It’s time for part two of Susan Sly’s interview with Aim7 CEO, Dr. Erik Korem! This episode covers the vital role data security, trust and stewardship play to develop a company culture that can take on more stressors. Listen now to unlock all these secrets from an industry expert!
-Dr. Erik Korem
Topics covered in the interview
Dr. Erik Korem’s Bio
Fueled by a deep-rooted desire to help others live a more fulfilled and healthy life, Dr. Erik Korem is an applied performance scientist that leaves every person or place he interacts with better than he found it. During the nearly 20 years he spent working with establishments like the NFL, NCAA, Nike, and U.S. Dept of Defense, it’s easy to see he didn’t let a single day go to waste.
Similarly, as a Presidential Leadership Scholar that holds a doctorate in exercise science with a research emphasis on sleep and stress resilience, he’s leveraged his education and platform to provide others with tangible health insights by writing for media outlets like Inc and conducting impactful interviews with notable experts and athletes on his podcast The BluePrint
While Erik’s relentless pursuit of high performance has come with its fair share of obstacles, it was also preparing him for his biggest challenge to date; *entrepreneurship*He became the Founder and CEO of [AIM7](https://www.aim7.com/) in 2020, pouring his expertise into an app that analyzes users’ data and provides custom recommendations for enhancing the mind, body, and recovery process. Leveraging the science of adaptive capacity, Erik and his team are unlocking a new level of human performance for anyone with a wearable device — so they can be their best without burning out.
Follow Dr. Erik Korem
Erik Korem 00:00
You have to pattern match, right? So what do I look for? Okay, when I was in a large organization, you know, you have the coaches, then you have the support staff, and then it kind of branches out. Or any large organization you read enough, it's the same thing. If you don't have really strong core values, if you don't have tenets away, people are gonna treat each other, if you don't talk about this, and it's a very, it's part of your DNA. And we're putting the right people in place, and I'm, right now I'm just, we have a small team, but they're mighty. And I just, I love being around them, you know what I'm saying? And I think we got the right DNA right now for that.
Susan Sly 00:39
This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, the show that brings the no nonsense truth of what is required to start, grow and scale your business. I am your host, Susan Sly.
Susan Sly 00:54
Going back to something you said, I'm curious about the you know, with regard to the core values, and really dialing that down, and I sat with that as a co founder. And so one of the things I did was I boiled it down to two words. Because I'm like, you know, having, I love Tony Shay's book Delivering Happiness, I think I read it three times. And you know, Tony died, obviously, but the, you know, what he did with the culture at Zappos, and you could call Zappos and forget shoes, they would order a pizza for you. So I kept thinking, Eric, like, how can I boil this down? So we boil it down to two words, trust, and wow. And that's it. So my friend and my head of data visualization, her name is Mytruc. So she'll create data visuals for the customers. And at first, I just took the guard rails off her, I was like, does this build trust? Does it lead to wow? If both of those things work, you just do whatever you want to do. And so there was this one customer, and they owned a NASCAR. And so there's, you know, I won't disclose who it is. And what she did when she built their dashboard to visualize the data, their race car that they have spins. So when you log in, you get the spinning, their race car with their number. And even with the VCs, trust and wow, if I don't trust you, and there's no Wow, we're not doing business. And so I had to, and I'm not saying it's right, you know, I'm, you know, we're just a little bit further ahead than you guys are right now but the two words, because, so when I go to an employee and say, What's wrong? It's either because something's happened, and they don't have trust, or they're not feeling that same Wow, they once had. So how do we bring back Trust and Wow?
Erik Korem 02:53
I love this. I just took notes. I really liked this. I think that's a great way, you know, to break it down for anybody, like, if we're not delivering trust and wow, then what are we doing? For me, it's got to be actionable, and trustworthy. I think for us too. That trust is so important. Like if I if I tell you something to do or make a recommendation, you got to trust that if I do this thing, it's gonna elicit a response. And then that goes into the UI, the UX that goes into customer service, it goes in all, so I love this concept. I think you just kind of steer the direction for our next team meeting on like, how can we boil this down to two words, I love it.
