James Schmachtenberger
Endless Possibilities with NeuroHacking (with James Schmachtenberger)

Mark speaks with James Schmachtenberger. James is the CEO and co-founder of the NeuroHacker Collective. He is dedicated to cutting edge thought, education, and products that will support humanity today as well as future generations. James has been an entrepreneur since the age of 17. He successfully owned and ran a Holistic College for 10 years and then transitioned into advocating for Medical Marijuana in the private and political with sectors. James is a perpetual optimist and is currently devoting most of his company's resources to the research of longevity and brain health.

James Schmachtenberger
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Show Notes

Today, Commander Divine speaks with James Schmachtenberger, CEO and co-founder of the Neuro Hacker Collective. Neuro Hacker is dedicated to cutting edge research to provide supplements for brain, body, and emotional health and well being. James has been an entrepreneur since the age of 17, with businesses that were diverse yet always focused on being in service to the health and well being of humanity. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Longevity: There are cells in our body called senescence cells. These cells are healthy cells that continue to divide and reproduce until they start to die, which is called apoptosis.These cells then affect other cells to begin to die in the body. Research is starting to show that we can stop this from happening, and therefore increase quality and length of life.
  • Successful Path for Meditation: Because our bodies are in a hyper-aroused state due to modern living. Inoreder to have a more beneficial and enjoyable meditation practice it is important to prime yourself through journaling, exercise, and breathwork before sitting to meditate.
  • Corruption in Politics: Large Companies invest in having highly intelligent and well trained professionals to surround congress people in order to make sure that the policies passed favor their needs. The system is corrupt and needs to change so people going into politics with the best intentions are not corrupted.
  • Rethinking Education: Traditional ways of educating are good for some learning. However, as more research is being done there is proof that there is a better way. This way is educating children through their interests and teaching them how to think and explore to gain knowledge and information. 


We’re always seeing screens and we’re bombarded by advertising and things move at a pace that, you know, our physiology and psychology just didn’t actually evolve for. And so the brain then kind of goes into this like hyperactive state to be able to make sense of and orient around all of it. But the result is, then you end up getting stuck in your head and you lose a lot of those other elements. And it becomes necessary to have the sort of intentional slowdown practices to be able to actually both come out of the sort of hyperactivity, hyper vigilant state, but also to be able to connect into the rest of who we are, and be able to live as more of a full person, as opposed to kind of a body being guided strictly by intellect.” James Schmachtenberger

Maharishi’s contribution to meditation in this country is extraordinary. Most people don’t really understand, like, almost all the research, you know, for the last 30-40 years came from his organization, the scientific evidence based on the health benefits and the the emotional benefits, and even the cultural benefits of meditation. Mark Divine

“You know, I came across that stuff a lot when I was working in politics, whether it was like people in different government positions or like sometimes you would collaborate on different political campaigns with like, unions or other major groups. And a lot of the people who were in charge, I’m like, you live a lifestyle that is not supported by the kinds of income that are supposed to come from public office. Like I don’t know what’s happening, but clearly something is.” James Schmachtenberger

You first move your body, and then you do a breath practice to draw your attention inward. And then you let go of the breath, and then you’re into a meditation practice. Gross to settle in that area. And that seems to work well, because like you said, you just get so much energy built up. It just needs to move.  Mark Divine


“ I have spent a decent amount of time studying existential risk. And when you look at the kinds of problems that are facing the world, there really isn’t a picture you can come to other than saying we’re fucked. So, you know, I get that. And one of the people I learned from a lot growing up was Buckminster Fuller, and he has this concept of emergence to emergency. A lot of times the greatest innovation only comes from absolute emergency, and you can’t see what that innovation is going to look like ahead of time.” James Schmachtenberger


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Documentary: Medical Cannabis and Its Impact on Human Health

Mark Divine  0:00  

I’m Mark Divine and this is the Mark Divine show. On this show, I explore what it means to be fearless in the lens of the world’s most inspirational, compassionate and resilient leaders. Including guests from all walks of life, such as motivational scientists, nutritional experts, peace crusaders, and my guest today comes from the nutritional and longevity space, James Schmachtenberger. James’s successful serial entrepreneur, lifelong focus on using business and innovation to affect large scale change for the benefit of humanity is the co-founder and CEO of neuro hacker collective, which is focused on making groundbreaking products for integrated health and well being through complex systems science. James, thanks for joining me today. 

James Schmachtenberger 0:42

Yeah, thanks for having me. 

Mark Divine 0:45

Yeah, I really enjoyed our conversation a few weeks ago. I mean, it’s neat that you live right up the road from me. So it’s fun to hang out in your little zen garden, which I now understand you’re you’re leaving behind for greener pastures.

James Schmachtenberger  0:55  

Yeah, you know that that conversation was a blast. I really enjoyed getting to geek out about consciousness with you for a couple hours. 

Mark Divine  0:00  

I’m Mark Divine and this is the Mark Divine show. On this show, I explore what it means to be fearless in the lens of the world’s most inspirational, compassionate and resilient leaders. Including guests from all walks of life, such as motivational scientists, nutritional experts, peace crusaders, and my guest today comes from the nutritional and longevity space, James Schmachtenberger. James’s successful serial entrepreneur, lifelong focus on using business and innovation to affect large scale change for the benefit of humanity is the co-founder and CEO of neuro hacker collective, which is focused on making groundbreaking products for integrated health and well being through complex systems science. James, thanks for joining me today. 

James Schmachtenberger 0:42

Yeah, thanks for having me. 

Mark Divine 0:45

Yeah, I really enjoyed our conversation a few weeks ago. I mean, it’s neat that you live right up the road from me. So it’s fun to hang out in your little zen garden, which I now understand you’re you’re leaving behind for greener pastures.

James Schmachtenberger  0:55  

Yeah, you know that that conversation was a blast. I really enjoyed getting to geek out about consciousness with you for a couple hours. 

Mark Divine 1:02

Yeah, it’s not often you get to talk about consciousness and psychedelics and meditation and uh, where humanity is going. You’re a very smart individual. So I always treasure those moments. So maybe we’ll get talking about some of that today, right and share some of our insights. 

James Schmachtenberger 1:19

I imagine some of that will come up, 

Mark Divine 1:21

Yeah, you know um, I always like to start kind of like getting a sense for where my unbeatable guests, you know, get their kind of source material. Like their, what’s the origin story of James Schmachtenberger? Where like, where are you from? What were your parents like? And why? Why did you grow up to be kind of the way you were, where you’re fascinated with the intersection of human potential and longevity and and entrepreneurship? 

James Schmachtenberger 1:48

Yeah, good question. I had a pretty, we’ll call it non conventional life growing up, and a lot of really extraordinary opportunities that I think significantly shaped who I am today. I mean, for one, I know you’re familiar with Transcendental meditation. 

Mark Divine 2:04

Yeah, absolutely.

James Schmachtenberger 2:04

And so I kind of grew up in that world. 


Mark Divine 2:06

Did you? Were your parents part of it? Or how did you get introduced to it? 


James Schmachtenberger 2:09

Yeah, a little bit. Before I was born, my parents had moved to Fairfield, Iowa, where there’s a university that was started by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who’s the same man that founded TM. 


Mark Divine 2:19



James Schmachtenberger 2:19

And they both were working with the University. 


Mark Divine

What’s that called? Again? I remember taking a look there once. You remember, what’s the name of that? 


James Schmachtenberger 2:28

It was different back when I was living there. But now it’s called the Maharishi University of Management. 


Mark Divine 2:34

Oh, interesting. 


