Tom Bilyeu: What I’m about to say is going to cut to the heart of every single human being listening to this because they will recognize the truth of it instantly. The only thing that matters in terms of the human experience, the only thing that matters. How do you feel about yourself when you’re by yourself?
Disclaimer: Hi everyone. Just wanted to let you know that this episode contains some colorful language. So if you’re listening with kids, you might want to save this episode for later.
Mark Hyman: Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman and it’s Farmacy with an F-A-R-M-A-C-Y, a place for conversations that matter. And this one’s going to matter because it’s about how to change your mind, which is something we should all know how to do to have a mind that actually supports our life, supports our happiness, supports our ability to love, to do the work we want in the world and to be happy, which is what we all want. Right?
Mark Hyman: So our guest today is Tom Bilyeu who’s a filmmaker, a serial entrepreneur, and that’s not cereal with a C because I wouldn’t be talking to him if he was, he’s chased money hard for nearly a decade. He came up emotionally bankrupt. He realized that the struggle is guaranteed, but the money is not so you damn better well love the struggle. And to that end his partners and he sold their technology company and they founded a company called Quest Nutrition, which you probably heard of is a company that wasn’t predicated on money but on creating value for people when a concept of business that creates value and not worried about making profits where the profit is the value, his mission was to end metabolic disease.
Mark Hyman: Thank God for that. Somebody is working on it and one of the two pandemics basing the planet, which is something I’ve been working hard on for years. And despite not being focused on money, Quest exploded became $1 billion business in roughly five years, making it the second fastest growing company in North America according to Inc. Magazine. And after he left quest, he generated extraordinary wealth. But he turned his attention to something else.
Mark Hyman: The other pandemic facing society, which is the poverty of poor mindset. It is our minds that determine our life in the quality of our health, our relationships, our ability to live our dreams, to find our passion. And if you don’t fix that, you can’t fix anything. To solve this mindset problem at scale and to help hundreds, hundreds of millions of people, which is a why not billions? I mean I don’t know why you stopping in hundreds of millions, I don’t know, help people adopt an empowering mindset.
Mark Hyman: He has founded a media company with his wife, Lisa called Impact Theory. And we are here today at the Impact Theory studio where I just did a podcast with Tom and their goal is to influence the cultural subconscious in a good way, not a bad way, but a good way by building single minding content creation machine that makes exactly one type of content. Content that empowers people. And it was sort of like if Disney created the most magical place on earth, Impact Theory will be creating the most empowering place on earth. What a noble and awesome mission. We need like 100 million of you on the planet Tom. Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy.
Tom Bilyeu: Thank you so much for having me, man.
Mark Hyman: Well, it’s so great to have you. And you got into business as an entrepreneur because you want it to be a master of your destiny, but you made the mistake, which a lot of people make, which is chasing money, not your passion and purpose.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah.
Mark Hyman: Right?
Tom Bilyeu: Much to my [inaudible 00:03:16].
Mark Hyman: And you made a lot of money, but you were not happy or fulfilled. So take us through that journey from your tech company Awareness Technologies to how you got inspired to start Quest Nutrition with your partners and how it was born out of your sense of discontent and not wanting to settle.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, it’s interesting. So that story ends up becoming the sort of most pivotal and important moment in my life. But it was actually a moment of deep shame for me. So there’s a famous phrase that I love, which is a fool never learns. A smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others, and I unfortunately could not be wise in the whole money can’t buy happiness thing. So I had to live the nightmare and I started as just an employee.
Tom Bilyeu: I met these two very successful entrepreneurs and they said, “Look man, you come into the world with your handout and if you want to control the earth, I want to be a filmmaker. If you want to control the earth, you have to control the resources and so why don’t you come with us and get rich?” I thought that sounds amazing. I had been telling everybody since I was a little kid that I was going to be rich and so it was like this perfect collision moment where I didn’t know how I was ever going to get rich.
Tom Bilyeu: I just knew I was going to be rich one day and so when they made me that offer, it was like speaking a language to my soul and I was like, “I’m in, let’s do this.” I thought it would take 18 months. It took 15 years, but it actually did work. But the irony was the beginning of the journey was when I was just showing up to get rich and all I thought about was getting rich and I was telling my wife, I’m going to make you rich. I told my father-in-law when he told me he did not want me to marry his daughter, I said I’m going to make your daughter a rich woman one day. Because he was worried I wouldn’t be able to take care of her because I wasn’t voted most likely to succeed. I’m not the person that people thought, “Oh watch this guy, he’s really going to do something.” So my own mother quietly assumed I was going to fail. My father-in-law…
Mark Hyman: That’s terrible.
Tom Bilyeu: Oh yeah. She was my biggest cheerleader. Don’t get me wrong, but when I finally-
Mark Hyman: But if she felt that, it’s subliminal, right?
Tom Bilyeu: Very. Well, I didn’t pick it up from her. I really thought I was going to be successful. And it was only upon actually getting successful when I asked her, “You kicked me out of the nest at 18, but I’ve spent every day since then trying to get me back. So what gives?” And she said, “Oh, I wanted you to answer the question of what if, but you were so profoundly lazy, I just assumed you were going to fail and that you would come back home.”
Tom Bilyeu: And I thought, wow, that’s so interesting. And so my father-in-law was like, “Look, my daughter’s become used to a certain way of life.” He took himself from abject poverty to running one of the largest shipping companies in the world. And it’s just this incredible story. And so he was like, “How are you going to take care of my daughter?” And I was broke at the time and just hadn’t done anything with my life. So it was like all of this pressure to get rich self-imposed. So I was showing up every day and I was like, I’m going to get rich.
Tom Bilyeu: I’m going to get rich. I’m going to get rich and on paper, I had worked my way from employee to partner in the company and through just blood, sweat and tears, just going all in. And it really was like, it was pretty extraordinary. That was when I really learned how much humans can change. And I found, or I should say I developed drive. And so I got really hardcore-
Mark Hyman: From lazy to being driven?
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, because I realized that there was a difference between ambition, because what I told my father-in-law was, “Look, I know you see a broke kid before you who hasn’t done anything but sir, I’m the most ambitious person you’ve ever met.” And that may actually have been true. I just didn’t have a drive. And so what he realized was, well there’s a difference between having big dreams and actually doing something about it. And so he was meeting me at sort of the height of my laziness and really having to figure out how to generate energy and how to show up and push and hold yourself to a standard. And all that was absolutely life changing.
Tom Bilyeu: But anyway, I was aimed at something stupid, which was just getting rich. And so that was when I came up with that phrase, the money isn’t guaranteed, but the struggle is so dude, you better really believe in what you’re doing and better energize you. And it wasn’t. And so I was showing up everyday building a security software company. I didn’t care about it. I was just learning to be a slick marketer. It was just soul wrenching, because I didn’t have the language around all of that, it just kept me from really understanding anything other than I knew I wanted to feel alive and going into work every day. It made me feel dead inside.
Mark Hyman: That’s not good.
Tom Bilyeu: So I’d be… Oh no. And for years when I would go into the neighborhood where that office used to be, a dark cloud would come over me because I had so associated it with just negativity. It was horrible. So as I’m doing that-
Mark Hyman: [inaudible 00:07:56] and if you are doing something that doesn’t bring you joy or that makes you feel like crap or that makes you feel anxious and stressed, probably a good time to think about what you’re doing and change.
Tom Bilyeu: Most definitely. And hopefully be wise in that circumstance and realize that the reason that people say that money can’t buy you happiness because it’s absolutely true. Now, money’s powerful. It’s probably more powerful than most people think. So it just isn’t what you’ve been told. So the money is not going to change.
Mark Hyman: They always say was energy.
Tom Bilyeu: That’s interesting. I call it the great facilitator. And so-
Mark Hyman: Exactly it’s a way of exchanging energy with people in different ways, right over with your life.
