In the digital age, the subscription model has steadily become an increasingly reliable way of doing business. Robbie Kellman Baxter is the founder of Peninsula Strategies LLC, a management consulting firm. Dr. Diane Hamilton sits down with Robbie to talk about modern advancements in the subscription model of doing business.
Sleeplessness is a plague of its own, and it can strike anyone, at any time, and in turn, can wreak havoc in the way you interact with the people and the world around you. Chris Burres and Dr. Patrick Wanis work together to bring new solutions for restoring your state of health and sleep during this challenging time. They join Dr. Diane for a conversation about working to cure sleeplessness.
I’m glad you joined us because we have Robbie Kellman Baxter, Chris Burres, and Patrick Wanis. Robbie is the Founder of Peninsula Strategies. She’s a bestselling author. Chris and Patrick have gotten together to talk about restoring your health and sleep. We’re going to talk about leadership, culture, and health. It’s going to be an interesting show.
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The Subscription Model With Robbie Kellman Baxter
I am here with Robbie Kellman Baxter, who is the Founder of Peninsula Strategies. She’s also the author of the bestselling The Membership Economy and The Forever Transaction: How to Build a Subscription Model So Compelling, Your Customers Will Never Want to Leave. She was coined the popular business term, “Membership Economy.” I want to hear more about that. It’s so nice to have you on the show, Robbie.
It’s so nice to be here. Thank you for having me.
I know we’ve been in networking groups together and we’ve chatted outside of this, but this is the first time we’ve got a chance to get to know each other. I know a lot of people want to know more about you. I’m sure they’re very familiar with The Membership Economy book that you wrote. That was so popular. What led to your interest in writing about some of the things you wrote about? Can you give a little bit of backstory?
In college, I studied English. I studied poetry and I’ve always liked to write. As an adult, poetry something that I enjoy. That’s why I studied it. You can study anything in liberal arts education. I worked in business. I was a strategy consultant and I was in product marketing. I was on maternity leave with my second daughter. When I came back, they laid me off that day, which is terrible, disappointing, and surprising. I went into consulting. I said, “I’m going to do this by myself, so I can be in control of my own career, my livelihood, support my family, and not be at anybody else’s wins.”
I started consulting. In the beginning, it was whatever I could get credibly, marketing strategy, and tech. It’s the intersection of those things because I was coming out of product marketing before that strategy work, and my fifth client was Netflix. I knew somebody there and they needed somebody to help with some of their acquisition stuff. I went there and I ended up doing a lot of work for them over a couple of years’ time. I fell in love with their business model and lots of other people too.
I started getting calls from people saying, “We heard you did some work with Netflix. We want to be the Netflix of software, or hardware, or music, or news, or fill in the blank.” I started having more. At the same time, I knew from being an independent consultant, you need to have an area of expertise. Otherwise, you’re just a contractor. You’re just arms and legs for hire. It took me a little while to figure it out because when you commit to being an expert on something or to being known for something or focusing on something, it feels like you are narrowing things down. For me, I’m interested in lots of people and lots of things. It took me awhile to say, “I don’t know if I want to be focused on this, that would be boring.”
Most things were either too small, too narrow or so big that, “How could I credibly say I am leading expert on marketing or strategy?” Believe me, I’m one person. When I found that, I was like, “This is interesting. I love Netflix. I love subscriptions. I love the human part of this. I love the recurring revenue part of this.” I focused more and more on that. I have notes going back ten years prior to the launch of my first book. Back in 2005, I have notes about a book about subscriptions, about premium services, about recurring revenue, all my notes about what I wanted to talk about. It took me a long time to get it over the finish line.
I bet it’s interesting to see what’s still relevant to the market. I bet a lot of things are still somewhat applicable.
They are, but they’re more accepted. The other part of the reason that I wrote The Membership Economy was I started seeing like, “This is such a good model. Everybody should do this. You could do this if you’re a solo entrepreneur thought leader. You can do this if you’re a big company. You can do this in almost any industry, public or private.” When I told executives or entrepreneurs, I usually got blank stares or shaking heads like, “That’s not relevant for us, Robbie. You don’t understand our business.”
I would try to explain it. For example, retention. In 2010, I wanted to create t-shirts that said, “Let’s make retention sexy,” because it’s the single most powerful metric for profitability. If companies even had that as a metric, it was usually owned by a junior person, either on the support side or in the marketing side. It wasn’t considered strategic at all. To answer the question, it was there years ago but nobody cared about it.
For those who don’t understand what we mean by their business model at Netflix. Can you go into a little more detailed what you mean by their business model?
The way that Netflix makes money is they have a big bundle of content. They deliver it to us in the most efficient way possible and they charge us a fixed price for access to that content every month. Their business model uses subscription pricing and a catalog of content. You might compare that model to a transactional model where you go to Blockbuster, you check out a movie, and you pay $5 for two days to have the movie at home. If you’re late, you pay $0.50 a day. That’s the same value, but it’s being packaged a little bit differently. The business model is a little bit different. Other than newspapers, gyms, and professional associations in country clubs, nobody was building businesses that used subscription pricing that cared about predictable recurring revenue. It was a new model when they went public. That was a big deal.
It’s interesting how many things are considered SaaS, service subscription-based things. Nothing seems permanent. It used to be if you bought software, you bought the disc and it was yours. Nothing is like that anymore. A lot of this thought process of keeping people going with you and the way they’re connected to you has changed. Do you think Netflix had any impact on other industries?
They had a huge influence on many industries. I know that because people call me and they say, “We want to be the Netflix of ice cream.” “We want to be the Netflix of dental care management tools.”The way that Netflix makes money is by acquiring items for their catalog, and charging a fixed rate in exchange for access. Click To Tweet
They want to be the next Uber. They want to have the next level to get their business out there in what’s innovative.
