VOL. 7 2015
A S T R AT E G I C I N T E L L I G E N C E R E P O R T T H E I S S U E / / H E A LT H
A Letter From the Editor
To Quant or Not to Quant
The Cult of Fitness
Your Best Brain
Breakfast For Dinner
The Third Metric
Oscar, You're Hot!
The Trouble With Gluten
Meet the New Hacker
C H I E F S T R AT E G Y O F F I C E R
S E N I O R B R A N D & B U S I N E S S A N A LY S T
SENIOR DIRECTOR, MARKETING
DIRECTOR OF CONTENT, OMELET STUDIO
Albert Pranno DESIGNER
A S S O C I AT E P R OJ E C T M A N A G E R
S T R AT E G Y I N T E R N
DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY
S T R AT E G Y I N T E R N
A Letter From the Editor
When one of our copywriters proposed the topic of health for this issue, I was initially reluctant. See, in our day jobs here at Omelet, we have the honor of working with renowned thought leaders in this space: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Salk Institute for Research, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. We’re constantly humbled by the brilliant work these organizations are doing every day on the front lines of change, improving the quality of life for current and future generations.
From the broad partisan debates that shape policy, like the Affordable Care Act and gun control, to social issues like the anti-vaccination movement (and public backlash in the wake of the measles outbreak) and childhood obesity, to the big business of wearable technology, biohacking, cognitive analytics, and telemedicine, one thing is clear: we are at a cultural turning point. In these pages you’ll find observations and insights into a range of health-related subjects that resonate within the walls of marketing, media, technology, and entertainment. And while we’re always reluctant to make predictions, I’ll throw one out for good measure; one that’s grounded in both hard research and personal experience.
In comparison, what we do for a living feels a little trivial. I mean, what can we, as professional storytellers, add to the discourse in a way that’s meaningful? It wasn’t until the team starting pitching story ideas that I realized there’s a real sense of timeliness to exploring the emerging tension points between technology and humanity; to questioning our evolving beliefs and behaviors around the very idea of health and wellness.
In 2015, we’ll see a mainstream movement of people adopting a more secular interpretation of mindfulness – at work and play, from Wall St. to Main St. – by being more present in the moment. That is, more people will step forward by stepping back, simplifying their lives, and being more attuned to the real, human moments that are so easy to miss in our always-on, hyperconnected culture.
While we may not be scientists, educators, field workers, or practitioners, we are students of human behavior – curious observers who identify and analyze demographic, psychographic, and technographic trends that shape what’s next.
S E A N
Still there? Sorry, I was answering a text.
N A M A R A
Chief Strategy Officer
To Quant or Not to Qua�t J A S
G I L L
There are more Americans tracking their own bodies on a daily basis than there are Twitter users actively tracking their feeds. That’s right, 70% of Americans are tracking at least one aspect of their lives through technology,1 from sleep patterns to calories burned, and everything in between. In just seven years, the Quantified Self movement has made its way from the niche of the tech elite in Silicon Valley to mainstream culture, picking up over 250 million Americans along the way. We’re living our lives under the presumption that more data is better, but is that really the case? When you look at the numbers, people are signing up to track every movement in their daily lives at an alarming rate: What they eat for breakfast, the route they drive to work, the classes they take at the gym. And in doing so, people are voluntarily airing their dirty laundry and spilling their deepest and darkest secrets. The question I’ve found myself asking is, to whom exactly? As companies continue to churn out devices and apps built to know our next move before we do, it’s uncertain
what the impact of this data will be on our industry, but one thing is certain – it will never be the same. The “Quantified Self,” coined by Wired Magazine editors Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly, is a movement that promotes technology as a way for people to gain self-knowledge in the areas of nutrition, exercise, finance, education, and more.2 The Huffington Post reported that a key tenet of the movement is allowing people to set goals and measure their progress, ultimately allowing them to control and drive their own success.3 There’s no doubt that it’s had its benefits – just look at health care. Technology that allows people to track and improve their sleep, nutrition and exercise habits can help motivate consumers to improve their well-being and significantly decrease health care costs while increasing accessibility for those who really need it. Our technology is shifting from “smart” to intuitive – meaning we’re moving away from tech for tech’s sake and towards technology that is fundamentally rooted in human behavior. With so many apps, devices, and gadgets out there – 90% of all
the data in the world has been created in the last two years – consumers are taking a step back and redefining their sense of personal value above all else. In other words, why do they need it and when can they expect to reap the benefits?4 There’s just one glaring contradiction: in an age when people seem to be overly concerned with privacy, why are they giving up their data so easily? My first inclination was to think that people are naïve, which certainly still may be the case for some. However, a majority of people understand the trade-off they’re making – they’re willing to give a little of themselves up if they’re able to receive something of value in return. While everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to personal privacy, it’s clear that there’s a large segment of the population willing to strike a deal with companies and hand over their data for the bragging rights and knowledge they’ll receive from using the latest and greatest tech. After all, the more information consumers hand over to brands, the more personalized their experience becomes. Benefits aside, the data collected by brands and marketers could certainly be used against the consumer’s best interests. An article in The Economist reveals how insurance companies are already using information gained via social media sites and software programs of their own to sift through personal consumer data and decide whom to buy policies against and which high-risk candidates may end
up costing them more money than they’re worth.5 The value of this type of consumer data to marketers lies in their ability to mine it for competitive advantages: in better tailoring and sending messaging to the most persuadable individuals. As a brand planner, I’ve had to traditionally rely on intuition, the occasional survey or qualitative study, and thirdparty consumer data from research sources like Mintel or MRI to help me develop strategic approaches and recommendations for the brands we work with at Omelet. But we’re quickly moving to a world where we can take guesswork out of the equation. A world in which we can track consumer behavior down to the second in a grocery store, follow along with someone on their commute home, even receive data on their current mood and emotional state. “Most of our devices will be communicating on our behalf,” predicts Paul Saffo of Discern Analytics. "They will be interacting with the physical and virtual worlds more than interacting with us.”6 It may very well be possible that consumers won’t have control over the information their personal technology sends to interested buyers. The way I see it, the future holds some promise for a marketplace where personal data and information are traded, not sold; a world where our personal information becomes a commodity to better personalize and customize what we’re offered.
Justin Reich, a Harvard University fellow, explains that there will be both great improvements and consequences with the growing Quantified Self movement. “It will have widespread beneficial effects, along with widespread negative effects. There will be conveniences and privacy violations. There will be new ways for people to connect, as well as new pathways towards isolation, misanthropy, and depression.”7
horizon.8 Today’s traditional business models, which are modeled after static information structures, will become much more dynamic and accurate. We’ll be able to collect data from almost anything, whenever we want. We predict it will pave the way for dynamic pricing, as we’ll be able to see what products are in demand at any given time, and we’ll also be able to shift prices at the touch of a button to reflect real-time consumer attitudes.
As the movement is young and still growing, the extent of the impact it will have on our industry is uncertain. The “Internet of Things,” a computing concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects will be connected via the cloud, is surely on the
If self-tracking technology continues to evolve, and mainstream consumers start to adopt it, marketers are going to find themselves playing a different game altogether. We’re just not quite certain what it looks like yet.
The Cult of Fitnesďż˝ S A B E N A
S U R I
The need for belonging. It’s what makes us human. It’s why we root for sports teams as if they were our own flesh and blood, and why, even at the tender age of five, we fear nothing more than being the outcast on the playground. At its best, belonging is about friendship and camaraderie, and at its worst, about groupthink and cults. Which is why SoulCycle, a pricey spin workout set to lively music and inspirational commentary, makes over $80 million a year.1
which casually claims to be “the best workout in the world;” FlyWheel, an indoor cycling and barre class; Elliptifit, where groups congregate on elliptical machines; Pop Physique, an intense barre workout; and any number of yoga classes, all of which cost a pretty penny.2
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to a SoulCycle class or two and quite enjoy the candle-scented room and fun Rihanna remixes. But if you’re asking, do I buy into the “Find Your Soul” propaganda on the walls? Or have I ever cried from sheer emotional bliss during, or after, a class? My answer is no. I’ll keep my $35, please (yes, that’s the price of a single class). But judging by SoulCycle’s enormous success, I’m a focus group of one.
And then there’s CrossFit. CrossFit has benefitted from the same kind of mythology as some of the aforementioned workout cults – albeit, with a different kind of clientele. “CrossFit workouts incorporate elements from high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics,” so it’s no walk in the park.3 In fact, CrossFit falls under the “extreme fitness” moniker, where “you aren’t preparing for fun or romance. You’re preparing for an unforeseen natural disaster, or a burning building, or Armageddon.” Hey, it could happen, right?
SoulCycle isn’t the only fitness cult in town, though it’s possibly the most notorious. There’s Barry’s Bootcamp,
With new fitness cults cropping up like juice bars in L.A., what’s driving this herd behavior?
WE NEED CONNECTION
Most of us are acutely aware of the antisocial nature of living our lives with our eyes glued to our screens, but we aren’t always prepared to look up (what if you miss a status update?). Group fitness provides a forced sabbatical from screen time – it’s all about being in “the zone” with your fellow classmates, a powerful way to relieve stress, release endorphins, and maybe have a real conversation. Today, people crave human-to-human connection more than ever, so marketers should look for ways to encourage in-real-life peer engagement. If it’s a good enough reason, they’ll gladly unplug and make eye contact.
WE WANT MORE Technology has reshaped the way we look at possibility. We expect everything to be newer, faster, shinier, and sleeker. We want the best, and we’ll pay for it. Fitness is no exception – we’re very body-conscious because we know we have all the resources to control what we look like in 2015. Plus, we’re able to track what celebrities, our peers, and enemies from high school look like at any given moment, and what their deepest, darkest fitness routines really consist of. Cult fitness is, for us, a means to a body-conscious end.
WE LOVE KALE Though both delicious and nutritious, I’m, of course, not solely referring to the leafy green – it’s what kale represents. We’re becoming obsessed with eating (and drinking) our veggies, knowing where each element on our plate comes from, and are generally just neurotic about healthy consumption. It only makes sense that if we’re going to be obsessed with what goes into our bodies, we’re also going to be obsessed with how we work it off. And what better way to obsess than with other obsessive people?
WE'RE TRADING OFF Sure, $35 per class is shocking for some (read: me), but for others, they’d rather spend on group fitness than say, shopping, dining out, or entertainment. They love the feeling of togetherness, being inspired (or intimidated) by an engaged instructor. The “trade-off mentality” accounts for this kind of behavior: we’re seeing more consumers splurging on certain discretionary interests, while scrimping and sacrificing on others. It’s why so many employees are packing lunches all week in anticipation of a five-course tasting menu that coming weekend. Balance, my friends.
