Optimizing Your Health

The CrossFit Open is now over and what a year it was been. In one year I went from the 70th percentile to the 99th. How was this possible? Certainly hard work, but our bodies are only capable of so much without the tools to empower excellence.

For years I walked around feeling pretty good. At Virginia Military Institute I ran nearly every day, played rugby, lifted weights several times a week, and towards the end of my cadetship logged around 150-200 miles a week on a road bike. I was by all measures healthy and fit. I could run a 5:30 mile and regularly scored a perfect 300 on the USMC Physical Fitness test. But physically and mentally it was a struggle. I never really felt energized. My food choices sucked, I never got more than 4 hours of sleep a night, and the stress was a lot to handle.

Fast forward a decade and it was much the same story. I was doing CrossFit 4-5 days a week, running regularly, and by all definitions “healthy.” However, there was still an ever-present fog. I made reasonably healthy food choices; I had a CSA that provided lots of veggies, organic meat and cheese, etc and I never drank soda. I consumed a fair amount of alcohol but always made it to the gym to “burn off” whatever bad choices I may have made on a weekend.

In my mind I was doing everything right. Maybe drinking a little too much, but for the average Washington DC professional, well below the median. I was exercising regularly, I was eating good food. For 4 straight years I had competed in the CrossFit Open. For four straight years I was in the upper middle of the pack. No where near elite, but no where near the bottom. At the gym, I was regularly near the top performance wise. However, I just didn’t feel amazing. I felt sluggish a lot, especially after meals and in the middle of the day.  I thought I knew a lot about nutrition but I really had no idea what was in all these powders and what effect they had on me, nor how much my body would actually process and absorb. I now know I was definitely uneducated about exactly what these powders were doing, but they had a gigantic ripped spokesperson so they had to be exactly what I needed right? Spoiler alert, they’re not…

12 months ago, I decided to get serious about my health. I started eating cleaner than I ever had, cut out bread, started taking a multivitamin and quality supplements. I certainly saw some benefits but I quickly plateaued. I was still missing something but I had no idea what. I was following all of the traditional nutritional advice. It turns out my dietary needs were a little unique because of my genetics. Elise  (the brains behind OptiGenetix) analyzed my genetic profile and used this information to custom tailor a nutritional supplementation plan to my individual needs. The genetic analysis showed me where I had unique mutations in my body’s DNA and how I could alter my lifestyle and supplementation regiment to give my body extra support to override the mutations and free up energy for recovery. One example: I apparently have a “double homozygous MTRR mutation causing an upregulation of the gene.” Which sounds terrifying. But apparently it’s an easy fix. Because of this mutation my B12 (and major energy source) was being depleted from my body faster than normal. I have now taken the steps to add lithium to help utilize B12 and take a specific type of B12 (there are 4 types) as part of my supplementation plan every day.

Within 3 weeks the daily fog was gone. Within 6 months I had noticed significant improvements in “engine” workouts, those that require significant periods of extended anaerobic effort to the point where I was almost always the top finisher in daily workouts. In the 2018 CrossFit Open I finished the prescribed workouts in top 1% of global finishers. It is important to note, I didn’t change anything about the way I workout. I was just able to do the same workout routine faster, more completely, more effectively, and with more energy than I ever had in my life.

My body was simply missing or unable to process and absorb many of the things it needed to function optimally. The solutions are remarkably simple. I went from feeling “fine” to feeling amazing, with more energy and focus than I have ever had. The transformation has been unbelievable, and it’s all thanks to the analysis from Optigenetix. Next year I turn 35. And I’m happy to say that I am the best shape I have ever been in with more still to come.

Another Year in the Books


207,438 flight miles, 13 countries, 220 nights in hotels, 14 nights on airplanes, and 9 nights in the office. That’s a little more than 26 times around the globe. 2017 was a big year travel wise. We have been fortunate in that our travels have taken us to to some magnificent locations. We’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people, expand our worldview  significantly, and experience the world in a way I wouldn’t have imagined possible not too long ago. Our business has grown, partnerships matured, and we’re finally in a place after all these years where it doesn’t feel like the rug will get ripped out from under us every day. We’re competing with and beating “the big guys.”

For me 2017 was a fantastic year and we’ve laid the groundwork for an even more exciting 2018 both professionally and personally. Happy New Year!

