James Swanwick: Be Wiser Without Budweiser – #307
By: Dave Asprey
Why you should listen –
James Swanwick is an Australian-American entrepreneur, former SportsCenter anchor on ESPN and host of The James Swanwick Show podcast. He is the creator of the 30 Day No Alcohol Challenge, which helps you reduce or quit alcohol; and creator of blue-blocking glasses “Swannies,” which help you sleep better. On today’s episode of Bulletproof Radio, James and Dave talk about the social pressure to drink alcohol and how to conquer it, the marketing tactics of the alcohol industry, James’ blue-blocking glasses, considering light as a drug and more. Enjoy the show!
Follow Along with the Transcript!
Audio: Bulletproof Radio. A state of high performance.
Dave: Hey, this is Dave Asprey with Bulletproof Radio. Today’s cool fact of the day is that it turns out that alcohol doesn’t actually make you forget anything when you’re blackout drunk. Instead, your brain temporarily loses the ability to create memories. It’s kind of sad.
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Today’s guest is a friend, and a guy who knows a thing or two about sleep. Before we get into the episode, I want to mention my buddies at samina.com. If you’re looking for the Rolls Royce, low toxin, extremely nice mattress, these guys came to the Bulletproof Conference and demoed a bed from Germany that was over the top. It’s used by some top celebrities. I’ve had a chance to try one of these out and to sleep on one, and it’s a pretty amazing experience. If you’re looking for the ultra, ultra-premium kind of thing, these guys have been kind enough to give me one of the mattresses to try out, and if you’re looking for the ultimate there, this is one of those things you can do. It’s not the most cheap mattress on the market by a very long shot, but it is probably the most carefully constructed one, and one that I found makes a difference. Depending on what you’re looking to do, this is something that I highly recommend you check out. I’m grateful that they sent a mattress my way to try out.
Today’s guest, though, speaking of sleep, is none other than my friend James Swanwick, who’s an ESPN SportsCenter anchor and co-founder of Crocmedia. He runs the James Swanwick Show podcast, and the Alpha Male Club. He’s been in TV and print for about 20 years. He’s interviewed guys like Al Gore, who actually invented the internet, and Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Hugh Hefner, all of whom Al Gore actually invented, as I understand, which is awesome.
He’s been in AP and The Sun and a whole bunch of other magazines. Basically, he’s like, what do they call it? My grandma would say, James, that you’re the bee’s knees. Is this actually true?
James: The bee’s knees, I like that. It’s good. We’ll run with that, Dave, thank you.
Dave: Welcome to the show, man. We’ve chatted before, and I’m always happy to have you on. Thanks for showing up and being here, and telling us your story. Today, I want to talk about your background because essentially you’re an ass-kicker on multiple things. You’ve succeeded over and over and over. People who listen to Bulletproof Radio want to know how do you do that, and so I want to kind of peel back the layers of what you do. Not so much as how do you have a successful podcast — there’s all sorts of podcasts about how to have a successful podcast, about how to have a successful podcast.
What we’re talking about here is actually more about how do you get the energy to be an entrepreneur, and to do the high-energy things you do, and to do it for 20 years straight. So let’s talk. How’d you get into this in the first place?
James: Thanks, Dave. Great to be here again. Yeah, I grew up in Brisbane, Australia. You can tell I’ve got a funny accent here. We’re very geographically cut off from the rest of the world down there. All Australians around their early 20s, they have this insatiable desire to go and see the world, because we’re the Land Down Under. We’re so cut off from everywhere else.
In my early 20s, I kind of set fire to my career, which was I was a newspaper reporter for a Rupert Murdoch broadsheet. I flew over to London where they give Australians two-year working visas, and I decided I was going to just see the world, use London as a base to travel through Europe and South America. I really wanted to cover the World Cup rugby and the World Cup cricket that year, it was in 1999. I managed to accomplish that.
Then I did something stupid. I fell in love with a British woman who broke my heart, and I wanted to escape from the UK. Rather than go back to Australia, I decided, you know what? The land of opportunity is what they say America is, so I’m going to head over there and see what I can do. From there, I created a PR company. I interviewed movie stars, I quit drinking, created a 30-day no alcohol challenge, got into health and fitness, started following you on Bulletproof Radio, and things just looked a lot rosier since my early days.
My motivation, really, is just to explore the world. I’m interested in different cultures, different things, and lately I’ve been very much focused on health.
Dave: It’s amazing what happens when you quit drinking. I wasn’t going to go there, I want to get into your story and I was going to talk with you about alcohol later, but let’s just kind of … We’ll get to your career stuff and sort of how you got into interviewing celebrities and all, because I think you’ve got a few tidbits that everyone who listens to Bulletproof Radio can really benefit from there. You had a few hacks there, but let’s just switch gears. Let’s just talk about alcohol, because that’s the big thing.
Like you, I’m like, look, I want alcohol to be a health food. It would be great, right? But I will tell you flat out that I don’t think it’s a health food. I think it’s enjoyable, but if you’re going to tell yourself, I’m doing this for my health? No, you’re taking a hit when you drink. You just are. It might be a small hit, and you can make the hit smaller. You can own that. And it’s a bigger hit for some people than others, but it’s unlikely, in the net-net balance of things, to improve the quality of your energy, improve the quality of your metabolism or anything else, especially if you do it on a regular basis. That’s always been my Bulletproof perspective. Beer is different than vodka. I’ll tell you vodka’s better, I’ll tell you how to turn it off, but at the end of the day, if you go without it for a while, things open up.
What happened when you went 30 days without alcohol, and why did you do it?
James: I was a social drinker. I grew up in an Australian culture which is always like, get drunk on your 18th birthday, drink beer with the guys when you’re playing rugby or watching sport, drink champagne to celebrate and have a bottle of wine over a romantic dinner. I grew up in that culture, and right through my late 20s, early 30s, I would consider myself a social drinker. I never considered myself an alcoholic, but I was a social drinker. I had a few drinks during the week, and then on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday night, I’d turn it on, maybe get drunk. Sometimes on a Sunday if it was football season, the NFL, I’d knock back four or five beers, and I just got tired of feeling tired. I just kind of got sick and tired of the hangovers.
Even if I didn’t have a hangover where your head’s in your hand and you’re going, oh my god, I’m so struggling right now, even if it wasn’t that, it was always just a little bit of irritability the next day. I might wake up after a couple drinks only, on a Thursday or Friday night, but I’d just feel irritable. Or I’d sleep in just a little bit more, or I was just a little bit more sluggish.
I got to about 35 and I’d put on about 20 pounds of fat that just creeped up on me. I don’t know, it just came out of nowhere. About five years ago, I just was feeling mediocre in every way. I didn’t have high energy, my sleep was pretty poor, I was carrying a few extra pounds, and I remember, I was at South by Southwest, at the festival in Austin, Texas in March of 2010. I woke up in this hotel just on the outskirts of Austin, and for whatever reason I had a really bad hangover. I’d only had a couple of gin & tonics the night before, but I don’t know, I must have been dehydrated. I was in this International House of Pancakes, right next door to the hotel, having this hangover breakfast, and I looked at the bright, bold colors of the photos of the food that they have on these IHOP menus, and I looked to the left and the right of me and there were these huge, overweight people pigging out on these all-you-can-eat pancakes with maple syrup, and I was just like, ugh, I just feel so ordinary right now.
