Marty Cooper (Twitter: @MartyMobile) is the inventor of the cell phone, a TIME Magazine Top 100 Inventor in History, a Wireless Hall of Fame inductee, a Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering and Marconi Prize winner and chair of the business advisory team at Owaves. We are honored to speak to Marty as he launches his first and only book detailing the invention of the cell phone during his years at Motorola, and to discuss where he sees the future of wireless technology heading. Joining Marty for this discussion are the Founder and CEO of Owaves, Royan Kamyar, M.D., MBA; Senior Director of Community at Owaves, Lauren Serpico, Ph.D., CPT; and Elaine Fang, M.S. candidate at the London School of Economics. ~ With gratitude to Marty for this wonderful interview, from the whole Owaves team!
Show Notes & References:
00:00-07:25 ~ A Retrospective Introduction
Reference: The Cell Phone: Marty Cooper’s Big Idea, 60 Minutes, 5.21.10
07:26-12:15 ~ Glimpse of the Future
- Marty is Owaves’ Chairman of the Business Advisory team.
Reference: Owaves team page
- Life has evolved on earth for almost 4 billion years
Reference: Early Life on Earth — Animal Origins, Smithsonian Institute
- The first humans are believed to be over 6 million years old.
Reference: Introduction to Human Evolution, Smithsonian Institute
- “I think we have an amazing opportunity to use the data that comes from the cell phones that we carry with us, to understand what it takes to live an appropriate life.”
- “I think that’s what Owaves is all about. What is the fundamental nature of a human being?… The human body/being is the result of a billion years of evolution. If we don’t take all the inherent aspects of evolution into account as we live, we live a less complete life.”
- “I’m enchanted by the opportunities for data analytics. Just think about how much we could learn about a person, if we measured virtually everything that is happening to you in life, in a way that doesn’t intrude in your privacy. Wow, is that an important, and difficult problem… But if you could take all that data, and just analyze the data, think about what you’ll learn about what it is appropriate to have a full and complete life that is consistent with evolution!”
- Wellness tip: Go Hiking!!
- Over 35 million older adults fall each year in the United States, according to the CDC.
- 1 out of 4 older adults will fall each year, making falls a major public health concern.
Reference: Fall risk statistics from CDC
- Apple Watch introduced fall detection with the Series 4 in fall of 2018.
- “It’s interesting, identifying a fall may seem like a straightforward problem but it requires a tremendous amount of data and analysis,” Apple COO Jeff Williams said at the time. “We collected data on thousands of people and captured data on real-world falls.”
- Specifically, the company worked with a combination of movement disorder clinics and friends and families of employees to collect 250,000 days worth of data on 2,500 people before launching the feature, according to Apple.
- “When you trip, your body will naturally pitch forward and your arms will go forward to brace yourself,” Williams said at the event last year. “However, if you slip, there’s a natural upward motion in the arms. These are motions Series 4 is ideally suited to recognize. With a new accelerator and gyroscope, the Watch analyzes wrist trajectory and impact acceleration to determine when a fall occurs.”
- As fall detection is moving forward into new territory, the holy grail of fall prevention still remains out of reach. But in a world of artificial intelligence and big data, it’s not out of sight. As devices like the ones described above collect more and more data on what telltale signs precede falls, many believe we’re moving to the point where a device could intervene somehow and prevent a fall from happening. Fabry thinks a hearing aid could accomplish this by offering a warning or even coaching in the moment.
- Apple declined to comment on whether it was looking into prevention. But the company would be at a disadvantage in some ways because of the hard line it’s taken on data privacy. Apple isn’t collecting any kind of training data from its fall detection features, even in aggregate, the company said. It’s all stored locally, for the benefit of that particular user and, if they choose to share the data, their caregiver.
Reference: How fall detection is moving beyond the pendant, MobiHealthNews, 4.19.19
- This year, Apple introduced a number of mobility updates, including: walking speed, step length and walking asymmetry
12:16-20:38 ~ The Invention of the Cell Phone
- 64% of the world owns a cell phone. There are 5 billion cell phone users worldwide. Our current world population is estimated at 7.8 billion.
Reference: Number of mobile phone users worldwide from 2015 to 2020, Statista
- Experts estimate 4.2 billion people worldwide own a toothbrush.
Reference: Benson, Chris. Cell Phones and Toothbrushes: Technology in the Orthodontic Practice. The Progressive Orthodontist.
- About 3.3 billion people own a toilet worldwide, according to UNICEF
Reference: Saving Lives, One Toilet at a Time, UNICEF USA
Reference: More Cell Phones than Toilets, World Bank Blogs, 4.12.10.
- Essence of a cell phone: 1) people like to communicate, and 2) they are inherently mobile!
- First personal computer was the Altair, developed in 1974.
Reference: Personal computer, Britannica
- Digital camera invented by Kodak in 1975.
Reference: Kodak’s First Digital Moment, New York Times, 8.12.15
- The world wide web became publicly available in 1991.
- The word “internet” was first coined in 1974 by government researchers
Reference: History of the Internet, Open Book Project
- Large-scale integrated circuits were not available until the mid-1970s
Reference: Digital computer, Britannica
- The Bell System was founded in 1877 and named after Alexander Graham Bell
- The term “monopoly” is often used to describe an entity that has total or near-total control of a market.
Reference: Monopoly, Investopedia
- In the 1960s, there were 60-80 million cars in the U.S.
Reference: The Cars of 1960 Explain Why Your Grandparents Drive Differently, Road and Track, 8.3.15
- Motorola was founded in 1928, and is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.
Reference: Motorola Milestones, Motorola
- In 2014, Supreme Court Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote cell phones are, “such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.”
Reference: Major Ruling Shields Privacy of Cellphones, New York Times, 6.25.14
- In the 1970s, there were 200-300 million registered cars worldwide.
Reference: Transportation Energy Data Book, Edition 38.2
- First handheld portable cell phone in April 1973.
- First commercial mobile phone in 1983, $10,000 USD equivalent today.
- At the end of 1998, there were more than 300 million cell phone subscribers worldwide, up from just 11 million in 1990.
Reference: World Telecommunication Development Report, October 1999, International Telecommunication Union
20:39-23:53 ~ Smartphone: Game or Tool?
- Pong was the first commercially successful video game created by Atari in 1972. It helped to establish the video game industry.
Reference: Pong, electronic game, Britannica
- Pac-Man was originally created and released in Japan in 1980
- Pac-Man is one of the highest-grossing and best-selling game series of all time, generating billions of dollars in revenue.
Reference: Why players around the world gobbled up Pac-Man, Smithsonian Magazine, 5.22.20
- The character of Pac-Man has the highest brand awareness of any video game character in North America.
- Douglas Engelbart was an Internet pioneer who invented the first computer mouse in 1964.
Reference: The History of the Computer Mouse, History-Computer.com
23:54-26:49 ~ The Cell Phone has Transformed Humanity
Reference: Reducing Poverty with Mobile Phones in Sub-Saharan Africa, The Borgen Project, 8.6.17.
Reference: Farmers Using Mobile Phones in the Fight Against Poverty and Hunger Across Africa, Development Education, 10.12.18.
Reference: Portable Eye Clinic in a Smartphone, MedicalNewsToday, 4.16.13.
Reference: Clarius: Portable Pocket Handheld Ultrasound Scanners, Clarius Mobile Health.
- “Reverse innovation” is any innovation that is adopted first in the developing world.
Reference: Reverse Innovation and the emerging market growth imperative, Ivey Business Journal, March 2012.
26:50-39:52 ~ Precision Communication
Reference: Economies of Scale, Investopedia
Reference: All of Us Research Program, Precision Medicine Initiative by the National Institutes of Health
- Dr. Francis Collins is the 16th Director of the National Institutes of Health and is credited with decoding the first full human genome in April 2003.
Reference: Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health
Reference: The Case for a US Prospective Cohort Study of Genes and Environment, Collins, F., Nature, 5.27.04
Reference: American College Health Association
Reference: You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish, TIME, 5.14.15
Reference: Bradbury, N. A. (2016). Attention span during lectures: 8 seconds, 10 minutes, or more? Advances in Physiology Education, 40(4), 509–513.
- The term “attention economy” was coined by psychologist, economist, and Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Simon.
Reference: Paying Attention: The Attention Economy, Berkeley Economic Review, 3.31.20
- The Center for Humane Technology published a documentary called The Social Dilemma on Netflix that covers this new social media trend.
Reference: The Social Dilemma, Netflix, 2020
- Cutting the Cord: The Cell Phone Has Transformed Humanity is Marty’s autobiography and shares his view of where the world is headed.
Pre-orders available on Amazon, due out Tuesday, January 5th!
- In 2019, according to Forbes, 62 million Americans listened to podcasts each week, up from 19 million in 2013.
Reference: Podcasting is Going Mainstream, Forbes, 11.18.19
- Podcast consumption on Spotify has doubled since the pandemic.
Reference: Spotify Podcast Consumption Doubles as Overall Listening Recovers, The Verge, 7.29.20
- Apple is projected to sell 82 million AirPod pairs this year, according to Bloomberg
- Seth Godin is the author of Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, a popular marketing book for entrepreneurs.
Reference: Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, by Seth Godin, 2003
- Lauren Serpico, Ph.D. is Owaves Senior Director of Community Development
- Lauren completed her Ph.D. on the intersection of social media and mindfulness
Reference: Link to Lauren’s thesis!