What companies usually mean when they say that is, “We want recurring revenue.”
How has Netflix evolved from what you saw in that timeframe to now?
The way I look at Netflix is they have a forever promise. One of the things that impressed me when I was working with them on acquisitions was that if I came in and said, “Here’s a great deal. This company makes books about movies and they want to give away a copy of their book with every new subscription. They don’t want anything from it. Isn’t that great?” Netflix would say, “No, we don’t want that because then somebody might sign up for Netflix for the wrong reasons.”
Somebody would come and say, “We have video games. Why don’t you incorporate video games into your offering?” They’d say, “No, we don’t do video games. We do professionally created content delivered with cost certainty.” In other words, subscription pricing, one price that you can cancel any time in the most efficient way possible. Years ago, that was 3DVDs, then it was streaming. Now, you can access it virtually anywhere. You can download it onto your phone and all good stuff.
How have they changed? The way they’ve changed it is in how they deliver on that promise. Years ago, 3DVDs were using other people’s content. Now, they create their own content. They stream it and you can download it. A large selection of professionally created video content, it’s still delivered with cost certainty. There’s no late fees and no other fees. It’s just your monthly cost, that’s it. They’re always looking for what’s the best way to deliver. I wouldn’t be surprised in a few years if they’re delivering it through virtual reality and you are holographing into the movies or TV shows. It’s still the most efficient way possible.
You talk about or write about The Forever Transaction: How to Build a Subscription Model So Compelling, Your Customers Will Never Want to Leave. You discussed not just companies like Netflix, but you are talking about how long-term customer relationships can be developed like Nike, Spotify, LinkedIn, and Target. Who is this book for? Is this for the company leaders or for everybody in the company to read? I’m curious, who are your potential audiences for this?
I mostly wrote it for the practitioners. When I wrote the book, I had pictures up on my wall of the people I wanted to help, clients, people I’d met, and entrepreneurs that I admired. I want this person to read this chapter and say, “That helped me. That Robbie, she’s helpful. She’s smart. She knows what she’s doing.” It doesn’t matter if you’re like a subject matter expert on your own or an influencer, solopreneur, or you worked with Microsoft, which is a big company, or you worked with consumer products companies, retail companies, some of the biggest in the world, and everything in between. It matters if you’re trying to build a forever transaction with your customers. If you believe in the power of letting the relationship and the promise you make to your customer guide you in the way you create products and deliver value, then this book can help you.
There are lots of companies that do a great job. You mentioned some of your customers. I know you had The Wall Street Journal and very big business people. There are certain companies where I’m very loyal. I get The Wall Street Journal every day, for example. What is subscription fatigue? I’m curious because I know you write about that and discuss that. What is that and how do you avoid it?
When I wrote The Membership Economy, there weren’t that many subscriptions. When I’d say subscriptions or I do subscriptions, people would yawn, “That’s not relevant to me. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Let’s talk about something else.” Now, if I’m sitting next to somebody or I go to a party and I tell somebody what I do, “I’m a subscription expert.” They will almost immediately do one of two things.
If they work in a company or an organization, they’ll say, “We tried that and it didn’t work,” or, “We’re trying that right now and it seems promising,” or, “We’re doing that and we have this problem.” If they’re in consumer mindset, they’ll say, “It’s so many subscriptions. I hate subscriptions. This company treated me badly. This company wouldn’t let me cancel. This company forced me to subscribe to access one stupid song that I wanted to hear.”
Everybody has a subscription fatigue story about, “I wasn’t able to cancel something. I was forced to subscribe to something that I would much rather own.” I break it into three buckets. There’s lack of product market fit. Being forced to subscribe when anybody would look at what you get for the subscription and say, “That doesn’t seem like something that would need a subscription or justify a subscription.”
The second category is related but it’s subscription guilt, which is “The way that this subscription is designed, I feel bad about myself because I’m not getting the value.” This is like, “It’s a great gym, it’s the best gym, it has many classes, but I never go, so I’m going to cancel.” The New Yorker problem, “I love The New Yorker. There are many great articles, which I never read. They are piling up and I feel dumb, so I’m going to cancel.” I see that now with ClassPass where people say, “I have too many credits. It’s such a great service, but I’m not using it because I’m lazy, so I’m going to cancel.”
The last one, it makes them feel bad about themselves, even though they see that there’s value. They’re not mad at the company. They’re mad at themselves. The first group, they’re mad at the company, the second group, they’re mad at themselves, and the third group is when organizations hide the cancel button. They make it hard to cancel. It’s the easiest one for a company to fix, but companies often don’t want to do it because many of them are proud that they’re generating revenue by adding a few more screens to the cancel sequence or making you call. They’re proud of themselves. They’re like, “We can put this smart idea to improve retention. We require people to call us on Tuesdays.”
That does not bring customer loyalty or do what you’re trying to do. I don’t think a lot of businesses recognize that because they’re not thinking long-term. They’re thinking for this month and keeping things. They’re meeting budgets and meeting certain requirements. It’s all about giving value. I assume that you cover all these buckets if you’re providing people with what they see as valuable like they do at Netflix. It’s something that a lot of people as you said, you’d talked to them in bars or restaurants and they’ll say they like to do it but it didn’t work. Let’s say, they have a traditional business model and they want to get into this, what would those pitfalls? What were they running into? What were their problems and why couldn’t they switch?
If somebody tells me, “We’re trying subscription and it’s not working.” I’ll ask them how they know it’s not working. They’ll say, “People are joining but then they cancel right away,” or they’ll say, “People are joining for the free trial but then they canceled before the first payment,” or they’ll say, “Nobody is signing up at all.” What I tell them to do is to figure out where the problem is and then we can probably guess or deduce what the challenges and how to fix it. If the problem is, “They sign up, they go through the onboarding process and then they leave.”
