Josh Clemente (00:00):
Cool. All right, October 2nd, welcome everyone. I’m going to kick right off by introducing Dr. Ben Bikman. You’ve heard a lot about Ben, many of you have read his recent book, Why We Get Sick. But generally, I think Ben is at the forefront of what we’re doing here, and I’m just super excited to introduce him both to the Friday Forum, and as an advisor on the research team here at Levels.
Josh Clemente (00:25):
So Ben, if you want to just say a few quick words to the team, that would be awesome.
Ben Bikman (00:30):
Yeah thanks Josh, thanks for the introduction. I really am just tickled, I’m delighted to be a part of this group. I really admire the efforts you guys are taking to make this technology not only accessible, but also relevant by coupling the [CGM 00:00:46] with the analysis that you’re able to provide with Levels.
Ben Bikman (00:51):
A lot of my role, I imagine in addition to occasional quips and little bits of irreverent humor will be, at least this initial project that I’m working with Dan [McCaffery 00:01:03] on is to help understand why we have this paradoxical rise in glucose in some people who adopt a low carbohydrate diet. It’s not a universal phenomenon, but it’s one that pops up often enough. And then coupling that with some dynamic measurements of hormones related to glucose metabolism, to see whether the Levels app might at some point be able to extrapolate from the glucose levels to determine maybe an insulin curve or a hint of what hormones may be doing behind the scenes.
Ben Bikman (01:42):
My focus is as a scientist is insulin, ketones, mitochondrial functions, so if you’ve got any questions on that, ketones of course I’ll defer to Dom. I’ll back that up and say I’m a fat cell guy I guess, is the simplest way of defining my current focus.
Josh Clemente (02:01):
Amazing. Thank you for the intro, like I said, your book is required reading here at Levels, so most of us are quite familiar but it’s also awesome to have you as a resource. And for the team, this is a huge win for us to have both Dom and Ben on our Friday Forum and also on our research team. So this is just kind of a crazy moment for me to have both of you joining us and to be pushing this research forward, and thinking on the same wave lengths. So, thanks again.
Ben Bikman (02:32):
Yep, yeah. My pleasure, thank you.
Josh Clemente (02:34):
And Dom, thank you for jumping in. All right, so recent achievements. Big news as of 15 minutes ago is the Ben Greenfield newsletter went live, it’s our first major promotion. We’ve been talking about this for several weeks and working really hard to get things cleaned up so that we can process orders fast enough for the expected influx.
Josh Clemente (02:57):
So that newsletter just went up, you can see the partner landing page here that people are hitting and they can get access and we’re offering four week delivery. So that is a significant acceleration of where our standby list was a few weeks ago.
Josh Clemente (03:12):
A few things that needed to happen in order to be able to process orders at that pace were, we transitioned to Help Scout for all of our customer communication, so Miz and Mike and Mercy, and Laurie are all now operating out of a single dashboard for all of our communications. This has really streamlined things. And then also, Andrew set up a consult verification tool, which allows us to vet orders in advance very quickly, prior to them going out to [EHR 00:03:37].
Josh Clemente (03:37):
So our operation stuff has really improved over the past few weeks, and this is all necessary of course to be processing however many, it’s hard to predict orders we’re going to get coming in. We’re already rolling in off the Ben URL, so a lot of lessons to be learned in the next week.
Josh Clemente (03:55):
We are still moving forward with due diligence on our big round. A few major strategic investors are going to be joining us. It’s quite an over-subscribed situation right now, which is a good place to be in. So I’ll let Sam speak to the financial stuff, but just a quick update there.
Josh Clemente (04:10):
We put on Jack Taylor, which is one of the largest PR firms out there and the most successful. They run PR and outreach for WHOOP, and have really been amazingly successful at getting large placements for WHOOP as they started to roll out their more consumerized product. So it’s great to be working with them, I expect some really cool press development in the coming weeks.
Josh Clemente (04:32):
We had a really exciting call with United Health Group. Two folks on their team, Brad and Shane are both in the R&D side, and it was amazing to hear directly from them exactly how aligned they are with getting CGM out there to the masses for a cover program. And to them it’s entirely about behavior change. They have a ton of programs that are intended to introduce behavior change, but they admitted that most of them really don’t work, and they want to see real objective data that shows, they understand that CGM information is relevant, but the way that it’s presented to the end user is key in all of this. And so it’s really exciting that such a behemoth like UHG is thinking so forwardly about this and more to come there.
Josh Clemente (05:16):
Lastly, we signed a partnership agreement with Mike [Barwis 00:05:19] this week. We’ve been talking about him for quite some time as well, he’s one of the biggest names in pro sports training, and you could see, I think Tom’s going to give us an update here. But all of these professional sports logos across here, these are athletes streaming into the program, mostly from the NHL, but we also got major league baseball, some Olympians, all coming through quite quickly through that partnership with Mike. And this is going to be like a press advertising, and also just generally a really good opportunity for data on elite athletes.