Erik Korem 02:57
Well, if you want me to pop by the meeting, I'm more than happy to.
Erik Korem 03:16
'm taking you up and I'm gonna reach out to your EA, I'm gonna reach out to May and get that done.
Susan Sly 03:43
I need to be at the beta because I still, like you know, I'm still 12 minutes back of the conversation, I'm thinking about the capacity for stress. And I'm thinking about, so our team went to the National Retail Federation. So Eric, I'm going to disclaim this because it is a family show. But Eric and I are gonna geek out just for a minute. So anyway, so I wore my Garmin the whole time. Right? And so all day long, we were at the booth, we were doing, you know, live computer vision. So we knew how many people were coming into our booth converting, you know, from the the aisle ways and stuff like that. And they were long days, and then I had business dinner, so I'd have like a cocktail party, and then I'd have a business drinner. So I drink a lot of red wine, very transparently. My normal resting heart rate in the morning is 47 when I'm meditating
Erik Korem 04:35
Like 55, 58?
Susan Sly 04:38
Yes, Erik, I was so upset. And it was, and the day we're doing the show, I've been back for seven days. No, it'll, Yeah, seven days tonight. And I still haven't been able to get it back down into the 40s. And I'm so distressed about that. I'm like, I need your technology because I'm just going you know and doing my weight training and running and you know, all this stuff. If I do, but maybe I shouldn't be because I'm, my capacity for stress is smaller is the hypothesis I have.
Erik Korem 05:07
Yeah, so here's the thing. So stress has a cost that comes with it. It's called Allostatic Load if you want to really get down to the word. Here's the idea, what we're trying to do with adaptive capacity. That's what we call it. It's your gas tank. Okay, how much stress you can adapt to. Every day, though, you only have a certain amount of fuel in that tank that's like your readiness, right. or how much adaptive fuel that you have. And when you start, you know, maybe you sucked out a little bit too much with the red wine. That's okay. Right? Gotta live life, let's be honest, right? But if you know that these things getting you the fuel is going to come down, if the tank is bigger, guess what? The tank only went down, you know, a smidgen, right, on the meter. But if the tank is small, and you had something happen at work, or had something at life, or you didn't get a good night's rest, guess what, boom, you drained it a lot. And you can feel it. And so that's the idea. You're still operating, though, you still look great. You're still alive, you're still active. You know, I'm saying? It's not taking as much. The key is how do you build that bigger tank, and then when you have these perturbations, what are the adjustments that you make? Yeah, you still go workout, but maybe not, instead of doing the high intensity session where you're hitting zone four or five, maybe you bring it down to zone two, because it's going to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system. We don't tell people that. We just have a button that says body, click it, we tell you what to do, we kind of pare it down. But that's what people need is like, what do I do right now based off of how I feel? I feel like crap, unfocused, what mental tool do I use so I can then re engage and go back into the office and get get stuff done?
Susan Sly 06:50
I love it. I can't wait. I can't wait to use it. I'm very excited. Like I want to now. Let me ask you about data. So this comes up a lot in especially biotech, it comes up a lot in computer vision. And data is still not overly regulated yet. So how is your team handling the data question? So what are you you know, like, I'm a user, Erik, what are you doing with my data kind of thing?
Erik Korem 07:19
Great question. First of all, it's, it's opt in data. And so there's no HIPAA issues with it right now. We're not crossing over into the medical realm yet, but it's all wearable, right? So it's opt in, but you we deidentify everything. They're separated, so like you're Donald Duck or a string of long characters that it's really difficult to access that you really can't. So like in the Firebase store, you're never going to be associated with your name. We are, we're keeping everything upside right now. And we would want to build on the capability where let's say six months from now, you're like, you know what, love game seven, I'm done. Great! Suck out all your data, it's erased, it's gone. We want to create that capability. We believe that your data is yours, actually, one of our core values is stewardship. And so I talk to our team a lot about you're stewarding people's data. And it's very important that they can trust us, and also when people invest money in this company, we are being excellent stewards of that money. And so stewardship is one of our core values. It's something that I believe that as soon as you lose trust in that area, it's gone. And so we have to do everything we can to, to demonstrate that we're world class at that. That includes bringing on great talent, which I can't talk about right now. But I'm working on bringing on one of the best in the world of human performance with data to come join our team. So we're upskilling our talent and making sure that we're doing everything we can to keep your data secure, and then give you the option anytime you could download it or delete it from our system.
