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The New IQ with Michael Brandt

Dec 01, 2022

Everything Michael Brandt does is fast and intense. Aside from being the CEO and co-founder of Health Via Modern Nutrition (HVMN), he cruises through marathons at a cool 6-minute mile pace. With the launch of Ketone-IQ, Michael and his team created an entirely new category of ketone shots, which have taken over elite sports and high-end workplaces. Michael has quickly scaled the business to multi-million dollars in revenue including a $6MM contract with the US Department of Defense. 
As CEO, Michael is focused on cultivating a world-class team and increasing education and access to metabolic health & performance. Michael majored in computer science and product design at Stanford. He scored 99th %ile on his GMAT but decided to skip business school and go straight into entrepreneurship. 
Prior to starting H.V.M.N. he was a professor of brand strategy at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.
Michael and his cofounder were awarded Forbes 30 Under 30. Outside of work, Michael is an avid triathlete and holds a 2:42 personal record for the marathon. He lives with his wife and daughter in LA.
What are ketones? Ketones are a super efficient source of fuel for your brain, that leave you feeling energized and clear-headed.
My top take aways from this interview were:
  • The general works for the troops. How can you help everyone around you? Remember that you are there to serve your people. Great leaders serve their people.
  • When there is a problem poor leaders avoid it and deflect it, good leaders solve it and exceptional leaders solve the meta problem. Exceptional leaders don't sweep the problem under the rug. They figure out how to fix the problem that created the problem.
  • If you are in a leadership position and you don't own your flaws, and you aren't open to objective feedback, then you are going to fall. You will not last as a leader. Don't try to be a picture perfect leader. That is not a good example to set for your staff.
  • Put smiles on peoples faces, that is the main point of everything. Who are you making smile today?

Full Transcription 


Michael Brandt, James Laughlin 


James Laughlin 00:00 

Welcome to lead on purpose. I'm James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion musician, and now an executive coach to global leaders and high performers. In every episode, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you lead your life and business on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today and investing in yourself. Enjoy the show. 


James Laughlin 

Would you like to connect personally with some of my podcast guests? They are arguably some of the most influential leaders and high performers on the planet. Each month, members of my HPC, the High Performers Club, get to connect with a leadership titan in an intimate Q&A. They also get access to powerful high-performance leadership coaching, and monthly masterminds. There are only 20 seats at the leadership table. You can apply today by going to www.jjlaughlin.com/HPC. 


James Laughlin 01:06 

How much time do you invest in your brain? Well, look, our brain dictates so many things. It's our largest asset. We've got to look after it, right? But often we're putting things in our skin and we're doing all these other things that care for our bodies, but our brain dictates so much. I came across a product a wee while ago called Flow State and it's made such a difference. And look, they offer functional mushrooms that sharpen cognition, they really boost energy, and definitely strengthen immunity. And they actually use one of the key ingredients, it's lion's mane. Right? So, the lion's mane is popular among real peak-performing athletes and those wanting an edge. It's known as the brain mushroom. And it's currently being studied extensively for its nerve growth factor potential as a means to ease the symptoms of Alzheimer's and for treating inflammation in the body. Look, the thing I love about these products, they don't taste like mushrooms, you can mix them in with your tea. They're a great replacement for a coffee, but I actually love the P.M. Mushroom Blend, the evening one. It helps me sleep. And to know that my brain is getting extra nutrients is just next level. The one thing that's really important for me is what's in there. So, they've tested heavily at Hill laboratories for heavy metals, pesticide residue, and microbial, and also Massey University for active compounds. So, I urge you, if you love your brain, and want to go the extra mile to nurture it, head on over to flowstate.nz and you can use the coupon code lead on purpose to get 15% off. 



James Laughlin 

I don't know about you, but sometimes I get home and I think, what am I eating tonight? It's the last thing I want to do. I don't know what to cook, I don't know what's in the cupboard or in the fridge. And it often leads to poor choices like ordering some takeaway. So recently, Caroline and I started eating green dinner table and it's absolutely amazing. After a long day, when I'm knackered, I know that when I get home, there's going to be a great recipe and all the ingredients I need right there in the fridge. And look, I absolutely love it. I've been doing it for several months. And it means I don't have to think at the end of the day, and I just know that I'm going to get good, nutritious, wholesome food. And look, it's plant-based, which has so many benefits. So, if you're a meat eater, perhaps you might want to start on maybe just three three-day plan. So, you've got three evening meals for you and your partner or you and your family depending on what option you want to go for. That the food is delicious. It's so nutritious and it means we don't need to think and as leaders of families, teams, and organizations, what we put in our bodies is just so crucially important. So, I urge you to go and check it out and I want to give you 20% off your first order. So, you can go to greendinnertable.co.nz and use the coupon code purpose. 


James Laughlin 04:17 

Everything Michael Brandt does is fast and intense. Aside from being the CEO and co-founder of Health via Modern Nutrition. He cruises through marathons at a cool six-minute mile pace. With the launch of Ketone-IQ, Michael and his team created an entirely new category of ketone shots, which have taken over elite sports and high-end workplaces. So, if you're an athlete, or you're a leader in the corporate space or any space for that matter, and you want that edge, you need to listen to what Ketone-IQ is all about. Remember that thing called caffeine and when people put it in a drink called Coffee, it took off? Remember that thing called CBD and when people put that in a product it took off? You're about to find out what that next product, that's Ketone-IQ, if you care about your brain, you're going to love today's show. 


James Laughlin 05:27 

Michael, a huge welcome to The Lead on Purpose Podcast. 


Michael Brandt 05:33 

James, so good to be here. Thanks for having me on. And looking forward to a fun conversation today. 