An Interview with Jason Dundas, Founder of DundasFit @JasonDundas
Why do you think fitness cults are so successful? I think there are a couple of key factors at play here. First off, we are in the middle of a fitness epidemic. I wouldn’t be surprised if James Bond ordered a green juice instead of a martini in the next 007 film. So with a new trend towards health and fitness, people are constantly looking for the next cool thing in exercise. Insert pop music, a cool mixed social setting, and the secret sauce; competition! Let's face it – we are simple
people, driven by sex and competition. Welcome to the fitness class revolution!
What first attracted you (to FlyWheel), and why do you keep going? I heard through friends that each bike in the room was connected to a live scoreboard, and the whole class was one giant race. For me, anything that can help motivate me to work out is key, and when it comes to
Now that we’ve peeled back the why, what, if anything, can marketers take away from the growing popularity of these cults? Clearly, these fitness programs and studios have adopted the “if-you-build-it-they-will-come” mentality, and come they did. Thinking about what makes their subjects so devoted, it really comes down to the fact that they’re looking for meaning and control in a fast-paced, flustered world. And that’s exactly where marketers can deliver on a real, human need. Whether it’s giving your consumers an opportunity to connect in a community of likeminded individuals, or simply catering to their need for healthier, more active lifestyles, one thing is clear: cult fitness really fulfills a basic desire for belonging.
competition I hate to lose. I’m completely addicted. Sometimes I go into a 45-minute class telling myself that I’m just going to take it easy, but the second I see someone else in the room with a higher score than me I can’t help myself, I have to win. I held the highest score at Tribeca, NYC flywheel and the Larchmont, LA location. I’m absolutely hooked!
Since you work in pop culture — how much do you think we can credit the workout itself, versus the trendiness level (bragging rights, high price point, etc.) During any given week I do laps in the pool, run, yoga, lift weights and FlyWheel. Out of all of these different forms of exercise I can honestly say that FlyWheel is the class I work the hardest in, every time. Yes, the
Or maybe it’s not belonging at all. Consumers are increasingly seeking out “inclusive exclusivity,” or experiences that involve only their inner circles (inclusive) but no one else (exclusive). These experiences give them major bragging rights, especially when they’re the first ones in the know. Give consumers an opportunity – big or small – to break from the monotony of everyday life, and they’ll reward you with their loyalty. Whether this trend continues to grow among mainstream audiences, or recedes into the margins like Jazzercise or rollerblading, only time will tell. But today, the formula is clear. Low in calories, not on affinity.
competition element helps, but more than that it’s the music, the dark room, the in-and-out-in-45-minutes factor, and the no fuss of it all. It’s the quickest and best cardio workout I do. About DundasFit: I started @DundasFit on Instagram as a place to inspire people to see health and fitness as a lifestyle, not just a trend or a diet. I aim to motivate as many people as possible. You can join DundasFit at www.dundasfit.com. I have some very exciting adventures with the brand coming this year!
Health Got� C A R O LY N
H U A N G
If the term “health goth” recalls gym rats clad in bondage Dri-Fits who live by vascularity, you’re off the mark. This, according to Mike Grabarek and Jeremy Scott, Portland-based artists who represent R&B music group Magic Fades, and partner artist Chris Cantino, the three founders of this community. Health goth isn’t just about BMIs and dark garb; it’s an aesthetic, fashion, and cultural phenomenon that sparked a growing movement in late 2014. A closer look at the movement, though, reveals conflicting narratives about what it means to identify as health goth.
The founders themselves don’t even self-identify. Rather, they welcome followers to select elements of the aesthetic and absorb them into their lifestyles. What began as an internet sub-meme has grown into a community over 23,000 strong. Back in April 2013, the trio created a Health Goth Facebook page, posting inspired images of mesh, moisture-wicking fabrics, 3M reflective tape and body-enhancing tech. The term codified an appreciation for edgy, layered sportswear, futuristic technology, extreme cleanliness and transhumanism. Health Goth
attracted a growing fan base, including Chicago-based DJ Johnny Love, aka Deathface, who took the idea and ran with it.1 And that’s where the road splits. Love christened healthgoth.com, created a #HealthGoth Fitness Manifesto and started selling sportswear emblazoned with “DEAD,” tweaked Nike logos and “Just Do Me.” His Fitness Bible reminds followers not to skip leg day and to never, ever check themselves out in the mirror (in public).2 But for Grabarek, Scott, and Cantino, being a health goth has nothing to do with gyming and everything to do with “healthy takes on goth style” paired with something Deathface doesn’t mention – dystopian environments and a “hyper reality that only exists in ads, art installations and rendered environments.”3 Where the two identities converge is their approach towards corporate branding and advertising. Deathface’s clothing line is emblazoned with appropriated sportswear
logos and his Fitness Manifesto video features a chick in a prominent MercedesBenz cap. The Health Goth Facebook page salivates over sleek Nike and Adidas, the latter of which Grabarek, Scott, and Cantino have confirmed a potential partnership with. “When we started we’d just see an ad or some clothes we liked, and we’d see something dark or sexual in them that wasn’t intended to be there,” the three told VICE. “So really, the subversive side was just portraying the ads in a new light, because we wished these aspects were intentional.”4 How do avid prescribers feel about Health Goth’s mainstream shift? Grabarek, Scott and Cantino agree that what people think is less important than adding value to the community. If teaming up with a corporate company to enhance artistry can add something cool without compromising integrity, “then that’s great – selling out is awesome.”5
Did you hear that, marketers? There’s an opportunity here to partner with grassroots movements to enhance your brand value and engage new communities—if you do it right. We reached out to Cantino to ask him about how marketers should engage niche community members like him. What we found is a truth that’s self-explanatory, but often overlooked – community influencers are happy to be consumers when they feel valued and represented. “They ought to be paying attention,” Cantino said. “While I love the resources and talent available at top labels like Adidas, there’s just as much to be said for the creativity of the independent designers, the friends of ours that we value just as much as the deeper pockets in our network. Their access to materials and workforce is limited but their imaginations are often more impressive.”6 The three movers and shakers have been contacted by several designers interested in fusing health goth into upcoming collections and are happy to get involved when their work is appreciated as artistic merit. On the flip side, approaching niche communities without sensitivity could end up backfiring. “Like any subculture, those participating in [health goth] often feel misunderstood,” Cantino said. Cantino believes companies that want to align with grassroots cultures are “picking the right team. The question is – are they convincing anyone?”7
An Interview with Chris Cantino, Founder & Artist of Health Goth @chriscantino
The premise of our article looks at what I understand to be two different trends that fall under the “health goth” identity. What does being a health goth mean to you, and do you identify as one? Health Goth is an aesthetic borne from net art, streetwear trends, and transhumanism that incorporates hyperreal and rendered environments, signifiers of dystopian environments, extreme cleanliness, etc. Health goth isn't a lifestyle, but you're welcome to take different elements of the aesthetic and absorb them into your lifestyle or interests. While we don't self-identify as health goth or prescribe it as a lifestyle choice, there are certainly a number of fascinating aspects of it that have become a part of us. If you just like the clothing, cool. If you think the clothes are whack but you love the interpretation of net culture, or start to take an interest in biotechnology or transhumanism, fuck yeah. Take what you will, we're not going to package up a lifestyle for anyone.
Is Health Goth a trend, or do you see it as a lasting identity and culture? We think of it as a practice in aesthetics and futuristic fantasy, tracing it back to the evolution of subcultures and group identity.
Because the themes change regularly and they're set in the future, it's certainly possible that they will remain relevant. Regardless, the impact of the conversation that's being had about it will endure, as its social function has been zeitgeisty in that the community was born online and much of the imagery we explore is considered fringe or prescient. Like any subculture, those participating in it often feel misunderstood.
Do you think health goths have influenced the business world, particularly in regards to advertising and marketing? If so, how? Yes, and we're just beginning to see the effects of a wider culture shift, particularly as youth culture begins to reject retro and twee. We've been contacted by designers from several companies that are working on incorporating Health Goth into their upcoming collections, trying to pick our brains, etc. Conversely, we've also been influenced by advertising and marketing, and the premise of our original edits is that we were noticing elements that we considered dark or subversive in sportswear advertisements and incorporating them into satirical artwork.
A lot of the posts in the Health Goth community Facebook page feature
brands like Nike and Adidas. How do you feel about companies and marketers that are interested in appealing to health goths? I think it's an intelligent choice, and they ought to be paying attention. While I love the resources and talent available to top labels like Adidas, there's just as much to be said for the creativity of the independent designers, the friends of ours that we value just as much as the deeper pockets in our network. Their access to materials and workforce is limited but their imaginations are often more impressive.
In an interview with VICE, you and Magic Fades mentioned that “selling out is awesome” as long as a company can add something cool to the culture. How do you feel about that? In its context, that statement was about how we would never sell out the movement or try to package and brand it as a commodity. Any collaborations or work we get will be on the basis of our individual artistic merit and not compromise the integrity of the community. That said, there are plenty of hate-fueled corporations that we would reject outright, regardless of how much they might offer to sell us out for.