Tom Bilyeu: Exactly. But if you’re not doing something that you care about or you don’t know you want the money for, the money’s just like points on the scoreboard, it’s going to be misery. So because I had become a partner in the company, the company was valued at like, I don’t know, 22 million bucks or something and I was a 10% owner. So I was on paper. I was worth about $2 million. And so when I went to my wife, but people need to understand there’s a big difference between paper money and money in the bank.
Tom Bilyeu: So my paper valuation was 2 million, but my real life was just… I had a normal middle class income. And so when I went to my wife and I said, “Look, I am going to make you rich one day, but I’m going to have to take a step backwards. I need to feel alive and I do not and I’m so unhappy.” And she had seen it for a long time and really was… She was the one telling me like, “Yo, you need to make a change. This is not fun. You come home, you’re miserable, you don’t want to talk about anything. You’re like just shutting down.” And so partly because I consider my marriage the thing that I prioritize most, it is the thing I value most in my life. It is the most extraordinary thing ever. It is the source of my joy and my drive. It really is like this incredibly important thing to me.
Mark Hyman: And we’re going to come back to that.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah. That’s fun for me to talk about. And I think that we share a lot of views on that. So her saying that, I just realized, all right, I need to go do something else. So I went in and quit, and I said, “Look, here’s your equity back. I’m not going to cross the finish line. I don’t want to get anything for this.” So I was like, if you sell the company tomorrow for $1 billion, you will never hear from me because I had so much shame. They’d become my brothers, and I was leaving them. And so I really did not feel good about that.
Mark Hyman: Like you were letting them down.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah. So they ended up saying to me, “Look, we could do this without you, but we don’t want to. So what would have to be true about the company, about the partnership or whatever for us to continue to work together?” And so that the answer to that question ends up being Quest Nutrition.
Mark Hyman: So you sold that tech company?
Tom Bilyeu: We did. So we set revenue goals and I said, “Look, we would have to sell this company. We’d have to be doing something that we’re passionate about. We would have to… I want to build community.” I didn’t have these words back then. I didn’t say authentic what we’d say now. I just kept saying, I want to be myself. I don’t want to be a slick marketer. I want to build community. I want to connect with people. Like that’s so much more interesting to me than just making money. And I said, “Look, I’ve been lying to myself. I’ve been lying to you. I’ve been saying that money is my highest value, but in reality it’s not. It’s comradery. It’s connection. I’ve shown up every day for as long as I have because of you guys.”
Tom Bilyeu: And so we’d have to really bond and really connect and really build something that we care about. And so look, we found a quest for three very different reasons, but that was the place where our passions converged. So I was just thinking about my mom and my sister. They were morbidly obese. I grew up in… My entire extended family was morbidly obese my entire childhood. So wanting to avoid that fate myself in my early ’20s I discovered health and nutrition and learned about it just because I was suddenly putting on weight, and I felt like I was eating less than I’d ever eaten, and I was getting fat, and I’m like, what the hell is going on? Of course because I was cutting out fat and eating carbohydrates.
Mark Hyman: Yeah. That thing.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah. So I was just like, what is going on? So realized I needed to learn and then just went to people that had physique and I thought, well whatever they’re doing, it’s worked at least once, and that was my mantra. Find people that look the way you want to reach in Venice. Not quite that, but a gym. And just started taking cues from that.
Tom Bilyeu: And then the, my two partners at Quest and at Awareness Technologies, they were jacked. So it was like, all right, tell me what you’re doing, and I’m going to do it, and they had this sort of fight club mentality where they tell you, “No, you’d never going to stick with it. I’m not going to tell you anything.” And they would make you sort of keep asking, keep asking, keep asking to make sure that you were actually the investment that was worth the time and energy. And I was so disciplined, and I just stayed at it, and then ended up transforming my physique.
Tom Bilyeu: But that was all at the technology company. So then I realized, Whoa, this is really powerful and understood that if we could give my mom and my sister food, they could choose based on taste, and it happened to be good for them. So not asking them to think for longevity or anything like that. Just, “Hey, eat what’s delicious in a form factor you already understand.” And it just obviously blew up and became a whole thing.
Mark Hyman: Wow. And so that company then led to great success, but again you sort of wanted to turn your attention to the other pandemic, right?
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah. So that we had so much success there that even taking a small investment in the company for founder liquidity changed the lives of my entire family. It was just absolutely bananas. So the company was valued at over a billion dollars. So you can imagine even like a small percentage of that is just a ridiculous amount of liquid capital. So then we were at the point where it was like, well in the beginning I was doing all of this so that I could control the art and now I actually have the capital to do this. So ended up, we had built a studio inside of Quest and spun that out into a standalone company, which is now Impact Theory. And as you so eloquently said in the intro, it was me playing a no BS game. No BS what would it take to end the poverty of poor mindset?
Mark Hyman: So talking of, what is the poverty poor mindset. I don’t know if everybody understands what that actually means.
Tom Bilyeu: So I’ve worked in the inner cities a lot, so I have the very good fortune of terrible SAT scores. So to get into USC film school-
Mark Hyman: I thought your SAT scores correlated with the amount of wealth you had. But clearly that’s not true.
Tom Bilyeu: If anything, in my case it is inversely correlated. So-
Mark Hyman: I’m screwed then.
Tom Bilyeu: Did you do well?
Mark Hyman: Yeah, I got into medical school.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, fair. I would not have gotten into medical school so I got a 990, I took it twice. Those numbers don’t translate now because I guess they changed the numbering system but this was really bad. So it was in fact 1600 when I took it was perfect. So I was almost at 50%, that’s pretty gnarly. So I went and said, “All right, I want to get into film school. What do I need to do? My SATs are bad.” And the teacher said, “Look you’ve already missed the opportunity…” Because this was a guy on the Admissions Committee.
Tom Bilyeu: He said, “You’ve already missed the opportunity to get in as an incoming freshman. So now your only chances as an incoming junior and by then I don’t care about your SAT scores. Those are just supposed to tell me how well you’re going to do in college. I’ll have two years of transcripts to look at. So the key is just get good grades.” And I was like, “Oh, okay, wow.” So for two years I locked myself in my dorm room, and I didn’t party, I didn’t drink, I didn’t do drugs. I didn’t date, literally nothing.
Tom Bilyeu: All I did was study and one of my teachers said, “Does anybody want extra credit?” And I was like, “Dude, absolutely. My mission in life right now is get good grades.” And they sent me to tutor in the inner cities for extra credit. And I had no idea what I was getting myself into. And of course they give you the most problematic child in the school because that’s what they want to get out of the classroom, and who needs help in fairness. And so they gave me this kid, and he was a little terror. I mean it was unreal.
Tom Bilyeu: And I had never been around somebody with such behavioral problems before, and I don’t know if he was drug and alcohol impacted as a kid or whatever. He had been adopted and just not a good scene. And he was clearly being medicated for hyperactivity, so he was tiny for his age, but like ultra aggressive, and I would spend the first hour chasing him around. He was like running and screaming and getting in fights and just going nuts. And then I would say, “Look, I have to go man.”
Tom Bilyeu: And then he would start crying, and he would beg me to help him with his homework and then he would be good, and he would do his homework, and he would get me to stay for two hours and about week five I’m like, this kid’s trolling me. He knows exactly what he’s doing. So week six, you’re supposed to tell them, “Look, it’s only an eight week program, so I’m only coming for two more weeks.” I tell him, and he goes ballistic, ballistic dude. I’ve never… I had seen him that crazy-
Mark Hyman: Maybe he never had a stable, normal human in his life who cared about him and spend time with him.
Tom Bilyeu: It was crazy. Now you have to remember at this time, I’m like 19, so I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. He flips out and he goes and punches this kid that’s three times the size. I’m like, what is going on? I sit him down. I’m like, “Dude, is this because I said I was only coming for two more weeks? And he’s ugly crying the whole night. He finally calms down. He’s like, “Yes, it’s because you said you’re only coming for two more weeks.” I said, “All right, look if you will do your homework the second I get here, as long as I live in Los Angeles, I will help you with your homework. Is that fair?” And he said yes. So that turns into an eight and a half year relationship.
