EP78: The Habit Company w/ Maneesh Sethi
Coming from the “internet marketing” world, I don’t interview many entrepreneurs who sell physical products.
Maneesh Sethi is the founder and CEO of Pavlok, a wearable technology that helps people break bad habits and create good ones.
Maneesh and I have been friends for a while. And the path of entrepreneurship he chose is fascinating.
That’s why I just had to bring him on Experts Unleashed.
What happened when Maneesh’s “hero” told me I could never write a book at my age (I was 12) [03:10]
From personal “slapper” to dog shock collars to Pavlok – how Maneesh’s brain works [13:38]
“Loops” – a crash course in behavioral modification [19:45]
Why Pavlok’s main competitor is AmEx and not Fitbit [30:49]
The struggles of an ENTP CEO [43:50]
…And much more!
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Joel Erway: [00:00:20]
Hey, what’s going on everybody? It’s Joel Erway here.
Welcome to another very special episode of Experts Unleashed. I am really excited today. Today, I’ve got my good friend of Maneesh Sethi on our call and Maneesh is the founder and CEO of a hardware company called Pavlok. Now Pavlok helps people break bad habits and establish new healthy habits.
I invest, not invested in the Pavlok. I purchased a Pavlok. Hold on to two and a half years ago and have been following Maneesh for awhile and we’ve met up in person. He actually, you know, he lives, he’s one of those remote nomads that flies all over, lives all over the world. And back in September of last year, he decided to fly and come meet me in Niagara falls.
Just kidding. He was coming in for a conference, but I wanted to make myself feel really good, but we met up in person. He’s an awesome guy and he’s doing some amazing things in the world. So I wanted to have him, uh, I wanted to have him on the show cause it’s not very often that we get hardware entrepreneurs on this show.
Maneesh, welcome my man.
Maneesh Sethi: [00:01:25]
Hey, what’s up guys? I’m excited to chat.
Joel Erway: [00:01:28]
Yeah, it’s going to be fun. So, Maneesh. Why don’t you give us a little bit of background about Pavlock, the journey? I would love for you to tell the initial story of the person and maybe this is part of the story, I’m not sure. Yeah. You know what I’m talking about?
Maneesh Sethi: [00:01:44]
I’ll give you a short version. So 6 million years ago, the human species evolved. Right? I’m just kidding. And so I grew up in California, my name is Maneesh and I’m the son of two immigrants from India. And so as a first generation kid, you know, we have an interestingly different culture.
And I grew up surrounded by siblings. One of my brother is Ramith Sethi, you might know from the website, I will teach you to be rich. And so, you know, Indian families have a very big push towards doing stuff. It’s very, weird. It’s something very interesting. And as I grew up when I was younger, I was like 12 and 11 and 10, and my parents made it very important that we would start making money.
I dunno, it was just entrepreneurship was built into us. And so I started buying video games on some website and then reselling them on eBay. And I would do it for profit. And one of the games came opened once and I decided to install it and it was age of empires. And I never really played games before, but I fell in love with this game.
And so I started playing this game and I wanted to start making my own games. So I started buying books by authors who had written about how to make games. And I was only 12 or 11. Right? And I had no idea what I was doing. I could barely program a computer, but I ended up going to a conference. And I got invited to go there.
And I was only 11. And I asked if I could someday write a book about game program and the person who ran the conference, my hero, sends me. I’ll never hire anybody who’s younger than 25. You’re not smart enough. You’re not good enough. You’ll never get it done. I said, what are you talking about? And I said like, this guy was my hero.
I looked up to him and I went to this conference and then my hero said, no. And I think a lot of people might get rejected by that, but I’m like 12 years old. And I said, fuck you. And I basically put myself in a room with a laptop. It wasn’t a laptop as a desktop. And I wrote 80 pages in four days and I pretended to be an adult and I wrote it and sent it above his head.
And ended up getting a book deal signed. I’m at 13 and I had a book that was released when I was, I think, 15 or 16 called game programming for teens. And that book was about, it became a best seller around the world and was used as a textbook in Poland because it helps young people make video games and was teaching them programming.
And I found that really interesting that I wrote 80 pages in four days, but once the book deal was signed, it took me about two years, one year and a half to write the next 100 pages. Very weird, how that happens. Right. When I had a point to prove, then suddenly I executed like nothing like crazy. And when I didn’t, it didn’t matter.
So fast forward to recently about in 2012, when I was running a blog called hack the system, and I was trying to get myself to be more productive. I had grown up with these same experience of having really good ideas and then when I was told to do something I would execute really well when there was like these really weird factors, like a competition or a deadline or a bet or paper was due at midnight, I would execute on it and it would always be done one minute before the deadline.
But then as I got older, those deadlines disappear from your life and suddenly the good habits that, uh, the things that you want to do, don’t come as automatically. Think about how, when you’re a kid and you have a writing assignment due, you stress about it, but it gets done. It will get done. But these days when you’re an adult and there’s no one holding you accountable, suddenly you want to write an article and nothing gets done.
So I, decided to do an experimentation series on my blog where I hired, or I, started to try to improve my productivity. I measured it with a metric website tracker, and I hired a girl to follow me around. Every time I went on a Facebook or wasted time, she would slap me in the face. And that was the concept of this idea of a hack the system, like why I hired a girl to slap me in the face and how it quadrupled my productivity.
And so I did this and my productivity is shot up to like, uh, basically I wrote four months of content in four days because I was getting slapped. Well, really, it was about having an accountability partner.
Having somebody sitting there watching me was like a massive difference between the idea of, I’m just trying to, I’m getting, I’m getting distracted because I’m trying to show you the video actually. Can I share my screen?
Joel Erway: [00:06:09]
Yeah, yep. Go for it. Yeah.
Maneesh Sethi: [00:06:13]
So it’s like here. This is where I’m at. So I’m not trying to, somebody else made me super viral.
And this girl basically slap me in the face for $8 an hour. That was basically the idea, but what was really fascinating was how much my approach would be skyrocketing. I got four months of content written in four days by having an accountability partner sitting next to me by having a person. And she only slapped me once or twice.
It was mostly as a joke. The reality of it was that the idea of having somebody that I was working on a project at the same time with became a different experience of doing this action. Suddenly I was like, Hey, how does this sound? Could you look up images while I type this text? And because it was like, uh, it made me realize the effect of doing things in a simultaneous way.
So when that happened, I got slapped and I wrote this blog post and that video you just saw was one of the thousands of videos that were published about my story. I mean, man hires woman to slap him in the face and anyway, for three days I was famous. I was being called up by companies around the world, by news press around the world, Anderson Cooper.
I was on the Colbert report, Jimmy Fallon. And then three days later, I was nobody. Nobody picked up the phone anymore. Right? Anderson Cooper stopped applying to my calls. Oh, we decided to go with a different direction. And so I thought to myself, Oh, that’s interesting. Well, how can I take, like, how do I make this go viral again?
Well, getting slapped for going on Facebook was this viral. What if I took a dog shock collar and made it zap me every time I went on Facebook and I called up a friend of mine and he said, yo, let’s go to radio shack. And so that, that was basically, we went to radio shack and get the part in old dog collar.
We hacked it together with a couple of wires, so that every time I went on Facebook, it would trigger the remote control and zap me. And I made a video about it and I was about to post it online. And then I thought to myself, this is actually really interesting. There’s a million wearables out there that track what you do, but this one’s actually changing what you do.
Maybe there’s something there that’s more powerful, this combination of a punisher, but also an accountability coach that could really, really help people. And that’s where Pavok has been.