James Schmachtenberger 2:35

Yeah, I think it was originally Maharishi International University. But because of the fact that there was an association with sort of yogic practices, they wanted to more professionalize it and move it in a management direction, despite the fact that, you know, the education actually covers a much broader gamut than that. 


Mark Divine 2:50

Maharishi’s contribution to meditation in this country is extraordinary. Most people don’t really understand, like, almost all the research, you know, for the last 30-40 years came from…


James Schmachtenberger 3:01



Mark Divine 3:01

His organization, the scientific evidence based on the health benefits and the the emotional benefits, and even the cultural benefits of meditation. 


James Schmachtenberger 3:11

No, it’s actually it’s one of the things I really appreciate about that, space is, I mean, obviously, there’s all kinds of different meditation and mindfulness practices that from a personal subjective perspective, you can tell that they have a real benefit, but most of them don’t have anywhere near the level of research that actually explains why the benefit is happening and sort of measures it. And I think that the work that they did, really did a lot to legitimize the whole space of meditation and mindfulness, and then kind of led way to other practices being able to become more popular as well.


Mark Divine 3:45

Right, yeah, I agree. So so your parents got involved in TM, and then you just kind of grew up with it and started meditating with your parents? How did that work out? 


James Schmachtenberger 3:53

Yeah, I mean, I, so I was born there. So there was obviously a lot of influence around not just meditation, but, you know, consciousness in general, a lot of study of enlightenment. I think I learned how to meditate when I was five. That was a different practice right there. Back then it was like a walking meditation for kids so that you can stay a little bit more engaged. And then I learned more of the traditional version, when I was 10. I don’t think you’re actually supposed to learn until you like 15 or 16.


Mark Divine 4:23

No, I would think not actually, yeah, cuz the brain isn’t quite developed enough to really kind of hold on to the mantra, different techniques. 


James Schmachtenberger 4:33

It’s interesting because I, I ended up getting, like, officially taught by proper teachers, I think when I was 16, but I had been taught previous to that in a sort of a non official capacity. I don’t know I have nominal experiences young, like I remember, you know, 10-11 years old. I just loved meditation. I would do it all the time. And especially then I would sort of routinely have experiences of Samadhi.


Mark Divine 4:58

Mhmm, no kidding, I mean, that’s the probably the first 10 year old in America to have those experiences.


James Schmachtenberger  5:05  

I was probably one of the few who actually knew that word at least the term, it’s definitely fortunate to get some interesting exposures. Yeah, I mean, so, you know, meditation consciousness, like, these were really heavy influences in my early life. But additionally, like, I was homeschooled for most of my life, and I did go to school off and on for a few years, because my parents wanted me to have that experience and have sort of the social engagement that came. But a lot of my time was homeschool. And the nature of how that was approached, there wasn’t a set curriculum, like the philosophy that my parents came to it with was that their job wasn’t to teach me, it was too like to be able to understand what I was innately interested in, and be able to facilitate that. And then, you know, where there was a need to learn specific kinds of content, it was predominantly taught through the lens of whatever I was already interested in.


Mark Divine 5:58

I love it. And you know, it’s interesting now, like, that’s, by the way, is starting to prove to be like, the fundamental, best way for an individual to learn. But there’s very little research that’s been done into it. But there’s a shite ton of research into the traditional model that proves that it is somewhat effective right at teaching, you know, content and learning methodologies. It is good to see that some research is being done on the self directed learning styles and in through going deep on a single subject, you can learn all things right, the need to learn. It’s pretty fascinating, I think.


James Schmachtenberger 6:32

Yeah. I mean, I, I feel very fortunate. I mean, it’s funny, because there’s a lot of things that I didn’t learn that most people know, right? Like, my geography sucks, I’m barely sure what conjugating the verb means, like, you know, their standard things that I didn’t get.


Mark Divine 6:45

Right, but you know how to find that information, and you know, how to learn, and you know, how to ask good questions, and deduce and induce and, and go deep, you know, to really master a subject, and that’s not really being taught at the traditional level, you know, with the linear model the past. 


James Schmachtenberger 6:59

Yeah, I think that was the key, it was like, it wasn’t about really, most of my education wasn’t about learning and retaining specific information, it was about knowing how to learn


Mark Divine 7:09



James Schmachtenberger 7:10

And being able to, you know, find out what was needed as it became relevant.


Mark Divine 7:14

And put it in the right context to make good decisions. I mean, that’s really education should be.


James Schmachtenberger 7:19

Yeah, a lot more of it was focused on, you know, how to learn and how to do sense-making.


Mark Divine 7:24



James Schmachtenberger 7:24

Because anyone can sort of memorize information and then be able to bring it back up. But if you don’t understand it, in context of everything else, that memorization has limited use.


Mark Divine 7:37



James Schmachtenberger 7:37

And so being able to take in information in a way where you’re contextualizing it against how that applies to the rest of life. And what you’re actually are interested in. Right, like, that was a real key was wanting to learn.


Mark Divine 7:51

Which feel is the motivation factor, right. So you don’t have to be sitting there staring at a chalkboard and listening to Professor drone on or teacher drone on about something they have no interest in, you’re gonna have limited learning limited recall there.


James Schmachtenberger 8:01



Mark Divine 8:02

I can imagine that learning environment that your parents provided, combined with the meditation, which is, you know, opening up the right left hemisphere kind of connection and interplay of information and giving you access to that contextual awareness of the right hemispheric thinking, which is a byproduct of meditation, that that’s incredible, especially in those formative years, where your brain is still evolving, neuroplasticity, right? 


James Schmachtenberger 8:27



Mark Divine 8:27

I can see how that would really lead to a very different way of thinking. 


James Schmachtenberger 8:31

I mean, one of the things I felt really fortunate around in my life, is that I’ve tended to have a very strong sort of intuitive sense of things, much more than intellectually, and I mean, I have a reasonably good intellect. But that’s never been the sort of core of it. And I think kind of, to what you were speaking, like, as I have a sort of traditional intellectual understanding of things, it’s then paired with more of a right brained sort of felt sense, that actually ends up being what brings through a lot of the depth more so than what my intellect is able to do. 


Mark Divine 9:03

Right. Yeah, I’d love to, you know, while we’re talking about TM, and before we get into kind of the other things that shaped you and your entrepreneurial journey, this discussion around the gut-mind and the heart-mind versus the brain-mind, and how meditation, you know, what your perspective is on how meditation kind of opens that up and creates this more of a whole mind or holistic thinking capacity?


James Schmachtenberger 9:26



Mark Divine 9:27

Whereas without access to that, in the way we’re trained in the Western world, you really end up getting kind of trapped in your head and not just in your head, but more in that left brain kind of linear cause and effect thinking. 


James Schmachtenberger 9:39

I think it’s one of the beauties of things like meditation and breathwork is is it allows you to connect to and like really tap into and move from parts of yourself other than your head.


Mark Divine 9:50



James Schmachtenberger 9:50

Because it’s not that the brain isn’t, you know, beautiful and wonderful and like should be celebrated. It’s just, it’s not a complete picture of who we are.


Mark Divine 9:57

That’s Right.


James Schmachtenberger 9:58

Being able to be guided by the heart, or like a felt sense, right. And you mentioned that gut, right like that, that gut instinct is so key. And most people, I think, lose a lot of that connection. Because we live in a world with extreme over stimulus.