The Third ďż˝etric C R I S T I N A
P E D R O Z A
Health is never far from the public consciousness. From the cultural appropriation of fitness fads (see: comedian Fabrizio Goldstein, aka The Fat Jew, teaching free spin classes to homeless New Yorkers on Citi Bikes), to the incendiary backlash against antivaxxers, to the never-ending partisan debate around health care reform, health is something that we’re confronted with – individually and collectively – every day. As a result, more Americans are increasingly aware of the benefits of healthier lifestyles, making more informed decisions about their wellness, and changing their behavior to improve outcomes. For marketers, this trend has obvious implications on everything from brand loyalty to consumer engagement to product development. Forward-looking companies across industries are adapting to these shifting beliefs and behaviors by integrating health and wellness into their core business strategies, as an evolution of their broader commitments to corporate social responsibility. What’s noteworthy about this pattern is that while many CSR initiatives are focused on giving back to external constituencies, savvy companies are positioning their health and wellness initiatives as a catalyst for improving employee development and accelerating business performance. This transformation is ambitious, for sure, but not unrealistic. Research shows that companies that implement wellness programs are on average
1.4 times more likely to experience improvements across the organization3 – higher morale, increased productivity, higher employee retention, lower health care costs, and a better bottom line. However promising these statistics may be, reality is there are still far fewer leaders than there are laggards in pursuing wellness as a third metric. The barriers to overcoming years of organizational inertia are familiar: rank-and-file staffers don’t want to actively engage with internal programs, people are wary of their employers getting involved in their health, management fails to articulate clear benefits beyond transactional costs, and wellness champions struggle to align the c-suite’s siloed perspectives under a unified strategic charge. So, if the benefits of implementing health and wellness programs are well established, but the perceived obstacles are still too engrained to overcome, the question becomes, how can organizations persuade stakeholders to test the waters without committing to a sea of change? Truth is, there’s no one-size-fitsall solution to making health and wellness programs an additive part of a company’s core business imperatives, rather than a loss leader, or worse, a nice-to-have benefit that gets cut from the overhead when times are tight. However, those next-generation companies that have found success in elevating these programs into value share the following philosophies:
In the course of the past five years, there has been a 38% increase in the overall number of health-committed consumers.1
A company is four times as likely to experience a loss in talented workers in the next year if employees are not satisfied with the organization's wellness programs.2
Wellness is a cornerstone, not a coat of paint. Ten years ago, when Unilever decided to make vitality the mission of its business,5 many saw the commitment as bold, yet potentially restrictive of growth potential. Today, this pivot towards health and sustainability continues to drive the organization’s competitiveness, and is upheld in every facet of its complex business. More recently, Safeway made an enterprise-wide commitment to walking the talk when it comes to wellness. In fact, the retail giant now presents its business as “a wellness company that happens to sell groceries.” 6 Its new mission has empowered everyone across the organization to internalize wellness as a strategy, an inspiration, and an aspiration, guiding all micro and macro decisions. Today, Safeway’s values, products, and operational practices demonstrate the practical application of what may seem like a lofty corporate vision. Furthermore, its employees are more engaged in company programs than ever before, with 80%7 participation. Beyond significant capital investments in modern fitness centers, health care facilities, and health-focused cafeterias, the role of wellness as a higher belief is best captured in its mantra, “make it your DNA; live it; love it; breathe it.”
Health is a personal journey, not a corporate mandate. We’re all familiar with the natural reaction that takes over when being told what to do – the most civil of us can revert to our five-year-old selves in under a nanosecond. A similar reaction can occur when an employee is told that they must participate in their company’s wellness program (for their own good, of course). Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but health is a very personal journey. Between unattainable image standards projected by the media, and the inescapable fear of one’s own mortality, it’s an issue that’s fraught with anxiety. Not to mention the fact that each of us is genetically hardwired differently, so it’s simply not possible that a one-sizefits-all program can benefit everyone equally. Meanwhile, wellness champions (and the small army of consultants chasing them) are throwing millions8 at workplace initiatives flawed from inception, muscling these programs through as corporate mandates without listening to employees’ unique wants and desires. In order to turn the promise of wellness programs into real practices that benefit the business, employers need to start by acknowledging that different people are motivated by different needs. Marketers understand this glaringly simple insight when it comes to targeting customer segments, but smart and successful companies often overlook it when developing internal communications. But we know that employees will become active participants, even advocates, of health programs when they’re customized9 and personalized to fit the individual’s specific lifestyle and circumstance.10 It’s when the program feels less like a program, and more like a tailored life plan, that employees stop worrying about big brother’s agenda, and accept that their company isn’t just looking out for them, but also wants/ expects the best for and of them.
57% of employers believe that a lack of employee engagement in programs and benefits is their biggest obstacle to managing employee health.4
Make health more human.
It takes a village. Accountability is key when integrating lofty values into corporate strategy. From blue chips to start-ups, successful companies breed a culture where individuals are held accountable to each other for delivering whatever’s needed to drive the business forward, and wellness is no exception. However, when it comes to most things related to health in the workplace these days, fingers still point to HR. But one department can’t be solely responsible for health; the weight of that burden needs to spread across the organization, from the top down. Better to engage a broader cross-functional team, led by internal stakeholders and external partners,11 to champion these programs and integrate them into the day-to-day workflow. This collaborative approach is perhaps best exemplified in L.L. Bean’s approach to wellness. The company encourages “grassroots”12 initiatives led by smaller groups of employees who champion activities for their town location. They’re responsible for designing the programs, getting budgets approved by management, and encouraging employee participation. By empowering employees to actively lead these programs, and giving them the support of the leadership team, L.L. Bean has created a culture in which wellness is genuinely embraced.
When communicating anything new – whether it’s external marketing or internal messaging – the audience must come first. When a company skips the strategic planning process – specifically identifying the unmet needs of their employees and translating the proposition into simple, relatable terms – and instead rolls out communications based on facts and rational benefits, it misses out on a critical opportunity to make a lasting first impression. Far too often it’s dry, clinical, and frankly, boring. And this is understandable; perhaps business decision-makers don’t want to trivialize health-related topics with consumer marketing strategies like gamification, social one-upmanship, or stunts. Sure, today’s nontraditional marketing tactics trends towards the entertaining and socially inclined, but there’s a lingering fear that going “fun” when engaging on serious health-related issues like preventive care, behavioral health, or chronic conditions, can feel insensitive. So instead, risk-averse employers fall back on uninspiring proof points, corporate jargon, or worse, keep mum. But fear not – the future is not altogether bleak. If we can learn anything from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, it’s that sometimes the best way to raise awareness and engagement around a serious health issue is by making it culturally relevant and accessible. Below are some best practices we’ve culled from those progressive companies that are making headway in this space.
Use jargon or clinical language
Keep it simple and break it down into digestible terms
Speak like an HR professional
Speak like a human and apply day-to-day context
Use a judgmental or preachy tone
Use a didactic tone to educate and engage
Bury the lead under lengthy explanations
Deliver the critical information succinctly and repeatedly
Think in departments or ID numbers
Personalize the story
Talk at the audience passively
Talk conversationally and use clear CTAs
Think channel first (e.g. print, online)
Think audience first, intersect their daily lives
Make paticipation a burden
Make it easily accessible, intuitive, and relatable
Be afraid to be vulnerable or playful
Strive to make an emotional connection - humor breaks barriers
Leave them empty-handed
Recognize and reward - let them walk away with something
Isolate or judge
Unify communities through social behavior
Health Gets Real & Social Times have changed. Audiences now crave transparency and levity in conversations about health.
For afflicted patients, sharing is caring, and also curing. Too many people suffering from terminal illnesses have suffered in relative silence. However, in the past few years, there’s been a movement to create new social spaces in which patients can connect with others going through similar experiences. Openly discussing and sharing the realities of illnesses can help build stronger support networks, while simultaneously raising broader public awareness. Consider the cultural resonance of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.13 It’s hard to strategically analyze these rare lightning-in-a-bottle marketing moments, and even harder to predict or replicate them, but the impact this movement had – both financially and educationally – speaks volumes for the value of experimenting with an unconventional approach to something as grave as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Now some might argue that the challenge was at odds with the severity of the Condition, but the efficacy of tapping into people’s need for belonging and social one-upmanship is undeniable.
Real health is thoughtful and inspiring. The recent #ThisGirlCan campaign proves that health-related messaging can be both informative and inspiring. Launched by Sport England, a U.K. government agency, the campaign addresses women’s health, body image, and fitness in a way that’s as provocative as it is educational. The hero stories of this campaign lean into, rather than away from, real imagery from real women in real situations, with the positive message: “inspire women to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgment is a barrier that can be overcome.”14
Oscar, You're �ot! A N N A
N E S S E R
In case you haven’t met him yet, I want to introduce you to Oscar. According to his online profile he’s all about being open, honest, showing you a good time, and…he’s good-looking to boot. Sounds pretty great, right? Oh and did I mention…he’s a health insurance provider? (Sorry, ladies.) Most of us (myself included) think of health insurance as nothing more than a mandated bureaucratic mess. The plans are confusing at best, and often leave us feeling more like we're being taken advantage of than taken care of. Oscar comes from the brain trust of Josh Kushner, Kevin Nazemi, and Mario Schlosser, three entrepreneurs with backgrounds in VC, health care, and technology. When others saw more mandates and red tape, they saw the Affordable Care Act as the perfect opportunity to disrupt, evolve, and ultimately reform the Pandora’s box that is the health insurance industry. Finally. With Oscar, they’re determined to bring people “a better kind of health insurance.”
So what makes Oscar different? Most notably, Josh, Kevin, and Mario have deliberately treated this behemoth industry as they would any other business endeavor – like a consumer product. For them, it's placing user experience at the very top of the priority list in the way Oscar is both marketed and experienced. Michael Pollak, a real-life Oscar subscriber sat down to talk about his experience, “There’s one brand that I’ve shared on social media more than any other in the past year. It’s not an apparel company. It’s not fury at an airline. It’s not avocado toast on Instagram. It’s my health insurance company. Which shocked even myself. Yes, I signed up for Oscar because I was suckered in by their adorable graphic design, plain-speak pitch, reliance on technology and not legacy, and of course, their competitive rates. But what I’ve been consistently surprised by is their customer service and delightful manner. They act like a company that’s actually interested in my health rather than taking what is essentially a Vegas bet on my life mixed in with wasted postage, legal copywriters, and 20-minute-call hold times.” So, how does Oscar do it? Oscar’s mission is simple – use technology to simplify health care. Sounds like lip service, but they’re putting their money where their mouths are in the form of a (beautifully designed) mobile app that provides real-time advice based on symptoms, the ability to shop for a doctor, or better yet, speak to one within 20 minutes. And best of all, it keeps track of all your doctor visits, prescriptions, and lab work in a Twitter-style feed so you always have access to your complete medical history. Pollak explains, “Their Teledoc calls you back within 10 minutes. It’s amazing. It
stopped me from freaking out about a muscle injury once. And stopped me from going to a doctor for potential pink eye (they wrote the script over the phone). Sure, that’s hassle saved for me, but that is money and time saved in our health care system. (To be fair, Blue Cross has a Teledoc, too. My partner has them. They sent him a letter in the mail talking about the feature that was probably 1,000 words too long. And didn’t have the phone number in the letter. Hello, assholes.)” Speaking like a human is at the core of Oscar’s marketing strategy. The brand does this almost poetically in its website, mobile app, through customer service, and most notably, on social media. Key to Oscar’s brand outreach is targeting customers where they’re already engaged – think Instagram, Twitter and Vine. As a little comparison, Oscar has over 3k followers on Instagram compared to the 107 that Blue Shield of California has. It’s highlighting real users in a “Humans of New York”-style social campaign, #weareoscar. And perhaps most impressively, it has a steady stream of user generated content to re-publish. “I see their ads and I smile. I’m freakishly proud to be a part of the company,” says Pollak. “Even if I’m part of what may seem like a giant experiment in health care. When’s the last time a utility made you feel like that?” Okay, Oscar’s pretty cool. We get it. And it’s managed to build a fairly robust social following in a very short time. But what’s really cool is how it has successfully taken this real-talk approach beyond the social sphere and into the customer service arena. “Every time I have an issue, I email Oscar and they reply within 24 hours,” says Pollak. “A real person who writes their own sentences.”