Joel Erway: [00:08:33]
So it’s really funny. So it’s a brilliant story. Like it’s a very, very compelling story. Fascinating story. How strong our shot, our dog shock colors, by the way
Maneesh Sethi: [00:08:44]
Way way like a hundred times a stone.
Joel Erway: [00:08:46]
It’s what I thought. Like they’re very painful, very painful. So did you actually shock yourself with one?
Maneesh Sethi: [00:08:52]
Oh yeah. I mean, I’ll send you the video later. You can see the first prototype of it being made at my friend’s apartment and like it was pretty, pretty crazy.
And it’s very strong, especially at the high levels and that you can deliver a continuous voltage. So it’s like, which is the unsafe kind. But ours, as we started to engineer it, we realized that like, number one, that was way too strong. Number two, uh, anyway, ours is designed to like release in instantaneous pulses app. So basically, our device is, this is the pavlok.
So it’s a device that you use to change your habits. At its core it’s very simple. It vibrates, deeps and zaps when told. That can be, uh, it can also measure your emotion and your stuff. That’s the baseline of it. But when you pair it to the Pavlok app, suddenly the Bluetooth connection makes it very, very interesting.
Now it can start training your behavior by rewarding you for doing good behaviors and helping keep you aware by doing bad behaviors. The idea of a zap I think, has been really ripped apart and considered as a Punisher or considered as a shock, which is it is not. You felt it. And you know that at the lower levels, especially, it just is like a thing. That’s like a tap.
Like it gets your attention. And as it goes higher, it feels a little strong, annoying, aversive, surprising, painful but it’s the kind of pain that goes away instantly. And so what’s really powerful about it, and I think the core of what we really want, what we’re starting to notice is the real use case of the product is that it makes you aware.
It’s like a button you can press to be aware. Like when you meditate, you have to really put effort into focusing on your breath. And if you look under an EEG monitor, you’ll see the levels matching awareness going up when the Delta levels drop and then the drops. And with Pavlok, you’ll see exactly the same thing.
Zapple instantaneously increase your alpha levels and drop your Delta. You’ll be able for the next 10 to 20 seconds, at least you’ll be in a high alert awareness stage. And then for the next two to three minutes, you’ll see effects staying more aware than you were before. So that becomes extremely useful for when you’re trying to change your habits.
A good one for me is that I just programmed this in yesterday, every day at every hour on the 15 minute mark, I get a vibration on my wrist and a push notification that says, what would the best version of Maneesh doing right now? Right? And it’s a small thing, but it starts to add a little bit of, Oh, Hey, what would I be doing now?
Maybe I should close this tab, open this tab. Right? Then I realized that my pavlok chrome extension integrated with my lifestyle. So if I go on unproductive websites, it will start to vibrate, even zap to warn me. But anyway, what I’m getting at is we created this tool that has multipurpose purposes, and it’s really interesting and different because probably most of the people who listen this podcast are people who have their own personal brand.
And that was me. Hack the system was the new state two grand. I teach you how to be a digital nomad. I had credit card miles. Yeah, that’s me. And then suddenly one of those things took off into an idea and because of a happenstance, it became a physical product. I never thought in a million years, I would make a physical product, much less an electronics, Bluetooth product, which is just about the most complex you can do from a small product perspective, consumer perspective and suddenly everything like fell into place.
The fact that nobody knew how to do it meant that it was really hard for me to do it. And because of the sunk cost fallacy by doing it, I’m stuck. I got to do it. But because it’s so hard, that means nobody else is doing it, which means that there’s going to be a lot less competition in the marketplace.
And as I started to build it, I started to realize that I didn’t know what we were making. And now I’m starting to see all of these pieces of my life kind of culminate into this fundamentally different paradigm of you should get rewarded for doing good behaviors and you should be reminded, made aware, and if necessarily punished for doing behaviors that you want yourself to stop doing.
And that is the core. And the ramifications of that are much, much grander than just a simple product that zaps me. So I can tell you about that stuff too, but, uh, what, like, uh, I’m rambling. So
Joel Erway: [00:13:23]
Yeah, no, it’s fascinating. So tell me, what year was it when this first idea like, so when the slapping incident happened versus when you sat down and you realized, Hey, this could be a product like what year was that?
Maneesh Sethi: [00:13:38]
So, okay. So 2012 December, I had the idea and, the slapping post happened in October 2012. Two months later, I went to my friend’s house in San Francisco, and we went to radio shack and made this version. So in January I said, This is awesome. This is better than me posting it on Facebook. Let me try to make this into a prototype.
So I distinctly remember in March of 2013, I really hope I figure out a way that I can get this made because no one is making it. I can’t find anybody. And I have a lot of ideas that are amazing, but I never follow through on. And I think this one might be the best one. I distinctly remember saying that in March.
And then in April, I quit. I gave up, I decided not to do this anymore because I couldn’t figure out how to get a prototype made. Then in June, randomly this, remember that guy who, the author, who said you’re not allowed to write books if you’re younger than 25. The same guy I hadn’t talked to in over a decade popped up on Facebook and I just messaged him and said, hi.
And I knew he was a hardware engineer and I mentioned, Oh yeah, I was working on a hardware project a few months ago. Actually do you have a quick second? I want to ask you a question. I called them up. I said, Hey, do you think that there’s a way to make this? And he said, actually, that’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.
No VC would ever fund that. Ah, you’ll never find consumers who want to buy it. But I just got out of a meeting with this incubator called bolts. They make hardware, they invest in hardware startups and help them build the product from idea to prototype to creation. I can like send you the link, but honestly, I don’t think you have a shot.
I was like, alright, you fuckedtard. Like, I’ll go ahead and fucking make sure I do this.
So this guy’s like a dark angel in my life. He is always there at the most necessary moments to be exactly as horrible as I need him to be. Anyway, because of that, I pitched the side, the incubator and they invested in the company and the incubator put me in a room for one year with other hardware engineers that helped me do it.
So that was why I had the ability to because I absorbed information really well. I’m very ADHD and I am really good at idea driving and creativity, but I’m quite bad at execution or follow code. And so creating systems around that is like the most ADHD thing in the world is pavlok. Like a regular person gets off Facebook.
They want to get off Facebook. They turn off Facebook. Well only I hire someone to slap me in the face. Then they’re replicated as a dog shock that’ll zap me every time I get on Facebook and then distribute that to the world so that I don’t have to solve my own problem as well, as long as I’m solving it for everybody else.
Right. So it’s like a very funny thing where focus is a good. But it’s also a bad, because the opposite of focus is creativity and people who are high levels of conscientiousness follow through focus, have low levels of inherent creativity. I’ve started to realize that there’s a super power in accepting and leaning into the ADHD or the lack of focus with a very dear deep understanding of who you are and who your team is.
Because suddenly you can start doing things at scale. Which is how our brains are designed. So, yeah.
Joel Erway: [00:16:59]
That’s amazing. So it’s funny how like everyone’s progression is different. Everyone’s journey is different. That’s the whole purpose of this show is to explore the journeys of successful companies, successful entrepreneurs.
And so this is back in 2012, 2013. When you go through this cycle of the idea, then you quit. Then you find this dark angel and you not find him, but you speak to your dark angel again, who ends up giving you the in to this incubator. Out of curiosity, so obviously this guy didn’t like it. The incubator must’ve loved it. Right? Cause they accepted you.
So what was their general opinion?