Mark Divine 10:12



James Schmachtenberger 10:13

I mean, we’re always seeing screens and we’re bombarded by advertising and things move at a pace that, you know, our physiology and psychology just didn’t actually evolve for. And so the brain then kind of goes into this like hyperactive state to be able to make sense of and orient around all of it. But the result is, then you end up getting stuck in your head and you lose a lot of those other elements. And it becomes necessary to have the sort of intentional slowdown practices to be able to actually both come out of the sort of hyperactivity, hyper vigilant state, but also to be able to connect into the rest of who we are, and be able to live as more of a full person, as opposed to kind of a body being guided strictly by intellect. 


Mark Divine 10:57

Right, and then coming out of that hyper arousal, and hyper vigilant, ADHD, you know, state is actually a prerequisite to being able to tap into the heart wisdom and the guts, you know, instinctual warnings or, or drives. And most people are hyper aroused, and in a state of distress, because they’re always triggering that sympathetic nervous system, with the constant news feed and other negativity. And, yeah, I mean, that’s why when we teach box breathing like that, that really is fundamentally just to de-arouse, and to go back into a more balanced homeostatic state, so that you can then start to do some real inner work, right?


James Schmachtenberger 11:37



Mark Divine 11:38

It’s a progression. It’s a prerequisite. And I think even this is pertains to the discussion about meditation, where we found is, it wasn’t the case when you were learning it or your parents. But today, if someone jumps right into TM, or jumps right into mindfulness, they really struggle because they’re in that hyper aroused state. And they’re radically, you know, they’re just..


James Schmachtenberger 11:57



Mark Divine11:57

Their mind is bopping all around that, that monkey mind. And they’re not able to really sit calmly, and to even enjoy it for a few moments.


James Schmachtenberger 12:06

Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of times the way that people try to do meditative practices is almost a little bit cruel. 


Mark Divine 12:12

Right? It’s like a goal practice. 


James Schmachtenberger 12:14

Yeah, yeah. I mean, like, I’ve, I’ve done it many times, where it’s like, I have this ideal of like, okay, I’m super stressed out, I’ve got way too much going on. And I’m just gonna, like, sit, meditate and go into a Zen state, and it doesn’t fucking work, right? Like, I didn’t have enough quietness, to be that much busier. And it can really suck. Like, you know, I think everyone has their different sort of approaches and practices. Like, I know, for me, you know, a couple of things I found that have been really helpful is one, like, wherever my mind is really active, or maybe looping on things that I need to address, I’ll take a few minutes, and I’ll write them down. And like that process is like, okay, my mind can relax a little bit, because I know that I’m not going to lose that information, I can come back to it when I need to.


Mark Divine 12:53

Which is why basically, like a little journaling practice, preceding a meditation is very helpful and post meditation because when stuff comes up, okay, that’s cool. I like that. 


James Schmachtenberger 13:03

Yeah, like, that’s been big for me. And then the other part is moving physical energy.


Mark Divine 13:07



James Schmachtenberger 13:08

Like, most of the time, if I work out before I meditate, my meditation is way better. Same thing with breath work, same thing with pretty much any down regulating practice. If I don’t do that, it depends on what state I’m going in. Sometimes I’ll still have a really great experience. But I’ve spent most of my adult life running a minimum of three companies at a time. So despite all the practices, like there’s just a lot going on.


Mark Divine 13:33

There’s a lot going on.


James Schmachtenberger 13:34

And I have to do things to be able to help kind of slow that down. Because otherwise, yeah, meditation can really suck.


Mark Divine  13:44  

That’s awesome. That makes a lot of sense to me. You know, I learned the similar thing. I mean, the ancient yoga practice, you know, the eight limbs of yoga, and I don’t mean like the Americans, but you’ve been to yoga. It taught that, you know, you move from the gross to the subtle, by first training the body, moving the body, getting that energy out, and then the breath is the second set of breath is a little less gross. And I mean, disgusting, gross, but you know, less material than the body’s energy, but it’s still movement is still activity.


James Schmachtenberger 14:13



Mark Divine 14:14

Something you can kind of grab onto and do, right, it’s an activity, it goes into the action category, as opposed to the non action. So you first move your body, and then you do a breath practice to draw your attention inward. And then you let go the breath, and then you’re into a meditation practice. Gross to settle in that area. And that seems to work well, because like you said, you just get so much energy built up. It just needs to move. And so this works in the context of both and individual practice. Like today, I’m going to practice while I’m in a movement body, then I’m going to do some breathing, box breathing and then I’m going to meditate. But it also works in the context of introducing an individual and helping them along a progression to where they can effectively meditate. First, you have to get the body to be healthy and back in balance because if they’re overly stressed and not sleeping, well, you know, and they’re burned out, then they’re not meditating either. Right? 


James Schmachtenberger 15:05



Mark Divine 15:06

So first you work on fundamental movements, somatic practices, exercise, fueling, you know; nutrition, hydration, and sleep. And then we work on the breath, right, and get them to stabilize the mind with a breath and be able to concentrate, and then we move them into meditation. And then we do that kind of, you know, 3-2-1 practice of gross, gross to breath, the subtle in daily practice? 


James Schmachtenberger 15:30

Well, I think that kind of thing is so critical, because like, anytime you’re trying to develop a new practice, you’re gonna have such better results when you’re building on successes, right? So it’s like, when you dive into something totally new, and you dive in, maybe like too far into the deep end to start, the likelihood is, it’s not actually going to be very good experience. 


Mark Divine 15:49



James Schmachtenberger 15:49

And like, mentally, you have this ideal that it’s supposed to look a certain way. But now all that ideal does is give you more room to beat yourself up for the fact that it doesn’t look that way. And so like you do this practice, and you’re like, oh, this sucked, and now you’re discouraged, and you stopped doing it.


Mark Divine 16:04



James Schmachtenberger 16:05

And so like, knowing how to sort of sequence things, to be able to have really good experiences, even if the good experiences aren’t, as you know, flashy or dramatic as you might want them to be or heard. It’s like having a positive experience. Now, it’s like, oh, I felt that that was really beautiful. Let me do that again, and do slightly more and then slightly more as like, and that ends up being how you actually develop the ability to have sort of consistency, unless you’re just a ridiculously, like, determined person who will just push through anything. But for most people, that’s not realistic. And even if you can do it, it’s not necessarily the best path.


Mark Divine 16:41

I agree. Fascinating. So with this combination of meditation and alternative education, it’s likely that you’ve never considered a job as a career path.


James Schmachtenberger 16:54

I tried once I was not good at it. 


Mark Divine 16:56

No, you weren’t. 


James Schmachtenberger 16:57

Yeah. I mean, I guess technically, I had two jobs in my sort of later teenage years. And, I mean, I was both good at them and bad at them. Because like, I was good in the sense that I did think differently. And there was a creativity that came through that allowed me to operate different than most of the people. But simultaneously, I did not follow structure and traditional authority very well. 


Mark Divine 17:17



James Schmachtenberger 17:18

And so like when I was told to do something a particular way, and I’m like, there’s clearly a better way to do this, let me do it this other way. And I wasn’t allowed to, it was just profoundly frustrating. Yeah, I mean, definitely working for other people was not something that I was designed for, I ended up going into more entrepreneurial direction, pretty young, like I started my first company at 17. And it was a small business. But you know, at 18, I ended up taking over a vocational college that taught alternative medicine and psychology, 


Mark Divine 17:49



James Schmachtenberger 17:50

Most of 10 years doing that. And I was not even remotely equipped to do something of that significance at that age. So it was stupid hard, and a positive nice amount of damage to myself in the first few years trying to develop skill faster than I was really able to. But it was still, like, as much as it was hard. It was also beautiful, because I was able to be doing work that I was really passionate about. And like, particularly for me, the sort of psychology personal development side was always where the most intrigue came from. Because though I do care a lot about physiological health and wanting to help people with being able to both overcome challenges and enhance physiology, my sort of understanding intellectually, but more so like, my intuitive sense throughout life has always been the majority of challenge and suffering is more the psycho emotional level. And even where there are clear physiological causes to things, the ability to do what it takes to address those becomes a million times easier when you have addressed a lot of the blockages or resistance to doing the work.