James Laughlin 05:37 

Yeah, me too. Hey, just want to get the conversation started. Obviously, it's the lead-on-purpose podcast. So, I'd love to just pick your brain a little bit and ask you a question about leadership. When you think of leadership, what comes to mind? 


Michael Brandt 05:51 

There are a few different things that come to mind. One in particular, that always sticks with me is the general work for the troops. And the idea of servant leadership is that is your job to make everyone else look good. One thing I always tell myself is that pretty much every day I wake up with this mindset, that if the business isn't doing well, it's entirely my fault. If the business is doing well, I had basically nothing to do with it. And it's all on the shoulders of the amazing, talented team around me. And it definitely drives me a little crazy. Like, I feel like it could never have a good day as a result. But I think it's the right kind of edge to have where I just truly believe it. Where am I lucky that these great people work for me, and how can I help make their careers awesome? How can I help make the brand business that they're associated with awesome, he's very, very sensitive, probably more than a normal person to like things that go wrong. And take it I take very take things very personally and go and get after them. But I think I found that that level of care, that level of taking it personally, that level, of putting yourself last on the totem pole, for taking credit has been, I think, a good magnet for talent. I think that's the kind of leadership that I haven't always been a CEO myself. I've worked jobs, I've worked at restaurants I've worked I've been a teacher, instructor, and Professor in the academic setting, and I've had all sorts of different bosses myself. And that tends to be the type of boss that I've been drawn to. 


James Laughlin 07:24 

And that's interesting you say that, like in terms of modeling, often, when we think of leadership, it comes through a filter of what's been modeled to us either good or bad. And so, you know, who have been, you know, one or two of those good models, either they've done directly with you, or you've watched from the sidelines as they've led a country or a team. 


Michael Brandt 07:42 

Yeah, I had an early boss mentor. When I was an intern in college, I worked at a company called Redfin. And many people have heard of their big real estate discovery site and were always very impressed by the CEO there always took the time to explain things to people and really put everything that didn't go well was what he always put as his own fault. Like if someone didn't understand something or someone didn't understand what was expected of them or didn't understand some part of how the business worked, it always made a point to make sure that that connection got solved and make sure to one term that I've taken to using is whenever we're solving issues, there's always the issue itself, as well as the meta issue. Like, what's the issue that caused the issue? And this is something I've learned from the early days at Redfin, I worked at Google kind of early days, a decade ago at this point, and I always say, Yeah, and he's in these high output organizations. You guys have that accountability from leadership. And always that sense of what real accountability means is when there's a problem, there, okay, when there's a problem, poor leaders, ignore it, or blame or deflect it. Good leaders solve problems or figure out a solution to the problem and exceptional leaders. They solve the problem, and they solve that meta around the problem. What's the problem that caused that problem? And I think having that imprinted into me early in my career has paid dividends over the years, I'm still getting better at it. It's not It's 10,000 hours type of voyage. It's not a like, Okay, you just hear it once and all of a sudden, you're good at solving meta issues around every issue. 


James Laughlin 09:31 

That's really great advice. And it's interesting. You know, I recently had a friend who had been asked to do something by their CEO, and they did it and executed it perfectly. But then the CEO realized, like an hour later, wow, that thing wasn't meant to go to everyone. And then essentially, the CEO called a call the person out and said, Sorry, everyone, this person made the mistake. And actually, it was they'd done exactly what the CEO had asked him to do and, what you're saying is an exceptional leader would have gone hey team, screwed up, my fault. I did it. I've just fixed it. And here's why it won't happen again. 


Michael Brandt 10:05 

Yeah. People are always going to see you as a leader, you don't have to really worry. If you take the blame or admit an issue, you're going to be the leader because you have the title, or you started the company. But what loses you the leadership, it's this weird thing is like, if you try too hard to always look correct. Always, never be the one that made the mistake, never be the one to blame. If you have this picture-perfect version of a leader, then that's the one thing that will actually decay, your stature as a leader, because it's not, it not true. It's not believable. It's not relatable. And it leads to an environment where people don't feel like they can be objective about problem-solving. One of the big corollaries to being objective about problem-solving is that everybody, including leadership, is subjective and subject to certain biases. And if you can't be wrong, and if you can't set that leadership template from the top of, hey, I say things with my best judgment, but sometimes they're wrong. If we can't talk about that, if I'm not willing to admit that, how do you expect to have any culture of objectivity if the leader can't be questioned and everyone is going to turtle itself all the way down where like every manager who manages anyone is going to have that same stance. Versus if you're the type of leader that hey, here's like current best understanding, this is the go-ahead plan. And if it can be open for having holes poked in it to work gets to an objectively better spot is when you think about it that way, it's like there is no other way to lead. There is no other way. Like, what is your job as a leader, it's your job as a leader to like, emerge with a perfect ego and a perfect sense of like, everyone likes you and you can do no wrong as your job as a leader to drive shareholder value and solve real problems in the real world that create value in the market. As I like, I think that think the first bucket gets filtered out quickly, I think if you're in a leadership spot, because you want to feel good about yourself. 


James Laughlin 12:21 

Short time. 


Michael Brandt 12:24 

A short-lived career like yeah, as a leader, you're almost signing up for getting kicked in the shins and you're always making yourself the crash dummy of like, okay, how am I? Like what can I? What cliff, Can I jump off of here? What can Like sometimes I see my job is to be the biggest risk taker in the business because as you go down the levels of a business, people get more and more risk averse. As a company grows, it gets more risk-averse. And I often dial it even if it's like there's, I have kind of an outline of what we should probably do. But I often will take even more risk on approach because I figure that eventually it will get watered down to the neutral like the more medium line because people are practical, but I will come in with the like super spicy take like lets like the marketing campaign, let's do like this extra super-duper loud thing. Because if I'm not doing that then knowing that the company is going to be in general more like a loud, spicy risk than what they see leadership is doing. 