- The Clubhouse app describes itself as “drop-in audio chat”
Reference: Clubhouse app
- Marty has spoken at TEDxSanDiego, TEDxDelMar and TEDxUHasseltSalon
Reference: The Father of the Cell Phone: Martin Cooper, TEDxUHasseltSalon, Nov 12, 2013
Reference: Martin Cooper on the Big Picture Future – Wireless Technologies, TEDxDelMar, June 2, 2010
Reference: The Power of Wireless Social Networking – Martin Cooper, TEDxSanDiego, January 7, 2011
39:53-47:01 ~ COVID and the Wireless Revolutions
Reference: Cutting the Cord: The Cell Phone Has Transformed Humanity, Martin Cooper, January 2021
- Elaine Fang is UX Researcher at Owaves
- Elaine is completing a Master’s degree in psychology at the London School of Economics
- “Collaboration” is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “Working jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor”
Reference: Collaborate, Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Reference: The Dawn of Digital Medicine: The Pandemic is Ushering in the Next Trillion Dollar Industry, The Economist, 12.2.20
- U.S. health care spending grew 4.6 percent in 2019, reaching $3.8 trillion or $11,582 per person.
Reference: National Health Expenditure Data, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.7 percent.
- Zoom Video surged 658% year-to-date as the video chat software company saw a boom in business amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- On Thursday, October 29th, 2020, Zoom overtook Exxon Mobil in market valuation at $140 billion versus $137 billion
Reference: Zoom Overtakes Exxon Mobil in Market Value Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Business Insider, 10.29.20
- Only 1 out of 3 Americans successfully earns a college degree
Reference: U.S. Census Bureau Releases New Educational Attainment Data, United States Census Bureau, 3.30.20
47:02-1:02:42 ~ Crossing the Chasm
- In self-organizing systems, pattern formation occurs through interactions internal to the system, without intervention by external directing influences.
Reference: Self-organization, Scholarpedia, 2008
Reference: What is Self-organization?, Princeton University, 1977
- “#1 Objectivity”
- Robert William “Bob” Galvin was the son of the founder of Motorola, Paul Galvin, and served as the CEO of Motorola for nearly three decades.
Reference: Robert W. Gavin, Who Ushered Motorola Into the Modern Era, Dies at 89, New York Times, 10.12.11
Reference: The First Mobile Phone Call Was Made 40 Years Ago Today, The Atlantic, 4.3.13
- Nine Nobel Prizes have been awarded for work completed at Bell Laboratories.
- Discoveries from Bell Labs include: the transistor, the laser, information theory, the operating system Unix, the programming languages C and C++, and solar cells.
Reference: Bell Labs, History, Nokia
- The break-up of the Bell System was mandated by the US government in 1982, due to their monopoly on the telephone.
Reference: Bell System Breakup Opens Era of Great Expectations and Great Concern, New York Times, 1.1.84
- Owaves was founded in September, 2013 as a smartwatch company.
- We focused on software after the Samsung Galaxy Gear was released, and other major consumer electronics manufacturers entered the smartwatch space.
- “#2 Technology”
- “#3 Regulatory Process”
Reference: Who Made That Cell Phone?, New York Times Magazine, 3.15.13
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.
Reference: About the FCC, Federal Communications Commission
- Barbara Pierce Bush served as Second Lady from 1981 to 1989, then as First Lady of the United States when her husband George H. W. Bush won the Presidency.
- She is also the mother of the 43rd President, George W. Bush, and of Florida’s 43rd Governor, Jeb Bush.
Reference: Barbara Pierce Bush, The White House
- John Mitchell was Motorola’s chief engineer and chief operating officer. Bill Weisz was a former chairman and CEO.
Reference: John Francis Mitchell, Wikipedia
Reference: William J. Weisz Dies at 70; Former Chairman of Motorola, New York Times, 12.21.97
- Click and Clack “Car Talk” ran for 35 years, reaching 660 radio stations with 3.3 million listeners a week on NPR
Reference: The Best of Car Talk, NPR
Reference: Car Talk Ends after 35 Years, ABC News, 6.9.12
1:02:43-1:08:50 ~ Q&A: How do you know if you have a “Big Idea”?
- Big ideas: “Objectivity”
- Dick Tracy was a comic strip about a detective first published in the Detroit Mirror 1931
- As early as 1946, Dick Tracy used a two-way wrist radio that helped inspire the cell phone and smartwatches
Reference: How Dick Tracy Invented the Smartwatch, Smithsonian Magazine, 3.9.15
- Games as a model for innovation in education: “Engaging, Interesting and Adaptive”
Reference: Chou, Yu-Kai. Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges and Leader Boards, Octalysis Media, 2017
- Duolingo offers 38 languages and has over 300 million registered users worldwide
- Duolingo was founded in 2009 by Carnegie Mellon University professor Luis von Ahn, Ph.D., and his graduate student Severin Hacker.
Reference: Game of Tongues: How Duolingo Built a $700 Million Business With Its Addictive Language-Learning App, Forbes, 8.31.19
- Marty’s wife is Arlene Harris, who is also a telecommunications entrepreneur and inventor.
- Arlene is the first female Wireless Hall of Fame inductee and was named to the Consumer Technology Hall of Fame in 2017.
Reference: Harris, Kitchen Inducted Into 2007 Wireless Hall of Fame, RCR Wireless, 5.26.07
1:08:51-1:35:12 ~ Q&A: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Reference: Cutting the Cord: The Cell Phone Has Transformed Humanity, Martin Cooper, January 2021
Reference: The Olympian’s Eye, Royan Kamyar, M.D., MBA
Reference: Day in the Life, Michael Phelps, the Owaves Team
- Clayton Christensen was a Harvard business professor, author and thought leader in disruptive innovation.
- After being diagnosed with cancer, Christensen began focusing on what makes a good life and published “How Will You Measure Your Life?” in 2012.
Reference: How Will You Measure Your Life?, Harvard Business Review, Clayton Christensen, Ph.D.
Reference: Plan Your Ideal Day With Owaves, the Owaves Team
- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a psychological approach to understanding human motivation.
- Maslow’s pyramid asserts we have needs that require fulfillment in a specific order, from physiological to self-actualization.
Reference: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Khan Academy
- “Basically, when you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you,” Warren Buffet said in 2001 during a speech at the University of Georgia.
- “I know people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them,” Buffett continued. “If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is — your life is a disaster. That’s the ultimate test of how you have lived your life.”
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is one of the best-selling books of all time.
- Published in 1936, it is ranked #19 on TIME Magazine‘s list of the 100 Most Influential Books of all-time.
Reference: How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie, 1936
- Benjamin Smarr, Ph.D. is an Owaves Science Advisor and professor of bioengineering and data science at UC San Diego.
Reference: Benjamin Smarr, Ph.D., UCSD School of Engineering
- The Law of Attraction is the belief that positive thoughts and feelings may manifest into real-world experiences.
Reference: The Mystery and Science Behind the Law of Attraction, Forbes, 10.13.2020
- Mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. as “”awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally
Reference: Jon Kabat-Zinn: Defining Mindfulness, Mindful, 1.11.17
1:35:13-1:42:50 ~ Q&A: What is your #1 wellness habit?
- A recent study from Japan, where tub bathing is ingrained in the culture, followed more than 30,000 people for about 20 years.
- Compared with people who took baths less than twice a week, those who took baths nearly every day had a 28% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 26% lower risk of stroke.
- The findings were published in the May 2020 issue of the journal Heart.
Reference: Hot baths and saunas: Beneficial for your heart?, Harvard Medical School, October 2020
- According to medical researchers at John Hopkins University, “There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does. If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. It provides a total brain workout.”
Reference: Keep Your Brain Young with Music, John Hopkins Medicine
- “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Reference: Inside Einstein’s Love Affair With ‘Lina’ – His Cherished Violin, National Geographic, 2.3.17
Reference: Albert Einstein on the power of ideas and imagination in science, Economics Sociology & Political Economy, 1.8.16
1:42:51-end ~ Q&A: If you could leave a single message on a billboard for all future generations to see, what would it say?
Full audio transcript:
Marty Cooper: The fact is that I don’t like to talk about my age very much, but you guys know how old I am, right, because you’ve done your research, and people don’t get old without understanding a little bit about what it takes to live right. Which is what Owaves is all about, I think. Although you’re…you are focused more on younger people.
But I’ve had a couple of conversations about the data approach to understanding what it takes to live properly, and the one opportunity….I’m rehearsing, by the way…
Royan: And I’m recording because honestly, this is already good. So, here we go!
Marty: Yeah, I think we have an amazing opportunity to use the data that comes from the cell phones that we carry with us to understand what it takes to live an appropriate life. Because I think that’s what Owaves is all about, is understanding what is the fundamental nature of a human being, what’s the body all about.
And that’s what you have educated me on…what little education I’ve got. But the human…I use the term body. But the human being is really the result of a billion years of evolution. And if we don’t take all of the inherent aspects of this evolution into account as we live, we live a less complete life.
So, boy was that a complicated sentence?
Royan: That was excellent!
Marty: The skill in communication is to make things simple. And I just said the most complicated thing I ever said in my life. So going back…to the…I’m enchanted by the opportunity for data analytics and just think about how much we could learn about a person if we measured virtually everything that is happening to you in life in a way that doesn’t intrude on your privacy.
Wow. Is that an important and difficult problem? But if you could take all that data and just spend time analyzing the data, think about what you’d learn about…what is appropriate to have a full and complete life that is consistent with evolution.
That was another complicated sentence. Wow.
So…and I have to tell you an example that I went on a hike this morning. I have two hiking partners. By the way, I do that as part of my routine to try to stay alive, in case you were wondering why a guy who’s 92 years old goes out to hike three times a week.
One of the problems with older people, you guys are all too young to understand that, is falling. And one of the problems that I’ve been working on is…you would think that if you measured a person’s body properly, you would be able to anticipate their fall and somehow or other, stop them from falling. And except we don’t really know what happens when somebody falls, and you would think that having, just as an example of an experiment, pick 10,000 people and have them wearing their cell phones or something or something, and measure the data and see what really happens when somebody falls.
That’s just a trivial example. There are so many things that you could measure, and I would think Royan, that with regard to Owaves, that you could validate a lot of the things that…that the circadian rhythm analytics predict, but you could validate them with real experimental evidence.