Mark Divine 18:57



James Schmachtenberger 18:58

And so like that piece was and has always been kind of the core for me. 


Mark Divine 19:03

Did you have a mentor or, you know, how did you navigate going from zero to running a school, 


James Schmachtenberger 19:10

I was really fortunate. So I sort of had two mentors in that process. One was a bit more of a business mentor, when I was trying to figure out how to raise money to buy the college. One of the people I got introduced to was this older retired CPA, who, for whatever reason, came really liked me and was willing to put up some of the money. But his condition was if I put up the money, I’m in control of the finances, and I’ll teach you what I’m doing along the way. 


Mark Divine 19:37

Oh, that’s really cool.


James Schmachtenberger 19:37

And I was like great, I don’t even know how to do them anyways, I can’t balance a checkbook. So he ended up being, you know, fairly meaningful mentor for me on sort of the business side, being able to talk through and understand how business worked, how finances work, how to make decisions. But then also the man who had founded the school I took over was really my sort of primary mentor in life. His name was Dr. Barry green. And he was sort of known as one of the grandfather’s of holistic medicine, and had been working in the field for almost 40 years.


Mark Divine 20:10



James Schmachtenberger 20:11

And just had incredible depth of not just knowledge, but real embodiment of everything like he was. He was someone who did all of the practices, very diligently did Tai Chi every day for probably at least 25 years by the time I met him. And, you know, developed new processes around doing psycho emotional clearing. And so he had founded the school and owned it and was doing a lot of the coursework. And right around the time I was graduating from there was when he had said he wanted to sort of semi-retire, he still wanted to teach, but he didn’t want to be on the business side. So I ended up taking over the business and, but then I did another, almost five years of pretty intensive study with him after I had finished the core curriculum. And then beyond that just continue to do work as it arose. But he was very much like a second father, for me and serve a huge role in my life. I had a really beautiful upbringing and childhood in many ways, but it was also very experimental, which in some ways, was kind of disastrous. And so he was the main person who kind of helped me work through a lot of the traumas and challenges of early childhood. 


Mark Divine 21:16

The disastrous, was because trying to fit that back into mainstream is very challenging. 


James Schmachtenberger 21:22

Oh, for sure. Yeah. 


Mark Divine 21:24

Right. A round peg in a square hole, or visa, a square peg in a round, whichever..


James Schmachtenberger  21:30  

Yeah. I mean, he was he was really my main mentor, and, you know, served a huge role in my life. And he passed away about probably three and a half years or so ago now. But, you know, we were closely connected for 20, almost 20 years.


Mark Divine 21:45

What a blessing to have someone like that. 


James Schmachtenberger 21:47

Yeah, I feel very fortunate.


Mark Divine 21:49

So what happened after, did you sell this? Was it a successful, you know, endeavor in terms of like a business exit, and that kind of thing?


James Schmachtenberger 21:56

It was reasonably successful. Like I said, I knew nothing about business when I started. So you know, the first portion was kind of challenging. But as it went on, you know, over the, like, nine, nine and a half years I ran it, I grew the company by about three times from where I had taken it over, and eventually did sell it. I was still in love with the work, but I kind of hit roadblocks where I wanted to start to evolve with a curriculum based on things that I had been studying. And, you know, we were credited by multiple government bodies. And a lot of things I wanted to teach weren’t things that could be quantified in very traditional senses, so I couldn’t get them approved. So I ended up deciding to step away. And from there, I ended up moving into the cannabis space, which was sort of unexpected, for me, wasn’t something that was on my radar at all. But towards the last part of my time at the school, a lot of the teachers that were in like the nutrition and or biology department, were starting to tell me about the medical effects of cannabis. And honestly, I just thought they were full of shit and trying to come up with a good reason to get high. But like, as I started to look, I was like, okay, the Nope, there’s actually something here. And so I started a dispensary in 2009, here in San Diego. And then pretty quickly after that got pulled really deep into the industry. When I first started working with patients, I came to see how impactful cannabis actually could be for healing all kinds of challenges, like how profound a difference in quality of life, but especially back then the stigma was still incredibly strong. 


Mark Divine 23:28

You’re talking primarily of CBD or both to both?


James Schmachtenberger 23:31

It was dependent on the, you know, kind of what conditions somebody was dealing with. You know, obviously, we would err on the side of CBD and other non psychoactive as much as possible. But, you know, for a lot of things like severe anxiety or insomnia or certain kinds of neurological pain, THC was just vastly more effective. But the thing that really stood out for me and I think what really pulled me into the industry in a much deeper way was seeing how beneficial it was paired with how terrified people were to let anyone know that they were using cannabis as medicine. And as I started to see that I was like, okay…this isn’t okay, clearly the world needs to understand the topic better. 


Mark Divine 24:10



James Schmachtenberger 24:11

And so I started doing some public education work, which pretty quickly turned in producing a documentary about the medical effects of cannabis. And I had no idea what was going to come from that. But it turned out that it went viral. I didn’t know what viral was at the time. 


Mark Divine 24:26

What year are we talking about now?


James Schmachtenberger 24:28

This was in 2011 that released the film. 


Mark Divine 24:30

Okay, got it. What was that called? By the way? 


James Schmachtenberger 24:33

That film was called Medicinal Cannabis and Its Impact on Human Health. 


Mark Divine 24:37



James Schmachtenberger 24:37

Not the sexiest title that ever happened. 


Mark Divine 24:39

That sounds like a subtitle.


James Schmachtenberger  24:41  

Yeah, I mean, it was there was, there was already a number of documentaries out of the time, but they were all designed more for people who already pro cannabis and they had people with dreadlocks and more counterculture. And like, my thing was, I wasn’t trying to make it sexy. I was trying to make it compelling for people who were either on the fence or who were anti, and, and so we only featured extremely credentialed researchers out of major universities that, you know, actually, in all circumstances had had federal funding for their research, which was not common. It was a little on the dull side, but it provided a lot of education in a very short period of time. And, you know, after that things started kind of taking off and going around the world. Then what happened was, I started getting emails from 1000’s of people all over saying, Okay, I saw the film, my mind’s changed, I want to be able to use cannabis for my child with epilepsy or my partner with cancer or whatever it was, but I live in a place where it’s illegal, what do I do? So I was like, shit. Okay, now we have to work on policy. So then I end up getting heavily into the policy side, sort of later, in 2011 2012, formed an industry trade association, formed a political action committee started pulling together industry resources to try to drive new legislation. And I spent about seven years really actively in the political side of that working on…


Mark Divine 26:01

Was that at a state level or federal or both?


James Schmachtenberger 26:04

It was mostly at more at a state level, there was a couple things I worked on at a federal level. But there wasn’t a lot of mechanisms to be able to do anything at the federal level at the time. I did participate in suing the Department of Justice at one point tried to say change some policies. I don’t recommend that it wasn’t a good idea. 


Mark Divine 26:22

I was gonna say I’m sure that didn’t go over very well.


James Schmachtenberger  26:25  

It didn’t. Sometimes I’ve been more ambitious and intelligence.