Mark Hyman: Wow.
Tom Bilyeu: Becomes this incredibly transformative thing in my life. Well, I just got the chills thinking about the fact that I ended up failing him. So you talk about this with food, your zip code is more determinant of your future success than your IQ. I find that deeply distressing.
Mark Hyman: Yeah. The social injustice issues are huge and food drives the same disparities.
Tom Bilyeu: Because I was so young and dumb and I didn’t have a mindset, so I had a fixed mindset at the time. I wasn’t going to be able to help him develop a growth mindset. I was in full panic mode. I wasn’t going to be able to do anything with my own life. I didn’t have any of the strategies that I have now. And so I showed him that somebody loved him, and I’m very proud of that, and I’m very glad that that is true.
Tom Bilyeu: He got put… Long story short, he was being abused at home, which I didn’t know, and I’m horrified that I didn’t know because the signs were all there. And now as an adult looking back, I’m like, it’s pretty obvious. And he requested that his lawyers make me his guardian. So I helped him into foster care. I mean it was crazy helping him into foster care, but they keep moving in farther and farther away until he’s like way the hell out in the middle of nowhere, hours away.
Tom Bilyeu: And we end up losing contact. But flash forward 15 years later, I have 3000 employees, about a thousand of them grew up hard like he did. And so I was like, I know where this goes, but now I have the mentality to help. So I start what I call Quest University. And I’m like, “You guys are all on a path to nowhere really fast, and it is entirely because of your mindset has nothing to do with how smart you are. Some of you are far smarter than me. Some of you have far better entrepreneurial instincts than I’ve ever had.”
Tom Bilyeu: And because we had put out into the neighborhood, because I really believe it doesn’t matter who you are today, what matters is who you want to become and the price you’re willing to pay to get there. Yeah. So I said, well if that’s really true then it shouldn’t matter if people have felony convictions or any of that former drug dealers, gang members doesn’t matter. Who do you want to become? And so we put the word out that we would consider you for employment even if you had a felony conviction. So we had people lined up around the building just to be interviewed.
Mark Hyman: Nobody wants to say give a job to ex cons.
Tom Bilyeu: Which is stupid. Look, it is a high risk proposition. You have to understand human psychology. You have to be willing to train people. You have to give them hope. I mean there’s a whole host of things. It has to be true because we got some terribly bad apples, but we also had some of the most extraordinary humans on the planet and they were willing to just do anything for respect, for progress education. It was crazy, man.
Tom Bilyeu: So that really was one of the most beautiful periods of my life. But it was an echo of having dealt with that kid in the inner cities and understanding he was a really bright kid, a loving kid, just a wonderful joy, enlightened my life and is still to this day, Mike, one of the best humans I’ve ever had a chance to experience in terms of the impact on my own life. And so I just thought, well, I know there’s nothing like fundamentally bad or different about somebody who grows up in the inner cities. It is a question of circumstance.
Mark Hyman: Yeah, and also being guided to think that they actually can shift their mindset and their way of seeing and being. It’s always curious to me how you see in these communities. There’s people who just stay stuck in that poverty cycle and there’s others who raise themselves up and make it extraordinary human beings doing great contributions to the world.
Tom Bilyeu: You are now asking the fundamental question that controls my very existence.
Mark Hyman: Because I’m thinking about it. What is the answer?
Tom Bilyeu: So the answer is one, it’s almost certainly impossible to help everybody. So we’ll start with that. Two, there’s a guy named Geoffrey Canada who said, I’ll paraphrase, “You have to give up on adults focused on kids. The age of imprinting is real and it matters.” Now, I’ve rejected that for a very long time. I’m coming around to it though. But I realized that for humans to assimilate truly disruptive information, they need narrative. They need story. They need emotion. You have to hit them at the limbic level in their brain. They have to feel something.
Tom Bilyeu: So I had spent my time, both at the Quest University doing the show inside Quest, which is now Impact Theory now Impact Theory University as well. Spending all of it just looking into a camera and saying, think like this, act like this. And I realize that impacts about 2% of the people that encounter it.
Mark Hyman: It’s not enough.
Tom Bilyeu: Now, it impacts them very, very, very deeply. But I am a guy that’s interested in scale. So I want to know how do I impact the 98% and the answer is all around narrative, itself narrative. It’s a value system. It’s identity, it’s all things…
Mark Hyman: [inaudible 00:21:45] yourself.
Tom Bilyeu: That is where it ends up. But it starts with, I mean, to put it in an evolutionary context, who are the elders in the village or the stories of the people from a time past that convey the values and the behaviors that you should embody. Right? So thinking in archetypal stories. The hero’s journey, to put it in a really condensed nutshell. So I knew that I wanted to do that. That’s my deepest passion, my background. Anyway, so I was like, all right, this is all perfect.
Tom Bilyeu: Neuroscience is telling me this is the answer to my own experience, is telling me that this is the answer and my deepest passion. So we see it as a graduation system. You start with a story. So we’ll make TV and film and you’ll see a character. I wish we had created The Matrix because it is the perfect metaphor for the human condition.
Mark Hyman: I know that’s [inaudible 00:22:31] influence on you, right?
Tom Bilyeu: Massively. And that like if you think of that, that’s the kind of film and TV we want to make where it’s just entertainment. You can exist on a pure entertainment level or you can take it and really learn from it. So like for instance, as a fellow aficionado of Eastern thought, Yoda is basically a Buddhist. He’s giving you some deep Eastern thought.
Mark Hyman: Pretty much.
Tom Bilyeu: And if you take his advise-
Mark Hyman: That’s how we named our cat Yoda.
Tom Bilyeu: Really? That’s amazing. I love that.
Mark Hyman: Because it kind of looked like Yoda with his little floppy ears.
Tom Bilyeu: That’s hilarious. So there are certain characters that if you take their advice, your life will be better. So we want to make stories that have that. At its core, if you take Morpheus as advice, your life will be better. So doing that and then we graduate them to a show like this where it’s like it’s still entertaining, but it’s now you’re getting pretty prescriptive. And then the third part of the graduation is Impact Theory University where its actual curriculum and we are teaching.
Mark Hyman: There are courses online or?
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah.
Mark Hyman: And what kinds of things are you teaching people? How do you get people to shift their mindset? Because it’s a hard thing.
Tom Bilyeu: It is. I think the big thing is you have to get certain core beliefs. So one, people come to me because is they’re in an emotional, painful point. They know they can do more, be more, but they don’t know how to get there. And oftentimes is-
Mark Hyman: Because people stay stuck in this negative inner dialogue and loop of negative thinking. And it’s habitual and they’re almost inside of it like a bubble that can’t see. It’s like a fish swimming in water, doesn’t know what’s in water.
Tom Bilyeu: Dude, do you know the talk that… Oh God, I’m blanking on his name. It’s called this is water by something Wallace. Oh God. I’m going to punch myself in the mouth.
Mark Hyman: Don’t do that.
Tom Bilyeu: Anything to [crosstalk 00:24:16].
Mark Hyman: I’m the doctor but I’ve got to use my techniques.
Tom Bilyeu: David Foster Wallace. There we go. That was really going to bother me. He gave a speech called This is Water. And to your point about like the fish is the last one to realize that they’re swimming around in water, which is an amazing way to explain your mindset. So your mindset is the water. It is the thing in which you exist. It is the matrix, and to finally get your head around the fact that you’ve constructed it, that it’s a belief system.
Tom Bilyeu: It’s your identity, it’s your values. It’s the very reason that who you hang out with is going to determine your health level. I heard you give a stat that was something like, if your friends are obese, then you’re more likely to be obese, and if your family is obese.
Mark Hyman: You’re 171% more likely to be overweight than if your siblings over what you’re about 40% more likely to be obese.
Tom Bilyeu: That’s so crazy, man.
