The Relentless Pursuit of Innovation, Quality, and Meaning — Jake Muise | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "The Relentless Pursuit of Innovation, Quality, and Meaning — Jake Muise".


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Intro (00:00)

Muse, Jake Muse. This is Tim Ferriss. Welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, where it is my job to interview friends, foes, everyone in between. But the common thread is world-class performance. And the attempt is always to dig, to excavate, to deconstruct the lessons, thought, frameworks, and so on that you can apply or test or simply ponder in your own lives. My guest today is a friend, Jake Muse. Jake Muse is CEO at Maui Nui Venison, a company he co-founded in 2017 that works to balance invasive access to your populations on the island of Maui, channeling that management into incredible nutrient-dense food. Maui Nui was selected for Fast Company's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Agriculture of 2023. And its venison has been served in top restaurants across the country, including Alinea, which featured very heavily in The 4-Hour Chef. It was a big section entirely because it's so impressive. The French Laundry, and Saison, where I just mentioned I was one of the very first investors when it was a pop-up with 12 seats, something like that. Josh Skeans, everybody should check him out as well. Prior to Maui Nui, Jake was executive director of the Access Dear Institute for 12 years, part of a two-decades-long project focused on access deer and their long-term management in Hawaii. You can find them at Maui Nui-- I'll spell that out for folks-- M-A-U-I-N-U-I, And you can find them on Instagram, Twitter, et cetera, @MauiNuiVenison. I'm shocked those handles were available. And I think we will start where all good stories start, and that's with lava.

Origins And Operations Of The Maui Nui

Lava cowboys (01:58)

- Oh, wow. - Fast-moving lava. - Yeah. - So I'm gonna use that as the cue, and I'm gonna let you run with it, but let's begin with that. - Well, thank you so much for having me. - Absolutely, man. It's good to see you. - We're gonna have a blast. - Lava. So in 2018, a fissure started erupting on the East Rift Zone on the Big Ivan. And it was an area that was a lava zone previously, but had since been built over, so lots of homes. There was this beautiful area called Kapoho, which had amazing hot pools and tide pools. Well, it's now gone, unfortunately. So anyway, fissure eight starts erupting. It splits into two, and it basically cuts off a several thousand acre area, homes, people, and this lava flow is moving very quickly, 20 miles an hour. So within a 24-hour period, it's about three miles up the coast. It's moving slower at the front, but essentially cuts off this entire area. State and feds arrive way to way. They start helicoptering people and different people out, people, plants, pets, whatever the people are holding dear. And then a cattle rancher had been cut off, and there were still 50-plus animals left between these two flows. And you can imagine, it looked like Mordor on the ground. Sulfur was terrible, there was lava bonds. The fissure was constantly spewing at about 100 to 200 feet. - Oh my God. - Yeah. So I think the mass-- - It's not a simmer. - No, it was 20, I think they said it was 26,000 cubic meters of lava per minute. It was absurd. It was one of the fastest moving flows they'd ever seen. So anyway, a rancher did his best job to get the majority of his cows out, but there are 50-plus animals trapped between these two lava flows. - And that's when you saw the bat signal in the sky. And we had happened about a year ago to develop the first of its kind live capture net system that with a helicopter, you can essentially pick up cows live and get them out of there. So if you can imagine a cone-shaped net with a 20-foot diameter frame on the bottom, and it's hanging from a 100-foot line below a helicopter. And so a helicopter's moving, and this net is kind of flowing back and forth, and you place the net over the cow, and then there's a switch at the top of the cone, and there's two lines. And then as the animal tries to move outside, you let the first switch go at the top of the cone, and the net basically falls on top of it, and you just pick up the frame, and it's essentially sitting in a big bag, evenly distributed, and then you fly it out, and you put this bag down, and you put the frame over it, and it just stands up and walks away. - Got it, so the frame is basically a rectangular square? - It's an octagon, yeah. - Yeah, octagon, okay, got it. - Yeah, so Federal, PETA, everybody gets ahold of us and says, "We need to get these cows out of here." And we were-- - That's because it was known, at least, to some subset of folks that you had this, you developed this live capture system. - We were previously using it to try and get cows out of high-elevation, critical watershed areas, where they were causing extensive damage. So they get ahold of us, they run us through what they want us to do. Of course, I had to sit down with the team and say, "Do you wanna try and rescue cows over a 20-mile-per-hour lava flow?" And I think one of the guys turned over, and he's like, "We would get to be a lava cowboy." And I was like, "Oh, man." Like, "Oh, man, who's gonna say no to that one?" And ended up doing our due diligence. It was pretty safe to do. Long story short, we got them all out, but the first couple of days were so intense. And the very first cow, so we're driving out there in the morning. It literally looks like Mordor. The flow is creating its own weather system. It's raining, it's dark. It's a two-mile flow, so it's lighting up the entire area in dark red. And you're driving towards it, and you're thinking, "Oh," and you're passing all these national guards. You're just like, "This doesn't seem like a great idea on your way out." And we get all loaded up in the morning. The head of PETA's there. It's this huge thing. There had been so much loss already. They had lost that entire community. Hundreds of homes gone, and there had been so much loss, and the community was kind of starting to gather around this idea of these things that were left behind, we could actually get them. And get there in the morning. We get all set up, get dialed in with the pilot. He had actually never done it before, but it was the only helicopter big enough that we could pick up those particular cows. Name's Calvin Dorn. He's an absolute legend. So we fly out first thing in the morning, heading towards Fissure 8. It's fountaining 200 feet in the air. There's lava bombs that look like they're going at the height of the helicopter. The cows are trapped right underneath it. There's video of this. We can put it in the show notes for people. It's crazy. And he goes to pick up the first cow, grabs the first cow, does it all right. And then he goes to lift, and he's like, "Oh, this might be too heavy." I have my sulfur dioxide. I have my monitors on. We're not supposed to get on the ground. And the net is attached to the helicopter. And he's like, "What do we do?" And I was like, "Well, give it another tug, see if you can get it off the ground." So he gives it another tug and he like, gets a little bit off the ground. And I'm like, "Okay, can we head downhill and you can get some elevation?" He's like, "Here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna use the heat from the lava flow to give us a boost." Ride the thermals. "We're gonna ride the thermals up with this cow underneath us. And it should give us a big enough boost, we'll have enough elevation, and then we'll be able to get down to the corral system." - It's crazy enough that it just might work. - And I'm thinking, I mean, you don't really have a choice. You're like, "Sure, let's try that." So he gets this cow off the ground and he's moving at a good speed and we're picking up a little bit of elevation. And I can see the lava flow coming at 500 yards, 400 yards, 300 yards. And we hit the flow and it's like, somebody kicked us in the nuts. We just went straight up in the air. There was so much heat coming off the flow. And I looked down to see what was happening to the cow 'cause the cow was a hundred feet lower than us. And this cow swings out. And then as it passes over the top of the flow, all we see is just like smoke. - Oh no. - And I thought like the head of PETA is sitting down here. - I'm watching the cow get vaporized. - Like I'm going to jail, something terrible is gonna happen to us. This thing is over. And we gain elevation and we start to come out over the flow and I'm looking down and I'm like, oh God. And I had forgotten that it was pouring rain. - Ah, right. - And it was soaked. And all of that water, like it just instantly vaporized and it looked like the whole thing was essentially like on fire for a second. So we come out and like, I see all of the water reaper clear and I'm like, oh, thank God. And come down, land that animal, gets out, walks away, happy as can be. And then I think we got like seven or eight more that day before they kind of shut us down and got a little crazy. And we ended up getting all 50 animals out of that place. - Wow. - And it happened to be one of the most intense moments of my life. Certainly maybe not the most dangerous, but I thought we were in a lot of trouble for that one. But it was just such a like viscerally intense scenario. - Yeah. - You have like these lava bombs going off and these two flows and, but a really cool experience in that community. I think there was this celebration when everything for months had been just a lot of loss. - So let's set the stage a bit by talking about the history of Hawaii.

What does Maui Nui mean? (10:11)

- Okay. - And maybe we could start for a second just with the name Maui Nui. What does Maui Nui mean? Because even people who live in lower 48 or continental US, many people have not been to Hawaii. - Yeah. - And certainly people overseas, many of them will not have been to Hawaii. But what does Maui Nui refer to? - So Maui Nui refers to the three islands of Maui, Molokaʻi, and Lanai. And epochs ago, they used to be joined. They used to be one giant island. - Like the Pangea of Hawaii. - Yeah. And you can see it when you look at like Toho Maps or Google Earth, like you can see they used to be joined. When we were deciding on a name, we didn't know where management might take us, but access deer are located on those three islands. So we landed at Maui Nui as kind of the name, yeah. - And Nui is, is it fair to say, a suffix that is used, or maybe it's just the order of kind of noun adjective, but big. - Yes, sir, good job. - So you can say mahalo nui. - Yeah. - Like thanks a lot. - Yeah. - Right. This may be a way to get into the history also. - Okay. - 'Cause we were chatting a little bit about it.

A Hawai’i history primer (11:24)

I've been spending more time in New Zealand and I'm fascinated by Maori culture. - Oh. - And there is a very close relationship. - Yeah. - Between what we're talking about. - Yeah. - And the culture in New Zealand. Could you speak to that a bit? - Sure. - And then after that, and you can tie this in however you like, but speak to sort of the agriculture of pre-colonized Hawaii. - So I'm gonna speak to this as best I can. - Right. - You're gonna have to have. - And actually let's hit pause for a quick second because I think it's worth mentioning up front. So a company you co-founded in 2017, who is your co-founder? - My extraordinary wife, Ku'ulani. - She's amazing. - Yeah. - Can you say a little bit about Ku'u for a second? - Sure. - Ku'ulani. - I mean, first and foremost, a mother of three amazing children, a brilliant person all around, funny, smart, beautiful, but she is a genealogist and a bit of a historian. And she helps, A, she guides a lot of culture within what we do, but she has such an in-depth understanding of our place. She'd be somebody amazing to have on if you ever wanted to really dig in, but she's just this anchor for me personally and professionally to how we should be operating in this place. - How long has her family been in Hawaii? - Well, she'll tell you forever. - Yeah, exactly. And she also, if I'm remembering correctly, looks at old microfiche newspapers. - Yeah. - And sort of excavates and translates. So post-Western contact, when they, they didn't have a written language prior to, but post-Western contact, they became the most literate society in a matter of like 50 years. I think 93 to 94% of the entire population could read and write. And in doing so, they created hundreds and hundreds of newspapers. Yeah, like she shows me newspapers where like, there's a picture of like a drawn picture of a zebra, like, oh, this thing is from Africa. Like it was extraordinary, the level of information that they had. And I think they were also in understanding their place post-Western contact and how quickly their populations were declining, they were using it as this historical record. And so they were just writing everything down. And so what she helps to do is only 2% of those newspapers have been translated. 98% of what could be like their culture is sitting in these newspapers ready to be discovered. It's just like a treasure hunt for her every time she looks like. She comes out and it's just like, her eyes are giant, she's like, I found a new name for this rain. And she's just like, she's gonna write an amazing book one day. - Also, I mean, she's very much multi-hyphenate polymath because she's also an incredible designer, really incredibly good and gifted. And I hesitate to say gifted, she is gifted, but that maybe sounds like it minimizes the hard work and dedication required to get good at it. And an incredible writer also on top of that. So I wanted to mention that because that underscores the connection that she has and that you as a family feel with the land. So I wanted to just mention that upfront. And then we can go back to the pre-colonial agriculture and the tie between New Zealand. - Yeah. - So, I mean, I think you could define this culture as literal geniuses. They were able to navigate all of the Pacific ocean with extraordinary accuracy and directly speaking about Aotearoa. So Aotearoa was settled from Hawaii. - And for people who don't know the matching, so Aotearoa is the Maori word for what is also known as New Zealand. They kept such amazing records of their voyages. My brother-in-law got to spend a whole bunch of time there with Maori in different communities. They have the actual boats, the canoes that were settled from Hawaii. They know like the lineage of like who came on the boat and they know where the boats are. They have them hidden and they know where the boats are. And that's how strongly they can connect their ties back to Hawaii. And you just have to imagine that somebody that could navigate the Pacific with that much ease and accuracy and like, it's extraordinary to hear these stories. They also were dealing with, like they're on the most isolated landmass on the planet with the most finite resources. And so they develop, as far as I know, some of the most ingenious agricultural systems I've ever heard of. Great example, they're called the Kohala Field Systems. They had 500 miles of what looked like from the air, swaled permaculture lines, and they used 273 different varieties of sweet potato to produce, oh, I just remembered, they are producing now yields 60% better than current sweet potato yields. And you have to imagine pre-Western contact, there were up to a million people in the Hawaiian Islands. - Wow. - And there's only 1.4 million people now. So they had a million people on the most isolated landmass on the planet, and they were feeding an extraordinary population with extremely finite resources and somehow were able to maintain all of the biodiversity. I think they only know of like a couple small species, like a flightless bird that was just too easy to eat. They maintained extraordinary biodiversity, which just really points to how connected to that place were. They had these amazing, they call them loko'iha, but they were fish ponds. So I don't know if you remember when you were there, but there's these huge rock walls that come out into the ocean near shore. - Yeah. - Some of them like 600 acres, and they had these amazing aquaculture systems where they were able to harvest fish constantly. And they said at peak performance, there were 500 plus fish ponds across the Hawaiian Islands producing 3 million pounds of fish. And that's like apart from what they were also catching outside of those ponds as well. Like innovation is culture in that place. And she continues to like help point me back to like, I don't know, we're gonna figure this out. We're a part of this place. Like we're gonna figure out how to find balance in these places. They just had some amazing, both agricultural systems, but also like economics and social systems. They had a particular system called an ahupuaa system, and it was mountain to ocean land segregations that entire communities lived in and managed. And they were managed as like these individual land segments and the entire system was built from top to bottom to protect water. Every feature of that system, how the food was grown, how like it entered the water, everything was built to maintain good, clean water. - So let's segue from that to access steer.