Maneesh Sethi: [00:17:47]
So they told me later, so they had a, when I got there, I felt really, really dumb because I got there and everybody was like engineers and had prototypes.
So they said that they had seven slots for their first team, the first one. And they wanted a B to B company. They wanted a B to C company. They wanted a SAS hardware company and they wanted a wild card. And I was the wild card. I was the random dude with a marketing background who had a cool idea, but no experience with hardware.
I was that guy. So it was 700 people. I was one of the seven people chosen. So I got very lucky there, but I think that there’s something to be said about having crazy ideas and actually just making stuff, because I’ll tell you this man. So, uh, since I got back to the US um, I’ve been on an Amazon binge because I hadn’t had Amazon access for the last two years for last year or so.
And so like check that out. Oh, someone sleeps on that bed. I gotta fix that. Like today. I had to tell them not to do this. Um, and so well that’s a good, sorry. Uh, just build something. So it’s not a big deal. That’s fine. So we were saying that the, I just got distracted. What was I talking about?
Joel Erway: [00:19:00]
Yeah. I mean, so you were just talking about like
Maneesh Sethi: [00:19:02]
Oh yeah. Seeing the world in a different way. I was saying that like, I think that a lot of people’s mindsets are really, really stunted. And I think that even looking at myself since before pavlok, everything was idea, we could do all these things and then Pavlock started and it was ideas.
And then we released it and it was all about like, we gotta stop talking about ideas. We need to fix these bugs. We need to make this work. We need to support these customers. We need to figure out fulfillment and inventory and shipping. Um, and, and so only, only very recently have I started to dream again because we gotten to the part where I start to think out loud, sort of think about ideas because we’re running smoothly now.
And suddenly I’m starting to see all of the value that I can start adding into the life. And I think that there’s this core concept of the idea of loops. So the framework I’m talking about is we all are talking. We all live in habits. We all do stuff repeatedly. Right? And many of us want to change those habits and all of us would like to do good habits.
And so the concept that I believe at the end point is we should all be rewarded for doing good habits in the same way that like in a video game, people get addicted to video games. Right? And that’s a bad, but if they take, if they play those, we fitness video games, that’s a good. Right. There’s a way to do that across the board for humans.
And so with that context of how do we reward it, how do we reward people? We start to dive into like the idea of how does a human being change their behavior. And I believe that behaviors are broken down by this concept of loops. So the majority of our days are run in a complete loop structure and there are specific items that trigger loops to start.
The most common ones are going to be like the morning or when you get to work and other loops. When I take a left at work, I will see a Starbucks. When I see the Starbucks, I will think I’m hungry. When I’m thinking I’m hungry, I’m going to go into Starbucks and order this item.
And therefore my sugar balance will increase. And because of that, when I get to work, I will want this. And this becomes the path of my day. And I believe that these loops govern our life. And I started to notice that when people start to make changes, I’m sure you’ve done it recently with your business.
And you start to notice this power of momentum that a small change makes everything happen. And then if you give up early on, it falls backwards. But if you stay on and get a team assembled around a system, there’s a system and a process, then it’s like you move up another block, you know?
And like the block is, you know, don’t fall backwards. And so. I think that concept that this loops runs through companies, it runs through cultures, it runs through governments, but most importantly runs through individuals. And I think that there’s a specific way to break out of these loops. And I think the core of it comes down with awareness.
So if you have like here’s a good example. Uh, last night I was on my internet until literally like 3:30 AM. And what was I doing? It doesn’t matter. I don’t even know. And I’m on my phone until 3:30 AM and suddenly I hear a sound. And it’s the dog in the other room, like going, Aw, he gets up and I’m like, Oh no, he’s awake.
And I don’t want to make a sound because he hated sound. And then now I’m being quiet and I turn off my laptop, I go to bed. And I’m like, the fuck just happened. Right? Like, how come he didn’t do that three hours earlier that would have been made a better day. Right? Why is there no pattern interrupt throughout my day?
So what I’m trying to get to is a structuring where we allow users to be, uh, to define what goals they have. Then when we start to, uh, baseline understand these customers, baseline understand your habits. And we broken down individuals into a section of five different attributes. Think of it like, like skill tree characters on an avatar and like, You want to focus on your body metrics being healthy.
You want to focus on your mindfulness being healthy. You want to focus on your cravings being low, and a couple other items as well, exercise, activity and your sleep exercise. And those metrics kind of become the baseline for your health. We do a baseline period for the first week, and then we now have our coach uh, begins to introduce you to a experiments we think you should test.
So, Hey, we noticed that you’re eating and to clarify everything that we’re doing right now is around the habit of mindless eating and healthy eating. And so, um, here’s the concept and here’s what we’re trying to build.
So it’s like, imagine this, when people buy a pavlok right now, you buy a pavlok, you instantly get a text message saying, Hey, please set up your phone call with the pavlok coach. You have your phone call, hopefully, um, by the time the device arrives, device arrives and you use it for a week.
And during that week, you’re doing your baseline. So you’re essentially, you have a daily survey where you fill out, like, how happy are you? How excited are you? How do you feel? You tracked your sleep with the pavlok. You track your specific attributes with pavlok and everything else is automatic.
Without baseline we now know who you are. We found that the majority of people who have trouble with unhealthy eating almost always have sleep problems, almost always. And the other people who have trouble with it, it’s due to stress slash mindfulness. And so almost always the cure that we’re noticing, people who come to us have tried diet and they’ve tried exercise and it hasn’t worked.
And I never think about anything else. They just try another diet. They try another diet and try not to diet, but not almost all of our other users, highest correlation towards losing weight is from sleep. And so what we basically have people do is then have them suggested, we suggest an experiment.
Let’s say the coach, will do it on a phone call. And once they do the, they accept the experiment and they do it for a few days and then we measure again the same metrics to see how it affects you. And based on those experimental results, we start to add a few more experiments. Basically there’s five experiments over the period of a month until you’ve reached the end of the unhealthy eating journey.
And that’s the concept of you’ve now developed up the skill points for your creating level. So, uh, that’s kind of the concept of what we’re building for the first month of the user journey before they get into the month two, which is well it’s time.
Joel Erway: [00:25:21]
Yeah. I mean, so at what point, what’s really fascinating about this and we’ve kind of had this conversation a couple of times over the years, but like, you know, at what point does somebody get rid of their old habits and then use Pavlok to develop better habits, like in your customer journey?
Like where does that happen?
Maneesh Sethi: [00:25:43]
Great question. So the way I’m looking at it as this, the way I look at it is this, uh, it’s obvious that many people will use our product for many different use cases. You’ve seen it with sleep and all these other things. And now that we’re making it more easy to wear, for example, this is the Apple watch and this is the pavlok three and it mounts directly on the Apple watch.
So you can’t, uh, so it becomes part of the experience. So it’s like that. And it has also three buttons so you can vibrate for positive and negative, so you can track your positive thoughts and emotions. And so your question is the user journey. How do they care about good habits or especially when I messaged people like my mom and she’s like, I don’t know how many bad habits changed.
I’m like, okay. Uh, I love you, mom. Uh, and so here’s the answer. The thing is that those people and a lot of people don’t want to buy a product that will help them change their bad habits. Even if they do want to change a habit, they don’t feel comfortable asking for help. They don’t wanna wear something there is that does that.
So the there’s two parts. The core answer is I don’t believe our products should be the solution to bad habits. I believe that that’s the entry point for our current stage of customer. But what I believe is that what happens next is the important point, which is where we reward you for doing good habits.
