environment? Did that motivate you to go through all your kitchenware and personal care products? 

[0:20:05]

Mark:    I already had. 

Christopher:    Oh, yeah. 

Mark:    Yeah, it's a pretty clean household. Yeah, I added another air purifier. 

Christopher:    Okay. This is the thing with working with our people. It's like it's really hard because you've already done all --

Mark:    There’s no more low hanging fruit.

Christopher:    Yeah, there's nine more low hanging fruit. You really make us work for the money. Oh, that's incredible.     Okay. That's great. So do you think you'll do another round of the Walsh Detox? I think that was what Bryan originally intended.

Mark:    Yeah. 

Christopher:    And I think actually, in Valter Longo’s research as well, it's the same that it was never a one and done. It was always cycles of it. And it's not something you do every week obviously, but it might be something you do every quarter. 

Mark:    Yeah. T that's essentially what I've been doing. I've think I've done three. So this'll be the fourth with chlorella and the whole boatload of supplements. 

Christopher:    Okay. Oh yeah. You sounded cool. And you didn't have any problems with that? It's pretty wretched living on 700 calories a day for a week. 

Mark:    Oh, it’s rough. But I did notice that between the five day, the Valter Longo template and Bryan's ten-day template, for some reason, the back five days of that ten-day template is the same as the Valter Longo five-day template. But somehow, the ten-day version feels a lot easier. And I have no idea why. 

Christopher:    Interesting. 

Mark:    But somehow, the five days just hurts real bad. 

Christopher:    And what do you think of [0:21:13] [Indiscernible]? Is there any less rhetoric than that? What is it? We were talking about -- 

Mark:    It’s great the first couple of days, but –

Christopher:    Then you get sick of it? 

Mark:    Yeah. 

Christopher:    Yeah. I've done the fasting mimicking diet and I tried the soup. I thought the soup was pretty good. And who is it that makes -- is it a Valter Longo’s product? Is it? I forgot what it's called. 

Mark:    Prolon. 

Christopher:    ProLon. It's pretty – I’ve heard it's pretty terrible. 

Mark:    Yeah. I mean just look at the macros on it. I wouldn't want to eat that. 

Christopher:    Yeah. You've only got a few calories. And they're going to give you a bunch of refined carbohydrates. 

Mark:    And I like Peter Attia’s version. He made his own -- you could just do your own DIY. He replaces the crackers with olives. He replaces the carbs with fats, a bit more palatable. 

Christopher:    Well, that's great. So talk about the mold exposure. That's another rabbit hole, isn't it? 

Mark:    Yeah. I've definitely got mold in my body. It shows up in my antibodies. I think there was some tests that showed some -- 

Christopher:    Yeah. So the Great Plains do a urinary mycotoxin test. And they look for, not the mold directly, but the toxins produced by the molds. They’re called mycotoxins. And they look for those directly in the urine. So yes, a urine test –

Mark:    Yes, we found those in pretty high amounts. So the source of that, I don't know. I know that my house does have some mold but doesn't have a huge amount of mold. I've gotten it tested for mold. It's not all that worse than just the backyard air behind the house. 

Christopher:    Oh, okay. Yeah. It's always the key question, isn't it? Yeah, okay. I mean we're still here in the redwoods in Santa Cruz. I'm sure there’s a lot of --

Mark:    Yeah. There's probably tons of mold. 

Christopher:    Yeah. There's probably tons of mold spores in the air. The fog rolls in every night. It's a rainforest. There must be mold spores in the air. The question is are there more mold spores inside the house than there are inside the house? In fact, we've just done that. We've just ripped up some old linoleum. In fact, my dog very kindly ripped up some old linoleum. 

Mark:    Did the work for you.

Christopher:    Did the work for me and partially did the work. He didn't really finish it very well. I could have ordered the new stuff from home depot and laid it. But no, he didn't – he just did the ripping up art. And yeah, there's like a shit ton of black mold under there. 

    But the question is, is it producing some mycotoxin that's dangerous to human health? So not all mycotoxins are dangerous to human health. You really got to test it and know what kind of mold it is or you do the mycotoxin test and look for the mycotoxins in your urine. Then you've got a better idea. But you actually -- you knew that there was water damage in your building. 

Mark:    Yeah. It's an old building. It's an old house. It's 105 years old. 