Oscar believes that proactive health care rooted in real-life data is the key to financial and personal wellness. So, they’re rolling out incentive programs to gather data and reward members for staying healthy. At the outset, Oscar introduced the “10 for 10” program, where members get $10 for taking a 10-question survey about their health and preferences. This information is used to continuously upgrade services based on defined consumer needs. A healthier you saves everyone money - at least Oscar thinks so. It will give up to $400 reimbursements for a gym membership. (Sign me up!)
And the latest program to roll out from Oscar – free Misfit wearable data trackers, with the potential of earning $240/year in Amazon gift cards. “They sent me a Misfit Flash Band over the holidays,” says Pollak. “This year, if I meet my goals for steps per day, I’ll earn money back. People are probably freaking out about the data privacy, but I really don’t give a shit. On balance, it’s awesome.” Oscar takes on transparency two-fold: by providing its members with the necessary information to make informed decisions about their health care, and by being accountable for outcomes, both positive and negative.
It’s a consumer product, right? So why not provide real-time comparison shopping? “On Oscar, a user will supposedly be able to look up prices for doctors across the street from one another or shop for MRI pricing by facility.”1 But of course, Oscar’s not perfect – he’s human, after all. Oscar had its share of hiccups at the start: confusion about restrictions and benefits, mistakes on billing and the like. But part of operating with transparency means being accountable when you’ve made a mistake. And Oscar has more than risen to the occasion. Pollak shared his personal experience with us. “Their system glitched for payments at the outset and they had to re-push my monthly auto-debit premium. They called my cell phone and said, ‘Hey, we messed up. Can we process your payment? We don’t want anything to bounce on your end.’ What a courtesy — and then a $10 Amazon gift card showed up on my doorstep for the ‘troubles.’” So what does the future hold for Oscar? Will it revolutionize the health care industry? Will we ever feel health insurance is like “having a doctor in the family”? We’ll have to wait and see. Time will tell if Oscar can sustain its personal connection with its customers as it scales up. According to Pollak, “A company that sows the seeds right from the beginning sure has a better chance of it than a legacy insurance company does turning their ship.” We couldn’t agree more. Maybe one day soon we’ll have a health care provider that actually cares about our health.
MEET OUR FRIEND, THE DROP
WE'RE SAVING WATER. WON'T YOU JOIN US? Water is a precious resource, especially in Los Angeles, and residents aren't treating it with the respect it deserves. So Omelet partnered with the Los Angeles Mayor's Office and Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles to launch Save the Drop, a major citywide water conservation campaign created to raise awareness, change behavior, and ultimately help Mayor Eric Garcetti reach his goal of reducing water use 20% by 2017. The Drop is the most loyal friend we've ever had. The Drop helps us cook, helps us clean, helps us stay alive. And every time we need this friend, it travels hundreds of miles just to be here. The Drop is the kind of friend who gives and gives and gives â€” but never asks for anything in return. Until now. It's time to turn around our one-sided relationship with water, and start giving back. So join the movement and help us Save the Drop!
Meet the New Hacker S H E L L E Y
C H I D L E Y
Last night I put hydrogen peroxide in my ears. Then I put on some orange goggles, drank hydrolyzed collagen, colostrum and diatomaceous earth, and laid on a mat covered in spikes. Am I insane? Possibly. But I prefer the label biohacker. Just like it sounds, a biohacker is someone who hacks their own biology. It’s all about using experimentation and data to optimize your own personal performance. And practically everything is fair game. From maximizing weight loss, increasing your IQ and conquering major medical problems, to improving your social skills and ramping up your sex drive, if it’s part of your biology, it’s hackable. Most of the leaders of this growing movement have some sort of painful backstory they’ll share with you first. The man who first coined the term biohacking, Dave Asprey, will tell you how he lost over 100 pounds and spent over $400,000 hacking his own biology. Suffering from obesity, brain fog, crippling childhood arthritis, and more, he gave up following his doctor’s advice (which never worked) and tried everything from raw veganism to extreme caloric restriction and exercise, to eating only protein and fat to figure out how to finally achieve good health. Dave Asprey discovered his own perfect diet and lifestyle routine he’s coined “The Bulletproof Diet” and now shares it with a frenzied following that is especially mad about his Bulletproof Coffee recipe (and yes, I drink it every morning). He’s turned his hacking into a popular blog, podcast, health store, and most recently, a best-selling book.1
If Dave’s too technical for you, there’s entrepreneur and biohacker Tim Ferris, famous for his best-selling books like The Four Hour Body and The Four Hour Work Week.2 My favorite biohacking story is a famous TED Talk by doctor and author Terry Wahls.3 She used an extreme version of the Paleo diet, wolfed down copious amounts of veggies, experimented with some cutting-edge tech, and healed a very severe form of multiple sclerosis. She went from a wheelchair to running marathons purely through her own successful selfexperimentation. You’ve probably seen enough news reports full of plus-sized Americans to know this country’s growing problem with obesity (pun intended) isn't going anywhere anytime soon. And how many people do you personally know currently suffering from migraines, asthma, diabetes, bad backs, and unexplained ailments like fibromyalgia? Too many diseases and chromic conditions are affecting people at younger and younger ages. More and more people are getting tired of feeling tired. And I used to be one of them. Motivated by a divorce and an extra 30 pounds in body fat, I started my own biohacking journey after my twin sister told me that the newest health craze involved drinking butter for breakfast. My initial response was to tell her she was insane. But after discovering a growing diet community on reddit.com nicknamed “Keto” (referring to the ketogenic or fat-burning diet),4 I jumped headfirst into a giant vat of saturated fat. And along the way I ditched
30 pounds, allergic asthma, colds and flus, tension headaches, and brain fog. What started out as swapping bread for butter has turned into semi-fanatical experiments with my personal health. This includes everything from drinking fermented cod liver oil (ew) to putting hydrogen peroxide in my ears when I feel the tingle of a cold coming on. Why am I obsessed? Because it’s the best. I eat as much steak, veggies drenched with butter, and dark chocolate as I can fit into my gullet, and I look and feel a million times better than I used to. And to the shock of most who know me, I don’t expend any willpower to do it. Pretty much everything I eat (save the cod liver oil) is delicious. I don’t miss the things I used to eat. I always feel full and satisfied. And I don’t count calories or ever feel one tiny pang of guilt for “overeating.” I used to feel guilty about my diet every single day. Now, I truly believe there is the right diet and lifestyle combination out there for everyone. Each of us is different, and has to find out for himself or herself what works. If you feel like you’re starving, or are on a diet that makes you end up binge eating three pizzas and then punishing yourself for three weeks afterwards, then I have news for you – that’s not the right diet for you. My advice: keep trying different things until you find something that works, is truly sustainable in the long run, and feels great. So what’s this mean for marketers? Dave Asprey will happily tell you he spent $400,000
An Interview with Dave Asprey @bulletproofexec
Dave, you’re one of the first to coin and use the term “biohacking.” What does biohacking mean to you and your fan base? [Biohacking is] the art and the science of changing the environment outside of you and inside of you so that your body and your biology will do what you want them to do. It’s about changing stuff so that you’re in charge. You want to be able to measure what you’re doing so that you can see whether these changes you make produce the results that you’re looking for.
hacking his biology. I certainly hope I haven’t invested that much yet, but I’ve certainly spent plenty of cash on everything from obscure supplements to organic bed sheets to Kickstarter campaigns for new tech to help me track my experiments. What do I look for in my biohacking brands? Real results. That could mean 200 five-star reviews on Amazon, an online consumer-driven community on a website full of recommendations and tips and tricks, or a company track record that proves that it’s dedicated to improving its customers’ health. I need quantifiable information that tells me this thing really works. And I’m willing to spend a lot more money if I feel confident that it can really deliver. I’m not sure where biohacking will go in the future, but I do believe it will continue to grow in popularity. Just look at the recent explosion of smartwatches, GPS trackers, heart rate monitors, and more. I believe companies big and small will commit greater resources to feeding this trend. Whether they are hacking work environments to increase focus and cooperation among employees, or customizing products and services in a way that’s more quantifiable and resultsdriven, in this era of big data, the trend of biohacking is a huge new opportunity for most consumer brands.
How did you get your start in biohacking? My start came from enlightened self-interest. I weighed 300 pounds. After almost two years of working out six days a week, an hour and a half a day, [and] eating a restrictive diet, all of my friends were thinner than I was. All of them ate more than I did and none of them worked out like I did. Being a computer hacker, I said, “Ok, this is something that can be hacked in other ways. I’m not going to do what’s supposed to work, I’m only going to do what the data shows me works – and not other people’s data, but my data.
You are the founder of Bulletproof, most popularly known for your product Bulletproof Coffee. Why did you choose “bulletproof” as your motto? Bulletproof is something that you think of when you think of Superman. Every human, at [his or her] core, wants to be invincible, but we all know that if a piano falls on your head you’re probably not going to be like Superman. What you want, really, is resilience; you can take whatever life brings you and you’ve got the ability to bring it. The idea behind bulletproof is building resilience into your life and into the world around you so that you can do whatever you want to do. Wherever I am, whatever I do, I’m able to handle it. That’s the idea behind bulletproof.
What advice do you have for health marketers? If you make a product, it changes the world around someone, and your product can help that person control their environment [and] control themselves better, you have the biohacking angle. There [are] all kinds of products out there that ought to be sold as things that make the environment better for you – I mean make the environment one in which you’re happier [and] you’re nice to the people around you. If you’re selling light bulbs, you’re not selling illumination. You’re selling how the light makes you feel. You just don’t know you’re selling that; you’re probably not talking about it like a biohacker would.