So the idea of nudging people to actually doing good habits through actual cash. So the way that I’m designing this out is that as users go through their first month journey. Each journey for whatever habit or avatar will be customized for what their goal is. If you buy a pavlok to stop unhealthy eating, that’s different than sleeping, which will be different than productivity, which might be different than your smart home alexa integrated wearable.
And when you buy the device, you’ll download a special app for that use case. And that app will take them through their journey for the first month, but once they, and at each stage of the journey, as it already happens, users unlock volts, which are these points we had in the app that are points that they earn for doing good habits.
So they look, um, like here’s like a live feed of people earning volts in the app right now. And so I just push a button. I just sent a good vibes to this person. So that person just got a vibration on their wrist and a notification that says, mention that you get vibes. So users are already earning these volts for doing habits.
And in this journey, users will earn these volts when they get to the end of the journey, we basically unlock or unveil the pavlok world. And we’ve been basically designing I mean, it’s still in idea mode and still in generation mode but the general concept is you have an avatar. Your avatars, if you like has a face, the avatar has an unlocked points and grows as you do good habits.
We have a skill tree based on specific. The five habit attributes I told you about. And at each stage, users earn volts daily for doing good behaviors. Now, once you get to that first month, the second month we unlock the value of those volts. So what we do, our plan is to do is to nail you. I hope I have my wallet in this room.
I know it’s in the other room. I will show you a version that doesn’t have the, um, Yeah, this one doesn’t have the logo, but basically we’re shipping credit cards towards subscribers. So this is a full credit card, a visa card and users will be able to redeem these volts for actual cash. So the way we’re designing this out is that we have a subscription model where users like the right now we have a subscription model where users can pay basically a rental pay full price, or pay $30 a month instead we’re switching it and we will switch it when the time is right to users can pay for the pavlok to buy it or pay $30 a month to get paid for their good habits.
And so basically as they do good behave, they’ll be shipped a credit card as they do good behaviors. They’ll earn volts. If they do just good behaviors, only 20, 25 days in a row of the month, they’ll earn enough to make the next month be free. From that, the rest of it on top of it, they can use to earn more extra points.
They can also bet that against other users with challenges, like I commit to doing 300 pushups tomorrow or a hundred pushups tomorrow, or else I lose the volts to all the people who succeeded. So you can earn more faster with those volts. You’re going to be able to now spend them in the Pavlok store on Pavlok hardware or Pavlok partner products at really good transaction values.
And, or you can redeem it for credit, which will go directly to your credit card and convert to cash at a lower transaction value that you can use at any store anywhere that this is accepted. Okay. And therefore, if you do good habits, you will actually get paid real money for doing good habits.
Joel Erway: [00:30:45]
That’s fascinating. It’s pretty freaking interesting.
Maneesh Sethi: [00:30:49]
And the credit card, your credit card changed. It changed the game. When I realized we could do that. Cause before I taught, I remember about talking about bolts and you needed a crypto and you needed to have like an NSC, so you could deliver the, this is now it’s just, it’s just done with point it’s a loyalty program.
Now our competitor is no longer like Bitcoin. The competitor is, uh, Amex for works and I’m actually modeling the whole thing off of Amex. You earn points for doing good habits that are annex points, essentially, exactly equivalent and if you spend on a credit card, you’ll also earn points. And the idea that it’s basically we’re able to opt every, like everybody wants to be welds frequent flyer miles, but you have to get a credit card and sign up for it.
But what if you could be a kid in Africa and sign up for a credit card, a visa that you earned money on for just walking steps. You know, the potential is there with even just virtual cards we can deliver. And so anyway, what I’m trying to get at is that I think that there’s a fundamental new revolution in the world.
Y’all can see it, that something’s wrong. Right? And the big thing that’s wrong is that, like, how is the one thing is that the market is going up right now at the same time that there’s like really bad jobs and really bad economy visually, right. That doesn’t make any logical sense. Unless you look at the fact that we just dumped a shit ton of fake money into the quantitative easing method.
Right. So then, then it makes a lot of sense, like there’s enough money in the world to support the market even though the average person is screwed. It’s just that like a lot of money is going from the government to support the market, right? So therefore there’s a lot of money in the world. And if you see my TEDx talk, you’ve seen what I’ve taught when I’m talking about. My point is that we live in a world no longer have scarcity.
We live in a world of abundance. A world that we live in has changed. And in the way that like in until 1950, the average person could only find 1800 calories a day. And now the average person eats 28, 700 to $3,000 a day. The average person is obese, not under eating. We live in a world of abundance.
Now money as a concept is you get paid when someone else wants you to do something. That’s the concept we have, right? You get paid because somebody else wants you to do something or want something from me. And that makes a lot of sense in a scarcity economy. When you have eggs and I have wheat, it makes sense to trade it for something that is a scarce commodity, but in a world of abundance and a world where we have too much money, it just gets distributed improperly.
That doesn’t make sense anymore. Instead, we shouldn’t get paid for what other people want us to do because other people don’t need us anymore. Everybody’s funded on their own. We should get paid for what we want ourselves to do. We should get paid for sticking through with the good habits that we want ourselves to deal with, or we know are good habits, right?
And even financially, if you want to look at it that way, like if you are healthy now you’re going to cost less in the long run for healthcare. So even mathematically the numbers worked out, but humans don’t work that way. Humans only work on a very specific incentive structure. If your dog gets a treat 30 minutes after they do something, the dog will never connect the dots.
If you get rewarded two weeks after doing something you’ll never see the tax refund does not correlate to the action you did. We did an experiment with this about getting zapped on Facebook. You had people get zapped when they landed on Facebook. And they got zapped either at, after the page loaded, before the page loaded or as they typed fa into the toolbar.
And we found that after the page loaded an average of seven seconds, people would basically not changed their habits. They would just click faster. Really. They ended up picking around faster. Before the page loaded it took about six or seven days before you saw a real significant drop. But when it was, as people typed in fa, which was like instantaneous, it took minutes and minutes before people just stop typing an fa.
Right. And because they never started that loop and loop never closed to where they got on Facebook and on the next loop started, right. The loop was broken in the initial stage. And so I think that in the same way, if we reward people, if we think here’s basically it, I believe that we figured out a way that we can actually create new money and give it to people in a seamless, frictionless way.
Right? And I believe that money is a story that’s told every time a transaction takes place. And if money is a story, and if now anybody can create new money, new stories, then he who has the best story should win. And I believe that the story of you, you as an individual getting paid for doing the good behaviors that you culturally and deeply ingrained in your psyche, you want yourself to do, but have trouble doing.
I believe that if you can, if you were to get paid, right? Then you might, you would be way more likely to do those behaviors. And I believe that I figured out the way to actually deliver that reward cash as a way to drive good behaviors at scale. And I want to prove this out, but I think that the long run of what I’m trying to do here is allowing a large percentage of users essentially, to stop worrying about what you just said, replacing a bad habit with a good habit, or just stopping a bad habit. Do you know the sugar you want, if you’re earning 10,000 volts a day, because you walked over over 12 miles, you know, like you eat the sugar?
If you, if you. You know what I mean? Like that’s not the core problem because if you sleep enough and if you meditate and if you walk, what are the chances you’re going to binge on the sugar? It’s pretty low, right? Like you’re not going to have cravings. You’re going to be self aware. And so I think that the mistake I made is not really like the mistake I made was like not really going all in on bad habits to station. Aversion works, but like, that’s different than reducing cravings.