Dave: Have you seen their new … They have like a pancake smoothie where they put the pancakes and the syrup in the blender, and then you can just drink it and it’s so much faster and more convenient. It’s a great biohack. Okay, no they don’t –
James: That’s how you want to put on 40 pounds really quickly.
Dave: – I’m sorry. I like the image though, because I’m with you there. So you’re at IHOP and you’re like, okay, I’m not going to do this anymore.
James: Yeah, I was in IHOP and I was like, you know what? I’ve got to take a break. I just want to take a break.
Just to be clear, I wasn’t an alcoholic. I was just a social drinker, but I was just sick and tired of this mediocre feeling. I just said to myself, I wonder if I can go 30 days? I just set myself a goal, I’m going to try and go 30 days without drinking. I haven’t gone that long in my adult life since I started drinking, let’s see if I can do it.
That was really my motivation. I didn’t know how long I was going to go for when I started, but I’ll tell you what happened. After 30 days, I’d lost 13 pounds of fat, my skin got a lot better, my sleep improved, I had more energy. I started attracting a higher caliber of person into my life, if that makes sense. I just started associating with people who were more health-conscious. I started waking up on a Saturday and Sunday morning wanting to go to the gym, wanting to go and exercise. All of a sudden I started reading about things like paleo, that I didn’t understand before, or the benefits of good fats that you’re a big proponent of obviously, with your Bulletproof diet. There were all these things that just opened up to me because I just quit the drinking for 30 days.
At the end of 30 days, I went, you know what? I feel so damn good, let’s see if I can keep going. So I did. I ended up … I went to 40 days; I went, I wonder if I can do 50? I went to 50, I said, I wonder if I can do 60? And after 90 days, I was like, oh my god, I just feel like a superman. I’m energetic, my relationships have improved, I’m sleeping better, people are complimenting me on my looks for the first time in a few years, and I was like, I’ll just keep going.
I got to one year, I was back in Austin, I went into the Lustre Pearl bar, and I ordered a Budweiser to celebrate this one year without alcohol. I took a … I took a smell of it, rather, and it smelled really good. I was going to take a sip, but something stopped me. I just put it back, and I said, you know what? Give me a water instead, and I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol since. It’s been almost six years now –
James: – that I haven’t touched alcohol.
Dave: I have a rule, I’ll drink it if it’s older than me, usually. Like I will pay probably more than the average person. Some of the unfiltered yeast in wine causes an immune reaction in me, so I don’t feel that great, but if it’s really good wine, all right, I’ll do it. I’ll do it once every 60 days, max, and I’ll take a bunch of supplements like the Bulletproof Activated Charcoal and Glutathione, and I can generally manage my body’s response to the alcohol. It’s quite enjoyable. It tastes delicious. But I’m not getting antioxidants that are worth a crap, because I take 100mg of Trans-Resveratrol every day, which is approximately like 10,000 bottles worth of wine. I have no idea if that number is right, but it’s on that order of magnitude. There’s no self-deception that I’m doing myself any favors there. It was better than going to McDonald’s and eating their crap fried french fries and whatever other stuff they have there, but it wasn’t a favor.
There was a time in my life where I wouldn’t have even done that. I went several years without doing that, because I would feel like crap for three or four days if I did it, because my immune system was overactive.
That said, I know guys who are like, “I could run a triathlon, I’m super strong, I could drink six beers and eat pizza and I feel great! Gluten is only for celiacs, and …” and they go on all this stuff, but then they’re still not anywhere near what they’re capable of doing. They’re holding themselves back nutritionally and with alcohol, but they don’t know it.
How do you get people to see that they’re doing what you were doing to yourself?
James: I actually gave this talk at your conference in Pasadena, the Bulletproof Conference, which was –
Dave: Yeah, it was awesome.
James: Thank you. Which was, is one drink a day holding you back, or is one drink a day slowly killing you? Here’s the thing. Even if you consider yourself just a social drinker, okay, and you just have one drink a day. Just say you come home from work, you have a glass of wine just to take the edge off, maybe you have a beer, maybe you have a couple beers. Here’s the thing: That’s enough to disrupt your sleep just a little bit. When your sleep is disrupted just a little bit, you wake up just a little bit irritable. When you wake up just a little bit irritable, you’re more inclined to snap at your husband or your wife or your boyfriend or girlfriend, or your kids, so your relationships start to suffer just a little bit.
If you leave home just a little bit later because you’re just a little bit irritable, then maybe you’re not showing up at work on time. Maybe you’re not doing your job to the best that you can. If you run a business, maybe you’re not as energetic and as focused and as clear-minded as you can be, than if you didn’t have that one drink the night before. That’s costing you money. Maybe you don’t get a promotion at work, so it’s costing you money. Maybe you don’t make sales in your business, which is costing you money. Maybe because you’re just a little bit irritable, and you’re just a little bit foggy after that drink the night before, you’re more inclined to have a crappy breakfast. Maybe you duck into Starbucks and have a cookie, or you go to McDonald’s, or maybe you have a sugary food. That is enough to just give you a little bit of extra pounds over your waist, which makes you just a little bit fatter, which makes you sleep worse, which makes you earn less money, which makes you more irritable, and it’s just this perpetual cycle.
One drink is all it takes for you just to be a little bit off, and that can affect your finances, your relationships, your health, your looks. Alcohol is a poison, and when you put that poison into your body, you look weathered, like the crow’s feet or the lines on your skin start to be more pronounced.
Again, I’m not saying that alcohol is the devil and you should never drink alcohol, ever, but if you have a habit, just the habit of just one drink a day, or a few drinks on the weekend, then maybe you’re not living your life at an optimum level.
Dave: I gave an interview for a big tech magazine a while back about anti-aging. A lot of people don’t know this, but I’ve run an anti-aging research group for more than a decade as its chairman or president, and met a lot of the people who taught me biohacking who are looking to heal aging. This age-old quest for immortality thing. A lot of the trans-humanists … I’m an adjunct professor at the Singularity Institute, which has a lot of this kind of thinking there, and I believe very firmly that aging itself is death by a thousand cuts. There isn’t one giant cause of aging, there’s many little things that kind of chip away at your resilience and at your biochemical pathways. What you do is you try to have less of the things that make you weak, and try to have more of the things that make you strong.
If some marketing company has told you that alcohol — or someone who just has wishful self-deception, there’s a lot of that out there — they’re going to … “Oh, well, I want alcohol to be good for you, so I’m going to torture the data until there’s a way to say it’s good for you. I’m going to make up this antioxidant thing in alcohol and I’m going to find this one study that says it shifts your gut biome,” or whatever. You can justify whatever behavior you want, including slavery and wife-beating, if you want to torture the data enough. It’s called self-deception.