Text �eck W H I T N E Y
A N D E R S O N
“I’m not saying let’s go kill all the stupid people…I’m just saying let’s remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.” This Darwinian wisdom, via the twisted minds at Someecards, says as much about the current state of excessive warnings as it does about our penchant for ignoring common sense. Warnings stating the inanely obvious have become the new norm in our sue-first-askquestions-later society: lids on coffee cups alerting us to the fact that the contents may be hot, labels on peanut butter jars cautioning that the product may contain peanuts, or sleeping pills telling us they may cause drowsiness. As a new mother, I can appreciate the legal need to plaster warnings all over my car seat, stroller, and crib, but do I really need to be told that a plastic bag
is not a toy and could cause suffocation, or that those silicone bags inside shoeboxes are not for human consumption? There’s no shortage of agencies, regulatory bodies, and watchdog groups protecting us from the hazards of our daily lives, both real and perceived, but technology falls into a gray area that’s still largely unfettered. As waves of research roll in about the potential negative health affects of new technologies, it’s just a matter of time before our phones, tablets, and wearables get slapped with cautionary warnings too. A decade after the introduction of Facebook, most of us are familiar with anecdotal stories, if not firsthand experiences, linking social media use to anxiety and depression. And research supports this linkage; a
2012 survey found that 56% of adults who regularly use social media compulsively check their accounts out of FOMO (the fear of missing out).1 Just last month, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia released a study linking Facebook use to increased envy, which can lead to feelings of depression.2 Ironically, some of the envyinducing experiences that users are cravingly liking, sharing, and commenting on are posted by friends who suffer from “smiling depression,” a condition where a depressed individual creates a happy outward façade as a coping mechanism. While it’s easy to point to the correlation between rising incidents of reported anxiety and the use of social media, giving new context to the term “social anxiety,” not everyone is aware of “text neck,” an actual physical consequence of technology. “Text neck” is a term used to describe spinal damage caused by frequently glancing downwards to check one’s phone. Sounds silly, but smartphone users spend an average of two to four hours per day hunched over their devices. That’s 700 to 1,400 hours annually that people are putting stress on their spines, all of which can result in early wear and tear on the spine, possibly requiring surgery.3
And that’s not the worst of it – emerging research suggests that multiscreen use, or the concurrent consumption of multiple media forms, can lead to a loss in graymatter density in the brain. A fall 2014 study conducted at the University of Sussex shows a direct link between multiscreen use and physical brain structure.4 The study found that people who regularly use several media devices simultaneously have a lower density of gray matter in the anterior cingulate cortex, an area of the brain linked to emotion, attention, and working memory, when compared to those who use one device at a time.5,6 While this evidence doesn’t prove causality, it’s certainly plausible that second-screen behavior can give us that brain damage our parents warned us about when we sat too close to the TV. If a direct connection can be validated, it raises an ethical question: how actively should marketers and content creators push people towards simultaneousscreen experiences? Should commercials encourage interaction with a mobile app? Should television shows sponsor online voting and showcase real-time tweets? As marketers, we mine cultural trends, study media habits, and try to find the best way to connect the right audience with a relevant message at the most-effective time. But just because some people are currently multiscreening doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in the best interests of the audience to encourage these experiences. As marketers, we talk ad nauseam about creating “immersive digital experiences”
that are “sticky,” but to what end? What value, truly meaningful value, are we providing with these multimedia labyrinths? The more we focus on providing experiences that improve, rather than interrupt, the lives of our audiences, the more brands can transcend awareness and relevance to the higher ground of trust and loyalty. And, quite possibly, the healthier and happier we can all become. While all content creators, marketers, and advertisers have short-term business goals they need to meet, whether it’s driving sales or capturing eyeballs, there’s often long-term opportunity, even competitive advantage, in going against the grain of a trend. To that end, progressive brands should think about ways to emotionally connect with audiences and keep their interest beyond a single story, without having to rely on multiscreen tactics. And while they’re at it, they should consider the value of phasing out intrusive ads that distract from audiences’ experiences online, offline, and everywhere in between. In other words, instead of trying to outshout everyone else, in the cacophony of always-on media, think about turning down the volume instead, and having a meaningful conversation.
The truth is, great brands add value to our lives. Sure, the immediate gains of clickbaiting or act-now promotions are tempting, but there’s also an opportunity to think more holistically, be more creative, and appeal to people’s highest interests and purpose. Just look at the loyal customers of brands like Chipotle, American Express, or Starbucks. While we’re thinking in lofty terms, here are just a few thoughts on how brands and content creators could foster happier, maybe even healthier, customers. Imagine:
> > > >
A beer brand that encourages you to talk to the person sitting next to you rather than checking your phone while you’re waiting for friends to arrive A video game that suggests you take a break to stretch, even go outside and take a walk in between rounds of game play A billboard with a call to action to call an old friend rather than directing you to a website to learn more about a product or service A tech company that doesn’t just acknowledge the importance of face time, but actually encourages dedicated tech downtime
The unexpected rewards of promoting values that, at first, may seem at odds with profitability are worth considering. Case in point: Patagonia. During the holiday retail blitz of 2011, when most brands were slashing prices or creating superfluous line
extensions to sell, sell, sell, Patagonia actually told its customers to buy less on the biggest shopping day of the year. In an unprecedented move, Patagonia took a stand against the environmental impact of conspicuous consumption with the campaign, “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” Ads showed a standard product shot of a blue fleece jacket, but rather than sell it with features, prices, or lifestyle promises, the copy instead persuaded the reader to reconsider buying more stuff – its own products included. The campaign ultimately evolved into a Common Threads Partnership that urged consumers to join the brand in taking a pledge to reduce, repair, reuse, recycle, and reimagine the stuff they make and we, as consumers, buy. The financial effect? Patagonia sales increased almost one-third that year, and the company opened 14 new stores. A common sentiment about the campaign echoed throughout the press and social media: “Patagonia should be commended for running this ad. It was genuine in spirit and appropriate for the moment.” While Patagonia concentrated its messaging on environmental sustainability, this value-based approach – if sincere – could also work for a range of other interests, including health and wellness. And it proves that having a conversation around health shouldn’t be limited to those brands that play in the health category. After all, who better to tell you that glancing down with your eyes, rather than tilting your head to check a text, reduces up to 60 pounds of pressure on your spine, than a smartphone manufacturer or wireless carrier?7
ďż˝mbeddable Tech C R I S T I N A
P E D R O Z A
“We are the Borg. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own.” Star Trek: First Contact.1 As a flag-flying Trekker, and hardcore sci-fi junkie, I love the idea of life imitating art when it comes to the futurist visions of Gene Roddenberry or Philip K. Dick. But I think this Star Trek quote does a nice job of representing how extreme, even dystopian the reality of wearable tech – let me rephrase that – embeddable tech, has become. Around the world, hucksters of the Quantified Self movement are advancing an agenda to improve personal health by moving beyond sensor technology and big data. They’re moving from tracking heart rate, body temperature, caloric intake, and regular bodily functions, to pushing their bodies (and minds) beyond the boundaries of anything that Mary Shelley could have imagined; adopting new technology not as an accessory, or external utility, but rather as part of their biological matter. The advent of this new embedded tech begs the question, what does it mean to be human? For many people like myself, who are watching this trend from a guarded distance, it’s starting to feel stranger than (science) fiction; or, to be blunt, a little creepy. Implant technology is not particularly new in medicine. After all, pacemakers, prosthetics, and other medical appendages have been around for years. The quality of life of many soldiers hurt in action and children born with genetic disorders has been significantly improved thanks to advances in medical implant technology. But people like Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading,
believe that technology can do so much more than just fix us – it can make us a better version of ourselves. “I was born human but I believe it’s something we have the power to change,”2 writes Warwick. In the early 90s he underwent a surgery to implant a series of electrodes into the nerve fibers in his arm, allowing him to control a robotic hand in his lab from a customized wheelchair, and even perceive electronic stimuli from afar. Today, he is considered by many biohackers to be a pioneer in embeddable technology, pushing our ability to achieve transhumanity. If you think that’s unsettling, it’s just the tip of the self-embedded spear. Recently, the halls of tech conferences were buzzing with chatter about Project Underskin, an initiative that develops and implants “smart” digital tattoos into human hands.3 These tattoos are not only intended to track the body’s performance, but are also designed for uses such as unlocking car doors or exchanging information with a mere handshake. If these tattoos were to break out from the niche implant subculture to a mainstream audience, the potential repercussions would extend far beyond personal privacy. Viruses might not just stop at the flu; our bodies could essentially become open-sourced coded machines exposed to malware and spam like other technologies. Now, as most trends in our tech-saturated lives go, if it’s online and accessible, DIY is a natural next step. Enter Dangerous Things,4 a website far from a traditional Pinterest board, that serves as a gateway for the DIY transhumanist to learn about, browse for, and buy implant technology. The website’s founder, Amal Graafstra, is a vocal proponent of embeddable tech, known
Dangerous Things has raised almost 5x the target amount needed to pay for the manufacturing of many of its products.
It's almost erotic when you feel something totally unexpected when there was no sensation before. You want to enquire and learn more. This is an adventure for me. — Rich Lee
to brag about the radio-frequency identification chips he has installed between his thumbs and index fingers to access his house and laptop. Pushing our outer limits is an inherent part of human nature; we’re curious beings, driven to discover and conquer. Many people, like implant pioneer Rich Lee, are thrilled by exploring the unknown behind curtain number two – our inner limits. But as we embark upon this new age of physical self-exploration, I can’t help but think that we are moving towards a Trekkian form not unlike the Borg. Something part human, part technology, always self-improving by harnessing the data of a collective. What if our vitality – not just our external digital self – can ultimately be reduced to ones and zeros, façades and impressions beamed via implanted hardware? Will our sense of social vitality be centered on data exchange instead of emotional interactions? Efficient and precise? Yes. Human? Not so much. Remember that quote from the Borg? It ends like this: “Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.”
There's something about a confessional that makes people… well, confess. When four physical walls go up, the emotional walls come down. That was the vision for Omelet's Truth Booth, a mobile pod constructed to get raw responses from real people. In our second installment on health, we gathered Culver City professionals together at our newly unveiled office to get their unvarnished opinions on everything from juice cleanses to marijuana to obesity in America. Check out the full footage at Omelet's YouTube page, and stay tuned for future Omelet Truth Booth episodes.
A F E W O F O U R FAV O R I T E Q U O T E S : On the legalization of marijuana: "If the government can tax and regulate it, why not?" "Marijuana should definitely be recreational and definitely be medicinal. It's wonderful. I was high earlier today." On juice cleanses: "Honestly, they're bullishit." "Some people swear by them, and I'm not going to tell them they're wrong. But… They're wrong."