Royan: That’s definitely the goal. Yeah. And we’re just starting.
Marty: Now you know what happens when somebody gets involved with something like a cell phone and spends 60 years thinking about only that? Am I in a rut or what?
So we might start…since you were nice enough to invite me to talk just a little bit about why the cell phone was created in the first place. But we’re going to spend a couple of minutes on history because I prefer to live in the future, not in the past. But you might find it interesting about why. It’s kind of obvious that most of the people in the world today own a cell phone. Isn’t that an amazing thing?
Royan: Qualcomm says more people own a smartphone or a cell phone than a toothbrush, right, in this day and age. Yeah.
Marty: That’s a really profound comment because I’d be willing to bet that more people have cell phones than toothbrushes. They certainly have more cell phones than toilets as an example. So I’m not sure that there has ever been an invention like that.
And what is the essence of a cell phone? It is a recognition that, first of all, people like to communicate with each other like we’re doing now, and people are inherently mobile. Boy, this is wonderful. We got Portugal. Portugal, London. And two San Diegos. Well, I live in Del Mar, so down to you. So, for a different look, we are independent of location and that is the very nature of people, that people want the freedom to be everywhere.
The reason that I came up with the concept of having a portable cell phone is that way back in primitive times, in the 1960s, as a boy, they were primitive. You guys don’t realize how fast progress has occurred because 1960 is not that long ago and well, it’s in my lifetime, which makes it not very long ago. And at that time, there were no personal computers. The digital camera had not been invented. The Internet existed only as an experiment. It was not very important. I mentioned the personal computer thing. The integrated circuit was…it was still an elementary thing. So these were really primitive times.
And the Bell System was a monopoly. Actually, gosh, no one around for years, I know you do… if you wanted to have a telephone, you’d have to buy it… well, you couldn’t buy it. You had to rent it from the telephone company. And this is the telephone company, not one of several competing companies. And the business model of the Bell System is very simple. They have Bell Labs, which is a research organization. They’d come up with an idea, and they would turn it over to AT&T, which was their marketing, and they would decide what product they should have. And then they would go to Western Electric, which is the manufacturing entity, and then they would come to you and they’d say, Lauren, we’ve got this product. This is exactly what you want. You know, that’s totally antithetical to the way we do business today, right? People do all kinds of research trying to figure out what people want.
Royan: Exactly, personalization.
Marty: So what the Bell System decided was that the time was ready for them to get into the…the wireless communications business. And there are solutions. That was the ____.
So here we had been trapped by this copper cage, we’d been connected by a wire. So any time you wanted to communicate, you’d have to be in your office and your home, for a hundred years. And now that the Bell System comes, they said, well what we got just what you need, we’re going to trap you in your car.
So…and I was at Motorola at the time. We were in the two-way radio business. And most of our business was, in fact, people in cars…policemen, firemen and business people.
But we had discovered, first of all, that people could not conduct their businesses, whether it’s a concrete mixing company, or a policeman or a fireman. They couldn’t do that without communicating wirelessly. And then the technology got to the point where we could do things with a portable unit that you could carry around. And we
discovered an amazing thing, that people not only could not do their businesses without these portables, but they had them in their hands all the time.
We made a…we made a holster so people could put them…And, you know, the holster business for cell phones….they’re not very big…most people carry their cell phones in their hand. I even remember a specific case where I was walking through an airport with my boss, a guy named John Mitchell, who was my mentor at Motorola, and he said, look around, we got all these airline employees walking through here. We have spent all kinds of money to make holsters for them. And they’re carrying these two-way radios in their hands. And that’s where I got the message that the freedom to be anywhere and still stay in communications was valuable, and the technology existed. And so Motorola decided to take the Bell System on…the Bell System was saying, we’re going to have this marvelous new system called cellular, which is car telephones.
There are not going to be very many of them. We’ve done the research, and we think that the worldwide market for cell phones is 900,000.
Royan: Wow, off by a zero. Yeah.
Marty: As it turns out, guess what? They were right.
Royan: Off by three zeros.
Marty: The worldwide market for car telephones ended up being about 900,000 because about the time when it got to…the very first cell phones were car telephones. But by the time they got up to the 900,000 level, the portables had taken over…and the…I’m getting ahead of the game, but we demonstrated the first handheld portable cell phone in April of 1973…by 1983, took 10 years to get over the politics of Spectrum and resolving all kinds of decisions. In 1983, the first commercial phones came out. There was a portable cell phone, but it was very expensive. Four thousand dollars in 1983; it was like having a $10,000 cell phone today. Very few people could afford it. Very few people could afford even a car phone…that was $3,000, would be like a five…But…and the portables didn’t work very well. But between 1983 and 1993, the car cell phone disappeared. By 1993 all the phones were portable. It was an electric revolution. And they got, as you know today, there are more cell phones than people in the world. You didn’t know that, did you?
I’m looking at you…I should be looking at the camera. That’s one thing I haven’t figured out yet. You guys…somehow you’ve got your cameras very close to your screens.
Royan: I think we’re all using laptops and they kind of tend to carry them right in the nose.
Marty: I should do that because as you can tell, I’m looking at you right now.
My natural tendency is to look…I’m looking at Royan now, Elaine, looking at Lauren, so I don’t know if you would say if that looks very natural.
Royan: Oh just be comfortable, please.
Marty: So we have the…in the advanced world think that the impact of the world of the cell phone is as far as that. You even mentioned that earlier.
And it turns out the real impact on society, at least up till now, is not the smartphone. The smartphone is more…well, it certainly has contributed to productivity to a large extent, but it’s more a game than a…than a tool. I don’t know if you would agree with that. You could probably argue with that, but you certainly can. Would you call Twitter, Facebook, Instagram? Would you call those a tool or an enjoyment? I don’t know…what’s your opinion?
Elaine: I see them more forms of entertainment and a platform to connect with your friends and families, but I wouldn’t say it’s an educational tool.
Lauren: I think it’s a pathway. You know, I think we’re still so new in this whole social media revolution and being able to communicate so instantaneously. So who knows what’s to come. But I think each of these different platforms are pathways to something that we might not even be able to imagine yet.
Marty: Brilliant. Now I know why you invited those two…
Royan: See? I’m just going to be quiet.
Marty: Because there is a history of many new technological innovations. Start with games…you guys are too young to remember the game Pong. You might know about it, Royan.
Royan: I do, yeah…it was fun. Atari…
Marty: It was the most stupid game you can imagine.
Royan: Good memories though. Yeah!
Marty: You had two paddles on a TV screen and a controller that moved the paddles up and down and the ball that went between to a couple miles away. And it really was primitive and elementary. But people spent hours doing this thing. And guess what? It was the first time that you had an opportunity to interact between a human being and that screen, because up until then, the screen was a one-way thing. And sure enough, people got pretty bored with the stupid game, and so they went to something almost equally stupid, which was Pacman. You don’t know at all about it, right?
Royan: I think Pacman’s still famous. Elaine, do you know Pacman?
Elaine: Yeah, I know Pacman. I played a lot of that in middle school.
Royan: And there’s all kinds of Pacmans now, so…
Marty: A friend of mine named Engelbart invented the computer mouse. And the next thing you know, we have computers that for the most part that are productive. So starting out with games is a very reasonable thing. But back to what the cell phone has done for society.
Today in Africa as an example, the cell phone has permitted people, poor people, to do things like save money, to send money from one place to another, to…to fund basic businesses…
Royan: Right, micro lending….
Marty: At least one organization did a study, and they think that in the past 20 years, over a billion people have moved out of severe poverty in Africa. They are still poor, but into…improve their lifestyle to a definition of what is still poor but not severe. A billion people! Three times the population of the US, more than Europe together. And in India and in Mexico, there are people doing remote medicine and bringing organized medicine to villages that never even knew what…what a doctor was.
But they have doctors diagnosing eye diseases with a little device that costs a couple of bucks that hooks onto a cell phone and the doctor can look into somebody’s eyes. Another very simple device, the doctors could do ultrasonic analysis of the unborn baby. And they do this remotely.
And so those are the really important things that the cell phone has done.
Royan: And Marty, Gates Foundation, I believe they call it reverse innovation, right, where countries like Africa that were not connected at all, they didn’t have the personal computer phase, for the most part, went straight to the cell phone in terms of finally being able to connect and interact with each other. And so some of these financial tech innovations that are coming out of Africa actually leapfrog the infrastructure, and the states in Europe, because their cell phone-first, their mobile-first solutions that are actually innovating there as opposed to where there might be regulatory frameworks in place or incumbents that kind of block some of these ideas. So that reverse innovation trend, I think, speaks to this phenomenon where essentially you have people who didn’t have any sort of technological access all of a sudden get a cell phone in their hand and the amazing things you can do with that.
Marty: Brilliant. Because that leads us to the next step, which is…this is an irrational next step…Now you’re finding out how my mind works, which is different than everybody else’s mind.
Royan: And that’s why you’re Marty. That’s why we want you here! You’re our guest.
Marty: That’s why you’re Lauren…because I do have a belief, by the way, in thinking about how the world is changing in the future. Historically, we have tried to put people in boxes and silos because we’ve had this view that we have economies of scale. If you make all the products the same, they’re cheaper and therefore more people can have them. And we’ve forgotten the fact that every human being is different than every other human being. That’s a fact. Well, it’s a fact that I made up, but…but it happens to be true. If you examine the human genome, the number of possibilities is so great that it’s pretty close to a probability of the definition of what zero is…the probability that two people are identical. Identical twins are not identical…they’re not even close to being identical.