Josh Clemente (05:50):
A few other items I wanted to touch on, Dave [Asprey 00:05:55] is going to be getting more involved with the team, potentially as an investor and/or advisor. He’s very excited about what we’re doing and has loved the product. And let’s see, some really exciting stuff here on the product front, I’ll let David speak to it. But this graph mode exploration here showing all of the different dynamic metrics that can be displayed from data. So taking what we currently have under the metabolic score and just showing some few sub-metrics, and then turning into a dynamic reporting system. So, I’ll let David dig in there, but this exploration and the full scale mock-up that he built is really exciting, so definitely take a look at that.
Josh Clemente (06:33):
And then of course, I want to highlight that we have people striking up organic conversations in Tokyo about how enthusiastic they are about Levels. We’re obviously not live in Tokyo, so this is quite exciting to be resonating around the world right now. So, another great week. Any questions on any of this stuff?
David Flinner (06:52):
Kind of glad we got the Levels handle too on Instagram.
Josh Clemente (06:56):
All right, touching quickly data trends. So since last Friday, we’ve moved about 150 orders into the EHR process, and 120 of those have shipped out. You can see the projections for the next few weeks, this is going to approximately double to close to 300 orders per week. These are the projections based on the accelerated standby list that we’ve implemented. So basically orders that are coming in today for the Ben Greenfield newsletter, will be processing about three weeks from now.
Josh Clemente (07:26):
We’ve also got our leader board for the partner codes, Kevin Rose is still blowing everyone else away with about $85,000 in revenue from a single episode, and no real meaningful followup marketing on that. So quite exciting. We’ve got a couple of our lead investors down there, Todd and Raul, and Lenny are both pulling their own weight, so anyone watching this, feel free to try and compete. Sam.
Sam Corcos (07:50):
Yeah. On the financial side, we have 2.7 in cash, we’re in a really good position, and as Josh mentioned, we’re in diligence. The historic monthly revenue, you could see our September numbers are going to be a lot bigger than anticipated. We’re generating a lot of cash and October is getting started. Next slide.
Sam Corcos (08:22):
Weekly revenue, we had another really good week. This week I think is going to probably set another record, so let’s see how that goes. And monthly revenue, we blew up our September numbers and October is going to be another record month. So this is revenue that’s already, we’ve already received. So we’re on track to do over 200,000 next month, for this month, it’s October now. So things are on track.
Josh Clemente (08:53):
For context, you can see May down there at about one tenth, so 10% of where we are today. So this is a very fast moving development, which is pretty shocking to see how quickly things are accelerating.
David Flinner (09:09):
This is driven a large part because we pulled those orders forward, right?
Sam Corcos (09:12):
Yep, that’s right.
Josh Clemente (09:14):
Yeah. That’s a good point. Just to clarify, we did accelerate our standby list, we had eight week delivery times and because we’re ramping up these promotions with Ben Greenfield and Bulletproof in particular, among others. We wanted to provide fast delivery times for their customers. So we’ve accelerated everything, we’ve deliberately overclocked our projections here. It’s TBD what happens from October beyond, the next few months, but this is a lesson that we’re going to learn, we’re going to see how these convert, learn a ton about audiences and conversion rates. So, don’t be surprised if things get a little interesting in a few weeks, it’s going to be a good overall lesson learned. Any other questions on revenue stuff? Cool.
Josh Clemente (10:04):
All right. Still on the recruiting path, we’re looking to close those two big requisitions. Right now the head of content search is moving quite quickly. We’ve got two really good candidates right now who have deep editorial experience in magazines like Business Insider, Tech Side and Popular Science. So a lot of experience generating great content across multiple platforms. And we have a lot of good candidates coming through in our head of marketing and growth roles. So yeah, working on that. It’s definitely a deliberate process, but I think we’re honing in on some really great candidates.
Josh Clemente (10:44):
This week it was great on Twitter as always. A lot of people, very big name people Rahul Vohra who run Superhuman, Sindi Pichu who runs, I think Felisotas is the name of his firm.
Sam Corcos (10:56):
[Felisas 00:10:56], yep.
Josh Clemente (10:58):
Felisas. And then Micheal Arrington who runs TechCrunch. So all these folks are using our program, they’ve got deep product and development experience. They’ve seen many, many very interesting products in their day, and they’re all very enthusiastically involved in, and using Levels and posting about it, which is exciting. And a couple of these folks have decided to invest with us as well, because they see just tremendous promise for the future. So this has been as usual, a great week on Twitter.
Josh Clemente (11:23):
We’ve also had continued awesome user engagement on Instagram. It’s really interesting the way Instagram and Twitter kind of break down. Twitter seems to be a lot of theorizing about the future of this technology, and Instagram is the actual demonstration, the social proof of people using this every day and learning from it. So it’s so cool to see people running these comparisons, seeing how eating a lot of fruit on an empty stomach versus after lunch, how that differs in their blood sugar response, the uptake of that sugar into their bloodstream. And learning these pretty, honestly quite complex metabolic and physiologic concepts, just from their own bodies in a few minutes.
Josh Clemente (12:07):
So over to Tom.