You’re going to go out there and you’re going to promote this message, but then what’s happening there is you’re teaching people who believe in doing things every day to move the needle in the right direction, that they’re moving the needle in the right direction when they’re clobbering themself over the head. Softly, but still clobbering themself over the head.
Dave: I made a commitment when I started Bulletproof. I’m like, look, here’s what different alcohols do to you. Here’s why they’re bad for you. Here’s the biochemical pathways. Then on the Bulletproof Alcohol Infographic, here’s what to do about it, so if you’re going to do it, at least don’t deceive yourself that you’re doing yourself a favor by having a drink. It’s just not that way.
James: Yeah. I created a program called 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge –
Dave: It’s a good one.
James: I teach people in this about how the liquor companies and the beer companies are actually marketing to us to try and get us to drink their product, right? You think about all the TV commercials you watch when you’re watching a football game, for example, Dave, right? They portray these happy, beautiful people having fun, or acting cool and sophisticated. If you’re watching an NFL game you’ll have Coors or Budweiser commercials where you’ve got goofy guys having fun, and then these really beautiful girls in the ads, and it’s portraying this image that if you want to be part of the tribe, then you’re going to drink our product. If you want to have fun, then you’re going to drink our product.
They’ve got these ad campaigns now with Hollywood celebrities. I mean, George Clooney is pushing this tequila now, and there’s a big billboard on Sunset Boulevard with George Clooney riding a motorcycle, and he looks very cool and very sophisticated, and very handsome, but the whole imagery behind it, what’s going on there is if you want to be cool and sophisticated and handsome like George Clooney, drink this product.
Dave: I totally missed it. I thought it meant you have to be drunk to ride a motorcycle. I totally had it backwards. Okay, cool. Anyway …
James: I see what you did there, Dave. Very clever.
These companies, they’re pushing this idea, like that champagne should be associated with celebrations like weddings. Who ever actually invented the idea that to celebrate you have to drink champagne? I’ll tell you who invented it, a marketing company behind a champagne company. Who says that you have to drink beer to watch sporting games? Well, the beer companies, of course. Who says that you have to have a bottle of wine over a romantic dinner? The wine companies, that’s who.
The truth is, you can enjoy all of these activities without the alcohol, and you can live a life filled with celebration and joy and energy and clarity, without the alcohol. When you drink, you’re not actually drinking for pleasure. You’re actually drinking just to relieve you of your alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol is a highly addictive drug, and when it passes out of your system, it leaves you wanting more, like hunger. Then you feel like you’re craving a drink. You’re not actually craving the drink for pleasure, you’re craving it to relieve you of your craving.
Dave: It’s funny, I remember going back, jeez, almost 20 years. I was at this company called Exodus Communications. This was the company that hosted Google’s first server when Google was just like a baby company, and a bunch of Yahoo’s stuff, kind of the foundational big brands you know on the internet. Facebook, all that, they all used our stuff, and it was a cool time. We had the best month ever, so the sales team went out to the local Mexican food place to celebrate, and I went by and I got a triple latte. I still drank milk in my coffee, I didn’t know any better. I was drinking coffee every two hours so I’d keep crashing. I walk in there and the head of sales goes, “Oh! …” He goes to take my coffee to hand me a beer, and I’m like, “Are you kidding me? I want my coffee!” Like, what the heck?
Even back then, I recognized that I enjoyed beer and wine and all, but it takes it out of me the next day. I was running at such a career pace that I was kind of … I felt socially awkward, because they’re trying to say don’t drink what makes you feel good, drink this! There was peer pressure there, especially among salespeople. Salespeople just drink themselves under the table, usually. What do you do in a situation like that, where you’re like, okay, I’m not going to drink, or I’m going to choose something else? How do approach that now?
James: Yeah, it’s the biggest question that I get, funnily enough. When people learn about the fact that I don’t drink, when people come into the 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge, they’re always saying, “Hey, how do you socialize without drinking? How do we do this? I just feel uncomfortable out in a group of people, and I’m the only person not drinking.”
Here’s what I do: First thing, I just commit that I’m going to have the most fun and be the most personable person at whatever social function or gathering I’m about to attend, and I’m going to do it while sipping on soda water, or water, ice, and a piece of lime. I just make a commitment. It is as simple as that. I’ll walk in and I’ll go, “Dave! How are you doing? James Swanwick. Nice to meet you. Have you met my friend, Tina? Tina, meet John. John, meet Chris. How are you doing? Tell me your story.” And I’ll start to just take a very genuine interest in other people. I start to initiate people skills, if you like. I’m not relying on the crutch of alcohol to loosen up and to feel free, and to feel like I belong in the conversation. I’m just relying on people skills, self-assurance, confidence, to be able to engage people.
The first thing is very much a mentality. It’s I’m going to have the most fun here. Let me tell you, Dave, I go to parties … You and I have been at a party. We went to Jim Kwik’s party a year ago. There’s an open bar, people are drinking. A lot of times, people actually think I’m drunk because I’m just having a good time, I’m energetic, I’m having good conversations with people, I’m smiling, I’m laughing. People don’t even know that I’m not drinking. It’s so, so simple. First thing is just commit.
The second thing is that whenever anyone asks you, “Can I get you a drink? What would you like to drink?” just repeat these words: “Yes, please. I’ll have a water, ice, and a piece of lime, please.” That’s it. Or, you can just change it to whatever your favorite non-alcoholic drink is, like, “Give me a soda water with a splash of cranberry.” Whatever. Just repeat that, because when you go into a restaurant and you sit down, what happens? The waiter comes over, or the waitress, and says, “Hi, can I get you started with some drinks?” And of course, they’re trying to sell you their alcoholic product, right? They’re trying to get you to guy drinks –
Dave: Which is going to double your tab, right?
James: It’s going to double your tab. I smile, and I say, “Yes, please. I’ll have a water, ice, and a piece of lime, please.” And they’ll say, “Okay, sure. No problem.” And they bring it over to me. Guess what? I haven’t committed to paying for a $15 cocktail, I haven’t bought a bottle of wine, my tab is going to be half or two-thirds less at the end of the meal, and I’m drinking something that’s healthy for me.
The other thing is, make a joke about the fact that you’re not drinking. If someone actually sees that you’re not drinking, or starts to mock you or makes fun of you, first of all, that rarely happens. Even if it does, just make a joke about it. Just say, “Yeah, I’m going to get drunk on this water tonight. I am going to swing from the rafters tonight! Look out, I am going to go crazy on this soda water tonight.” Just make a joke about it. When people see that you don’t care that you’re not drinking, and that you’re confident, and you say it with a little cheeky smile and a little cheeky grin, no one can make fun of you. Nobody cares.
So, three things there: Commit to having the most fun; two, always, when you walk into a bar, just go up and order a water, ice, piece of lime. It’s a delicious drink. Third, when anyone ever points out that you’re not drinking, just make a joke about it. Just say, “Yeah, I’m not drinking at the moment, but I’m going to get drunk on this water instead.” When you do that, people just relax. People don’t care. It’s an absolute fallacy that people are judging you for not drinking. It just doesn’t happen.
