"As humans, we have this amazing ability to adapt and evolve. We can actually change our brain's structure and function through our thoughts and experiences."

Jeff Karp, PhD

Ever felt like your brain could use a jumpstart to break free from the mundane? Jeff Karp, PhD joins me to unravel the marvels of neuroplasticity and the transformative LIT method. Together, we dissect the brain's innate ability to shift from a state of lethargy to one brimming with creativity and action. Dr. Karp, a pioneer in regenerative medicine, shares his expertise on restoring our bodies to peak function and equips us with practical tools to energize our minds. From the healing embrace of nature to redefining our relationship with fear and failure, we delve into habits that can significantly enhance our cognitive and emotional landscape.

Follow Jeff @mrjeffkarp

Follow Chase @chase_chewning


In this episode we discuss...

(00:00) What Is Neuroplasticity?

(15:11) Mindfulness and Intention MATTER

(25:40) Benefits of Nature Connection

(30:42) Unlocking Potential Through the LIT Method

(36:59) Rediscovering Life After Obstacles and Maintaining Priorities Through Adversity

(41:55) Unlocking Potential Through Small Steps

(52:29) Practicing Gratitude and Disrupting Patterns

(01:02:28) Innovative Technologies in Healthcare and Healthspan

(01:10:54) Navigating Failure and Radical Simplicity

(01:24:33) Ever Forward


Episode resources:

EFR 799: Life Ignition Tools: Use Nature's Playbook to Energize Your Brain, Spark Ideas, and Ignite Action with Jeff Karp

Ever felt like your brain could use a jumpstart to break free from the mundane? Jeff Karp, PhD joins me to unravel the marvels of neuroplasticity and the transformative LIT method. Together, we dissect the brain's innate ability to shift from a state of lethargy to one brimming with creativity and action. Dr. Karp, a pioneer in regenerative medicine, shares his expertise on restoring our bodies to peak function and equips us with practical tools to energize our minds. From the healing embrace of nature to redefining our relationship with fear and failure, we delve into habits that can significantly enhance our cognitive and emotional landscape.

Follow Jeff @mrjeffkarp

Follow Chase @chase_chewning


In this episode we discuss...

(00:00) What Is Neuroplasticity?

(15:11) Mindfulness and Intention MATTER

(25:40) Benefits of Nature Connection

(30:42) Unlocking Potential Through the LIT Method

(36:59) Rediscovering Life After Obstacles and Maintaining Priorities Through Adversity

(41:55) Unlocking Potential Through Small Steps

(52:29) Practicing Gratitude and Disrupting Patterns

(01:02:28) Innovative Technologies in Healthcare and Healthspan

(01:10:54) Navigating Failure and Radical Simplicity

(01:24:33) Ever Forward


Episode resources:


00:00 - Speaker 1 All right, what's going on? Welcome back everybody to Everford Radio. I'm here with Dr Jeff Karp and we're gonna be talking about the LIT method, but not that kind of LIT. We're learning how to use nature's playbook to energize your brain, spark ideas and ignite action. Jeff, welcome to the show man.

00:13 - Speaker 2 Hey, it's really great to be here.

00:17 - Speaker 1 Out of the gate. I wanna kinda highlight something that I believe is a direct quote from your work. I just want to go back and say that over again, excuse me. When we're accustomed to a low energy brain state and lulled by the comfort zones it creates, it's difficult to rouse ourselves, to act with intention and create the lives we truly want to lead. I feel like that's a pretty strong call to arms out of the gate for your work. Can you unpack that a little bit for us?

00:48 - Speaker 2 The low energy brain state is something that, um, something that I just I have this deep awareness of and um, I sort of came up with this this term, the low energy brain state because it's like how I feel when I'm in it.

01:04 Um, it's, it's like the autopilot mode, it's it's the energy saver mode. Um, and I noticed this a lot in the work that I do um, where we're trying to invent new medical technologies and and I feel like, like, like it's almost like we're tending to just do incremental work, we're tending to, you know, kind of inch forward, and I find that we need tools to intercept our brains, to sort of put them into this high energy mode. And I think that that low energy brain state is really there's like an evolutionary sort of reason behind it. I think it's like you know back 10, 15,000 years ago. You know when or if we're hunting or if we need to move, but generally, you know we're in this low energy brain mode where we're conserving our energy, and I think that that affects us in all areas of life and it can really minimize our ability to innovate personally and professionally, and I just find myself kind of gravitating towards that state constantly no-transcript.

02:52 - Speaker 1 So is this natural tendency to conserve energy? Is this necessarily a bad thing?

02:55 - Speaker 2 Or is this something that is just limiting our potential? Well, I think that it definitely has a purpose and a function in our lives. You know, if we're learning a new skill, we don't have to. We don't want to have to sort of relearn it every time, so we want to kind of lock something in and then have that be the next baseline, you know, kind of to jump forward from. But I think that what I've found is that there's just so many areas of my life where, if I'm not sort of being proactive and engaging tools or strategies, I'm kind of in this low energy state where I'm just sort of accepting the status quo and I find, for example, like, let's say, I'm online, I'm much more easily to be in that state where my brain's getting hijacked, I'm being pulled in all these directions. You know, the algorithms are just kind of grabbing a hold of me and sucking me in, and so I need to have these strategies in order to prevent that from happening and to really be intentional.

03:57 - Speaker 1 Now, your background is primarily in regenerative medicine. What is that? And can you kind of elaborate a little bit more on your background, because you have a wild one? You're a very, very well accomplished scientific guy, and so what is regenerative medicine? How did you get there?

04:15 - Speaker 2 So we in my laboratory we work in a lot of different areas.

04:19 In fact, when I sort of try to define what we do, I'd say we focus more on the process of medical problem solving, and then it's an ever evolving process that we then apply to many different problems in completely different areas.

04:36 And I think that that in part is just because I've realized I'm curious about pretty much everything and I just you know, we were talking before about you know, your curiosity and and and I feel like you know it's just really similar Like there's just so many things that I want to learn and so many things I want to work on and, and I think you know I've, I've I've had moments where people have told me that I need to focus more and actually maybe we'll go back there. Is that okay? Yeah, absolutely yeah, okay. So regenerative medicine is one of the things that we work on and to me it's really about. You know, there's so many different therapies today that are kind of band-aid solutions. They're not what we would call disease modifying. They might sort of lessen the symptoms, but they're not necessarily slowing the progression of the disease or sort of inhibiting it in a particular way, or restoring function.

05:39 And so what regenerative medicine aims to do is actually try to reverse the course of a disease or an ailment, to completely restore original function.

05:51 - Speaker 1 And I know a lot of your work, and especially in what we're going to get to talk about here. The LIT method focuses around neuroplasticity helping us understand what it is, how we can have more of it and why that's a good thing. What it can actually look like in our day to day lives. For the person that's never heard the term neuroplasticity what is that?

06:11 - Speaker 2 So neuroplasticity I really see as our evolutionary inheritance. It's something that, from the day that we're born until the day that we die, our brains are just constantly adapting and evolving to our environments. And and it's really what what's happening is is our brains are literally rewiring. As we're talking, like in the conversation right now, our brains are rewiring to certain degree um. We're having new um connections that are forming between neurons. There's remodeling happening in our brains. It happens in response to conversation, thinking, emotions, actions, changes in our environment.

06:57 And what I find really wonderful is that we can engage our neuroplasticity in a very proactive way. So we have these incredible prefrontal cortex in our brain. The prefrontal cortex in humans is the largest when you compare it kind of relatively to brain size, and that endows us with these amazing abilities to make decisions and problem solve and think and really be intentional, and so with that we can intentionally program our brains, and so it's kind of like any sort of skill that we have developed in our lives. We might be able to kind of look back and say, okay, when I started it seemed very foreign, it seemed really difficult, it seemed very frustrating. I just wasn't getting it.

07:53 But over time it becomes easier and that's engaging neuroplasticity, that's the rewiring that we have at our control at any moment, and so we can make something easier and easier by practicing it or by, you know, engaging in skill development. And to me it's just so incredible how you know we all have this, but yet we're only really using a very small percentage of our human machinery right now.

08:25 - Speaker 1 Some less than others, some more than others. Right, right no one in my crowd here. We're all using more. We're striving to learn how to learn to move more. When I think neuroplasticity, I have always thought it's something that I need to do, there's an action that I need to take, there are a series of actions that I need to do. There's an action that I need to take. There are a series of actions that I need to consistently take. There's a food, a plant, medicine, a substance, a nootropic. You know something that I need to do or take to activate some parts of my brain, to get it to like kick in a little bit more. And I understand that you actually do something to contribute to your brain health, your neuroplasticityity. That caught me a little off guard and that's this pressing pause aspect. You contribute a lot of your brain health, growth and neuroplasticity to pressing pause. What does this look like and how does not doing seemingly not doing something actually enhance or contribute to neuroplasticity?