Usually, it’s a product-market fit problem. They’re not getting it like, “I gave it a try. It’s not what I hoped for. I tried it and it wasn’t what you promised,” or, “I tried it and it was a technical issue. It didn’t work like you said it was going to work,” or it’s a communication problem, which is “I knew you existed, but I didn’t understand how great your product was.” They don’t sign up or you’re marketing to the wrong audience.
You don’t have product-market fit. People are hearing about it and they’re like, “I don’t think that’s for me. I’m not even going to bother.” The ones that are common that I see the most are around either, “It’s the wrong product. I joined and I left.” The one that’s most frustrating to companies is the freemium abusers. Where it’s like they sign up for the two weeks free trial, they binge-watch all their favorite shows and then they never pay. That’s a design issue. A free trial should be a taste. It shouldn’t be a meal.
I was thinking about that because I took a course and I thought, “It was an interesting course,” but I could download all the materials without buying the course. Once you do that, there is no incentive to continue on. I think that they do need to just give a taste like you said. As you were saying this, I was thinking I had to cancel a subscription for something and they called me to ask me why. You don’t see that very often, but you could tell it was probably a smaller company and he was very concerned. I’m probably one of three people that he had, who knows?
It’s good though. You want to ask the questions. You want to find out. I liked seeing that curiosity. I’m curious what you’re seeing of how some of these models and how we’re getting the spotlight on some of these companies that we didn’t expect, probably because we’re in the middle of COVID and everything that’s going on. I use Zoom a lot before this. All of a sudden, everybody is using Zoom. Are there other companies like that, that are having to get this radical growth that they weren’t expecting that had the subscription model? What advice would you give to Zoom or others like that?
We are having a moment where consumers are being forced to change their habits. For example, my mom is in her 70s. She was around the corner from me. Most days for the last years, she would get up early, go to yoga with my dad, take the yoga class in the studio at the Bikram class, and then they would go to the supermarket to get whatever they needed for dinner that night. In the afternoon, my mom would often have a book club or some other social gathering. Now, she can’t do any of those things.
She’s live-streaming the Bikram classes into her bathroom where she has an electric blanket on the floor. She has a space heater and then she has the shower going so that the room is steamy and she loves it. She’s getting all her food delivered. She tried Whole Foods through Amazon Prime. She tried Instacart. What she does is she drives her car to the local grocery store and they put it in her trunk for her. She’s loving and then she’s doing Zoom for her book club. She’s being forced to get over the friction of learning new habits.
Many of which she loves. Now that she’s gotten through it, she’s going to do those things. She said to me, “I’m going to probably do my yoga this way into the future. I like it so much. It’s so convenient and it’s so private. The room is so nice.” She would never have learned to use them. She would have never learned to use these delivery services, but now she does. For the companies, consumers are trying new things. You have an opportunity both to attract trial for new customers and to get your existing customers to try a different way of engaging with you.
The local supermarket always had delivery, but my mom never availed herself of it, never learned how to use it. Now, she is a loyal customer. She was forced to learn it. It’s moving your customers to try those new features that they’re reluctant to try and also attracting new ones. There is an opportunity and at the same time, companies are moving so much more rapidly because they have to introduce new features like Zoom did with their privacy and security features.
My grocery clients are doing with the teeny tiny eCommerce business that is suddenly their whole business. They’re moving so fast to operationalize things that were experiments. There are lots of fitness like Strava and Peloton that you can still exercise even when you’re social distancing. Any delivery service, digital content, software as a service that helps you be more productive at home. All of those businesses are doing so great and the challenge is, are they onboarding these new members so that the members make this part of their new toolkit? That’s the question. Are they thinking about how to make this a habit? You came for the emergency, but are you going stay for the quality?
As you talked about your mom, it made me think of my mom and everything she did all day long was she play bridge, cards in-person with a lot of old people, which is everything are out that you can’t do. It’s been a great thing for the family. We found a website that’s called Trickster, which was a card game. It’s like Zoom, you can see each other and play cards virtually. I’m like, “This is the best thing ever.” They don’t charge anything. I’m thinking, they make their money through ads. They make you watch a little tiny ad. Some companies are small like that and they start off. What do you think of that model in this time for small companies? How do they get and keep people? Is something like that always have to rely on advertising?
I don’t know this company, but I would imagine that they’re a great candidate for a subscription because the card players are going to keep coming back. If your mom decides that this is her new habit and she says, “I used to go in-person. I like that, but this makes me feel more secure about my health and it’s so convenient. I’m making friends with some of the other players and I’m enjoying doing this.” Either this is an “and” or this is an “instead of,” she might subscribe because it’s part of her new habit. What I would notice that they’re doing, what I’m guessing they’re thinking is they’re trying to build awareness and trial. People are willing to deal with the friction of taking their card habit online. The biggest source of friction is getting them to try it.
We are going to make it easy for people to develop the habit. Once they’ve decided that this is a habit they want to continue, which they will. The company would say, “Because our product is so good, then we can start charging them either for the service we gave away for free during COVID and say, ‘We’re not going to be free anymore because that was a special moment.’” What a lot of companies do is they start with freemium and then they introduce a pricing tier above what they’ve already been offering. They’d say, “What we offered before is always going to stay free, but if you want these features, or these services, or this quantity, you have to join the paid tier.”
You played cards for an hour. You can’t play anymore unless you’re going to pay to stay longer. I could see that those are very useful ways of keeping people in a certain way. It’s hard to tell which ones are going to stay so popular. Once people go back to work, Zoom may not be as popular as it is. This one won’t be as popular as it is to for us. What I’m getting at is some of these things you think you’re loyal to, like I was a loyal Blockbuster customer until something else comes available or until time changes. How do you know if you’re keeping up so that you don’t become Blockbuster to the next Netflix and whatever’s with the next Netflix?