James Laughlin 

Such good advice.  


Michael Brandt 

So, I always try to dial in the little things I think the little things can be the big things too. It's like we're doing company merch This is very little this is not a major needle driver but I think it's the fun allegory here which is we're doing company merged and like more than half the team wanted to do baseball caps and then some people on the team want to do like very loud bucket caps, which at least around LA are like very trendy right now very like loud, goofy ostentatious. And so, you know, we're doing bucket hats and I was just like the champion it was like look, this is not like a majority decision or whatever, like, but we're going to go with like, I want people from half a block away. When we're wearing our merch, we're at an event or we're doing guerilla marketing I want people to notice us I want to be seen when we're in retail stores I want when Pete I want people are going to either love this or they're going to hate it they're going to have a response to it. versus you know, we can always go back later and make a baseball cap, but you can always do the more risk off the more boring thing later on. It's hard to start with the more neutral thing and then go riskier later so this is very good. I don't want to pretend like your company merch is that the main thing is just a little allegory and like a simple zoomed-in decision of like I take the louder stance and we can let it water down later over time. Or you know, or not, you know, people love it. It actually turns out people love the bucket hat. So, it's, you know, I think people like seeing some conviction from leadership. 


James Laughlin 15:13 

Yeah, 100%. And it's interesting how you do anything is how you do everything, that whole concept of, hey, we're going to do this with merch, bigger with our hats. So, this is going to filter into those bigger marketing, and budgeting strategy decisions as well. I like that approach. Now, let's chat a little bit about the mindset because, to me, I think you've got an incredibly unique mindset. And for leaders that are listening, whether they are athletes, whether corporate leaders are trying to lead the family day to day, what's the mindset it took for you to kick your startup and grow that through all the challenges that you get from as a startup? What is the mindset you adopted, or you developed to get you through it? 


Michael Brandt 15:52 

Yeah, that's a great question. And there are a couple of things I can point to, I think, one concept unhelpful, the anchor or we can go into it in more detail, but just to anchor whatever it is that we do because I think that it's important to how I've been able to maintain focus and stamina through these years is we make a product that's called Ketone-IQ. We've made it under development, we have a $6 million partnership with the United States Department of Defense, Special Operations Command, making metabolic super fuel, and we figured out a way to make a ketone in a bottle, where you can just drink ketones, and it's the same ketone that your body makes when you are intermittent fasting, or doing a low carb keto diet, it's actually really interesting, because we were looking at the keto diet, that's often seen as a weight loss diet, where the byproduct is ketones, that you're sawing wood. And then the sawdust is this thing called ketones. It turns out that the ketones themselves are metabolic super fuel. And that's why special operators are interested in it. That's why we do a lot of work with Tour de France teams over 60% of Palatines. Drinking, our ketone at this point is branched out further, we're going in grocery stores, we're still very early days, and I will say 97% of the people I interact with, they try to stuff tastes a little. It's formulated for function, not flavor. It doesn't taste like your grandma's apple juice, it tastes a little weird, like maybe the first time you had black coffee or red wine if you can remember that. Or dark chocolate has a taste to it. And so Okay, 97% of people are like, what is this? What is this? Do I need metabolic super fuel, the stuff tastes kind of crazy. And then they're like, you know, two 3% It's growing day by day, week by week are really into it. And I say all this because I mean, we can talk more about the metabolism one-on-one, what is a ketone? All that but the point is that, for me, it was very, it's been very motivating to pick a very big, weird problem. And this was something I heard from Larry Page when I worked at Google, was that like, all problems become hard when you're in the messy in the middle of it, messy middle of any problem. So, his was, you might as well pick big, hard, worthy problems. Because when you pick smallish and medium-ish problems, is still going to be grinding on it for like months, you still have meetings about it, you're still going to be writing memos and emails about it, you're still going to be thinking about it. But if the juice isn't worth the squeeze, if the outcome is like, we did something incremental in the world, for me, it's like, I am personally not interested in making a new flavor of popcorn or, you know, like, incrementally better version of this. It's like I, I have chosen a path where it's like, hey, eat like ketones are super interesting. I think this is the next nutritional primitive akin to CBD, or collagen, or these other breakout multibillion dollar primitives that you now see, a decade later, you see in a dozen different brands and hundreds of different formats of the store that like, but you know, maybe that's not true, maybe this is all just a science fair project. But the idea to me is that the juice is worth the squeeze and that if we solve this problem if we're right, this is a massive, massive outcome. And that's very motivating compared to hey, look, we're going to make a slightly better tasting better for your chocolate or something. It's like, to me that you wake up every day, like, you get bored of chocolate. It's like, okay, we made a juice that isn't worth the squeeze. I don't know what other analogy is to, say there, it's that the upside of solving that problem isn't exciting. It's not. It's not weird enough. It's not big enough. And there's something I like about that chip on my shoulder, like nine out of 10 people are like, don't really understand what I'm doing yet. But they will and I believe it. It's like I have this big little secret that I know that our team knows that most of the rest of the world doesn't know yet. And that's where you the pattern of emergent new technologies that chip on the shoulder that solving that big, weird problem and being on the early end of it? That all is fuel for me. Over the last 5-10 years, I've been an entrepreneur and working on this general problem set. 


James Laughlin 20:20 

Massively insightful thoughts around that for leaders for entrepreneurs, and people thinking about starting out. And I guess the question here is, okay, I'm either using a lot of brain powers and running a team, and there's a lot of cognitive requirements, or I'm a professional athlete, or semi-professional. And I'd like to look at how ketones can help me. So, for those two people, one that wants brain power and the whole idea of brain health, and the other one who wants the competitive edge, how does Ketone-IQ support them? 