All right, so big week on sales and marketing front in general. On the podcast front, we had one show released, one recorded, three secured. Most notably we officially scheduled Bulletproof Radio for January 13th with Josh. The episode will be released a couple of weeks later, end of January, so that’s huge. This will definitely be our largest sales or marketing promotion at the time. And as Josh mentioned, Dave may be getting more involved with the company as well on an advisor/investor relationship, which should be really exciting.
Josh Clemente (12:50):
Yeah, the copy there is just a place holder obviously. We’re not a software platform, oh we are a software platform, but not for running business.
Yes, exactly. And then Josh mentioned the biggest news this week is that Ben Greenfield’s newsletter went out about a half an hour ago. Orders are already starting to roll in, I think we’ve got 10 or 15 orders come in immediately, which is a really great sign. This is the newsletter that you’re reading right here, this is part of it. A couple of more awesome paragraphs. Dom, you get a shout out as well, as a multi-time Ben Greenfield guest. And as Josh mentioned, this is just going to be really interesting to monitor over the next few days, just in terms of understanding conversions with Ben’s channel, as well as a lot of similar channels that are going to be big revenue drivers for us over the next year, really.
And this also represents our first formal affiliate relationship using a new software that also went live today, and appears to be functioning well, which is huge. So shout out to Andrew and David, Josh and Miz, and really the whole team for getting ready for this promotion.
Josh Clemente (14:00):
It’s pretty rare for a company to be able to roll up Ben Greenfield as their first proof of concept affiliate.
Definitely right, cool. Also as Josh mentioned, we are formally bringing on a world class PR firm, Jack Taylor, they’re going to be starting October 15th. Really helping us ramp up over the next three months prior to publicly launching in January. Their bread and butter is traditional media, editorial placements, so I think New York Times, Men’s Health, et cetera. But they’re also going to be helping along many other fronts, podcasts, influencers, brand partnerships, events, et cetera. And they’ve done a phenomenal job with WHOOP, they’ve come highly recommended from our investors as well as the CEO of WHOOP. And that spreadsheet screenshot on the right gives you a sense of the amount of coverage that they’ve gotten for WHOOP. That’s just like a two week period. So, hopefully we see similar results in the coming months.
And then Josh mentioned this as well, but we signed, covered our first larger brand partnership with Mike Barwis, and the Barwis family of companies. So again, Mike is a very big name in the professional sports world, particularly sports training. He manages both performance as well as medical across a couple of cross sports teams and has worked with really all star level athletes across many major sports. So we’re really excited to formally affiliate with Mike. They already, as of this morning, are tweeting about us. That picture right there is on an NHL player and Olympian Jack Johnson, who’s got Levels on, and he’s training down there this morning actually, which is really cool.
And the main value of the partnership is really two fold here. We’re getting access directly to Mike’s network, which is an incredible network. So a lot of high level athletes are going to be wearing Levels in the next few weeks. And then we’re going to be generating a lot of marketing content, just telling the story around Levels being applied in this setting. So a lot more to come on this front.
Josh Clemente (16:16):
Awesome. Any questions on those three topics? Great. Megan, do you want to go ahead and take this one?
Sure. Just a quick plug here, we are going to be doing a few more different types of content on Instagram. So one of the things we want to feature is food comparisons. You can already see that tons of people are already sharing these organically, so we want to just bring this education to our page. What I am doing is requesting all of you to help test different experiments, since I can’t test all of these on our own.
What you see here on the side is, you guys all probably follow Glucose Goddess or have seen some of the comparisons she does. We want a much more elegant, pretty, on brand version of this, which our design team has helped mock-up on the right hand side. And so what I will need in order to create all these little assets is some screenshots of you doing some of these experiments.
So after this forum, I’ll share in the general Slack channel a Google sheet where we’ve listed and brainstormed out a bunch of different experiments. You can sign up for one, you can suggest something different, you can submit something you’ve already done. And if the experiment involves a meal, just pick a photo of your meal, so that we have that asset for the Instagram post.
And then afterwards, to make it really simple, just send me the screenshot preferably from an iPhone 11, but I can probably work with other assets as well via Slack or email or however you want to get it to me, and then I’ll take care of the rest.
So I wanted to get this out today since I think weekends are a great time for self experimentation, so feel free to sign up and let me know if you have any questions.
Josh Clemente (18:04):
Awesome. Thanks Megan. A lot of people love Glucose Goddess’ work, who are not currently using [C-Gym 00:18:12], because it helps give them some rule of thumb guidance. So this is another thing that we can really help with, is just educating people on specifically what helps and what doesn’t in terms of metabolic control. And it gets people thinking about the product, and ultimately it could be a marketing channel. But more importantly, just educating people about metabolic health is kind of what we’re here to do.
Josh Clemente (18:33):
Okay, a quick ops update. Miz, I’ll let you take this one.
Great. So introducing some new op slides, this is the first one. But I’ve heard through the forum that there might be, or through the cafés, that it would be helpful to have some more objective data on order volume, how we’re tracking. So, we have tried to make some of those numbers more digestible for the whole team. So stay tuned for that.