Royan: You know, Marty, you know, one of the updates, I’m not sure how much we’ve given you, is on our involvement as a partner with the All of Us Research Program, which maybe Lauren you can help speak to. But the entire initiative is under the Precision Medicine Initiative, and it’s essentially getting to sort of fix this sort of one-size-fits-all healthcare system that we’re under. And actually, it’s the brainchild of Dr. Francis Collins, who is currently Director at NIH, where essentially he was involved, obviously, with the first decoding of the human genome, but saw the limitation and sort of the subset of human beings that they worked with through that first set of genetic studies, which were mostly Caucasian elderly males from the New England area. And so they made that…er, he made that realization, obviously, with his team early on, that sort of a one-size-fits-all understanding of the human genome doesn’t hold for all these, of course, racial and ethnic diversities that we have on the planet.
And so really, that’s the nature of this Precision Medicine Initiative that we’re excited to be working on. And so Lauren is doing a lot of the outreach to college students, college campuses. One of the other partners there is American College Health Association. And we have to bring this message to a really kind of public health level. And so the language has to get less abstract and really tangible. And so maybe, Lauren, you can talk about some of the effort you’ve been doing with the engagement team and how you guys have been kind of educating college students on the importance of this issue.
Lauren: Absolutely. I feel like this kind of goes back to the original point of social media as a pathway, especially because we see within this population of people who are or are not getting involved in a program, that cohort of 18 to 22-year-olds is so little and so few, and most 18 to 22-year-olds are communicating on social media. That’s the language that they’re speaking.
So to be able to translate these broad concepts of precision medicine and science and research in general, and speaking to college kids all across the world in using social media and graphics, and how small attention spans are getting, so be able to grab their attention in a way that’s meaningful, has been a lot of the effort that our team on Owaves has been contributing to the All of Us Research Program.
Marty: Well, that’s a little troublesome what you just said, because here we are, the four of us doing this podcast that’s supposed to appeal to college students, and totally antithetical to what you just said. So are we wasting our time?
Royan: That’s a great question. We’ll be doing a lot of slicing, dicing, editing, adding GIFs and stickers. But I think you still get some few thoughtful folks. Obviously, Elaine and Lauren represent this generation, and we have more on our team who are trying to cross this bridge.
But Marty, I don’t know if you saw that research study by Microsoft where they…they said the average human attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish. So I don’t know if you’ve been thinking or hearing about this attention span issue, because it is something we deal with in terms of our outreach to college students where, you know, the nature of the beast is it’s not like you’re just looking at one screen anymore. It’s usually like two or three simultaneously that have obviously a variety of inputs per screen. And so, I guess being able to capture a single person’s attention for a long time, especially on the education or public health front, has become increasingly difficult when you’re competing with the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Tik-Tok, who are knee-deep in the attention economy, right? And basically spending all their resources trying to figure out…figure out how to keep us staring at their content longer.
Marty: Well, you really got me worried because you think I did this as a favor to you to be on this podcast? Really, I’m rehearsing because, you know, I just…my…my one and only book I just finished a short time ago is going to be announced on or launched on January 5th.
Royan: Cutting the Cord.
Marty: Cutting the Cord: The Cell Phone Has Transformed Humanity. And so I’m going to be on the campaign trail, and I actually did speak at a conference yesterday, a virtual conference.
Royan: Yeah, I saw that! You were the keynote.
Marty: Yeah, and my only purpose in life now is to tell the story of the cell phone, which is what I do in the book. And so, if the world is what you just described, Royan, I’m wasting my time on that because…because…I’m never going to capture the attention of anybody!
Royan: Oh, you know, podcasts are actually hugely popular now. We talked about that before. I think AirPods have something to do with them. They’re wireless. They let you be mobile, you know, essentially, in terms of listening to music or content, and podcasts have really taken off in the last couple of years. So some forms of long-form content are surviving, and if not thriving.
It’s just really, I think people’s tastes are changing. Books, I mean, you know, they can be props. I’ve actually read these ones, but they are also platforms for sharing ideas. And so, you know, I think…I think there’s a lot of ways to get the word out nowadays. And maybe that’s the optimistic way to look at it, that we have more diversified channels, and we have to personalize the communications, right, to the earlier point of kind of one-size-fits-all. Not everyone is going to read a 300-500 page book, but if you have at least a few knowledge leaders or, as Seth Godin puts it, sneezers, right. You have a few sneezers that listen to that content and really ingest it fully. Well, they can share it with their audiences in the more bite-sized format.
Lauren: And to your earlier point of individual differences…that’s something that really struck me. And it’s actually of the topic of my doctoral dissertation. And I looked at individual differences and social media use and their ability to predict our mindfulness, because the more mindful an individual is, the more likely they are to communicate in a more meaningful way and to consume this long-form media in a more meaningful way. And I really thought it was going to be social media to be that factor that really exacerbates it or does not. But it came down to individual differences in who we are as people, and the types of personality traits that we have. So while it’s easy to say millennials or Gen Z suffer from this attention or inattention economy, it still comes back to those individual differences of who we are and who we’re able to most effectively communicate with.
And then, as Royan says, if you can effectively communicate with those thought leaders, that creates that trickle down effect for each people to reach their custom audience, that they have a trusted voice.
Marty: Wow, you just make that up in the spot?
Royan: She spent the last four or five years working on this.
Lauren: Yeah, my… my virtual graduation is next weekend actually.
Marty: Oh, congratulations.
Well, you know, that’s very interesting. Can I suggest that one of the reasons that a podcast could be successful, and specifically this one, is, think about it…we’ve been talking now for, what? About a half an hour? And I would think that we have covered at least seven or eight and maybe more fundamental ideas.
And I always thought it was just the fact that I’ve been around so long. But the biggest thing in my life is ideas. You know, any time I get an idea that’s original, original meaning that I finally came to the conclusion that the rest of the world probably known for years, but at least it’s new for me. And that’s the thrill of my life, and the very few times in my life that I’ve actually come up with an original idea, boy, I feel so privileged. So, ideas are…I think are important to everybody.
Royan: I think that’s…part of the attraction of podcasts is they’re a really nice, efficient way to get exposed to new ideas and share them. And actually even podcasts are evolving. There’s this platform called Clubhouse now that’s essentially like…essentially what we’re doing now, but live and shareable. So we could actually invite other participants to listen, to ask questions, but essentially even podcasts themselves are becoming more real-time. And I think it’s really a central attraction, at least for me and from what I’ve witnessed is really the sharing of ideas, and again, a really refined niche level, right, because how many people would be passionate about the digital divide or precision medicine? But here we have four people that care, and you can have a meaningful conversation on that topic, whereas in my household, there’s five other people, but I’ll put at least four out of the five to sleep if I was talking about these things.
Marty: Well, what a rewarding conversation, because you have just convinced me that my personality matches perfectly with the whole concept of a podcast.
Royan: I think you’d make a great podcast host. You can probably get some of the most amazing guests. And I saw your latest TED talk on being a historical futurist. Like, that’s such a cool idea. I would love to listen to a historical futurist speak, and get…I know that you’re surrounded by some of the most amazing voices and thought…thought leaders in this space and by all means, you should.
Marty: Well, thank you for inviting me to that, but I was thinking about it in a different context. By the way, just the other day, I was thinking you know, I used to have a concept that had something to do with futures. And it was very clever. And I forgot it. You just reminded me of it.
Royan: We’ve been catching up on your TED Talks. I didn’t realize there’s three, so I saw two and I thought I’d seen them all. But then Lauren gave me a third one, which I still haven’t gotten all the way through. I still have five more minutes, but…
Marty: Well, the one defect that I have is…believe it or not, I have a pretty short attention span, if you haven’t figured it out by now, because we keep jumping from topic to topic. But it seems to me that that’s a perfect mental attitude for doing a podcast. Nobody’s going to get bored because we keep changing the subject… because there’s something that was I going to come up with, or since we’ve got to do a quick segue, we’ve covered the last subject for a whole minute, we can’t lose our audience.
Have you thought about the fact that the COVID pandemic has accelerated all kinds of technology that’s not really in medicine? And the one that I’m really enchanted by is education, because the one thing that I have observed is, whenever you jump from one technology to another, you’ve got to change everything. You can’t take an educational system as an example and use the same system for virtual education. I think there are all kinds of things…you cannot do lectures; in fact, I think the whole concept of lectures is faulty.
Elaine: Definitely. I agree with that because personally, I’m a master student now and I’m taking half online lectures and half in-person seminar discussions. And I definitely prefer that in-person interactive aspect of learning. And when I do these lectures online, a lot of times I get a little bit frustrated because all my lectures are pre-recorded, and I don’t really have an opportunity to sort of ask questions or get this interaction with my professors since they were already pre-recorded. So I really do think the virtual online learning system is sort of lagging behind and that technology is racing ahead but the educational system is struggling to follow through. And a lot of it, for me at least, is the interactive aspect of it.
Marty: Yep. Well, let me do my commercial then, because that is what I try to do in my book. The first part of the book is the history of why the cell phone came into being, starting with a little bit of my own history. And I don’t know why I put that in because I didn’t really intend to. But it turns out that anybody who thinks an idea happens in an instant moment in time is, I was going to say they’re out of their minds, but they’re inaccurate.
Whatever you are is a combination of everything that’s happened to you in your whole life. So there is a little bit of my personal history and a lot about the conflict between the Bell System and Motorola and how Motorola ended up, fortunately for all of us, prevailing. And then what we’ve already talked about, how the cell phones have already impacted society. And then something about what I think is going to happen in the future, and we’ve covered a lot of imagining.
Royan: Marty, I like how you call it like the three revolutions, right. Essentially, wireless is going to really transform healthcare which we’ve touched on, education, and I believe the third category you point out is productivity.
Marty: Yeah, and it is the importance of collaboration, which we are demonstrating right now. You guys keep me from being boring because you keep interrupting me and coming up with better stuff than I’ve got to say. But I think collaboration is of these three issues, the most impactful. So people working together do so much more than individuals and that is a treasure chest that we have to embrace and motivate.