09:26 - Speaker 2 enhance or contribute to neuroplasticity. Yeah, so I think that you know, nowadays we fill our days with just so many back to back things, meetings and you know just so much information coming at us from all angles and stimuli, and I think that we really need time to process information and experiences. We need time to process information and experiences. We need time to slow down, because that's when mind really turns into matter.

09:52 So, if we're practicing, for example, a new skill. Molly Gerbrian, who's a violinist and a neuroscientist, has done research in this space and what she found is like you know, if you have an hour to practice a new skill, it's best to actually break it up. Um, so maybe you do 10 or 15 minutes and then you take a 5 or 10 minute break really because, yeah, because it's in the breaks when your brain is actually remodeling.

10:20 It's when it's in the breaks when, or the pauses when your brain is is is undergoing physical changes. And that also happens when we sleep. You know, we all have this incredible pause that we take you our brain's ability to remodel. And then there's also something that she found in her research, which is this startle effect, and so what it is is that when, let's say, we're learning a new skill it could be a new language or a sport or you know whatever it is and we take a break and then we re-approach it, there's a certain part of it that we'll forget and that kind of startles our brain and that then allows us to even be more attentive, more focused.

11:11 It kind of puts us into this hyper-focused state that then allows you to imprint into your working memory and then into your long-term memory more easily.

11:20 - Speaker 1 Kind of sounds like a kickstart. It's like we know the sequences of things we need to do to get the engine running, but sometimes we need to kickstart it a little bit more and then it's like OK, here we go, I got it.

11:30 - Speaker 2 I think that's exactly right and we need to have those kind of kickstart moments, not just at the beginning but throughout the entire process.

11:41 What is maybe one thing, if there is a one thing you see a lot of people doing right now in the US that you believe is actually diminishing their neuroplasticity, Well, one of the ways I think about neuroplasticity is, you know, it's really ours to embrace, it's ours to um to really benefit from and um, and I think it's something where, if we're conscious about it and we make a conscious effort, um, we start to think about all of the activities that we do on a daily basis and how they actually, you know, rewire our brain. So, for example, you know the media that we consume. So, you know, if you go on Netflix and you watch, let's say, like an action film and I love, I love action films um versus, let's say, like a documentary, um, that might, you know, have certain emotions associated with it. It might, might sort of resonate with certain sort of things that you're passionate about, um, that what we consume, you know, through the media that we watch, is actually impacting our brain wiring.

12:51 And so I think it's important for us to really start to consider that. You know, like people say, you are what you eat, but I also believe you are what you see, you are what you hear, because all of it is really affecting the remodeling of our brains, and so what I've tried to do is be more conscious about what I watch, and so I tend to watch more, let's say, like documentaries, or, if it's a movie, I tend to watch movies that are based on true stories, rather than what I used to watch, which was just you know kind of action you know kind of movies like that.

13:29 - Speaker 1 So am I hearing you correctly that maybe fiction content is not the best compared to nonfiction content? For our brain health, for enhancing our neuroplasticity?

13:39 - Speaker 2 Well, I think that. I mean, I feel like you know there's certainly a place for us to be entertained and, you know, sometimes you just want to do something mindless and have your mind tap out and engage. And maybe you know there are certain types of movies that you saw as a kid and it just brings you comfort, and you know. So I'm totally into all of that. I guess what I'm saying is really that we have this opportunity, that we have this opportunity.

14:04 It's ours the decision in terms of what media we consume, what we listen to, what we watch, how long we listen to that or how long we watch, and I think all of these things really impact our brain wiring and then that impacts how we behave and how we sort of receive cues from our minds and our bodies Our bodies are very intelligent and the cues from others, and so I think that we can be more intentional with the environments that we're creating around us, and the environment not just being the city that we live in or what we have hanging on our walls, but sort of you know what we're engaging in the digital world as well.

14:48 - Speaker 1 For argument's sake if we wanted to, let's say the person listening wanted to make a goal for the next 30 days. I want to work on enhancing my neuroplasticity. I want to grow the capabilities of this guy up here. If I made it a part of that goal to watch a documentary a week, would that contribute to higher to that goal compared to watching a rom-com?

15:09 - Speaker 2 Um, you know so. So, so the way I think about that is is is that, um, I think everything we do has a domino effect? Um, and so if we make a conscious effort even to do something small, right, Like, let's say that we're currently just, you know, watching mindless things just because, you know, our days are so busy and we just feel like we need to check out, Um, but we make a conscious effort, let's say, to watch something that is going to connect with us emotionally, Um, or maybe there's something that we're really passionate about, um, that we're not doing and we make a conscious effort to connect with that.

15:48 - Speaker 1 I'm hearing intention. So it really comes down to if we're conscious and aware and having intention around what we're doing and consuming. That kind of still hits that sweet spot.

15:57 - Speaker 2 Yeah, doing things more deliberately. I think that once we make a small step in that direction, it starts to percolate through our entire lives, and so I think that you know, and that that impacts our neuroplasticity and we start to be able to sort of tune into it. And you know, before we were talking a little bit about press pause, something that I have found, um, that is really useful is, um, so we have two dogs, cavalier King Charles Spaniels. I'm the primary take care, you know, I take care of them pretty much, you know, just all day long, and what I do is, you know, I used to be someone who I would just walk really fast, I would just accelerate really.

16:41 Anytime I started walking, I'm accelerating.

16:43 - Speaker 1 I'm way ahead of my wife, that's the East Coaster in you moving with a purpose.

16:47 - Speaker 2 I respect walking, I'm accelerating.

16:48 - Speaker 1 I'm way ahead of my wife that's the East Coaster in you moving with a purpose.

16:50 - Speaker 2 I respect that, I appreciate that. Yeah, so you know. And then I just started to you know, to try to be more intentional, more deliberate, and so I started to slow down and then what I started to do was cycle through my senses when I'm walking outside. So what I'll do is I'll say sight and I'll look, let's say, at the texture of the bark on the trees.

17:10 - Speaker 1 I'll look at the leaves, I'll look at the tops of the trees and see them, kind of sway, you'll really try to like zone in on something and focus on, instead of just the collective background.

17:18 - Speaker 2 Exactly, yeah, yeah, like just to really.

17:21 You know, it's almost like a practice in resensitizing the aliveness, of getting back to what it really means to be human.

17:33 We have these incredible senses to experience the world, and I think they get dimmed and dulled by our current culture and just, you know what, where we're at today, and so I find, by cycling through my senses as I walk outside, it just has this like it allows me to connect more with what is there.

17:56 And then, you know, if I say like okay, I'll go through sight and then hearing, and I'll just listen, I'll hear, maybe like the leaves moving, or the wind, or, or, or birds, or, you know, the squirrels, and and then, um, you know, and then I'll do touch and I'll feel like my heels hit the ground and my toes and I'll kind of feel the clothes against my skin in various places and the wind go against my face, and I just find it to me, and then it's sort of like, just, and it's something that you know, we kind of say, we get to this point where we're like I can't fit anything in, I have no time, I have no time for this, but we all walk in, you know, from place to place, and so this is something that's really easy to fit into our days, and what I found is that, like, the more that I do it, the more I'm like I'm connecting with what's there, the more I'm sort of feeling something, the more like calm, and I think I'm really switching from this sympathetic to the parasympathetic.

18:50 - Speaker 1 Not just going through a motion of a common task. You're actually choosing to be engaged and present and aware of all the things that you actually are receiving at that time, instead of just point A to point B.

19:02 - Speaker 2 Yeah, and there's so many nuances out there that I think are just so beautiful for us to connect with my friend Bridge. He said to me we connected a few months ago and he said to me he said you know, if somebody was to build a bird and put it in a box, right, and then they opened it and they showed you and they said, okay, look, actually built this bird. Like everyone would be like, oh my god, like that's unbelievable that you built this bird. But yet here we have birds flying all around us and we just look up and say, okay, that's a bird.

19:39 - Speaker 1 And so even notice it right if we notice it?

19:41 - Speaker 2 yeah, right, if we notice it, yeah, yeah. And so you know, to me it's like we have these, these just feats of. There's so many opportunities to experience all around us and by cycling through my senses as I walk, I sort of open up like a vista of possibilities to experience that more on a daily basis.

20:04 - Speaker 1 You know it's funny, I did something similar about a year ago. I was, I began a regular meditation practice and just in general, I was trying to introduce more stillness and slowing down in my life. And I realized an area where I wasn't doing that was taking out the dog. And I, like a lot of people, I'm sure you go like, all right, come on. I got 10 minutes, I got to take the dog out, go do your business. And, of course, what does the dog do? They want to circle around a spot a million times, they want to sniff a bunch of things. And I was getting frustrated. I'm like, come on, come on, come on was just like Chase, just let her be a dog. She's circling around, she's sniffing, she is doing all the things that you just described. She is enjoying being outside.