Your ďż˝est Brain An Interview with Dr. Andrew Hill on the Rise of Nootropics S A R A H
C E G L A R S K I
Years ago, when Dr. Andrew Hill’s mother started asking him about nootropics and proactive measures she could take to reduce her risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, he couldn’t point to one single product she could use. Instead, Dr. Hill, a cognitive neuroscientist from UCLA, recommended several different compounds that she could “stack,” creating a blend that would strengthen her brain and improve cognitive performance. “But she just wasn’t interested in going through that process,” says Dr. Hill. “Nor did she feel comfortable doing it.” Even as someone who studies the brain for a living, Dr. Hill found it difficult to cut through the noise around so-called “smart drugs.” Inspired in part by the lack of clarity in the space, he spent years self-experimenting with the combination of ingredients that now make up the consumer product truBrain, a nootropic blend launched in 2013 by entrepreneur Chris Thompson. According to Dr. Hill, the individual ingredients in truBrain have decades worth of literature and research suggesting that they support positive brain health and activity; it’s the specific combination and packaging of these elements that’s new. But the rise in popularity of nootropics has been accompanied by overpromised marketing, hype, and a wave of competitors who can’t live up to it. "The term nootropic is being bandied about in the wild west of cognitive enhancers that's emerging," says Dr. Hill, pointing to a flurry of new smart drugs, herbal compounds, synthetics, and stimulants. But in the strictest interpretation of the word, according to Dr. Hill, nootropics are defined
by their ability to support cognition without appreciable side effects. That definition automatically excludes prescription drugs like Adderall, Ritalin, and Modafonil that we typically associate with increased brain performance and focus. Dr. Hill acknowledges that these drugs can be extremely effective in addressing a specific problem, deficit, or illness, and at that point, the user may choose to manage the known side effects as a trade-off. But if your goal is to optimize your healthy, high-performing brain, why put your mind and body through unnecessary wear and tear? "When you're trying to make a good brain better, your risk versus reward should be considered differently," says Dr. Hill. "Nootropics aren't necessarily designed or pointed at people with a specific issue,” adding that the ideal candidate for a drug like truBrain is, well, “anyone with a brain.” "It's for anyone who is seeking extra performance,” insists Dr. Hill. “The same people that go after coffee or energy drinks are already doing things to self-hack their brain." But nootropics, like truBrain, promise to support cognition beyond simply stimulating it. The effect isn't meant to be a dramatic jolt to your system, but rather a feeling that you've shown up with what Dr. Hill calls “your best brain.” And what does that best brain look like? Through quantitative and qualitative research, Dr. Hill and his colleagues have found that truBrain increases visualization, attention, focus, and calm. Dr. Hill has spent years studying the effects of nootropics on the brain, relying on hard data culled from quantitative electroencephalography (EEG) to measure changes in brain activity.
What's in truBrain? FROM TRUBRAIN.COM
MAGNESIUM Found in spinach, it keeps you level and balanced.
CDP CHOLINE Found in almonds, choline is key for brain health.
PIRACETAM The "front man" of the ingredients, designed to boost information processing, attention, learning, and memory.
TYROSINE For increased vigilance, this is a gem of an amino acid.
OXIRACETAM Jet fuel for your brain.
CARNITINE Fuels the fire for your brain.
THEANINE Green tea extract for that chill factor.
Yet the list of ingredients in truBrain can be daunting to the brain-hacking novice: Magnesium, CDP Choline, Tyrosine, Oxiracetam, Carnitine, Theanine, and Piracetam, which Dr. Hill dubs its hero compound. So the goal was clear: remove the intimidation factor. “The initial [truBrain] product was really a curation play,” explains Dr. Hill. “The convenience, everything coming together, pre-dosed, in morning and afternoon packets, in a box that you get every month.” What they ended up with was that all-in-one product he was searching for years ago when his mother asked him for help. Today, truBrain has taken that invaluable insight and run with it. “One of the most novel things we’ve done is taken it out of swallowing-mysteriouswhite-powders-land, and made it a consumer product with our drinks,” says Dr. Hill, referring to the newly launched “Think Drink” version of the blend. “If you’re a self-hacker going after highperformance, you’re certainly willing to swallow pills. But the self-hacker is not necessarily the average user. The average user drinks coffee - they don’t measure out caffeine powder for their boost.”
Brand-Building Takeaways With its userbase just surpassing 1,000 monthly subscribers, truBrain is gaining momentum. But are nootropics headed for mainstream adoption? Dr. Hill thinks so. "People are getting much more comfortable with the idea of modifying their brains intentionally," pointing to the use of supplements like fish oil and B vitamins for their mainstream adoption and known positive cognitive effects. He highlights the newer trend of “cosmetic pharmacology,” or the idea that we can modify the psychoactive effects of things we already take (like adding Theanine to a cup of coffee for a smoother effect). Or the very old practice of meditation, which is known to have significant long-term brain health benefits. In many ways, we’re behaviorally primed to accept nootropics with an open mind. What remains to be seen is if people will start placing more value on long-term cognitive health than on quick fixes and instant brain boosts. Until that trend takes hold, Dr. Hill and his team are on a mission to show people that there’s a better, safer way to get through the day.
Listen to your audience. Consumer feedback has been key to the growth and development of truBrain. Their Think Drinks, for example, were inspired by several customers who wrote in saying they didn’t feel like taking pills every day.
Be flexible and agile. truBrain shipped their initial product within 60 days of launch, formulated Think Drinks within a year, and have more product SKUs in the pipeline. It has accelerated at the pace of a tech start-up, in the traditionally lethargic cyberspace, favoring speed and agility over scale.
Curate to create. truBrain didn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel with its nootropic blend; people have been taking these supplements individually for years. What it created – or rather, curated – is a whole-is-greater-than-thesum-of-its-parts product based around a real need.
Simplify the science (without dumbing it down). From the packaging to the messaging to the very easy-to-follow instructions, truBrain has created a low barrier to entry for users, toning down the intimidation factor in an otherwise complex product. It’s a brand created with the average, non-biohacking user in mind.
H E A L T H
What happens when you gather five passionate health experts with varying points of view around the breakfast table for some light table conversation about marijuana, vaccines, and healthcare? Well, it was anything but appropriate for the breakfast table, we'll tell you that. In our second-ever "Breakfast for Dinner" roundtable, we dove into everything from fitness cults to human augmentations to the measles outbreak in Southern California in order to gain insights and foster conversation around public health issues in 2015. Check out the full discussion and Omelet-inspired breakfast recipes at our YouTube page. And be on the lookout for another round of Breakfast for Dinner in our next issue of Wake Up.
Y O U T U B E . C O M / O M E L E T L A
BD TIM CEO of Health Nuts Media; a company dedicated to creating friendly animated health education solutions customized to work in a variety of settings and applications to inspire health results. Their animated content can be used in games, mobile apps, surveys and incorporated into multimedia campaigns to engage patients in clinics, physicians’ offices, in hospitals and at home.
MARLENE Principal at Façon, a consultancy focused on brand & retail strategy. She has 15+ years of Operational and Consulting experience working with both early stage and established companies such as Jenni Kayne, Victoria's Secret, Reformation and ideeli. Passionate about health and wellness, which she hails to be the new luxury, she recently became an advisor to a fast growing activewear brand and is involved with due diligence projects in the segment for private equity firms and investors. Ripe for disruption, she’s excited to see this market segment grow & evolve.
WILL An entrepreneur in the fitness space, Will started his first triathlon property while he was a student at Bowdoin (The IronBear). He went on to develop numerous race properties, all triathlons on the east coast, under the banner Tri-Maine. He’s also got his hands in a lot of new business ventures including consulting for a health and VC firm. Recently, he created “Epic Man,” a twist on an IronMan, beginning with a kayak from Maine to New Hampshire in the dead of night, followed by a bike ride from New Hampshire to the start of the Boston Marathon, topped off by completing the Boston Marathon.
ANDREW Dr. Hill received his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from UCLA and studied how attention operates in the brain. He studies the brain for a living and works at truBrain, a nootropic blend launched in 2013. Nootropics are defined by their ability to support cognition without appreciable side effect, self-hacking the brain for optimal performance.
JJ An entrepreneur currently residing in San Francisco, JJ is connected to the startup investment world and has a particular interest in personal health/wellness and knows a lot about the booming industry.
We asked the experts for their most honest, candid, and off-the-cuff responses about all things health-related. Here's what they had to say...
Health concerns for 2015. "When we think about the balance we're trying to find – with sleep, rest, medication, relaxation – how does this jive with this society and the pressure we feel in America to never miss out, sleep when you're dead, etc. I've been thinking a lot, can these two things coexist or are we on a crash course?"
Fitness cults – what's the deal? "Innovative in that they've been able to shift the pendulum from this is a "have to" activity to an experience that is fun, emotional in addition to physical, and is all packaged together in this perfect bundle. Doesn't anything that gets you to engage with exercise and activity a win?"
Data and privacy. "There's no such thing as privacy anymore, we just have to give that idea up. What we have now is reciprocal transparency, for example, a company can spy on me, but I'm also going to have a platform where I can voice my opinion back to them. In this new world where we find ourselves, it's not about whether we should have certain technology, it's how we deal with it. And transparency is honestly the only option we have."
Public health issues. "I think there's a lot of public health issues people don't want to touch. Mental health, for example. No one wants to be the face of mental health, and that's an inherent problem. We're choosing which diseases we want to align with based on their marketability."
BD THE FOOD
H E A LT H Y R E D F L A N N E L H A S H W H AT YO U ' L L N E E D :
(Serves 5 individual portions) 4 medium organic red potatoes 1 large organic sweet potato, course cubed 3 organic red beets, 3 organic yellow (heirloom) – peeled and rough cubed 1 medium organic yellow onion, peeled and course diced 1 organic shallot, peeled and cut finely 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely 5 slices (or one small package) of pancetta, chopped finely ¾ cup of flat Italian parsley, torn or rough cut Sea salt (to taste) Tri-color ground pepper (to taste) 5 large organic eggs ½ cup organic vegetable oil 1 teaspoon olive oil D I R E C T I O N S : In a small skillet, combine shallots and pancetta with a teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Cook until shallots are transparent and pancetta is crispy. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 425. Put the vegetable oil in a large cast-iron skillet and then put in the oven for about 5 minutes (until the oil is watery and fluid). Combine the potatoes, beets and onions and garlic into a large bowl – toss with sea salt and pepper. Drizzle a teaspoon of oil into the mixture. Put all ingredients in the bowl into the hot cast-iron skillet, place into oven and roast until crispy (around 20-30 minutes). Take out of the oven and stir beets and potato mixture then return to the oven for another 20ish minutes (until potatoes and beets are fully browned with crispy edges).