Royan: And really, COVID…I was just going to mention, to the point of looking at us in the context of the coronavirus situation, it’s really accelerating all these fronts. I mean, dramatically. Economist calls it the dawn of the digital medicine era, which we thought we were probably a little bit closer to noon. But I think that’s looking at things from a really big lens and still recognizing this is a $3, $4 trillion industry just in the states. Twenty percent of GDP, as you pointed out in your talks, and, you know, it’s still a nominal amount, growing obviously and accelerating, that are being solved with telemedicine and the infrastructure that is in place already in other industries. Education, I feel like, is obviously going through that same transformation, and productivity like Zoom is now worth more than Exxon. I don’t know if that’s still true, but there was a point just recently it out-valued Exxon and, you know, just the growth that we’re seeing in terms of collaboration virtually, I think, and the demands are shifting. We’re thinking that this Brady Bunch style of seeing different faces in a box, how long is that going to hold or satisfy the audience in terms of the state-of-the-art virtual collaboration? There’s still a lot more room to grow.
Marty: Yeah, well, we have a new thing to learn, don’t we? About how to accommodate all of these things, and I have faith that that’s the most exciting thing to me that you bring that up, Royan. You know that I have done a lot of speaking engagements in my life, and I thought I got to be pretty good at it. But one of the things that’s important when you give a talk is engaging with your audience and learning when you’re losing the audience and recapturing them. And so I always look at my audience and pick out people that I think are paying attention and looking at their reactions. And I didn’t know how I would be able to do this in this environment, so it’s a whole new learning experience for me. And this podcast that we’re doing now is not very useful in that regard, because I got to look at three very attractive people.
Royan: I know you’re not counting me in that.
Marty: When I did this thing yesterday at this conference that you just talked about Royan, I only was looking at my interviewer. So I was getting no audience feedback, no questions, no….So I think we are at the beginning of an entire new learning experience. And I hope that this…you use the right word, Royan, I hope this sticks, especially in the education thing. You know, I think we…there is an opportunity in the world for improvement, and it has to be in education. There are a lot of uneducated people around, which includes everybody that disagrees with me, is in that category.
Royan: Right, and now we have alternative facts and this whole new era. You know, Marty, one of the most striking things about hearing more about your story that’s coming out in the book is this 10-year gap, right? Your team essentially created the first mobile phone in three months from idea, concept, to execution on the prototype, which sounds remarkable to me. And then all of a sudden, you hit this pause in terms of the regulatory framework and the regulatory environment. As for newbies coming in on the other side of that 10-year window, right, and saying that we’re going to revolutionize time in our context, or let’s say there’s a team out there that’s trying to deliberately tackle the digital divide and the spectrum or kind of wireless policies that might surround that…the broadband access issues. What are some of the coaching or lessons learned, navigating what must have been really complex political conversations and involving very powerful stakeholders that you were up against?
Marty: Well, you used all the right words. People that have the power tend to want to perpetuate what they’re doing and maintain that power. And we’re really, boy, you opened up another duplex, that was amazing, Royan. You really are good at this!
Royan: Marty, I don’t know if you can tell, but you know we’re…we adore you. So we’ve been…I’ve been nervously excited about this for quite some time, so I’ve been catching up on your content that’s out there. And yeah, so we have a queue of questions. We could keep you for hours, but we’re going to try to contain ourselves.
Marty: Well, I just want to bring up one of my other obsessions, which is self- organized systems. And I don’t know…really more accurately, self-optimized systems; hierarchical systems never achieve the optimum. But a self-organized system, if you have the right rule, do achieve the…potentially achieve an optimum, and the beauty of a self-organized system is that in order to achieve that optimum, you have to…I’m losing my ability to express this because I’m thinking in terms of curves of, but…You have to…
Royan: How to effect major change in that context, or…?
Marty: I’m thinking of the concept of______ That we’re here, I’m describing a curve, and here is where we want to go and you think about approaching this curve asymptotically, which is the way you would normally expect to do it in a self-organized system. We start out here, which is chaos, and you will go back to an extreme and pass your optimum, and you will do something like this. And that’s how I describe our political system. Which you know, I happen to believe that the guys that started the American system were geniuses. They built a system that had checks and balances and ways of correction. And every time people tell me, oh my God, this guy is going to destroy our whole system. And I tell them, you just don’t understand the system because there’s going to be a correction and the correction is going to…may be worse than this problem you’re talking about. But we are continually getting closer and closer to perfection, but will, of course, never achieve that.
Royan: Kind of like a sine wave trying to achieve equilibrium. Is that kind of what you’re envisioning or…?
Marty: Yeah. So we’re…once again, we got way off the subject. In fact, I forgot what the subject was.
Royan: How did you navigate that ten years? Because you…
Marty: Oh, that’s what the subject was!
Royan: You had like this sense of gratitude to your Motorola supervisors, right. Because they had to invest in this dream and this…their most intelligent engineers under your R&D lead for 12 or 13 years, to go from a functioning prototype to commercialization. And it sounds like a lot of the success hinged on tough conversations that you might not have been able to control.
Marty: So, boy, did you just cover a whole bunch of things. What were the things that were important to that 10-year period? Number one was objectivity. The people, at least at Motorola, did not…were not thinking about their own personal objectives. They were thinking about doing what’s right. And so, the chairman of the company, Bob Galvin, had a responsibility to the investors of the company, and he also had ethical views. He wanted to do what’s right for society and he ended up betting the company on ideas of a bunch of kooks like me, which was just…just incredible. And we had some basic, we engineers, had some basic beliefs that we had observed. Things that had to do with people and that they were real things like, people are mobile, and so we were not thinking about ourselves, about our personal fortunes, we were thinking about doing the thing that was right for society, right for people. And…
Royan: And so it was a cause, and that’s what gave you the tailwind to get through that, essentially.
Marty: And of course, there were other people. We were looking at an organization whose purpose was, no question about it, perpetuated itself. The…we’re not going to go into that story about the first cell phone call, but the guys that I was battling with in the Bell System still today believe that they were right. They think that Bell Labs was the most wonderful organization in the world and that introducing competition into that destroyed a beautiful organization. The reality is that Bell Labs was an extraordinary organization. The people at Bell Labs made…contributions that were…that will remain in history to be fundamental, but they were the only research organization, and they had no competition and there was a lot of inbreeding at the laboratories. And the competition that has happened in the telecommunications business unquestionably has moved technology orders of magnitude faster. So….
Royan: Hats off to you Marty, for trekking through that for the rest of us, I mean, it could have been a much different now.
Marty: Yeah well, we didn’t do that. We didn’t cause the divestiture of the Bell System. That really was the government that did that. So what happened during that 10-year period were a couple of things. One thing that doesn’t change is it does take time to create a new product. As you well know, because how long you’ve been working on Owaves now? And whether it’s a physical product or a software, you just have to go through the process…people keep telling me, oh, no no…we have tools now that make software development and hardware so much faster. And yet I had a joke that I told 50 years ago, that’s a joke that I do remember. And we have three processes in business. We have the…the standard program, where we go through the development of a product and it takes two years. Then we have the rush program where we do everything faster and that takes only 18 months. And then we have the crash program. That’s a wonderful program. Of course, they all take two years, but we have three different names for them. It turns out that with all these new amazing tools we’ve got for developing hardware and software, I don’t know anybody that has made a product in less than two years, and most of them take longer, because the reality is that you’re dealing with people with heart problems and you’ve got to solve those problems, and people are very complicated. So we’re back to the 10 years. Part of that 10 years was the technology to make a portable cell phone, even though we had built one, actually we built two in 1973. You cannot imagine! I think you’ve been in my office or you’ve seen what that old phone looked like.
Royan: Yes, I’ve held it, yeah!
Marty: A whole bunch of parts soldered together by guys working, like building a watch. It was amazing we ever got that thing working for more than a half hour at a time.
So, it took awhile for the technology of the devices to evolve. And so, for a period of time, Motorola was actually slowing down the process. The Bell System was saying, “We’re ready to go!” We have acceded to every one of Motorola’s requirements, and we did make a whole bunch of changes in the standard, _____… And we’d come back and say, well, we’re not quite ready yet. We want to change this…and our…had nothing to do with what we were talking about; it had to do with the…technology wasn’t ready yet, so we actually deliberately slowed things down.
And the other part was, as you alluded to, the regulatory process. The regulatory process is theoretically a technological process, but it’s all run by politicians. The FCC are all lawyers and politicians, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing as part of our system. But, we did not get a real decision out of the FCC until finally…this is another legend that’s in the book everybody should buy, Cutting the Cord. Bob Galvin was, among other things, he had lots of connections with people in politics, and he went to visit his friend, George H.W. Bush, who happened to be Vice President at the time. This is in 1982, and he said, “Hey, George, I want to show you a new product we just came up with,” and he handed him this cell phone, which is about three or four generations of prototypes beyond the one that we demonstrated in 1973. And he says, “Make a phone call.” And George called his wife. And if I had a good memory, I would’ve remembered what her name was.
Royan: Oh, Barbara. Is it Barbara?
Marty: Yeah, Barbara! Very good. Well, that’s what happens when you’re young and you have a good memory.
And he had a conversation with Barbara and he says, “You know, Ron’s got to see this,” and sure enough…over to the White House.
And Reagan looks at this thing, and he says, “Why don’t we have this?” And Galvin says, “Well…the FCC?”
By this time, we had caught up. Now we were ready to go.
Royan: Wow. This is legendary.
Marty: The FCC hasn’t made their final decision yet, and Reagan says to Bush, “Would you call the FCC and tell them to get this thing going?” I don’t know how much validity there is to that myth. But it demonstrates to you that…
Royan: What it takes, yeah…
Marty: Whatever you got, all these things we talked about, about having the tools, having the persistence, but you still need leadership. And I was fortunate always to have people like Bob Galvin and John Mitchell, Bill Weiss, as my mentors, here we say that the president even contributed to this thing. There were people at Bell Laboratories that made fundamental contributions. So it does take some individual effort, but it also…and some leadership. It’s a combination of everything.