The problem with (and delicious solution to) axis deer in Hawai’i (18:46)

What on earth are access steer? Number one, what is the history of their presence in Hawaii? Why did they end up there? And then I have follow up questions that relate to water. - So in 1868, the then Kamehameha V was given this gift. - Who was the leader at the time? - The then ruler of the Hawaiian Islands. Came from India, down the upper Ganges to Hong Kong. She helped translate the story, my wife did. - Cool. - And then they were moved from Oahu where they landed and they were moved to the small island of Moloka'i, only 40 miles long, 10 miles wide. And then a kapu, which is a restriction was placed on them for about 15 to 20 years. - What does that mean? - A kapu is like nobody was allowed to hunt them or touch them. - And how many deer? - Seven. - Seven. - Yeah. And as early as 1898, there's literature that says they hired sharpshooters from California. Oh, that was 1902. They brought sharpshooters in from California 'cause there was already six to 7,000 of them. And what's really unique about Axis Deer is they're one of the only deer species in the world that can breed year round. So most other deer species will cast their antlers, their antlers fall off right the year. And when that happens, their testosterone levels drop significantly and their sperm is no longer viable. So Axis Deer are one of the only deer species in the world that sperm stays viable year round. So it doesn't matter if a doe is missed an estrus. They are like, the current math that we have is they are like 94 to 95% of them are either lactating or pregnant year round. So they just introduced an extraordinarily virile species and have had profound impacts with that type of growth rate. - So if we then flash forward to roughly 10 years ago or 12 years ago, what did the situation look like in Hawaii with respect to Axis Deer, which have no natural predators? - Yeah, so-- - On that land mass. - Yeah, on Molokai. - Yeah, and they certainly did. - Yeah, so no natural predators, the capability to breed year round, extraordinary food sources and being able to move up and down elevation to find what they need. So on the island of Molokai where they were introduced, they're now at a, sustainable capacity is the wrong word, but their population is only going up and down with available feed every year. And what's happening is they just have massive die-offs. - What do the numbers look like? - 70,000 and there's only 7,000 people. - Wow. - Yeah, it's actually one of the reasons I got so interested in the subject as a whole is I think it was my second year in college and introduced this amazing family. And I was there hunting, trying to fill up my freezer for college 'cause I was broke. And I was there during a die-off. And I remember coming around this corner and seeing 40 to 50 animals just lying there lethargic, essentially dying of malnutrition. And it was an animal that was introduced to me as something to love and it was precious. For the people of Molokai, it was this amazing food source. But it's just this, that's the only way they're currently balancing populations is just this really sad thing that happens every-- - Overpopulation, famine, and then it corrects. - Yeah, and then it corrects. They lose about a third of the population every seven to 10 years. - And what is the impact on the various islands ecologically because I remember watching first time this video that you guys produced in collaboration with a number of other folks and hearing voiceover, I think it was, with people talking about flying over certain areas and saying, oh wow, we didn't know the wildfire reached this far. And the answer was, that's not wildfire. - Yeah, they are able to, because they can eat so closely to the ground and they're in such large numbers, there can be herds of like four to 5,000, they're able to denude landscapes in days. And the real issue with that is when they do that in our watershed areas, our high elevation areas, those trees developed over like epochs, thousands and thousands of years to capture water. And what ends up happening is when we have like some data from this from a recent study, those watersheds are operating at 50% of their previous capacity. - So in, I guess there are multiple issues at the consequences of that, right? One is you're just not capturing water, which is important if you're in the middle of the ocean, unless you have a massive desalination program, you need the rainwater. What is the effect that has on runoff? - So when you think about it from like a, they call it mauka to makai, but like mountain to ocean impact, what they're, all of that denuded landscape, anytime we get any type of like significant rain, even like a decent, like a medium rain these days, it's pulling all of that top soil, which took thousands of years to make, and then it's depositing it on our reefs. And what ends up happening is they're smothering both new and old coral and the coral die. So there's huge tracks of what used to be some of the most pristine reefs in the world that are now dead. And that also then impacts near shore fisheries. So we just had this amazing conversation about producing millions of pounds of fish, pre-western contact, and now a lot of those reefs have been like very negatively impacted by that sediment deposit from runoff. And then when you look back upslope, mid range, call it like a thousand to 6,000 feet, is where our food systems in Hawaii are. So it's where cattle ranchers operate and farmers and coffee and all of these different really important, or as a function of food security, like all these amazing foods that we're trying to grow there and you can't grow them unless you have a 10 foot fence at $45 a foot. - $45 a foot. - Yeah. - That's not you. - No, so they are also having a severe impact on our food system. So ecosystems, food systems, near shore fisheries and reefs, theirs is a compounding conversation. So to then take a look at how seriously people in Hawaii are taking this, let's talk about the three year hunt. And we'll build from there.

The three-year hunt that became the Maui Nui springboard (25:51)

