How This Coffee Entrepreneur Plans to “Live to 180”

The experience of being burned out was part of what prompted Dave Asprey to make a major life change.

(Credit: Bulletproof)

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.


Thrive GlobalWhat’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?

Dave Asprey: Believe it or not, I grab my phone–but not to check email or text messages. In fact, I use my phone as an advanced sleep monitor that wakes me when I’m already in light sleep. It’s always in airplane mode with no alerts possible. I check my phone first thing in the morning to check my sleep data indicating how well I slept… and then I put it away until I’ve dropped my kids off at school.

TG: What gives you energy?

DA: The same thing that gives every person energy — the parts of your cells called mitochondria. That’s why I wrote a book about how I make my mitochondria create more energy during the day… the combination of the right food, air, and quality sleep is proven to give everyone more energy, including me!

TGWhat’s your secret life hack? 

DA: My favorite life hack involves my night time routine with my children. Each night before bed, I ask them to share three things they’re grateful for, and I tell them three things I’m grateful for.

Gratitude is this amazing free life hack that takes you out of stress mode and puts you into rest and recover mode. You can’t be grateful and angry at the same time. It makes you sleep better. 

None of my hacks are a secret! Part of my mission is to make sure there are no secret life hacks left; anyone can read my blog or listen to the Bulletproof Radio podcast to learn the life hacks I’ve spent years discovering.

TGName a book that changed your life. 

DA: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali because it’s the first book ever written about the unknown superpowers that all humans are capable of… as long as they meditate (and sleep!).

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you? 

It sleeps with me, but I don’t use it as a phone. I put it in airplane mode with no alerts turned on. It tracks my sleep quality and wakes me up at the top of a sleep cycle so I’m not jerked awake. When I’m traveling I use the Sonic Sleep App because it helps me sleep more deeply, and it blocks out hotel noise. Before bed I never even consider checking messages or social media. At bedtime, my phone is really just the world’s most advanced alarm clock. It stays in airplane mode all night and into the morning until I drop my kids off at school. At home, I even use my old phone as my uber- advanced alarm clock — it doesn’t even have a sim card.

TG: How do you deal with email? 

DA: Email is simply a way for other people to hijack your to-do list, so I work with my team to sort email into three buckets: reply today, know today and read sometime. The rest goes into the trash. I usually check it once a day, which means I see maybe 10 percent of the messages that come through — which is fine because I know that every message is being handled responsibly.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it? 

DA: I would play Four Square with my kids. (It helps that I frequently work from home.) 

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why? 

DA: It has been more than 10 years since I’ve been burned out. I was working at a startup with a dysfunctional management team, and I had to fly from the West Coast to Cambridge, England one week each month for more than a year. The combination of the job stress and the circadian disruption caused by the travel completely burned me out.

That was when I passed out in the middle of an airplane aisle due to dehydration and exhaustion following a round-trip flight between the West Coast and China in only 48 hours. I woke up to a flight attendant trying to revive me with orange juice. Not my finest hour. 

The experience of being so burned out was part of what prompted me to make a major life change. I knew my lifestyle wasn’t sustainable, and I didn’t want to die. Dying is not a part of my strategy; I want to (really) live to at least 180-years-old.

I decided to find a way to lead life better. Today I run Bulletproof, which has raised $68 million in capital, I run a popular podcast, I raise my kids, I sleep, and I’m healthy. My experience doing all that and remaining relaxed is the basis for the content I share and the products I make at Bulletproof. And by the way, even when I do travel today, I manage to sleep like a baby. Jet lag, thankfully, is no longer a part of my life.

TGWhen was the last time you felt you failed, and how did you overcome it? 

DA: I make it a point to fail at least once a day. If I don’t do something to the point that I fail, I’m probably not improving. I haven’t failed yet today, but it’s still early. Every night I ask my kids what they failed at today so I can praise them for working hard enough to fail. If they don’t have an answer, I quietly explain that I hope tomorrow is a better day. 

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace. 

DA: “The goal of life is not to possess power but to radiate it.” — Henry Miller

Pssst…Dave Asprey’s new book, called Game Changers (coming December 2019), answers the question: ”How do I kick more ass?” In it, Asprey explains proven techniques for becoming happier, healthier, and smarter–all culled from the wisdom and insight of world-class thought leaders and mavericks of science and business, like Daniel Amen, David Perlmutter, Arianna Huffington, Dan Harris, and Tim Ferris.

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