The book The Further Transaction, I broke it down into, “Here’s what you need to know to get started. Here’s what you need to know if you have something that works and you want to scale,” and the last part is for leaders, people who’ve had successful businesses in the subscription space. It talks about what are the pitfalls that those organizations are most likely to run into? One of the biggest is when that company starts out and they have this forever promise.Subscription services are constantly looking for the best ways to deliver their products. Click To Tweet
In the case of Blockbuster, it’s to give people access. It’s similar to Netflix. Their access to the best selection of video content. At some point, that model is no longer the best way to deliver on the promise. Is it the best way to get video content? People think, “No, it’s not the best way because I always end up paying more than I expected and I hate that. I also hate when I’m already in my pajamas and I have to put my trench coat over.”
You’re like, “I don’t want to pay the $3 for the late fee. The whole movie was $1.75 and I’m going to pay a $3 late fee.” It’s so annoying. Those businesses, their promise was good but they never evolve their offering. The way to keep up is say, “This is truly the best way of delivering on my promise.” What I encourage companies to do is to have a dashboard and keep an eye on both. “Are members happy?” Looking with your microscope and saying, “Am I offering, iterating, and continuing to make it better for members?” Also, look with your telescope and say, “Am I still relevant enough to attract people? Is the way I’m packaging my value and delivering on my promise the best way? If I were starting with the same promise, is this how I package my value?” A lot of organizations like for example, newspapers. We probably do the whole thing digital and we probably wouldn’t even do paper anymore, but because they have that legacy, then they keep doing it. It makes it harder to evolve because you’re sunk costs and also the existing experience of the organization makes it hard to be willing to have that agility to keep moving forward and to sunset old features.
I think you bring up some important points. I’m very much for developing curiosity and asking those questions is huge. All that you cover in your books are relevant and many people can benefit from all the work you do. I know a lot of people are going to reach you. How can they get your book and find out more about what you do?
I’m very easy to find online RobbieKellmanBaxter.com is my website. If you do that and do RobbieKellmanBaxter.com/audience, there are some goodies. There’s chapter eight of my new book which is all about culture and building the right culture for a subscription model. I have membership manifesto and I have some process visuals. You can find me on LinkedIn. You can find me on Twitter and on Instagram @RobbieBax. Those are probably the best places to find me.
It’s been so fun having you on the show, Robbie. Thank you so much. I think many people can learn from all of this. This has been a lot of fun.
Thanks so much for having me. It was fun. It went by so fast.
The Cure For Sleeplessness With Chris Burres And Dr. Patrick Wanis
I am here with Chris Burres, who is the Co-Owner of SES Research. He is a research engineer and scientist with the primary mission to help people live longer, healthier, pain-free lives. I’m also here with Dr. Patrick Wanis, who is a world-renowned expert on behavioral therapy, specializing in the area of interpersonal relationships, trauma and human innovation. Together, Dr. Chris and Dr. Wanis teamed up to bring a new solution for restoring your state of health and sleep during this challenging time. It’s so nice to have you guys here.
Thank you so much for having us.
I was looking forward to this because this is a little bit unique. It ties into some of the areas that I’m interested in. I’ve always had the background working in pharmaceuticals and plus the aspect of behavioral studies. You two together make a part of what my life is focused on. I love that you two teamed up and I want to get a background on how that happened. I’ll let you decide who wants to answer that.
We’ve known each other for quite a long time. What’s maintained our friendship and kept us aligned is the alignment of our values, and that is wanting to help and make a positive difference and recognizing that we are the captain of our ship. There are things that are outside of our control, which we’re all experiencing. We also recognize that there’s a lot within our control and what we can control is our responses to what’s happening. It’s our thoughts and our emotions, which therefore impact our behavior and creates our consequences.
We’re all experiencing anxiety because we’re trying to control things that are outside of our control. We’re losing focus and focusing on the things that we can’t do anything about, rather than placing our focus on the things we can control. No matter how good or expert we believe to be at doing these things or how capable, we are all human, we are all Imperfect so it affects us. I experienced the emotions that we’re going to be talking about and address. Every one of us has had our sleep impacted.
When we experienced heavy these agitative emotions, which we often label as negative, it lowers our immune system. In fact, it suppresses our immune system. It impacts our sleep, it affects the quality of our sleep. It leaves us feeling sleep deprived, and therefore we struggled to deal with our emotions. We struggled to even concentrate, to focus, or to find solutions to the huge challenges that are all facing us. Chris and I got together and we talked about a three-pronged approach.
My area of expertise is to help people to manage and guide their way through the emotions because ultimately what we’re all experiencing is grieving. The second was to come up with specific, practical, tangible, actionable, measurable tips on how to sleep better. The third is, we’re here. We’re human beings, we’re imperfect, we still need more help. Chris has been manufacturing this Nobel Prize-Winning molecule since 1991 called ESS60. It happens to also be an immune booster.
It also happens to help with sleep. We said, “This is the ideal time to do it. How can we do it?” One of the things I said was I will create an audiobook dealing with the seven umbrella emotions that we’re all experiencing. Defining those emotions, helping you to get clear about what you’re experiencing, why you’re experiencing these emotions? Offering you action steps on each of those emotions, and then offering you five transformational exercises.
It’s not enough to say to someone, “I understand what you’re going through,” or, “I know what you’re going through,” which we don’t because it’s different for every single one of us. We also need to be able to do something about it. We need to take action steps. I don’t mean distracting yourself for the sake of being busy because you think that’s going to make a difference. I mean having meaningful, purposeful, deliberate actions that will make a difference.