And actually I'll just add one sidebar, I'll put this in the show notes as well. For people who are interested in learning more about the incredible navigational skills that you're referring to, there's a really beautifully written detailed chapter in a book called The Wayfinders by Wade Davis that talks about the sort of Polynesian diaspora and their ability to navigate, and it is mind blowing. It's a real mistake to think of some of these ancient technologies as primitive. They're not always primitive, they're just different sets of skills and technologies, but they would have the captain as one person, the head of the ship just making everything orchestrate. The navigator would be a separate person, and they would basically sit like a zen monk and not sleep at all because they're tracking multiple currents, they're keeping track of where the boat is in space, even when it's totally overcast and they can't use the stars. It's unbelievable, so I recommend people check out The Wayfinders by Wade Davis. Three year hunt. - Got it. - I went to the Axis Deer Institute, which was what I started in college, initially as a means to collect information, because nobody in India would answer me. And then became very much a way to learn more and facilitate some research. Four Axis deer were illegally introduced to the big island of Hawaii, so we've talked about Moloka'ila, Hana'i, and Maui, so four Axis deer were illegally introduced to the big island of Hawaii, which was about 10 years ago. And the big island is called the big island for a reason. All of the Hawaiian islands can fit inside the big island, and it is also like the food hub of Hawaii. We grow all of our, the vast majority of our food on the big island. And the impacts of Axis deer were already really well known, so it was a state emergency when these animals were found, and the Axis Deer Institute happened to be one of the few people that knew a lot about Axis deer. So we were given that responsibility and contract to try and find and remove four deer from a 100 square mile area. So they didn't know where they were. - Yeah, and these aren't elephants. - Oh no. - What's the size profile, just so people can conjure an image? - 150 pounds, think about them standing, you know, three and a half, four feet high, maybe six feet long. - Yeah, so a pretty small height. - So what are the biggest differences for people who might be more familiar with, say, a white tail? - Well, the biggest difference is where they evolved. Axis Deer evolved with Bengal tigers and leopards in dense jungle, and so they are, they have this crazy sixth sense. - Yeah, their agility is unbelievable. - Yeah. - And their just vigilance and sensory perception is incredible to observe. - I think because they didn't deal with some of the evolutionary stresses of seasons in India, they've also developed this amazing ability to adapt their home ranges to very safe areas. Typical home ranges could be like a mile and a half to three miles in a given day, but when they find a safe spot, they will stay in a very small area for an extended period of time. - I see, so they move less than, say, a white tail, is what you're saying, and therefore they're better able to denude a concentrated area. - So they'll find these little cubby holes, these safe areas and they'll kind of completely denude these areas and they move on to these next places. But for the project on the Big Island, which was literally a three year hunt, like we worked every single day except Sunday for three years to find these four animals. - Did they multiply in the meantime or no? - Yeah, we ended up removing five, but it was this extraordinary exercise, it took us seven months. Like you think, you're going on an average hunt, like it's three or four days and you're already tired. It took us seven months to get a camera trap image of the first one. We had 50 plus camera traps out of every piece of water we could find in this like 100 square mile area. - Piece of water you mean, ponds or lakes? - Ponds, blue rock that water would pool in, anything we could find, water troughs. - Any water sources. - So we finally get a camera trap image, we're like, okay, we have an idea of what this is, it takes us another four months to get the first one. - What do you do between, so you set up the cameras, you're like, we know these animals need water. And set up the traps and it takes seven months? So you get an image, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, oh my God, we got our first image. And then it takes another, how long? - Three months. - Okay, what are you doing in those three months? - So two things are happening, one we're doing ground transects looking for sign, so you would love this. You're tracking every single day, you're just looking for the tiniest sign that they're in an area trying to-- - You used an expression, transect something rather? - Transects. - So you're basically breaking into grids, you know what you've covered, not covered. - Yeah, so you're gridding at, we think we were doing 10 meters, like massive areas. But what we also did in the process, which we'll move into in our later story is, we had to find a way to increase detection rates, and so we started, and it was such a huge emergency that the military was involved as well. So we got to work with the military and utilize some of their forward-looking infrared, both helicopter-mounted and binoculars, and the minute we started using that tool, we knew instantly, this is the tool that's gonna be able to find these animals. - So forward-looking infrared, FLIR? - FLIR, yeah. - FLIR is, can we think of this as sort of black and white predator vision? - Yes. - From the Schwarzenegger movie? - Yeah. - Okay. - Exactly, you put the mud on, it's detecting heat and turning it into a visual image for you to use, and if you're cool and/or not emitting heat, can't find you. - I posted a video you sent me of FLIR footage from a drone, which, if you wanna see the scope, the magnitude of the problem in terms of just the volume of animals, with respect to access to air, you have to see this video. It'll blow your mind. I put it on Instagram, we'll link to that in the show notes as well. - Yeah, and we ran out of range. - Yeah, yeah, exactly. It's not like they stopped, but it looks like a veritable New York City of access to air at night. Unbelievable. - So this particular technology, which significantly increases detection rates, both from the ground, but from a helicopter platform as well, especially when looking straight down, you don't have the vertical layering of vegetation, you're able to kinda look straight down through vegetation and pick up different heat signatures. That's actually how we ended up finding them after the camera trap image, is we started flying on a constant basis, and then we figured out where they were, took a week to kinda put a plan together, and then we were able to remove-- - When was this? - 11 years ago. - 11 years ago. Were you using quadcopters or a different type of drone? - No, we were flying out of a helicopter. - I was gonna say, this would have been very early days with any type of drone technology. - So we were out of a helicopter, leaning out of the helicopter, like with a binocular, yeah, it was not a lot of fun, and we were doing it four or five hours a day. - Yeah, that won't make you motion sick or anything. - Yeah, so, yeah, well I've got lots of those stories. Anyway, takes us another two years essentially, but utilizing that technology, we're able to find and remove all of those deer, including the two that had been born, and there were very few invasive species projects that are successful in Hawaii, period. Really cool fact, introduction of species to Hawaii pre-human contact was every 25 to 50,000 years. It was whatever came through wind or water, right? There is a new species being introduced every eight days at this point in Hawaii. Yeah, so, and again, like the perfect place to grow anything. - So side note, and this might be a total useless side alley that I'm taking us down, why are there so many chickens in Koi? - Oh, I love this story. Oh, okay, here we go. - Yeah. - They bring in mongoose, okay, the powers that be decided were going to get rid of the rat population by bringing in mongoose, one of their predators. Well, they didn't realize that mongoose are awake during the day and rats are awake at night. - Oops. - Oops, like giant oops. - So guess what, mongoose are really good at killing other things. - Like including our native birds, which is just like, the introduction of some of these species are so absurd. Anyway, so on the big island, Maui, Moloka'i, they have mongoose and there's no chickens. Guess which island doesn't have mongoose? Kauai. - Why don't they have mongoose? - They came to the dock, like they're introducing them to each island, they came to the dock and somebody at the dock was smart enough and he like booted them off and drowned them. He like booted them off the dock and drowned them. And it's just this amazing contrast of you can't find a chicken on another island on the side of the road and you can drive on Kauai and see a thousand chickens in 30 minutes on the side of the road. - So wild, I mean these highly biodiverse, isolated environments are so beautiful and compelling and also so fragile to disruption. True with New Zealand as well. - Yeah. - I mean in terms of biosecurity, it is the highest, one of the highest priorities. - Right, and they do an amazing job, Hawaii is doing better, but they've done a very poor job over the years in restricting what's coming into the island. Back to that three year hunt, so successful in removing an invasive species that there could have been a million plus access deer on the big island, that's how large the big island is and would have been absolutely devastating as we talked about for like food systems, watersheds, like near shore fisheries, et cetera, et cetera. - Yeah. - And then that was actually the jumping off point for what is now Maui Nui is some ranchers on Maui said, "Well, wait a second, you guys actually did that?" And you have this technology, so what we also developed with that third technology is highly accurate surveys. So within 95% we can tell you exactly the number of deer that are there. - How do you do that? - So transects again at 400 meters. - And then you take a sample. - No. - You don't do a sample count, 'cause a lot of people do that, right, and then they multiply it out. - Yeah, so they do something called distance sampling, which is they fly a certain number of transects and then use math to basically extend what they've found and make a guess over a period. We do a complete transect of the entire area at 400 meters with a 20% overlap, so we can have a confidence interval of like the number of times you've detected deer twice. And we have done several projects where it's in a large fenced area of a couple thousand acres, and we survey, we remove deer, we survey again, and we're never off by more than like 5%. So we have a tool that can accurately tell us the exact number of deer and the impact of our management. And it's a tool, it's just super important because otherwise I think what we do would be irresponsible without that level of data. - Yeah, without that level of precision. - The folks on Maui said like, "If you can do that, "come over here," and they were still calling them spotted rats, like that was their relationship. They had been introduced to Maui in 1959 and 1960, so they weren't as culturally ingrained as they are on Molokai. - And just to paint a picture for folks, so the spotted, the axis deer, please fact check the shit out of this if I get anything wrong, but they're very streamlined animals. They're not as beefy as whitetail. Their antlers are angled more backwards, and they have, I'd say just generally speaking, a very tawny kind of burnt orange color with white spots. And that's hence the spotted rats. - Yeah, and dappled coloring was used in those jungle environments, and they just, they camouflaged between there and grassland. Like it's amazing how well they'll move. - Japanese deer have the same similar pattern. - Yeah, yeah. So it started the, well, wait a second, if you can be successful with a project at that scale, what can you do over here on Maui? And that was actually the first phone call to the USDA to say, how do we use these animals? Because they were talking about having us remove thousands and thousands of animals, and they didn't care what we did with them. They knew there wasn't a solution. Like we couldn't use them for food, and we couldn't donate them. Like they still needed to come under on some type of like food safety inspection program in order to donate them to food banks and stuff. So that was the first call to the USDA to say, well, wait a second, what would be the process? 'Cause there were no rules in place. - Well, it was just considered off the table. - Yeah. - Right. So there are rules that just never been applied to this type of harvesting. - So that three-year hunt was the springboard into successful project completion in that place where there's still no deer and potentially had a massive impact, and then the springboard to Maui to try and do something more. - So I'm gonna do a little like, like flashback, Austin Powers style, or Wayne's World maybe, get my Mike Myers stuff mixed up.

The life-changing power of volleyball and free pizza (39:56)

Did you learn about confidence intervals playing volleyball? - I think, actually no, it was in the worst class of my life, which was business statistics in college. - But ended up being useful. - Yeah. - You can't imagine how much of that stuff actually comes back. - All right, so of course I'm teasing a bit by bringing up the volleyball. Just briefly, so people have a little bit more color, where does volleyball fit into your life, and where does free pizza fit into your life? - Was a classic Canadian kid, played a lot of hockey until we were too broke to play hockey anymore. - Too broke to play hockey, just too much gear? - Yeah, too much gear, growing too fast. - Ah, right, I forgot about that. Right, it would be like replacing your ski equipment every year or two. - I remember my dad sitting down and being like, "I know you love it, "but you need to pick a different sport." And they're like, "Volleyball requires knee pads, "that's all you need." - Your knees shouldn't grow as much. - Here's a great sport for you to try. Ended up falling in love with it, just an extraordinary sport, redirecting balls, moving 100 plus miles an hour. Luckily got pretty good at it, spent a lot of time with our Canadian national teams in different forms, and then was recruited to play at the University of Hawaii. I was a decent enough player, I actually think it was, I sent them a video of surfing. We started surfing on the east coast of Canada when we moved out there, and there's like six feet of snow and a tiny little like ice floating around, and they're like, "Well, if this kid can do this, "he'll probably turn into a good player." Played four or five years there, where became a family member for that family of Molokai where we talked about earlier, like was able to travel 'cause the east coast of Canada was so far. Really lucky to play professional volleyball for three years. Got to play in throughout Europe, the Maldives, Indonesia. - So, pause, can you frame for folks who don't have the context, a lot of people won't, how big, how popular is volleyball? It's not something that people in the US generally watch at all, right? - Yeah. In Canada, there was nobody. It was my mom and dad cheering us on. But Hawaii happened to be, like it's the mecca of volleyball. - Wait, worldwide or just in the US? - Oh, just in the US. They have a, they actually won the last two national championships over the last couple years, but they have a 20,000 seat stadium that they filled on a regular basis for men's volleyball. - And then you go overseas to Europe, do people watch volleyball in Europe? - Yeah, it's huge. So, volleyball is kind of the second sport to football or soccer. So, you are associated with another club and you just got basically spillover of all the soccer fans or football fans. But a huge professional league there that for great players pays extraordinarily well and for me, which was not a great player, was this amazing opportunity to go to Europe, see all of these different places, and the professional teams only ever accepted two international players. So, you were embedded and immediately assimilated into whatever culture you were in. It's just such an amazing way to be a part of those places versus some outsider, right? So, that leads into the story of like free pizza. So, my first week playing in Groningen, which was in Northern Holland. - Skiing gesundheit. - Yeah, well that plays into this story. I had had like a week of practice and our first game was coming up and I was still very much like getting used to the language. The coach was this like six, eight Olympic legend. He was like this legendary Dutch player and I think he was kind of happy I was there, but like I was just another player and you're paid to be there, so you play really well. - He's trying to mime with you to get things done, right? - He's not giving it a lot of effort. And then we're playing one of the best teams in the league for the very first game, we're doing really well. He puts a play together to finish the game. I had no idea what he was saying. Okay? - What could go wrong? - Completely screw it up, like embarrassing level screw up. And we lose and after the game, he comes aside in broken English and he's just like, "You play better or we fire you." Like you weren't playing for fun anymore in college, like you were getting paid to play really well. And I didn't understand, the reason I didn't play well is 'cause I couldn't understand what he was saying. So the very next day we were reviewing film and he was going off again and I didn't understand what it was. And I just remember putting my hand up and I say like, "Does that mean we get free pizza after the game?" And he's like, "What?" And I was like, "Does that mean we get free pizza after the game?" He's like, "No, that's not what it means." And then like, you could kind of see his brain be like, and he explained, "No, we're going to be committing on this individual." Like he explained it in English to me. Half an hour goes by, he's getting ready to tell us the bus schedule. It's all in Dutch, I have no idea what's going on. And I'm like, "Put my hand up. Does that mean we get free pizza?" And he's just like, he's getting irritated. And then I think it finally clicked and he was like, "Wait a second, we need to be a little bit more patient with this guy." And I tell it as a funny story because I use that phrase as I went to Indonesia and the mall dies. And it was this amazing way for me to ask dumb questions. Because otherwise I was lost. And it has translated to one of these small superpowers that I have where I am never afraid now to ask the dumbest question in front of some of the smartest people through kind of that practice. And it really is, it's a superpower. - I want to highlight this because it's really important. And I have another friend, Mike Maples Jr. And oftentimes when he wants to ask a question that no one else is gonna ask, but it's an important question, but people are nervous to ask it for any number of reasons, and he'll go something along these lines. He's from Texas and he'll be like, "You know, I'm just a country boy. I move a little slow, so bear with me, but let me ask you." And he's actually razor sharp. But he has that as a way to sort of wrap a question that needs to be asked in the same way that you were able to buy yourself permission to ask these questions, which by the way, a lot of the dumb questions are on everyone else's mind, not in this particular case with everyone else who speaks Dutch. But there's so many circumstances where there's some type of pink elephant question, but people are nervous to ask it because they don't want to look stupid or A, B, C, D, or E. But in fact, it's a really important question. - When I was playing Indonesia, we had a Brazilian guy that spoke even less English than me. And he, after my third day of asking for free pizza, he came up to me and he was like, "Thank you so much. I wouldn't know what's going on unless you were asking these questions." And now it just translates to, last week we're building an API, which I have no idea what the hell this thing, and I just kept saying, "I have no idea what you're talking about." And I kind of had a clue, but I could see the blank looks on the Zoom calls. Nobody knew what they were talking about. And it just gets stuff done so much faster. And it's just been this amazing thing in my life that has worked really, really well. - Just to put a bow on the chapter of volleyball. So you mentioned that you were not like the Ronaldo of volleyball, but you ended up kind of taking an oblique angle and finding, extending your career related to volleyball. How did you do that? - Ended up helping other players find contracts. Yeah, so I had a couple of players that I knew that said, like, "You're not that good. How did you get a contract?" Just being honest here. Like, "You're not that good. How did you get a contract in Europe?" And I said, "Well, I just called everybody until they kept answering." And was kind of working with this other player agency. Anyway, I found a great way to find mediocre players, teams, and some of them were only getting 1,000 euros a month, but they didn't care. It was the best thing ever. And then got a small percentage of that salary. And yeah, it was an amazing way to kind of extend that life. And it was a lot of fun. - Okay, so let's come back to Maui Nui. And there are a whole different number of angles that I want to take to cover some of what I think are interesting features of things. And a lot of them tie into why Maui Nui became my first ever. I mean, really, if you look at my portfolio, food investment in 2000, when was it? 2019? - 19. - So it was a while ago. Part of it was, I think there's a myopia perhaps with many people who specialize in some form of early stage investing, let's just say tech, to associate innovation purely with technological advances in a certain medium or in a certain capacity. But I saw a lot that you guys were doing that reflected a level of experimentation and sort of unorthodox thinking that was super attractive to me that made me think it would be in combination with other things like nutrient density, which we'll talk about, attractive. And also, everything is fucking delicious and I like delicious, healthy things. Let's talk about the seven on, seven off.