Michael Brandt 20:54 

Ketones are really interesting in general, and what we've done with ketone IQ is made it so I can have just 10 grams of pure ketones. And you can just drink it directly the same way that you could have 10 grams of protein or 10 milligrams of caffeine. And what Okay, so what is a ketone? In a sense, ketones are the oldest form of fuel that there is because our body has been making ketones for 300,000 years, as long as there have been humans. And it's really interesting because there are a couple of facets to know which is, our brain can use blood sugar, and it can use ketones. It cannot use fat directly; fat needs to turn into ketones. Our bodies do not store that much sugar, or that many carbohydrates, we have like a day or two of carbohydrates, and the same as essential sugar that we can store. So, if you take the ancestral context, 200,000 years ago on the savanna, if you don't have carbohydrates for a day or two, you're essentially starving or fasting. Our body immediately starts making ketones, it turns fat into ketones, and that's what powers our brain. So, in the ancestral context, we had carbohydrates, sometimes there were some berries or grains. But you know, there are no Reese's peanut butter cups on the savanna, right, we're mainly not having that many carbohydrates and sugar. And we are mainly our body is storing up fat when it can. And then when we don't have access to food, we're turning that fat into ketones to fuel our brains. And so, what this is all to say is that the human body is actually really good at making and metabolizing ketones, and they're this backup super fuel for our brain. If you fast forward to the modern context when we're just eating all the time, and everything has hidden sugars in it, and we're leaving leading these sedentary lifestyles where we're not even properly burning off the excess carbohydrates that we are eating, then you end up with this energy imbalance where we just have constantly elevated blood sugar, and we're spending no time making and using ketones. And so, our mission is, is to help people spend more time in that ancestral state with elevated ketone levels. And it just so happens that it feels good. When you are running on ketones. It's a lot of what people feel when they're when you have runner's high when you're going for a run your body is burning through energy and it's starting to make ketones and that's part of what makes you feel mentally dialed in. Or if a lot of people have had positive experiences when they're doing some kind of fasting, either extended fasting or even just intermittent fast as part of their daily routine. There's a feeling of sharpness that people get. There's a feeling sharpness, people just get when they don't have to do like, all the way keto diet, but like, I think people at this point a lot of people know if you have like that birthday cake around the office at lunchtime, you're kind of tired and knocked out for our like, it's maybe not the best idea to have a bunch of pancakes in the morning if you're trying to have a really sharp dialed in a day that feeling of excess carbohydrate is not good. On the flip side, that feeling of having elevated ketones is really good. And what I what we have is ketone IQ, which is a tool in the toolkit among all these other things so it's not like okay, magically you can just eat a lot of carbs and not exercise is that if you're living a generally healthy diet, not eating too many carbs active it's helpful to have this tool in your toolkit where you know the first thing the morning you can just prime your pump with a little boost of ketones and you feel really sharp going about your day you didn't have any sugar there's no caffeine inside of it. You can have it with or without coffee kind of dealer's choice or on your own. But you get this nice pick me up or like in the afternoon. There's this nice way to get a boost of energy on your I'm sipping some right now like you get a nice boost of energy with no sugar and no caffeine and is very clean metabolic fuel that our bodies are really good at using, especially our brain. A lot of different applications. Yeah, a lot of different applications, 


James Laughlin 25:12 

I love that. And when we think about anything new, the first thing we always think I think, anyway, is, what are the side effects? What are the potential downsides? So obviously, you guys have done a ton of research on this, you've got the US you send a defense force, Special Operations Command, really interested in using this. So, it's amazing. What are the potential downsides? Are there any? 


Michael Brandt 25:36 

It's a relatively low side effect profile, it's like it's fuel. So, ketones are not a drug, you can think of it similar to like protein powder, where protein is a macronutrient, it's a building block you. In theory, you could have too much protein powder, but it's not like in the same ballpark as having too much caffeine, even too much caffeine, you could have a heart attack. It's like having too much water, you might be uncomfortable, and you might pee a lot. If you have like too, too much water, like way too much water, okay, you can start running into serious issues. But ketones generally, have energy, when they're present in your system, your body prioritizes them and turns them into ATP, which people remember from their high school biology, it's the current energy currency of your cell, your mitochondria, the power plant of the cell turns metabolic substrates into ATP and that's what fuels all the cells in your body. Ketones just turn into ATP and low side effect profile. So, you're not supposed to like I wouldn't have I wouldn't just sit there and like chug ketones, but I personally have it throughout the day. And it's nice, like 10% of my calories are from it. And I like having it, get a first thing in the morning and I just usually have it whenever I want to pick me up throughout the day. 


James Laughlin 27:08 

And so, for someone who's either a professional athlete, or there, you know, engaging in triathlons and marathons, and that they're in the outdoor sports, how could this support them at that level, that's really high physical level. 