I said, “The other help that I can give is to create a specific guided meditation on overcoming fear and anxiety, and enhancing peace of mind, feeling more secure, confident, and resilient.” It’s a unique meditation because it’s not only about relaxing you. I’m using imagery and symbolism to access your subconscious mind, to give you a new way of creating new beliefs, a new perception, and outlook. We said, “Let’s do that and then let’s give people practical tips. Let’s talk about this unique molecule that has a bizarre story behind it.”
That’s such an interesting overview of what you guys are doing and how you got together. I know you brought up some of what you’re working on. I’ve seen your work, Patrick, you’ve been showcased on many news outlets and you’ve got a strong focus on body and physiology and how it affects behavior. It’s a great tie and to what this molecule is you referred to that Chris is working on. I’m fascinated by that, Chris. I want to know a little bit about that because I think I saw that it was shown to extend the lifespan of test subjects by 90%. Are you saying it because we’re sleeping more? Tell me a little bit more about this molecule and where it is and the process.
It’s interesting when you hear of something that’s extended the life of mammals and peer-reviewed published research, your ears perk up. It’s like, “That’s not normal.” It’s the longest longevity experiment on mammals ever. In fact, the next best way to extend your life is called CR Calorie Restriction. I describe it as if you starve yourself 1/3 to death, meaning if you remove 1/3 of the calories you’re supposed to consume on a daily basis, there’s well-documented research to show that you can extend your life by 30%. I don’t know about you but I’m not signing up for the starve group. It’s three times better and it doesn’t involve the phrase starve yourself to death.
I want to know how it works. Go ahead and give me the origin.
We’re still researching it. The amazing story behind the molecule is back in 1985, three scientists here in Houston at Rice University discovered the third form of carbon. We’re all familiar with diamond and graphite. That’s what’s in your pencil lead. They discovered this third form of carbon called fullerenes. It’s the whole gamut of molecules. The most abundant of them is Carbon-16. The best way to describe this molecule, which was a pretty fascinating structure is if you imagine holding a soccer ball and then looking at the lines on the soccer ball, those represent the bonds between the carbon atoms. You have this sphere called Carbon-16 molecule. That spherical nature is very unique in nature. It gives it a lot of different capabilities and properties. It’s superconducting. It’s harder than a diamond. It’s turned into a diamond. I’ve been working in manufacturing that material since 1991.
Those three scientists who discovered it won the Nobel Prize in 1996, which is short of eleven years from the discovery to the actual awarding of the Nobel Prize. They were awarded the Nobel Prize because they hearkened that this spherical molecule carbon was like a 3D version of the benzene ring. I know you have a background in pharmaceuticals. You very well may know that the benzene ring is the foundation of most medicines. It’s the foundation of all plastics. We don’t have a modern society without the benzene ring. This buckyball is the 3D version of benzene and that explains why they won the Nobel Prize.
It turns out that benzene is also a known carcinogen and is toxic. They assumed that this buckyball was going to be toxic. They did a toxicity study. That’s the study you were referring to and which was published in 2012. It’s a peer-reviewed published research. In that study, they gave rats water and olive oil, and then they gave rats olive oil with ESS60. Those rats given our material lived 90% longer. Potentially more exciting than that 90% longer. It was the fact that the rats given our product died without tumors.
A typical Wistar rat loose about 32 months as they did in this study. They haven’t known amount of tumors and the amount of tumors is proportional to how long they live. They live longer, they have more tumor mass in their body. Even though our rats live 90% longer, they didn’t have any tumors. You’ve got a pretty phenomenal result. That’s the background and we can get in here in a little bit based on where you need us on how that might impact? Ultimately, that product impact sleep.
I toured the Houston Rice University, that DOERR Institute not too long ago. Are you both in Houston? I could tell that Patrick’s got a very beautiful accent. Where are you from, Patrick?
I’m from Australia. I’m in Miami Beach. Chris is in Houston. I think you’re in Chicago.
I’m in Arizona. I do a lot of work all around the world. It’s interesting to see how we now are working together in these remote areas and I get to interview people from all over the world. What you two have done together interests me probably because I’m a horrible sleeper for one thing. I’m curious, are these rats living longer because they can sleep? How does this tie into sleep?
The current medical thought process about aging is that it’s an oxidation and an inflammation process that causes us to age. It’s not surprising that my product given to those rats is a known antioxidant. It shows it to be 172 times more powerful than vitamin C. I’ve got to be careful. The FDA is very particular about inflammation and something being anti-inflammatory. What we can say is that our product fits very nicely in an anti-inflammatory diet. Our diet is like the famous Mediterranean diet.
People on the Mediterranean diet are known to have reduced cardio problems, stroke, incidences of Alzheimer’s and are part of this blue zone people who are a group of people who live longer. Those are the first two mechanisms that people attribute. One of our most consistent testimonials is that our customers take the product in the morning. They report mental focus and energy during the day, and then better sleep later that night. That’s why Patrick and I are together on this. What’s unique is most of them “sleep aid” that is on the market for off the prescription, they don’t let you sleep properly.
They knock you out and there’s a chemical in our body called adenosine. That’s the chemical that causes us to desire sleep. These “sleep aid” knock us out. We wake up and the chemical pressure caused by adenosine has been released so that your body processed it, so you don’t desire sleep, but what you miss is REM sleep. You may not be aware, there’s another type of sleep called in-REM sleep, which is very important. At night you’re doing mental repairs, you’re doing physical repairs and you’re doing emotional repairs. You’re not able to do those repairs when you’re getting knocked out by some of these chemicals.