Seven on, seven off (49:35)

Because this will sound at first description to be a little odd for a lot of folks. - Sure, so we have a very unique schedule for our team members. And all of our team members work seven days on, seven days off and they get a great compensation package, great benefits and it was originally designed to deal with flipping back and forth from the sleep schedule. All our harvesting operates at night. We wanted to give our harvesters enough space to essentially recover and feel good and be able to come back to work. And when we started to grow, we decided to keep that system for essentially almost all of our field and butcher staff, like the vast majority of who we are. And it's turned into this extraordinary benefit that we didn't see kinda coming. And we did a little experiment last year 'cause we wanted to make sure we're living in Hawaii is extraordinarily expensive and we're trying to be as responsible as possible. So we have two full teams, everybody that works seven days on and another team comes in, we essentially work nonstop, switching back and forth. So we offered them unlimited overtime. Can you guess what happened? - Tell me. - Nobody took it. - Explain for a second what that would actually mean. What is unlimited overtime? - Yeah, so we said on your seven days off, you can come in and work every single one of those days you weren't at time and a half, like at an overtime rate. - And no one did it? - Nobody did it. - What do you make of that? - Time. - They were just happy with-- - A, there's nothing more important than time. B, lots of them, it's been this really interesting and amazing thing to watch them. Seven days is a long time. When we hire somebody, almost inevitably their first week off they call me and they're like, what am I supposed to do? It's day four and they're like, I haven't had a seven day vacation in three years, what am I supposed to do? I'm like, well get used to it. - Find some hobbies. - Yeah, and it's been amazing to watch them become a better community member or start a food truck or start their own company and they come back, we essentially have 100% retention of the people we want and they come back on the start of their seven days and they are the most extraordinary person coming back to us and then they work amazingly well for seven days. That age old adage of one person is better than two average is 100% true and we have data to support that in how we look at production and stuff now. The other thing that I think is really important for the people we hire which are hyper local people, we're looking for people of those places, is you're giving them an opportunity to leverage that place and enjoy it. So half of them will just fish for six days or go hunting or enjoy surfing or something else and it's just this amazing schedule that really allows them to enjoy the place that they are from and live in but more importantly, we have an extraordinary group of people and it just had to roll over the hill a little bit and that combined with other things. Through COVID when nobody could hire anybody, we had stacks and stacks and stacks of resumes on my desk. It's just has turned into this amazing work environment and we've had no lack of essentially efficiency or production. - So let's talk about some of the processes and metrics that inform that output and efficiency.

Processes, metrics, and moon-fluence (53:02)

- Sure. - 'Cause it doesn't happen by accident. - No. - And I've visited your operation a few times now and I've always been, this won't surprise anyone who's followed me for a while, I'm always impressed with very finely tuned tracking. So could you speak to some of the metrics that you track and why they're important? - Sure. - And then we'll segue from that into, let's have you describe what a shift actually looks like. - Sure. - When you're going out at night. You can feel free to switch back and forth or do one first and then the other afterwards. - So the harvest side of what we do, which is really the unique aspect of what we've built is these field harvesting systems that comply fully with USDA standards, i.e. everything that operates in a brick and mortar we're able to do in the field through a combination of forward-looking infrared and these different software systems that we've built. And we were only able to create those systems and levels of efficiency with what you're pointing to is an absurd amount of data that we keep. So we keep track of every mile, every bullet, every time we stop, the moon phases, how the moon phase influences deer, we call it like moon fluence. And we have these giant KPIs and sheets that basically-- - The performance indicators. - That dictate where we go, what we do and then who we put in different places. Actually, I don't think I've told you this, but we just submitted a grant to NASA. These PhDs at Harvard and MIT found out about what we did, found out we keep an absurd amount of data compared to most agricultural companies. And NASA has a grant available for ag companies where they'll fly this amazing satellite, comes over Hawaii at 10, 14. We just finished putting this giant grant together, crossing my fingers. And it's so detailed that these amazing people at MIT and Harvard believe they'll be able to detect deer with the satellite and then use the information and data we collect every single night on when we're seeing them and how and how we're interacting with them to incorporate with the machine learning to create route planning for us. So they think a combination of satellite data and the ground data that we keep combined will be able to tell us on the next day where to go. - Wow. - I was freaking out. - When they were explaining all of this and lots of dumb questions that went along with it, yeah. But they were shocked at the amount of data we keep. They even got to see, like we've run lots of different experiments of how we collect data. And I think maybe what you're pointing to is just this constant iteration of we're gonna try this thing, we're gonna keep data. And if you don't measure, I think there's that great saying, measure what matters. If you don't measure it, you won't know if it's actually worked. And we are just constantly changing and measuring things. And so we've actually taken that philosophy into our butcher facility, which is a very well-known industry with well-known inputs and production efficiencies. And we're crushing those numbers and we're just doing it through constant iteration. It doesn't matter if the angle of a table or this machine or the different knife that we use, that we are constantly iterating and constantly collecting data to see, are we producing a better product faster with more quality? - So let me come back to the USDA.

Surpassing USDA regulations — in the wild (56:46)

Or maybe not directly USDA, but comparables. And then we'll go from there to a sample night, kind of what the run of show looks like in the process. And the reason I wanna talk about these two things is that in the field, things are harder to control than you would find in a facility where you're using say cattle shoots and so on. What does your, and people are not gonna like some of these words, so apologies to those, but I think it's fascinating and important to cover these things. What does your say kill efficiency or your sort of measurements of humane kill look like compared to sort of a conventional facility? - Great question. And the reason I wanted to talk about this, there are quite a few, but one is that I know that a decent portion of your customer base is vegans or vegetarians who make a sole allowance for malignant venison, which is maybe a sort of a head scratcher for a lot of people. So let's talk about sort of your field efficiency compared to what most people are indirectly experiencing when they buy something just wrapped in styrofoam at their local grocery store. - Sure. Part of the systems we had to build were we had to follow the Federal Meat Inspection Act, which the USDA is present to make sure that animal is supposed to be harvested humanely, and then that ultimately after that animal is processed to make sure it's safe to eat. That's their two primary functions. And in a, and I know this is hard for people to hear, but if you eat meat like it's what it is, in a typical brick and mortar facility, that animal is coming in on a trailer, moving through a chute system, going into a press most often. So that animal is completely stationary, and then the language is called rendered, but it's then essentially shot in the head. So we had to follow those exact same rules in the field and with no control of the animal. - The rules meaning humane, safe to eat, but not following that process. - But not following that process, yeah. So we never pen bait, like we don't interact with these animals at all prior to that rendering or harvesting process. They are entirely wild. And what we developed was a particular shooting system that allows and or standardize our shooters to miss on purpose 30% of the time. And that sounds weird, but what it is is we are essentially making sure every shot that we hit that animal is perfect. And there's never any like outside injuries. And to do that, if you shoot a two inch group at 200 yards, which is difficult to do, and you aim at the very, very top or tip of a head, you are going to miss about 30% of the time. And so we actually operate-- - So just to paint a visual for people. So two inches, it's a little bit bigger than I say, like a silver dollar. So imagine you have something that's slightly bigger than a silver dollar and you put it 600 feet away. You need to put every shot inside that silver dollar. That's what we're talking about. - Yeah, and then you need to make sure your aim point is in a place that never can create injury. 'Cause if you miss high, nothing happens. That animal runs away. And so we actually operate at about a 99.9% rendering efficiency. - And what is the brick and mortar average? - 98 off of like thousands and thousands of animals. So we were able to meet and exceed those guidelines or those rules. - In the wild. - In the wild. - With animals moving around. - Yeah, with a combination of, so you can imagine, and this maybe like leads into what like a night in the field looks like. But you have these Mad Max looking UTVs with four looking infrared screens essentially attached. The USDA inspector is sitting right beside you the entire time. And the technology is so good that the heat, the friction the bullet makes passing through the air, the USDA inspector is actually able to see that bullet. - The trail. - With the head of every single animal. It's just an extraordinary process where the animal is unaware that you're there. And so it is truly, truly wild until the second harvest and then dies immediately. And so there's no, which like comes into play for nutrient density. There is no stress. - Yeah, they're not flooded with cortisol. - Prior to harvesting. And I think when we get about like a message a week from a vegan that says like, I'm finally able to come back to eating meat because they understand why the animal has to be managed and why that animal is dying. And then they agree and connect strongly with that process. Like it's truly the only stress-free harvesting or slaughter of a animal within our food system. - Could you talk for a second about why this is so rare? Right, because people might think, well, can't you just go like go hunting and sell the meat? You cannot do that. So what makes you able to do this? - Yeah, great question. - For people who don't have that background? - So a elk in Montana is a native species and it is owned by the public. - Right, it's on public land. - It's on public land. Even on private land, that animal, the management of the animal is dictated by the state. It is still owned by the people, right? So an invasive species on private land in Hawaii is the liability and ownership of the landowner. So it is a very unique situation in which you can actually like do this process legally. And it's only in the instance where it is a invasive species on private land, we're not allowed to operate on public land in Hawaii. - So what, and I bring this up, I mean, obviously, look, I love Maui Nui, I'm an investor, so of course I'm biased, but it all came down to, and I think we were initially introduced by Peter Attia, the quality, just this pure quality nutrient density of the product, for me, right, that's what it came down to. But I think as means of just educating people about game meat and the sale of game meat in general, or let's just call it sort of atypical proteins, like venison, elk, and so on, how much of the venison, elk, et cetera, that people might buy out of Whole Foods or something, is farmed. - 100%. - 100%. I bring this up just to say that, like, people say you are what you eat, that is true, but you're also, like, what you eat, ate. - Yeah. - Right, so if, let's say deer and elk is being fed, who knows, corn feed and all sorts of stuff and given antibiotics potentially, it's very different from something that is wild harvested. So I don't wanna skip too far ahead, let's talk about a night out, just what that looks like, and then we'll talk about a nutrient profile.