Pros and Cons of AirBnB for Business Travel

Last year Airbnb raised $1.5 billion in funds that brought the value of the company to about $25.5 billion. This made it worth more than the Chicago, Ill.-based Hyatt Hotels Corp and the Parsippany-Troy Hills, N.J.-based Wyndham Worldwide Corp, respectively. This must have Marriott (my go-to brand) and the other big guys worried. It’s not once a year vacationers that float a hotel’s bottom line. It’s people like me who basically live out of a suitcase and book full rate rooms. There’s pros and cons to each.

Over the past four years I have slowly ramped up the amount of time I spend in AirBnB vs a traditional hotel. It started back in 2014 during one of the quarterly trips to Stockholm, a notoriously bad European city for hotel availability. Pre-Marriott/Starwood merger, there was a single Marriott property in the city and it wasn’t in a central location (Starwood added an additional points generating option). In desperation, and instead of spending over $500/night on a subpar, tiny room I ventured for the first time into a random stranger’s home for the week. This particular apartment had everything you could hope for. It was about 3x the size of a standard hotel room, had a full kitchen and was centrally located (not as important, it was also much cheaper). Subsequent trips to Stockholm have relied almost exclusively on AirBnB mostly due to their lack of Marriott properties.

In 2014, ’15 and ’16 I averaged more than 200 nights in Marriott properties and slowly increased my AirBnB nights from 10 in 2014 to around 30 in 2016. While a 300% increase, still not on par with Marriott nights. Largely, my lack of enthusiasm for using AirBnB for business travel has centered on the unknown. While a quirky place that photographs well but is lacking amenities and strong internet might be fine for a short vacation, the certainty of Marriott (albeit other drawbacks) made it perfect for a late-night arrival knowing I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. With the addition of the “business travel friendly” icon in AirBnB this has gotten better but it’s just not quite there yet. While Airbnb has grown from appealing to couch-surfing budget-conscious tourists to business travelers seeking a more memorable experience (and in my case, a kitchen to cook some healthy meals in) there’s definitely room for improvement. Because there isn’t a “corporate” oversight of individual listings there is definitely a problem with listings that photograph well and really underwhelm you (or lack the amenities listed) and consistent issue at more than half the properties I have stayed in has been internet. It would be great if there was a way for guest ratings to include an auto-generated speed test result for the host internet connectivity in business verified listings.

In 2017, so far, I have spent 160 nights in Marriott and 40 nights in AirBnB. Looking forward to the end of the year, it will be about a 50/50 split with around 180 nights in Marriott and 60 nights in AirBnB. So there are pros and cons. To summarize, for me, the biggest pro is having an entire apartment or house. For trips over three days, this is critical. Having some extra space, the ability to cook a meal, and have a feeling of “home” can take some of the drudgery out of business travel. For short trips, the certainty and familiarity of established hotel brands like Marriott win out. I’m sure as AirBnB continues to grow they will explore more ways to capture business revenue. Finding ways to establish this certainty in listings will be key. On my travel alone we’re talking total revenue close to $40K per year that’s up for grabs and I’m no where near the top of the business travel game.

Interested in trying out AirBnB for your next business trip? Sign up for Airbnb and get $40 off your trip at http://abnb.me/e/sd2dao7LwG

The Importance of Rest

img_20160918_073304-effectsThere have been times over the past 5 years where I’ve struggled to stay connected to my team, had difficulty performing simple tasks and generally had times where there wasn’t enough coffee to keep me going. There really isn’t a stranger feeling than downing a quad espresso fully intending to hack out some work on a long flight only to wake up three hours later at your destination (was that decaf?!?!). I’ve read quite extensively on the topic to include the highly popular “4 Hour Work Week” and a number of similar publications. They certainly offer some great advice but where our business currently is some of the advice is relevant, but much of it, while applicable to Warren Buffet, Hedge Fund managers, and Venture Capitalists, it just isn’t practical where our business currently is (still in the hustle phase; I don’t have an admin).

I’ve found that to get reconnected with both my technical and sales teams and unleash my creativity, hitting the pause button is the only real solution. I can’t completely devoid myself of the tactical day-to-day operations yet so a temporary break is the best method. I’m a big fan of surfing, hiking, running and a multitude of other outdoor activities to burn off some steam and stay in shape but what I’m talking about is something entirely different. This doesn’t mean not working (or maybe it does). I’m talking about just relaxing and seeing how the day (or weekend) evolves. Maybe you’ll work, maybe you’ll catch up on sleep, maybe you’ll read a good book. Regardless of this evolution I find that simply changing my scenery, allowing myself to get out of “firefighting” mode and allowing for the opportunity to think more abstractly, great things can be done.