But on the subjective side, the big theme here is everything we can to make sure that we’re ready for this increase in orders, kind of the next phase of Levels. So, until now everything’s been fairly bespoke, a lot of really hard work from Laurie, from Mike, from Mercy, the move orders through the flow. And so we’re actually manually filling orders, we’re manually approving consults, all these kinds of things. So these big changes will help us get there faster to get away from that handholding of each order through the flow.
So first off, Andrew helped us launch this really cool order validation dashboard earlier this week. Before now, orders were going directly from customer consult forms, directly to physicians. And there were a lot of hick-ups in the process that then slows down order fulfillment for physicians and for customers. Things like a selfie wasn’t present, or the photo of the ID was completely blurry, or they uploaded two selfies and no ID. Or their date of birth was incorrect, or their name is typoed. So all of these things we can catch before they get to a physician, so that physicians can just see accurate complete consults, similar to a nurse seeing a patient before they go through, make sure all the information is in the right place, and then we get those orders filled. So that dashboard is live, thanks Andrew for the really quick work on that, it’s beautiful and it does the job. Nice retail dashboard there.
Second thing quickly is that we’ve moved over to Help Scout from Zendesk [inaudible 00:20:13] some of these other tools, we’re going to be consolidating in there. If you want to see a glimpse of some of the tickets coming through the Slack channel support firehose, has all the tickets just flowing all day long. So you can kind of get a sense for what customers are saying, what kind of questions we’re answering, and some other changes that come along with that chat app and some of the other updates for knowledge access and just kind of deflection of self service topics.
And now on the right, upcoming changes. Some automation coming, we’re going to prepare to increase our fulfillment volume with [inaudible 00:20:43] and make sure that orders are going out as we expect them to, both in terms of quality and numbers. And finally physician network expansion. We have a number of states covered, but we’re pretty reliant on a few specific physicians, just seeing what we can do to expand the network and just get full coverage. And also a little bit of scalability as well. That’s it.
Josh Clemente (21:04):
Awesome. Any questions on these exciting ops updates? Cool, all right. Mike.
Mike Mizrahi (21:16):
Awesome, thanks Josh. Another great week of user excitement and engagement. Seen some consistent themes and just two quick things I want to highlight that are on my mind, especially with the partnerships that we have coming up, and the increased throughput are definitely getting started, but then more so on my mind is the educational components and bridging that gap. I know we have a lot of great things planned, I know we rolled out the cards and allies. A video should definitely help here for sure.
Mike Mizrahi (21:57):
But definitely we want to continue to think about how we’re delivering this information. We had some interesting suggestions from some users like an audiobook version of our content, or maybe a miniseries with the team put out their different experiences. Whether it’s KC with living a plant based lifestyle or Josh, how he was able to take control of his energy. It’s definitely something to consider. I read a really interesting book about leadership this past week, and it talks about many things. But also the importance of understanding why we do things. And it’s one thing to want to come into Levels, whether it’s I want to lose weight, but actually understanding why I’m doing it is bridging that gap is really important. And I think we still have some opportunities to improve here.
Mike Mizrahi (22:54):
And then really quickly, just to wrap up, whoops, sorry about the background noise. As I always conclude, on the right is a message, someone has tried to signup using their HSA card and we let them know that currently obviously it’s not accepted with Levels, and they were just super excited and said, “No problem. I figure that hey, every time I purchase something like this, I am voting to definitely increase the awareness of preventive medicine.” So, super excited.
Josh Clemente (23:32):
Well, any questions on customer success stuff this week?
That part on firing the nutritionist is interesting in the last bullet there.
Josh Clemente (23:41):
Yeah, I think we’ve heard that a few times now, people dropping their nutritionist because they realize that personalized recommendations can’t be personalized without the data. And then I also really love the comparison to closing the rings for Apple Watch. This is, Sam has been talking a lot about Levels in the zeitgeist and closing the rings is in zeitgeist. It’s people are getting their steps in, that’s now a term in Merriam Webster Dictionary.
Josh Clemente (24:13):
I think flattening glucose or, what was the term? Timing range, Sam that you’ve been using?
Sam Corcos (24:18):
I’ve been trying all of them.
Josh Clemente (24:21):
Yeah, we’re honing in on the metabolic equivalent. So look forward to that being added to the dictionary as well. All right, David.
David Flinner (24:31):
Awesome. Mike mentioned that people are asking questions about exercise dislike. So it’s on the slide, but internally we’re testing out the automatic detection of strenuous exercise, due to your heart rate, calculating the max HR for that. So, if you haven’t already, please try that out, excited to get that live to customers. I think that’s going to help a lot of those kinds of questions.
David Flinner (24:52):
And this week, we are launching Streaks. So hat tip to Jim Lu and Orio. You can see a demo gif here on the left, where we’re piloting it right now in the calendar picker, where we’ll string together all of your days in a row with a metabolic square of 80 or higher. So you can see if you’re in an optimization mode, to help celebrate and keep yourself motivated and accountable for Streaks like that.
David Flinner (25:19):
We also pushed live the dawn effect detection, so congratulations Evin on that one. That’s going to be really helpful. I think a full third of our customers will be getting a dawn effect card at some point in their first two weeks, so that’s going to provide a lot of context for why they’re seeing these unexpected morning rises.