Mark Divine 26:31

Right. Tell me about that. You mentioned the story, which was just mind blowing with the DEA. 


James Schmachtenberger 26:37

Oh, yeah, that was that was an interesting and pretty terrifying experience. So I had written a piece of legislation, just in a local city here, it wasn’t even at a state level. And we were trying to get a bill passed, and the city was so adamantly against it.


Mark Divine 26:53



James Schmachtenberger 26:54

And so they had tried all kinds of things to make it to where the bill couldn’t proceed. But you know, like, I had really good team. So we had dotted our I’s cross our T’s, they couldn’t find any, like process faults to be able to shut it down. And so I was at one of the city council meetings one time, and I ended up in the back of the room seeing this guy and what must have been, like a 5 or $7,000 suit, like it was clearly out of place for where we were. And I was, like, confused as to who he was. And at the end of meeting, he came up to me, and apparently he was the head of the DEA for I think was for California at the time. But whatever it was high ranking. And he sort of alluded to the fact that if I continued down this path, I might get to experience the hospitality of the federal government by spending a number of years behind bars.


Mark Divine 27:43

Just an outright threat. That’s awesome. 


James Schmachtenberger 27:46

Yeah, I mean, you know, he was smart. So it was it was tactically done.


Mark Divine 27:49



James Schmachtenberger 27:50

But it was, yeah, it scared the living fuck out of me, because he actually had the authority to pull things off if he wanted to whether or not that was legal or ethical. And luckily, they hadn’t actually shut the cameras off in the city council halls yet. 


Mark Divine 28:04

So the whole thing was recorded. 


James Schmachtenberger28:06

They were supposed to because the meeting had ended. But so the thing ended up getting caught on camera, ended up being able to use that I was doing some work with the ACLU at the time. And so they got the footage and kind of helped shut it down. And there was never any follow up repercussions with him. But I was like actively shaking when that happened.


Mark Divine 28:23

I bet. The the irony in that whole thing for me that I hadn’t  thought of, I didn’t think about this first time or the story is that the DEA does not pay enough to have a $5,000 suit, right? So it’s possible, this guy was getting a little on the side, from some of his kingpins.


James Schmachtenberger  28:40  

You know, I came across that stuff a lot when I was working in politics, whether it was like people in different government positions or like sometimes you would collaborate on different political campaigns with like, unions or other major groups. And a lot of the people who were in charge, I’m like, you live a lifestyle that is not supported by…


Mark Divine 28:56



James Schmachtenberger 28:57

The kinds of income that are supposed to come from public office. Like I don’t know what’s happening, but clearly something is.


Mark Divine 29:03

You do know what’s happening, but proving it..


James Schmachtenberger  29:06  

I don’t know the specifics, but you can kind of figure it out along the way. 


Mark Divine 29:09

It’s kind of become a little bit of an epidemic, I think in our government right now.


James Schmachtenberger 29:14

For sure. 


Mark Divine 29:15



James Schmachtenberger 29:!6

I mean, that was one of the reasons why like, I was really happy to be in politics for a number of years, because we were able to make a lot of impact. But it was hard. And I did not enjoy it because the level of corruption and was just intense. And, and it was systematically one of the things that changed in my view as I got deeper into it. Because a lot of people were like, oh, people become politicians, because they are evil, and they want control. And that actually wasn’t what I found most of the time. There was elements of that.


Mark Divine 29:43

No, I don’t think that’s true. 


James Schmachtenberger 29:45

But a lot of the people I saw come in came in with really good, beautiful Intentions, and get sort of systematically broken down over the course of a few years. Because there would always be these situations where it’s like, oh, there’s this thing you believe in that you really want to do.

Well, if you’ll sign off on this thing, I’ll give you this favor to help in your direction. And, you know, you end up having to do these sort of gray area cost benefit analysis. And, you know, some of them are pretty clear, some of them aren’t. But over time, it just sort of degrades. And there’s so much information being poured at you that it becomes really hard to actually make sense of anything. 


Mark Divine 30:25



James Schmachtenberger 30:26

Like, if you look at a federal level, just the pharmaceutical industry alone has, on average, 11 full time lobbyists per member of Congress. 


Mark Divine 30:37

That’s insane.


James Schmachtenberger 30:37

Right, so they have 11 really educated, highly paid, highly trained people whose whole job is, how do I spin a narrative to make this person who has decision authority think a certain thing, 


Mark Divine 30:48

Right. And the flip side there, they’re doing the same thing with, you know, research community and what gets funded, but doesn’t get funded, you know, outright manipulation of information. Right?


James Schmachtenberger 31:00



Mark Divine 31:01

I read a stat today, actually, that the top 10 pharma companies have more profit than the collective of the Fortune 500 than the totality of the Fortune 500 profit. 


James Schmachtenberger 31:12

That could be I don’t know that. But that would not surprise me, from what I’ve seen. Like people don’t realize the degree of influence, like, you know, most scholarships for med school students are funded by pharma companies, most buildings that are built on medical schools are funded by pharmaceutical companies, like they have an incredible degree of influence over the nature of education. And this is why, like, if you become a doctor, depending on the nature of like, the kind of practice you go into, for the most part, there’s either no requirements, or maybe a requirement of up to about 20 hours of nutritional training.


Mark Divine 31:45



James Schmachtenberger 31:46

Out of the eight or 12, your education.


Mark Divine 31:48

Mind boggling. 


James Schmachtenberger 31:49

Whereas there’s 1000’s of hours of education on medications and surgeries. And I’m not an anti pharma person. Like I think there’s really brilliant applications of allopathic medicine. But the problem is the way that information is sort of distorted.And everything is just to emphasize in one particular direction.


Mark Divine 32:10

it’s become a first resort instead of a last resort. 


James Schmachtenberger32:12

And it shouldn’t be right because the whole standard model of allopathic medicine is the treatment of disease. And ideally, we shouldn’t be waiting to get to the level of disease, there’s so much work in the realm of Preventative Medicine, and in the realm of optimization, that can avert the necessity for a lot of the treatment of symptoms. 


Mark Divine 32:35



James Schmachtenberger 32:36

Now, if you’re at a place where you got severe symptoms, sometimes Western medicines, amazing, right? Like, when I crashed a motorcycle and broke my arm I didn’t like my first thought was not…


Mark Divine 32:45

you’re not gonna eat a banana, or an apple, it’s too late. 


James Schmachtenberger 32: 49

Like, I did do some anti inflammatory supplements and you know, things but like, I went to the doctor and got it set and put a cast on like, and that was perfect. But things go in that direction, way too much. And that was part of my least one of the drivers in wanting to start neuro hacker was being able to take the very best of cutting edge preventative medicine and particularly optimization, and advance it in such a way and apply enough research to it that we can start to bring real credibility to that space more so than had previously existed. And there’s already a lot there. But we took an approach that allowed us to sort of design and quantify research in a way that the sort of standard medical model was a bit more accustomed to looking at it.

Mark Divine 33:36

Right. Yeah, that’s when I first met you is when you were forming neuro hacker with your brother, Daniel and, and Jordan. 


James Schmachtenberger 33:44



Mark Divine 33:45

So that was about what, six years ago? Or when did you start neuro hacker? 


James Schmachtenberger 33:48

Yeah, I mean, we, I guess we started going in market about five and a half, six years ago. But we spent almost two years before that just doing pure r&d, before we actually turned it into a company. Because the nature of what we were trying to do really required fairly insane amount of research to even kick it off. 