Dave: There’s a line that I find works really, really well. I just tell people that I’m really looking to avoid benign, alcohol-induced testicular atrophy. It takes people, especially who have had a couple drinks, it takes them a minute to unpack that. When they unpack it, they just realize that you kind of just insulted them to their face because they’re drinking. But it took them long enough that they feel stupid.
James: But look, you just cracked a joke. You just cracked a joke, you made a light-hearted comment. Nobody cares. People are all like, “Oh, I’m going to be ostracized from the group if I don’t drink.” Nonsense.
What I like to do sometimes as well, and I teach this to people in my 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge program all the time. I say just point to your head and go, “I’m too strong in mind. I’m too strong in mind.” And just say it with a little cheeky grin.
Dave: You have to have the cool accent, too, because it sounds cooler when you say it.
James: Let me hear your Australian accent, Dave. I want to hear it. Let’s see what you got.
Dave: I don’t think I can do Australian. “I’m too strong in mind.” I don’t think I have it down.
James: I mean, that was an excellent Sri Lankan accent, but could you do an Australian accent now?
Dave: I don’t think I … I can say Ameriker. I’ve got that down. Other than that, I don’t think I quite have the Aussie thing down.
James: My Australian friends, when I go back to … I was actually back in Australia for Christmas just gone, and they accused me of having an American accent because I start to pronounce my R’s a little bit more. I’ll say things like, “Sure,” or I’ll say things like, “There you go,” or “You know what?” This is how Australians mock Americans a little bit. We say these phraseologies, like “You know what? You know what?” I’m like, “What?” Every american loves to say, “You know what?” And the other thing is like, “Sure.” And the other thing is, “There you go,” like there’s all this kind of encouragement, like “There you go, nice. Nice. You’re doing it. Nice.”
Americans are probably listening to me now, going, “This is just the worst impersonation of an American accent.” Anyway. May I just stress as well that I am a dual citizen, so I am American and I love this wonderful country, and I appreciate America wonderfully. I’m just making a little joke at my naturalized country’s expense.
Dave: My brother-in-law is also from Australia, and when he puts on his American accent it’s screamingly funny. I don’t think any American’s going to doubt … Besides, what is an American accent? There’s the surfer, “Hey, dude,” all the way down to South Carolina, so we’re a mixing pot. Always have been. There’s more than a few criminals here too, so it’s cool.
James: I see what you did there, yes.
Dave: All right.
James: We’re all … I’m descended from convicts, yes.
Dave: Exactly. We’ve got no problems with that. Now, I think we talked about alcohol pretty well, but the sort of elephant in the room, especially for people who are on the YouTube channel — by the way, bulletproofexec.com/youtube, you can sign up and get all this cool stuff. If you’re watching us right now, you would recognize that not only is James Swanwick a profoundly attractive man, he’s wearing these glasses that amplify his attractiveness in a way that you could only describe as orange. You’re wearing orange glasses right now, which is a biohack that I’ve been a fan of for years. I’ve talked about it I think before it was cool, and you’re actually making it cool, so tell me about the glasses you’re wearing right now.
James: These are blue-blocking glasses. I call them Swannies. They’re a company that I created, swanniesglasses.com. About a year ago, I had a friend of mine … First of all, I actually saw you wearing your orange-tinted glasses about 18 months ago, and I never really delved into it too much. I just thought, there’s some biohack going on with Dave and that’s cool, he’s just the weird Bulletproof guy, that’s all right. Don’t really understand it. Then I was out to dinner with a friend of mine in Palm Springs about a year ago, and he was wearing these really ugly safety goggles.
Dave: Oh, those are so gnarly. I have those too, yeah.
James: Yeah, with the orange lenses in them. It was 8:00 at night, we’re sitting down for dinner, and I’m like, “Dude, what the hell are you wearing?” He’s like, “Oh, I’m wearing blue-blocking glasses. They stop the blue light so it’s going to help my sleep.” That was interesting, so I did ask him about that, but before I did, I said, “But mate, what are you doing? You’re wearing ugly glasses. We’re out to dinner. We’re out here with some pretty girls, like what are you doing? Take those –
Dave: Oh, the chicks dig it, man. They love that, when you have those big mono-brow goggles? It’s totally the thing.
James: I said to him, “Mate, take those damn things off.” He’s like, “No.” Anyway, over dinner, he explained it to me. He explained the benefits of wearing blue-blocking glasses, and essentially it’s this: Blue light is emitted from your cell phone, from your laptop computer, from your iPad. From any electrical device that has a display, there’s blue light coming out of that display. Now, in the daytime, that’s okay, but at nighttime, when your body wants to create melatonin so you can fall asleep at night, looking at your cell phone in bed at nighttime in the dark, looking at your computer at nighttime an hour and a half, two hours, before you go to sleep, is damaging your sleep patterns. What that blue light does is that it keeps your brain alert, it keeps your brain activated, and it prevents the creation of melatonin, which helps you fall asleep, increases the quality of your sleep, reduced your risk of cancer, regulates your hormones.
If you are listening to this right now on your cell phone and it’s nighttime, and you’re looking at the display on your cell phone, you are basically disrupting your sleep. If you are watching this on YouTube at the moment on Dave’s channel and it’s nighttime, then the blue light that is hitting your eyes right now is disrupting your sleep.
What I did was, there was a problem, Dave. That was, I didn’t want to wear ugly safety goggles out to dinner where there were girls looking at me and other guys. I’m just vain enough that I kind of wanted to look stylish wearing blue-blocking glasses.
James: So what I did was I put the blue-blocking lens, this orange lens, into as stylish a frame as I could come up with. They’re kind of like reading glasses, so now I can wear them out in social occasions, out to dinner at nighttime a couple of hours before I go to sleep, and now people go, “Oh, they’re interesting. Tell me about those,” as opposed to, “What the hell are you wearing right now?”
Dave: I think you’re understating the problem. I’ve been studying light in the brain since 1997 when I started using infrared lights to stimulate parts of my brain like by shining them through the scalp, which is why I have my custom-made orange glasses, which are actually a vintage pair of Oakley titanium frames that they’re based on. I had the custom tint made specifically for my brain, as well as to block the blue light, because I noticed the difference in my sleep performance. I love that you made these things.
The reason I say the problem is worse than that is it’s not just computers and laptops and screens like this, it’s that LED light bulbs are five times more suppressive of melatonin than incandescent bulbs. In the last two years, the amount of light pollution in cities around the world, because they all switched to LED lights all over the place, has just skyrocketed. You look at satellite photos of the earth from two years ago versus now, it’s a really big issue for humans everywhere, and it’s linked to cancer.
I have a two-pronged strategy. I use blue-blocking glasses. I’m a fan of yours, like the look on Swannies is really good. And you do something else that’s actually cognitively interesting — and you can see it when you go to the YouTube channel for Bulletproof, when they look at you — you’ve got a blueish anti-reflective glare on them. That’s actually a glare protective shield, so when you reduce glare, you reduce the amount of energy your brain uses to sort out reflections from what’s going on. The anti-glare coating is also a cognitive enhancing benefit for you.