What’s interesting to me is when they talk about how Michael Jackson took Diprivan, which my company AstraZeneca made Diprivan, which is used properly as a great drug for anesthesia. I can’t imagine using that for sleep. You would never feel like you slept.In a desperate attempt to get some sleep, people are turning to sedatives. Click To Tweet
That’s the very point. Most of what people are doing in a desperate attempt to sleep is they’re using sedatives. They are particularly completely unaware of what these sedatives do. When I was working in a rehab clinic in California, the consulting psychiatrist. He’s a fantastic guy. The patients would come in and the first thing he would do is he would look at their entire spectrum of what they’ve been prescribed and he would change their prescription. Some of them were coming with eleven different medications and he’d break it down to 5 or 6. I always thought that was very interesting. That’s a completely separate discussion because it’s so subjective about what medication a person should take and what is their mental state.
I went through one day and I said, “I’ve got a new client and I have a challenge here because he’s got a lot of anxiety and I find it difficult to work with him when he’s on this medication.” He said, “What’s the medication?” I gave him the name. I cannot recall what it was. He said, “You got to take him off that.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because that can cause anxiety.” I said, “That doesn’t make sense.” He said, “That’s the way they work.” For example, I have another client and her brother ended up having a traumatic brain injury and he was in a state of a coma. They were giving him Ambien to try and get him out of a coma. This is true, you can do the research. There are various scientists, researchers, and doctors who’ve been experimenting with Ambien to try and get people out of a coma.
It was Jack Nicholson who warned Heath Ledger about using Ambien. He said to him, “You can’t take this stuff because one day I woke up and I found myself driving almost heading off the cliff on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.” The point is that people are taking these medications and I do believe that you need to take medications as a bridge during a crisis, to get you over the crisis. The problem is that when you taking many of these medications, they’re not healing you. In the case of these sleep supplements, they’re sedatives. They are knocking you out. They’re placing you unconscious. You’re not getting the rapid eye movement and the non-rapid eye movement. During the non-rapid eye movements state, your mind and your brain are also working to process some of those emotions.
When you asked about the link between longevity and sleep, then let’s talk about this book that Chris is going to also reference, Why We Sleep by Dr. Matthew Walker, who identifies through decades of research the benefits of sleep. How it impacts the body and every different system, whether we’re talking about the endocrine system, the nervous system, the specific organs? When you see that you recognize that sleep is critical to our health. Instead of recognizing how critical sleep is, we’re making sleep like it’s a problem, “I don’t have time to sleep because I got to finish this project. I’ve got to do this,” or, “I want to go to this nightclub,” or, “I want to go dancing,” or, “I want to do that.”
We’re not recognizing that we are the only creatures on the planet who deliberately and stupidly go out of our way to harm our souls by not getting the sufficient amount of sleep that we need. We cannot argue that it’s for good reason. Staying up late to watch a movie when it’s impacting your health is not a valid reason to say, “This is why I’m going to have less sleep.” There are two other key points. One is that you need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. It’s a complete misnomer when people say, “I get by on 5 or 6 hours sleep.” Yes, you do. If you are 1% of the population and that’s due to genetics. The second reason you think you’re getting away with it is because your brain cannot tell you when you are sleep deprived.
If you want to know if you’re sleep deprived or not, there are three things. One, do you automatically wake up or do you need an alarm clock? Second, do you need to use caffeine before noon? There are various ways to recognize if we’re sleep deprived but we don’t know it. For example, a doctor who’s had less than six hours of sleep has a 170% chance of making a medical misdiagnosis or making an error in surgery. That’s 170% greater risk. The point is, our cognitive functions are affected by our lack of sleep.
Also, our immune system. It is load and suppressed. If your immune system isn’t functioning well and its load and suppressed, you’re going to be more susceptible to illness and it goes on and on. Chris could give you the details for hours of the benefits of sleep and why we’re not engaging in sleep. We then have what we’re all experiencing, this huge burden of emotions that I put simply down to grieving that is affecting us and preventing us from sleep and putting us in the fight or flight response. It’s engaging our amygdala in a way that it doesn’t need to be engaged, not at this time. That chronic stress elevates cortisol levels, increases blood pressure, increases heart rate, places your endocrine system out of balance, and then what happens? You can’t sleep and then you have all these other problems because your body’s out of balance.
I subscribed to the old Greek philosophy, which has a healthy body, a healthy mind, and vice versa. You got to deal with the person as a whole. You’ve got to say, “What are you doing mentally? What are you doing emotionally? What are you doing physically? What are you doing spiritually?” Mentally is, “What are your thoughts?” Your thoughts are driving your emotions. Your emotions also affect the way that you relate and interact with other people in the world around you. Physically is, are you making sure that you’re preparing for sleep? Are you allocating enough time to sleep? Are you exercising? What are you placing in your body? It then goes to the molecule and the formulation Chris has been talking about, ESS60 MyVitalC.
The fourth is what we’re all being challenged as a result of COVID-19 and the fact that our life suddenly got stopped. We’ve all had to say, “Where is the meaning? Was what I was doing before of any meaning of any purpose of any value?” The first thing we recognize is that relationships are more meaningful than we thought them to be. The next thing it does is it starts to trigger all the unresolved grief that we’ve had prior to the pandemic that we were able to distract and pushed aside. All of this comes up. Now you’re forced to find new meaning and purpose. If you don’t and if you go back to where you were before, then you miss out on the opportunity to redesign your life. I think you’ve got a book about redesigning your life.
We’re all re-inventing ourselves and evaluate what we’re doing, what we need to do to feel better. As you’re talking about this, I know you said that Chris would discuss preparing for sleep. I’ve read a lot about it because I’m not a good sleeper. I go to bed at the same time. I don’t have blue lights and I exercise. I do everything you’re supposed to like not watching things right before bed, I don’t check my email, everything you can think of. I’m a hyper person. I have a sympathetic system that seems on overdrive all the time. I talked to people. I was at a meeting in London and I was talking to Marshall Goldsmith. He travels every day. I said, “How do you do this without sleep?” This was at the Thinkers50 group. There were hundreds of people all around us. He goes, “I could lay down right here on the floor and go to sleep right now in front of everybody and we have no problem.” When I heard that, it’s like when people tell me they had a baby and it didn’t hurt at all. I can’t relate to that.