Christopher:    Oh wow. I was amazed of that actually in San Francisco that I stayed in a bunch of old houses. In fact, I own one in Oakland. And I remember -- I thought, “I should really do something about the wiring in this place,” and pulled off some of the PowerPoints and looked behind it. I'm like, “Holy fucking shit. That is knob-and-tube wiring,” like the solid core copper with woven fabric around the copper. I'm like, “Holy… I'm just going to go ahead and pop that cover plate back on and pretend that I didn’t see.” 

Mark:    Yeah. I ripped up all of the wiring and did the whole thing. The bright side of this is that when houses were built back then, there was no drywall so there was no paper. You've got lath and plaster. And you've got redwood. So even with the water incursion into the house when there's leaks or whatever, I don't think it is a huge mold hazard. I think the more modern houses are more of a hazard because they have paper in the walls. 

Christopher:    Ah, interesting. Yeah, of course. There’s has to be moisture. I know that. I'm not sure. Maybe because I wonder about -- because they’re just not very well sealed as well. There’s something that's letting the moisture in. 

    Was it okay? I worry about that. I've worked with clients in the past where it ends up being really expensive remediation. Then you've got tremendous financial stress, which for all I know is worse than the original problem of mycotoxin, right? So did you -- that wasn't what happened to you, right, which is to get the remediation done without spending a ton of money. 

Mark:    No, I haven't done the remediation. And it's probably 50 grand to take off the back of the house and reconstruct it. 

Christopher:    Oh my God. Really? Is that what they're saying? 

Mark:    There's a big casement window. And it's just you can see that it probably got water damage 50 years ago. And there's probably still water coming in and just slowly eating it away. So you got to replace that entire section of wall. And prices in San Francisco today, that's not going to be cheap. 

[0:25:00]

Christopher:    This is exactly what I’m worried about. But what are you going to do? You can't forget about it and have the problem's going to go away. 

Mark:    I run two massive air filters in that room all the time. So I can't imagine there's a ton of mold toxin exposure happening. So it makes me wonder. Given this is in my blood, where's it coming from? Is it in the pork that I'm eating from the farm that I love, from Llano Seco or from down the mountain? Is it in the ghee that I'm eating? Is there a moldy silage that they're feeding the cows and they can still call it grass fed and yet it's accumulating ochratoxin in the ghee? Who knows? 

    So it's slowly trying to figure that out. But in the meantime, taking cholestyramine to try to bind up those mycotoxins and get them out. 

Christopher:    So that's what you'd be doing? By taking cholestyramine? 

Mark:    I just picked up the prescription. 

Christopher:    Oh really? You haven’t taken it yet? 

Mark:    Yeah. I haven’t started.

Christopher:    Yeah. I worry about that stuff taking it long-term because it's just a really sticky stuff that binds a lot of things. It's like taking activated charcoal. I wouldn't do that on a long-term basis because I don't think it's going to selectively bind mycotoxins and nothing else. I mean obviously not what it was originally designed for as a bile acid sequestrant. So I'm sure -- no, I'm not sure. But I would worry about you developing some sort of micro nutrient deficiency taking it long-term. 

Mark:    Yeah. Not to mention you're just literally putting plastic into your body. So for me, I'm thinking of it just as an intervention to see if it moves the needle. Mycotoxin and then -- 

Christopher:    Yeah. I should link to our friend, Dr. Deborah Gordon, who’s been a previous podcast guest. When I was at the Physicians for Ancestral Health Conference earlier this year, she did a nice talk on mycotoxins. And I can link to that. That's now up on YouTube if you're interested in that. 

    One of the things I've talked to Deborah about this recently and one of the things you said is like you will not get better until you leave that mold damage building. Yeah, so fuck. I’m sorry. It takes a long time as well. She was talking about people that only start to get better after 36 months. I mean it could be a completely different population though. I think she's working with some really sick people that are not looking for the last 3%. They’re looking for the first 30, so a very different population. 

    But yeah, what are you going to do? Actually, what you can do is just move to Arizona. Have you thought about that? 

Mark:    Yeah. It's nice and dry out there. 

Christopher:    Yeah. Would it be interesting then? So you've got to redo that mycotoxin test. You don't really need us to do that, but I would do that to see. It'd be interesting to see whether the cholestyramine moves the needle on. 