Michael Brandt 27:22 

Okay, the really easy recipe is three parts carbs to one part, ketones, that a lot of people at this point are comfortable with having some sort of carb drink, whether there's a million powders and mixes and goo shots and all that, and we're familiar with, Hey, if you're biking hard, and after every 45 minutes have a have something that like really helped replete your metabolism because you're burning a lot of your on-deck energy, a really simple way to think about is like if you're having for every three grams of carbohydrates have a gram of ketones. So, the one way to think about this, if we're tracking is that like, the carbohydrate system in your body is parallel but different from the fat metabolism system. They're like two different, two different highways that go into your cellular metabolism. So, what we're doing here, when we're, we'll call it dual fueling with carbs and ketones is you're having carbs go through Highway A, and you haven't ketones through highway B. And you're basically able to parallelize and get more substrate into your cells. So, you're able to expend more energy at the same time. So that's textbook How are cyclist triathlete pro athletes in general partners will use it because it's interesting right? When you look at like modern carbohydrate supplements like your shot Morton's all that stuff, like the powders, the goo format, and the shot formats. What they're already doing, if you look at the ingredients is they're trying to have a breadth of types of carbohydrates. It's a similar type of mindset where you want to like to parallelize, you'll have like dextrose and fructose and glucose because there's like subtle differences in the pathways are still on the same major highway, but you can maybe think of those as like different lanes within that highway. So that's already where like the state of the art of, performance nutrition has been what's interesting about ketones is it opens up this whole other highway that is not gated on many of the same things it can essentially parallelize in. And you know, some of the key factors there is that your body is making ketones like you're turning fat into ketones, that that's a slow process. So, the ability to drink a ketone on top of the carbohydrates that you're eating just means you have more time for substrate availability. So, we like three-to-one, three parts, carbohydrates to one-part ketones. So that's all we do. I'm doing I'm running a triathlon this Sunday. And so, I'll be mixing in my water bottle on the bike. 


James Laughlin 30:12 

I love it and let's chat about this because you're a site and in my mind, you're a scientist, you're an entrepreneur, you're a businessman, but you're also using your product at a very high level, and demonstrating that it helps. So, let's talk about your marathon times. 


Michael Brandt 30:29 

Yeah, I'm a big runner. I came into the sport through biohacking. I have a computer science background, and I got into biohacking and looking at my body as a system. And hey, what is the API of the human body like if the smartphone was the technology of the past decade, the human body is the platform for the next decade. Plus, it's not just me saying, you can see the proliferation of whoop, aura, and Apple watches and continuous glucose monitors where our body has become a platform, and we're able to, it's like we've been driving with the dashboard lights off forever. Maybe you see them once a year, when you go to your doctor, maybe. And now all of a sudden, the lights are coming. And we're able to see our RPMs and how to fill our gas tank and what speed we're going. And at the same time, people are observing what's going on in their bodies and seeing their HRV and their sleep score, their blood glucose, and blood ketones. It only follows from there that people get more mindful about what they're putting into their bodies. Oh, I don't have caffeine after noon, because it interferes with my sleep score, which I can objectively see, oh, I don't have if I have a lot of sugar, I go for a walk afterward. Because I want to decrease my blood glucose. I don't like having constantly high ambient blood glucose that makes me feel itchy. And I know it's bad for me, and I can objectively see it when I wear that continuous glucose monitor for a couple of weeks. A couple of months ago, right? So that's I got into this space like a decade ago when we had to like order continuous glucose monitors off the gray market. And it wasn't it wasn't like as cool, sexy user experience that is today. And from there started getting into marathoning. I've always been athletic and going on runs I started just measuring okay, what is my heart rate? Okay, how can I start doing things on my runs? Where I would go like, Okay, how fast can I go while keeping my heart rate under 140 BPM? Okay, what's the difference when I run fast, versus when I run fully replete? Okay, well, there are actually two totally different training goals when I'm running fast, I'm not going to be very quick that day, but I am going to get a lot of metabolic flexibility. If two days later when I run, I run fully replete, okay, I'm going to get a lot of speed, my muscles are going to get really strong. And if I, if I vary between these types of workouts, then I get the complete picture where I have like, strong fast legs, but I also have my body able to run on an empty tank and solve the metabolic fuel side of the equation. So, I took this systems approach to my own running. And like I'm not like a marathon runner I run or sorry, I'm not an Olympic Marathon Runner, I run six minutes a mile for the marathon. So, I'm finishing the top 1% of a given marathon again, but not anywhere close. And I'm sure there are people listening to this podcast for whom the 242 marathon does that I don't know when they were in high school or something. But for me, I'm very I'm proud of it. I'm happy with the progress I've made there and like a few short years of cracking at this sport and being very biohacker systems thinking about the whole endeavor 


James Laughlin 33:56 

Oscar de la Renta put it perfectly. Fashion is about dressing according to what's fashionable. Style is more about being yourself. And that's one thing I always try to do is try to be myself whether I'm interviewing a former head of state, hanging with my family on the weekend, or working with some of my incredible clients. I try to always just be myself as much as possible. And part of that is dressing accordingly. But every now and then, a special occasion will call for some special fashion and I am by no means an expert on fashion. And that's why I'm delighted to partner with Munss. Munss is back and it's better than ever. Located in the beautiful tannery Emporium on Garland's Road in Christchurch. It offers a huge range for men with suits for hire and sale, ties, jeans, waistcoats, hats, sunglasses, and more. So, for all of your mandatory needs, head along a check out at munss.co.nz  


James Laughlin 

I love it! And I truly think that biohacking is starting to become part of our everyday conversation. And certainly, I'm seeing it with athletic teams, sports teams that I work with. But I'm also seeing those conversations unfold in boardrooms and in corporate team-building sessions. So, for someone who's thinking about looking at biohacking what is it and why is it valuable to a leader? 