20:55 My man, I take her out three times a day. You know she's getting like what, like maybe an hour total of like outdoor time. That sounds crappy. So I just like, let me, let me let her be a dog and just slow down. And it also kind of showed me where I was, in a very small way, introducing this is what I want, this is what I want to be accomplished, how I want it to be accomplished, the speed at which I want it to be accomplished. And so it's also another practice in me, kind of just letting go of control a little bit. It seems so basic and fundamental, but it really resonated with me little bit. It seems so basic and fundamental but it really resonated with me. And that little aspect of letting my dog be a dog for a few minutes a day, a couple of times a day, man, I would walk back into the house just in a lot calmer state and ready to just die, back into work, instead of just going from frustrated state indoors to frustrated state outdoors, back to frustrated state indoors.

21:42 - Speaker 2 Yeah, and I feel like that taps into neuroplasticity, because the more that you do that right, you're actually training and rewiring your brain to then make it easier for you to be open to and have awareness of these other experiences where you can slow down and the benefits of doing it, and then you'll seek it out, you know, in other circumstances. And it's really important, I think, for everybody today to really have an active strategy to switch from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system. You know, just because you know there's studies that have shown that you know, when we receive an email or when we go on, let's say, like youtube, or we look at the headlines, we literally hold our breath, like, like we're, we're, really are, yeah like preparing for something bad.

22:35 Yeah, yeah, screen, it's called screen apnea. Um, linda stone. Um, uh, who I actually? I I had the great pleasure of interviewing for the book um, it's a term that she coined and she, you know, did studies and found that that people hold their breath when they they see, you know, shocking headlines, or when you receive an email that might be we're just so preconditioned to expect alarming, alerting, scary, potentially negative news, right. Exactly, yeah, wow, that's-.

23:01 - Speaker 1 And we're just walking through life like that.

23:05 - Speaker 2 Yeah, I mean that's. The thing is that if we don't, you know, kind of try to be more deliberate, then we're just going to be in this heightened state of of, um, you know, this fight or flight response throughout our days, and that's going to create inflammation and it's going to create um anxiety and, you know, contributes to depression and the loneliness epidemic. It's all sort of interconnected. Talking about dogs, one thing that I've been doing recently is when I walk the dogs at night in particular, is I will actually walk backwards so I can see them walk towards me.

23:39 - Speaker 1 Interesting why.

23:41 - Speaker 2 And what I? Just I've been looking for ways. So so you know, I'm someone who used to watch Netflix, when I watched, when I walked my dogs like I was so, oh, wow, I mean I've.

23:51 - Speaker 1 I've checked an email or two, but I've never full on watched a Netflix show watching the dog, wow.

23:55 - Speaker 2 I used to be so high, strong, so goal focused. Um, I can give you so many examples in my life where um just like doing extreme things like that and I've just been trying to become more deliberate and so for me it's like, okay, put the phone away. And my goal, you know. With technology in particular, I found, you know, if I say to myself, okay, just don't pick up your phone or put your phone away, it just doesn't work for me at all. But if I set the intention let's say on a walk that I want to connect more with the dogs, like that's the intention OK, I can't do that if I'm on my phone.

24:31 - Speaker 1 And right, it's not. I want to put my phone down. That's different than I want to spend more time and focus on the dogs.

24:36 - Speaker 2 Exactly, yeah, and it's a subtle change. And what I realize is is that when I make the intention I want to connect with the dogs, all of a sudden I notice cues I didn't notice before, like, for example, I noticed that, um, one of our dogs, ginger, she looks back at me like every 10 or 15 seconds, like she, and she wants to make the eye contact, and when she sees me, you know there's a little burst of energy right, like when she sees me. And then the other dog rider, he'll look back at me every minute or two and if I'm, if we make eye contact, he's a burst of energy you know, and so I can like detect these things now and I just, I just get a lot of joy out of that.

25:15 You know I love that and so you know and I also realize like if I take them into the woods their energy level is like a two, three, x like maybe even more, compared to just walking on the pavement or walking on the sidewalk. Um, and so now I make a conscious effort to take them in the woods, where it's just. You know, it's like their natural habitat, it's where they're supposed to be.

25:36 - Speaker 1 Great for humans too, I mean it's amazing for humans. I'm sure that helps you a lot to attaching more from like the sidewalk or the city streets going into nature. It's got to be a great kind of added perk to your original intention, your original goal.

25:50 - Speaker 2 Yeah, I think there's so many reasons why. And to get out into nature, and I'll tell you, I mean there's been certain times where I'd go into nature and just feel bored, right, and I think that you know how I kind of reconciled that is. That just shows me how far I've attuned from the rhythms of life. It's showing me, like you know, how much work I really need to do to get back to to that rhythm and um and, and I find that when I go for a walk in the woods, the dogs it just has this incredibly calming effect. It just as you were saying, like it just there's this like regenerative, restorative, and we have that available to us at all times. There's even been scientific studies that have demonstrated that if you just put a nature scene on your screen and watch it, you do get some effect of switching from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic system.

26:51 - Speaker 1 Yeah, I mean, to apple's credit, I recently got a new laptop and the the desktop picture also then turns into kind of an animated screensaver and it's this beautiful like drone shot of just this green rolling hills kind of. I think it's like a vineyard or a small garden and it's just, it's beautiful. And I'll literally the other day I caught myself, I popped up to my wife and I was like I just want to sit and watch this for a few moments and it's just, in a way it's like distracting because it deterred me from my work. But I mean, can you call a moment of Zen really a distraction? It probably was, because I needed it right.

27:28 - Speaker 2 Yeah, I think that you know, we're just in this day and age where our culture, our society, it just atomizes our attention, it like cubes our time in, you know, flattens our imagination and and we need tools and strategies, um, and sort of like a holistic approach, I think, to life, to really to, to, to regain and reconnect with, with what we have.

27:57 I mean, we have this incredible, um, all of these incredible capabilities, and I'm just starting to sort of crack the surface, and I think you know personally, on, I mean, how amazing is it that you, just, you know, you go into nature and you just have this enhanced feeling of wellness? And here we are taking all these pills and, you know, trying to figure out, you know, you know, and, and all we need to do is just sort of step into nature and if it doesn't get you the first time, you know, you can start experimenting with other things, like cycling through your senses or um, you know, you can, you know, one of the things I've been doing recently is I go up to a tree and I just kind of put my hand on it and I close my eyes, uh, just for five seconds or 10 seconds, and um, and I just you know, just just you don't see a lot of that boston, yeah.

28:45 Yeah, you don't see plenty here in la, but not a lot of that in boston, yeah yeah, no, I don't, I've never seen anyone else do it, but but in in boston, um, but uh, you know, I've just been trying to do it just as an experiment, to see what happens and um, and just to see what comes into my mind and see my comfort level. You know, and part of me is like I feel a little uncomfortable sometimes doing it, but like I get over that. You know, if I start doing it over and over, I feel like again it's like that neuroplasticity, you get more comfortable and that you're totally engaging, that.

29:15 - Speaker 1 Speaking of tools and methods, I understand that you have one, so can you help us understand what is your approach to neuroplasticity and even this, you know lifestyle, the LIT method.

29:27 - Speaker 2 So, um, lit is really all about taking yourself off autopilot, um to live your full potential, and it's a a simple set of 12 holistic tools, um that you can use to tap into a heightened state of awareness. You can bring that to any situation, at home or at work, and also tap into this wellspring of energy that we all have within us. And it's like this sense that I'll just give you a couple examples, like, let's say, you know, for working out, right going and exercising, I feel like, you know, one of the main goals is, you know, to feel good, to look good. But I've started to realize that one of the reasons why, you know, working out is really good for me, or exercising, you know, biking or walking a lot is that it just floods my brain with positive neurotransmitters and it just makes me feel good and helps me to figure out which patterns no longer serve me and it gives me energy to disrupt those patterns. And so that's how I kind of think about it is like we're all engaged in these patterns.

30:42 Some serve us, some don't serve us, and if we're going to try to update these patterns and really live more deliberately and more intentionally, we need these tools, so we need to flood our brains with positive neurotransmitters.

30:59 We need to be able to get over the fear and hesitation of embracing new experiences, because that can bring in fresh energy.

31:07 Our brains love novelty and anytime we do something new, it just again activates those neurotransmitters. And we need ways to press pause so that we can process information and experiences and sync up. And we need ways to be humble and to be able to realize that we're contributing to and depending on this interconnected web of life. And we need tools to activate our brains and be able to ask questions and see it as a skill. And we need tools to be able to focus beyond failure and, when we encounter challenges, really see them as the greatest opportunities and insights for growth. And we need tools to tap into the cues that are constantly coming from our minds and our bodies and from other people, and the cues that move us to act, which is really where we find our deep motivation. Act, which is really where we find our deep motivation. And so Lit is this series of holistic tools that, for me, has helped me to overcome nearly insurmountable challenges throughout my life.