Erik Korem 07:20
Yeah, that's, that's awesome. And the reality is, is that the biggest data vulnerabilities usually come from the users not from the companies, because it's the person who uses the same password like MickeyMouse25 on every single thing or whatever.
Erik Korem 09:14
If it's hacked once then it's over for everything.
Susan Sly 09:17
Yeah, exactly. They're not rolling passwords, that kind of thing. But data anonymity is, is huge. Our CTO of our company, co founder, he was the CTO at the largest privately held healthcare database company in the world. So the first thing we started with was privacy, right? So that, it is a big topic, and then it comes down to the reality is, as humans what would we trade our data for? Would we trade it for convenience? Would we trade it for longevity? Would we trade it for a sense of belonging and so when we see there's a, one of my professors at MIT wrote this whole sort of paradigm. And I'll, I will find it and send it to you off air. But what she talked about is this seven things we would trade our data for. And so when I think about AIM7, right, and I think about the opportunities for the users beyond building their capacity for stress, there are all sorts of aspects of that. But guess what listeners all over the world, I'm not going to share those thoughts with you all publicly because Erik and I are not under NDA, but I have lots of ideas for you.
Erik Korem 10:35
I'm taking notes on this. This is, that's a brilliant method, that's like a meta discussion right there, like what you'd be willing to trade your data for. But there are certain things like heart rate, HRV steps, how many minutes did you do mindfulness? We're not, you know, we're interested in the models of this high level data that's just not even being used very well, of how you can use that stuff to go okay, now, what actions do you take to change these objective and subjective outcomes, which nobody's really tapping into yet. How you feel is a much more sensitive measure of where your body biologically is going, or how it's adapting than just heart rate measure. And so there's some really cool stuff we do with that. We combine both. So you fill out a quick 22nd questionnaire in the morning, based off of how you're feeling, then we combine that with the objective data, and then that's how we create these algorithms that create the recommendations because there's nothing worse than like, my or, or is a great device, whatever, you go in there, and it's like, hey, you know, you didn't sleep well, last night, your body's like this, you're like, No, I feel fine. You know, there's, there's this massive disconnect, and it creates distrust with the device. Because there is research that shows that if you look at your device, and it says, your readiness isn't very good, it can affect your performance that day. And so we don't want people to think, just because things may be down doesn't mean you can't get something done. If you have the flu, and a bear chases you guess what, you're sprinting, but there's gonna be a cost at the end of that. And so, there's, I sympathize with wearable tech users, because a lot of the feedback they're getting is really poor, and it can shape their mindset in a bad way.
Susan Sly 12:30
That's so brilliantly said especially if someone doesn't have that background, and they don't have the discernment because that's where, you know, I get concerned with a lot of the tracking apps that, you know, my, my daughters might use, for various like, you know, body stuff that goes on. And even, you know, my Garmin, it's like, Oh, your readiness is whatever, it's only getting one data input, because it's not getting, I don't always click it when I'm doing a workout, right? Like, I might do hot yoga, and I'm not setting the timer and the studio I go to, it's about 124 degrees. I'm not setting, I know how many calories I burned. I know how I'm gonna feel. And so to that point, it's not necessarily accurate in terms of telling me oh, you should go run 11 Miles right now. Right? So I, I'm, I'm excited about Aim7. When can the regular humans get access to it like, I'm a regular human, but not like when can the non beta testers get it?