What I do is I’ll use my custom lenses, although I really like the look of yours, so cool, I like Swannies –
James: Thank you.
Dave: On my laptop, on my iPad, on my phone, I have a Zen Tech screen protector. This is something that I make — full disclosure. We both have products in this space. Neither one of us is here to sell, but we’ll just talk about what we do. I made this because I didn’t always wear my glasses at night. All of my electronics have this on them. It’s not an orange coating, you can’t even see it’s on there, but it’s blocking the narrow spectrum of blue that causes the most damage. The stuff the suppresses melatonin the most.
That’s not enough though, because if you cover your screens … Before bed, if you look at your phone to set your alarm clock or do whatever, it’s going to get you. If you’re not wearing blue-blocking glasses at night, whatever lights you have are going to affect your melatonin, and if you’re like most people you have fluorescent or even worse, LED lights, they’re going to completely turn off melatonin for four hours. You’ve got to have something over your eyes and something over your electronics. That’s the strategy that I follow at home, so I was kind of stoked when you came out with some nice-looking glasses like that. That’s a good thing.
James: Yeah, thank you Dave. It’s funny, since we started using electric lighting, it was, what, 120 years ago, 125 years ago? We’re always in this artificial light. Constantly. Before that it was candlelight, now we’re in this artificial light. That’s put a huge strain on our bodies, on our hormones, on our sleep patterns. It’s essentially just changed our whole genetic makeup, really.
You think about it, if you go even … If you live in a cold climate, let’s just say you’re on the East Coast and the sun goes down … The sun gets up at like 7:00, 7:30, it goes down at like 4:30, 5:00 in the peak of winter. There’s actually a chance that you will be constantly in that overhead lighting all day without actually going out and getting sunlight, which also helps your circadian rhythm and also helps the creation of melatonin, and that you’re just sitting indoors all day under that strobe lighting, underneath that fluorescent lighting. That’s causing a hell of a lot of damage to you.
The fact that it’s too cold to go outside so you stay inside, you’ve got these big overhead lights. That’s disrupting your melatonin production, it’s disrupting your sleep, and even if you get seven or eight hours sleep and you go, “Well, I got seven or eight hours sleep,” it’s not necessarily the deepest sleep you can get. It’s not necessarily the highest quality of sleep you can get, because you were looking at your cell phone in the half an hour before bed, or you had these overhead lights in your bedroom or your living room on before you went to sleep.
Dave: There’s a famous book that really first informed me about this years ago, it was called Lights Out. I want to say it was around 2003, 2004. I could be off by a couple years. I met the author of the book at a medical conference, because, well, I go to medical conferences for fun even though I worked in tech. Why would I do that? Anyhow, this book was one-third references, and it flat-out said, look, when you have bright lights at night, it causes cancer.
What I realized then, and I still believe to this day, is that light is a drug. Just like we have real foods and fake foods, we have the same thing going on with light. The difference in light, though, is that the natural forms of light that we evolved to work with at the right time of day are what us engineers would call analog sources of light. This means light that doesn’t blink on and off really rapidly.
There’s only a few ways to get that. Number one is sunlight, number two is fire — kerosene lanterns and whale oil lanterns and all the thing that we’ve used for that — and then we have the incandescent light bulb, which doesn’t flicker. It actually glows. They can flicker a little bit, but it’s not a rhythmic flicker, even if the power that comes there is there. Then we have halogen lights. After that, for the most part, when we get to fluorescent lights, when we get to LED lights, when we get to all the other more exotic forms of light, all of those are basically digital, unnatural forms of light, where we’ve separated out specific frequencies, and the energy-efficient lights are lacking huge parts of the spectrum that affect our biology because light’s a drug.
What we’ve done is we’ve taken natural, normal light that our bodies can make sense of at the right time of day, and we’ve turned it into this artificial thing that increases visual stress, increases the amount of energy it takes for your brain to see it. The real damage here — and I may be preaching to the choir here given that I’m interviewing you, but I really care about this — blue light, the stuff your glasses are blocking, it increases oxidative stress on the cell membrane in your eyes and on the rest of your body. It doesn’t send a signal to repair the oxidative damage, which is what happens when you’re exposed to outdoor light. You get sunlight, and you get this blue color. What you end up with is, over the course of the next 20 years, we’re creating this huge epidemic of macular degeneration. We’re wrecking everyone’s eyes with these LED lights everywhere, with these fluorescent lights everywhere, and no one’s done the long-term testing.
When you do look at the data, you’re like, people who spend the most time under fluorescent lights get melanoma, not the people who spend the most time outside. The data is in, and it sucks, which is why your glasses are a really good idea.
James: Where are we going to be in 20 years if we don’t block this blue light, Dave? If we go back to cigarette smoking, right, cigarette smoking was okay right up until the ’60s when all of a sudden there was public awareness on this, and then gradually, over time, obviously now we’re aware of the health ramifications of smoking cigarettes. How long is it going to take, do you think, or where are we going to be in 20 years if we keep up this constant use of cell phones, computer screens, laptops, overhead lighting, if we don’t block the blue light?
Dave: Blue light, one of the many things it does aside from increasing your cancer risk, it also lowers your fertility when you get blue light at night. It messes with the core hormones that make you who and what you are. We’re already seeing a rapid decline in human fertility, and we’re seeing a rapid increase in birth defects and autism and things like that, which is scary. The fact that one in eight couples is having a hard time conceiving at any age should be kind of scary. Wow, what does that mean? Well, what I think we’re looking at is we’re looking at a wave of cancer — funny, we’re already seeing that — a wave of diabetes — we’re already seeing that — and a wave of people who have serious vision impairment as they age, because they’re burning their eyes out staring at these bright LED and fluorescent light sources, these plasma TVs.
What would I do? I would invest in things that are treatments and cures for macular degeneration, because we’re going to need a lot of that stuff. If you’re worried about this yourself, and dammit, you should be worried about this. I’m not a big fan of fear-mongering and worry at all, but if you’re not paying attention to this, you’re not paying attention period. If you can’t see, that’s really, really bad for your ability to make a living. If you can’t make a living, well, how are you going to do all the things that you like to do and all the things that keep you strong? It is a substantial risk.
If you’re paying attention to this stuff, you take extra antioxidants, you take things that support your eyes, and then you wear appropriate-colored filters to keep the junk light out. You wouldn’t go eat at a junk food restaurant, yet you’re allowing junk light into your eyes. I don’t think it makes sense.
That said, maybe I’m not actually living that, because guess what’s shining on me right there? You can’t see it, but I have studio lighting that’s color-tunable, and it’s LED-based. I can tell you right now that there’s visual stress coming in on this side of my eyes, because this light is the wrong color spectrum for my eyes. But I only do this when I’m recording, and after that there’s not an LED bulb in my house unless it’s a red LED bulb. And I wear my filters at night.