32:15 - Speaker 1 How can this approach really help someone that is so afraid to take action, is so afraid of doing monotony Cause? I feel like I hear that a lot Like oh I, I would love to do this, but I don't. You know, I'm worried about boom, boom, boom. Or I would love to go visit this place or live there, but I, I just I can't leave my hometown, or I don't want to change this job. Why do we have this, this aspect, this wanting of novelty? But yet we are so hard on ourselves and so difficult to take action sometimes.

32:56 - Speaker 2 Well, I think, I think that what happens is is that we often we practice not achieving our goals because we set our goals to be so grandiose and so, you know, it's like we haven't been to the gym in three years, and then we say, ok, we're going to go today, and then we don't go, and then we shame ourselves, and so we end up practicing and developing this, you know, kind of rewiring our brains so that we're not going to achieve our goals. You know, like I said, that's kind of the programming that we're moving towards, and so I think that what we need to do is find a way to practice achieving our goals, and one of the ways that I like to think about this is what I refer to as activation energy. So this is something that kind of struck me early on in life when I was in chemistry class. So activation energy is really the amount of energy you need to put into something for something to occur.

33:58 - Speaker 1 To get a chemical reaction To get a chemical reaction.

34:00 - Speaker 2 So you put two molecules in water, let's say they don't react. You add some heat. Not much is happening. They're kind of moving around more. You add a little more heat and now they collide and in new, like a compound forms they bind together. So I like to think of everything in life that I want to do as having a particular activation energy. And if the activation energy is really high, then I like to think of what are the steps that I can take to lower the activation energy so that it makes it easy for me to do it.

34:30 - Speaker 1 This is brilliant. I love this. This is so good. So how did you go about that and what did you find? Was it kind of, oh it's less than I thought. Or do you find that once you kind of get that that dialed in, you later on need more because it's become familiar?

34:45 - Speaker 2 on his bike. Maybe not the most safest place to be making a phone call, but he's like Jeff, he's like being on my bike. It's my happy place.

34:57 Right, that's what he said, and I was like, oh my God, like me too. And I, and then, after I was thinking like wait a moment, I haven't biked, you know, in like a year, like what's going on? Um, and I was like, okay, I really want to bike. So what I did was I sort of thought, ok, you know, the activation energy is a bit high because I haven't biked in a while and my bike wasn't ready to just jump on and go.

35:21 So, to lower the activation energy, you know, first step I took was, you know, I put air in the tires. And then, you know, the next day, what I did is, you know, I cleaned it up, hung my helmet on the bike and then the next day I sort of I moved it to a place where I would see it every single day, and so the only thing really holding me back was this tiny sort of amount of energy I need to put into it, which was to get on it, to get on the bike like 15, I just need to have 15 minutes to ride around the neighborhood, and this past summer I rode over a thousand miles and, and so you know, I feel like we can, just if we think of things in terms of act.

35:57 I mean, there's so many different ways you can look at things and and and sometimes you find something that just connects with you, this sort of fresh perspective or new way of looking at something, and it unlocks opportunities, and for me, just thinking of things in terms of activation energy, does that a lot.

36:16 - Speaker 1 So there are 12 steps in the LIT method. Can you maybe break down two or three that you think are the most important? Or, if you had to get rid of all the other ones, what are the two or maybe three that you think are the most important and have the most universal potential and application for anybody?

36:33 - Speaker 2 So one of the tools that really came into play during COVID is flip the switch. And flip the switch is it's about noticing your inner desire for possibility and then considering what's working, what's holding you back, considering other ways of thinking and then taking a deliberate step forward. So what happened was when COVID hit, literally, you know, my life came crashing down in my living room. Things had been going so well at the lab, but it struck me that I was addicted to work. I was so goal-focused, I was so high-strung. I was the person who would be networking at my kids' birthday parties. My kids would be having their birthday party and I'd be just talking to parents to try to figure out other collaborations that I could have.

37:35 I'd be the guy who, at soccer practice, would be walking around the field, um, to get my steps in constantly, like, just like, over and over and over, instead of like sitting there with my family and watching the game. Um, I'd be the guy on vacation who'd be, you know, sitting in the beach chair just doing emails and, and you know, my family's right there, um, or you know, I was at the bar, or you know like I became so disconnected and and it was like, um, you know my son. All of a sudden, you know, I looked up and he was a teenager. You know the high, the quarterback of the high school, and he was a teenager, the quarterback of the high school, and he wasn't coming to me anymore for conversation or for advice. I was just so trapped in this world.

38:30 And so when COVID hit, it was this unintentional pause that I think we all experienced, and for me, all of these things came to light, all experienced, and for me, all of these things came to light and I noticed this deep inner desire for possibility, that that what was most important to me, most meaningful to me I was not um, I, I, I was not, I didn't have my attention there, I didn't.

38:47 I wasn't focusing my efforts on that and um, and so I started taking stock of what's working, what's holding me back. You know everything. You know since you know, I struggled a stock of what's working, what's holding me back, everything Since I struggled a lot when I was younger with undiagnosed ADHD and learning differences. I didn't know it, my parents didn't know, my teacher certainly didn't know it. And when I got identified in the seventh grade and my grades went from Cs and Ds to as, I still struggled all the time and I needed to focus on efficiency and productivity because it just took me forever to to do things. I was, I was just. You know, it was almost like, I don't remember, in the Terminator movie where um, at one point he has like, like the screen pops up and there's four things he could say, you know, and he's trying to figure out which one to say.

39:29 - Speaker 1 Yeah.

39:31 - Speaker 2 So that's like my whole life has been like that, you know, like I'm not quite sure what the I see all these possibilities, I'm not sure, and it takes me extra time to figure things out. And so I spent my whole life focusing on efficiency and productivity and I was able to really, you know, develop tools to ramp that up to, you know, massive level, but then I became disconnected from the things that really were most meaningful and mattered to me the most.

39:55 - Speaker 1 These are unfortunate kind of tradeoffs. You try to problem solve for one thing, but yet it kind of creates another one in another area.

40:00 - Speaker 2 Yeah, yeah. So my pendulum had completely swung out to one side and I needed to bring it back, and so I started to consider other possibilities and other ways of thinking. And it was right there in front of me. My wife was experimenting, she was interested in very spiritual questions and she had engaged some spiritual teachers and I said, hey, could you introduce me to them? And she did, and I started meeting with them. I started experimenting with various forms of meditation and I found transcendental meditation extremely helpful, so I started practicing it. I started to develop awareness like you know, this observer role of what, all these thoughts going through my mind and all these stimuli that are kind of like that I normally would just act on and go with, and I was able to sort of develop a space in between stimulus and response.

40:57 - Speaker 1 And so that's where we have all of our power, right? Isn't that the Viktor Frankl quote? I think there's a moment between there's a moment between stimulus and response where we either take or let go of all of our power.

41:09 - Speaker 2 That's exactly it, and I, just all of a sudden, I recognized it in that moment. The next thing for me was was to take an active step forward, you know, to really be, be deliberate. And that's where I started to engage, you know, all of all of these, you know, engage in the spiritual world, engage in developing awareness, and, and and. Then I was able to start working on my relationships, and, and and. Then I was able to start working on my relationships and, um, you know, my, my wife and I, you know, had become almost like two ships, like passing in the night, you know, and by having this awareness, I was able to then reprioritize my life and really bring that pendulum back.

41:48 - Speaker 1 Um and all the relationships improved.

41:51 I'm happy for you, glad to hear that. That's amazing. Anything and everything is possible. All it takes is just I think that first moment of awareness and then I think that's where so many people get bogged down is we immediately jump to, I don't know what to do, I don't know how to do it. It's going to be too much work. We go there before having that moment of pause and awareness to just kind of take inventory and I feel like after that, like the next, a next step becomes so abundantly clear and it's way less difficult than we ever imagined.

42:22 - Speaker 2 Yeah, I think one way also to think of it is is almost like what's the minimal neuroplastic unit that we can engage for something to happen Like? It's like if we envision, just as an example. Let's say you're going to get up on stage and give a presentation and you're just so fearful and you're like there's no way I can do it. But could you get up on stage and say your name? You know your first name, right? Could you get up on stage and say your first and last name? Could you get up on stage and say your first and last name, where you're from, right?

42:50 So it's a minimum effective dose, basically Exactly for everything, and I think we can all think about that one little step that we'd be comfortable taking, and I think that once we sort of see ourselves doing that, then it just creates the domino effect. The ball starts rolling down the hill.