And all of those are different than everything else we do. And so we got so flummoxed and confused, but really it’s an emergent phenomenon of this product being like a remnant on my brain. It’s like different pieces are being made across over the last five years, that all kind of work and are cool, but they don’t, they’re cool and let me show off to people like the cool feature we built, but we don’t integrate them.
So the users never see them. But now at the finally we’re at that point where all of the foundational structures, and if you guys ever build anything bigger than a self run business, you’ll see it’s the teams building this foundational structures where the system starts to self perpetuate and it’s magical to watch yourself walk away and stuff, deliver. It’s interesting.
Joel Erway: [00:37:32]
Yeah. I mean, so your journey with Pavlok has gone through a lot of different iterations and you were also on shark tank and you had a pretty interesting, you were just the King of virality, I think you’re, you were born to be viral, right? And so even like where you’re at today with Pavlok is a vastly different product than what it was when you first started.
And that’s why I love your story because number one, you never gave up on it. You haven’t yet given up on it. You almost did, but it’s gone through so many different iterations you’ve created, you’re basically creating a market that never existed before, which is the most, the most difficult thing to do in business.
Right? When did the shark tank incident happened?
Maneesh Sethi: [00:38:19]
Shark tank sucks, um, so it happened, uh, I started the company August 2013. We, it took us until November 2014 until we had a prototype and we were ready for our crowd funding campaign. Shark tank pitched us, and then in September 2015, we had our shark tank filming.
So we had already gotten the crowd funding campaign to be complete. And we had presales for nine months and we were, uh, had the final version done, but we were not shipping for one more month until after shark tank, about two weeks after shark tank. And so we filmed it basically then we had already had a million dollars in three fund in sales and funds.
And when I was show, pitched it, by the time it aired, which was seven months later, we had already shipped Pavlok and we’re doing a another campaign for shot clock and that came out in 2016.
Joel Erway: [00:39:18]
Yep. And so that was version one then, right? Version one of
Maneesh Sethi: [00:39:25]
Pre version one. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yep.
Joel Erway: [00:39:27]
So for those who are listening right now, like the shark tank, um, your shark tank experience was notorious because you actually turned down, you turned down the sharks. You just turned down mr. Wonderful, right? And then it just kind of all, all blew up. What happened because of that situation? Like, did that have a positive or negative effect on the company? Did it spark any new developments, any new ideas?
Did you have any pivots because of shark tank?
Maneesh Sethi: [00:40:01]
Yeah. Um, okay. So here’s the thing before shark tank, we were a cool new idea that hadn’t yet delivered a product. And so it’s really fun to run that company because you’re talking about what it could do and so we were getting a lot of sales and positive press and people were trying it because of the cool factor.
And we were selling quite well. I mean yeah, for where we were. And then we went on shark tank and that same month. So basically I’ll just tell you our numbers. So around that time, we were probably doing like, I don’t know, maybe 15, let’s say $20,000 a week on Shopify. Maybe 18 or so. Okay. And we were doing that much a week on Shopify.
So that month, earlier in the month, we were on a small article in the New York times was written that was positive about us because a girl lost 60 pounds of their product and the amount of the person quit smoking. And that small, tiny blurb got us like $120,000 in sales. So that was like the best day we’ve ever had.
And that was awesome. So then, shark tank came up and I thought it was going to be similar to times 10. We ended up having a very negative shark tank experience. So a 6 million viewed episode, huge viewership number, series finale, season finale. And we ended up doing four in the next three days from shark tank, we did 45K.
So we did two weeks of revenue from shark tank. So it wasn’t that good. It wasn’t bad. I mean, it’s not bad to connect with 30K, but you know, it’s not that good comparatively to New York times, but what also happened was the negative Amazon fake reviews. So 28 or 38 people, somewhere between 28 and 38 people came in on Amazon and left one-star or fake Amazon reviews.
That were totally false. And actually, if you go on Amazon today, I just saw one yesterday because every time they read they’re on CNBC, new people will leave these fake reviews and our score on Amazon plummeted from 4.8 to 2.9, like instantly. And now people’s intention like imagine you’re searching for a product.
What are you doing? You search review. You look at the review and you look on Amazon. And if it has two stars or three stars, you’re like really unlikely to buy it. Oh, I don’t know. I’m unlikely to buy it. In fact, I’m surprised when it was that low. So, um, that was really difficult for us because now no longer were people buying our product on the strength of the idea, but now they were not buying it on the failures of false heads.
But the worst part was that those false sets were not so false. Well, yes, so they were wrong that our product was a scam, but they were not wrong that we had fought really fundamental Bluetooth issues and really fundamental parent issues. And, um, and so it really, at that point, and at this point, you know, money is a concern at the company.
You, we have staff, we have inventory, we have hardware. Um, it was the time where I took my ENTP idea goggles off. And I said to myself and the company very, very clearly, we’ll talk about ideas when we have a goddamn working company. But for right now, we need to focus on no more ideas. Let’s focus on supply chain, inventory, functionality.
And so the good and the bad are the same. Rationally I wish I could go back on shark tank and do it again. I know exactly how I failed and I know the story I should have told him what I told was wrong. And, um, and, but on the other hand, at the end of the day, like, That’s a stepping stone. And if that is the reason my company tanks, then that means that my company wasn’t going to succeed.
Plus I kind of like looking forward to making Mark Cuban, my mortal enemy, like publicly. I really think he would be a lot of fun to become public enemies with. So that’s my goal.
Joel Erway: [00:43:47]
You are a marketer at heart. You are.
Maneesh Sethi: [00:43:50]
I just like doing cool shit that people remark about. I like people talking about cool stuff I do. That’s like when people ask, like why do you do what you do? And a lot of people are like, Oh, I want to help people. Or I want to drive people. I was like, what is my, what is my, why? Am I, the only true I think is that things must be fucking awesome, right? Like I want to make things that make people go, Whoa, show me that.
And I think that I’m starting to know, and I think that like a kind of like that, like that personality type, the NCP seven on Enneagram is me that like type my type has trouble with as great ideas, but rarely ever gets done. We have like those second lowest salary of all personality types. And if you compare my type ENTP with my brother’s psyche ENTJ one letter difference, but I’m the lowest and he’s the highest.
And because he has ideas that are rational, but he finishes them. And I have ideas that are rational and great ideas, but I don’t finish them. And so a difference though, is that the top tier ENTPs are the ones who were making, who fundamentally are also not just rich, but also fundamentally changed the world.
So like Jobs or Edison or Franklin, these people who made multiple inventions and multiple industries that all cross correlated and created like fundamental societal shifts are often more often than not the ENTPs. And so that part, like I think the type of personality that I am, this creative ADHD type.
Is the opposite of this engineering execution finisher type and the kind of person who makes consumer electronics or the kind of person who makes physical hardware products, the kind of person on average, who makes a company. Is the kind of person who is not going to be the creative idea, lackadaisical lazy person type B, but it’s going to be a kind of person who finishes executes and does stuff.
And so the rare person like me, who lucky enough to somehow get put into a situation where they’re forced to construct a team. A team that self-sustained and allows them to keep having new ideas that actually get executed upon. I created like the rare ones who get their end up creating innovative ideas that the other people can only follow.
That’s why you look at like Apple comes out with the iPhone, which is a great design. And if you go look at the store today, 11 years later in the like most innovative at times, every phone is identical to the exact same first iPhone. They all look the same. You’re telling me that that’s the best ever, ever interface ever we can ever make.
Bullshit. Right. But it’s because the guy who was innovative is dead and everybody else is a follower. So everybody else just does what Apple does and makes it an Apple just does what Apple does, but thinner. Right. And so one, but like once somebody else walks into that market and I’m like, Oh, Hey, guess what?