David Flinner (25:36):
And then our midi projects that have been, are really going to move the needle for us are approaching completion. I know Jeremy is putting the final touches on the persisting zones project and testing some of the edge cases. We’re now actually saving all zones to the database, and not dynamically rendered and generated on the fly. Now we’re just comparing the dynamically generated versions with the persisted ones on our database. So hopefully that’s going to go live soon. The event detection is similarly in final stages here. So excited to start testing those out.
David Flinner (26:10):
The event detection is going to be a huge one where customers who maybe forgot to log or didn’t realize that they hadn’t had logged, we can now push them a notification saying, “Hey, something significant happened. What happened here?” And they can go in and with a single tap, add a log retroactively, and naturally useful for helping to tie that loop on a significant event that would have gone unnoticed otherwise.
David Flinner (26:30):
And then as Josh alluded to the graph mode concept. One thing, I’ve been taking a step back this week and thinking through our Q4 or Q1 product strategy, and as part of that, I kind of went down a rabbit hole into graph mode, which is a long time concept that we’ve had. And it’s sort of a separate simulan module that you can think of it is like, it’s a reporting platform, it’s an area that lets people go deeper into Levels insights. But I think Levels really has multiple stages of progressively revealed information. So at the highest level on your dashboard, you want to have the simplest to understand, crystal clear insights.
David Flinner (27:07):
And then you may be asking why? That’s an interesting thought. Levels might tell me, “It looks like you have a problem, an opportunity area on Saturdays between 6:00pm and 10:00pm over the last four weeks.” And then show you a graph about that. And then that’s simplified and easy to understand, but then if you want to drill into it and figure out what’s driving that, you would tap it and then you might get a report. Or you might dive into graph mode.
David Flinner (27:34):
So graph mode is a service that we’re envisioning that you can reach from an inside card, or the simulan module where if you just want to dive into the data, you can do that. This is just one feature of many, but assuming that I had some time to work on and I wanted to demo that. So Josh, you can go to the next slide real quick.
David Flinner (27:51):
And I will quickly share my screen. So as the gif showed, just a couple things that I like here, you can choose a metric and this is all open to change, this is very conceptual, even though it looks like high fidelity. But a couple of concepts, day, week, month, they’re all certainly different, you can interact with them in different ways. If you tap the month, you’re going to see your average, and this comes from a monthly report, if you’ve seen that PDF. You can also do comparisons, so compare to the previous month, that comparison persists as you change the different aggregation mode. And it’s relevant to what you’re seeing, so if it’s a month, it’s simple to see this line, on the day, you might see the two specific glucose lines.
David Flinner (28:39):
If you wanted to, this is a Monday, so you’re like, well how do I typically do on Mondays? Well, you can do compare to Mondays, and then you can see is there any trend here on that day. So here you can see that this Monday had a higher evening spike and Levels might be able to tell you your Monday afternoon average is lower than your typical Monday. Maybe this will tell you too, that your early morning rise is driven by the late night snacking.
David Flinner (29:06):
Something else I wanted to call out was they’re all visually different. So we can see this area into the curve, a new possible metric exposure would show you exactly how much glucose were you running through your system, versus high glucose events. How many times did you spike [inaudible 00:29:25]. That kind of thing. Or in day mode, we might actually just annotate the graph to show you, here’s the high glucose event, here’s your peak, things like that.
David Flinner (29:34):
So what’s not shown here is how it relates to your food logs, which we’re thinking through, but this is, the main concept I wanted to get across was showing you all the different metrics, how they relate to each other, what the trends are, et cetera. So I’ll be playing around with that, and to me it’s too complicated right now, I want to simplify it more. But I wanted to give you a quick demo of what my thoughts were. That’s it, any questions?
Sam Corcos (29:59):
Josh Clemente (30:00):
Yeah, that’s awesome.
Mike Mizrahi (30:04):
Also really quickly, I just want to say I tested the strenuous auto detection this morning, I ran the last couple of miles at a tempo pace, and it worked like a charm.
David Flinner (30:15):
Josh Clemente (30:16):
That’s awesome. Yeah, it’s huge. That is for people who are catching up on how we’re currently pulling heart rate data in. We currently can pull in workouts from health kit, but this new, we have a flag so you can go in and manually say, “This was strenuous.” To avoid a negative metabolic score if you had a blood sugar spike caused by your workout. Now this detection mode allows us to actually interpret the heart rate data. That’s just a huge step forward. That is the first, I think it’s the first directional change from passively bringing data out to actively modifying zones, as a result of other activity data. So sleep is next.
Josh Clemente (31:03):
Okay, we’ve gotten to the end of individual contribution section. Again, 10 seconds each on something we’re excited about. Gabriel.
Yeah, so on the Levels site, I’m really excited about the heart rate monitoring. I got a heart rate monitoring watch just to be able to test it out with Levels. So I’m so excited about that.
On the personal side, I’m doing this massively multiplayer live coffee tasting things tomorrow. I think Andrew and Hal are also doing, so I’m excited about that.
Josh Clemente (31:32):
That sounds amazing. Looking forward to updates. Mercy.