Mark:    Yeah. Megan got me the lab rack, so we're all set there. Yeah. One thing that I appreciated about NBT’s approach was -- I didn't like it at first because I’m such a -- I come from a real bio hacker stripe. I really love the shiny objects and interesting new supplements. And I always got a bit of pushback from Megan, from Emilia back when she was doing it saying, “Well, you could get this from the supplement, but what are we talking about? What foods are you eating to get this?” And in the end, that's definitely proven to be the better approach for me. So I appreciate that that was the guidance the whole way -- 

Christopher:    I think I learned that from my wife initially. In fact, the last call that I did was the exact conversation where you can see from someone's blood chemistry, “Okay, so your MCV is 95. And my models think that you have elevated homocysteine. They think you have a B12 deficiency, a folate deficiency. And I can see your hemoglobin’s low. Your ferritin is also low.” 

    So there's multiple micronutrient deficiencies corroborated by my machine learning algorithms. Then I look at your food diary. And it's like the word gluten free appears before three of the foods that you’ve had for breakfast. And if it says gluten free in the name of the food, it's probably a missed opportunity for micronutrients, right? Like there's no B12 in gluten free, anything. 

    So that's one of the guiding principles. It's like how can we maximize micronutrients in every single bite of food and then where appropriate? We're thinking about the things that may compete, right? So phytic acids, tannins, like all these plant compounds tend to compete. Of course, there's different bio availability of certain micronutrients -- iron is a really good one, right? They've gotten heme and non-heme iron. Sure there's some iron in spinach, but is it the most bioavailable source of iron? 

    Yeah, we're always thinking about that with when we're trying to optimize diet in the clients that we work with. And one thing I think about a lot is like, “Okay. Yeah, sure. You could take a multivitamin or you could take a B12 injection or something.” But is there something else in food that we don't fully appreciate at this time? It's like when you look back in history, is there any evidence that we overlooked something or thought one thing was something. Like for example, choline is really a B vitamin. What the heck? For some reason, we call it choline. Then the same with folate is where it is.

    My point is that the understanding of micro nutrition is still advancing. And will we get stung later on when we find out, “Oh, actually, there was this thing in food that we forgot to put in your multivitamin. Now, you've got a problem.” I think the Food-First Approach is definitely the right one. 

Mark:    Yeah. It really favors the ancestral viewpoint. 

Christopher:    Yeah, absolutely. Well, let's talk about some of the other things that moved the needle for you. So we talked a little bit about diet. Then we talked a little bit about exercise. So what approach to movement do you take now? I know that you've been a fan of the Gymnastic Bodies Program. Can you talk a bit about that? 

[0:30:05]

Mark:    Yeah, that's really the cornerstone of what I do. My goal is -- for a while, I wasn't quite sure what my goal was. And it's actually Zach Moore who -- when I was saying, “Hey, I'm having trouble with this. I’ having trouble with this.” He said, “Well, what's your goal?” And I thought, “Oh right, that.” And I had a real hard time finding it and then just recently realized, “I know what the goal is. The goal is to finish Gymnastics Bodies Foundation before I die.” 

    And if you know what the foundation’s program is, you can recognize that it's bonkers for someone in their mid-40s to even consider doing that. So if it's going to happen, it's going to happen in the next five years I think. I can't see making all the way to the end. 

Christopher:    So there's like a definite pass-fail. You know when you've done it or not. It’s not subjective.

Mark:    Yeah. Every move has mastery. You have seven fundamental moves. And each one has an end point that you're aiming to hit. And everything up until then is just a progression between where you are now and where that is. And that's what I appreciate most about their program. It’s that no matter what your ability level, there is a progression that will get you one step closer to that move. 

Christopher:    Okay. My ambition, I think, is just to start Gymnastic Bodies. I did purchase it. But I think I did the first lesson with [0:31:10] [Indiscernible]. Then that was the last time I did Gymnastics Bodies. 

Mark:    Yeah. My sense is that it's not for everybody. I think it works well for me. I like training alone. I like training at home. But it can be a very tedious way of getting your training in. It's very strength focused. And it really beats you up. It's a lot to recover from. It's a real high volume. 