A typical night of harvesting (01:04:12)

- Typical night for us starts at 10 p.m. You can imagine a bunch of hyper local Hawaiians, who I love, getting up, rolling out of bed, we all sleep on site, we've got all these cubby holes for them to sleep in, we all sleep on site, we're getting up, making-- - 10 p.m. - 10 p.m., making dinner and breakfast together, some of them are diesel engines, you really gotta shake 'em to get going, and we are constantly moving, so we have mobile facilities where we're moving from site to site to do this process, we have these primary sites on all of the different ranches that we work with, so the first thing we're looking at each evening is moving our mobile facilities to another site to get closer to the deer, and the reason is, one of the other rules we have to follow is after that animal is rendered, it has to be back to the facility, cleaned, processed without a single hair on it in an hour. - Yeah, it's pretty mind-boggling. So we'll also link to a video that shows kind of snippets of this that's on YouTube, because if people think about that, I mean, it's pretty mind-boggling. And maybe you can walk through how that's accomplished. - So we're asking our team members to be snipers, rally car drivers, CrossFit athletes, butchers. The people we have on our teams just have these extraordinary skillsets. It's the funnest thing to watch a guy in his first week. - Access to your decathletes. - Yeah, well, we have to pick up every single one of these animals and carry them on our backs, because you're not allowed to drag them. You can either introduce contaminants and/or bruise the meat, and it's actually one of my favorite parts of the night is it is the complete opposite of the rest of the meat industry. After you've killed this animal for food, you're carrying this animal on your back into its next stage of life with the food, and there's an individual connection with each one of these animals. And it's something that every guy on our team really takes pride in is being able to pick up these giant 250-pound animals across razor-sharp lava or all super-sparks. - 250, that's a big boy. - Yeah, these giant bucks. We're moving mobile slaughter facilities, and we're getting all set up and staged, and you've got these Mad Max UTVs, and everything is getting ready for what we call the performance period, and the USDA shows up, and it is essentially game time. You have a finite period of time, which for a long time was only three hours. So you have all of the variability of a wild animal, and you have to make it all work in a three-hour period. Your entire business comes down to, your mission, business, how you operate comes down to managing variance within a three-hour period. So nobody walks, everybody drives faster than they'd like to, and we've never had more than a cut finger, knock on wood, and we expect just extraordinary people and athletes to come work with us. We have had lots of people that have come and been with us for a week and said, "I can't do this. "I can't do this every night. "It's impossible." So USDA comes, we have this very defined performance period where we're going really, really fast, under control, and getting as many animals as we can, getting them back and processing them, and then before you know it, the sun has come up, and the night is over. - Now, just so we understand some of the tools of the trade that go into this, so you're using night vision scopes? How is the technology layered to make this work? - So the first piece of technology that will start the night is these forward-looking infrared drones. So a drone is going in there to give us a picture of a couple thousand acres to say, deer are going to be in these areas as we get started. The forward-looking infrared binocular system that we use, I can tell you the difference between a goat and a deer at seven miles. So at 150 yards, you can see every hair, any abscess, like the USDA being able to say that animal is healthy is achieved through that technology, and there's no lights on, like it's completely black. Deer has no idea what's going on as they're being evaluated by the USDA. And then the shooters also have forward-looking infrared scopes. So you never have to introduce light into the scenario to scare them, and that's what allows you to harvest enough animals every night to make it work. So you come up over a hill, you see a couple of deer, all of the lights go off, all of this forward-looking infrared equipment comes on instantly, so the USDA is able to view it. He's able to look at those five animals and say, yep, you're able to take those animals, and he has to like verbally, like we need to wait, he has to verbally say those things. Oftentimes you can shoot several of those animals because they don't actually know what's going on. It's the middle of the night, and the minute they don't feel safe, they just run. So you know you're still harvesting them under stress-free conditions if they're just standing there. Half the time they'll go back to feeding. Animals are rendered properly, they go down immediately, and as soon as our shooter says clear and the USDA says clear, people are like sprinting into the bushes to find these animals. Again, it's the middle of the night. If the grass is four feet tall, we have laser pointer systems that come off of the UTVs to like show them the right direction, and animal gets picked up, brought back to the UTV, and then we'll collect a couple of them. We have a roving team, they're called. So we have a team of rovers that essentially are the Mad Max team, where they'll collect a couple deer, and then they'll move as fast as they can back to where the mobile slaughter and processing facilities are stationed. And so they're just cycling back and forth between the harvesting team and the processing teams. So it's just this intricate dance, and this is all at night on, this is not paved roads. These are like rough off-road scenarios. And so one of my favorite things to do is the first week we train somebody, we have a course that they have to run, and we let them run the course once, and it typically takes like seven minutes. And we're like, we need you to do that in three minutes. And they're just like, what? Like, you need to do that in three minutes, or you were not gonna get back in time? And so it's always fun to sit in that seat, and we have these very specialized UCVs that are essentially impossible to tip over. But it is so fun to watch these amazing local guys develop all these incredible skillsets. And they just, like, every morning the sun comes up and everybody's just like grinning ear to ear. It very much feels like a sports team, and obviously with my history, I run it kinda like a sports team and the coach, and just an amazing experience to do one of these hunts, yeah. - So just to define terms also, if people don't know what UTV means, it's kinda like a super tactical Mad Max golf cart. - There you go. - That's a bit larger. - Yeah. - Right? - Yeah. - So people may have seen like Polaris as one brand name, there are many others. There are other terms used to refer to these things, but that's what we're talking about. - Yeah.

The humble, hungry, and smart way to build a world-class team (01:11:40)

- So what are some of the other keys to selecting or building a team like you have built? Because you're asking a lot of these people. - Yeah. - And it's an unusual work culture, right? So what are some of your framework systems, criteria for hiring, but also training, once people are in the position? - Great people already being there to train great people, like really, really goes a long way. And we can talk about kinda that system we built later if you want, but the communication and people being patient is probably the most important thing. You have to imagine, you're doing almost everything through radios. So you sound like Kermit the Frog all night long and you don't like, you only catch half of it sometimes, but you're moving really fast. And the expectation is like, you keep moving fast. And so somebody has to be patient enough when like, oh, I didn't get that message. Or I didn't know what to like. Communication is so key when you can't see body language, you can't hear properly. And everybody's operating out of a headlamp. So you have this little 10 degree view of what you can see through light. I'm sure it's the most critical thing in like a lot of businesses, but when you're operating like that at night, this amplified skill that if you don't have, we just, we get on it so fast. - The communication, how do you get on it? - So I've never had a hard time having hard conversations. So I would talk to people about tone and approaches and different words they could use, like reminder instead of get this thing done. Like we really focused on individual language. And then we basically built a language of harvesting. So we have all of these key words. So people don't get confused with what's going on. So we've created kind of our own harvest language that allows people not to get confused when we're going really fast. And then ultimately we built a system called HHS, which stands for Humble Hungry Smart and is largely based on- - Huppa, most personal- - Humble Hungry Smart. - Okay, gotcha. So it was the Canadian. - Yeah, yeah. And it's largely based on a book that Patrick Lencioni wrote called "The Ideal Team Player." And it is a peer-to-peer evaluation system that measures humility, work ethic, and emotional intelligence. And it became so important for us to have the right people. The biggest risk we have every single night is safety. And it became so critically important to have the right people and the right personalities that we had to build a system to measure those personalities. - And that's in the recruiting vetting process? - Oh yeah. - How do you measure those things? Humility. - We created essentially a scorecard. It has six questions per category. So six for humility, six for work ethic, six for emotional intelligence. Questions like, do the energy they bring every night, is it consistent as in it positive? So we talk about body language and emotional intelligence, all these different things within these questions. And I'm happy to provide this thing. And we use it in three ways. We give it to the person on the second interview when we're hiring somebody. So we say, here's the HHS system. This is the only thing you're accountable to in your first month and two things happen. They read it and they go, or actually they just don't call back. And I've made a ton of hiring mistakes in the past where you get past this honeymoon phase and people turn into grouches and there's people, first man, how he's involved. I remember a guy that we were gonna hire that was like brilliant electrical engineer. He wanted to quit his job, come work with us. 'Cause he heard about the seven and seven schedule and thought it'd be the best thing ever. And then he read it and he didn't call me back. And I really wanted to hire him. And I called him back and I said, any reason you didn't call me back? He's like, I have terrible body language. And I'm not willing to quit my job and take the chance within the first month that I get fired for bad body language. Because we score them. If you're an A, we celebrate and figure out a way for you to reward you. If you're a B, we like find immediate improvements that you need to make within some of these categories. And if you're a C, we let you go on the spot. No questions asked. - And you set that expectation up front. - Oh, so we set that in the interview. They have to like agree to this system coming in. They're evaluated by their entire team, including them doing a self-eval, which is a part of the overall score. They get to like grade themselves. - And the team, are they sent on like a test evening prior to hiring or I guess they just know that once they start going out. - Yeah, so we call them tryouts. But when somebody comes to try out with us, which means we give them a month, we hire them on, but we call them a tryout. And at the end of that tryout, which is typically a one month period, they get graded by their entire team. And they know it's this like really tense moment where. - How many people are on a given team? - Eight to 10. - Got it. - Yeah, so it's a good average. So if somebody. - Yeah, if somebody has got a bug up their ass about something, it's just one person. - It always ends up being like a great average. And it always ends up being a great measure of that person. It's been this extraordinary filter for hiring. Asshole is the wrong word. But when we figured out how to use that system, we now grade every person at their first month, we grade every single person quarterly, including me. Every single person gets graded. And there's questions on there like, do they try or ask to do more than is required of them every day? And it's been so amazing to see the mistakes I make in when we're hiring new people or moving people around. Like a great example is I moved a couple people from a field position into a management position. And then all of a sudden their work ethic score started coming down. And it wasn't because they weren't working any harder. It was I didn't do a good job defining to the team what their new responsibilities were. So they saw them sitting on a computer and doing these things. And they're like, well, they're not in the field helping us. And so it's just this amazing quarterly exercise that just pulls out all of the tension within your teams and creates framework for people to address those tensions. And then ultimately what's amazing is to watch people grow.

Feedback that separates the As and Bs from the Cs (01:18:19)