I’m excited the weather is finally nice, its been raining the whole week, and I will have a new nephew as of Wednesday of next week. So that’s exciting.
Josh Clemente (31:48):
Yes it is. Laurie.
Every time I’m here, I’m just excited to hear the different aspects, I don’t see them, I’m following orders and dealing with customers, and it’s overwhelming how great everything’s going. And that’s exciting.
I have an older dog, we rescued him about seven years ago, and he was probably eight, they weren’t sure. And he’s getting older, it sounds a little sad but I’m excited to spend more time with him. He’s blind, he’s deaf, he’s precious, he’s not in any pain, but I don’t know, it’s like nurturing this little thing that’s coming to the end of his life. And I’m really enjoying every minute I have with him. So maybe I’ll put a couple of pictures of him up. He’s a sweetheart. But even though I’m watching him slowly pass, it’s a precious time, so right now he’s kind of in the forefront of my mind. His name is Jasper.
Josh Clemente (32:55):
It’s really nice. I’m sure, yeah, you should throw some pictures up in Slack. I think we even have a channel for this.
Josh Clemente (33:04):
All right. Skipping to Dom.
Sorry about that. Yeah, I have a lot of things I’m excited about. On the education outreach front, working on a three part blog series that will describe my personal CGM experience with Levels. So putting the data together for that. And I did a lot of podcast, I’m not sure exactly on whose track when they’re going to come out, but I mentioned Levels on pretty much all of them, and I’m really excited about the research front with Florida Medical Clinic.
Josh Clemente (33:41):
Ben Bikman (33:44):
Yeah. Hey guys, this is just so well done. Josh, if you’re the one who puts these meetings together, good for you. Having been in so many meetings, if our faculty meetings were this tightly run, man, we’d be taking over the world as a university.
Josh Clemente (33:59):
Group effort, but thank you.
Ben Bikman (34:02):
Yeah, this is great. So I’m excited about the potential of getting human data as any basic scientist can attest. One of the frustrations is we’re always limited in the conclusions we can make with the relevance to humans. When you’re working with cells and rodents, there’s always the lingering question of, well, what does it do in humans? And so I’m thrilled at the opportunity to be able to partner with Levels to do some human experiments. And I think we’re going to be able to get some really useful data.
Ben Bikman (34:32):
I am personally conflicted, but I’ll say thrilled that the kids are able to go back to school a little more now than they were, I have three little kids. And when my wife and I are the principles of our home school, it’s kind of a hellish time, to be perfectly frank. So I’m glad that cooler heads are prevailing and kids can go to school. I miss them, but I’m thrilled that my full-time mommy wife has a little more free time to go mountain biking, which she wants to do.
Ben Bikman (35:02):
Also one last thing, I finally did a freestanding handstand pushup, which is something I’ve been trying to do since I turned 40 a few years ago. I can now finally hold that damn handstand for about 20 seconds. I haven’t been able to put my nose to the ground, but I’m going to get there. Anyways, so it was a big week in that regard, purely selfish, but I’ve got those kinds of goals.
Josh Clemente (35:27):
We’ll have to get you in the Slack chat, in the fitness Slack chat with us, post some pictures of that.
Ben Bikman (35:33):
Yeah, maybe. All right, anyway that’s all I’m excited about. Thanks again.
Josh Clemente (35:37):
Thanks a lot Ben. Miz.
On the professional side, excited about all the progress we’re making, step by step, a lot of really small improvements but that’s kind of what it is. It’s not like one big bang and we reach new level, it’s all these little incremental improvements along the way. So its been great working with Mercy, with Laurie, little pointers here and there that then each of them run with in awesome ways. So you guys are doing awesome, and that’s really cool to see the impacts of it on the customer side.
On the personal side, I got my father through the consult process, he’s in dangerous pre-diabetes/type two diabetes ranges and he’s always been trying to control it for many years and hasn’t been able to get a handle on it. He’s super engaged and excited about this, and I think that there’s some promise there. So the impact on personalize is real and I’m excited to see the results there and make a difference.
Josh Clemente (36:31):
Awesome. Several of us have had our parents experiment with CGM and I think with great success this far, its really been amazing how quickly it can flip someone like my dad who really doesn’t care to pay attention to your typical blood testing markers and such. But the gamification of having it on his phone in realtime was really exciting to him, and he was quite engaged. So looking forward to hearing about that. Tom.
My mom just got in the mix as well as of this last week. So I’m really excited about that. Professionally, got to go with Greenfield officially going live this week, and I’m just super pumped that it seems to be working. I can be neurotic about these things, I think I emailed them about 10 times in the last three days just checking that they have the right link and they had to tell me to cool it because they have the right link. So really excited about that.
And then personally, I got tuna and tucket last night with some friends, so really excited to be here. Had another kind of Levels small world moment last night where one of the people in the house was asking about the company and was like, “It sounds like it’s kind of like WHOOP, but for glucose.” And it turns out she played field hockey at Princeton under Christian Holmes. He’s one of the execs at WHOOP. So then we all got to talk about glucose and metabolic health for three hours, much to the frustration of my friends who have heard far too much about my company. But it was great.