Michael Brandt 35:25 

Yeah, that's such a good point. And I love the pill that you're driving between pro sports and the boardroom, I think is really apt, because pro sports are cool. And we'd love to watch it. And it's forever having its place in the social fabric, like watching people at the pinnacle of athletic performance. At the same time, you know, most people, unfortunately, are never going to be pro athletes. But I would say the boardroom or being a high-powered, white-collar worker is its own performance sport, you are still trying to operate at the absolute top of your game like the board meeting is the Super Bowl for you. The big pitch like selling your company like that is your Olympics and what's interesting is there's just like, a lot more people that are doing it, there's a lot more doctors and lawyers and entrepreneurs and people in that realm than there are of athletes. So, where we all watch and admire and are inspired by our favorite athletes. Where more directly applying it just everyday people is like, hey, I, you know, I sit down at my desk every day and I want to, you know, drive as much output as possible. We're all staring at this glowing rectangle, clicking and typing, playing the great online game, right? there's some permutation of clicks and taps that will make you a million dollars and some that will make you bankrupt and some that will make you a million dollars sooner, and some that will make you a million dollars and eventually, in 100 years, not that fast, like so it's all performance for like, Okay, how do I optimize this? How do I get the most productivity out of myself? And by Okay, so if we accept the premise that we're all performance, athletes, athletes in quotes, like we're all performance athletes, and in our regard, even in the white collar, professional realm, okay, biohacking is this idea. And the word biohacking I think, is kind of melting away. Because of exactly what you said, James, there is a, it's just going mainstream. So, like we're calling it. We don't have to call it that anymore. Like the early computer people in the 80s are hackers. And now we just all have a phone in our pocket. And it's like, you're not a hacker, just because you have a computer in your pocket. You're just it's just normal. There are a billion of them, like multiple billions of phones and pockets. I think we're getting there with biohacking where it Yeah, 5-10 years ago is like, oh my God, you sent away your cheek swab to get a genetic profile. Wow, oh, my God, you are measuring your glucose levels with this implant in your arm ongoing. That used to be outrageous. And now it's like, like, my aunt tracks her footsteps, and like, my neighbor down the block, measures his sleep score and is always posting about it, you know what I mean? It's crossed that chasm. So okay, this idea of biohacking, whether the term itself is like, evaporating ways that come mainstream or not just define it, is this idea of seeing your body as a system. And which it is, it's arguably the most advanced piece of technology you'll ever own is your own body. And we are understanding the outputs of our body, we're getting better sensors and wearables and insights into how our body is doing. And we're getting better inputs into that system, on the nutrition side to be able to modulate those intended outputs. And so being a biohacker, it's, you know, it's not I wouldn't say a binary thing. It's definitely a lot of shades of gray in the middle. It's like, how, how much do you want to apply your systems thinking to your own body as a system? How much do you want to optimize your own outputs what's interesting there, there are dozens of tools now at our fingertips for relatively affordable prices, where you're able to both on both sides of the equation, you're able to like, measure and monitor better on that side, and you're able to modulate the inputs better on the nutrition side. So, it's really exciting. time right now, I think. I think it's only accelerating, to be honest. 


James Laughlin 39:52 

I have to agree with you. The number of executives I see and they've got their wedding ring on and then they've got this other ring. I'm like, hey, then he has that aura ring. And they're like, yeah, they're so proud of it. And they're like, you know, you've got your zone, I love it, they are so proud of it. And I was like, tell me why you do that. And like, well, sleep is like the most important thing, and I want to measure it because I know when I do this, I can do this as an output it is quite amazing. So, in the executive, corporate, you know, white collar world coffee, certainly here in New Zealand. It's like the go-to and I've been in North America a lot in the UK, and that coffee is what we do in the morning. So, if we were to replace that with Ketone-IQ, what makes the benefits because I know for coffee, like with caffeine, I get the jitters sometimes I actually feel physically sick, which can impact my sleep, and I can be a little irritable later in the day. If I was to take Ketone-IQ instead, yes, it might not be as tasty as my coffee. Although when I first had coffee, it tasted like crap. So, I just became accustomed to it. So, what might be the benefits of Ketone-IQ versus the downsides of the coffee side of things? 


Michael Brandt 40:59 

It's interesting what you said, By the way, this is psychosomatically how we get used to a taste and it starts priming us that first sip of a gin and tonic. It already makes you feel something before the actual feeling of alcohol sets. And like the smell of the coffee seems to wake you up because it's priming you on this flavor that you know, when you were 14, whenever you had your first cup of coffee as you spit it out. But now that same taste psychosomatically you link it to a certain feeling of alertness in that case. Okay, it's for swapping Keaton IQ for coffee. Like, first of all, I'm not a diehard like anti caffeine person, I think a modest small amount of caffeine is good and like, not harmful and arguably beneficial, and the routine and all that around, but I'm talking about like a cup in the morning to kick start your day and you know, just get the engine going, I do think there is a steep fall off, where you start having three, four or five cups of days, you might want to revisit something more root level about what you're doing the sleep quality, you're getting the stress you're under and unpack what's going on there. So, there are a couple of different things you can do, right with ketone IQ, you can have it with your coffee. So, a lot of people are, are familiar maybe with this idea of bulletproof coffee, where you take coffee, and you put MCT, or you put grass-fed butter into your coffee. And the idea with those so MCT like we sell an MCT product too. MCT the whole, we didn't invent it, we have a really good one. But I don't want to take credit for inventing this whole category of MCT. What even is the point it's an MCT is a medium-chain triglyceride. Why is that interesting? It's because that particular type of fat converts relatively efficiently into ketones. That is why people eat MCT. That's why this whole bulletproof coffee thing exists because when you eat this type of fats, it converts relatively easily into ketones, but I say relatively because it's like a 10th is effective is drinking straight ketones is you're getting, you're having the pre the what's it called? It converts into ketones, but it's just like there's a drop off in the efficiency. So, this is like if that's what you're going for, I would say have that and also have just the direct ketone itself. And it's interesting how they stack together because caffeine itself is it's a drug, you could consider it as that because it's blocking your hormone you have adenosine as the sleep hormone and caffeine are blocking that very specific pathway. And so, you're, you're not feeling tired, and you are then feeling more alert. But caffeine itself doesn't have any calories it's not a metabolic substrate that carries no energy. So, you're stimulating your body and your brain but you're not providing it with any energy. It's like you're yanking it the chain of the lawnmower, but you're not giving it any actual gas. So, then that begs the question of, okay, where's the fuel coming from? And that's, that's where people like putting. That's where people like being in ketosis at the same time that they have their coffee, whether it's through a bulletproof coffee or taking a shot of ketone IQ. It's like, okay, I'm revved up. But I mean, the other option is you can have a Frappuccino and start your day off with a milkshake with 45 grams of sugar, and then that's going to be your gasoline, but I say that's very dirty gasoline and you're going to crash later in the day and you're going to want another one and you're not, you're not going to be feeling great and you're not going to be doing yourself any favors for your long term metabolic health if you're constantly spiking your sugar like that, so you can replace caffeine with ketone IQ. That's definitely something we see in our country. Usually, they have like, some Venn diagrams overlap of how they feel it's like the different feeling of energy, it's not exactly the same. But what I would say is we have a lot of people who kind of complement it. And a lot of times tends to be that bulletproof coffee type of crowd of people who like that smooth, even feel that they get it when they have some source of energy that is ketone-oriented and not sugar oriented. And that having that with a modest amount of caffeine seems to be this nice synergy of functionals that starts your day off really well. 