Mark Hyman: Yeah, because our friends influence our behavior. Peer pressure works for good or bad.
Tom Bilyeu: And I will hypothesize that the reason is our friends help establish our values and our belief system. And so I’m writing a book now, which is like the tentative title. This will never be the real type. It’s called Build Yourself. Like how do you construct a mindset that actually lets you go forward. So I’m a freak for looking at the human animal as a biological entity.
Tom Bilyeu: And so understanding how thoughts, why are your brain… Your brain has certain things that it’s going to do. Like good luck ever. Not ever thinking. It’s just one of the things your brain is, is hard wired, genetically-
Mark Hyman: Catenating.
Tom Bilyeu: Right? Exactly. Your brain is going to cough up. Thoughts that that just it’s nature. Humans are an active species. Humans also balance out that active nature of wanting to explore and control their environment with a deep laziness designed to conserve calories. So it’s like you have this weird push pull. So just if you really accept that the human is this biological creature, that thoughts become like literal physical wiring in your brain and that your brain wants to think the thoughts that are easiest, whatever you repeat then becomes the easiest.
Tom Bilyeu: It goes into what’s called the default network in the brain, and that’s just where you always default. So you talk about these people being stuck in these loops, they get stuck in-
Mark Hyman: First, you’re talking about the default mode network, which is this part of the brain where the sort of the ego lives and it’s this sort of more rigid sense of little self that separates you from the world. And things like meditation. Like you look at these monks have been meditating for 40,000 hours in a cave. These default mode networks are shut down and they just aren’t connected in one with everything.
Tom Bilyeu: And that becomes their default, right?
Mark Hyman: They can delegate the same thing. Right.
Tom Bilyeu: Have you’ve done psychedelics.
Mark Hyman: I have.
Tom Bilyeu: Oh Mark Hyman, we’ve got to talk about that. So I am [crosstalk 00:26:59] chicken.
Mark Hyman: What can I say?
Tom Bilyeu: I’m really interested in psychedelics. Really interested. I have a microdose siliciden. I didn’t find it very interesting. So it felt like a low grade buzz, but without the fatigue. So if I were going to drink it actually probably would be slightly more pleasurable maybe to be to have that a micro dose of a siliciden because there are no sort of after effects that I find it unpleasant. But I didn’t find, I was more creative. I certainly didn’t find that I could focus.
Tom Bilyeu: I found myself sort of drifting in and out of like attentive focus. So I was like, man, this isn’t for the people who say that it really helps them be creative or more productive. Not me, but I’ve never done like a full-
Mark Hyman: I don’t think [inaudible 00:27:50] are generally designed in full doses, be placed for more creativity. It’s more insight and connection and understanding I think.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, I haven’t done that yet. I’m keenly interested, the one that I would do literally this afternoon if I had access to it legally would be MTMA to sit down with my wife and do MTMA together I think would really be extraordinary.
Mark Hyman: Well they’re using it for post traumatic stress and it’s just people’s hard wired patterns that come from trauma and it’s having extraordinary results.
Tom Bilyeu: It’s crazy how fast people talk about it, having that kind of impact. So this is one of those things that like I can’t come out and vouch for it because I haven’t done it. But I will say that if I had some sort of trauma that I was trying to get over, I would do that as a protocol very fast. I would fix my diet first, admittedly to get my microbiome in line, to deal with depression, anxiety, whatever. But if I had something that was intractable, whether PTSD, depression, anxiety, I would really give it a shot. The studies are just too crazy.
Mark Hyman: It’s pretty cool. So when you help people shift their mindset, other than taking psychedelics, what do you do to help them transform their thinking and shift out of it? Because, I just see people stuck in loops and they have a story that they tell and they have a narrative for their life and they live into that narrative in a way that often is dysfunctional and impedes their ability to be happy, to have happy relationships, to be successful in life. And for whatever reason I sort of was also in that state when I was younger, but I worked really hard to learn how my mind operated and change the narrative to be one of, I could do anything. Why not?
Tom Bilyeu: So here is my deepest trauma in life is that you can’t want it for people.
Mark Hyman: No.
Tom Bilyeu: So I was wired, and I will say that this is… We’re not blank slates. So all of us have sort of a preset things that we’re more into or whatever that we’re a bigger responder to. So just like some people respond to one food and some another, some respond to certain emotional states or ways of connecting with people. And for me, I love seeing other people win. And so I pretended not to see Easter eggs in an Easter egg hunt because I knew my sister who was four years older than me. So I was like five or six and my sister was 10 and I knew it meant more to her to win than it did to me. So I would pretend not to see them, so she could find them. That’s my natural state. I’ve been like that since I was a little kid. And-
Mark Hyman: Well, explains why you’re doing what you’re doing right now.
Tom Bilyeu: Truly does and that’s a huge driver for me. And meeting people that I’ve impacted their life is always amazing. But my big trauma is that I can’t want it for people. So people that I love can make the change and it’s crazy because they’ve watched me. There are people who’ve watched me my whole life. They know how lazy I was. They know that they didn’t expect me to do anything. And yet seeing what I’ve been able to do and change in my mind, how much I’ve been able to learn, how I’ve been able to just take a new frame of reference, which put me on a new path of behavior, which is actually how you get people to change. The things you do must be different.
Mark Hyman: So can you do the behaviors that then change your mind?
Tom Bilyeu: Definitely. It is a loop that you can change either first. So one I’ll finish the loop on the fact that it is very difficult to get people to change and then I’ll tell you the people that do change what they all have in common.
Mark Hyman: Yeah what is that?
Tom Bilyeu: The reason that it’s hard to give people the changes is if you don’t want it, you’re not going to have the energy to see it through. And you can give people all the tools and tactics in the world. If they don’t want it, then they won’t have the energy to make the changes. So now set that aside. The thing that people have in common that all end up making the change. So first of all, they want to make change. Second of all, they understand that at the end of the day, the name of the game is to change your behaviors.
Tom Bilyeu: And whether they start with the mindset shift or they start with the behavior shift almost doesn’t matter. When you understand humans as a biological entity and you know that things like the following are true. If you fake a smile, like they would have people, they did a study, they had people put a pencil between their teeth and bite down on it. So it sort of forced your face into a smile just like you’re doing now.
Tom Bilyeu: And then rate their levels of happiness. They rated them higher than when they have their make friends, just because it activated those muscles. Now I have felt this very keenly, so I will use crest whitening strips on my teeth and so I keep my mouth closed, which forces me into this sort non smiling thing. And I find myself while I’m whitening my teeth with this sense of like just kind of mopey a bit and I’m like, “Whoa, this is so crazy.”
Tom Bilyeu: And so I wrote a letter to myself. So when my wife and I were first married, first couple of years of our marriage, we would argue and dumb stuff. And I just thought we ended up often losing like an entire Saturday to some stupid argument. And at the end of the argument when my neurochemistry has changed and I’m no longer upset, I think, wow, why did I waste all that time? I know she loves me, this is really stupid. And so I wrote myself a letter and I said, “Hey me, it’s me. You know you have no ulterior motive.” And I gave it to my wife to read to me. I said, the next time I get annoyed about something and I’m not letting it go, read this to me.
Mark Hyman: And did she do it?
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, she only had to do it once because it was so profound that I realized, Whoa, you can shift your letter.
Mark Hyman: What was in the letter? What are you say to me?
Tom Bilyeu: So the reason that I addressed me is when you’re in an argument with somebody, a lot of times you think they’re trying to calm you down because they have an ulterior motive. They don’t want to feel bad or whatever. When someone upsets you, unless you’re unreasonable, they probably actually did something wrong. They really did do something that hurt your feelings and you really do feel justified in being upset.
Tom Bilyeu: I will assume you’re not flying off the handle. I’ll assume they really did miss step, and so they have misstepped and now you’re annoyed about it and you think that them trying to talk you out of it is because they just don’t want to feel badly. And so I was like, that never ends up feeling true. What’s that?
Mark Hyman: You don’t want to feel guilty.