- How do you give feedback? Let's say they come back and they've got a bunch of bees. What's the big boss do? - Yeah, so we sit them down and we say. - Is that the Royal Wee or is it just you? - No, no, it's-- - It's multiple people. - Yeah, it's me and like the two or three other harvest managers. - Got it. - Great example. One of the questions we asked talks about, do they, are they genuinely happy to see their teammates succeeding? Because safety is such an important part of what we do. When we bring somebody in that's more talented, just like a sports team moves the best people into the best positions, we immediately move people around positions based on their skillsets. So somebody has to be genuinely happy to train somebody that may replace them in a role that they may enjoy more. - Yeah, they used to be the right striker or whatever. - Exactly. - And then just got replaced. - And it's amazing to watch somebody that really wants to be there 'cause they find purpose and they really love the schedule and they know the impact that they're having to our community have to make the decision to be better for their teammate every night. To be celebrating that person's growth even though it's potentially coming at the cost of something that they enjoy. So there's these-- - That's hard. - Oh. - I mean, I'm not saying it's unreasonable, but I mean, that's asking a lot of people. And I don't know if I would be, if I'm being honest with myself, I think that'd be hard. - Here's the thing, it's been such a amazing exercise with lots of iterations, right? Like the first three iterations, I made so many grown men cry and I felt so bad. - Was that your delivery or the measurement where you just like, hey listen, fuck this. - It was the measurement was wrong. - It's sink or swim. - No, you're getting evaluated by your peers on your personality and the value it's bringing to your team. And you have to sit down quarterly and like be told your humility is not good enough for this team. - I assume that the responses are all anonymized. - Yeah, everything's anonymized and then averaged. - For what it's worth. So I've done what's called a 360 interview. And I know people who as executives or founders have had these done. And without exception, myself included, every time that I spoke to somebody who's experienced this for the first time, they're like, I went and they sat in my car. And I basically had like a nervous breakdown, crisis of meaning, what do I do? Like these are names everybody would recognize, but they were just like, holy shit. - Yeah, the first time we did it with a large enough team that I included myself in it, 'cause we were just so small early on, it was like, I think like the third iteration, I was like, I need to be a part of this. And I got all of the feedback back. I was just like, oh my God. But if we really wanna build extraordinary teams, like I realized my approach to some of our conversations had to be so much better and nuanced to make them better. And like, it wasn't the right approach. And you learn all of this, you end up reading this thing like braille after doing it. I've done it like hundreds of times now. - Yeah, and I mean, with repetition, I imagine, it's like exercise, right? It's like, okay, you're gonna do plyometrics once a year, you're gonna be very, very, very sore. And you might even hurt yourself. But if you're doing it-- - But it was amazing to see what happened is, we built this system 'cause we knew we had to go from like eight people to 45 in a really short period of time to hit our mission goals about a year and a half ago. And I had made poor hiring decisions in the past and they were mostly personality-based or they were, that person was operating amazing when I was around, but the minute I left, they turned into a different person. And then there's this, he said, she said game. This completely erases all of that. Because it's anonymous team scoring and the manager doesn't have a unweighted vote on whether that person stays around. And what ended up happening is we, that HHS program started attracting people. They started hearing about this accountability process to ensure-- - Yes, you're attracting better fits. - Oh yeah. - So coming back to, so you're not saying, hey fuck face, in like the fourth, fifth, tenth, twentieth iteration. What's the language that you use? If somebody has growth opportunities, let's call them. - It's really specific to which of the 18 categories they're struggling in. - Right, but how does the meeting start? - Okay, so we sit down and we're gonna give them paper and we say, okay, you're a B minus. - Yeah, Tim, we put a 250 pound elbow on your back, you crumpled into an origami crane and you couldn't get up. - So you're a B minus and then we celebrate first some of the categories that they're doing really well in. Like some of the categories that point to professionalism or energy or all these different things. We celebrate right away 'cause they're, each one of the 24 segments have different scores within them that have been averaged throughout their team. And then we address the ones that they're like a C in. And a great example, a lot of our young guys that come on board. - Got it, so they're not cut if they have a C in a particular review point. It's the average, yeah, got it. - So the C average, and it's been amazing to see that system work. I've let go several people that were Cs that I would have never let go. I wouldn't have known to let them go. Like wouldn't have known that that was the impact they were having on the team at large. It just would have never come out. - Yeah, I would love to, you mentioned, I think you offered to maybe share the question. So we'll put that in the show notes as well. Timed up blog/podcast because I'm incredibly curious to check it out myself. It just, at least at face value, it seems like a very elegant solution to a lot of problems that can seem like fragmented, separate problems you have to address in different ways. - I've heard lots of people, and again, like I'm just a system builder, and by no means is it perfect, but I've heard lots of people speak to how important these different personality traits are and how they reward them. And more importantly than the C or the As, being able to say to somebody, this incredible combination of humility, work ethic, and emotional intelligence is making your whole team better. And your whole team is telling you your extraordinary ethic, being able to reward and compensate somebody for that and have a measure to do so. - You say compensate. So let's say they have, 'cause I know this is getting in the weeds a bit, but I feel like that's where a lot of the good stuff is hiding. So how many questions were there again? - There's 18 questions, six on humility, six on work ethic, and six on emotional intelligence. - And they get this A, B, or C for each of those questions. - They're, it's graded one through seven. We just did it 'cause it was seven days of the week, and we talk about being at excellent every day. So it's one through seven, and then we add up all the scores, which is 126 total, and they get a percentage. So if they're an 87, we give them a B+. - Which is the average for the total. - Which is the average. - How do you reward or compensate the As? - If they're in their first six month of employment and they get two As or A+'s in a reward, we give them a raise based on that contribution. And then we celebrate with the team, like Nao was an A this last quarter. And we make sure the team knows the contribution that they're having. And it's already, what's so interesting, they already all know. - Yeah, right. - But to not have framework to reward them for being amazing people has always been this fuzzy place for me where I couldn't reward or compensate that person for being an extraordinary individual that was making their whole team better because it didn't fit into what the classic hard skills define as like, they're a great shooter or they're a great driver or one of these different things. And every single one of those A+ people are our most highly skilled people as well. When you operate with a certain level of humility, you are more willing to learn. - Yeah, right. - And you learn faster. - Yeah, totally. - And every single person that's come through our program that was like a B- or a C that was highly skilled and made the choice not to get better at these, what I very much considered skills, just weeded themself out. - Yeah. - Yeah, it's been really cool to see people grow. And you're in this camp and you see these guys, a lot of them will tape their score up above their bed and they'll look at it in the morning and say, okay, my job is to make, I was a B- in this thing, I need to bring more consistent energy every night. We've got guys that go up and down and up and down and they're like, okay, I'm gonna be trying to be more consistent. Like they know what they're working on. - That's so cool.

Strategies For Learning And Improvement

You know, this gave me a flashback 'cause when I was in high school and I wasn't a particularly, I just, for whatever reason, I mean, I trained my ass off, but I was not the most gifted wrestler, but I was pretty tough and not 10 out of 10 tough, but I ended up reading this book. It's, I'm sure dated in a million ways, but it was called Mental Toughness Training for Sports and there was an assessment and it was actually, now that I think about it, pretty similar to HHS and I gave the assessment to like five or six people and they did the assessment and then I took my score and that became my reminder. - Cool. - And that is when in a single season, I mean, I went from kind of middle of the pack to almost entirely undefeated until the very end of the season. And it's not because I was the most gifted, but it's in part due to having a constant reminder that is not from one person, right? You spot patterns and you're like, okay. If it were just one person, I could maybe dismiss it, but no, now I'm getting this from multiple people I respect. It works, man, it really works. And you could do this, I'm just thinking out loud, obviously I was gonna say he's talking out loud, but that's, they've redundant. I'm just talking out loud here folks, but you could use this outside of an employment context, right, like you could take this HHS and give it to five to 10 people you know and just ask them to be honest, like that's the pre-req. I'm not asking you to be nice, I'm asking you to be accurate. - And I wanna give credit where it's due, Patrick Lencioni is an amazing, like the book, the ideal team player, which is what a lot of the, like the questions aren't based on it, but this idea that the original name, Humble Hungry Smart, is from that book. And so when somebody comes in, they have to read that book and it gives them the base principles of what we're talking about and then we basically design the questions. And yeah, it's been incredible, like you get young 25 year olds that come in and their first couple of weeks, they're sitting in a meeting and they're hunched over and like they got their hood on. And typically that's a hard conversation to have with somebody to say like, I need you to sit up, take your hood off, like be an active listener, 'cause it's an uncomfortable thing to like talk to somebody about their body language. And you get to do that immediately because the team has framework and language to say like, hey, listen, brother, in three weeks, you're gonna get graded, one of those things is body language. And if you just sit up in the meeting, take your hood off and make sure like you're looking at the person talking, you're gonna get a better score. We like you, we wanna keep you around. - Yeah, yeah. - Like if you happen to come in late. - Sit up front, like it's not impromptu, improvised. - It gives them the ability to have hard conversations when somebody rolls in a little bit late, which is already unacceptable, but if they don't like genuinely apologize, somebody gets to come to them and say like, one of our questions is about being like genuine about your apologies if you've made mistakes and we're allowed to make mistakes here, we make a lot. But like you come in and being like, oh, sorry guys, like don't do that next time and it will be better. - Yeah. - Outside of me, it's given everybody else framework to have uncomfortable conversations and or celebrate people, right? - So the ideal team player, Lencioni, this is a signed reading. - Yeah. - This is an assigned reading. Do you have any other assigned reading? - Not for field teams. We have them focus on that one for sure. We've got for some of our other staff, we have "Confessions of a Pricing Man", Simin I think is the last name. - I've read that book. - It's really good. I have like a lot of, anybody that deals with any type of like product strategy and make sure they read that one. - I haven't thought of that book in a long time. - Oh, it's so good. And then "The Road Less Stupid". - Okay, I don't know this one. - It is one of my favorite like general business books and I'm drawing a blank on the... - It's okay, it's memorable. - I've read a lot. Actually, Chris Ashenden recommended it to me. - Uh-huh, so those who don't know, Chris Ashenden is the founder of AG1, previously Athletic Greens. - Yeah, he's been an amazing, the guy who's always handed me homework. - He's a great operator. - Yeah. So again, I'm happy to share like all of the questions. And I think when people see the questions, you can actually, they're tailored to our teams, but it's actually pretty easy to tailor those questions to your specific work format. I haven't quite found a way to move them into like the virtual Zoom world, 'cause a lot of them are so tactile in how people work together in workflows. And there will be several iterations, we just changed it again. But in its current format and framework, I think it could be valuable to people and happy to share that more. - Yeah, we'll put it in the show notes for folks to check out. I promised it earlier, so I want to not be remiss and come back to it as this conversational boomerang returns to me.

Nutrient density (01:31:58)