The primary method for finding seclusion is to do just that. Disappear. Don’t plan anything. Go somewhere that’s relaxing but doesn’t allow you to do anything (i.e. hiking in Yosemite for 14 hours). For me the answer is the Outer Banks. My girlfriend recommended the Sanderling Resort in Duck, NC which turned out to be the perfect location to take a step back from the tactical and focus on the strategic aspects of my business and my life and recover from the day-to-day cramming of three jobs into a 24 hour day. Nothing beats the sound of the ocean, great customer service, relatively healthy dining options and generally a healthy dose of peace and quiet.

img_20160916_202321So what did I do?

Day One: Deleted, responded to, and filed more than 1000 emails. Worked on the company website, and built marketing material for some New-New customers. Planned out the next six months of travels (#permavacation). Kundalini yoga. Really wanted to rent a paddleboard. Resisted that urge in order to force myself to remain in “chill” mode.

Day Two: Collaborated on and wrote a Beta version of a Life Hacking App with my GF that takes my health data from my Garmin Connect and combine sit with other information (more to follow on this). Ate more seafood. Read John Muir’s memoirs. Kundalini yoga under the full moon. Never traveled more than 100 feet from the hotel room.

Day Three: Finally felt that brain was clear. Got a spa treatment. More Kundalini. Some Exercise. Much Seafood.

So there you have it. It only took three days to get organized, work on future business concepts, relax and center myself. I got more than 8 hours of sleep each night. Was actually able to develop a clear vision for the company for the next 12 months. The feelings of burnout had all but disappeared. Stress had melted away and an overall feeling of being centered was predominant. I try to repeat this monthly but a minimum quarterly. You? Would be interested in hearing how other entrepreneurial young execs deal find ways to unplug and focus on the strategic and combat burnout…

What’s in my bag?

IMG_20160818_181550I’ve done a fair amount of traveling since starting Systecon, and in my jobs prior. In about a decade of work experience I’ve logged a little over 1M miles on United and close to 100K on American. This year I’ll hit 200K miles and likely log another 180 nights in hotels. Over the years I’ve refined, transformed, and completely started over several times with various carry on concepts.

With the amount of Coast-to-Coast travel I’m doing, I was forced to abandon the beautiful green leather briefcase I was using in favor of something a bit larger and a bit more utilitarian. After trying out a half dozen options (some of which were quite expensive) I settled on a very affordable and very highly rated eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack.

With the number of software demos we do on random projectors I carry a lot of adapters, chargers and cables. There’s a pocket or mesh compartment for everything keeping it all nicely organized.

Keeping connected on the road is a Lenovo Yoga 900. I have a love/hate relationship with this laptop. It’s damn light, runs our software, and looks professional. But I’m on my third motherboard in two years and I despise the charger. The two prong plug folds out directly from the converter brick which means it covers both outlets on a traditional wall socket and won’t plug into most conference room table outlets. So I have a 1 foot extension cord that also comes along in my bag. All in all the charger/extension cord weighs about as much as the laptop.

The laptop primary output is USB-C. So I carry around a USB-C to HDMI and an HDMI to VGA converter that I can daisy chain together for those customers who still don’t have HDMI input. Often times there is just a TV in the conference room with no connector, so I also carry an HDMI cable that I can just plug into the TV as well.

I carry two Anker backup battery packs to ensure my phone (a quick charging and quick draining Nexus 6P) stays charged. A pair of beats and an REI sleep mask make long transcontinental red-eye flights more manageable. I also have a pair on in-ear headphones for conference calls as the beats just aren’t practical for this purpose.

I also carry a notebook, two pens (a Sharpie ultra fine point, and a Pilot Varsity fountain pen) as I still prefer jotting down notes to typing list on my phone. The GPS watch and sunglasses make a post-flight hike possible.

I’m currently reading Guru Singh’s book “Levity,” an excellent collection of short parables. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for short chapters of highly spiritual and intellectual content.

I also carry a water bottle (to fill a the airport lounge) and an insulated coffee mug (to make the home espresso go as far as possible). Lastly, I have a collection bars, teas, and Bulletproof coffee Instamix to start the day. Nothing takes the edge off a red-eye like a Bulletproof quad espresso.