Christopher:    That is not supposed to be any criticism of Gymnastic Bodies. That's just how behavior change work. I'm just as susceptible seeing the same problems that people have with motivation and consistency as everyone else. And I have habits. I like to ride my bike. I've got into the habit of dead lifting now. And trying to make something a new habit is not trivial. 

Mark:    Right. And now my habit for the last five years or six years is Gymnastics Bodies. Before that, it was kettlebells. And I kind of got sick of that. But the one thing I would add is I finally went out to the Awaken gym in Denver, which is where Orench -- he was one of the big guys in the Gymnastics Bodies Program. That's his gym out there. And just to train with him. And he's about my age. I showed him my training log. He was like, “What? You've been doing this?” And he actually brought somebody else over saying, “Hey, come look at this. He's doing the program exactly as it's written.” 

Christopher:    No one does that.

Mark:    And I was like, “What? Wasn’t I suppose to?” He's like, “No, of course not. Nobody does that. And especially, this is for people 25 to 35 years old. This is not for people in their mid-40s. So I think I found your problem. Tweak this. Tweak this. Tweak this. Put in more rest days,” that sort of thing. And finally, it really start turning over then.

Christopher:    Oh, it’s interesting.

Mark:    But it's built as a program that's for everybody? It's not. 

Christophe:    Right. Interesting. I do feel like we're in this Micronesia people like you. I did a call with that new client last week. And it was someone that had been eating the Paleo Diet since 2008 when I was still eating bagels and baking my fries. So he does CrossFit several times a week and has been doing CrossFit since CrossFit was a thing. Where's the continuous glucose monitor? Of course, he does. 

    So, it's just this weird Micronesia people where behavior change. It’s just like you say, “Oh, Mark, I just need you to do this thing.” And just suddenly, it's done. And I don't think that's typical of humans. And you are a kind of special animal in that regard. 

    Well, that's interesting. You’re still enjoying Gym Bodies. So ultimately, one of the things I think about, it's not just whether you enjoy in the moment. It's like do you enjoy living in the body that it creates for you? 

Mark:    Yeah. And I think that's the reason I do it. I love that feeling of just the body integrity because it really hits all your mobility, all your strength. And it's not just in a sagittal movement. You're not just doing a dead lift. You're bodybuilding in space. Your bodybuilding through all these different positions of your body. You're getting strength in all kinds of weird levers and --

Christopher:    Yes. I mean what I was going to say is that I'm not sure I love the body that a competitive endurance creates me. When I take it to what is for me, like doing 20 hours a week of it, it creates this – sure, my threshold power, like the number of watts I can create in the crank are great. But do I like living in the body that that creates? Not very much. I walk up the steps holding one of my kids. And I feel like I'm a hundred years old. And that's not a great feeling. And I'm sure that Gymnastics Bodies is the antithesis, right? It's like the opposite of that, right? 

Mark:    Yeah. Yeah. If there's a drawback, it's that I think it cultivates stiffness. 

Christopher:    Oh, really? 

Mark:    So there is a little bit of a lack of a fluidity and flow. So I want to augment it with some kind of Tai Chi or something like that. 

Christopher:    Okay. Are they not opposites though? Can you have flexibility? This is [0:34:37] [Indiscernible] question. I always feel like --

Mark:    That’s a great question. 

Christopher:    Yeah. Can you have both? Because you become more flexible. Do you not become weaker? Is that not true? Am I talking nonsense now?

Mark:    I don’t know. I mean it seems like the sprinter has to have super taut fascia. 

Christopher:    Yes, the tension. Yeah.

Mark:    And you can really only have one kind of fascia at a given time. So it could be that doing gymnastics, you just got to be stiff. 

[0:34:56]

Christopher:    Let's talk about your career trajectory and what effects that had on your health. I realized with hindsight that one of the most important things I did for my health was quitting my job and start NBT. But I really didn't know what I was doing at the time. It's only with 20/20 hindsight. Now, I look back and I realize, “Oh yeah. That was probably a really important thing for you to do in order to recover your health.” 

    And it's also one of the hardest things, right? So let's say we run a blood test and we find the deficiency of 25 hydroxy vitamin D. Well I can have you -- especially at this time of the year if you're in the northern hemisphere, you just go outside with your shirt off where you can get ten minutes and you’re probably all good. Like you don't know supplement is an almost zero risk intervention, very easy solution. 