Nutrient density. - Got it. - How should we tackle this? Where would you like to start? - We could start at when-- - 'Cause this is true for plants. - Yeah. - Also true for meat. Anything you put in your mouth has a certain composition. And just because it's called the same thing, banana, banana, banana, banana, banana, banana, banana. - Yeah. - Right, green bean, green bean, green bean, it does not mean they are equal in nutritional value. - I'll start at maybe the end. I think nutrient density, i.e. food quality, and being able to measure that accurately and someone be able to understand it in its simplest form, i.e. on a label, is gonna completely change our food system and be the lever for regenerative agriculture. - Meaning having an indicator on a label, some type of measurement, just like you look at calories, just like you look at-- - You walked into a store tomorrow and you flipped it over and there was two blueberries and one said 92 and one said 76. And you knew that 92 meant that was that much better for you measuring thousands of biochemicals that they now can through metabolomic testing. You're gonna buy the one. And what's so amazing about the conversation on nutrient density is that is nutrition of place. And when you think of regenerative agriculture practices, which is basically just layering conservation practices, like we're taking care of soil, we're taking care of water, we're doing these different things. - Which people have done for a long time in certain cultures. - And we got away for it for a long time and now we're coming back to it. And if you knew the quality of your food, not measured by the five metrics that are currently available, but measured by the thousands of biochemicals that we can now test for both good and bad. And that became, and there's billions of dollars going into this, like the Patagonia provisions are the one like this is coming for sure. And what was really interesting for us is we got to be one of the first people to be fully tested. So about two years ago, we submitted our bone broth to a typical USDA FSNS lab to make our label. And I remember them, yeah, they called me and they said, "Something's wrong with these bones." And I was like, "We sent you like the bone broth they were made from regular bones." They had thought we had put like some form of like protein powder or additional collagen in there 'cause it tested 33% higher in protein per ounce than anything they'd ever seen. So they had to like retest it and it came out the exact same way. And our mission was never nutrient density. Our mission was to balance populations. And I always knew it was better for me because that animal had a choice to eat. But when we got that testing, we were like, "Wait a second, like what is going on here?" So we sent livers and hearts and different cuts into a conventional lab for testing. Sure enough, lab emails me in the middle of it. I remember this one, they're like, "There's something wrong with the hearts. They have too much choline." I'm like, "There's nothing wrong. We just sent you a heart." And we were working with, did you introduce us to Anthony Gustin? Who? Dr. Anthony, we got to Anthony Gustin. - I don't think so, but I do know. I know who he is, absolutely. He's helped other people I know. - We were trying to figure out and compare after we got that information to a typical comparison to beef and what he pointed us to, which was crazy and scary, is the vast majority of the USDA databases from the 1930s. I wonder if I made that intro. It's possible. - You've made a lot of them, my friend. - Yeah, it's possible. - I appreciate it. But what we found out is that the nutritional comparison to beef weren't even actually able to do it 'cause the data was so dated and you're able to be off to within 20% on a label, which is a whole other story. Anyway. - Yeah, people who are packaging things have more wiggle room than a lot of consumers realize. - 20% wiggle room. - Yeah, it's wild. - Up or down, whichever one favors them. - Yeah. - Yeah. - So Dr. Gustin introduced us to somebody, Dr. Van Vliet at East Osseit University, who has probably been one of the most advanced food labs in North America, and he was doing the largest beef study ever done and the most in-depth, measuring 1,000-plus biochemicals through dis-advanced metabolomic testing. And we just happened to get tossed in at the end of it. So there's 200-plus beef-- - Little spritzes. - Yeah. - Access to here. - So there's 200-plus beef samples, and then they threw us at the end, and he thought, "Oh, this'll be really cool to see an animal that has a choice to what it eats, what that might look like in a, what we understood as a fairly fertile area." Right? - Mm-hmm. - Okay. So comes out two to four X the phytochemicals. So all of the good stuff from plants that gets transferred into meat, were two to four X, were eight to 64 X the omega-3s. Every single category was absurd. And then probably the most exciting for me is they measured oxidative stress. So the stress an animal goes through during that process, you can measure that oxidative stress and its impact on, there's a whole bunch of chemicals I still don't understand, I'm not a nutritionist, but they were able to measure the negative impacts of stress. And of course ours was essentially zero, and the cattle, the beef stuff was all over the place. It was pretty scary. But when I saw it, the most exciting thing, honestly, wasn't Maui Nui. It was, A, this is nutrition of place. This is a direct reflection of how well and how fertile a place is, because all of that nutrient density is coming from the plants that they're eating, and i.e. the soil and the- - Soil, exactly. - Yeah, and the health of the water moving through the soil. And instantly realized if every consumer had this level of insight into the nutritional quality of their food, it'll completely change the way people look at that food system. - And then it'll change the entire sort of supply chain production. - Well, it's not a race to the bottom anymore of producing commodities, which is like the most you can at the cheapest price. I mean, this is my favorite saying. Every time Peter Attia says we're overnourished, I'm just like, "Yes." We just have, we're producing an absurd amount of calories that aren't good for us. It's coming, and we're gonna understand the nutritional quality of our food, and it will be graded and easy to know. And that will create these direct relationships with these, what will probably be regenerative agar, like practices that are fostering the health of these places. And then so when we dug even further, we found out that the leeward slopes of volcanic-- - What does leeward mean? - It is the windward side of a slope. - Got it. - Yeah. Hawaii, Haleakala has a very particular soil called andesols. And then there are three types of andesols. Andesols are some of the most fertile soils in the world. They hold water better and hold more nutrients from those waters better. And then of the three soil types, of the three andesols, so we have one called a U-stand, and it's the most fertile of the three. So the slopes we're harvesting these deer on are actually, I think the U-stands make up .05% of the world's soils. - That's wild. - So we happen to be-- - Luck of the draw. - Yeah, and that's the thing. Again, this was never our mission. The mission was just to balance populations. But we happen to have one of the most virile animals in the world that has a choice to eat exactly what it wants, moving through the most fertile slopes, maybe on the planet. And I think that's what Dr. Van Vleet got so excited about, is he now has a marker to say when there's an extremely fertile place that's for most part well taken care of in a lot of the areas, 'cause they're able to go to the very best areas, this is what nutrient density could look like. And it's two to, vitamin A was 800 times in the liver versus some of these beef livers. - So to come back to one point, the DHA, I don't know if there's EPA in axis deer, I have no idea, I'm not a lipidologist, if that's the right term. - I think there is, yeah. - So on the omega-3 side, is eating axis deer in terms of levels of omega-3s, I guess we'd have to think about the sort of concentration per ounce, but is it comparable to eating some types of fish or would it still be significantly lower? - Well, we don't know the answer to that yet because the study measured it in comparison to beef. - Right, so the percentages and so on were benchmarked to beef. - So the new piece of equipment that Dr. Van Vleet has coming in will be able to give us measures in milligrams, microgram, like we'll know that in the near future here. And this is what ultimately, there's several companies working on this, Audacious is one of them, is an amazing company, they're gonna be able to measure these thousands of biochemicals to the form that you need to turn them into a label. But we know, to answer your question, we know even in comparison to beef, it is about halfway to salmon. So it's actually a significant source of omega-3s that for some people that don't eat fish, like it goes a long way, yeah. - Yeah, so okay, little inside joke. Before we press record, we were talking about some very, very well-known professional sports teams who are using Maui Nui to feed their players and some of these players, for whatever reason, want just to won't eat fish. But they will eat Maui Nui. - Well, and they blood test every week these extraordinary athletes, and we've just started working with a lot of these sports nutritionists, and they're gonna be able to measure for us if it's having an impact on these athletes. - That's so cool. - Again, never part of the mission for us, but an understanding of place, and this is what gets Kualani, my wife, so excited. She's like, this comes back to that conversation of innovation is a culture. And Hawaiians were able to produce extraordinary, nutrient-rich foods with finite resources for a million people, and Hawai'i now imports 95% of its food and half of its Twinkie-level nutritional value. It really points back to our places in forming what we're doing, and it's really fun to have such a strong connection to place, and it helped to inform your solution. - So connection to place, you have Kualani, you have the little ones.

Clawback allowances (01:43:05)

- Oh yeah. - Right? You live in Hawai'i. Let's talk about the family for a second. - Uh-oh. - Clawback Allowances. - Oh man, I get to give you credit for this. Wait till you hear this one. - Yeah, okay. Fire away. - John List. - Yep, I was just thinking about John List. - John List, the economist you had on the show, and he was talking about using Clawback Allowances in a professional format, but I remember him talking about using it to potty train his kids, and this idea of loss aversion, i.e. like I already have it, and you're gonna take it away from me being much stronger than the opposite. - Right, like how hard will you work to make $50 versus how hard will you work if you feel like $50 has been taken away? - Exactly. So-- - The latter. - We had been struggling with-- - Equals a lot more. - Allowances for the kids. - Yeah. - And we make lots of mistakes as parents, and what the Allowances were accidentally doing where they were training them, they had jobs and they did their jobs and then they earned their money if they did their jobs. But what it was doing is when we asked them to do extra stuff and be helpful, it was like, well, am I gonna make more money? - Yeah. - And we had taught them this system that was the opposite of what we were trying to teach them, which was to try and be helpful. And me and Ku, I remember her listening to it like six hours later than I did, and she's like, "Did you hear about the Clawback Allowances?" I was like, "Yes." And we both thought of it instantly, like let's do it for Allowances. And so what we do now, and we change two things, we put $20 in ones on the fridge at the beginning of the month, and we say, "This is yours." And what we do now is we claw back those dollar bills for attitude instead of jobs. So what we do is when we say, "Pali Ku, can you go feed the dogs?" And he's like, "Ugh." We just walk to the fridge and we pull off a dollar. And it was this amazing exercise over a period of three months to like, it was straight revolt, like, "What are you talking about?" - Mutiny on the ship. - And revolt turned into like a little bit of sarcasm, like, "Yeah, fine, I'll do that." 'Cause they didn't wanna lose their money. One step back, we don't buy them anything. We're kind of strict when it comes to like, they get stuff at birthdays and they get stuff at Christmas, but other than that, they need to be useful people and earn their money. And so they really value the dollars they get at the end of the month. And it went from mutiny to sarcasm. And I remember it happening. And I remember like asking Leo who to grab the laundry and she's like, "Sure." And I was like, "Wait a second." I looked at Ku, I was like, "That actually just work?" And they're, don't get me wrong, don't get me wrong, they're amazing kids, 99% of the time. - Yeah, but they're kids, they're little humans. - And now like, just a couple of weeks ago, I came home and like Pali Ku was like, "Ah, I just, I cleaned the car." And I was like, "What, what's wrong with you?" Like, it was this odd thing that like, a combination of the clawback allowance and training for attitude instead of them earning for a task was just this, if it helps anybody, again, we're not amazing parents by any means, but like- - I think you're pretty good parents from what I can tell. - That small trick, oh boy. It's been a big one for us, for sure.

Secret Pinterest boards (01:46:23)

- So I'm gonna toggle around a little bit here. I have some notes in front of me. So we're talking about the kids. - Yep. - Secret Pinterest boards. - Oh man, this is another one. For the relationship between you and your wife. - Yeah. - All right. I know you're not allowed to talk about it, but it's just me and you. - Just us sitting at this table. - Well, I've actually- - Not millions of people. - I've actually tried to talk about this with a couple of our friends, and this is like fight club level, like you don't talk about this. So- - Exclusive here first, folks. Tim Ferriss show. - So much of my credit goes to my amazing wife, but all of the credit for this one goes to her. And you have to follow the rules of this one or it doesn't work. So early on in our relationship, I think I'm two years in, she's an extraordinary person, have no idea what to buy for her. I've failed several, several times. Like she barely will spend $100 on herself a couple of times a year, right? She's that type of person. She thrifts 99% of her clothes, et cetera, et cetera. So this is like the worst person ever to try and buy stuff for, she's so picky. And she sits me down, I give her a birthday gift, I get it all wrong. She sits me down the next day and she's like, "This is what we're gonna do. A, we're never gonna talk about this conversation again. And B, I've created a secret Pinterest board that I've invited you to. Every item on there is something that I want. It's exactly what I want." It's like the link goes exactly to it. But here's how this works. You are never allowed to talk about this and you're never allowed to give it to me for like a birthday or something. It weren't big on birthdays anyways. And she's like, "I will pretend that you did it in every single situation." No, this is the most important part, okay? - Yeah, right. - My children think I'm a genius. Like they'll come home and they'll just be like this random box on the table that has these beautiful earrings in them. And Kua will come in and she'll just be like, "Oh my God, how did you know? Like this is exactly what I wanted. I can't believe you found them. I've been looking for them forever." And my girls will look at me like, "How did, this is amazing, dad. Like how did you know?" She does it so well. Half the time I think like, "Oh my God, I'm amazing." Like she has fake cried several times. She does it in front of her mom. She did like, the only way this works is I believe half the time that I've done this amazing thing for her, like that's how important it is. And it has been the greatest. Like I never ever think about buying her anything. Anytime I even like have the slightest inclination, I go straight to the pincher's board and I just grab one thing off of it and it shows up. And she does this amazing job of like, it's the biggest deal. Your dad's the most amazing person for being able to like figure this thing out. And they all believe it. And we're never allowed to tell anybody about it. - Oh, what a great secret. - Oh, it is so, she's done it in front of couples. And the guys are just like, "How did you know?" I'm like, "I just paid attention, man. I just figured it out." And she just makes me look so good. And she gets exactly what she wants. And we never, like I tried to bring it up once when her mom was around and she looked at me like she was gonna kill me. She's just like, "We don't talk about it or else it goes away and it doesn't work." - You know the rules. - Oh man. - Bite your tongue. - It's so good. She has to pretend it's real and I feel amazing. - Win-win. - Yeah. - Oh, win-win-win-win-win on so many levels. - All right, so I'm gonna let you choose where we go next. - Okay. - Old lady crying on the couch game or tug of war.