James Laughlin 45:37 

I'm seriously excited about the next four to five years, to see how ketone IQ plays out. Because I really feel like people are highly aware of what they're ingesting, and how it's impacting them. They're measuring things more than anything. And I truly feel that when we, you know, whatever we measure matters, when we measure anything, it actually matters to us. And so, when people are measuring sleep, they're measuring heart rate variance, then they want to be putting things in the other end that is supporting and empowering that. So, I have no doubt that there's going to be a huge swell of interest globally, in ketone IQ. And as that swells and grows, I guess I want to take you back to like the beginnings before that you get to that point where it's like globally exploding, and I know already, it's doing crazy, cool things. But why do you do what you do? 


Michael Brandt 46:25 

That's a great question. There are so many levels of answers to that. James, it's, I can break it into pieces. I think there's the more practical and then there's the more philosophical, what is the meaning of life type of answers. Is there did you can Do you intentionally leave it? Readers' choice here? 


James Laughlin 46:51 

Yeah, let's do this. Let's unpack the different pillars of that. I love that there's more than one. That's good. 


Michael Brandt 46:57 

Yeah, look, I, the job is to create shareholder value. And that's what I promised my investors and stakeholders, including employees, myself, and my family, already create a lot of value in a short period of time, ethically do something that, that creates a lot of value for the world. That part's exciting to me, and a fun problem to solve just on an intellectual level it gets. Yeah, I think we are solving a multibillion-dollar problem here because of everything connected to people's desire to want to perform better metabolic health crisis in general. And hey, we really shouldn't be eating so much sugar. And if this, we've created something here that helps you like reduce your sugar cravings and have something that it's essentially the opposite of sugar, it's essentially, like a good clean metabolic fuel. I think there are so many different ways to assess it and say, okay, like, there's, there's a reasonable chance that this is a big thing. Okay, so like that, that's one reason is solve, solve a big problem. And it's going back to that point earlier. Like, I think if you're solving a smallish medium-ish problem, it's, it's actually harder, like, the easy problems are hard problems, because we're doing an easy problem, there's not that much value to create around it. And then why should someone invest in you? And why should someone work with you, and it creates it actually like, like the hard problems or the easy problems, because like, everyone wants to, everyone could kind of get why it could be cool to solve world hunger or go to outer space? I do like these big, audacious problems, like, hey, maybe it'll work? Or maybe it won't? But like, that's audacious, and like, if that works, that's huge. And so, yeah, that is one reason is, I think, just looking at all of the macro trends, kind of superimposed the human body is a platform all your oops, and your auras and general interest. It seems like an efficient way to create value in a relatively short amount of time to solve really important problems in the world. I think going on the more philosophical side, it's that I want to be a conduit of what I see as good in the world. There are so many people before us and after us that have created beauty and that aesthetic sense and have created architecture and literature and music and I think the meaning of life is to take the signals that you think are positive and amplify those and try to if you can also turn down the volume on the signals that are not positive in the world and be a conduit for that unending stream of the universe just unfolding, like try to amplify the good vibrations like try to make something that is adding value, a lot of net value into the world but putting the kind of capitalists hat, shareholder maximization hat aside, like, I think there is some pretty good alignment where I think if you do the latter here if you like to create a lot of value for people and you're smart about it, you will also capture economic value. But I think in a more just touchy-feely philosophical sense that I want to do. That same feeling that I've been on the receiving end of like, it's really cool to have a computer that just works and like the internet's amazing. And while these running shoes are amazing, wow, flying an airplane is amazing. Like, it's all these amazing things that just walking down the street, like, wow, who paved this road? Like, if you put me on a desert island, I wouldn't even know how to make a number two pencil, like, you're just the recipient of this, like, the absolutely insane abundance of ingenuity that has come before us. I want to do my part of contributing to that stream of ingenuity. And there's, without even any ego, it's almost like that is the stream like that is the dance of life. And we're just dancing. And that's just the dance. There's no, there's not even like another option. That's that interesting. It's like, yeah, like that is what is. That is what we're all here to do. That is the dance. Let's just do it. Let's make cool, clever things in the world. 