    But then if you talk to someone and you realize a major source of stress in their life is that job, what do you do about that, right? That's really not an easy problem to solve like taking a walk in the sunshine. So tell me about how you think your work was affecting your health. 

Mark:    Yeah, there's no question that it was, in both gross and subtle ways. The gross way was that I was traveling constantly to Asia to go to these China factories. And that just beats you up. But I think more importantly and more subtly, I was really burying my own wants and needs in order to fit into that corporate structure. 

    So I left all way back in August of 2018 because I was just done. I felt like I'd been chewed up and spat out by this giant machine. Nothing against Dolby, nothing against the company, but just being in any sort of a publicly traded company with these traditional hierarchies, it wasn't feeding my passion. And I could feel that more and more each day. 

    So having left that, I'm feeling a whole lot better. I haven't found the next gig yet. But the thing that I'm seeing now is that it is possible to have a livelihood that doesn't require you to bury yourself. 

Christopher:    So you said it wasn't feeding your passion. What do you think your passion was? 

Mark:    It's innovation. It's creating new experiences. And just in that department and that job, I just wasn't able to bring that forth. 

Christopher:    Yes. I talk about how the work environment can affect your health. So you feel like your role within a team and the way that a team works together could potentially be causing you stress and having a deleterious effect on your health? 

Mark:    Yeah. I mean in that dimension product, for example, the technical challenges were hard, but that's our job. And it's fine. It's nothing you can't handle. It's nothing the team can't handle. In a company like that, you have super talented people. And you have plenty of resources to get the job done. So where's the problem? 

    Well, the problem we were having was really around team cohesion and team chemistry and just the nature of how things were set up. I really wasn't able to move the needle on improving it. So year after year after year of that chemistry, which was actually getting worse, that was what wore me down the most. So having left that job behind, feeling kind of chewed up and spat out, by the end of it, I could see that you could have all the resources in the world, you could have the best people in the world, but if you don't have the team chemistry, you really have nothing. 

    So that's what I've been doubling down on this last nine months. I put up $15,000 in tuition for courses and training exactly this and leadership training and team training and team chemistry. So that's the thing that I'm most excited about now and seeing the possibilities of how you design organizations so that they're truly fulfilling places to be where they are the venue for personal growth. A workplace is a fantastic place for personal growth because you've got everything you need. You've got conflict. You've got relationships. You've got passion. And most of all, you're surrounded by people. So it's all the things that you need. 

Christopher:    Then knowing what you know now, do you think you could go back and fix the situation? I mean I do wonder about that myself as well because I follow Simon every time he works with a client. He writes up some notes. It doesn't tell us everything that was said during the conversation, but it tells us something. And quite often, there's a book recommendation there. So I read all of Simon's book recommendations. And I don't think I know even a fraction of what Simon knows, but I know something. Some of the books, I think, would have really helped me before I embarked on a corporate career, especially Radical Candor by Kim Scott. 

Mark:    Oh yeah. It’s so good. It’s so good. But I will say that even books that good, a lot of what they boil down to is techniques. And techniques can only get you so far. The thing that I've found is that much more important and much more powerful than that is mindset. When you're bringing the right mindset to the workplace, where you're coming at it with vulnerability, impartiality, empathy and wonder, the results are completely different. And even absent any techniques, you generally are in a better place when you're doing it that way. Instead of being driven by some agenda that, “I need to get this thing out of this person.” 

Christopher:    So to answer my question then, do you think that some of those problems would have been fixable? 

Mark:    Oh, yeah. I've asked myself that question a dozen times. I know it would be better. I know I could go back into that workplace. And I think I could do a whole lot better now than I could before. And I don't really want to go back into that workplace. 

Christopher:    Okay. Yeah. I mean I don't really know, but my sense is that there's never going to be the perfect team with no conflicts, right? It’s like --

Mark:    Well, conflict is fantastic. When the team is able to digest and metabolize conflict, it's amazing. Because if it's a team of great people, really talented people, the conflict means that something isn't being seen, something isn't being felt. So when you can get through that conflict to the solution that dissolves the conflict, that's a way better solution than what either of those people would have come up with. 