Remove the dish from the oven and stir in the parsley. Place 5 small cast-iron skillets into the oven with a drop of oil for just a few minutes (just to heat the iron). Spoon even portions of the hash into the 5 small cast-iron skillets. Make 5 “spoon back” indentations into the hash in each of the skillets – crack one egg in each indentation – season with salt and pepper. Put back into the oven until the eggs are done the way you want them. Finish with sprinkling the shallot and pancetta mixture over top the hash. Add fresh cut parsley for garnish/color. Then eat the hell out of it.
B R E A K FA S T S A L A D W H AT YO U ' L L N E E D :
(Serves 6-8 individual portions) 16 oz. fresh organic arugula (washed and dried) 2 small fennel bulbs, shaved thin into strips Small package pine nuts (toasted) Pecorino cheese (thinly sliced) D I R E C T I O N S : Combine arugula, fennel and pine nuts in a large bowl and mix (then evenly pour dressing onto salad. Place Pecorino on top as garnish to taste).
B R E A K FA S T S A L A D D R E S S I N G W H AT YO U ' L L N E E D :
Juice of 2–3 lemons ¼ cup organic olive oil 2 teaspoons lemon zest 1 teaspoon fine sea salt Pepper to taste Dash of champagne vinegar D I R E C T I O N S : Combine all ingredients in a small container
and mix well.
RECIPES THE BEVERAGE
PIÑA COLADA VERDE W H AT YO U ' L L N E E D :
(Serves 4 individual portions) ¾ cup coconut cream ⅓ cup coconut milk 3 cup ice cubes ½ cup light rum ½ cup dark rum 1½ cups spinach ½ large banana ⅓ cup frozen pineapple chunks D I R E C T I O N S : Add all ingredients to a blender
(preferably with variable speeds, such as a Vitamix). Blend starting on lowest speed, slowly increasing to highest speed, then turn to High and blend until smooth, about 20-30 seconds. If desired, garnish with a pineapple slice and a maraschino cherry.
THANKS TO OUR CHEFS M A R K A N D E R S O N & R YA N F E Y
Flo� S H E L L E Y
C H I D L E Y
Productivity. In recent years, conventional wisdom has dictated that we’re more efficient – in work and play – if we can multitask. We’ve been inundated with new products and services that allow us to do more things at once with the assumption that we’ll then get more done, have more free time, and in the end, live happier, less-stressful lives. But the more we multitask, the less free time we seem to have. In fact, research indicates that multitasking compromises your performance and can even damage your brain.1 You may be doing multiple things at once, but you’re not doing any of them as well as you could if you focused on a single task. Multitasking forces your brain to keep switching gears, which depletes willpower and increases stress.
And people are starting to push back against the always-on-and-juggling trend. More people are going camping or purposely going off the grid and doing “digital detoxes” to escape the constant buzz of their smartphone. Germany is considering a ban on work emails after 6PM following a study that discovered afterhours work emails are causing depression.2 Look around – does the world seem less stressed now that we’re all doing ten things at once? Are you less stressed? Do you have hours and hours of free time you don’t know what to do with? Our obsession with multitasking is starting to feel like a failed experiment. Perhaps it’s time we ditch multitasking and join the next wave of productivity – with flow.
The Zone. Plugged In. Flow State. It’s a concept with many names, but until recently, not a whole lot of understanding. Historically, flow has been the domain of athletes, programmers, performers and hardcore gamers. Professional surfer Laird Hamilton depended on flow when he broke records riding the world’s biggest waves, as did BASE jumper JT Holmes when he and his Red Bull Airforce crew defied death and performed the first ever urban group BASE jump around “suicide corner” for the third Transformers movie, Dark of the Moon.3 Describing what it’s like to be in a flow state isn’t exactly easy, but most will agree that when achieved, it’s totally awesome. A combination of hyperfocus, extreme productivity, and intense euphoria all come together to allow one to do things never previously possible. Flow was most certainly there when Olympic gymnast Kerry Strug wowed the world by landing her vault on a broken leg, and when BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner skydived from space for Red Bull’s Stratos project.4 Scientifically, researchers are discovering that flow is the result of certain types of brain waves shutting off, while others increase. Flow state essentially turns off all the doubts, insecurities, and distractions.5 It silences the “my head hurts,” “I’m tired” and “this is too hard” thoughts, and allows you to focus on exactly what you’re doing, with more clarity than you would in your usual mental state. It allows to you think more creatively and come up with solutions that you’d normally miss. Ironically, you don’t even
know you’re in a flow state until after it’s over, because all that hyperfocus doesn’t allow you to think about the fact that you may be in a flow state. All you’re thinking about is the one big task at hand (and killing it). Flow state isn’t exactly new. But its popularity, and accessibility, are gaining new ground. Athletes and musicians are constantly striving to get into “the zone.” Coders and gamers strive to get “plugged in.” And today, the U.S. military is using flow to train expert snipers and drastically shorten the normal training time, while CEOs and public speakers are becoming more and more dependent on flow states to optimize their performance. So how can you get your own flow going? It’ll take some experimentation, but the easiest way to get into an extreme flow state is to scare yourself. When your brain realizes you’re in extreme risk, it turns off unnecessary thinking and puts all the focus on keeping you alive. An easy cheat to terrify yourself without the risk? Ride a roller coaster or try a zip line. Performing in front of people can also put you into a flow state, like giving a speech at a conference, or even just singing some karaoke. You can also find flow with activities that require hyperfocus, like coding, playing intense video games, or playing a musical instrument. Steven Kotler’s book, Rise of the Superman, also suggests that breathtaking scenery and nature can help induce flow, as can high risk social interactions like flirting and talking to strangers. But even when you employ all these tricks, getting into a true flow state can be elusive for many of us. Fortunately, people are working
on new ways to help access flow states. Steven Kotler of the Flow Genome Project is working on new technologies to allow anyone to learn how to access their flow states.6 Just imagine being able to put on some fancy goggles and put yourself into flow so you can finish eight hours of work in five hours' time, and it’s the best work you’ve ever done. So what does this mean for marketers? It means multitasking is like so five minutes ago. It’s time to start showing consumers how you can make their lives more peaceful, more focused, and more productive while doing just one thing at a time. It’s time to go with the flow.
The Troďż˝ble with Gluten B L A K E L E Y
J O N E S
For 23 years of my life, I never thought about gluten. I tried to eat a relatively balanced, healthy diet, but I never had to worry about food allergies or diet restrictions. Until I found out I had celiac disease. I was in the middle of grad school when my doctor broke the news. In fact, I was eating a quesadilla at my favorite Mexican restaurant when he called. I never suspected that gluten was the villain behind my worsening health problems. I couldn’t believe it, and to be honest, I didn’t really want to. It wasn’t so much that I was worried about following a strict diet or missing out on my favorite foods, I knew I could manage that part. I was worried about something entirely different. I called my parents: “I’m going to be one of those people,” I said. “An annoying gluten-free snob.” I didn’t know it at the time, but celiac disease is far more prevalent than I thought. Three million Americans have been diagnosed with it, and two million more suffer from it, though they haven’t yet been diagnosed.1 The truth is, celiac disease affects 1 in 250 people worldwide.2 So what exactly is this celiac thing? Celiac disease is defined as a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder in which the immune system responds abnormally to a protein called gluten, leading to damage to the lining of the small intestine.3 Or, in plain English, people with celiac disease can’t digest gluten. They’re also at higher risk for a myriad of health
problems, including osteoporosis, liver disease, anemia, neurological disorders, infertility, as well as three types of cancer: non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, esophageal cancer, and adenocarcinoma of the small intestine.4 Unfortunately, that’s just a glimpse into the extensive health issues associated with celiac disease. When people question why I’m hesitant to try new restaurants, or why I’m poring over the ingredient list on a seemingly insignificant thing like deli meat or a pack of gum, I find myself explaining celiac disease as a gluten “allergy.” In reality, that’s far from the truth. For those of us with celiac disease, gluten is essentially poison. The accidental ingestion of even a tiny trace of the protein causes irreparable damage to our small intestines, preventing our bodies from absorbing nutrients from the food we eat, ultimately causing malnutrition. And sadly, currently there’s no cure for celiac disease or medicine to fix it. There’s only one way for people with celiac to prevent further damage to their body: by following a lifelong diet that completely eliminates gluten.
At the time of my diagnosis, my understanding of gluten was basically nonexistent. Like most of the general public, I assumed gluten = carbs. The moment my doctor handed me what looked like an encyclopedia of all the foods containing gluten, I realized I had a lot to learn. Did you know soy sauce contains gluten? How about licorice? Or (of all things) caramel coloring? Yep. Me neither. Fortunately, I entered the gluten-free world in the beginning of 2013, right at the peak of the hype. In August 2013, the FDA mandated strict regulations requiring that all foods labeled “gluten-free” must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten.5 They gave the industry a year to catch up, requiring that all foods labeled “gluten-free” on or after August 5, 2014 meet the new guidelines.6 Thanks to the FDA, those of us with celiac disease (or anyone
trying to avoid gluten) are now able to easily avoid foods that might make us sick. That means not having to spend hours in the grocery store, scouring nutrition labels for words like “triticum vulgare,” “secale cereale” and “maltodextrin,” which are just a few of the sneaky terms synonymous for “gluten here!” The gluten-free fad I once rolled my eyes at and was initially embarrassed to be a part of, became my lifeline and only hope for navigating the celiac waters. However, not all of the food industry are as regulated or educated as they should be – particularly restaurants. It seems like every other restaurant is offering a gluten-free menu these days, and with 18 million Americans suffering from some kind of gluten sensitivity,7 who can blame them for jumping on the bandwagon?
An Interview with Betsy Opyt Founder of Betsy's Best @BetsysBest As the founder of a successful new brand in the health food category, what advice would you give to others looking to launch a new brand or business?
I think it really comes down to setting yourself apart from the others in the category. As you said, it is a very saturated category, and the whole natural food business is growing exponentially. What sets us apart is we truly are unique - yes we may be a nut butter-based product, but our flavor profile is totally different from other brands, and that’s what I hear from consumers. People recognize that we’re different at first bite – the taste, the texture, even the label and the logo. Everything about our product stands out as something different, and I’m really not concerned with what else is out there, because I know we are unique.