Erik Korem 13:36
Well, so we're gonna keep it in private beta, which means that if you go to the website, and you click get early access, you sign up. If you write in there, where you heard from this, you say, I heard it from Raw and Real podcast, we'll move you right up to the front. And so what we're doing is, is we're onboarding cohorts. So it's a real white glove experience. So what's going to happen is, is the first month in the app, you get four zoom coaching sessions with me. Well, we're going to talk about these things about sleep, and mental health and mental fitness and how to build adaptive capacity because we really want to understand people's pain points and really be close to them. And it's $15 a month. This isn't like a super expensive app. We're going to do that for the first 10,000 customers. So and then we'll roll it out into the App Store. So we're doing this for very specific reason because the power of what we're building is models. And so we want to engage with our customers. We want to understand their pain points. We want to make sure that the you know, these mind, we have five pillars for building adaptive capacity. We're an inch wide and a mile deep on three, sleep exercise and mental fitness. And we want to get super granular on those before we stretch out to other ones. And so if you put in there you sign up and you put in there you heard on the show, we will move you right up to the front of the line.
Susan Sly 14:51
Awesome. I love that. That's it's early access and honestly much needed. You know I've had my best friend died of stress. He was an entrepreneur, he called me one day, he's like, I gave myself cancer. And I'm disclaiming this. I'm not saying Aim7 is gonna save anyone's life. But one thing I will say is that the pushing, and that oh, just hustle and sleep is option, you know, all that stuff. I love this personalized, customized approach to say this is how much gas is in your tank. And this is, you know, this is how you choose to use it or whatever. And the predictive aspect, once there's enough data for the individual is going to be huge, because one of the use cases I can see Erik, is for an entrepreneur or someone like myself to say, oh, Susan, we want you in Atlanta, you can come Monday, or you can come Wednesday, and I can see myself looking at AIM7 and making a decision based on when I'm going to be at peak.
Erik Korem 15:59
You're articulating our roadmap.
Susan Sly 16:02
There's another study that I won't, so University of Florida, you're probably aware of the study on decision fatigue. Right? So that famous study, I wrote about it in a paper like a million years ago. But like, all of that stuff is real. If you're not feeling optimal, you're gonna make bad decisions and as entrepreneur might cost you millions of dollars in funding, it my cost you getting the deal, it might cost you attracting the best, you know, UI person, or whatever it is. Erik, I'm excited.
Erik Korem 16:38
Thank you. I'm excited we're feeding off of this. It's just really great to have somebody with your background and expertise, and health and well being. It's also, you know, an elite entrepreneur, I mean, what you're doing right now most, What is it, a fraction of companies get to a series A level. And I'm excited for you and what you guys are doing, and I'm here to support in any way I can. And I really have a passion for entrepreneurs now that I'm in this world, oh, my golly, these people folks are taking on so much risk and so much stress. And there's a way to thrive under this. And you know, it can make you stronger. But you have to build the right parameters. And you have to have the right tools in the toolkit. And it looks a little bit different for everybody. And there's certain things that some people need to lean into, maybe they overvalue physical, which is great, but they haven't really put much into the mental health bank. Well, that's gonna be sucking your tank. Well, maybe you put a lot over here, but you're not really moving that much. Well, there's a price to be paid there. So if you can kind of just find a balance. There's a lot to be gained.
Susan Sly 17:42
Well, Eric, thank you so much for being here. I know I can keep going because there's so many things that I want to talk to you about. But I'm sorry kids, Erik and I are going to be talking off air. Anyway, if this show has been helpful to you today, Erik and I would love if five star review. So head on over to iTunes, iheart Radio, Amazon and all the places you listen to the show. And if I read your review on air I will give you, and you also have to email us at email@example.com. If I read your review on air, point us to where you reviewed it, I will give you a $50 amazon gift card because guess what, algorithms make a difference. Some of the shows out there they're charging the guest to be on there. We do not do that. The whole goal with the show is to have friends like Erik share their journey with you, inspire you for you to get leading edge information on how to start your business. So with that, God bless, go rock your day. Everyone check out aim7.com And with that, I will see you in a future episode of Ron real entrepreneurship.
Susan Sly 19:06
Are you currently an employee looking to start your own business? Maybe you've been thinking about it for a while and you're just not sure where to start? Well, my course Employee To Entrepreneur combines my decades of experience as an entrepreneur with proven methods, techniques and skills to help you take that leap and start your own business. This course is self paced, Learn on Demand and comes with an incredible workbook and that will allow you to go through this content piece by piece by piece, absorb it, take action and then go on to the next module. So check out my course on Susansly.com Employee To Entrepreneur.