[0:40:13]

Christopher:    So the things that you've been talking about so far are like you can just avoid like, “I'm the master of avoidance. My core coping strategy with situations like this is avoidance. I'll just quit that job. I'll just cut out that food. I'll just end that relationship. It’s how I’ll try and solve every single problem.” But of course, there's other things that you can do that affect you at the target. So I know that you've found meditation to be tremendously helpful. Can you talk about that? 

Mark:    Yeah, absolutely. I went really deep on something called Six Hour Meditation or Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation about five years ago. That really gave me a lot. I think it was very helpful. It definitely allowed me to cope. And I can say that over the last year, my meditation practice has really gone down to the point where I'm meditating once a week, something like that. The practice that's replaced it has been relating with other people. 

    It's funny to describe it in a venue like this, but what it amounts to is it's almost like a partner meditation where you're in a very close eye gaze with another person. And what's cool about it is that as you're traveling through difficult territories, when you're exploring the strange parts of your psyche that are difficult, the thing that you're most inclined to do is you just ricochet away from it. Just like what you're saying, you want to just avoid it. You want to do whatever it takes to throw the hand right over your shoulder and, “See you in hell.” 

    When you've got somebody else who's holding the space for you and reflecting your nervous system and grounding you, they're able to remind you where you were. You might go off into hyperspace and they'll bring you back to, “No, no, no. We’re on this thing.” 

Christopher:    I see.

Mark:    The combination of their memory trace, their ability to remember what just happened, -- because you might forget what your previous thought was and it might've been an important one -- they can remind you of that. But more importantly, they can just hold that space for you. So I've found that I've been getting just as much or more benefit out of that than the meditation I was previously doing. 

Christopher:    Interesting. So you need another human to do this like --

Mark:    Yeah. It's partner work, but it's super rewarding.

Christopher:    Where am I going to find another human, Mark? It’s useless. 

Mark:    Yeah, we do them over video chats and everything. 

Christopher:    That's fine. We’d just do it by Skype, of course. No, that's great. Where did you learn to do that? That's not something I've heard before. 

Mark:    Yeah. I just learned about it. Just a bit over a year ago, I went to this -- a friend of mine, Mikey Siegel, recommended The Tide Turners Workshop. And just on his recommendation, I went. I had no idea what I was getting into, and it was brilliant. It was billed as business communication. And it was all about how to have difficult conversations. Over the course of that two-day workshop, it was incredible. I learned those eye gazing techniques within partner work. But it was so powerful that I went into the intensive course, the seven-day course. 

    And I think probably one of the more important parts about this for me was that you can't relate closely to other people if you can't relate closely to yourself. It sounds really simple to say that, but this allowed me to really get underneath and find those parts of myself that I wasn't accepting or that I was lying to myself about. And if you can't be honest with yourself, it's hopeless to try to be honest with somebody across the table from you. 

    So a lot of this work amounts to just owning your own shit. And when you and the people around you are all owning your own shit, so much stuff goes more smoothly. 

Christopher:    You’re making me think about -- I just got back from Washington DC where I interviewed Cal Newport. And he talked about solitude deficiency. I live here in the woods. And I don't get to see that many other humans. But I got his point. And I'm sure many people listening will get his point that when you walk down the street now, all you see are humans with white earbuds in their ears. And they literally never have a moment where they’re able just to be alone with their own thoughts. And they're not receiving input from another human or music or something including this podcast. 

    And I'm definitely guilty of that. Like I love my podcast and my audio books. And the idea of going for a walk with my own thoughts is somewhat terrifying. But obviously, it must be key, the things that you just talked about. If you're not alone with your own thoughts, then how can you possibly process them? That's really interesting. Maybe I'm going to have to start listening to the last podcast. Can you imagine that? 

Mark:    Yeah, it's amazing. I actually have been listening to the last. It really was my addiction. It was just constant podcasts on 2.5 X speed, just blasting the material and --

Christopher:    That's amazing. Well, talk about your passion for helping other people. This is something that we've seen a lot of with people graduating the program. It's a shitty business model. We need them business model where people stick around forever and they don't ever get better because this whole graduating clients business, I'm totally over it, like having to find new clients to replace the ones that are leaving the program. I'm so over it. 