Tom Bilyeu: Right, but that never ends up feeling true once you’ve calmed down and you always then can have the compassion and see from their perspective. So I thought, let me just remove that because I know two hours from now or whatever, I’m not going to feel like it was a good use of time to be pissed. So Hey me, it’s me. You know you don’t have any ulterior motive other than you know that like there’s energy behind neurochemistry and once you get in a flow, it gets hard to get out of that.
Tom Bilyeu: But there are physiological hooks into breaking that. So right now, no matter how you feel, I want you to laugh out loud and I want you to laugh out loud until you feel better. And you will find you’ve read the studies that if you do that you won’t be able to maintain the sense of frustration. And I did it. I laughed out loud, I was so annoyed. She read it to me, which was courageous. And I said to myself, you told her to read you this letter. So even though it’s really annoying that she’s reading this letter, when you’re annoyed-
Mark Hyman: Your own medicine.
Tom Bilyeu: Do it. And so I laughed out loud and I was like, Oh my God. Literally in seven seconds. It’s absurd. How rapid.
Mark Hyman: Yeah, it’s true. When you change your physical state, you change your mental state. So whether it’s going for a run, whether it’s taking a steam or whether it’s jumping up and down or whether it’s dancing, whatever you can do to change your physical state, it’ll change your mental state. And I’ve learned how to do this because if I have a really tough day and I’ve got stress, I had a really challenging situations at work recently, and it really upsetting me. So I just went to a hot yoga class and I came out completely transformed and I didn’t change my thinking. I just changed my body, which then changed my thinking. Right?
Tom Bilyeu: Dude if people really hear what you just said because then you know that it can go either way. So if you can’t get yourself there with reason and logic, jump in an ice bath, laugh out loud, watch a comedy, go for a run, lift weights. There is this feedback loop that you get into with your thoughts and your body and your body and your thoughts. So the vagal nerve, of course you’re going to know this, but the vagal nerve is something like 80% telling the body, telling the brain what’s going on versus the brain just instructing the body what to do. Like as a kid you think, Oh, the brain tells the body breathe, digest, blah blah blah.
Tom Bilyeu: But in reality it’s like the brain is getting more input from the body and I am so grateful that there’s this reciprocal feedback loop. So I know when I’m in a negative place that all I need to do is smile. Literally I can even think smile without actually smiling and it makes me feel different. It is so weird, so that’s super useful. Music can shift your state channeling aggression, which is something I do to do hard things.
Tom Bilyeu: There are all these feedback loops, so I try to get people to understand that. But the most important thing, the thing I always lead with is, humans are the ultimate adaptation machine. So we are the ultimate apex predator for one simple reason. We adapt to change better than any other animal. And I’ll say that at a physiological level, like the ability to turn white adipose tissue into brown fat where it’s more thermogenic. There was a woman who swam the Bering Strait.
Mark Hyman: Aya! Really?
Tom Bilyeu: So think about that. The Bering Strait is the space between Russia and Alaska. That shit is cold man. So the fact that somebody can swim that it’s bananas. So she slept with the window open in Alaska for a year, which you can imagine how cold that would be. She took only cold showers. So basically all of her fat cells became more thermogenic, and she could insulate herself. So we’re adaptable on that level.
Mark Hyman: She had a wetsuit?
Tom Bilyeu: She had a wetsuit. Yeah. Or, sorry. So you’ve that level of that adaptation, which is sort of purely biological, but then you also have the ability to learn. So there’s a reason like a horse is born, it’s walking that day. It is not that way for humans. So the prefrontal cortex, which is like all your executive functions, doesn’t finish developing until you’re 25 yeah.
Mark Hyman: That’s why we don’t rent cars to kids that are under 25 years old.
Tom Bilyeu: Exactly. And it’s not like it’s more complicated biological material. It’s the same, but it allows you to soak up your environment and learn and figure out, okay, in this environment these are the values, the norms, the beliefs, the way that you act here. Because it could be different based on time, based on circumstance, whatever. So humans are designed to be malleable. Now again, we’re not blank slates. This is not like you can become anything you want like it is. You have a certain amount that’s hardwired and then you have a certain amount that’s malleable and if you focus on the amount that’s malleable, the amount that you can change your life is so extraordinary. So whether you can-
Mark Hyman: You can give an example of how it’s played out.
Tom Bilyeu: The example of how it’s played out in my own life is I don’t have any entrepreneurial instincts whatsoever. So I am not a born entrepreneur. And the whole like are entrepreneurs born or made as a debate is hysterical.
Mark Hyman: You created $1 billion company.
Tom Bilyeu: Exactly. So it’s like, I don’t know what else has to be true in my life for people to realize. I was so bad at being an entrepreneur that I’m so as a kid I had a newspaper route and I didn’t collect half the money because I was too afraid to knock on people’s doors. So you get stories of people who rip the flowers out of somebody’s front yard and sell them back to… I was not that kid. And yet I realized, Oh, there are principles of entrepreneurship. I can learn them. And a lot of this stuff is teachable.
Tom Bilyeu: Look, maybe it was harder for me to learn than most people. Maybe this is, some people really would have an easier time. I don’t doubt that. And I’ll say that verbal ability comes easier to me. So every ounce of energy I put into getting better verbally has paid dividends. So the way I’ve always thought of it is I get, let’s say a 1.3X return on my verbal. And so for me, I’ve been practicing speech and debate and all of that since I was 12. So I am the result of not 10,000 hours, not even 20,000 hours. At this point. It’s got to be 30-40,000 hours. I used to stand in front of the mirror with a hairbrush, wanted to be a standup comic. I’ve put in the time and the energy. I did speech and debate all through middle school and high school. So it’s like-
Mark Hyman: That’s great.
Tom Bilyeu: What I want people to see in that is that you can put deliberate practice into any area. Now if you can find areas where you get a disproportionate return, amazing. But if not, don’t worry about it. If it’s something that your goals demand, then you’re going to have to learn that thing.
Mark Hyman: So why do we all have this poverty mindset? Why is it so common?
Tom Bilyeu: Well, it really to me comes down to-
Mark Hyman: I mean the food I get… Because we’re all obese, and it’s the food environment, but what about the mindset? How does that become such a poverty mindset for so many millions of people?
Tom Bilyeu: There one, I think it is to keep you alive. The brain is going to make sure that you don’t get yourself ostracized from the group so you don’t… The brain isn’t designed to maximize your status in the group. It is designed to keep you alive. So doing things like pushing yourself, holding yourself to a high standard, taking risks, learning from the failures for a long time, that was a high risk endeavor because if you didn’t understand how you fit into the group, you alienated yourself. Let’s say you were on a ship and they’re like, “Yep, forget this guy, we’re leaving him on this desert Island.” It could quite literally mean death. Or if you were in the tribe and they kicked you out, you were getting eaten by a lion. So-
Mark Hyman: You’re dead.
Tom Bilyeu: There’s a reason-
Mark Hyman: We’re social beings.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, for sure. There’s a reason from an evolutionary standpoint to have that be high stakes, but in a modern context, it becomes a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset. So Carol Dweck has a brilliant book on the subject called Mindset, and she said, “With all the good intentions in the world, when you do something well, people are going to reinforce the behavior as if it were something based on an innate trait.” So if you get good grades, your parents are like, you’re so smart, look how clever you are. And the worst part is that feels amazing, but it builds in this fragility of what happens when I encounter something that I don’t understand.
Tom Bilyeu: So then you try to hide from it and you try to always do things that are easier for you. So she said better to praise the process. So instead of saying, “Hey, you’re so smart,” you say, “Wow, you must have worked really hard to get grades this good.” So it’s a fundamental belief pattern around whether you’re born with intelligence and talents and they’re fixed or whether no, no, no. We all have some talent and intelligence, but they’re actually malleable and you can improve them all.
Mark Hyman: The problem is most of the way we grow up, we’re getting the wrong messages or teachers, from our parents, from our environment.