You’re actually going to get paid for using this product. And this product is actually going to limit your access to your Apple iPhone, and like figuring out how to reinvision a wage to appropriate, like to deliver value. I think that once I, if I’m right, if I get to the next stage in the level, it’s gonna be really cool because now I’m starting to see all of the ideas, everything I want to implement rapidly.
And I’m realizing that once you have a hub, like once you have that hub, people will look out for this thing. If Pavlok is a hub similar to Alexa, I looked at it, I went on my Alexa app and there’s like, Oh, you want a microwave? Oh, do you want a, do you want these smart plugs? Um, it makes a lot of sense that it’s really hard to set the start on microwave company.
I want to make a Pavlok fridge that locks at 8:00 PM. And you can’t open the food after 8:00 PM. Right. But starting a fridge company, it’s fucking stupid. But if we have a Pavlok user base and a fridge company sees that and. With smaller integration. Now we are able to deliver people who want self control as a zero to one like organization.
I think there’s just infinite potential. And it’s crazy to watch it happen because it’s, it’s like watching it happen. You know? It’s like, if I’ve been talking about it for years, but now it’s actually happening and I’m like, cool.
Joel Erway: [00:47:45]
Yeah. Well, you also have the self-awareness, like one of the things you said even about the shark tank incident, you said, If my company failed because of shark tank, that just means my company is going to fail anyway.
And that’s a huge insight. Like that’s a huge, um, I guess like, that’s a big deal. That, uh shows a lot about you as the founder to recognize man, we had, we had fundamental issues, like, okay, fine. We got bad press from this one incident. But if that crippled us.
That meant that we were just going to, it was just going to cripple us faster because ultimately it relies on you have to deliver a good product.
Maneesh Sethi: [00:48:27]
You have to deliver a good product, man. Yeah. Like the thing that you like, the thing that like, actually I think you do, and the problem that everybody in this space online is that everyone talks about the marketing and no one talks about the product because you can’t really teach product or you, maybe you can, but people don’t teach it cause it’s not sexy.
And. And like at the end of the day, like if I sell a shocking device, that is a novelty, it’s a one off big press event, and then it goes away. But those, but if it’s a shocking device, that’s a novelty, but then once you put it on, it becomes part of your daily routine in life. Suddenly the, the cool factor is the lead gen for the sticky product, but no marketing will ever make up for a lack of a sticky product.
And so, so like, I mean, you can make enough money to survive. Like you can make 5, 10K a month sure. As like a shitty making, you know, bad stuff, the bad quality stuff but for quality and purposes, you know, you need to like really, I don’t know.
It’s just, it’s like getting to a growth stage requires just a different mindset. I don’t know.
Joel Erway: [00:49:32]
Yeah, you don’t want to be the growth company though. The company that only focuses on growth, doesn’t focus on customer support. I was reading some of my customer surveys the other day and it was actually earlier today of somebody who joined my high ticket courses program because yeah, it seems like you care about your products and you’re not the Comcast, you’re not the Comcast of the information marketing world where you’re just focusing, acquiring new customers, but have zero customer support. That’s a great analogy.
Maneesh Sethi: [00:49:59]
Yeah, customer support is so important too cause also you can actually get better value people like you more, if they have a problem with their product and you support them, like we’ve had a lot of like, we have this issue where if you get a product wet or it’ll just stop zapping and it’s like not okay.
It should not, it should be waterproof. So we offer as an exchange. And so now we just default, like if someone comes into like, Hey, it’s not zapping. We’re like, Hey, try a hard reset. Does that work? No. Okay. We’ll send you an exchange. And they’re like, Whoa, really? Like, you’re going to send me a free one. And we’re like, yeah, it’s in the mail.
Just put the old one in the envelope and mail back. It’s already prepaid. And they actually like us more because the product broke, you know? And so you can use that as a really potential option. But I wanted to mention a couple of things that were really insightful in the last few weeks that I’ve done, that your users might be interested in.
So a couple of things was the focus on. Rather than I, okay. I think there’s two different personalities. People who are entrepreneurs. One is the, my type, which you can hear me going on threads and tangents and ideas. It’s like a branching tree structure, both in talking and in my mind, everything starts to other things and they start a lot and that’s different than finishers who have this like execution mindset of doing stuff differently.
So when I talk about advice and stuff that I’m talking about is coming from my perspective, and it’s probably different than some for some people, but some people are gonna be like, this is stupid. Why did you not do this forever? You’re domination. And here’s a good example.
Tell me how fucking stupid this is. Joel, tell me if this is not the stupid thing you heard. So, uh, starting about a month or two ago, I started to decide that we’re no longer going to just do the PR the way I do stuff, which is how did idea tell our developer let’s get a design, let’s make it.
And instead. Take a deep breath and start interviewing our customers and asking them what they’re buying it for. I hired a product manager and she started teaching me about the concept of product management, about asking customers surveying, turn that into a user journey and turning that into a user flow into a, it was a journey.
And then turning that into a wireframe and wireframe into design and how those are very different things. And it started to all click and then like, it’s like, Oh my God, we need a product management system. So we finally built that out. And once we had that, now we can start to support hiring new people because I actually knew what they were doing.
And so these things start to create momentum and grow. And so these like. Well, I found it was really valuable. Were these calls, so starting off tactically, we’ve always been really bad at talking to our customers. We’ve just never done it. And so finally we had to interview these customers. So I set up a trigger.
So SMS people. 10 minutes after they bought a Pavlok asking them to book a call with me and suddenly they were booking calls, you know, and because it was already on my calendar, I had to do them. So now the momentum was accidentally created. That loop was invented. I never did more than a call a day ever.
And suddenly I had four the next day and it was repeating. And that loop of phone calls became a consistent loop of phone calls because I started to notice as the same as the slapper. If you do things at the same time simultaneous, and you get 10X done versus not doing it on your own. So. Basically, we started basically getting these customers to come on phone calls and then interviewing them before they got the product.
And then asked me on the call scheduling another followup call seven days later. And on that followup call, we were very direct, distinct section where we say, we are going to begin asking you for a testimonial. And then we have them record the testimonial and timestamp it in the Google doc so we can automatically cut them, you know?
And so now basically every customer has an interview on day one and an interview on day seven and 90% of those leave us with the testimony. And the key part here was Holy shit the problems people were having on day one we’re so stupid. I cannot believe it’s been four years and we’ve never fixed this.
So you might even know the answer, but this is what we consistently get. This question. It’s day one, I put my padlock on and it just keeps vibrating and beeping and zapping and it won’t stop. It’s going crazy. I think the device is broken. Do you know what you would do to diagnose that with your Pavlok?
So hand detect is enabled. If you have hand detects enabled, that means that when you bring your hand to your face and vibrates, but also if you set it down a specific way, it will be triggering these thanks. And every time someone asks us, well, I was like, Oh yeah, of course, it’s all going to take. It’s an obvious answer.
And the person always feels like it’s their fault. Like they’re stupid. You know, because I mean, it does say that and stuff, but well, if three out of the 10 phone calls on one day are the same problem. And that problem is really annoying. And as you bought a product and it starts to shocking all the time.
And it’s been four years. That means probably 30 to 50% of our customers. I had just never used it again. You know? So my point here is that using SMS to get a call scheduled after purchase seems to be really effective. And getting calls on day one seems to be really powerful and it really only takes a few days of calls to get a lot of value that you understand what to fix improve.