Mark Divine 34:06

I bet. Yeah, I think that’s, you know, I’d love to talk a little bit about Qualia, and then kind of your innovations there. But I use the product every day, five times a week or so as prescribed is your quality of mind and quality of life, the former eternus product, I think they’re just brilliant. 


James Schmachtenberger 34:23



Mark Divine 34:24

So first, you you kind of want had this vision to really create a premier nootropic that solved a lot of issues, right? And so it’s like cheap product, because there’s so much that you’ve done with it. 


James Schmachtenberger 34:34



Mark Divine 34:35

So tell me about that. And then how that whole that line extended to you because it’s almost like if you can get the brain healthy then then we can start to work on longevity and now you know, actually reversing aging, reversing senescence, I think that’s fascinating. So give us kind of like the linkages and how that whole path has developed and where we’re at today. 


James Schmachtenberger 34:56

So like with neuro hacker, the the thing that I would say it’s probably most unique about the company is the sort of model of science that we’ve worked to pioneer, which is, you know, we took complex system science and applied it to the study of human physiology. And to best my knowledge, no one else was doing that. And it’s still not particularly common. But, you know, taking this complex systems approach allowed us to understand physiological systems at a level of detail and nuance that, for the most part, people just weren’t looking at, but also through a fundamentally different lens, right, what the nature of that was, was the recognition that there’s an innate brilliance in our biology.


Mark Divine 35:34



James Schmachtenberger 35:35

And that a lot of the ways that medicine has traditionally worked, whether allopathy or even most alternative forms of medicine, there’s this orientation to override natural physiology, and say, oh, you know, you’re having this particular issue, you need more of x, let’s give that to you. And, you know, oftentimes, that approach can have short term benefits, but it usually creates long term harm, because now the body is operating out of balance. And so our approach was to say, let’s understand how the system is designed to optimally work if it’s not under excessive stress and challenge and hardship, and then factor the excessive stress and challenge and hardship and see what are the kinds of nutrients that we need to provide to be able to get it back into balance. So the first goal is, how do we bring the system into homeostasis? And then from homeostasis, how do we do what we refer to as increasing homeostatic capacity. First, bring it into balance, and then increase capacity? Well, staying in balance. When you look at it, the cognitive domain, the majority of things in the cognitive space, some of them work on different neural pathways, but the most common would be dopamine. People like, oh, increased dopamine, and you’ll get more focus and attention span. And it’s true. But if you increase dopamine too much where it’s disproportionate with the other neurotransmitters, you’ll have a really great near term effect. And over time, it’ll start to create other imbalances and can have, at the same time that you become more focused and more driven, you can decrease things like discernment and critical thinking.


Mark Diviine 37:06



James Schmachtenberger  37:07  

So our approach was, you know, we’re not trying to specifically create more or less of anything, we want your body to be able to do that in relationship to what is exposed to. So there are times where you need more dopamine, there are times where you need more serotonin, or oxytocin or whatever it is. And by helping to bring the system into homeostasis, and give it what it needs, your body can actually naturally respond to those things and be able to produce more or less of what’s needed in real time. 


Mark Divine 37:35



James Schmachtenberger 37:36

And so one of the things that’s been really neat to see with all of our products, but particularly the cognitive one, because that’s been out longest and has the most research is how broad the nature of benefits are, right. It’s not just improvements in thinking process, or processing speed or things like that. It’s like a lot of my favorite testimonials actually have very little to do with the way that people would traditionally think of cognition. A lot of more people saying, I’m so much more present than I used to be. I can look in my kid’s eyes and feel them in a way that I never could before. In addition to I’m way more motivated, I’m not procrastinating anymore, I’m remembering things that I didn’t remember, all of those are great. And for me a lot of the most excited is like how do you increase presence and connection, which are all things that are mediated through the brain and nervous system. 

And so we started with cognition, partly because it was something that were like, hey, almost everyone needs cognitive support, either. There’s an area where they’re suffering, and they need to get back to what they had previously experienced, or they just want to optimize and be able to have more of a cutting edge capacity to really show up to life fully. So part of it was just the broad need. But part of it was also that if your brain isn’t working well, everything else is much harder.


Mark Divine 38:52



James Schmachtenberger 38:53

We all know that we’re supposed to exercise regularly, make good dietary choices, have a consistent sleep schedule, all these things. But when you’re just stressed out and exhausted and sort of mentally suffering, it’s really hard to motivate to do those things. So when you start by addressing cognitive, and getting to a place where you have clarity, you have vision of what’s necessary, you have the drive to be able to act on it. Not only do you get the benefits from that, but you get to leverage that into all of the other aspects of health. So we started with cognition, and that was really the core focus for about the first three years. And then as we kind of expanded into that domain, we decided to take the same complex systems model and start applying it to other aspects of physiology. Then we went into, you know, kind of as the next main phase was sort of anti-aging medicine. We developed the product you just mentioned called quality of life, which is really designed to improve the health of cells at a very fundamental level, right. It’s working off of a number of different pathways, the one that we’ve studied most extensively in relationship to it as in NAD, right, in NAD is the primary fuel source for cells. It’s where they derive energy and what allows for healthy cellular metabolism cellular reproduction. And we took a very different and novel approach to how we did that, that’s turned out to be really beautiful. The pilot study we did on that product showed, after 30 days of being on the product, that people’s NAD levels increased by a full 100% in their blood. And that’s significantly more than anything else that’s on the market. And again, it’s because we are taking a more complex approach, we’re not using a single precursor to create more NAD, we’re using multiple things that hit on multiple different pathways, to be able to kind of work in conjunction with how the body’s designed to. 


Mark Divine 40:49

So this product is not an anti aging, it’s just a you put in the longevity category, because by giving your cells more energy than technically speaking, they’re going to slow down the breakdown process. And, and also, you’ll have more energy to do the healthy things that your body needs to stay fit and give you a nice lifespan or health span, yeah.


James Schmachtenberger 41:11

That product hits on a number of the key things that are studied and known in relationship to longevity. So I mean, in that regard, it’s a longevity product. But really, it’s more than that. Like it’s, I mean, obviously, I’m biased, right, because I built the company, but I think it’s probably the best like foundational health product that I’ve ever seen. Because when you are addressing health at the cellular level, and giving the cells what they need to be able to function optimally, everything gets better. 


Mark Divine 41:38



James Schmachtenberger 41:39

Right. So rather than having to address individual tissues or organs, like the whole thing is going to improve in a very material sense. And so you know, that’s been just a really awesome product it has, I mean, we expected it to quite a lot of good things, it’s actually outperformed some of what the expectations were. And it led us to move deeper into that path. And we’ve we’ve done products in, you know, sleep and immunity, a number of things. But we have been starting to put progressively more resources into things in and around like longevity and foundational health space. You know, most recently, actually, like only like seven or eight weeks ago, we just launched a new product called qualia senolytic. That product is designed to be able to essentially kill off and get rid of senescence cells. And now like this is the very cutting edge of longevity medicine right now, most people have never heard of senescence cells.


Mark Divine 42:31

Right. I think I literally just became aware of that term. Maybe in the last year or so. 


James Schmachtenberger 42:35

Yeah, I only heard about it with my research team came to me and said, Hey, there’s this interesting thing, can we work on it? I had no clue. And I’ve been a lot of my life in this space. But senescence cells, if you know, for those who aren’t familiar is healthy cells are able to continue to divide and reproduce. And then when they get to a place where they’re not able to, the process kicks in, called apoptosis, where they die off. It means essentially scheduled die off, cells are supposed to be able to reproduce, when they hit end of life, they die and they get removed from the body. But as we age, certain functions around apoptosis around immune function start to decrease. And some cells become what are known as senescent. Were the more common term for the zombie cells. 