43:09 - Speaker 1 I love that. Do you want to go on stage right now and tell your entire life story? Absolutely not. Could you go on stage and give me your first and last name? Yeah, I can do that. I love that. Could you do you want to go on stage right now and tell your entire life story? Absolutely not. Could you go on stage and give me your first and last name? Yeah, I can do that. Okay, come back tomorrow. First, last name, what did you have for lunch? And just build upon that. Next thing. You know you're a speaker, you're on stage telling your life story or whatever story you want, because you've given yourself those small wins to your point.

43:33 Lay down these neural connections and enhance your neuroplasticity of what you quite literally can do, especially when you say you're going to do something. I think there's this other component, beyond the neuroplasticity, of showing our bodies and our brains what is possible to develop the skill sets necessary. But it's these little promises to ourself, I think, that are crucial to building motivation, building confidence and just almost that spiritual, emotional aspect as well. It's like spiritual neuroplasticity a little bit. This reminds me of this other section of your work, quote humans are a force of nature. Act like one. I love that. What do you mean by that?

44:18 - Speaker 2 If we look at, let's say, the evolutionary process, right, we have change that's constantly occurring on planet Earth. You know, throughout the entire universe, really, and in life, there's these adaptations that are constantly happening and you know, brains are being rewired. We have, um, you know, genetics mutations are happening for survival. Um, you know, there's, there's, there's this, this energy, this force of life, this life, and it exists within all of us and it's ours to embrace, it's ours to engage, and I think part of this is really sort of recognizing the nature within all of us and sort of connecting that to all of nature, to really seeing ourselves within this interconnected ecosystem and seeing that the power of evolution exists within us.

45:21 - Speaker 1 It's something that we can actually be deliberate about the power of evolution exists within us, man. That's powerful. That's powerful.

45:31 - Speaker 2 Yeah, and it's one of these things that, for me, there's been, you know, certain awakenings. I needed to have to see this and to really embrace it. One of the times, actually, where this really um struck me was, if we go back to the second grade, um and um. You know, I was struggling with undiagnosed adhd and learning differences and um, we get to the end of the year and the teacher wanted to hold me back, which I think would have been, you know, quite devastating, and my parents negotiated for me to spend the summer doing sort of catch up, and so my friends went on vacation. I am now doing, you know, going in with tutors every day, and I'll never forget. One day I go in and the tutor read a passage to me and asked me some questions and I gave answers and then she looked at me and said how did you think about that? And that moment, like I will never forget, it was like a light bulb moment In some way. I almost felt violated because I was like, wait a moment, it was this.

46:43 I was shocked, I didn't know how to respond to that because no one had ever asked me that question before, and I sort of came away from that experience with this idea that there's this canvas in my mind that I could intentionally populate, like it all of a sudden sort of flipped the switch on awareness that I could bring to everything and I started being able to, you know, to deal with these struggles that I was sort of encountering, where, you know, I would sit at the back of the class and just be frustrated and angry. My mom tried flashcards and phonics. Nothing worked. I wasn't getting anything like nothing was working, and so I needed to develop tools to survive. And being asked that question, how did you think about that?

47:35 - Speaker 1 It was like the first time that I was accessing metacognition, the first time as I kind of look back, you know it's the first time Someone finally met you where you were, instead of trying to drag you across where they wanted you to be.

47:47 - Speaker 2 Exactly, yeah, like helping me to sort of tune into that. We do have this agency. We have this ability to think and to kind of create these mental constructs and to be aware and to observe patterns. You know, pattern recognition has been huge in my life and that moment just opened up so many sort of possibilities for me to learn more about myself. And I have. I think everything really comes from that.

48:19 - Speaker 1 You talk about how this approach is quote the ultimate renewable energy and is accessible to everyone, anytime, anywhere. How can people start applying this approach to their life today? Like what does it actually tactically look like?

48:39 - Speaker 2 I think one thing we can do is notice our inner desire for possibility in something right.

48:46 So that could be at work, at home. Personal evolution. It could be, you know, a skill that we want to learn. I mean, there's so many possibilities but sort of noticing that we have this desire for something a little different, for something a little more, for something new, and starting to just bring our awareness to that. And again, I think anytime we do that, we start to create like a shift, we start to, you know, repattern our brains. We start to see what we're shifting our minds to all over the place. We start to notice people talking about it in conversation. You know, it's like like that building that you walk by every day, that funny looking building, and then one day you see it and you're like, wait, why haven't I noticed this?

49:33 noticed this um, and, and so I think, when we bring our awareness to something, it just it, it, it kind of like um, it, it, it, it creates this circuitry in our brains that then can connect with the outside circuitry, so that we can now start to recognize patterns and build on it and um, and I think that to me that's like just the first step that we, we can do.

50:01 - Speaker 1 So it's really awareness.

50:03 - Speaker 2 It's awareness, it's, it's, it's, it's awareness, but it's also, it's also, um, it's, it's also, uh, uh, partnered with action. So we need to find some small way of taking a step forward, and that can be I mean, there can be many different things, like if you're someone who, um, is just feeling really lethargic and you know there's things are just so busy and there's no time for anything, um, we can start the domino effect by just making a small change, Like, for example, if we just change the hand that we brush our teeth with, for example, you know, I do this, do you do that?

50:42 - Speaker 1 I do this. Yeah, if I can remember, I will brush my teeth with my left hand. It's electric, so it helps a little bit. I don't have as much motor coordination I need to focus on, but even other little things I'll try to. You know, grab dishes with the left hand. Um, I have a glass shower and I'll squeegee afterwards and I'll try to get it with my left hand. Try to just do more dominant motions away from my dominant hand.

51:04 - Speaker 2 Yeah, I do the same thing.

51:05 Yeah, with the squeegee.

51:05 But you know, it's like one of those things where if we just, let's say, switch the toothbrush, the other hand, you know know we'll feel some sort of irritation with doing that.

51:14 You know, won't feel right, it'll take twice as long, maybe longer, maybe we don't feel like we're doing as good a job. But if we start to stick with it, we start to embrace our neuroplasticity because it starts to get easier. And then we're like oh, it's getting easier, you're actually rewiring your brain. Okay, if I can do that, then maybe I can do something else. And so just getting in the habit of making these small changes, or like even walking outside, like we can just intentionally just slow down, and even even just for a couple minutes, you know, just slow down your walk and just see how does that feel, or maybe even just like walk in slow motion you know, like if you're brave enough to do that slow it down, right or walk backwards or, um, you know, or or just sort of go up to a tree and and just sort of look closely at the bark and notice the pattern that you see there.

52:04 Just do something different. It could also be um, drive a different route to work, or walk a different route with your dog.

52:11 - Speaker 1 I talk about this so many times on the show. It's just, it can literally be. If you always go right out of your house, turn left. If you know the same way home after work, just know a way to get there, but purposely don't know your exact route. You know, figure out a way to get from point A to point B that you haven't done, or haven't done in a long time.

52:29 - Speaker 2 Yeah, and another thing that I've been doing recently is a practice of gratitude that I find is really simple to do, it's really quick and it has literally changed my life.

52:43 - Speaker 1 You're the neuroplasticity guy. You're the PhD. Why are you talking about gratitude? What is the brain benefit of gratitude?

52:51 - Speaker 2 So, for me, gratitude is important for being human. It's important for really connecting with that, this incredible, extraordinary, interconnected web of life that we all depend on and contribute to and to me. The more gratitude that we can practice and really experience, the more we can connect with other people, and as we deepen our connections with people, we have this enhanced sense of wellness, and I think that it really is truly one of the main ways that we can combat loneliness, you know, which is an epidemic in our, our country, many other areas of the world, and so one of the ways that we can combat loneliness, you know, which is an epidemic in our country, many other areas of the world, and so one of the ways that I do it, I learned from a friend in the summer, which is, you know, I was over at his house and you know he said, okay, I want to show you this practice, and he put his hands over his food and he said, okay, I'm going to just think about for now what each ingredient tastes like.

53:58 Right, and so kind of, or you know, his hands on the side you have over top or inside, and um, so he did that, we all did it, and then he said okay, and I'm now I'm going to think about all the energy that went into um, to getting this food here, so that you know the energy of the sun and the power of photosynthesis and the um, the the farmers and the harvesters and all the farmers, the harvesters, the microbes, all the people who prepared it.

54:23 And then he said, ok, and now this food will become us. And so I started doing that every single meal after that moment. And I look outside, and because I'm doing it now I'm not on my phone when I'm eating, right, um, you know, sometimes I'll put on like just some nice background music, like classical music or something like that. And I'm looking outside and I feel like it's just evolved from there, because now I'm thinking about, I'm thinking about the phytoplankton in the ocean that are producing the oxygen, that are responsible for every other breath we take, you know like, and that's responsible for getting a lot of this food to us.

55:06 - Speaker 1 Like this it's starting to, you know, it's helping me to really visualize and see the big picture, yeah, big picture, the oneness that we all have, absolutely yeah, yeah, it's incredible and it's so easy to do it.