In fact, most of the day I’m wearing my Irlen lenses, which is a custom tint that’s specifically for my eyes that filters out stuff that my brain has a hard time processing. I feel like I’m covering it, and I’m taking a hit. Just like our conversation about alcohol, I minimize my exposure to bad light, because over the course of the next 100, 140 years or so that I expect to live — and I’m not kidding about that, either — I’m going to want my eyes. It just comes down to that.
James: It’s funny, I only became aware of this a year ago, like I said. As soon as I started blocking the blue light, my sleep improved again. I actually tested it. It wasn’t like a placebo. There’s that app called Sleep Cycle, where you can actually test how you sleep. I tested it for a week without wearing the blue-blocking glasses, and then I tested it again and my sleep improved dramatically. I could just see it there. Not only that, I just felt better. My eyes weren’t strained, I had less headaches. Not that I really suffered from headaches that much, but you know that little irritable strain that you get when you’ve been on the computer too long? Or you’ve been staring at your –
Dave: Most people don’t know that. It’s there for almost everyone, but it’s subliminal. You’re aware of it because you started paying attention to your body, and you’re curious and interested. The vast majority of people will tell you, “I don’t have an issue.” Then you put glasses on them and they’re like, “Oh, now I see it.” When you get the right color filters on — I’ve seen this countless times, especially working with Helen Irlen, where there’s people who have more visual challenges than others processing light — they’re like, “I got my life back.” My buddy Abel James, he did the Irlen –
James: Fat-Burning Man, yeah.
Dave: The Fat-Burning Man. He did the custom filter thing after I introduced him to Helen, and he was like, “I got 25% of my brain back.” All people need to do is put on a pair of Swannies, right, and you’re like, “Wait, I didn’t know I could feel this good.”
The whole premise of Bulletproof is like, you don’t know what you feel like when you’re bulletproof. Try Bulletproof Coffee and see what it feels like to have enough energy in your brain for once. Like, oh, try some glasses, right, try on Swannies, and see what happens. What you’ll find is you’ll wear them for 15 minutes and you’re like, “I feel strangely relaxed.” Yeah, that’s like the normal state. Where you were before was actually stress, but you didn’t know it, because stress is what you learned is normal, and it was wrong.
I fully will tell people, everyone, give it a try. It’s easy.
James: Yeah, and thank you, as well. You introduced me to Helen and I actually went down there to Long Beach and met with her, and talked about this technology before I actually designed the Swannies glasses, so thank you for that introduction. And Abel James as well, Fat-Burning Man. I know him. He spoke at your conference a year ago.
Yeah, look, only good things can come from it. If you’re just vain enough like I am, then put on a stylish pair because you don’t want to be walking down the street wearing big, ugly safety goggles, because people are going to look at you and call you weird.
Dave: It’s true. And they might call you weird for wearing orange glasses. It doesn’t matter. Something happened to me in my orange glasses which I’ll never forget, and it’s too funny of a story not to tell. Through just random occurrence, I got an invitation. My friend Nam Le, who’s a world-champion poker player, called me up –
James: I know Nam. Nam’s awesome.
Dave: Do you know Nam?
James: Yeah, I know Nam. He’s a great guy. He’s actually in my 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge. He actually was teaching about how he quits alcohol when he plays poker and how he’s made millions of dollars just from quitting alcohol.
Dave: He’s super bulletproof, and a coaching client, and just a friend. One of the guys who’s helping to support Bulletproof.
James: Great guy, yeah.
Dave: He does everything possible to turn his brain on when he’s going to go play, because it gives him this advantage, so of course he’s going to pay attention to alcohol. If the other guys are drinking beer and you’re not, you’re going to have that edge, like that little decision-making thing you just thought about.
Anyhow, Nam calls me up one day and says, “Hey Dave, I’ve got an extra ticket for a celebrity poker tournament,” like with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and all these Hollywood guys, half of whom I don’t even know who they are. I’m like, that would be cool. I’m going to go watch. I get there, and it’s like, oh no, it’s a ticket to play. I’m like, I’m not … I played poker in college, but I think can remember what hand does what, but I’m totally not a poker god. I’d like to have time for that, but I have little kids.
So I sit there and I’m wearing my orange glasses in Hollywood celebrityville. It’s someone’s house, and it’s like security guards with guns and the whole Hollywood elite thing — which was awesome to see, and totally not my area of expertise — and it turns out I’m the, what do they call it, the chip leader? At the end of the first round I had the most chips, because I’m playing without fear. I’m like, what am I going to do, lose fake charity money? I’m just having fun. Oh my god, I’m playing against Larry David, like holy crap! And there’s Tebow, and he just took some of my chips.
Okay, I don’t know about you, but … Actually, you interview all these people, maybe you’re used to it. But for me, I’m kind of like jaw hitting the floor. Then I hear this guy behind me and over, talking to his girlfriend. He goes, “Yeah, I think that’s Bono.” Because I’m wearing my sunglasses indoors and no one knows who I am. The one time in my life I’m going to be mistaken for a real celebrity, I was like, dude, this is funny.
That’s what you get if you wear orange glasses. Nothing bad happens to you, even if you’re amongst really cool people, way cooler than you.
James: I was at the Golden Globes earlier this year. I went to the HBO after-party and the Weinstein after-party, and I met Elon Musk, the billionaire who’s created Tesla. He asked me about the glasses, and I explained them to him, and he thought they were really cool. Also, what’s that girl’s name, that pop star, used to date Justin Bieber, what’s her name? Selena Gomez, that’s it. Selena Gomez is like, “What are those things?” and I told her about them as well, so I’m hoping that I’ll get a couple of high-profile people who’ll be wearing them soon and will start to spread the word a little bit more, but you do … Sometimes people say you look a little bit like Bono, but you look definitely a lot more like Bono than I do, Dave, so I’m not going to steal that from you.
Dave: I’m a little taller, and I don’t say oy very often, so I think there’s a wide gulf between us in terms of coolness, but … I do think, though, that you’ll see celebrities doing that. I’ve had a chance to work as a performance coach for a few celebrities, people who spend a lot of time on camera, and one thing they all have in common is they’re in dusty, bright, noisy environments for twelve hours a day and they need optimal brain performance, and they need to look really good. They’re all like, “Okay, how do I get more energy into my body, how do I avoid inflammation because I don’t want love handles,” but between scenes, they will put on sunglasses to block the studio lights just to let their eyes and brain rest a little bit. There’s absolutely more awareness among celebrities, because your life sucks when you’re filming a TV show. It just does.
James: Yeah, I mean I was a SportsCenter anchor on ESPN, when I was out there at ESPN and hosting the show. It’s big bright lights coming at you all day. I didn’t know about the technology back then. I wish I had, because I’m sure I would have slept better and just felt better in general, but you’re right. Most importantly, you’ve got to really think about the overhead lights just in your daily life. Just try to get outside and get daylight in the daytime, and at nighttime, just try to block the blue light as much as you can. As you know, Dave, your circadian rhythm is what is going to keep you healthy, right?