Josh Clemente (37:59):
Hammer it into the zeitgeist at all cost. So this week, just the conversations with UHG, United Health Group is so awesome. The pace of progress from a year ago, the type of conversations that we were having or that I was having with companies versus right now, it’s just staggering. They come into the conversation saying, “We know a lot about you. We’re really impressed with what you’re doing, and we really want to work together.” Is essentially how this is going.
Josh Clemente (38:28):
And specific to the manufacturers, I think they’re finally opening up to the real potential here and thinking about ways to maximize the pace of progress into the world of wellness. And that’s very different as well from a few months ago, for sure. So it’s exciting to hear some of the integrations that they’re building out and some of the hardware that’s coming soon, very awesome.
Josh Clemente (38:54):
Personally, I’m on a road trip right now with my girlfriend and we’re in Colorado heading up to Wyoming and then Montana, and its been really nice, and the weather is incredible. I saw the Aspens up at 10,000 feet of elevation yesterday on our hike, and it was incredible. So enjoying it. Mike.
Mike Mizrahi (39:14):
Yeah, this is definitely always hard to cram this in. But definitely I have to mention the Greenfield partnership. I think we first connected with them in March, and then to see things come together so quickly, it’s like a huge milestone.
Mike Mizrahi (39:31):
And then I think I said this last week, but just to work with people, especially people like Dom and Ben, it wasn’t long ago I remember listening to Dom on Joe Regan, and now everyone I talk to I say, “Go read Ben’s book or I can’t talk to you again.” So it’s just super exciting, and I listened to a recent podcast on Jeff Woe and Rob Wolf, and just hearing them talk about this related space, it’s exciting to be leaders in this industry. So, pretty awesome.
Josh Clemente (40:07):
For sure. Sam.
Sam Corcos (40:10):
For me I had a conversation with my father this week, one of the things that I’m most excited about is that he’s been using Levels for several months and he’s still discovering things that are surprising. He sent me a screenshot that he had what he has been led to believe is the healthiest possible breakfast, which is a bowl of grape nuts. And he had the biggest response he’s ever seen and for the first time, maybe ever, looked at the box and realized that the serving that he had was almost 150 grams of sugar and refined carbohydrates. And realized that maybe the whole, he assumed it was healthy because they taste bad. So whatever fiber or whatever that they add to it was clearly insufficient.
Sam Corcos (41:01):
So, it’s interesting, its been very positive to see that even people who’ve been using this for a long time are still discovering things that they didn’t know before.
Josh Clemente (41:09):
I am so excited about Ben Bikman joining, it’s almost like a celebrity crush. I’ve listened, Ben if you’re still on, I’ve listened to that podcast that you did on the Genius Life.
Ben Bikman (41:24):
Now you’re making me regret it, things are getting awkward.
No joke, I’ve probably listened to it 10 times at 0.8 speed, literally trying to memorize everything I can learn about insulin resistance. And then I’ve been trying to translate the knowledge to my reluctant father who is a retired pediatrician, and very kind of in denial type two diabetes. So it has had a profound impact on my life. I’ve also started a metabolic fitness playlist on my Spotify, if anyone wants podcast recommendations.
I’m also really excited about the affiliate program launching and just making similar progress on prioritizing the types of partners who you work with this week with Sam and Tom, a little bit. I’m starting to reach out to another category of affiliates, specifically gyms and facilities, fitness facilities to see if that’s a channel we’d like to test.
And on a personal front, I guess similar to Andrew, I’m a palatitis instructor and I haven’t been able to teach for the past six months. Our studio just opened up last week, and even though I’m teaching with a mask on, its been really, really great to be back in the studio and back with my clients.
Josh Clemente (42:34):
Nice. All right, Hal, wrap us up.
Yeah, Dr. Bikman definitely a superstar in keto community, and I’m really glad you’re joining us. And for engineering side, I’m really excited we’re going to host a [inaudible 00:42:50] test probably Monday, and that’s going to be fun.
And personally, other than the coffee tasting tomorrow, I’m finally picking up my ski boots I ordered back in February before everything shut down. So I’ll need to bring my skis for some fitting today.
Josh Clemente (43:13):
Awesome. Love it. All right, thanks everybody. We’re going to jump to Gabriel for the story of the day. Gabriel, let me know if you want to share your screen or how we should do this.
Yeah, I’d like to share my screen, I have some slides. Can people see my screen?
Josh Clemente (43:28):
Okay, great. Okay, so for my personal share, I’m going to talk about lichen, because I think lichen is really cool and not talked about enough. Some of you might see and notice when you’re out hiking in the forest. So yeah, let’s talk about lichen for about six minutes.
Liken all of the lichenology. So what is lichen? Lichen is a mutualistic organism combining a fungi and algae, or cyanobacteria. The word symbiosis was actually coined to describe lichen, which I didn’t know. And the algae or the cyanobacteria lives within the hyphal strands of the fungus and produces food and nutrients, which the fungus can absorb. And the fungus provides structure and protection from weather and UV radiation and better access to water by absorbing water and releasing it.