55:16 - Speaker 2 You know it's so easy and so I um, I like to do it. I was actually at a restaurant, um in california a couple months ago and I was doing it and and these um these ladies came over and said what are you doing then?

55:29 spiritual mambo, jumbo um and I'm putting a hex on our restaurant yeah, so I explained it to them and and you know I could kind of see their curiosity was peaked, you know, when I was kind of explaining the rationale behind it and what I was doing and and um. But to me it's like an access point and and that's really what lit is all about is like just multiple on ramps to helping us to access our neuroplasticity, to help us to identify these tiny steps that we can take in our life to enhance connection and meaning and live our lives with more purpose and just be more deliberate.

56:07 - Speaker 1 If there is one, what is the quickest method you have? Because I'm all for what we've been talking about. I do believe most of us could benefit from slowing down a little bit, introducing these senses of awareness and appreciation, but I want to be mindful of maybe everybody listening and there may be someone going I need something now. I need something like what's the hack? I feel like we live in this world of so many neuroscience and neuroplasticity. You know clips and podcasts and there are a lot of cool things out there. Is there something really effective that is very quick, that we can just maybe use as our rapid fire tool?

56:41 - Speaker 2 Yeah, I think there, there, there are many things. I mean, I think you know some of the things that we spoke about, like just making tiny changes in your day, you know, and seeing what those possibilities are and, um, you know one, as we were saying like you know, you could just switch the hand that you brush your teeth with something like that you could um.

57:00 You know, there's so many opportunities to change things in our day. We could, you know, and some things are catered to some people, some people you know, others, I mean we could. We could put on socks, where the socks are like different colors, you know. For example, we could, you know, just change something, some tiny little change that initially won't take us any time to do. We can change the location of the soap or the shampoo in our shower, you know, just to disrupt this autopilot.

57:28 - Speaker 1 Yeah, I'm really hearing. Just disrupting the patterns, disrupting the autopilot to your point, is probably one of the quickest ways.

57:35 - Speaker 2 Yeah, I think that to me is so.

57:38 - Speaker 1 Getting annoyed, annoying our daily rituals, annoying our life, helps neuroplasticity.

57:42 - Speaker 2 I think it does, because what happens is that we just get stuck in these patterns and we don't even realize that they're patterns. And to me, is we need to wake up to all of the different patterns. So we have patterns in terms of how we brush our teeth, how fast we brush our teeth, how fast we eat, the clothing that we typically buy, the routes that we take to work, the way that we answer email, the tone of voice that we use with people, for example. That's another thing is that I feel like we need to find ways to disrupt patterns, and as we start to disrupt even the smallest of patterns, we then get the energy to disrupt bigger and bigger and bigger patterns, and we start to realize that there are many patterns that we're get the energy to disrupt bigger and bigger and bigger patterns, and we start to realize that there are many patterns that we're living that don't serve us. And so, you know, people can find all kinds of ways in their day, like even just slowing down the way that you eat. We can even like just change our routine. Before we go to bed, for example, we can take a few deep breaths.

58:41 I mean, another thing that I've been doing which I found is just so profound is engaging in breath work. And the thing about breath work that I find really incredible is that it's hours to access at any moment throughout our day and it only takes a couple minutes to feel the effect. Now what I've realized in my own practice is that the effect is dependent on the effort that I put into it. So I really need to draw my attention to the deep inhale and the diaphragmatic breathing, where I'm really sort of pushing out my stomach kind of down and out, you know, as I'm breathing in and then the slow breath out. You know there's all sorts of different ways of doing it, but I've been getting into psychedelic breath work, doing four rounds in the morning and it just again it intercepts my day, it sort of sets the tone for the day and it sort of brings me this calm, and I've also been using it to develop better relationships with my family. So, like in transitions, if I come home from work I'm usually really high strung.

59:50 - Speaker 1 I've heard a lot about this, yeah.

59:52 - Speaker 2 Yeah, I'm just sort of like you know.

59:53 - Speaker 1 I can't. You're not bringing that in with you into the home, into dinner. You're actually, it's a pattern disruption and it's yours and you're recognizing there's a lot of ownership in that as well, you know, because how many times will we step into, you know, the home after a long day of work and we become annoyed or further aggravated by everything else? It's the people that want our love and attention. It's the meal that might be prepared for us, it's the evening's activities that our friends, family, put together, but yet we're so thrown off when it's it's us. But if we just go hold up wait a second, let me just interrupt that Sit in the car for 30 seconds, maybe a minute, and then go in and you get you and everybody else gets a clean slate for love, opportunity, bringing joy back into your life. To your point earlier.

01:00:40 - Speaker 2 Exactly, and I find something that's just so critical about that too is, let's say, I've just been working, I'm in the flow state, I'm just crushing it, and then I go home and I come in and what I don't realize is I'm sending all these cues that I'm not like. I'm thinking, I'm thinking to myself OK, what I'm, I'm thinking about what I'm saying to people, right, Like I'm thinking, like OK.

01:01:05 - Speaker 1 I'm going to have conversation.

01:01:06 - Speaker 2 I'm like you know, okay, maybe I'll, I know I shouldn't say anything right now, but people feel the cues, they feel that stress, they feel that anxiety, they feel, you know, things that are not being said. And so what I found is that I also I've been trying to have a deliberate strategy about the cues that I emanate to other people, and that's why it's so important that I really try to disrupt my transitions between work and family, you know, kind of coming home, so that I am sending out the loving cues, I'm sending out the things that are really connected with what's most meaningful to me, that's most, you know, like aligned with my values, because otherwise people are getting the wrong message.

01:01:52 - Speaker 1 I want to shift gears a little bit. I know you live very heavily in the scientific biomedical world. You're responsible for some pretty wild inventions. You brought in one of your products here for me, actually, which I'm so excited to dive into, thank you. What is maybe on the horizon in the world of neuroplasticity, tangible invention, biomedical devices? I mean you kind of you have a foot in a lot of different doors. What's something you can talk about, that you're really excited about, that is going to actually make a difference in our daily lives.

01:02:28 - Speaker 2 So, yeah, we work on a variety of different things, and maybe I'll just share a few examples. One is we created a tissue adhesive that can seal holes inside a beating heart and conceal blood vessels, and it was inspired by nature. That's actually one of the ways that we use to disrupt patterns in the laboratory is turning to nature for inspiration as a way of bringing it Love.

01:02:54 - Speaker 1 That Wow. So what, what? What did you look at in nature to solve holes in hearts?

01:03:00 - Speaker 2 So so, dr Pedro Del Nido, who's the chief of cardiac surgery at Boston Children's Hospital. He works on these kids who are very young, who have holes in between the chambers of their heart, and it's one of the most difficult environments in the human body for a tissue glue or tissue adhesive to operate, because 60 beats per minute you have multiple expansion, contraction cycles and the rush of blood. Every surface is covered by blood. And we started to develop a technology with him. But we hit wall after wall and nothing was working and we had to disrupt our patterns. We had to disrupt our way of thinking. We had to think differently and bring in new ideas.

01:03:42 And so we asked, we said, okay, which creatures exist within wet, dynamic environments? You know, this sense that evolution is the best problem solver, millions, hundreds of millions of years of research and development all around us. And so we found some creatures like slugs and snails and sandcastle worms. Sandcast worms sit on rocks and and the waves are hitting them, you know, in the ocean, and they remain put. Or sometimes you'll see a snail on a leaf and it's raining and it's not falling off. And we realized that they had some secretions that had some really interesting properties, and so we then mimicked those properties in the glue that we were developing, and all of a sudden it started to work. And so now we're doing two clinical trials, one for nerve reconstruction and another for hernia repair, because with hernia-.

01:04:36 - Speaker 1 Oh, this is perfect. My brother's going through a hernia surgery as we speak, well, in like two weeks, but he has a hernia now.

01:04:41 - Speaker 2 Oh yeah, my dad had one and then he had a double one after. Oh my gosh, I'm sorry, please.

01:04:43 - Speaker 1 Yeah, my dad had a one and then he had a double one after oh, my gosh, sorry, please continue yeah.

01:04:46 - Speaker 2 Yeah, it um. One of the challenges with hernia um procedures is that they use these tacks, which are very hard material, so it's kind of has a mechanical mismatch with the properties of the tissue, which are very soft, Um, and so those tacks can cause pain and they can kind of move around over time, and so with using our surgical glue we're able to basically get away from using tacks, and so that's now being explored in a clinical trial. And then nerve reconstruction as well there's a trial going on. So that's one technology that we developed in my lab. Another technology is we developed a needle that can automatically stop in between the layers of the eye.

01:05:28 - Speaker 1 I saw that one Unbelievable Like that is that's the future. That's crazy.