Diane, may I ask you a question? May I challenge you? Do you believe that there are things from your past that are unresolved?
I don’t think I’m wrestling with anything. I think I’m a high energy person that has a long time to get quiet down. I’m one of those people.
Are you able to clearly identify what your motivations in life are?
I think so. I’m pretty goal-oriented.
The reason I’m saying that is for a lot of people, they are not even aware that they’ve got grief, which therefore affects their sleep. People that have experienced trauma. That grief could be a divorce or a break, a relationship breakup from 10, 15 years ago. Grief could be death, like for me, my grandmother when I was ten years of age, but it was never resolved. What I recall, and this was only a few years ago, because I couldn’t remember crying, my mother said, “When the phone call came, you went running into the bathroom, you closed the bathroom and you were screaming.” I said, “I don’t even remember that.” That was never resolved. She was the person closest to me in my entire life. Every time you have a change in life, that is a form of grief.
There’s grieving because grief is our emotional response to loss or change. One of the most stressful things is moving house. One of the most stressful things is divorcing. One of the most stressful things is losing your job, changing your job, moving from city to city. There are all these things that we don’t process emotionally. When we get the pandemic, suddenly, all this other grief comes up. We say, “I’ve never resolved that before.” Grief can also affect your sleep. Unresolved trauma can affect your sleep. Depending on what your motivations are. For me, I’m very similar in the sense of I want to get things done and I want to achieve great things, but then I question, “Why did I want to be in LA? Did I want to work with celebrities and all these people? Was it because I cared or because I was trying to prove something to my parents?” That’s not a healthy motivation.
The other thing is perhaps because you have a particular personality. I know you’re a licensed, certified Myers and Briggs instructor. You recognize the different temperaments, etc. What I would suggest is perhaps what might be helpful for you is to engage more in meditation, more in yoga practices. You can do a little bit of research on this that will help you to switch off more of your default mode network in your brain. The default mode network is when you’re not engaged in a task, your mind starts going everywhere and starting at the past, the future, and it goes all these different places.
Through meditation, we engage the default mode network less and we become more present. Therefore, it’s easy to relax, therefore it’s easy to sleep. That’s a very brief summation. I’m sure you’re going to do better research than what I said. There are benefits to meditation. A friend of mine who happens to live in the same building who is just beginning in meditation. I was explaining to him that in yoga, every time you’re in a pose, you’re meant to be meditating in that pose. That means you are so present in that pose that you’re not aware of anything else. That’s what we call being in the zone. The other interesting thing is when you’re in the zone, you are turning off the default mode network.
You are no longer thinking about yourself and you’re fully present in what you’re doing. It is why people get thrilled when they’re doing things that are in the zone because we’re engaging a whole different part of our brain and psyche. Perhaps, meditation or yoga might be helpful. I know that there are seventeen different critical tips, which I’ve included in a chapter in my audiobook, Neutralize the Seven Emotions that Are Holding You Hostage. There is a range of tips and Chris also talks about even the impact of alcohol on sleep.
I know a lot of people if they drink, they fall asleep and then they don’t stay asleep.
They wake up halfway through the night.
There are many things. I would like Chris to give the last couple of moments to give some tips of what are some ways to prepare for sleep that I didn’t mention when I said some of the things I do.
You’ve mentioned some of them. I’m going to go into a little bit more detail. Patrick was talking about meditation and maybe spending more time meditating. If only there were some free guided meditation that you could download. We’re going to give at the end of the show absolutely free and without need for an email address. If that only existed, then we’ll get that out later.
Feel free to get the link out because I’d like to make sure they have it.
The link is MyVitalC.com/DrDianeHamilton. If they go there, email is required. You get the audiobook Neutralize the Seven Emotions That Are Holding You Hostage Now and the Guided Meditation: Overcome Fear and Anxiety and Enjoy Peace of Mind. We’ll talk a little bit more about how to navigate that page. There are other things you can do if you want to connect with Dr. Wanis or if you want to try the product.
It sounds like you already have a good sleep hygiene program in place. I’m going to be pretty brief. Maybe you’ve even shared them with your audience before, then I can talk about my product and how it has impacted my sleep and how it might have a parallel with you. First is naps. Taking naps is good. The data on naps is substantiated that taking naps is good for your mental performance. You want to make sure that your naps are no longer than 30 minutes. Anything over 30 minutes is going to interrupt your sleep that night and also make sure that you’re not taking a nap after 4:00. During the times of COVID, if it’s 4:00 and your body’s going to like, “Take a nap.” I’d say, “Stay away from the coffee because that’s not good and just go out and do another walk.” A lot of us are walking a lot these days, which is a silver lining in this.
The next is the electronic devices. One is 1 or 2 hours before bedtime, turn them off. Disconnect from those. Pick up one of those good old paper things called a book. It’s a good way to slow things down. Maybe do a guided meditation that you can get at that link. Also, use the blue light filter. A lot of people don’t realize that when you’re looking at a cellphone, a tablet, or a computer screen, it’s emanating a lot of blue light. That blue light tricks your brain into thinking it’s the middle of the day.
If you’re sitting on your computer depending on when the sunset, 9:00 or 10:00, and you don’t have a blue light filter, you’re tricking your body into believing it’s the middle of the day. Guess what your body doesn’t think about doing in the middle of the day? It doesn’t think about going to sleep. I know on Apple devices there’s a feature called night shift. Different Android devices have different one’s comfort view and blue light filter. Make sure you look for that and turn it on, so that blue light filter comes on 1 or 2 hours before the sunset so that you’re not interfering with the natural circadian rhythm that helps you to sleep.