Something else I didn’t know was that unlike saprophytic or a parasitic fungi which kind of decompose the substrate they grow in, lichens typically don’t. They just kind of hang out, occasionally absorbing trace minerals, basically existing on the substrate and photosynthesizing and absorbing water. All these photos in the background by the way are photos that I went out to my local grave yard to take as research for this talk.
So what makes them interesting? Why are we talking about them? Number one, they’re like a pioneer species, typically the first species to grow on bare rock, so I think that’s pretty cool. All you need is like a big smooth bit of granite and a little fungal spore lands on the rock, and you get lichen. The fact that they’re a pioneer species also means that they’re thought to contribute to soil creation, by very gradually decomposing rock by releasing organic acids. So that’s pretty cool. There’s a little bit of controversy in the literature about how big of a role they play in creating [inaudible 00:45:48] soil, but they play some role. So that’s pretty cool.
They’re also really, really old. There’s a sample of the map lichen, like a living sample that was dated as being 8,600 years old. So by some definition, it’s like the oldest organism in the world. There’s a little bit of controversy around that because you [inaudible 00:46:09] problem, how do you define a single lichen because it grows [inaudible 00:46:16]. But still by definition, really, really old.
They can also survive in space. The International Space Station had samples, an array of lichen samples on its exterior wall that opened while in orbit and exposed them to vacuum and extreme weather fluctuations and cosmic radiation, and then took them back in and saw how many survived. And 70% survived, which I think is pretty cool. I think I’d be pretty impressed if they’re in space for a week, they were in space for one and a half years totally exposed, and then still lives after that time. Pretty cool.
I went out to the grave yard and took those photos. I then decided those weren’t terribly interesting, so I looked back through my old travel photos and just found some that had lichen in them. So here’s a selection of lichens from my travels. Here are some Cape Elizabeth Maine, this was taken by the ocean. Here’s a photo from Japan, from Hirayu Onsen, there are mosses on the bottom, but the top rock has a lot lichen around the hot water pipe. This photo is kind of cool because they’re cooking eggs in the natural hot spring on the right, then on the left, they’re also cooling soda bottles in the natural cold spring. Pretty cool.
And then here’s some photos from 2013 from Colonsay, which is a small island in Scotland, where I’m from. These are macrolichens, which means they have these larger more complex fungal structures that you can see. Macrolichens are the ones that just hang out and open up more powdery. But yeah, here’s a selection of a Scottish macrolichens. And then here, this is another small island in Scotland called [Oronsay 00:48:10], this is Oronsay Priory which dates from the 1350s, and this is the high cross of Oronsay Priory, which dates from around 1500s. So that’s 500 years old, you can see it has a lot of lichen growing on it. Some of the details you can see [inaudible 00:48:29] and that would be partially due to the presence of the lichen releasing those organic acids.
This is another cross from the same priory, it’s much more [inaudible 00:48:40]. I did some back of the napkin calculations based on the size of the lichen patches, they’re about a foot across, which means they’re at least 150 years old, because generally lichens only grow about a millimeter per year.
And lichens are everywhere, they’ve been studied for at least 150 years. They cover about six or 7% of the worlds entire surface, so you’re probably sitting near one right now. There’s over 20,000 identified species. But despite this massive body of research and knowledge, one interesting thing I think is that in 2015, the entire field was turned on its head. There’s a lichenologist called Toby Spribille who released this kind of seminal paper that found that up until that point, lichen had always been defined as the symbiosis between a single fungal species, and an algae and cyanobacteria. But he released evidence that there are actually at least two fungal species especially in macrolichens like from Colonsay that have these complex structures. And scientists have been trying to culture macrolichens in the lab for a long time with very little success. They could never get those complex fungal structures to grow in the laboratory and it’s now thought it was because it was lacking basidiomycete yeast, it was lacking one of the two fungi that make a lichen, a lichen.
But yeah, he revolutionized the entire field of lichenology, which actually is pretty cool. Toby Spribille was home schooled and he grew up in a trailer park, worked for the forest service for many years after that, then eventually went to university because he found a university in Germany that didn’t charge tuition, and would accept his non-traditional transcript. He did an undergraduate and a post graduate and then become an expert lichenologist. He then revolutionized the entire field.
So to leave you with a thought, what’s the next discovery? What’s the next thing that is everywhere, everyone knows about it, but there could be some massive C change just waiting to be discovered? And that’s all I have to say about lichen.
Josh Clemente (50:53):
David Flinner (50:54):
Josh Clemente (50:56):
[inaudible 00:50:56]. Yeah, that was great. I have never thought deeply about lichen until this moment, and I had no idea that they release natural acids, and that, that is part of the reason that stony roads over time. That’s fascinating.
I also discovered a lot through research. So it was really fun to do this talk.
David Flinner (51:18):
Let’s just say, I’m really liking your talk.
Josh Clemente (51:23):
Well, we are right on time here. Once again, thank you everyone, especially Ben and Dom for taking time out of your day to join us. We do this every week, you’re always welcome. No need to tell us in advance, just pop in, you’ll have the invite, and as usual, thanks everyone for contributing. I appreciate all of your work this week, and have a great weekend.