Tom Bilyeu: Correct. And then your brain kicks in and you’ve got… You hear different numbers. But I don’t think anybody thinks that there’s less than a one in five ratio. So for every one negative thing I say to you, I’m going to have to say five positive things to balance it out. I heard a study that said one in 17 so it’s like we all get it. One painful, you’re not good enough, comment is really hard to overcome with a lot of you are good enough.
Tom Bilyeu: So the mind goes to these survival mechanisms to keep you alive, which I’ll say oftentimes means keeping you small. If you don’t take it seriously, that people think that you’re doing something wrong and if you don’t back off, there were times where that would have been deadly. Now you just get in these negative loops, you get in a negative loop and people have taught you that, Hey, it’s just what you’re born with and you get this like death spiral of this is who I am and I’m never going to be any better. And so you don’t have what I call the only belief that matters. The only belief that matters-
Mark Hyman: Which is?
Tom Bilyeu: Is that you can improve. That’s it. So it’s like if somebody goes-
Mark Hyman: It’s pretty simple.
Tom Bilyeu: It is deadly simple and it’s why it’s the only belief that matters. Because if you don’t think you can improve, why would you put in the effort to get better? Because if you believe that you will get nothing out of that, there really is no point to putting in the time and the energy to improve. Whereas if you believe, Whoa, the time and energy that I put into getting better, I’ll actually be rewarded with skills. And as a doctor, you’re going to understand this immediately, but this is one thing that I think people really struggle to understand. They think that skills are about checking a box or pleasing your parents.
Tom Bilyeu: Skills are about, in the case of a doctor being able to save somebody’s life, going from C. Diff and thinking, Whoa, I’m actually going to die from this to, no, no, no. I understand this well enough. I have a skillset that allows me to figure this out and now I can reverse all of that. So skills are insanely powerful. But people think about reading a book as being able to say, Oh, I read the book. It’s not about that. It’s about being able to say, I can now employ this skill in my life in a way that shapes the world around me.
Mark Hyman: So how do people get powerful like that? Because you seem to be kind of a unicorn, but you’re saying that no, this is something that everybody can get to.
Tom Bilyeu: One age of imprinting matters. So this goes back to-
Mark Hyman: But if you have a shitty child, can you overcome that?
Tom Bilyeu: You can men. But it’s really hard, dude. So this is why this really bothers me. So as somebody who’s thinking about… And I’ll just tell you what I’ve gone through. So we started this company and we were going to make film and TV for adults and that was it. Why? Because I’m an adult and those are the stories that I’m most into. And so I know I can passionately impact there. I can passionately lead this team to tell some of the greatest stories and I really think for whatever people think, my skill set is, the thing I think I am greatest at in the world is storytelling.
Tom Bilyeu: So I was like, dude, I can tell stories that will really change people’s lives. It’s going to be amazing and we’re going to… Just for adults. That’s the population that needs it most are the ones that have been struggling. They’re overweight, they feel lost and hopeless. Kids still have all their hope. And so I was like, “I’ll deal with adults.” And I had heard this interview by this guy, Geoffrey Canada, super smart guy, grows up in Harlem at the height of the just crack epidemic.
Tom Bilyeu: I mean just at a bad time to be growing up in Harlem. And he was like, “The education system is broken and I’m going to go to Harvard, get a full ride scholarship, I’m going to get a Degree in Education, I’m going to come back and I’m going to fix education system.” Goes, gets his degree, gets the full ride, everything comes back spends, if I remember right, don’t quote me on this, but like 20 years or something absurd in the school system and realizes, yeah, this is broken. There’s no way to fix it from the inside.
Tom Bilyeu: So I’m going to disrupt it from the outside and is key learning. You have to give up on adults. He was like, you have to focus on kids. So we became obsessed with women who are pregnant or about to become pregnant because he said the biggest differential between somebody that grows up in the inner cities and somebody that grows up in middle class America is the number of positive words they hear by the age of five.
Tom Bilyeu: And he said that if you do that, the language centers in your brain developed so much more robustly that you’re able to articulate yourself far better. And that ends up being this huge predictor in your success. And so he said in the inner cities, kids hear about 2 million words by the time they’re five and they’re 70% negative and 20% positive.
Mark Hyman: 70% negative of 2 million words. That’s a lot of negative words and no, don’t stop.
Tom Bilyeu: Correct.
Mark Hyman: Right.
Tom Bilyeu: And then kids growing up in middle-class, they hear a flipped ratio. So it’s 70% positive, 30% negative, and they hear about 5 million words. So his whole obsession became getting parents to read to their kids and understanding that the ratio of positive to negative matters. And I was just like, Oh my God, I so don’t want that to be true.
Mark Hyman: It is brilliant.
Tom Bilyeu: It is brilliant, but it’s terrifying when you think about all the people that you want to help. And it’s like how much can you change? So here’s how I think of it. So originally we were doing all adult material and I’m researching how to actually… So if you look at the 25 highest grossing media properties of all time, the overwhelming majority of them are aimed at kids. Why? Because it becomes a part of your soul. Exactly. And so your eight you imprint on kids hard and then they love it even when they’re older.
Tom Bilyeu: So now if kids today watched the films that I grew up on, they’d probably think they were pretty cheesy, but I thought they were unbelievably good as a kid and they are still part of something that I love. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger films, John Claude Van Damme film, Steven Seagal, Oh my God, like all male fantasy stuff that I just absolutely loved and they still make a core part of my identity. So I just realized, okay, I’m not giving up on adults. I love that too much, and the people that do want the change, the people that are willing to put in the work because it’s not impossible. You can, your brain is making new neurons no matter what anybody tells you.
Mark Hyman: I do think people can shift. I think if you choose to.
Tom Bilyeu: 100%.
Mark Hyman: Again part of the problem is people don’t believe they can.
Tom Bilyeu: They only belief that matters.
Mark Hyman: Yeah. So you talk about the only thing that matters to you in life and how you realize it wasn’t money.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah.
Mark Hyman: What is that?
Tom Bilyeu: Fulfillment. There is nothing else.
Mark Hyman: What is fulfillment and what does it mean?
Tom Bilyeu: Fulfillment is very specifically… Anybody listening to this, get out a piece of paper and a pen. Write this down. This will change your life if you let it. Fulfillment is developing a set of skills that matter to you. You have some personal reason to care about that set of skills. They’re hard to acquire and they allow you to serve not only yourself but other people.
Mark Hyman: Yeah, I saw this really cool thing you had on Instagram, which was if you want to be an influencer, put down your camera, go find something you’re passionate about, spend 10 years studying it and becoming the best in the world and then pick up your camera and tell the story to everyone so that their jaw drops on the floor when they hear it.
Tom Bilyeu: Dude you nailed it. You literally gave me the chills. So it’s like that is it. If you want to be an influencer, first of all, let me tell you, your job is to lead people in awe. The only way you’re going to lead people in awe, it’d be so good at something that they can’t fathom that a human being could get that good. And so that is…
Mark Hyman: It’s a lot of hard work.
Tom Bilyeu: It’s a lot of hard work and that’s why I want people to focus on fulfillment so people know this intuitively. What I’m about to say is going to cut to the heart of every single human being listening to this because they will recognize the truth of it instantly. The only thing that matters in terms of the human experience, the only thing that matters. How do you feel about yourself when you’re by yourself? There’s no one there to hype you up. How do you feel about yourself? Do you think you’re doing rad shit?
Tom Bilyeu: Do you think that you matter? And if you don’t, if you think you’re worthless, you will feel terribly. This is what happens is why people commit suicide. They get into a loop, which the microbiome plays a huge role in, but they get into a loop about I’m worthless. I’m no good. I’m never going to feel good. I’m stuck in this depression. It’s going to be forever. I’ve tried everything and just even if they’re willing to accept that neurochemically this just sucks. But it sucks so much that I don’t want to keep living like this. And until you understand, that’s all that matters. I could give you all the money in the world. So here’s the great news.