Mark Divine 43:23



James Schmachtenberger 43:24

Because they’re still alive in the sense that like, they’re still there, they’re taking up space, they’re taking up resources, but they’re not really providing the benefit, they can no longer divide, but they’re also not dying off. And similar to as zombies. It’s not just the effect of them. It’s like how a zombie will eat somebody else’s brains and they become a zombie spells, excrete these proteins that turn other cells around them to become senescent. 


Mark Divine 43:51



James Schmachtenberger 43:52

And so it ends up having this downward spiral effect because as it…


Mark Divine 43:53

It accelerates the aging process. 


James Schmachtenberger 43:56

Exactly. So as we get older, we build up more senescence cells. And then because we’re not able to get rid of them the way that we ideally should, they then turn more cell senescence, and it just speeds up the whole process. 


Mark Divine 44:09



James Schmachtenberger 44:10

And so this is like the very cutting edge right now of what most longevity research is going into, is, how do you get rid of excessive senescence cells? Some of the amount in the body is natural and fine. But when they start to build up too much, that’s when you start to have all kinds of issues associated. And this is an incredibly new area, like researchers have known about senescence cells for a few decades. But it was maybe 12 or 15 years ago that we started to understand that different kinds of stressors and environmental toxins and etc, could actually increase the number of them. And it was only in 2015, that the first research came out of the combination of Mayo Clinic and Scripps that showed that anything could actually be done about it. We knew about them, we didn’t know that you could actually get rid of them, then a number

have quite large scale studies were done particularly with a drug called the stat nib, combined with a supplement called quercetin that showed the ability to reduce the number of senescence cells meaningfully. And there’s still tremendous amounts of research going into that. 

Given our approach and the nature of what we do, we don’t work with drugs, we scoured all of the studies that have ever been done on the topic and looked at what are all the different compounds that are known to be able to reduce senescence cells, and particularly look at it in relationship to senescence cells in different parts of the body, because all types of cells can become senescent. But different compounds will affect you know, senescence cells and fat more than in the brain, or muscle or etc. 

So, again, as we do, we took the sort of complex approach and use, in this case, nine different ingredients, that all have meaningful research showing their ability to target and kill off senescence cells, each one having more emphasis on particular types of cells. 


Mark Divine 46:03

How will you know if it’s successful? 


James Schmachtenberger 46:05

It’s a bit tricky right now, because it’s so new, like, the main way that in lab settings this is tested is to actually biopsy tissues, right. And so you look at in the lab, the number of senescence cells before and after some kind of treatment, but most people don’t want to have multiple parts of their body biopsied.


Mark Divine  46:23  



James Schmachtenberger 46:24

So instead, what you do is you look at what are the kinds of effects of built up senescence, and then you do measurements against those effects. So like we did brand new products, we’ve only had a chance to do one study so far. But we recently completed a pilot study, where we were looking at joint discomfort and essentially joint mobility, right, the ability to do regular activities with or without pain. And with this particular study, we had nine people who had moderate degrees of joint related pain, and had them do what are known as validated questionnaires, questionnaires that have already been determined to be able to be an effective measurement against particular kinds of issues. 

And so you know, they did a baseline one before they ever started. And then they did three rounds of this product, and did questionnaires after each round. And I mean, the results were way better than I even expected. And I tend to be pretty optimistic. But what we found there was out of the whole group, there was a 51% reduction in challenges with daily activity and a 53% reduction in joint discomfort. 


Mark Divine 47:35

Do you think these senescence cells are causing inflammation? Is that what leads to inflammation? 


James Schmachtenberger 47:41

I mean, there’s a lot of things that cause inflammation. But senescence does have a link there. 


Mark Divine 47:47

Interesting. Wow, that sounds very promising. 


James Schmachtenberger 47:49

Yeah, it’s, it’s a very cool area. I mean, I’m still getting to understand a lot of the deeper elements of it myself.

Mark Divine 47:54

You’re in, you’re taking these products, too, because you’re actually like, 85. And you look like, what, 40 years? Just kidding. 


James Schmachtenberger 48:00

Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I’m, you know, we just came out with a product. So I’ve only like, this particular one is taken two days a month. So it’s more like a cleanse than a daily product, because that’s actually what the research shows. And it’s interesting, because there’s a few other supplements on the market for addressing senescence, but most of them are taken daily. And the way that the research has shown is that what’s usually referred to sort of a hit and run approach is actually most effective, where you take relatively high doses, periodically, kill off a large number of senescence cells and then give the body a break, and then do it again. So the nature of what we designed is two days in a row per month. So I’ve done two cycles. So far, I will do my third cycle in about two weeks. But even after two cycles, I’m definitely noticing a difference in terms of less joint pain and sort of tightness, and speed up in recovery time. 


Mark Divine 48:57

I’m gonna check that out. So is there any particular age where it’s good to take this? I mean, I wouldn’t imagine like an 18 year old needs to take it? 


James Schmachtenberger 49:05

Yeah, I mean, the older that we are, the more senescence cells are built up. And so it becomes progressively more important. But like with many things in the longevity space, the earlier you start them, the longer the benefit stretches out.


Mark Divine 49:19



James Schmachtenberger 49:19

Like our Dr. Greg Kelly, who’s our lead formulator. I was just talking to him. And he was saying that, you know, the last many years, he’s had an incredibly healthy lifestyle. But when he was younger, and he was in the Navy, he didn’t sleep at all, he had, you know, rotating shifts between day and night, had, you know, terrible diet, terrible, all kinds of things. And, you know, he thinks that a lot of his senescent cells actually potentially built up in the body in his 20s and then just stayed. And it wasn’t until much later as he started to understand and be able to get rid of him that he’s like, oh, now I’m seeing huge benefits. And that you know, the research on that is is still unclear.

We don’t know definitively how long senescence cells exist in the body. But there is reason to believe that they can be there for a long time. So I would say, ideally, people starting this kind of thing in their 20s, or at least 30s would have a huge impact, they won’t probably have as much of a subjective effect as someone who starts taking in their 50s or 60s or later, because just the total buildup of cellular senescence isn’t quite as high. 


Mark Divine 50:27



James Schmachtenberger 50:28

But it’s then also going to make it to where they have more years ahead of them before there starts to be buildup. Same thing with quality of life, right? Like the people who notice it most tend to be a little bit older. But there’s no age at which you don’t want your cells to be healthier. You don’t want your mitochondria to have more energy. So like, when you start those things earlier, you have sort of maximum benefit.


Mark Divine 50:52

And you’re also have the benefit of not only increasing your lifespan, but being healthy during that those older years, right, which is really a key objective of yours. I think it’s like, it’s one thing to live to 110 or have this idea that we’re gonna live to 110 or 120. But we want to be healthy and active and, and have, you know, all of our capabilities. 


James Schmachtenberger 51:12

Yeah, I mean, I care more about what I refer to as healthspan then  lifespan, like, yeah, it’d be cool if 150. But I mean, the way that most people are like, the last 15-20 years of their life is got a lot of struggle and pain associated. And even if you don’t extend lifespan at all, but you’re happy and healthy and thriving, throughout the duration of time that you’re on the planet you’re doing. That, to me, is the key focus. I’d much rather live to 70 years  and be really happy and healthy the whole time than live to 90 or 100 and spend the last 20 years suffering.


Mark Divine 51:58

What is your belief about the limits of human age? It’s possible in least our lifetimes, for someone listening who might be 20. 