01:05:34 - Speaker 2 Yeah, it's really hard to deliver drugs to the back of the eye, and you want to do that because there's a lot of diseases that affect the back of the eye, like macular degeneration, for example, which a lot of people have, and so the concept that we came up with was that you know if you put a balloon inside of another balloon and you inject in between them, it goes all the way around, like the water would go all the way around.

01:05:57 So your eye is similar, where the outer tissue is called the sclera and then there's another tissue called the choroid and it just pushes up against the sclera. And then there's another tissue called the choroid and it just pushes up against the sclera because of the pressure inside the eye.

01:06:09 But they're not attached, and so we developed a needle that can stop after going one millimeter through the sclera, stop in between those two layers and inject gene therapy to go to the back of the eye, and so now this is in the process of being brought forward to a clinical trial. So it's another technology, it's amazing. And I could go on about a few other examples, but we recently developed this nasal spray the product that I gave you In my bag now, yeah, it's in your bag.

01:06:39 And what happened was during COVID. We were working on all these different projects in the lab. We were trying to develop a nasal spray to treat multiple sclerosis and we developed this spray that could stay within the nasal lining for a long period of time and effectively deliver drugs. And there's a number of reasons why you want to go through the nasal lining. But when COVID hit, we said, okay, what can we do to help in every single project in the lab? And we started to realize because people were doing you know, there's a lot of researchers, you know, highly active, trying to figure out what COVID was all about.

01:07:15 We realized that COVID mainly spreads by respiratory droplets through the air, you know, coughing, sneezing, singing, talking, yelling and that these respiratory droplets go into the nasal cavity. Mainly they break open, they have the viral, the COVID virus is in there, and then there's receptors in the nasal lining that the COVID can take hold. So the nasal lining is one of the main sources of entry for COVID to get in our bodies. And so we thought, okay, could we reposition this nasal spray that we were developing for COVID? And so we screened a hundred different um, over a hundred different combinations. We teamed up with an infectious disease researcher at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, where I'm based, and we identified a formulation that can kill 99.99% of COVID-19, h1n1, influenza A and B, rsv, adenovirus, e coli and a form of pneumonia.

01:08:22 - Speaker 1 In a nasal spray. In a nasal spray, wow.

01:08:24 - Speaker 2 Yeah, and a form of pneumonia In a nasal spray. In a nasal spray, wow, wow. And then we also did an experiment where we administered this 25 times the lethal dose of H1N1 in some lab experiments to some animals and if you give our formulation, they all survive, all right that's good to hear.

01:08:44 - Speaker 1 I honestly got a little nervous every second. I was like, oh no, those poor animals. That's amazing though.

01:08:49 - Speaker 2 They all survive, yeah, yeah, and so we were able to then. So we teamed up with two regulatory experts, an international toxicology consulting firm. One of our regulatory experts had worked at the FDA, was the general counsel there, and created this list called the Generally Recognized as Safe List, which are agents that typically exist in consumer products and are safe to use within certain concentration ranges, and they deemed all of the ingredients to be safe, and so in October, we brought this product to market and it's called Profi Spray and yeah, so we're just, you know, kind of just getting it out there. It's regulated as a cosmetic, but we've been getting a really great response.

01:09:36 - Speaker 1 Amazing. Well, keep them coming. I was really enjoying researching all your inventions and what you all are doing in your labs and, like I said, you got so many cool things that you're up to, aside from, you know, the new book. So one other area I want to get to before we wrap up the conversation is referring back to a previous piece of your work on a TEDx talk. I'm talking about radical simplicity and how you help people turn failure into success through this concept, and this idea hit me and I feel like it's so obvious, but something we need to be reminded of. I've never worked on a problem where I understood it from the beginning. It seems so duh, for lack of a better term, but something I think a lot of people don't understand or don't respect and we struggle so hard, or even more so, unnecessarily, in problem solving and moving forward in life. What is this concept of radical simplicity and helping us understand the problem from the beginning?

01:10:31 - Speaker 2 So the concept of radical simplicity for me actually came out of one of the biggest sort of catastrophes in my early days as a professor.

01:10:42 - Speaker 1 Okay, all right, we love a good catastrophe.

01:10:53 - Speaker 2 So what happened was um uh, you know it's going back to. I started my lab in July of 2007 and, um, I decided the first project that we were going to work on, kind of going back to regenerative medicine um, was taking stem cells out of the body and engineering them so that we could infuse them into a vein simple intravenous infusion and have them target anywhere in the body, anywhere we needed them to go. So you can imagine, you know, to treat you, target the bone for osteoporosis, or the heart to you know someone has a heart attack to prevent them from going into heart failure, or to the brain. You know the possibilities were endless and we had actually preliminary data to suggest that we could do this. Like our data, we engineered cells and we were able to target them in the body.

01:11:43 - Speaker 1 So programming these cells basically upon injection. Um, they know where to go and what to do exactly.

01:11:49 - Speaker 2 yeah, it's like a gps, you know for your car, but for stem cells, um, because we actually know the zip codes of um vessels and different tissues. So there's, there's literally these receptors that are on the surface of cells, um and um and and, and the receptors are different for blood vessels in different tissues, and so if you know those, then you could potentially develop targeted approaches. And that's what we did with stem cells and we had data to show that we could do it. Um, and I was super excited, um, and so know, here it is the night before I'm going to meet with one of the most you know, the best you know life science investors around and I'm nervous, barely, can sleep. I go in Now, I'm sitting across from them, I go through all the data, I'm kind of like smirking because I feel like you know, ok, I got this. Like this is no one's ever shown this before Right.

01:12:46 - Speaker 1 It's impressive yeah.

01:12:47 - Speaker 2 And um and uh, and I had met with this was the head of this, this, uh, venture capital firm, and he leans over, you know, across the table and he said, jeff, this is really great, Um, but we're going to take a pass. And I was like what, who passes on that? Yeah, yeah and and. And it was one of those moments where I couldn't really hear what happened next because my brain was just so focused on the, the word pass and um, and I I managed to get out why and he said, well, it's just too complicated. Um, it was like this multiple step process that we developed to do it.

01:13:26 Um, and so I went back to my lab and I know, just from um you know the struggles and challenges I've experienced before that usually, after a good night's sleep or two, you know, the emotions start to subside and this window of opportunity, um, you know just itself, which becomes one of the most insightful times ever in life, I find to gain, you know, new insights and to really see things that you hadn't seen before. And it struck me in that moment, talk about like a press pause moment. It struck me that, wait a moment. Here I am, at the beginning of my career. I about like a press pause moment. It struck me that, um, wait a moment.

01:14:07 Here I am, at the beginning of my career. I'm like a year, year and a half in. This is terrible. What just happened, the very first project in my lab had put all our resources into this one project and now you know there's no chance of this. You know, moving forward to patients, which was really the goal but I started to realize, wait a moment, maybe there's an opportunity here to take this advice and these insights and basically input it into every project moving forward.

01:14:37 And so that's where this concept of radical simplicity comes from, which is like the art and discipline of minimizing complexity at all possible levels, and so I started to apply that to every project in the lab moving forward, and almost all of them have turned into companies.

01:14:55 - Speaker 1 Wow, All right Way to channel that way to channel that you also talk about in that speech. A bias against failing keeps us from managing failure better. I love that concept. I love that concept. What do you mean by that?

01:15:16 - Speaker 2 Can you help us understand that more? I've been able to mine for just these incredible bits of information or insights that just weren't there before, and I like to consider failure as something that you know I find like. In school, we learn that, like you know, failure is over here and success is over here, and you want to avoid failure.

01:15:45 - Speaker 1 F here bad, a, here good, right, Right.

01:15:49 - Speaker 2 There's no emphasis whatsoever on your progress, on your, I mean, how great would it be if grades were based on you know, your ability to engage your neuroplasticity right, maybe, maybe by the time.

01:16:02 - Speaker 1 I don't know the next generation. Yeah, there's probably a starter school somewhere't know the next generation. Yeah, there's probably a starter school somewhere already playing around with that.

01:16:08 - Speaker 2 Yeah, I bet Um, and so to me it's, it's, it's, um, um. I'll give you an example, you know, for failure. So, um, I got invited to do this, uh, this Ted med talk, um, which is uh, which was in, um, what year was it? I forget exactly the year, but but a few years before I did the TEDx one, and you know, I hadn't given a speech since I was in elementary school. And here I was, like you know, I actually said no initially, when, when I, when I was asked, because I just was fearful and hesitant, but then I went back and I knew I just had to do it. You know, it was like I knew that I was capable of doing it. I also knew it would be a lot of work, um, but I knew that I would. Just, it was one of those things that if I was able to do it, it would bring so much energy to other areas of my life.

01:17:01 - Speaker 1 The impediment to action advances action right. That's exactly it.