Mark Hyman: I met a lot of very miserable wealthy people.
Tom Bilyeu: Dude, and let me tell you why. So Lisa and I, we got wealthy in a really awesome way in that it was normal bank account, normal bank account, normal bank account. Even though we were worth hundreds of millions of dollars on paper, we had a normal bank account. And then in an instant, I’m not joking, I’m holding my phone and I’m hitting refresh on my banking app. In an instant, we go from normal to a lot of commas and zeros, because we took investment in the company. And so it was this moment of liquidity and yep, it happens like that. It wasn’t like, Oh, I started making more and more and more and more and more and more.
Mark Hyman: You went from driving a 200 to driving a Bentley.
Tom Bilyeu: Correct. So it was so awesome because in that moment I realized, Oh my God, I’m now in like not the 1% the half of a percent. I mean, it’s just crazy. And I thought, okay, this is surreal because I don’t feel any differently. And so every insecurity that I had before I was wealthy, I still have, and all of the things that I believe to be powerful about myself are not changed by the fact that I have money and they weren’t changed when I didn’t have money, because you have to become a certain kind of person to succeed at the highest levels in anything. It doesn’t need to be something related to money.
Mark Hyman: Right.
Tom Bilyeu: To succeed at something, you have to develop an insane amount of discipline. You have to develop work ethic. You have to push yourself. You have to become antifragile. You have to be willing to take on criticism.
Mark Hyman: Antifragile I love that.
Tom Bilyeu: That is a whole concept that seem-
Mark Hyman: There’s a friend of mine, Vishen Lakhiani, who borrowed this terms called unfuckwithable. And he explained it is when someone praises you, you say thank you, but it doesn’t really matter. When someone criticizes you, you go, thank you. Maybe there’s something in there, but it doesn’t really matter. And without knowing it, I have cultivated that since I was 18 because I had a moment where I was being devastated by the criticism around me, by random people, by mean teenagers.
Mark Hyman: And I had a choice. Either I was going to become unfuckwithable or I was going to be miserable and I chose the former and it allowed me to be free and do things and push the envelope in ways that I never would have done. So I’m not afraid of anything really. If I believe in something, if I see what’s true, if I’m taking on the food industry, I’m taking on the healthcare industry. I know in my deepest heart, in my mind, and through all the experience I’ve had, that this model of thinking about health and wellbeing is scientifically true, is valid.
Mark Hyman: I’ve validated through 30 years of experience and I don’t care when people call me a quack. I mean, if you look me up online, you wouldn’t come near me because you find me on quack Buster, science-based blogs with massive levels and it doesn’t impact me in any way because I know what I know and I know what’s true.
Tom Bilyeu: Yes. And then I’ll even add to that, and I’ll say that I’m going to guess that you’re also super open. If something comes along that’s even better, more efficient, you’d be like, I’m taking that on.
Mark Hyman: 100%. I was vegan, vegetarian now. I’m open to change and finding out what’s true. I’m not attached to any ideology. I’m agnostic when it comes to anything and just want to know what’s really true and just super curious.
Tom Bilyeu: I hope people are listening to you on that one. What is true. If that becomes your obsession. Now look, I’ve talked at length about the power of self-delusion, which is also a powerful tool, but in terms of the outside world, figuring out what is real, what is true, it should be people’s obsession.
Mark Hyman: Yeah. It’s tough. Yeah. So last question. You sort of touched on your marriage and you know many successful guys and women, their marriage was fall apart and they chased the money dream, they grabbed the brass ring and their life is shit and somehow you’ve avoided that and you met your wife when you were 24 and she was 21 and I just saw you together. I could see the sparks flying and the love and the way you talk about her and the quality of your connection. How do you do that after 20 something years?
Tom Bilyeu: Man, this to me there are, going back to your point, what is true? What actually makes for a good marriage? A good relationship. This is going to be a weird answer, but this is actually the chain of events that happened. So I didn’t have game when I was young. I was terrible with women and-
Mark Hyman: I never asked anybody on a date. I was always too nervous.
Tom Bilyeu: Oh God, you and I both. So my mum gave me a tremendous piece of advice and it just echoed through my head and it, it changed my research patterns is the honest answer. So my mum said, “Look guys have the wrong idea about women. If you want to make a woman orgasm, it’s all about trust. And I was like, what? For a 14 year old boy-
Mark Hyman: Your mum told you that?
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah.
Mark Hyman: For a mum to say orgasm toward 14 year old son. That’s a big, big…
Tom Bilyeu: My mom was bad. Yeah, my mom was-
Mark Hyman: That’s amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard my mother say the word orgasm.
Tom Bilyeu: Yes. So she gave that to me and I was just like, huh, that does not jibe with how I think about sex as a kid. Now I was-
Mark Hyman: A women biggest sex organ is between their ears.
Tom Bilyeu: Dude. That is the truest thing ever. I mean, the same is true I guess for guys, but it’s like we, we go for very different things. So my mum’s saying it was about trust. I was like, wow, that definitely is not true for me. So I’m super intrigued by that idea. So I started reading Cosmo Magazine.
Mark Hyman: Oh wow.
Tom Bilyeu: And I thought, I want to because it showed me that women are thinking in a way that is so foreign to the way that I think that it just seemed like a smart idea. So I started reading about that and really start thinking about relationships and communication and it’s-
Mark Hyman: This is going back to your ’20s.
Tom Bilyeu: No, this was in my teens.
Mark Hyman: Your teens? Reading the Cosmos at your teens.
Tom Bilyeu: Now the bad news is it’s not going to get you laid as much as I hoped it would because they’re coming at relationships from the communication and all of that. But it’s far more complicated in that we don’t have to get into that now. So I was coming at it from what ended up being very powerful in my marriage. Now I later had to learn how to approach it with a more masculine energy. And when I finally married the two, that’s how I was able to attract my wife and then keep my wife.
Tom Bilyeu: So realizing that, okay, their communication is going to be huge, and all of this. I studied a lot of Eastern Philosophy and like the notion of being true to yourself and understanding that all of your mind is neurochemistry and just getting all of that, we developed tools and techniques that would allow us to stay on fire for each other. I knew that from a neurochemical standpoint, you pass through all these different phases and a lot of this came from reading about the brain.
Mark Hyman: What are those tools ant technics?
Tom Bilyeu: Well, you actually can’t tell the difference between, I’ll get to the tool and technique, but first people need to understand that this is going to happen. So being able to predict the phases of a relationship meant that I could inoculate myself from the negative effects. So I knew that the beginning of a relationship that like fiery passion, love, like all of that, you can’t tell the difference between somebody who is on cocaine and somebody who’s thinking about the person they love. They light up the same dopamine centers and all that crazy.
Mark Hyman: Absolutely.
Tom Bilyeu: So I thought, okay, that’s interesting. But then that ends up changing. Now people who just crave that drug like effect and they basically have that sort of addictive loop in their mind. They will get into relationships and then when that dies off they break up and they’d go for that next high and break up and the next time break up. And so I thought, okay, I don’t want to be in that cycle. So I know that this is going to change. So literally in the beginning of our relationship when we’re in that like drug-like phase.
Tom Bilyeu: I’m saying, “Hey, I want to be really clear, this is not going to last forever and this is going to start to feel very differently.” And so we need to understand, we need to invest in pair bonding, we need to do things that trigger oxytocin and things like that and understand that holding each other releases oxytocin. Vasopressin like trust and like there’s this whole other cocktail of neurochemistry and if we can understand it and do things to promote that, then we can begin to re conceptualize what this is. And then also we need to make sure that sex is a priority and keep that on fire.
Tom Bilyeu: And then every time that you have the impulse to criticize, instead compliment. Make the compliments real. And so what it does is like, especially in the early part of the relationship, you just learning to live with somebody and they’re doing something you think is stupid and you go to say something instead of saying that, say, what is it about this person? I really love that. I’m just like absolutely on fire for, and it’s like, man, when you did that thing for it.