James Laughlin 51:38 

Thank you for sharing that. I really, I really love hearing both aspects and both sides of what drives you. And for the person that's listening right now that's going, oh, I want the edge. Yes, I need that either, you know, physically or cognitively. I'm going to give Ketone-IQ a try and win the order right now. So, the University College of London did a study around habit installation, and how long it actually takes to install a habit to see the true benefits of the new habit that you're trying to install. Most people think it's 21 to 28 days, but the average time to install a new habit is 66 days. So, if I was to take ketone IQ for 66 days to a couple of months, you know what, I start to feel those benefits? Is it compounding or is it like, no, you'll have it today and within three hours, you'd like I'm a different person? What would you recommend in terms of like our bodies starting to feel the difference? 


Michael Brandt 52:35 

One of the cool things about it is it's both you'll feel it right away, you'll feel it in 15 minutes because you're and you could measure it to your blood ketone level would be elevated. So, if you have there's at home, ketone measurements, just like there are at-home glucose measurements, you can objectively see a lot of people who are into the deeper avenues of biohacking may be habits at home already. But yeah, there's breath ones, there are blood ones, there are urine ones, you can see your blood ketone levels, you just immediately have elevated ketone levels within 15 minutes. And most people feel that because your brain is going to start using that you will start doing metabolism on ketones in your brain. And for a lot of people that just feel like that kind of fresh feeling from waking up after a nap or that runner's high. And then and then habitually, like if you're doing this for 66 days, I think what you'll see I'm everyone's experience going to be a little bit different. But if it's helping you to reduce your cravings in general or cravings for sugary foods, if you're swapping it out for something else like that. If it becomes your go-to pick me up instead of something sugary, if there are a lot of different ways that can compound where you could just be having more hours of flow state in the day, it could be helping you to make it go 66 days of also having less sugar, you're just going to feel great, you'll probably be more shredded, you'll probably be more like have increased body comp. And there are a lot of different ways that these little lifestyle benefits can compound when you start really doing it habitually. 


James Laughlin 54:26 

I love it. And let's fast forward 12 months, you and I reconnect we have another conversation. Where are we at? What if you say James in the last 12 months has been incredible? It's been epic. This is what's happened what would have happened for you to say that? 


Michael Brandt 54:43 

We have a lot of exciting things going on. I would say what would make it incredible is I think I've laid out a lot of them, but the big picture kind of Galaxy brain idea here is like right now what we have is Ketone-IQ, we just drink a shot of ketones. What's planned up next on the docket is to use that as a platform and make other products off of it. So, the same way that you see a lot of products have CBD in them, for instance, right now, if we're doing our job, right, with ketone IQ, there's a lot of other products with that inside of it. And it starts being more like you can think about developing different opinionated product lines for like very, very specific applications, like the way that someone uses it for a certain sport. It might be different from another sport altogether. It might also be different from someone who's having it for more longevity benefits are someone who's having it for more appetite control benefits. And so, you can think right now we're just stoked because we have the pure primitive out on market. It's like the early days of electrolytes or like you had just Gatorade in the 1970s. You just had like the raw powder, the mix a giant vat of it. And now there's a lot of different instances of ways and brands of there's a lot of electrolytes, a lot of stuff now, early CBD was like tinctures right of pure hemp extract CBD, now it's in, the same thing, it's in beverages and bars and this and that. Same with protein, you can just go down the list of nutritional primitives. And if we do our job, then in a year, I will say it's yeah, like launching many of those with interesting partners. I think that's always a fun part of the job too there's only so much we can do directly as a brand but partnering with other people or bringing interesting other people into the fold to co-launch different spin-off brands together that are powered by Ketone-IQ, and having it really feel like a platform. That would be I think, a big win for us. 


James Laughlin 57:12 

I'm looking forward to having that conversation and celebrating those moments. 


Michael Brandt 57:17 

Thanks so much, James. Yeah, I appreciate it. 


James Laughlin 57:22 

Now, I've got one question, I always like to wrap up with this question. And before I ask, I just want to say a huge, thank you for sharing what Ketone-IQ is all about, and really going deep, being honest, being open about it, and committing the time that you do to developing a product that going to have a such great impact on people that use it. So the last question is this. So, we'll fast forward many, many years. It's your last day on earth. You know, you've got five minutes left, and someone very dear to you and your family who's very young to the young child, they come up to you. And they say, hey, Michael, where it might be dad or granddad? How can I lead my life with purpose? What would your advice to them be? 


Michael Brandt 58:19 

Well, I would say put smiles on other people's faces and maximize that. So, if you can do it, one on one interpersonally, that's already an amazing start. And then when you can start building businesses, communities, platforms, where you're able to make art or commercial goods, or what have you that put smiles on people's faces, even when you're asleep, even when it's people that you've never met, like, think about ways to even scale that out from there. But that the end goal is things like maximizing the area under the curve of smiles on faces, doing it one on one, doing it on any platforms that you're building, and seeing how much leverage you can build up to be able to create the most, most net smiles on faces on the planet. 


James Laughlin 59:19 

That's beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. That's a great piece of advice for that young person out there. And for the person that's listening right now that young or not so young, take that on board and think about what Michael just shared. And make, I'm going to make sure and put in the show notes where people can go and actually purchase Ketone-IQ where they can get in touch with your company and connect with you. But there's nothing like trying, thinking about trying it. Well, we don't really understand the concepts. I think, for me, it's okay, let's get it. Let's try it. Let's experience it. So, I'm very excited to see it grow and for everyone to give it a try. And I look forward to reconnecting again. Someday soon. 


Michael Brandt 59:54 

James Yeah. Looking forward to the next one. This is a lot of fun. 


James Laughlin 59:58 

Thanks a million. 


James Laughlin 1:00:15 

Thanks for tuning in today and investing in your own personal leadership. Please hit that subscribe button. And I'd love it if you'd leave me a rating and review. I've got some amazing guests lined up for you in the coming weeks. And leaders. It's that time to get out there and lead your life on purpose.