Marty: But the conclusion of the 10-year question, which you keep forcing me to get back to, is that the more complicated the problem is, the more variables there are, the harder it is to solve the problem. There are very often no shortcuts.
If you look at the really hard problems, we don’t solve them all that quickly, and it takes a little patience and hard work and persistence. Those things will always be necessary. So, where are we now?
We just spent an hour!
You guys probably don’t know about…there used to be a program which is still on public radio, of two guys who are automobile repairmen. Click and Clack.
Royan: Oh, it was on…you said, NPR?
Marty: NPR? And these guys were uproarious, just like we are. You know, they’re talking about really important things like how to fix a car, but a lot of laughter. And well, they got to the end of the program was, well, we wasted another hour. Which I will say now, don’t drive like Royan does, drive like Clack does.
So I don’t think we wasted an hour! We had some really good ideas. We don’t have to stop now, Royan. I just happened to notice that we…
Royan: We have no hard stops, Marty. You know, Elaine and Lauren, I know that I’ve been asking the last few questions, and I know we both did our homework coming into this. I want to let you, you know, if you have one more on your list, please fire away.
Marty: Oh no, charge ahead. I love questions and answers because they keep me from being boring.
So who’s next? Let’s ask a question!
Elaine: I guess my question would be, when you come up with a big idea, how do you know that’s the one that’s going to be revolutionary? I know that’s probably a very broad question, but how do you know that it’s going to change the world, especially with all these unpredictable factors that could…yeah…
Marty: Boy, I didn’t think I was going to get stumped right at the very beginning.
Marty: Think about the things that I said before about objectivity. If you’re really objective and you take your enthusiasm out of it…this equation, right? Because if you’re doing that, you’re not being objective. And think about how hard is the problem? How serious is the problem that you’re working on? And then you look at what you understand, and is there real science there behind your solution or real logic? I think it becomes pretty obvious whether it is a solution…it may not be the right one or may not be the final one, but you pretty much know that it’s an important idea. And the cell phone was one example, but there’s no doubt in my mind that given enough time, I’m sure there are….Dick Tracy thought about the…
Royan: The smartwatch!
Marty: Before I did.
Marty: You know, so the idea of the invention is not all that important.
So…and…to make it personal, I believe that my views, which are in Cutting the Cord _____, which I will do, the one..the elevator pitch on, I believe that the future of education is embraced by the concept of a game. Because if you look at what a modern computer game looks like, it has the following attributes: it’s engaging, it’s interesting, it’s adaptive. So when people run into problems, they don’t get stuck, they keep changing…so why aren’t those all the attributes of teaching, of learning? And why doesn’t our educational system embrace the concept of games? After, I left out the part about it not having silos that it…gave us solving problems, not rote learning.
Royan: I just got done reading this book, Marty, Actionable Gamification, it’s by this guy from UCLA, Yu-Kai Chou. But I’m curious, what do you think? Have you heard of Duolingo’s history? And I’m sure you’re aware of what they’re doing with learning new languages. But it’s essentially, you know, they’ve gamified the entire experience. And it’s actually a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon, who started the company and kind of learned really fast that retention on their platform was pretty poor to start in terms of just learning a new language. But as soon as they involved gamification as a solution, they got the long-term retention they needed to grow as a company.
So I think you hit the nail on the head. Duolingo is quite often cited as one of the more successful education apps or tools on our mobile phones.
Marty: Well, we got off the subject of your latest question. But I think you got the idea, you have to pick a problem and come up with an objective solution that is real, and coming up with a real solution, that doesn’t happen very often. So there’s a little patience involved in that.
But, the one thing I know, Elaine, there’s no magic bullet. The one thing that I feel that I’m blessed with, to make it personal, which I said we were not going to do, is that I have a very short attention span. So I…
Elaine: Me, too.
Marty: So if I get stuck with a problem and I…and it’s not yielding…I work on something else…and somehow, sooner or later, all these things coalesce and I come back and…my wife is, by the way, much better than I am at this. And her, the thing that makes her unique is that she is pretty much unhappy with everything. She goes through life looking to people to do things and saying, “You know, I could do that better!”
Royan: But that’s a good trait. Good entrepreneurial trait for sure.
Marty: I happen to be madly in love with her. But at times it gets a little annoying. You like to be happy at least part of your life and be satisfied with it.
Royan: Hopefully she’s not trying to fix you and attempt some of these genetic solutions or latest technologies. Lauren, do you have any questions?
Lauren: Yeah, I have kind of more of a human question because thinking of children on the playground, I don’t think there’s many saying, you know, when I grow up, I want to be the father of the cell phone. So I’m kind of curious, when you were a child, what was your vision of your future? What did you want to be when you grew up? And what kind of helped pave that way to think outside the box? Because I feel like we’re getting into a time now where kids that are being brought up, depending on their family systems, might choose a pathway that’s more traditional. But there’s also this shift now in kids that are thinking differently and using their majors for different things. So, what kind of helped you along your path? What did you want to be when you grew up, and what kind of helped you get into this futurist world?
Marty: Well, I have to give you the short answer, because the long answer is in Cutting the Cord.
Marty: And I do talk about that a lot because I’ve been very fortunate. You know, I know people who have planned out their lives and at different points, they actually listed all the things that they were going to do. And I am, from the time that I could remember things, I knew that I was going to be an engineer of some kind. I didn’t know what an engineer was, but I always wanted to figure out how things worked.
And I still have a recollection…it happens to be in the book…at that time, my family was living in Winnipeg, in Canada. And I was…I couldn’t have been more than five or six years old. And here were these older kids who maybe were 10 years old, and they had gotten a hold of a magnifying glass and they were burning paper with it, by magnifying the sun, and I thought that was incredible. I had to do that! And so I looked at what they got there, and there was a piece of glass, so I went and got a Coke bottle and broke it and tried different shapes of glass and totally unsuccessful. But I just remember just working hard, trying to figure out how to do that. And that has been the story of my life. Going all the way to yesterday, we are having some guests here in a couple of weeks who have a baby. By the way, I happen to really love children, I get along with kids much better than I do…
Royan: I’ll send you a photo of Laura.
Marty: Yeah! Oh you have it…
Royan: Right! That’s why I’m in Portugal. We just gave birth to our first baby five months ago, so.
Marty: Oh, congratulations on that. So, last night I spent two hours putting up a high chair…a baby high chair. And boy, was that hard. It was an engineering problem. And I have to tell you how difficult it was because I had to get up and down and us old guys have trouble with that. I really enjoyed it. So there are some genetic things that do affect us, and I think you have to go with the flow. But there is also an issue of wow, this is so complicated. We’re never going to do it!
Further about it, because I’m reading a book now about how to be an entrepreneur. And…written by a friend of mine, and it turns out it’s got nothing there, there’s nothing “how to” about it. It’s all the philosophy about believing in yourself and knowing what the processes are and getting involved in the processes of all things. Those of us that are entrepreneurs, including Royan, are learning and have to learn the hard way. But getting to the fundamentals and understanding yourself is what this book was all about. And I see Lauren’s nodding her head because I have done a little research on mindfulness. And that is the essence of it. The way this guy expresses the book…I know we’re getting off the subject because I offered to write a Forward for this book and now you guys are helping me do that. The way he expressed it back, is that you are the sculpture and the sculptor. If you understand yourself, you can create yourself in a way that achieves your objectives.
Elaine: That’s so true. That’s incredible. And I think that’s really needed in our generation at least because we’re so influenced by social media and it’s all about conformity. We have to look a certain way, act a certain way, that I think a lot…like a lot of people in my generation, our generation don’t really, not to say they don’t have like their own independent thinking, but we’re very much influenced by external organizations, that a lot of times they have certain intentions that’s not for your well-being or like for health. Yeah, that kind of reminded me of that.
Marty: So the hard part of that, I’m making this up, by the way, as we go on.
Marty: The hard part of that is to have a vision of what your objective is. You know, an artist has to have some view, some vision, some idea of where she or he is going. And that really is the hard part. I was really enchanted for a moment about the idea of a sculptor. The sculpture. But what is it that drives the sculptor to do one thing versus another?
Royan: You know, Marty, I feel like that’s what we’re trying to do with people’s time, right. You can…you sculpt your time. You own your time, because right now your daily flow can be totally dictated or just on autopilot from, you know, who’s no…who knows what influences. But if you are a sculptor and you’re…you’re here in this world and you want to sculpt your life, your day, your future, I feel like time is that common denominator, that unless you set aside time for yourself to give you that freedom to invest in what you care about, it will be taken from you. I think Jim Rohn has this quote: “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”
I feel like, you know, when I hear you say the sculptor tries to attain this…this point where they’re actually sculpting themself, that has to be deliberate prefrontal cortex, engaged action. It’s not going to happen by default. And I feel like, again, one of those…one of those leverage points has to be your own time.
Marty: Oh, is that interesting? Well, I would…I would agree that for the most part, but, because you’re talking about efficiency, is that right?
Royan: I mean, okay so…if we…if we did get into Owaves, it’s not just about efficiency, right. It’s also, as you started out with, trying to get intact with our evolutionary biology, number one. Right. So to try to be in sync with circadian rhythms, which is given to us, by the way, that part is outside of our external control in terms of the earth’s rotation and orbiting the sun and…and the moon.