And those customers become testimonial users. So if I could go back in time and do anything, I would focus more on my metrics being around getting potential sales and actual customers on phone calls. And that’s the real metric, because a lot, like a lot of the other stuff could be busy work. Yeah.
Joel Erway: [00:55:23]
Yeah. Product management is, I mean, it’s going to be called a couple of it’ll be called different things in different industries. Like I don’t think I would ever call it product management in my industry, but it’s the same thing. Speaking to your customers, figuring out where the stick points are, where they’re getting stuck, figuring out why they’re not using it or why they’re not getting results.
Super super important. We started doing it about eight months ago and we just had a survey immediately after they bought. And we got so much market data, like it’s marketing information, it’s product information. But yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s going that extra mile, man. It’s going the extra mile and trying to figure out these hidden problems that you don’t see because you think it’s very obvious.
We would just pick up the phone and start talking to their customers. Like it’s a huge. Huge game changer.
Maneesh Sethi: [00:56:15]
It’s a game changer and it’s very valuable. Yeah. And it’s like funny cause if we had done it years ago, we would’ve, you know, solve these problems. So, I dunno, man. It’s and I don’t also notice there are specific hires which have 10X our progress.
So like hiring a product manager, game changer. Hiring a new designer, game changer. And like these bottlenecks could have been solved three years ago, but for whatever reason I resisted hiring. And I started to notice that like of course accepting cash shortages. If you’re not looking for hiring, then you’re not looking for problems that you’re having, that you would like to place.
And like, I’m starting to notice the, like right now, it’s like now that remote is becoming so real and like, Dude the value of having people just do anything. Like I asked any question, like, Hey, can you make my site speed up? I post on Facebook and I get someone who will just do it. And I give them my Calendly and then they schedule a call and I’m just like, fucking do it, just do it.
And like, you know, it gets done. And so it’s so rapid, man. It’s momentum. It’s just momentum. It’s the loop, the loop of momentum. I’m like, you know, I’m scared because every time we travel loops break and like I’m probably going to travel and like, Then, like what happens there, but like, if you can, if we can solve this problem, fundamentally, I think that like interesting part and you you’ve seen this is that no one is looking at the problem that I’m looking at.
And it’s so weird. Cause it’s right in front of everyone’s face. Right. Everyone’s building these cool trackers errands of these cool sensors. You go to Google analytics, right? You have that on your phone. Did you ever, you know, you’d go there and you’d get you out on the homepage and it’s a shit ton of data.
And it’s like, what do I do with this? And I’m like, Oh, I look at real time. Oh, okay. And you know the top, right. There’s those recommendations. And as you click it, it tells you recommendations. What if you flip that? What if, when you went to Google analytics on the main screen, it had your recommendations and it had a checkbox and it only turned off when you press the check, right?
And you put the top right. To see all the data. Now, suddenly your default product is telling you what to do, not showing you what has been done. Yup. Right. And that contextual mindset, I think, is everything about Pavlok where it’s like other products are telling or letting you use it the way you want to.
And we’re saying, look, dude, we want to understand you better than you know yourself so that we can tell you more about yourself so that you can achieve the goals. But don’t even worry about achieving the goals. Because once we know about who you are, we’ll make it happen. Like it’s just going to happen, but specifically not about tracking, but using the info to affect change that problem.
I don’t know why people are not approaching that problem because it’s not an unsolvable problem. And I’m so interested in it because it’s that zero one mindset that I feel like, like, it feels like I’m either a genius or fucking stupid because like, yeah, there’s not a single, single competitive I can name who’s a real competitor.
Like people will always say things like Fitbit or Apple watch and our corporate value is never attack, always attach. And that’s why Pavlok instead of competing against the Apple watch, now we’ll mount to the Apple watch. Right? And so all of these things are just fascinating because I don’t know.
I just feel like I’m, it’s like sometimes good idea. I don’t know. It’s just fun to watch it happen because I don’t know. It’s crazy. And it’s emergent. Yeah.
Joel Erway: [00:59:37]
Yep. It really is. Like when you start to develop a brand to start to develop an ecosystem, we start to develop a life. And watching that come alive is really, really exciting. We’re experiencing it in our own company.
We talked about this before the call, but it’s, it’s fun, man. When you start to build that culture, you’re supposed to start to build that ecosystem and people are getting results from your, from what you’re building and they’re loving it, they’re sharing it. And there’s there a lot of reward in that. There’s a lot of reward in that.
Maneesh Sethi: [01:00:06]
Yeah. The way I’m looking at it is like, if I, if I got this right, like if you can make it sexy, if you can make it track cool stuff, if you can make it valuable, like imagining that Alexa integration is built into it. And, uh, you know, make it useful. So you can like one thing I’d always wanted, I have all these smart plugs.
Right. But I have to say, Alexa, do these turn on or turn off this plug. And I can’t remember the name and it’s a hassle and it’s allowed, right. Why can’t I just point my padlock at the sensor? And if it has, it could use IRR infrared to turn on or turn off a switch, right? Like you could imagine at least like, like I could imagine myself getting pretty used to turning on and off stuff using my wrist.
Right. And you can also as a double use that as worldwide Pavlok laser tag. Cause if you said, if you can hit anybody, else’s padlock, you can win volts from them. Right. Tell me that’s not fucking fun, but, um, So it’s like, it’s cool because I’m like looking at this as, as me, right? I’m this crazy guy who has ideas.
And he used to DJ and did all this stuff, and I’m doing all these in pulling these things together to create this new architecture. And this is one reason that I think that like, especially people with personalities, where they get told that they like, they know they’re smart. If only they could focus, they could be so successful and they feel like they’re shameful.
And I feel morally bad because they’re that high IQ, but have bad. Uh, effort following through with stuff. I noticed that our personalities are this branch country structure and it works both ways, output and input. And that means that, and, and basically I started traveling and doing all these new things.
I would do experiments for 90 days at a time, and I used to play guitar and I left the guitar and traveled to learn languages. And when I came back, I had been, I thought I would be rusty after a year. And I started picking up the guitar and I played better. That I had ever played before because my languages had expanded my mind somehow in a way that somehow my movements and my fingers was better.
And so if you’re young and you’re my personality, like the only thing I can recommend for my pure twenties is like exposure to different shit because that exposure creates the mental model of what the world is. And the worst thing is if you’ve never leave the US and you only see that mental model of American pressure of culture, And you don’t realize that if you step outside of that, you can see that a lot of the actions that you do and your friends do are not governed by humanity or environment, but governed by culture.
And also environment obviously, and that action is different in Italy or, you know, like in Italy, my friend, my roommates were the same as me, young college kids hanging out. But the difference was that they always have lunch and dinner together. Right. Always have lunch and dinner together every day.
And you can easily see that through the culture of the country, but you can also see the effects that, that has on a society, on a family unit, on people. Those friends are still friends today after 20 years, you know? And so what I’m getting at, is that the products and solutions you’re offering you come like the best thing about America, the best people in the world are Americans, not from America, not like who’ve left America because Americans have this really weird cultural code around the concept of success.
Basically the idea of like failure in other countries is a bad thing, but failure in the US is a good thing. Culturally, we kind of see failure as you tried and now you’ve learned, and now you should get a bigger investment on your next site. Next one. And that it’s easy to say. And you know, some people believe it, some people don’t, but culturally Americans have this built into our DNA and we cannot pull it out.