Dave: It does, and it goes deeper than that, too. It’s not like you live in isolation. I live on a 32-acre organic farm. There’s bald eagles in my backyard, I got two species of owls, and you know what my exterior lighting looks like on my house? It’s all red LED lights, which put out zero blue spectrum. They’re all sea-turtle friendly. I can see the ocean over on Saltspring Island, but I’m not close enough … I don’t even think we have sea turtles here anyway. Whatever. I don’t disrupt any wildlife, I don’t draw insects to the house. I can see just fine with red lights, so can you.
Above me right now, I have red or amber lights that come on at night. My whole house is illuminated with lights that are friendly for my biology, and friendly for the world around me. If we did that in our cities instead of having these ridiculously bright blue-white streetlights, we’d actually all live longer, we’d have less accidents, we’d sleep better, we’d have less cancer, less heart disease. These are big societal issues. As a biohacker, one of the things I’m here to do is let’s build a world where we use technology that makes us stronger instead of technology that makes us weaker.
The problem is, whoever designed those lights, they didn’t know any of this. Someone somewhere might have known it, but no evil, nefarious person tried to make lights that make people weak. But as soon as we had enough lights, and someone said these make us weak, then it created conflict. What would have been better, to say oh my god, what a market opportunity. Now we can make lights that make us strong, because we know it. We’ve got to innovate around the creation of LED lighting to get rid of the harmful blue and increase the useful spectrums. Could we do that? Yes, but only if we acknowledge there’s a problem and we stop spending money on things that make us weak.
That’s why people are voting for quality food when they hear about what happens with industrial meat. No, I want grass-fed meat or I’m just not having it, thank you. This is why, this week, Campbell’s soup just said, “Oh, actually we do support GMO legislation,” because people won’t buy stuff that’s unlabeled. We might as well just throw in the towel instead of fighting it. And we’re seeing these industrial changes.
The same thing has to happen with lighting, and by worrying … I’m sorry, they’re stylish but they’re still a little funny-looking compared to untinted glasses. I know, I’ve been wearing these things for ten years, right? I’m with you, there. But by doing that and by leading by example, James, I think you actually have a far bigger impact on the world than you probably are thinking about. The problem you’re highlighting with those glasses is one of survival of our species, and feeling like yourself every day. I think it really matters way more than people give it credit for.
James: Thank you for your kind, supportive words, Dave. It means a lot. I appreciate that. And thank you for you leading the charge, as well, on everything you do. Since I’ve been following you and got to know you — not just listening to your podcast, but also meeting you in person — I’ve done Bulletproof diet, I’m eating grass-fed beef, I’m integrating all of these things into my life and I just feel amazing because of it.
When I quit that alcohol back in 2010 to now, I’m a completely different person. In fact, if you want to see the transformation, if you want to see the fat-faced James, go to 30daynoalcoholchallenge.com. There’s actually a video of me with the Hollywood actress Jennifer Aniston, from Friends. You can see, there’s a photo there, and I’m standing next to her. I’m at the Sundance Film Festival, and I’m sucking my gut in because I’ve got rolls of fat just pouring over my belt. You can see I’ve got this really puffy face.
I didn’t know anything about paleo back then, I didn’t know anything about circadian rhythms, I didn’t know about the importance of getting direct sunlight. I didn’t know the importance of eating good fats or putting oil in my coffee, and grass-fed butter. I had no clue. In that photo that you can see, with me next to Jennifer Aniston, I’m literally sucking my gut in trying to look as slim and as skinny as possible. So if you want to see the difference, just go there, 300daynoalcoholchallenge.com, you can see my face. Then if you’re watching this on the YouTube, you can see how I look now, which is probably about 28, 30 pounds slimmer, skin much healthier looking, lots more energy, sleeping like a baby every night, and just really positive.
That’s the other thing. We talk about health a lot, but spirituality and mindset is affected when you’re unhealthy. If you’re not sleeping properly, you’re irritable. When you’re irritable, you have a bad relationship. When you have a bad relationship, you get depressed, you tend to want to drink more, tend to want to eat crappier food. But if you’re healthier and you’re energetic, and you’ve reduced your alcohol … Again, I’m not saying you’ve got to quit alcohol forever, I’m just encouraging you to quit alcohol for 30 days. Take a 30-day no alcohol challenge, see what it’s like, and then after that just reduce. Put on a pair of Swannies blue-blocking glasses, or don’t spend so much time in overhead lights, or put a filter on your phone –
Dave: Zen Tech filter, available at Bulletproof.com.
James: There you go, Zen Tech filter. Use Dave’s thing. There’s things like f.lux do all of these things.
Dave: Yeah, do it all, every one of them.
James: Just do it all. You will be so much happier. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, because I have focused on my health. Because I focused on my health, that translates into my mindset, which is a healthy mindset. I’m grateful rather than thinking about what I don’t have. All you’ve got to do is just reduce your alcohol, do a few of Dave’s health hacks, and all of a sudden your whole mindset shifts and everything just opens up to you.
Dave: That’s been my experience, and it was profound enough that I felt obligated to share it with people who would care, and there were more than I thought. I’m with you. I think we’re working towards the same thing, which is like once you feel what you’re capable of feeling, at least a few times — including after your 30-day no alcohol challenge — okay, like this is a different level. You may drink, you may not drink when you’re done. It doesn’t really matter, but at least now you know what’s possible.
Same thing, Bulletproof Diet, there’s two weeks where you don’t eat anything on the suspect foods list so you feel what it’s like to not have any of that. Maybe it made no difference. Great, you’re one of the 2% of people who are completely genetic supermen. You can eat whatever you want. You’ll still pay for it when you’re 80, but at least now it doesn’t affect your performance. For the rest of us, it’s a different degree of effect. Perfection, not required by either one of us. Moving in the right direction, makes a huge difference. That’s what matters.
James: Just experiment. I work a lot with Tai Lopez, I know you know Tai.
Dave: Oh, yeah.
James: He’s been on your show, you’ve been on his. He said to me the other day, he said, “James, remember this phrase: He who experiments most, wins.” All you’ve got to do is just run experiments all day. Dave Asprey here is the kind of experiments, right? He’ll run tests and experiments on himself till the cows come home. Just experiment. Do a one-week experiment, a 30-day experiment, whatever. Just test it, because the person who experiments most will have the keys to the kingdom, my friend.
Dave: I need your help with Jennifer Aniston.
James: Okay, here we go.
Dave: Just yesterday, before we were filming this, I posted on Facebook a quote from Jennifer Aniston in some entertainment magazine thing, I don’t remember which one. It was, “Which celebrity diets do you think we should forget about?” or something like that. She’s like, “The Bulletproof Diet. Butter and coffee? Who ever thought of that? That’s such a disgusting idea, I never even tried it.”
I’m like, woo-hoo! Jennifer Aniston’s talking about Bulletproof Coffee! So I want to say thanks, and send her some Bulletproof Coffee, but I just need her home phone number and address. Just kidding, I don’t need it.
