old guard (n.) - "the original or long-standing members of a group or party, especially ones who are unwilling to accept change or new ideas."
Last week Bodbox gave a chat to a statistics course at Harvard about the world's first intelligent robotic trainer and why divergences from the mean are so critical - full video en route soon.
Sitting on the floor of my Berkeley apartment with an ethernet cable stretched the length of the tiny room, I would not have believed my life could transform so fast.
If you had told me I'd be giving talks at both Stanford and Harvard about a robotic trainer based on open cv I would have burst out in laughter. It's not that I didn't want to build this sort of impact but more that I had never seen the path or felt capable. I believe a lot of us struggle with this battle between pursuing what we actually want with complete focus and getting stuck in a common role of making excuses based in part on what we subconsciously believe others think we're capable of accomplishing. If everyone followed the second path, we'd never have outliers.
And deviations from the mean are what fuel the Bodbox patent pending training engine. Frankly, I was crushed by the outcome of Olympic trials and I needed something to put the same amount of energy and focus behind. I had gone into full coping/creative mode, rarely answering my phone even from family calls - all I wanted to do was create some sort of value where I saw mine taken away. Who was I and why did I just dedicated seventeen years of my life to something that didn't work? Startups are hard. But they're actually more likely to work than someone is to qualify for one of the two swimming spots on the Olympic team. Riddle me that.
Sean Mahoney, a good friend and current roommate, nearly banged down my door one day when I was deep in the heat of creation, selling Caffeine 2016 satirical coffee relentlessly. I could've stayed on my email all day, selling:
"I'm training you. You need structure. Tomorrow morning. 5:30. White Camaro on the corner of Telegraph and Dwight"
He slammed the door on me and it was my place - deviations from the mean.
Honestly I'm not sure if I was confused or inspired but I met Sean on the corner outside my place the next morning bright and early (after about two hours of sleep). But two hours of swimming and shadow boxing later, my demons somehow felt controlled. I was freed and clear to go back to the lab and build something valuable without distraction. Energy can be harnessed by structure.
I needed this structure and it's beautiful to me that as I continued to create and search for a place to provide some sort of value, I built the very service Sean provided for me as a life long friend. He provided me workouts, watched them, gave me feedback, and forced me to clean up my diet real quick. I'm not sure if he realized how helpful he was to my process as an athlete and entrepreneur and I'm still not sure what or who pushed him to come bang down my door.
To provide a service like Sean did at scale greater than 30 or so clients or athletes, there had to be an intelligent manner better than a simple app or online coach. There had to be something concrete, data driven - something that understood how the best athletes in the world worked and could apply it to anyone (even them) in order to give people the same freedom I experienced. Even if it was simple and watched and optimized a few of my movements, I understood immediately that the impact would be massively freeing.
Sean walked into my place a week after he had so perfectly interrupted my creative flow and his jaw dropped. What looked like a tornado of computer components, cables, and cords had been reborn into a single, self contained box. Thus the bodbox was born.
I used it to start optimizing my squats the next day. Could it tell me how many squats to do based on data from the best in the world? Yes. To train myself more optimally based on who I was and who I wanted to become felt overwhelmingly inspiring. And even if Sean was away, the Bodbox was there next to me at the rack. Always. And it wanted me to be the deviation from the mean. It could actually compare me to that deviation to decide what to text me as feedback (or squat rep counts in my case).
That's why the Bodbox matters. It (and Sean) showed me very clearly how not qualifying for the Olympic team was the single greatest thing that had happened in my life thus far. It directly sparked an understanding that pursing goals relentlessly in hopes of being the outlier you envision yourself is far and away the most rewarding way to move through life. With purpose, with focus, with a goal, and with a self determined fate.
"Impossible" in sports or business is very simply the outliers being discussed in Professor Parzen's statistics course. There is a process to becoming that deviation but we have to make an active and at times misunderstood or ridiculed decision to move in that direction.
Thank you early adopters for recognizing the importance of what we've built so far and where we're headed.
Chuck + the robot
Chance. Well, chance the rapper. At least that's the short answer. The long answer is a little more complicated. And it began with a GQ article called "How Chance's life became perfect" - it's funny how such a sad situation could make for such a beautiful opportunity. And how such a negative aspect of his life could have such a positive impact on mine. And on our company's, for that matter.
I never listened to Chance's latest album until after I had to kill a few minutes waiting for a meeting and happened to read through the aforementioned article. This was the week after Olympic Trials and the world didn't seem to hold the same brightness as before. In fact, it was clouded with darkness. And it most definitely didn't have a pinkish red-orange #ff6a71 hue.
Chance refused deals from most major record labels. Why? "He wanted to do it his way". He would rather sell merchandise and give his music away for free than go the normal path. "Who gets inspired by the normal path?" Some people, no doubt. And that's a viable option for many lives. "But how many are intrigued by that one sheep that runs the opposite direction?" Everyone. And that isn't dependent on some measurement of "success" - people watch that one no matter what.
"I don't really celebrate the wins. I don't sulk over the negative. I just keep it moving'" - Drake
Well. This is the coolest feeling. What began as an idea and months of sleepless nights, obsession, passion, coding, building, thinking, learning, and exploring is no longer just an idea. It's real. And every other item on that list is just as present now as when I set out, if not more.
I will continue pouring every ounce of energy I had been previously using in pursuit of my Olympic goal into coding, building, and fine tuning the Bodbox's software and hardware until I am 100% confident that it will alter the way you live your life and help you level up while feeling great in the process. Forgetting to eat and sleep because of this idea made clear to me it won't stop there either.
You deserve to know how great you are and the robot knows how to get you there. I am not celebrating or looking to be inspirational at this point but rather am cognizant that this is only the first minuscule step on a relentless and perfection seeking path upon which the company has embarked (1:11 AM here in Berkeley and back to coding after this email gets out).
The checkout clerk cleared her throat. “I’m sorry, ma'am. That card didn’t work."
She looked up from behind the cash register and feigned a smile. She was acknowledging the fact that this was the third card she had tried, while still trying to avoid an awkward situation.
That’s when Joanne started to cry
"I just believe that the feeling of wonder is amazing. I am pushing myself as far as I can humanly push myself... I can only hope for the best and expect the worse." -David Blaine