The old lady on the couch game (01:50:04)

- Okay, I will. I'm gonna stick with my wife's a genius one here and we'll give her the old lady on the couch game. - All right. - And I didn't ask about it till recently. She for years has done this thing and I didn't know what it was. When she was frustrated or something was going on, she would close her eyes and instantly turn into the happiest person in the world and be loving our kids even if they were monsters and I didn't know what was happening. And so I finally asked her, I was like, "Okay, what is that thing you're doing?" And she's like, "That's my old lady crying on the couch game." And I'm like, "What the, what is that?" And she said, "When I'm feeling frustrated with my kids, I pretend I'm 80 years old." And she's amazing, she really closes her eyes and she pretends she's 80 years old. And she says, "I'm given the opportunity, it's my birthday or something. And I'm given the opportunity to use a time machine. But I am only allowed to go back to this exact moment." And she really does it, like she closes her eyes and she opens her eyes and she's 80 and she has five minutes to be this 80 year old lady looking at her nine year old daughter again after she's been grown up. And she can open her eyes and she just stands up and she's like, "Oh my, she's so cute." And she kisses their face and the kids know what the game is. And they're just like, "Oh mom, you're doing that thing again." But she genuinely can put herself in the place of gratitude to be back in that moment, seeing her kids again after 30 or 40 years of them being grown and old. And watching her do it is amazing. And then I have tried it several times since she told me. And if you really put yourself in that situation, I've done it with my son, he's turning 14 and he's got like hair under his, like it's happening. Puberty's happening, it's happening, right? And I only have four more years with him until he graduates. And a couple of times I found myself frustrated with him. I closed my eyes and I think like, when I'm 80 and my knees are sore and like, what would I feel to be able to go back and see him at 14 when he's in this place? - Your self-care at 80 is amazing. If you're just like when I'm 80 and my knees start hurting. - No, no, no, I got big plans. And I got Peter and Tia as my friends. But it's just, she's a genius. Like in some of the most frustrating moments, kids are like your greatest joy and they will frustrate you more than anybody on the planet can. And she's just found this way to have gratitude for that time 'cause it's gone. And she calls it like old lady crying on the couch game 'cause she cries. She will like be tearing up and the kids will be like, oh God, here we go again. 'Cause they get kissed all over the face and like, oh, you're so small and cute and it's amazing. Yeah, she's amazing at finding ways to be grateful for. - So this, really grateful you brought this up 'cause it reminded me of something that I found super valuable for a couple of years. And then as often happens, I just kind of forgot about it, which was for tribe of mentors. So my last book, there were many people featured. And one of the questions I asked almost everybody was, when you were feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, what do you do? And one of the answers was, when I'm feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, I look at whatever this mundane situation is. And I'll give a personal example. Like if I'm laying in a hammock and not necessarily, I could be frustrated or preoccupied by something, but like my dog Molly is playing with a stick and I'm just kind of chilling. I asked myself like 50 years from now, how much would I pay to come back to this moment for just 10 minutes, right? Similar trick, right? But I haven't used it. - It's so good. - And this is the perfect reboot. - Yeah. - So thank you, Kuu. - Oh yeah, she's again, she gets vast majority of the credit for anything that's smart that comes out of my mouth. - Tug of war.

Tug of war (01:54:07)

- Okay, this one, Ricky Lias, founder of Red Ventures, introduced to me through Peter, gets all to the credit, but it was so good. It's something that I started doing that I have to share. And he described, this is the last parenting one, I promise, he described parenting as a tug of war. You have to lose. - Okay. - And it's really interesting when you have kids and you like hold onto them. I've heard lots of different parenting advice. And the reason it stuck with me so well is it's such a great visual of your kids pulling a line across from you and that line moving through your hands. So when they're two and three years old, you don't even have to hold it. You're just like, whatever, you can't pull that thing. And then they get like six or seven and they give it like a little tug and you're like, oh, well, I gotta hold onto this thing. And then the best part about that advice is knowing you have to lose. So knowing when they're 18 or 19, you have to have fully let go of that rope. And the visual that comes to my mind all the time is just this really slow, steady release of that rope instead of like these giant jumps or like these parenting mistakes that like you're not letting them become independent and responsible and useful. You're trying to teach them all of these things so that you can let go of the rope at the end of it and they're okay. You're trying to like spare them the feeling of being useless. - How does that impact that metaphor or analogy? How did that affect how you parent or make decisions? - Good example. Leo who asked for her like first sleepover, which we've been pretty stringent about 'cause she'd like wants to go an hour away and sleep in a house. And I would like, my immediate reaction was no. And then the thought in my head was like, wait a second, she's 12. And if you're gonna like let go of the rope a little bit, this is probably the right situation. Like you're gonna have to let it all the way go. This is probably the right situation to like, let it go a little bit, make sure it's safe and you call the parents and you figure out what it is. But like, it reminds me the best actionable use of it is knowing you have to let it, like knowing it has to be gone. - You have to do it eventually. So like, do you wanna let go of 20 feet at once? Probably not. - And like they fall flat on their ass? Or do you wanna like gradually let it go so it's okay? And just the idea of seeing it moving through your hands and knowing you don't want it to be this sudden jerk has made it easier for me to make those small decisions, knowing at 18, 19, hopefully, we'll see, they're gone, right? And they'll always be mine or ours, but it's one of the few parenting advice I've ever heard that created like an actionable thing where I said like, okay, I need to make this slow and smooth and the right transition for them. So thank you, Rick. It was a good one.

Scaling The Business And Remaining Authentic

Can the business sustainably scale up without selling out? (01:57:01)

- Amazing. So I wanna ask just as we start coming to a close, a few questions. One is, what are your hopes and dreams for the next few years? And I want you to also answer something, which is one of the questions, you may not remember this, but it was a very important question for me to ask very early on, which was something along the lines of how do you ensure that you do not overharvest or end up doing more damage than good because people respond to incentives. If this economic model works, if the product is very, very high quality, which it is, if there is a lot of demand, how do you ensure that you're not seduced by the sirens of capitalism and end up becoming something antithetical to your current ethos? So maybe that ties in just in terms of rules, objectives that you've set for yourselves as a company, but broadly speaking also hopes and goals over the next few years. - Okay, so I'll answer the second first in that our mission is to achieve balance. And defining balance, we don't actually get to do that, which is probably really important. So we have the tools to make sure we can measure, like we talked about during surveys, we have the tools to make sure we measure really accurately how many we're harvesting and the impact it's having, but the individual landowners ultimately make that decision. And then the community at large gets to weigh in as well through public lands. And so if we've done our job really well, deer will find a place within our food systems, not within our critical ecosystems that collect water and not at densities that impact our reefs, they will find a way into our food systems in these mid elevations. And the ranches are already pointing to that. They get to decide what densities they want, and they can only have densities that are healthy, i.e. they grow enough grass that those animals are healthy and sustainable. We get to be the tool to help find balance. We actually don't get to answer the question, which is the guarding agent between us doing more harm than good. They get to make that decision, which is awesome. The community gets to make that decision. And there'll be some ranches that decide, ranches are grass farmers, right? There'll be some ranches that decide, I'm not doing cattle anymore. I want more deer in this area, but we have the tool to manage them the same way they would a cattle herd. And that's really my hope for what we're doing at Maui Niri is we find the balance that's best for all of our communities, ecosystem communities, food system communities, our human communities, near shore fisheries. And the great part about what we've talked about today is where there's just so much iteration to what we do, and it's so variable that it's the infinite game for us. That we're just gonna keep doing it every single year trying to find balance because some years you'll have more rain, some years you won't, and we'll constantly be able to go back to our community and say, how is this working? What does this look like? And I think maybe that's the, balance is maybe my hope for life as a whole and personal goals. I don't have, this is not a multi-billion dollar business for us, I'm so content. We already love the place that we're in. I don't need bigger, brighter, shinier things. If I've done a great job letting go of that rope really slowly and collectively, like we've talked about today, growing incredible people, I never realized how much value I'd find in growing teams. I didn't know I was gonna come back to that like I did with sports. And seeing the extraordinary group of people that are now at Maui Nui and being the shield that ensures there's only ever great people there, ourselves included in that process, man, that is hope enough and mission enough. If I can do those two things really well, that'll be more than enough. And I think that'll go a long way in serving community and hopefully my kids and yeah. - Oh, shebang. - Yeah.

Jake’s billboard (02:01:10)

- Dig it. So last question is the billboard question. This is sometimes a dead end. So I'll take the blame if it goes sideways, but if it goes well, I'll give you all the credit. So simple question. There is a billboard, metaphorically speaking, right? You can get a message out to hundreds of millions, billions of people. Could be an image, could be a quote, could be a word, could be a question, could be anything. Could also be something you want to remind yourself of. Could be any of those things. What might you put on that billboard? - I remember thinking about this, listen to your podcast for years. And it may not make perfect sense like when you read it, but the first business book I ever read was called the Little Red Book of Selling. It was this like tiny little thing. - Yeah, another book. - And a quote in there stuck with me for years and it was pick up the phone. And early in my career, that meant pick up the phone, take any opportunity, do everything, like just always, always pick up the phone. And later as I've grown, it's turned into less of like, pick up the phone and take those opportunities, but address the thing that is in front of you that you don't want to. Like have the uncomfortable conversation, like pick up the phone, like just do it. And what it's resulted in is a very rapid iteration of like taking action constantly and not being a lot of downtime in between it. And now it means today, like just addressing all of those hard things that are like in front of growth or with my family. So if that billboard said pick up the phone, that could mean something to somebody really different. Like maybe that's your mom that's calling that you don't want to like pick up the phone. But for me, it just, it is constantly iterated. And it's been this crazy thing that has stuck with me for, I mean, I read that book like 20 years ago and it's just this thing that plays in my head all the time. Like when I see something that I don't want to do or I know that has to get done immediately, I say, pick up the phone. And I just like, I'm able to just do it immediately. - Pick up the phone.


Parting thoughts (02:03:15)

Good reminder. What a good reminder. - Jake Muse, français. So nice to see you, man. - Oh, always so good to see you, my friend. - And people can check out Maui Nui at on all the socials at Maui NuiVenison. I love this company. I love the ethos. I love your family. I love the impact that it's having. And this is not because we're meeting today, but if you look at my backpack right now, I have three of the, what's the right way to describe them? Pepper sticks. That fair enough? - Yeah, pepper sticks. - So the pepper sticks, which are, I guess, now I know what, 10 to 11 grams of protein per stick, something like that. So if I need to be on the run and I need some quick pick-me-up for breakfast or snack or quick lunch, 30 grams-ish of protein, I just throw three of those in. And a lot of my protein for the last several years has been Maui Nui, and I feel good about it. I feel really good about it, and I feel good overall. So what an adventure. - Yeah. Well, I can't tell you how much we've appreciated the support and insight and advice, so it's been highly impactful as well. - Yeah, what a gift it's been to get to know you and to realize, like you said, well, I mean, your family's very down-to-earth, but connected with the earth in a way that is very aspirational for me. And so I really think very fondly, I still have photos on my phone, of just us sitting around a fire, you know? And whether it's having a fire at night and just decompressing or having the most delicious slash shitty instant coffee in the morning, which is just fantastic, though. - It is when you're out there, yeah. - It really makes a difference. You get up at five in the morning, and it's just fucking, you know, you've been freezing your nuts off, which, surprise, surprise, can happen in Hawaii at elevation, and you have that coffee, and you're with people you really care about and you feel close to. It puts in stark relief how much nonsense and garbage we fill our lives with when, in fact, when you just sit with close bonds in close proximity and connection to nature, how much something very deep is nourished that alleviates much of the hunger for a lot of these trappings. - A true connection to place, whether personally or professionally, can essentially solve for anything. - Connection to place. Jake Muse, so great to see you, man. Thank you for being here. - Thank you so much, my friend. - And to everybody listening, we will link to all sorts of stuff, all the books, HHS, video clips, everything you can imagine that we've covered in this conversation. Probably not the secret Pinterest board, you have to make that for yourself. We'll put those in the show notes at TimDunkBlog/podcast. You can just search Jake and it will pop right up. And as always, my recommendation is be just a little bit kinder than is necessary, not only to others but to yourself. And 'til next time, thanks for tuning in. Mahalo nui. . Thank you.

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