Tom Bilyeu: So my impulse is like, why are you doing X, Y, Z ? But instead of saying that I shift my mind to something that’s real, that’s honest. I focus on that. I say it out loud, compliment. And then just being like ridiculously open and honest. So like early in our relationship, I think it might’ve even been on our first date, I said, “Look, we’re both going to find other people attractive. Such is the nature of being a human animal.”
Tom Bilyeu: And I said, women value one thing, guys value another. I’m never going to ask you to lie that you don’t think somebody was six pack abs because at the time I did not have them. I’m never going to ask you to say that somebody was six pack abs isn’t attractive. Don’t get pissed off with me if I think that another woman is attractive. But I said I’ll make you this promise. Not only do I love you, not only am I passionate about you, not only do I have all this respect for you, but I’m committed to you. And so I’m not going to be looking for the next hottest girl.
Tom Bilyeu: I’m not going to get rich one day because this is all when I’m broke. I’m not going to get rich one day and then trade you in for some hotter version of you. To me the sexiest thing in the world is shared experience and for us to have shared a life together. And so I said, “Look, you’re going to get less attractive as the years go by. That’s the nature.” And-
Mark Hyman: I saw her. I don’t think so. I would disagree.
Tom Bilyeu: No, she’s beautiful. She is absolutely beautiful.
Mark Hyman: But if you wait 40 or 50 years.
Tom Bilyeu: Right. So, and that’s what I said, like it may not happen when you’re 40 but it is going to happen when you’re 85 like no one is going to say, “Oh, you’re more beautiful now.” I mean, look, you could, but it’s like you’re certainly not taking measures of beauty. And the reason I never wanted to plant that seed is because she’ll be insecure about that. If I’m saying, “No, you’re more beautiful than you were when you were 30.” It’s like she’s going to know that’s BS.
Tom Bilyeu: So what I’m saying is, dude, yes, like the physical body, you’re going to turn into a bag of wrinkles and I don’t give a shit. I’m not in it for that. And when you understand that, that is the God’s honest truth, it is not that I don’t have impulses that, that I suddenly, like I said, I’m never going to say the phrase, I only have eyes for you. I will say you’re the only person on the face of the planet that I want to share my life with.
Tom Bilyeu: I’m going to give you my everything. You are my soul mate. We are in this shit together. I want to do this. The good, the bad, the ugly, the indifferent, the ups, the downs. I want to share this with you. Not somebody who looks like you or sounds like you, you and so, but the reason that you know that, that’s true is because I’m not going to bullshit you. I’m not going to tell you fake things.
Mark Hyman: Honesty, making sure you stay connected, making sure you stay intimate, figuring out how to keep your sex life sexy and alive.
Tom Bilyeu: No question. And so I said, because I’m only ever going to tell you the truth when I say like, “Dude, I am still on fire for you.” I still find you so sexy. And you’re looking at yourself going, “Oh, I’ve had kids or my boobs aren’t what they used to be or whatever.” You’re going to know, “Hey, I’ve never lied to you.” Every time that I thought you looked bad or whatever I told you if that those pants made you look fat, I fed the fat. And like, and that has caused momentary friction in my marriage. But this longterm sense of trust and stability, that’s fucking crazy.
Mark Hyman: That’s interesting. I had dinner with Mark Manson the other night who wrote the subtle art of not giving a fuck. And his whole thing is about honesty. And I met his wife and we talked about how they met and she was just shocked by his level of honesty. And we often think, we can’t tell the truth or I’ve tell white lies or we have to not be fully disclosed about how we feel. And you can do it in a way that’s not mean. It’s not insulting. That’s not hurtful. But that’s actually very honest and clear and direct. And I think all of us crave that. And if you have a safe space and a relationship to do that, it’s pretty much everything.
Tom Bilyeu: For sure. And then I would advise everybody to have a rule that you make your North star, that your partner should feel better when they’re around you, about themselves than they do when they’re not with you. And lifting each other up and supporting each other. Dude, that goes so far.
Mark Hyman: It’s so true. I mean, I noticed that for me as I took me a few times to get it right, but I wasn’t as good as you. I always was thinking about what I would get out of the relationship. Now I don’t think that at all. I think about how can I elevate my wife? How can I support her? How can I love her better? What does she need? What’s going to make her happy? Even if it’s like going to the grocery store and she loves cats and cat socks. I buy her a pair of kitty socks and I can buy her like kitty socks every day and she’d be elated and happy as if I bought her a diamond ring. And I think it’s just those little things that make a difference. And…
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, it’s that intent. The intent is your thinking about her and lifting her up and what you can do and she feels that intent. And that is so nice. And one thing I love about your approach to health is you’re so aware of the need for human connection and how important that is. Your overall health-
Mark Hyman: Love is medicine, man. Love is medicine.
Tom Bilyeu: Dude, it’s crazy and people hear woo in that because I’m like the most anti woo guy you’re ever going to meet in your life. I will just say this, if you put a baby monkey in a cage with a wire monkey coated in fur and it has no food and then a wire monkey with no fur but it has food, the baby monkey will run over, grab the food and then dash back over to the monkey with fur because there’s something so comforting about that. So if you don’t touch a baby, it will die. That seems insane to me. That seems like one of those. Yeah, right. That’s actually true is so crazy. Anyway…
Mark Hyman: Touch deficit. Connection deficit. It really is real and I think we are social beings. IA Wilson wrote a book called the social conquest of the earth, which is about how most animal species need, like you said, tribe to survive. And if you’re cast out, you’re dead. And I think all of us are wired that way. And even being of service to others, you said like sort of cocaine lights up the air of your brain and love sodas that it’s the same area of your brain that gets lit up when you’re in connection to others and in service.
Mark Hyman: And that’s what we found in healthcare with the work I did with this church. We got people together in groups doing things to support each other. They didn’t have any medical training. This church, the 15,000 people lost a quarter million pounds in a year. Their health transform, they ended up not having to go to the hospital and got off of medications, cured their migraines, asthma, depression, autoimmune disease, you name it. It was really stunning to see. And I was like, wow, we basically can love each other. Well, I call it the love diet.
Tom Bilyeu: Dude. Sign me up.
Mark Hyman: Love diet. Well, Tom, this has been a fantastic conversation. You’re real inspiration. I think the idea that we had these two pandemics. The pandemic of obesity and disease and the pandemic of a poverty mindset, which are, I think connected, really-
Tom Bilyeu: Truly connected at a biological level. Understand your microbiome, all that like neurochemistry. Yeah, big time.
Mark Hyman: Yeah, and it’s just beautiful to hear someone who’s basically looked at their life and said, “What can I do to serve others in a way that helps them be empowered, to actually be fulfilled, to find their passion, to be a contribution in the world?” I mean, that is a beautiful thing. You could be sailing around the world on your yacht right now, but you’re sitting here doing this, which is just amazing work and impacting millions of people. So thank you Tom, for being in The Doctor’s Farmacy.
Tom Bilyeu: Thanks for having me.
Mark Hyman: All right. You’ve been listening to Doctors Farmacy. If you love this podcast, please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you. Share with your friends and family and we’ll see you next time on The Doctor’s Farmacy. Hi everyone. It’s Dr. Mark Hyman. So two quick things. Number one, thanks so much for listening to this week’s podcast. It really means a lot to me. If you love the podcast, I really appreciate you sharing with your friends and family.
Mark Hyman: Second, I want to tell you about a brand new newsletter I started called Mark’s Picks. Every week I’m going to send out a list of a few things that I’ve been using. Take my own health. The next level. This could be books, podcasts, research that I found, supplement recommendations, recipes, or even gadgets. And I use a few of those. And if you’d like to get access to this free weekly list, all you have to do is visit drhyman.com/picks that’s drhyman.com/picks. I’ll only email you once a week, I promise, and I’ll never send you anything else besides my own recommendations. So just go to drhyman.com/picks that’s P-I-C-K-S to sign up free today.