You know, you can’t control those aspects of our well-being or our consciousness. But there’s so much that is in our control, too. And kind of getting back to some of the things we talked about in the past in terms of genetics and lifestyle, for example. But then when we talk about making an impact in the world and the visualization and that kind of forward momentum that you need, I feel like unless you protect your time, that you sculpt your time, right. Because your time enables actions. And that’s one of the beauties of lifestyle medicine is that they’re all action-based: exercise, sleep, mindfulness. So the formalization of meditation, yoga, nutrition–you have to eat in a concrete, tangible world which requires hours and minutes. And then relationships, right. Unless you set aside time for conversations like this one, they don’t happen. And so in lifestyle medicine, that’s the conclusion that we’ve arrived to and we’ve really catapulted on, which is, unless you dedicate the hours and minutes to those health and wellness activities, they won’t happen. And in fact, the American Heart Association, National Sleep Foundation will tell you to go ahead and put sleep and exercise on your calendar like you do work, appointments, everything else that we typically occupy time for.
And so I guess I couldn’t help but mention when…when you were speaking so eloquently about the sculptor sculpting him or herself, that unless you own your time and dedicate the time to do that sculpting, even the visual…visualization exercise that you mentioned, we know that high performers like Michael Phelps we researched way back in the day, and special operations forces, surgeons, elite musicians, they will visualize their performances in advance. And actually, that was one of Michael Phelps….he used to do visualization exercises with his mom. She would read out to him and he would do that before he went to sleep every night. Unless you dedicate the hours and minutes to even the visualization aspect, what you mentioned, it doesn’t happen.
Marty: I loved everything that you said, but doesn’t there have to be a balance? Because organizing our time is absolutely necessary. So I totally agree with you, but how do you define what efficient or effective use of your time is?
There’s a sculptor…
Royan: I love that question!
Marty: Do you have a rigid view of what this sculptor is going to look like, or is he going to be like this woodcarver that I encountered and he says, you know we woodcarvers never, ever make a mistake. Think about that. He said whatever you have carved, you can always adjust it and make it into a thing of beauty. So I would hope that you would embrace within this philosophy that you talked about, you’ve been teaching me for several years now, and some of it’s started to penetrate, Royan.
I absolutely believe in the whole concept of our…matching up our genetic being with what we do every day. You’ve kind of covered those things.
But serendipity has got to be a part of this thing.
And there are solutions for that. You can allocate free time, you can be dynamic, and these things should be adjusted. And that’s where artificial intelligence and biometric monitoring and feedback come in. But I love the question that you asked, Marty, because it’s one that we’re trying to tackle as a company. Like what should, what
outcomes should we be optimizing for if we do enter these clinical trials that we’ve been planning? What are the measurements that we should be monitoring for young adult mental health, right?
But then really the question becomes really philosophical and metaphysical, because you look at like Clayton Christensen, right. And his body of work around like what is a successful life or how should you measure your life? There’s nothing really quantifiable about living a good life. I mean, you know, you could do BMI, but does that mean the more optimized your BMI is, the happier you are when…when you…when you pass, who knows if that’s true? And you could do quality of life indexes, but how accurate or good are those? They are being used probably, some of it. And so Lauren has been doing a lot of work on the…on the research team in terms of trying to identify the indexes and tools that are most commonly self-reported. But in terms of getting objective, quantifiable data about a good life, it’s really a big challenge.
Lauren: It all goes back to individual differences again. Because I think of the difference between my sister and I, and we’re very similar in many ways, but I’m definitely more of a structured planner and she’s more of an off-the-cuff type personality. So something where my day is more structured makes me feel less anxious. But if she thinks about structuring her day so rigidly, that would make her feel more anxious. So maybe her day would look like bigger chunks of time, but mine would have a little bit more blocks in it. So it comes back to how connected you are with yourself and again, giving yourself that time to know yourself and understand what makes you feel best and what works best for you. That’s why I think it’s so important that we know who we are as individuals rather than lumping us into these categories of saying yes or everyone should optimize their time, but in a way that feels natural to them. Otherwise, it’s kind of fighting the wrong fight. We don’t want people to feel more anxious about feeling so structured. We want people to be able to do the things that make them feel human.
So one thing that we do when we usually introduce someone new onto the team, we have them use Owaves to create their ideal day. So if they didn’t have any obligations of school or work, how would they spend their time? And in doing that, a lot of the times we’re able to identify activities that we might not be able to give ourselves time to do, like painting or dancing or singing. And when you give yourself that flexibility to think about how you would structure your day if you didn’t have these obligations, you begin to pick up these different things. When you do see free time in your schedule, maybe you might pick up a paint brush, maybe you might start to relax. And I think those are the activities that allow us to kind of get back to that childlike sense of self, where you’re not thinking so rigidly about your obligations and you’re able to kind of shut that part of your brain off and really connect to who you are as a human.
Royan: I know. That was my reaction!
Marty: Well, you’re really into this mindfulness thing. That was very profound. I was going to ask you all a question in this vein, and I’m a little worried that I might trouble you more than I improve things. But when I look at the peak of Maslow’s Hierarchy, my…my very typical peak is: “Do you like yourself?” What do you think of that as a concept? I was going to ask you whether you do like yourself, but I don’t want to go into a psychological session here.
But don’t you think that’s kind of fundamental to that…self-critical…There’s a difference between trying to improve yourself and being fundamentally critical of yourself. You think you’re not a good person, you’d be a good person.
Royan: Do you like the person you see in the mirror?
Marty: Oh, you’ve thought about this.
Lauren: I think this is like a fundamental question during COVID in quarantine too. Spending that time with yourself. And if people aren’t…haven’t been forced to do that before, if people haven’t practiced doing that by themselves, they are quarantined, and then they’re like, “OK, well, now what?” But being able to spend that time hanging out with yourself and enjoying your time alone, I think is so fundamental. That’s something that I actually talk about a lot. For about four years, I did quite a bit of traveling and many of those trips I did by myself, and so many people would say, “How do you travel by yourself?” And I’m like, “Well, I enjoy hanging out with me.” And I think that really is the essence of life, because no matter where you are and what you’re doing, if you enjoy who you are as a person, going to the grocery store could be just as much fun as doing a task that you might enjoy doing. I think that’s a great peak of Maslow’s Hierarchy.
Elaine: Yeah, and I think like…
Royan: I’m sorry, please.
Elaine: Sorry, I was going to say, if you like yourself, you want the best for yourself, right? You want to set goals and improve yourself all the way, versus if you’re just unaware of that whole process of like, putting yourself first, you’re going to be more prone to all these external influences telling you what you should be or what you shouldn’t be. So I definitely agree that’s a very important part of life, is to have an understanding of yourself, who you are as a person and who you want to be.
Marty: And so do I….I take it I have to conclude that I’m dealing with three very successful people. Is that true? Because you all like yourself? Is that true?
Royan: Uh, sometimes. But Marty, I think I think, you know, in terms of the Hierarchy of Needs are like what ultimately creates a satisfying life. I remember hearing a quote about someone who is kind of passing away and…and they’re kind of…their take on the situation was how much the people you love love you.
Right, I guess that was what they kind of thought mattered in the end, the people that you love and care about the most, how they see you. So it’s a little bit, I don’t know if you would call it beyond or different than looking at how you see yourself in the mirror, but how they…how the people you care about most and value the most, respect the most, love the most, see you.
Marty: I’m not sure I understood that, Royan. You’re saying that you should be cognizant of it, or you should care about it?
Royan: Maybe that’s the thing you care about most at the end of the day, at the end of the last day is how much, you know, how much of a positive impression you left the people that you care about the most.
Marty: Boy, does that satisfy me a lot. Maybe you should be helping me on a daily basis. I think I need your counseling because I have a contrary view that says that you should not behave in a way that is only responsive to other people. Do it would be… you could overdo that.
Royan: Right there’s got to be a balance. Yeah, I agree.
Marty: When I was young I read a book by Dale Carnegie. You guys probably never…
Royan: Yeah I’ve read… is it How to Make People Like You or How to Win Friends and Influence People?
Marty: That’s it! And so for a while I really practiced that. I think I overdid it. I got to the point where all I cared about was whether people liked me or not. And that can’t be your objective. Your objective is to behave naturally and have people like you because you’re behaving in the way you…if it makes you…I hate the word natural because nobody knows what natural means. Natural is all the chemical processes in your body that have been created by evolution for…there’s lots of stuff you taught me, Royan, between you and Benjamin, I got a PhD.
So there is a balance there. Liking yourself, caring about what other people do, but not behaving in a way where your mission in life is to get people to like you.
Royan: Right. Thanks Marty.
Lauren: Those important people, you know, I know a lot of influence for myself and a lot of what’s dictated my path is being a good influence for my younger sister. She’s about eight to nine years younger than me, and I know that she is always looking up to me. So doing the work to enjoy being by myself and showing her that you can think out-of-the-box and being a strong female role model for her has not only helped me at times when maybe I would have made different decisions, I know I had those important eyes on me and that kind of led me to my journey of liking myself and making these decisions of following my path that I know is my own, and not one that’s dictated by following the boxes or doing what other people have done. Because I know that I had one pair of important eyes on me, rather than trying to please the masses.
Marty: Wow. Yeah. Well, I would love to go along that line, what do you guys think about when you’re talking to yourselves. One of the things that I…this is not a psychology session, but I have nothing to lose talking about how crazy I am, but I do fantasize a lot. And I felt that was not a normal thing. What do you guys think? Do you guys fantasize? Fantasize, meaning, you know, I read science fiction and I think about situations and just obsess about them for periods of minutes at a time about conversations that are….totally fantastic.
Royan: I find that inspiring. I find it like permission to do such…
Marty: I got Lauren nodding her head.