James Schmachtenberger 51:56

You know, I mean, it’s interesting, there’s so much conflicting info out there. But there’s sort of what are the limits of biology as we understand it today, versus what’s possible as we continue to have more capacity to manipulate biology. So in terms of just what the body can naturally do, if being well taken care of, I suspect that life expectancy between 120 and 150 is very viable.

And a lot of the research I’ve seen into some of the more cutting edge things where you’re getting into, like gene manipulation, indicate the ability to look at lifespans, you know, well past 200. How quickly we get there is a question mark, but there’s, you know, there’s a lot of things that are moving dangerously fast pace is where it’s probable, in my view that people who are born in the last handful of years could very well have access to the types of technologies that would allow food 150 200 plus year kinds of lifespans. 


Mark Divine 52:55

Mhhm, yeah.


James Schmachtenberger 52:56

Which is both exciting and terrifying.


Mark Divine 52:58

Right? It’s a game changer for practically everything. Right? 


James Schmachtenberger 53:02

Right. Like, personally, I would love that. Because you know, every five or 10 years that passed, I’m like, wow, I was an idiot, five or 10 years ago, I’ve learned so much more since then.


Mark Divine 53:11



James Schmachtenberger 53:12

Like the number of multiples of that I get to experience sounds really exciting. But then when you start to think about a lot of the bigger implications of that with, you know, if reproduction rates don’t decrease in proportion to longevity. Now, you have all kinds of issues with overpopulation, resource management. And it just, it’s hard to get into some really deep moral questions of how that type of thing is navigated. It is way beyond my scope of expertise, but things that I am interested in thinking about sometimes.


Mark Divine 53:42

Right. That’s awesome. What’s the overall objective for the business of Neuro Hacker? I mean, you’re CEO, are you gonna stay CEO forever and sell the company? Or, you know, what’s, what’s the future look like? 


James Schmachtenberger 53:54

Yeah, I mean, it’s always hard to predict the future. But I mean, as I can see it right now, I plan on staying CEO for probably at least a number of years ahead. I think for me, it’s, I care a lot more about the mission of Neuro Hacker than I do my role. So if it came to the point where someone could do a better job than me, I’d happily Hand it over. But as it stands right now, I still have a sort of unique understanding and competency in this space that allows me to be very useful. But yeah, I mean, you know, the mission of Neuro Hacker is really to optimize human capacity.

And that’s both at a physiological level, be able to improve health and optimize all different systems. But also, like a lot of what we do is not just health related, we get into different layers of education, where we’re doing a lot of content around existential risk and future of civilization. And so it’s it’s optimizing at the individual level, but also the collective level. 


Mark Divine 54:51

Yeah, that’s what your brother Daniel is really passionate about as well. 


James Schmachtenberger 54:55


Mark Divine 54:55

The whole systems that are cultural and global level. 


James Schmachtenberger  54:58 

Yeah, yeah. I mean, he really had a very big influence on that part of the business. 


Mark Divine 55:02

Yeah. Awesome, fascinating stuff. I’m excited to see the company develop. I’m a big fan and excited to try your senolytic product. So where can folks learn more about you and the company? Just probably the neuro hacker website, right? 


James Schmachtenberger 55:17

Yeah, this place is just neurohacker.com. 


Mark Divine 55:19

Okay, you got a great blog and a great podcast series, there’s all sorts of tremendous information on the website. That’s a really very helpful tool and community, you’ve created a community out of the whole, you know, from a web system.


James Schmachtenberger 55:32

Yeah, I feel really fortunate with what’s come together. You know, we started off by just sort of taking away a lot of the limitations of research and saying, Hey, we’re not going to make you do research for a specific outcome in a specific timeframe. And at a specific budget, we’re like, we’re going to actually open up the doors to be able to do proper research and to see where it goes, and whatever is best is what we’re going to execute on. And that allowed us to bring in a ridiculous level of scientific talent. And then that attracted a lot more people. And like, at this point, we’ve got an extraordinary and somewhat cult like following of people who are just really devoted to the kinds of research and work in education, and has allowed us to bring in brilliant thinkers across all kinds of domains, not just health, but you know, psychology, personal development, future of civilization, systems design. Yeah, I’m really delighted with what has developed so far, and particularly excited to see what we can continue to make happen over the next several years. 


Mark Divine 56:35

Yeah, I am, too. And literally, you’re, you’re optimistic about the future, and we wouldn’t be pushing so hard in this direction. Right? What is your vision for the future in the next 10 years? 


James Schmachtenberger 56:45

So this is always a funny one, because like, I have spent a decent amount of time studying existential risk. And when you look at the kinds of problems that are facing the world, there really isn’t a picture you can come to other than saying we’re fucked.

So, you know, I get that. And one of the people I learned from a lot growing up was Buckminster Fuller, and he has this concept of emergence to emergency. A lot of times the greatest innovation only comes from absolute emergency, and you can’t see what that innovation is going to look like ahead of time. 


Mark Divine 57:15

That’s right.


James Schmachtenberger 57:17

So even though a lot of the data points to the idea that we’re looking at all kinds of issues of environmental collapse, civilization, disasters, I think some of that will come to pass. But I have a deep sort of, for lack of a better way of saying it faith that all of the brilliant, wonderful people who are working on solution sets will come up with things well beyond the scope of what is predictable today. 


Mark Divine 57:42

That’s right.


James Schmachtenberger 57:43

And that, you know, collectively, all of the work that we’re each doing to raise consciousness to develop deeper connection, deeper community will change what appears to be the current course for something that is much, much more beautiful. 


Mark Divine 57:57

Well said, a bet on humanity as well. 


James Schmachtenberger 57:59



Mark Divine 58:00

James, thanks so much for your time today. It’s been a real honor and very, very enlightening. And let us know how we can support you and go forth and do great things and stay healthy. 


James Schmachtenberger 58:11

Thank you. I always love our conversations. So this, this is great.


Mark Divine 58:14

Definitely. All right. Take care. I’ll see you soon. 


James Schmachtenberger 58:17

Thank you. Goodbye.


Mark Divine 58:18

Okay, that conversation was far more fascinating than I was expecting it to be. James is just a genius. And a very, very interesting guy. And learning about the senescence field and what he’s doing with quality of life and quality of senescence is just fascinating. Show Notes and transcripts are up on our site at Mark devine.com. Video, the episode is on our YouTube channel, MarkDivine.com/youtube, you can reach me on Twitter, @Mark Divine on Instagram, Facebook, @Real Mark Divine, or my LinkedIn profile. And if you’re not on my newsletter, subscription list, then consider subscribing and MarkDivine.com. Divine Inspiration newsletter comes out every Tuesday with a synopsis of the show, my blog, and other really cool things that come across my desk that I think you’d find beneficial. Special shout out to my amazing team, Geoff Haskell, Jason Sanderson and cue Williams, who helped produce this show and bring incredible guests like James to you every week. reviews and ratings are very, very helpful. So if you haven’t done so please consider doing that at Apple or wherever you listen to it helps others find the show and keeps our credibility and rankings very high. Thanks so much for your support. And for being part of the change you want to see in the world. As we discussed on this podcast, the world is getting very, very challenging. And we are going to be pressing the wall as humanity to really make things work. And yet I vote for humanity. I know that we will, we’ll figure it out. And when we’re under pressure is when we do our best. So you as well. You’re part of the change that requires great awareness and development, and that we do the work ourselves and then lead with courage and compassion. So keep doing that. And until next time, this is Mark Divine. Hooyah!


Transcribed by https://otter.ai



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