The idea of try it, but see what sticks. Fuck it, ship it right. And that same culture does not exist whatsoever in Germany or Europe or Asia. And that’s why company companies in America we’ll have innovative, stupid ideas. And 90% of them are stupid as fuck and waste money. But 10% of them are 1% of them succeed with really great success because it was worth it.
But that idea would have never been fleshed out ever in Germany because it could never have arisen ever because the culture. Preventative. So what I’m getting at is if you step outside your little box and see it from a different perspective, especially if you’re the absorption mindset that I am, what you will create in the future cannot be predicted, but I guarantee you that the value will be ROI positive.
Plus you get to fucking travel during your twenties. So go do it, right.
Joel Erway: [01:04:31]
Hey dude, Maneesh, we talked about a ton of stuff today, man. Your journey with Pavlok has been inspiring because many people would have given up. Right? First idea came. We’re in 2020 right now. First idea for this came back in 2012, 2013, seven, eight years ago, right?
Took you over a year to even just ship the first prototype. Then you go get pressed. You do Kickstarter campaigns, raise your first million dollars. I believe you had investors too, right? Did you have, did you have VC or no?
Maneesh Sethi: [01:05:08]
I know VC, but we raised from investors.
Joel Erway: [01:05:11]
Okay. Got it. So anyway, early success. Great. Then you go on shark tank, bad press, could have crippled you, but you had the self-awareness realized like, okay, cool we got to like to eliminate the new ideas right now. Let’s focus on creating a better product and also changing. You did a lot of fundamental changes with the product, with where you are now and changing it from being like a pain killer to presenting a new opportunity, which completely opens the door for a cultural shift within your product.
So that’s amazing stuff, man. It’s really, really cool because so many people want that fast success. They want that like lightning in a bottle scale to a million scale to 10 million scale to 50 million in no time flat.
And it’s fun to hear these other stories of like, okay, I believe in my product that much, I believe in what it can do to change its users, to change the world that like there is success here. I just need to find the right road, find the right path.
Maneesh Sethi: [01:06:16]
The thing too, is that like people have like crazy ideas and the average person around them will tell them that it’s crazy or stupid, right. And it trains you to like, look at your ideas. Like you feel bad about even telling people about it. And like the kind of people like my friends in high school always would say, I was so weird for the ideas I’d have. And those kids from high school are still in the same town working in gas stations.
Right. So like the hard part I think for people is that they don’t realize that they’re allowed to look at things in a way, like I remember what was it with with some kind of push the, h yeah, like a push notification. And I was like, why don’t you like, Oh, there’s a new web push feature.
How do you considered I’m using that on your website to deliver sales? Right. And my friend was like, Oh no, that wouldn’t work for us. The channel that works for us is email. And I was like, that’s interesting because you’re probably right. Like probably it’s a waste of time and it’s going to be, um, it’s like not a good investment for you to do it.
I get it. But the conceptual framework of saying that without even the first filter, is, is it different than what I’m doing then? No. Is such a conceptual filter that it’s going to destroy the good ideas as much as the bad ideas. And my own personality is the opposite, which is also not good, which is love the new idea and then get distracted by the new idea and forget about the old one.
Right? And so the balance has to be made. And I truly believe that the balance is pretty simple. It’s you combine a me with an integrator and you say, let me make the good ideas. And understand that I’m not going to deliver on those ideas. And he integrates those ideas and if they need to get something done, then it gets done together.
In the room at the same time, you put those two people together because that’s the crazy part. People are always trying to do self improvement and it’s fucking stupid. What one individual in the history of humanity has ever done. Great things can self, I mean, I guess it could look at authors, but like very rarely is it a person, it’s usually teams, it’s almost always teams, no one person programmed all of the iPhone, right.
Jobs can’t fucking program. He had no idea. So he found other people who surrounded him, who could execute on his ridiculous ideas and that fundamental framework. Here’s the thing, man. Like, you’ve heard me talk about this and you’ve seen like my stuff on personality types and stuff, right?
I don’t. I fundamentally believe that there is some very much something to be said about personality types. I think it’s very useful, you know, the debate is a whole long one, but I think that if you choose any four metrics to segment anybody on, you’re going to get interesting data results. And so I think that first of all, it’s weird to me that there is no, like, we have Google that does search content marketing, and you have Facebook that does persona marketing, but you never have anybody doing like personality marketing or affecting or changing their product based on personality types.
And there’s like very, very rarely do you see people segment their, their users in ways that are supposed to work just for them. And so the big theory I’m working here with is that I like we have this concept of the sensor core is what we call it, where we input a lot of data from everybody.
And you correlate your own data against yourself. And you’re like, Oh, the days that I walked 5,000 steps, I tended to lose weight. Therefore we should do an experiment to ask you to walk that many steps and measure your weight. Right. And the idea is that if we can import this data about individuals and a large segment of that data is my personality belief quiz structure that I wrote myself based on Myers-Briggs and Enneagram.
And if we can import that data and then make predictions against that data based on your personality. And if we get enough scale where we can automate these predictions, so we’re getting good predictions to good personalities and bad predictions to good personalities to see.
What the crossover success rate is. I believe that we’ll be able to actually create like a large scale predictive analytic coaching platform that will know you and help you achieve your goal, have low chances of failure. And I think it will be pretty cool. And yeah, at the end of the day, if you, and then the corporate there is that it’s not about getting you to do it.
It’s about rewarding you when you do it. So we’re just like, Oh, based on your analytics. You’re going to have trouble not eating until noon. So we’re going to give you a thousand volts extra if you don’t eat until noon. Cause that way our analytics will predict it’ll actually work to succeed. You know what I mean?
So that’s where I’m at.
Joel Erway: [01:10:43]
Awesome. So we’re about to run out of time. So where can people reach out to you? Obviously pavlok.com, but like where can people find out more?
Maneesh Sethi: [01:10:53]
For my Facebook if you want to see me posts amazing content, facebook.com/msfe. Did you get a push notification from Pavlok yesterday about Portland snow?
Joel Erway: [01:11:05]
Maneesh Sethi: [01:11:05]
If you want, you could download the Pavlok app and wait for me to accidentally send random push notifications to over hundreds of thousands of people. That’s an alternative, but yeah, basically pavlok.com Or, um, if you go to a facebook.com/msfe, that’s the best place. And if you hit me up on messenger, fucking I like Joel, hit me up on messenger if you want to pavlok I’ll get you a 40 or 50% off code.
So facebook.com/msethi and, uh, just mention the interview.
Joel Erway: [01:11:37]
Awesome, dude, it’s been a pleasure. Super brilliant individual. I just love hearing you rant. I let you rant for a long time because it’s good stuff. So well, so if you listen to this right now, reach out to Maneesh.
Super funny guy, super great guy to talk to super great guy to follow. I’m an avid user of a Pavlok I need to, I need to wear it more. Cause I’ve got some things that I’m trying to
Maneesh Sethi: [01:12:04]
You wear an Apple watch, right?
Joel Erway: [01:12:07]
Maneesh Sethi: [01:12:08]
Do you want to try the new one? Uh, the flip.
Joel Erway: [01:12:11]
Yeah, I would love to.
Maneesh Sethi: [01:12:14]
Yeah, I’ll get you one when it’s in a couple of weeks.
Joel Erway: [01:12:17]
Okay, sweet. Alright. So if you reach out to Maneesh and let him know you heard him on the Experts Unleashed and just give him a shout out, let them know that, uh, give him some love because he’s a brilliant guy, very smart, very smart individual and his products work.
I can attest to that. So Maneesh, thanks again, man. And for everyone listening, we’ll see you on the next episode.