Lauren: I think that for many years, my idea of moving from New York to San Diego and getting a doctorate studying social media, that was a fantasy to me. I didn’t think that was something that was ever possible. And now I look back, and if I didn’t dream it and then think of how to break it down into its parts to make it happen, it wouldn’t have happened. So I think it really starts with a dream. And then understanding that once you have that idea, if you believe in yourself and if you take those steps and if you make those your priorities, then the only thing that’s stopping you is you. And that speaks to your original point of perseverance. And things don’t happen overnight. And we’re fighting with this instant gratification society where it’s so easy to think, OK, well, everything happened so quickly. But I think the more aligned you are with your mission, the more you’re willing to go that extra mile and to persevere because you have that fantasy, you have that goal. You know what it feels like. That’s like the law of attraction. You have to actually feel it and visualize it to know that that’s the feeling that you want when you’re there, just the idea of what it is. You really want to put yourself in that situation. And until you do that, how else could you achieve it?
Elaine: I totally agree with what you’re saying, Lauren, and I sort of understand what you mean by the unhealthy aspect of fantasizing is because, like, you sort of set these expectations and you don’t know whether or not they’re realistic or not. And then maybe you set out to do them and find out they’re not realistic. But that also points to the whole importance of persevering throughout the entire process because obviously nothing’s ever going to work out 100 percent. Things aren’t going to go as expected or planned. So, yeah, I understand…I do understand the unhealthy aspect of fantasizing, that’s all.
Marty: Well, it’s contrary to the concept of mindfulness, because with mindfulness, you really are trying to be aware of reality. And whereas, when you fantasize, you’re in a different world.
Elaine: And sometimes you can’t help it. Sometimes you do it. Yeah, and I think a lot of…at least speaking from my experience when I fantasize, a lot of it is very much anxious/compulsive thoughts, so mindfulness definitely helps with that. Like just understanding these are just thoughts and not necessarily reality, just having an awareness of that, yeah.
Royan: I think 2020 has shown us that reality can be even more fantastical than our wildest imagination. For better or for worse, right. Reality has its own sense of fantasy.
Royan: I have two… I know we’re taking up over a half hour past how much we asked of you, and I have two bullet points that I hope you don’t mind closing on and then giving us any last thoughts or asking us any questions that you might have before we close. One is, and you probably answered this up front, but it’s something that we ask all our…you know, the folks that we interview. What is your number one wellness habit?
Marty: What is my number one…
Royan: Wellness habit.
Marty: Oh, wellness habit. Oh really!
Royan: You mentioned hiking, I don’t know if that was…You mentioned hiking at the beginning, so I thought maybe that was a good clue in terms of, you know, practices you’ve adopted.
Marty: Boy, you’re going to be doing a lot of editing on this part of it because I’m having trouble with the habit part. But the one thing I’m obsessed about is doing whatever it takes to keep my weight appropriate. And that has been an obsession for a long time, because really, think about it, it embraces a whole bunch of habit-forming things, how much I eat, how much I exercise.
I’m worried about the habit part, because I am not that crazy about hiking.
Marty: Mostly because I really…the thing that I enjoy most about hiking is that I do…on my hikes with my colleagues, is just exactly what we’re doing here.
Marty: And I don’t even remember the hiking part. But this morning I did hike three miles, more than that, and it was very hard. There are some days when you’re in great…what, you’re nodding your head, you have no idea!
Lauren: I’m a personal trainer as well, and I work with a lot of people on balance and stability and standing up and sitting down. So it’s definitely a wellness thing that I’m passionate about, as well as keeping people mobile for as long as they can.
Marty: So I…so number one, I do lift weights three times a week. I look for any excuse to get out of doing it, but I feel very bad if I don’t. So I don’t know if you call that a habit, but I have a belief that any part of your being that is not exercised will deteriorate.
Royan: Love it. My dad says, “Use it or lose it.”
Marty: Yeah, exactly.
Lauren: I say that all the time.
Marty: The hard part about that is we are really complicated mechanisms, and so doing a bunch of exercises and getting strong arms is not going to do much for your legs. I mean, you’ve got to get all the muscles in your body…and it’s such a complicated body. How do you do all those things? And so if I extrapolate that to my mind, which is orders of magnitude more complicated than my body is, you know, we know where all the muscles and nerves are in the body. We have no idea even how the brain…well, we have some ideas about how the brain works, but we really don’t understand it at all. But think about that. If you don’t exercise your brain in all the different ways that it can be exercised, you’re going to lose those things. I know there is evidence… and that’s the most important thing. So we finally got to answer your question. Exercising my brain and continuing to think is the most important part of my life.
And it’s evidence-based. It’s not just an opinion, because I learned many many years ago from a study that was done at Princeton. Somebody invented a machine, a really simple box that I’m not going to try to describe it, but it…it changed the perspective so that when you try to figure out how to use this box, you had to relearn things that you already know. So they now had a measure of somebody’s learning ability.
And so they took this machine and they went out to the town of Princeton and they did a whole category of people because now they…they could get correlations, right. And the first thing that correlated was that the older you got, the lower your learning ability was, that when you got to the age of 40 or 50 or so, your learning ability crashed. And then somebody had the idea, they’re like, “Let’s go measure Einstein,” who happened to have been there. And it turns out that his learning ability correlated with an eight-year-old, of the other measurements they made.
So they finally got a more general audience, and they discovered that what they had measured was, the people that they’d measured in Princeton who stayed there were the people that had pretty much satisfied….were satisfied with their lives. They were not trying to improve their lives in any way. They were the people…and the people who had energetic minds, the kids would leave Princeton and go do something else. So when they measured a wide variety of people, they discovered that the correlation was how much you exercise your mind.
So that’s…that has been a fundamental part of my life. But then I discovered how complicated the mind is and how many different ways of thinking there are. So when I sit in my hot tub at night, which I do quite frequently, I do one of three things. Number one, I fantasize. Number two, I solve problems. And number three, I sing. I don’t know if you guys do that, but I…it turns out that…
Elaine: I do that as well.
Marty: There’s evidence that music…that there’s a part of your mind that is exercised when you are engaged. So I don’t know what I’ve left out of my life, but I’m…
Royan: That’s beautiful. And Einstein used to play the violin, right. And I know he has a quote on imagination, too. So I think he feels the same way about fantasy and leaving some freedom of thought.
Marty: So what was your other one?
Royan: My other last bullet point question…If you had a billboard that sat perennially for future generations to see, what would you put on there? So it had to be the size of a quote that could fit on a billboard. I borrowed that from Tim Ferris, by the way, who is a famous podcast host.
Marty: That was…you know the…I know that for the rest of the day, I’m going to be thinking of that and thinking of a whole bunch of better answers that I could give, but the first word that came to my mind, it’s got nothing, nothing rational, but it was “Imagine.” Maybe because that’s one of the things we talked about. But…but the word captures everything that we’ve been talking about, about thinking about what could be.
And…as I start rationalizing, and I’m looking at Lauren, who keeps reminding me about how important mindfulness is, “Understand Yourself” would be on the…on the billboard. But as I say, now you got me on that thing. Unfortunately, my attention span is not long enough to…
Royan: You can submit your answers later, but those two are beautiful, and I do think they encapsulate our conversation well. Marty, I can’t thank you enough on behalf of our entire team, Lauren, Elaine, for…this is special for us. We’re going to show this to our grandkids and be talking about this for days and years to come. If there’s any other closing thoughts that you want to share with our audience, or if you have any final questions for us, please.
Marty: I do. I just want to tell you guys how much you have inspired me because, you know, I have an optimistic view of what the rest of the world is. And I want the world to be a really good place with good people.
And I know that everybody is not in my category of Big _____ people. But being with three people like you guys is so inspiring to me because you’re thinkers and you’re a pleasure to be with. And I’m madly in love with all three of you.
Elaine: Oh, thank you so much, Marty.
Marty: Not as much as I love my wife! Thank you very much for tolerating me for all that time. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed your thoughts and your attitudes. It was great fun. And I hope this is useful for you, Royan.
Royan: 100%. And we’re going to stay in touch, Marty, so now we all have these phones in our hands, right? So we’re going to use them and ping you on Twitter and everywhere else that we see you active in. And obviously, we’ll be sending you some clips and the full podcast. And hopefully this is just the beginning or a continuation of our conversations.
Lauren: We’re so excited to read your book!
Marty: Just make sure your clips are like commercials.
Royan: And the preorder, you can preorder now on Kindle, Amazon. And I think January 4th is the launch date for Cutting the Cord?
Marty: January 5th.
Royan: January 5th.
Marty: Yeah, Royan is going to get a signed copy, but if…if Royan…you have to give the ladies my email address, and I will put you on the list.
Elaine: That would be amazing!
Lauren: I’d love that.
Marty: But don’t buy one, but tell all your friends to buy one.
Lauren: I’ll promote it on my social media!
Elaine: Me, too.
Marty: Great to meet all of you, Lauren and Elaine! Royan, it’s always a pleasure.
Royan: Thanks so much, Marty. I’ll call you when we’re back in San Diego so you can meet the baby.
Marty: Have fun in Portugal! I have been in Portugal, by the way. It was…the big thing in Portugal is the…food-wise, is the cod, because that’s all people eat in Portugal is cod….
Royan: Right, a lot of bacalao. Yeah, I’ve been getting my share.
Marty: It’s a big country and wonderful people. At least that was my experience.
Royan: It reminds me of California…it’s just a lot of coastline and really relaxed culture.
Marty: Yeah. And a great university, in Portugal.
Royan: Right. Coimbra and University of Lisbon, Porto, all have good schools, and apparently they graduate the third most engineers in the EU. I just found out.
Marty: Oh, no kidding! Oh, is that right? What was the name of the university? Porto, is that it?
Royan: There is a University of Porto. I think Coimbra graduates the most engineers and then University of Lisbon, where my wife works at the hospital there. So those are the three main universities in Portugal.
Marty: Well, Porto is the one that I visited. And you’re right, they were doing some very important engineering work…you know, we could go on forever, so…all right.
Royan: Thank you so much, Marty.
Elaine: Thank you so much, Marty!
Marty: Oh, thank you. Bye now!