James: I can get you her manager and her publicist’s contact details after this. I’ll be happy to share –
Dave: I actually am going to send her a care package, and I’m sure that on social by now there are like a thousand likes on this. It’s like, “Hey Jennifer, you’ve got to try it one time. Come by Santa Monica, because half your friends are there drinking Bulletproof Coffee. It actually works.”
Anyway, it made me laugh. Of all the celebrities you could have mentioned, yesterday Jennifer Aniston was talking about Bulletproof Coffee, so just a big shout out, thank you Jennifer. Keep saying Bulletproof Coffee. I don’t care what you’re saying about it, Bulletproof Coffee, spelled with a B. Anyway …
James: And thank you Jennifer Aniston, as well, for making me realize that I was a fat bastard and that I needed to change my health, and inspiring me to really do the 30-day no alcohol challenge. Maybe I should be sending her a thank you package as well, Dave, and say, “Listen, that photo that you took with me inspired me to quit alcohol for 30 days and set forth on a path of optimum health. Thanks Jennifer.”
Dave: In fact, millions of people should send Jennifer a stick of butter to say thank you for all of her work in TV.
James: Yes, and someone should send her a photo of me and her on my page, 30daynoalcoholchallenge.com, and say hey, this guy’s trying to thank you for you inspiring him to lose 28 pounds.
Dave: All right, now we’ve gone down the path of insanity and we’re up at the end of the show. I’m glad you mentioned Jennifer Aniston, though, because it made me laugh.
I’ve got to ask you the question that I’ve asked every single person except like episode 77 or something, I don’t remember. I forgot this one time, which is terrible because I forgot my aniracetam, one of the smart drugs I like.
Now, given all the stuff you know, all of your life experiences, if someone came up to you tomorrow, James, and said, “Hey, what are the top three things I should know if I want to kick more ass at everything I do? I want to be a better human being, what do I need to know?”
James: Double down on knowledge in general. Invest in knowledge. If there are programs out there, if there are gurus that help you with business or health, spend money. Invest in that. Double down on your knowledge, because that’s what’s going to help you.
I would say learn how to speed read. I read a book a day.
Dave: Did Jim Kwik teach you that, or who taught you the speed reading?
James: No, Tai Lopez actually taught me that. Yeah, I know Jim teaches memory and speed reading and things like that, but Tai actually taught me that. You can see how I do it. Actually, on my YouTube channel, James Swanwick, there’s actually a video that says how I read a book a day, so you can search for that if you want.
Dave: By the way … Let me interrupt you for one second. You say James “Swannick,” which is how I introduce you on stage, but I say James “Swan-wick” when I’m here because I want people to spell your name right. They can’t go to your URL unless they spell it right, so why don’t you spell it for them right now, because I’m going to ask you to do it in a minute anyway.
James: Yeah, my last name is spelled Swanwick, but the correct pronunciation is “Swannick.” It’s the silent W. Like Warwick, the name Warwick, it’s the same –
Dave: Right. I just want people to be able to find you, that’s why I’m over-pronouncing the W because that’ll get people to your website. Anyway, keep going with your story.
James: So I would say first thing is double down on your knowledge, so invest in knowledge. Number two is learn how to speed read so you can read a book a day or at least a few books a week, because that’s going to improve your knowledge as well. And then the other thing, which is not really health-related, it’s more financial-related, I would say learn to manage your finances while you are traveling the world.
What I did was, in my early 20s, I went backpacking across 40 countries, and I wasn’t listening to stuff about finances and building wealth and saving and compound interest. I didn’t learn that stuff because I was too busy backpacking. In the last five years, I’ve doubled down learning that stuff, and I’m just hitting myself on the head going, I should have been doing this 20 years ago. I should have been doing this when I was traveling.
If you want to create a great financial life for yourself, go and travel the world because it’ll give you great experiences, but as you’re doing it, download podcasts like Dave’s, like the Bulletproof Radio, like my podcast, the James Swannick Show, like Tai Lopez , like people who are teaching business, and do that at the same time. When you get to our age, I’m 40 now, Dave, I assume –
Dave: I’m 43.
James: – I think you’re in your 40s. Forty-three. You’re going to really appreciate the fact that you put the time into it back in your younger years.
Dave: Amen. By the way, if you double down on knowledge and you don’t double down on travel, you’re stupid. I waited till I was like 30 to go travel the world. It’s actually easier when you’re younger. Way easier, and more fun, too. It’s as important as going to school, is traveling.
James: Oh, absolutely. I mean, travel, please. I go backpacking all the time. I went to Scandinavia for my 40th birthday. The people you meet, the cultures that you’re exposed to, different ideas, thought processes, it changes your whole life.
Dave: All right. James Swanwick, thanks for coming on Bulletproof Radio. People can find you at JamesSwanwick.com — Swanwick, pronounced “Swannick” — and they can find Swannies where? What’s the URL?
James: If you go to swanniesglasses.com, and if you want to do the 30-day no alcohol challenge, you can go to 30daynoalcoholchallenge.com and I’ll walk you through 30 days. A lot of people get stressed out, like, “Oh my god, I can’t do 30 days.” If you join my membership group, you’ll go into a closed Facebook group. I’m going to send you a video every day, there’ll be hundreds of people around that are all doing their 30-day no alcohol challenge who’ll support you and encourage you, sharing their stories. I’m also in the podcast, the James Swanwick Show, and I’m on Instagram and Twitter and social media @JamesSwanwick.
Dave: Awesome. Thanks James.
James: Thank you, Dave. I appreciate being here again. Thank you.
Dave: If you enjoyed today’s show, you know what to do. Head on out and check out some of James’ work because it’s really cool. We talked about some really important stuff about light. Pick up a pair of Swannies, and while you’re at it, got to Bulletproof.com and check out the Zen Tech filters that go on your phone. I believe it’s really important to filter the things you look at the most, and to filter everything that you look at, which is why having a good pair of glasses like that really pairs well with putting a filter on your phone. That way you just know you’ve got your bases covered. I really believe that there’s fundamental biological reasons that you should be doing this.
The other thing you could do is you could head over to Instagram. I literally finally decided I’d have my own Instagram account, because I take all kinds of pictures that never end up anywhere. They are now going up on @Dave.Asprey. And of course we have the standard Bulletproof account as well on Instagram. Follow both, but @Dave.Asprey just went live like two days before I recorded this.
Have a beautiful morning, evening, afternoon, day at work, or commute, or wherever else you are listening to this, hopefully on the top of a mountain, and I’ll talk with you in another couple days.
What You Will Hear (note: timestamps represent audio, video may differ)
- 0:00 – Cool Fact of the Day
- 0:30 – Bouqs
- 2:50 – Introducing James Swanwick
- 4:20 – James’ story
- 5:55 – 30 Days Without Alcohol
- 15:47 – Falsehoods in alcohol marketing
- 20:05 – Pressures of social drinking
- 27:46 – Blue-blocking glasses & ideal lighting
- 36:03 – Light as a drug
- 44:14 – Celebrity stories
- 55:24 – The importance of experiments
- 57:52 – Top 3 recommendations to kick more ass and be Bulletproof!
Bouqs – promo code: bullet
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