01:17:05 - Speaker 2 Yeah, and I. So I agreed to do it. Practice like crazy. I started in. You know, I rented out Kresge auditorium at MIT, which is the biggest auditorium. I practice there. I practice in front of everybody I could. Everyone gave me little bits of advice and I changed my talk all the advice, even my son. There was this animation that you know we had created and he's like, oh, this part at the end doesn't really make sense. I mean, he was probably like 10 or 11 at the time, so I had to completely change the animation. I was like, oh my God, this is totally wrong. Um, and so I get to the Kennedy center in DC, um, to give this talk, and it's the day before and they say, okay, um, here's the clicker. It only goes forward. You can't go back. If you want to go back, you have to yell to the person behind the stage to turn the slide back. So I'm like, ok, there's no way I'm doing that. But now I'm even more nervous.

01:17:53 - Speaker 1 This is truly the ever forward speech here.

01:17:57 - Speaker 2 That's right.

01:17:59 - Speaker 1 It's my old neighborhood too. I was in DC before here.

01:18:02 - Speaker 2 Oh yeah, was in dc before here. Oh yeah, you mentioned that before. Yeah, so, uh, okay. And then they said, oh, you know, and if you stop in the middle of it, they said don't run off the stage and don't cry. Um, they said we've had people do that before and it just doesn't go well. They said just smile, just stand there and smile. And and I I was I'm like okay, all right. Just I'm like okay, all right, just smile. And and then they also had went over my talk with me and gave me some suggestions to fix it, like a day or two before.

01:18:28 So now I'm like sort of I had the whole thing memorized and so, okay, so I, I eat, like you know, almost a full pack of hauls right before I go up there. I'm so nervous. I go up, I start, and you know I knew it so well. So, so, so well, it was on like it was on autopilot. I mean, I feel like you know that potentially is good use of autopilot, you know, because you want to be able to deliver it a certain way and and if, fully memorized. And you know I also had to memorize the part of how do I give it so it doesn't look like it's memorized like there are so many different elements you know, and so I'm giving it.

01:18:58 I get halfway through and I'm kind of thinking about looking at the audience, um, and all of a sudden I realized I missed a line and that's all my brain could focus on. Was I missed a line?

01:19:10 and then I forgot where I was and I stopped and I'm like standing there um five high definition cameras on me being live streamed around the world, and room packed full of people, people, and I'm like, oh my God, what do I do, right? I'm like I can't run off the stage, I can't start crying. I'm like, you know, there's a lot of swear words that are running in my head and I'm kind of like trying to channel it, like with my hand. I'm trying to, like, you know, like just like Kickstart, kickstart again.

01:19:41 Yeah, like the lightning rod, I'm trying to like the energy and I stand there. 15 seconds go by and not a word. You could hear a pin drop and I'm like, okay, advance the slide, advance the slide. I advance, it's a blank slide.

01:19:53 - Speaker 1 And I'm like, oh, my God what the hell?

01:19:56 - Speaker 2 And then I'm like, oh my God. And then I advance it again and I'm like, oh my goodness, I needed the blank slide, it was a cue. And then I was like, oh no, but I know what to say, so I just go, go, go. So I picked it back up and I was able to complete it and as I'm walking off the stage, the stage manager sort of whispers to me. She goes um, we can edit that part out. But that moment, actually, something came out of that that changed my life, which was this high pressure talk where, like, the worst possible thing that I could have ever imagined happened, where I stop in the middle, I freeze in front of the audience and then I was able to pick back up. It gave me this confidence moving forward. With every talk I have given since then, with every talk I have given since then, it has given me this ability to be comfortable and not worry, not be fearful if something goes wrong, because I know, if something goes wrong, that I can recover from it.

01:20:55 It just takes a little bit of time you know, sometimes 15 seconds, but there's so many elements of failure in my life where I feel we purposely now in the laboratory make failure part of our process. We try to figure out-.

01:21:10 - Speaker 1 You program for failure really.

01:21:11 - Speaker 2 We program the whole system for failure. And it's really about what is the greatest lesson or insight that we can gain early on that can provide a North Star for the entire project. Because, again, I feel in academia there's this sense of like the gravity, the low energy brain state takes us to the incremental, and we need to find ways to create that North Star. That's going to be focused on purpose, and the purpose of what we do in my laboratory is to accelerate the process of medical innovation to get therapies to patients as quickly as possible. And the question that I ask in every lab meeting that's kind of come out of this process is what's the bar that we need to exceed to get everybody excited?

01:22:00 Where is the field right now, what's the best result anyone has achieved and how much better do we need to go to really get this to have meaningful value creation for society? So to me, that's the key in in all of the work that we do is defining importance, and I found in other areas of my life, even, like you know, personal life and and and sort, you know, this digital age it seems like importance is being defined for us.

01:22:29 - Speaker 1 And.

01:22:30 - Speaker 2 I think we need a strategy to find our own sense of importance and stick to it.

01:22:37 - Speaker 1 Well, I kind of feel like we got there. But to ask you directly how does what you do and how does this lit method and how does everything we just talk about, how does this help us live a life ever forward? Those two words, jeff, what do they mean to you?

01:22:54 - Speaker 2 I think that, um, that our everything is constantly changing, everything in our environments, everything is being everything's evolving and, um, our brain wiring is, you know, from the time we started this conversation till this point, our brains have there's been rewiring that's actually taken place, and I think that you know, really, the power of evolution is in our ability to adapt, and adapting leads to thriving. And to me, as we think about, you know, ever forward, as we think about sort of, you know, what we have as our capabilities, what we have access to in this ever-changing world, it's there's just there. I, I think, I think we, um, I'm trying to collect my thoughts here no, you're fine, you're fine, that's totally fine um it gets you thinking it gets kind of the wheel turn, absolutely yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

01:24:02 Every time it gets me it does yeah, yeah, yeah, um yeah, I'm just trying to think about, like, what's, what's sort of like, since it seems like this is the closer right, like it is, it is right.

01:24:14 - Speaker 1 Yeah, yeah, this is the last question. Yeah, this is the last question.

01:24:17 - Speaker 2 Yeah, yeah, um, yeah, I just maybe just think about this for one more second here, um not a problem, not a rush.

01:24:30 - Speaker 1 There's never a right or wrong answer. I tell everybody yeah, but it's.

01:24:33 You know, just I put it at the end to kind of summarize my guest's work and expertise, but then bring it back to the theme of the show is like all right, what can I do with this? How can this help me advance action in my life? You know how can what you do and how you do it help me move forward in life. Coupled with you know your definition of just hearing ever forward, like what does that spark in you? What does that mean? How would you apply it?

01:24:59 - Speaker 2 I think, you know, there's nothing static about life. Everything is always moving forward. There's changes that are constantly happening. Evolution is taking place constantly, you know, in every facet of our life. And to me, I think that we have this capability to be more intentional, to be more deliberate, to be more purposeful in how we meaning and with our values, and we can respond in a way where we can deepen our everyday experiences, we can really set the course for ourselves to. I know I'm just sort of I'm trying to figure out.

01:25:59 I'm trying to figure out something that's like really, I'm trying to figure out. What can I say? That's like like maybe like something that's like really, um, I'm trying to figure out um setting the course for us like like, maybe like something that's like a practical sorry do people usually?

01:26:12 - Speaker 1 um, I mean, they really it can go all over the place to be. To be frank. Um, some people are very. You know, here's a practical tactical tool. Uh, here's a mindset. You know, I guess would it be more beneficial, you know how, if you had to think of the lit method, yeah, through the lens of ever forward, like what? What would that look like?

01:26:39 - Speaker 2 yeah, so if we, if we think about the lit method in the context of Ever Forward, I think that the essence really here is in thinking of our lives in a holistic sense, thinking of every action.

01:27:00 Every thought that we have impacts everything else, every thought that we have impacts everything else, that everything is all connected, not just within us but around us, from the cues that we're giving off to other people, to the tone of voice that we use with people, to the deep connection that we feel when we're truly leading with curiosity and we're engaging people and we're listening. We're truly listening to what they have to say, and to me, this is the path that we're all on. This is the path that enables us to thrive and really experience all of the best that life has to offer. It's it's it's again kind of coming back to the neuroplasticity that you know we we can rewire our brains so that when we meet with people, we sense that connection, we feel it and we can just constantly be deepening that we can be deepening that.

01:28:03 yeah, we can be deepening everything, we can be deepening the meaning that we experience in everything in life and and I think that that's what ever forward, just you know, really, really means to me what I heard there is that really our potential is at a set point only if we let it be our ability to connect with the world, our world and the world and other people.

01:28:31 - Speaker 1 Many people believe, probably, that I, this is my threshold, this is my capacity, this is just where I, where I can go, what I can do. But through your work and through this concept of neuroplasticity, we can quite literally rewire our brain, show us new methods, show us new ways of living in ways that we never thought possible because of the own limitations that we place on ourselves or society has placed on us or we believe to be placed on us. But that set point is only if we let it stay there.