Finally, we touched on alcohol. It’s very similar to the sleep aid industry. It knocks you out and often you can wake up in the middle of the night. Now, you’ve had some alcohol. It had a longer than 30-minute nap and that’s what that does to your sleep. There’s some good research that shows it’s okay to drink. It’s typically focused on a glass of red wine. Just to make sure that you’re having that an hour and a half-hour before you’re about to go to sleep so that your body has time to metabolize the alcohol that’s in there so it’s not impacting your sleep that night. Those are three sleep hygiene things that I wanted to touch on a little most.Unresolved trauma affects you and your sleep in many ways. Click To Tweet
In my book, I give seventeen tips which are drawn from Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep and also from the Sleep Research Institute. Another one that’s interesting is people smoke marijuana because they think it relaxes them, but it actually interrupts your sleep and leads to paranoia. I’m not telling you to smoke or not smoke marijuana, I’m just saying it does impact your sleep. CBD oil does not do that. It does not negatively impact your sleep, but marijuana does.
The other thing that I said earlier is about preparing for sleep. If you’re a person that’s very successful, very ambitious, you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve got qualifications, education in many different areas, you’re probably someone who does think a lot. It might also be beneficial to write them out early so you’re not thinking about them right before you get to bed. You’ve already made a note of the things you got to do the next day. I also say your room’s got to be cool, 68 to 70 degrees. It’s got to be dark. It’s got to be silent, but start preparing for sleep. Don’t expose yourself to negative news hours before you go to sleep. If you know you’re going to go to sleep at 10:00, turn off all the negative stuff early. It’s like a diet.
People think that they’re immune to reading negative things. You’re not, and I could cite many studies. The most basic study that I can think of is a study where they took in college students. They filmed them coming into the room, then they got them to read a couple of pages. These couple of pages were about elderly people and then they got them to walk out of the room and they filmed them. They said, “Do you think you walk differently into the room versus out of the room?” They said, “No, we were the same.” Then they showed them the video. After they finished reading a couple of pages about elderly people, they were walking slower, they were crunched over. The thought had affected their physiology.
My point is we have 65,000 thoughts a day. Which thoughts are you feeding? You cannot ever erase what you’ve seen. If you’re looking at this negative news, which is incidentally as you know it’s designed to create fear and to provoke an emotion. There were some specific media outlets that want you to get either angry or at least get afraid. Somehow, you’ll keep coming back to them. If you are provoking those emotions within you, anger, fear, rage, righteousness, revenge, etc. how are you going to be sleeping properly? That’s what you’re going to sleep with. Expose yourself as if you are preparing yourself to sleep. Engage in a mental and emotional diet.
You both bring up many great points. A lot of people can get a lot of information from what you guys are working on. Is there anything else you’d like to share to them on how they could follow your work?
It’s MyVitalC.com/DrDianeHamilton. On that page, you can figure out how to connect with Patrick. There’s a link right there. I will highly recommend, he does a weekly newsletter. Make sure you get over to his website, PatrickWanis.com, through that link or however, and sign up for his newsletter. It’s a phenomenal piece of work every week. He has been doing it for forever and a day. There’s a way to get to the MyVitalC home page, if you’re interested in trying the product. We spoke how it’s impacting our client’s sleep. This is something that’s pretty important, you can get an additional $15 off by using a coupon code, Dr. Diane Hamilton. You can buy individual bottles. You can also get on subscription. We offer a 25% discount on subscription. Go ahead and take advantage of that subscription. You can cancel it at any time.
This was interesting. I’m always fascinated by anything sleep-related because many people are stressed out with COVID and everything else. This is helpful information. Thank you both for being on the show.
Thank you for having us.
I want to thank Robbie, Chris, Patrick, all great guests. We get many great guests on this show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamilton.com. I hope you join us for the next episode.
- Chris Burres
- Patrick Wanis
- Peninsula Strategies
- The Membership Economy
- The Forever Transaction: How to Build a Subscription Model So Compelling, Your Customers Will Never Want to Leave
- LinkedIn – Robbie Kellman Baxter
- Twitter – Robbie Kellman Baxter
- @RobbieBax – Instagram
- SES Research
- Dr. Patrick Wanis
- Why We Sleep
- Neutralize the Seven Emotions that Are Holding You Hostage
About Robbie Kellman Baxter
Robbie Kellman Baxter is the founder of Peninsula Strategies LLC, a management consulting firm, as well as the author of the bestselling The Membership Economy: Find Your Superusers, Master the Forever Transaction & Build Recurring Revenue. Her new book The Forever Transaction: How to Build a Subscription Model So Compelling, Your Customers Will Never Want to Leave was released in April of this year. She coined the popular business term “Membership Economy”, which is now being used by organizations and journalists around the country and beyond. Her clients have included large organizations like Netflix, the Wall Street Journal, and Microsoft, as well as dozens of smaller venture-backed companies.
About Chris Burres
Chris Burres is the Co-Owner of SES Research. He is a research engineer and scientist with the primary mission to help people live longer, healthier, pain-free lives. Dr. Patrick Wanis is a world-renowned expert on behavioral therapy, specializing in the areas of interpersonal relationships, trauma, and human innovation. Together Chris and Dr. Wanis teamed up to bring new solutions for restoring your state of health and sleep during this challenging time.
About Dr. Patrick Wanis
A native of Australia, Patrick Wanis, PhD engrosses audiences with passion, conviction and sincerity with his blend of the strong masculine (Dr. Phil); the warm, compassionate feminine (Oprah); and the clinical scientific mind (Dr. Drew.)
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