    But one of the things that we've seen in people graduating the program is that they're often highly motivated to help somebody else achieve what they've achieved, which is of course my story. That's the entire reason that I started NBT. And it's super interesting for me because like you, I've spent time in Silicon Valley working for tech companies where hiring is perhaps one of the greatest challenges that tech companies other than Google face. It's really hard to find good people that are willing to work on your problems. 

    Yet somehow, now at NBT, we have this ton of people that are all asking me, “Oh, do you have any clients that I could work with? I'd really like to help somebody else achieve what I've achieved.” I'd love to hear you talk about that in your own words. Is it the same feelings that I'm having? Or is it something else that motivates you to try and help people improve their health? 

[0:45:29]

Mark:    Yeah, I think that's exactly it. I'm trying to find my way in this. It’s taken a lot of different forms. Some of it is in the form of executive coaching. Some of it is in the form of just doing program management consulting for companies, but doing it in a way where I'm really working with the people. It's less about -- of course, we're going to meet the objectives, but really doing it with a focus on the people. And are they getting what they need out of working in this company? There is absolutely no shortage of people who need help. The question seems to be just lining up the practitioners with the people who need help and in a product or business model where both sides of that come together. 

Christopher:    I think about this a lot. Do you see it as a fruitful line? Or “way in” is perhaps a good way of saying it. Up until now, NBT and many others, we're going one to one. I'm trying to win people over and get them as clients one at a time with things like this podcast. But would it be better to go in to a company where you've got one influencer? Like if you could win over one person that was in charge of a team of some electronics company, do you think that's a better business model? Do think I'm wasting my time trying to win people over one at a time? 

Mark:    Well, what would that get you if you were able to win over that one person? 

Christopher:    If you were able to win over that one person and they were an influencer, people listen to them and respected them. And they said, “Oh, this is what you need to do in order to be the best cognitive athlete, the best knowledge worker that you can possibly be.” Then wouldn't that be more efficient than waiting for each individual person to listen to enough episodes of the right podcasts before making them mind up that they're going to do something about their diet and lifestyle behaviors they engage in that lead to the end result? 

Mark:    How is efficiency important? 

Christopher:    You're right that perhaps it doesn't matter that we only reach a few people and not everyone. Maybe you're right. Maybe it's just exactly what Zach Moore said like, “What the hell is your goal? What are you trying to achieve here? You're on this path. And you're making lot of light and noise trying to get something done. But have really thought about what it is you're trying to achieve?” Maybe you're getting it to an important point here and I don't know. I really don't know. But I just assume that –

Mark:    Yeah, what are you trying to achieve?

Christopher:    If I could add more years of health span onto as many people as possible, like if you do [0:47:48] [Indiscernible] up. That's why it makes more sense to me to work with kids because you've maybe got 70 years in each individual that you could improve quality of life. Whereas if you work with a bunch of old people that may only be around for another five years, then you've got to work with a lot of heads. So I guess that's maybe the metric I'm optimizing for. Maybe it's not a good metric. Maybe I shouldn't care about it. 

Mark:    What's the best way to work with kids? 

Christopher:    That's a good question. Yeah. I mean I think the best way to work with kids -- so it's difficult. And most of the people – NBT is really only as strong as the other people that helped me with this stuff, right? And quite often, what you find is that some of the other people that I work with NBT are not terribly comfortable working with kids because they don't have as much free will. 

    And I know even that is controversial like, “Does anyone have any amount of free will?” It’s like somewhat controversial. But kids definitely don't have it, right? Because it's all diet and lifestyle, is it really fair to enforce this stuff on kids? Or should you wait until they're a fully-fledged adult and they can make their own decisions about whether or not they want to eat a particular elimination diet or something? But yeah, you're right. 

 

Mark:    Chris, you've got your own kids. You've seen how your clients have turned out. 

Christopher:    Yeah, it's true. I was thinking about that. My wife has done -- I really give her all the credit because she really has done all the hard work. And I think she had a lot of experience with her brothers before we even had kids. But yeah, I've got a five year old and an 18-month year old that even between them, they've never seen a doctor. They’re doing tremendously well. So I have at least [0:49:21] [Indiscernible]. Yeah, maybe this could work compared to my health history, which is just appalling. I don't think Julie's was that great either. 

Mark:    Yeah. How would you feel about getting that to more kids? 