Do you believe the definition of “health” is changing?
It's definitely changing, and it’s very refreshing to see the movement. As a dietician and as a passionate believer in healthy living, I really do think it takes a community to make change. And the movement and direction we’re going is towards, and focused, on wellness and longevity rather than weight and dieting and how you look. I completely embrace the movement and I am glad it's happening, although I would have loved to have seen the movement years ago.
What’s your take on the self-tracking trend that’s been growing in the past year?
I see pros and cons to it, especially in my profession. The pro is that it is making people aware of their lifestyle habits and creating a sense of accountability that I think some people need in their crazy lives. However, I think there is also a setback - when you start relying on technology to tell you how you feel, I think you start to lose the benefit of it. For example, if you wake up in the morning and have to run to the computer to see if you slept well, instead of internally asking your body if you feel rested, that’s when I start to see a problem. I don’t think technology needs to define our healthy habits, but it’s a great tool as long as people still are true to their feelings and turning inwardly to examine their success and results instead of turning to an app.
What are your personal health goals for 2015?
So much has happened to me in my life and in my career in the past year, and while I’m passionate about so many things - I’ve become a “human doing” instead of a human being. Even though I love everything I’m involved in, I’d rather be the best at one single thing and hone in on what makes me the happiest and what is most productive in terms of helping others. I love the whole feeling and vibe that’s going on with this Wake Up, because that’s where everyone can actually live a better life being happy with what they’re doing, and not being so overwhelmed with everything that we have available to us with technology and the other things that are constantly thrown at us. We should really enjoy life, because the simplest things are sometimes the most pleasurable.
Well…I can. It seems to me that many restaurants got ahead of themselves, forgetting one major consideration for those of us who avoid gluten for medical reasons: food preparation. Cross-contamination in restaurants is an enormous (and terrifying) risk for anyone with celiac disease. Truly gluten-free meals must be prepared on separate cooking surfaces in the kitchen, in dedicated gluten-free ovens, using dedicated gluten-free pots and pans, cooking utensils, and even serving plates. But from the experiences I’ve had, that’s rarely the case. Cross-contamination isn’t the only issue restaurants need to work out. Lack of education in the food industry when it comes to what gluten really is, is just as big of an issue, if not bigger. Just last week, I ordered a salad from a large chain restaurant’s uninspiring glutenfree menu featuring a whopping four food choices. I ordered a grilled chicken pecan salad, which had to be heavily modified: no pecans, no bleu cheese, no croutons, and just one gluten-free dressing option. But hey, I’ll eliminate whatever it takes to avoid getting sick. However, despite all the effort, my “gluten-free” salad arrived… with a huge croissant sitting right on top. I explained to the waiter again that I was allergic, and to my horror, he offered to remove the croissant for me at the table. Now, consider this: if you top a salad with peanuts, remove them, then serve it to a person who’s allergic to peanuts
– guess what happens? That person will suffer an immediate allergic reaction that very well might land them in the hospital. It’s critical that restaurants realize people with celiac disease are avoiding gluten for the exact same reason. Our “allergy” is no different than any other food allergy. Restaurant marketers haven’t realized they have two audiences to address: people who avoid gluten because they want to, and people who avoid gluten because they have to. As of right now, most restaurants are only addressing the first group. Offering a gluten-free menu without thoroughly understanding what that promise means to your customers might be well intentioned, but is ultimately careless. It’s about educating your employees, understanding the seriousness of avoiding gluten for customers with celiac disease, and ensuring those diners’ needs are met. Period. Restaurants shouldn’t just offer gluten-free menus; they should follow every precaution a person with celiac would take in their own kitchen. It’s not just about using gluten-free ingredients, it’s about the handling, preparation, cooking and serving of every glutenfree dish. Every aspect of a restaurant kitchen should be diligently monitored to avoid cross-contamination. Until restaurants realize they have another group to market to, they’re not just hurting themselves, but also people like myself, who come to their restaurant and trust them with our health.
Some people might think a person who follows a gluten-free diet by choice would annoy a person who has celiac disease, but in my opinion, if cutting out a certain food or following a particular diet makes a person feel better – it’s worth it. Going gluten free was never a choice for me (and trust me, sometimes I wish it was!). I know firsthand that it’s not easy, which gives me respect and admiration for people who stick to a gluten-free diet not because they’ll cause serious damage to their body if they eat it, but because they want to feel better. The truth is, we’re all in this together. We’ve already made progress towards glutenfree labeling on foods, and offering gluten-free menus, but we’ve only just scratched the surface. As marketers, it should be our mission to educate ourselves about what celiac disease is, to have empathy not just for people who avoid gluten because of celiac, but for anyone who has a food allergy of any kind. Next time you want to roll your eyes at someone asking, “Is that gluten-free?” just remember – there’s more to the fad than meets the eye.
To Quant or Not to Quant
Swan, Greg. "Quantified Marketing: The Quantified Self and Your Brand." SlideShare. LinkedIn Corporation, n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2014. <http://www.slideshare.net/ gregswan/quantified-marketingaugust-5-2013-no-notes>. "Quantified Self." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Quantified_Self>. Bradley, Joseph. "A Pill That Tracks Your Health? The Reality Of The 'Quantified Self ' Movement." Huff Post Impact. The Huffington Post, n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2014. <http:// www.huffingtonpost.com/josephbradley/cisco-quantified-selfmovement_b_3907545.html>. Garrison, Mike, and Jennifer Haid. "Self-Quantification/Wearables." Iconoculture. Web. 30 Dec. 2014. "Insurance Data: Very Personal Finance." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2014. <http://www. economist.com/node/21556263>. Anderson, Janna, and Lee Raine. "The Internet of Things Will Thrive by 2025." Pew Research Internet Project. Pew Research Center, n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2014. <http:// www.pewinternet.org/2014/05/14/ internet-of-things/>. Anderson, Janna, and Lee Raine. "The Internet of Things Will Thrive by 2025." Pew Research Internet Project. Pew Research Center, n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2014. <http:// www.pewinternet.org/2014/05/14/ internet-of-things/>. "What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?" techopedia. Janalta Interactive Inc., n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2014. <http://www.techopedia. com/definition/28247/internet-ofthings-iot>.
The Cult of Fitness 1.
Pithers, Ellie. "Inside America's Cult Fitness Fad: SoulCycle." Telegraph. N.p., 24 Aug. 2014. Web. 2 Mar. 2015. <http://fashion.telegraph. co.uk/beauty/news-features/ TMG11041319/Inside-Americascult-fitness-fad-SoulCycle.html>. "Home Page." Barry's Bootcamp. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2015. <http:// www.barrysbootcamp.com/>. "CrossFit." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/CrossFit>.
5. 6. 7.
Devash, Meirav. "Health Goth: When Darkness and Gym Rats Meet." The New York Times. Ed. Dean Baquet. The New York Times Company, 10 Dec. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <http://www.nytimes. com/2014/12/11/fashion/healthgoth-when-darkness-and-gym-ratsmeet.html?_r=0>. HealthGoth.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <http://www. healthgoth.com/>. Neugebauer, Tim. "Interview: Is Health Goth the New Street Goth?" Complex. Ed. Noah Callahan-Bever. Complex Media, 28 Aug. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <http://uk.complex.com/ style/2014/08/is-health-goth-thenew-street-goth>. Horne, Alex. "Is the Health Goth Movement Selling Out to the Mainstream?" VICE. Ed. Rocco Castoro. VICE Media LLC, 30 Oct. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <http://www.vice.com/ read/health-goth-mainstreamattention-666>. Horne. Cantino, Chris. E-mail interview. 21 Feb 2015. Cantino.
The Third Metric 1.
“Health could be a core strategy”. October 30, 2014. Warc. <http://www.warc.com/ LatestNews/News/EmailNews. news?ID=33806>. "Employee Wellness as a Strategic Business Imperative." Independence Blue Cross. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <http://www.ibx.com/pdfs/ employers/employer_resources/ wellness_whitepapers/wellness_ whitepaper_112013.pdf>. Hall, Barry, Ruth Hunt, and Dave Ratcliffe. "Working Well: What's Next For Wellness?" Buck Consultants: Print. "Towers Watson/NBGH Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care." Towers Watson. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <http://www.towerswatson.com/ en/Insights/IC-Types/SurveyResearch-Results/ 2013/03/ Towers-Watson-NBGHEmployer-Survey-on-Value-inPurchasing-Health-Care>. Austen-Smith, David, et al.
"Unilever's Mission for Vitality." Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Publishing, Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <https:// hbr.org/product/unilever-smission-for-vitality/KEL364PDF-ENG>. 6. Rowan, Cortney, and Karuna Harishanker. "What Great Corporate Wellness Programs Do." Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Publishing, 21 Mar. 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <https://hbr.org/2014/03/ what-great-corporate-wellnessprograms-do>. 7. Rowan, Cortney, and Karuna Harishanker. "What Great Corporate Wellness Programs Do." Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Publishing, 21 Mar. 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <https://hbr.org/2014/03/ what-great-corporate-wellnessprograms-do>. 8. Stover, Douglas R., and Jade Wood. "Most Company Wellness Programs Are a Bust." Gallup. 4 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <http://www.gallup. com/businessjournal/181481/ company-wellness-programsbust.aspx> 9. "Personalization is ‘Secret Sauce’ for any Wellness Program." Corporate Wellness Magazine. 30 Mar. 2015. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <http://www. corporatewellnessmagazine. com/features/personalizationis-secret-sauce-for-anywellness-program/>. 10. O'Brien, Joseph. "Trending in 2014: Making Wellness a Strategic Initiative." The Institute for Healthcare Consumerism. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <http:// www.theihcc.com/en/ communities/population_ health_and_wellness/trendingin-2014-making-wellness-astrategic-initi_hp4avoj7.html>. 11. "A New CSR Frontier: Business and Population Health." BSR. N.p., Nov. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <http://www.bsr.org/ reports/BSR_A_New_CSR_ Frontier_Business_and_ Population_Health.pdf>. 12. Rowan, Cortney, and Karuna Harishanker. "What Great Corporate Wellness Programs Do." Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Publishing, 21 Mar. 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <https://hbr.org/2014/03/ what-great-corporate-wellnessprograms-do>.
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Oscar, You're Hot! 1.
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Text Neck 1.
Biohacking 1. 2.
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Embeddable Tech 1. 2.
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The Trouble with Gluten 1.
Your Best Brain 1.
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Published on Apr 28, 2015
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