Christopher:    Yeah, it'd be great. I think I'd be really excited about that. It's just always the question with startups, like one person the startup does not make. So you've really got to get other people excited about it too. 

    So what's next for you, Mark? You've left the job at the big tech company in Silicon Valley and you've gone freelance. Is that the future for you? Do you ever see yourself going back into working for a big company? Is it as simple as that “I just needed to be a freelance electronics engineer"?

Mark:    I would love to take on a fulltime job. But it's just at this point, it would have to be a “Hell, yes.” So until there's a “Hell, yes,” freelance is great. So it's consulting. It's developing a product line of ketogenic ice cream for one of the boutique ice cream companies in San Francisco. 

[0:50:09]

Christopher:    Oh really?

Mark:    Yeah, it's fun stuff. It's like, “Okay. What do I really want to do?”

Christopher:    So it’s not all electronic engineering?

Mark:    No. No. I'm doing program management for a medical imaging company doing some product development for a head entrainment device that's an art project. Yeah, it's all over the map. And I’m selling my own products, developing a micro blender for bulletproof for travelers and tacticalketo.com, which is a clearing house of all of the travel friendly ketogenic foods that I found when I was making all those trips to China. 

Christopher:    Oh wow. What was that like in China trying to eat keto in China? 

Mark:    I was just trying to eat clean. 

Christopher:    Oh, really? Is it bad?

Mark:    I wasn't even trying to keto. But what I found was that you can -- as long as you have quality proteins and quality fats, you can find decent carbs no matter where you go. So the trick was just packing some shelf stabled fats and proteins into my luggage. 

Christopher:    Okay. What did you take? 

Mark:    Sardines, jerky, macadamias, some bilberry powder. 

Christopher:    Oh, interesting. 

Mark:    Some ghee, some MCT oil. So tacticalketo.com is just -- it's nothing more than just a spreadsheet showing, “Okay. Here's the stuff that you can just order an Amazon right now, and you'll be set for your five-day trip.” 

Christopher:    That's helpful. Yeah, that's something else I have Julie to thank for. She's so well organized when we go traveling. My diet doesn't change at all. We just bring everything with us. I think a lot of people don't realize how much stuff they can take on the airplane. Like cans of sardines is no problem as far as I can tell. And Julie would do a bunch of batch cooking and then just put everything in those glass anchor hocking containers with a silicon lid on it. You put a rubber band on it and then put it in a cool bag. And it just goes right through the machine. Everything else, we just carry on. We like Kingsley Ribeye Steak and all kinds of amazing foods.

Mark:    Yeah. That’s the classic, all the transpacific flights. I'd have a sliced up ribeye in there, avocado, broccoli, everything. 

Christopher:    Yeah. I think it's just people don't know. We're eating this stuff in the airport departure lounge. And people are like, “Where the hell did you get that?” They think you can't get it in. 

Mark:    Home.

Christopher:    Yeah, exactly. Just prepared it just like we would have done anyway. When I say we, I really -- I do this for scientists as well. When I say, “We don't know,” I mean scientists don't know. When I say, “We prepare the food,” what I really mean is Julie prepared the food. 

    Well, that's excellent. Are there any sort of opportunities? If anyone's listening to this in Silicon Valley, are there any kinds of opportunities you'd be interested to talk to people about? Is it health coaching? Is it electronics design? What sort of things are you interested in? 

Mark:    I'm interested in team cohesion. I'm interested in product development, interested in fast evaluation of things. 

Christopher:    Interesting. Okay. So how can people get hold of you online? Is there things that I can link to in the show notes for this episode? 

Mark:    Yeah, tacticalketo.com. There's an email catcher there. And you can find me on LinkedIn, Mark Alexander. Who was it? Dolby. 

Christopher:    Excellent. Well, thank you, Mark. I'll look forward to -- I'm going to find that bloody headset now. I've got to hear it like, “What does that sound like? It sounds amazing.” Has everything else we've talked about? Thank you so much. We really appreciate you. Thank you so much. You’ve been a wonderful client. I very much enjoyed working with you. And I really hope that we can stay in touch in the future. 

Mark:    Yeah, absolutely. And again, thank you and the team for really improving my health. I feel fantastic leaving this program, so thank you for that. 

Christopher:    I appreciate it. Thank you. 

[0:53:10]    End of Audio

 
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