Warrior Monk Conversations 001: Creating a World Where Chronic Illness is a Matter of Choice
Updated: Jun 17, 2020
001: Creating a World Where Chronic Illness is a Matter of Choice, Not Luck with Naveen Jain
Welcome to the first episode of Warrior Monk Conversations, a treasure trove of inspirational discussions in personal and professional development! My name is Poonacha Machaiah, your host for this journey as we have immersive conversations with the most thought-provoking leaders and everyday heroes from our communities to inspire, educate, and empower you to build resilience and reach your highest potential.
In our first episode, I interview Naveen Jain—founder of Moon Express, World Innovation Institute, iNome, TalentWise, Intelius, and Infospace. Naveen is an entrepreneur and philanthropist driven to solve the world's biggest challenges through innovation.
We talk about Naveen’s key influences in his life, his thought processes, and a wealth of knowledge and wisdom about purpose, perspective, and resilience. Naveen shares so many inspiring one-liners, anecdotes, and advice towards living your best life, creating a world where no one feels helpless and hopeless, and aspiring for a world where being sick is a choice and not about bad luck.
Intro and Outro Music: Hearts on Fire by Immersive Music
Read more about the Warrior Monk mission here: www.thewarriormonk.com
001: Creating a World Where Chronic Illness is a Matter of Choice, Not Luck with Naveen Jain
Welcome to Warrior Monk Conversations, a treasure trove of inspirational discussions in personal and professional development.
I am Poonacha Machaiah. Join me on this journey where I have immersive conversations with the most thought-provoking leaders and everyday heroes from our communities to inspire, educate, and empower you to build resilience and reach your highest potential. Join me on this mission to create a positive societal shift to the compassionate transformation of humankind.
My guest today is Naveen Jain, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, driven to solve the world's biggest challenges through innovation. A man who knows no limits, Naveen pushes big dreams into action, spurring massive cultural and technological change. His audacious vision and magnetic personality continually inspires others to follow what feels impossible. The founder of Viome, Moon Express, World Innovation Institute, TalentWise, Intelius, and Infospace, Naveen sees beyond the current business and technological landscape, creating companies that make a true impact.
Poonacha: Morning, Naveen.
Naveen: Well, good morning, Poonacha.
Poonacha: So, I'm super excited to have you on my podcast, the Warrior Monk. One because you've been one of my key influences in my life. I've met a lot of people over the years, but somebody who has really left a mark and has kind of given me an opportunity to pause and re-look at things. I'm very grateful to have you on this podcast, and I'm looking forward to the conversation today.
Naveen: Well, Poonacha, first of all, you know, I have always looked up to you. You have been one of those bright stars, not just in my life, but I would say probably the millions of others who are listening to this podcast, because, you know, you're one of the few people who actually know who they are, willing to share their wisdom, and actually sincerely want to move the humanity forward, and you have a purpose. And I really think most people in life can never find their purpose. They take the activity as progress. So just because they're doing something doesn't mean they're making, they're moving forward. They're just spinning their wheels. So I just have a great admiration for you, for what you have done. And I'm, I mean, the truth be told, I'm really looking forward to The Poonacha 2.0.
Poonacha: Me too. Me too. I bet, with your help, why not? So my first question to you today is going to be leading up, you know, coming from India to the US, and done everything you've done, who have been the key influences in your life?
Naveen: It's really interesting that people really look for the other people who actually influences them, but to me, I find that life is my biggest mentor, because life never stops teaching you. It is somewhere along the lines, we stop learning, right? Every day in our life is a teaching moment. It doesn't matter who you interact with. If you keep an open mind, there is just no doubt in my mind that you can learn something from everyone---a homeless person you interact with---if you just take time to ask them about their journey. There are things you could learn that will absolutely boggle your mind. So to me, I look at every minute of my life, every interaction I have, and those interactions actually influence who I have become, and who I am every single day. So I would say, you know, as long as I'm alive, I'm learning. As long as I'm alive, I believe I'm going to continue to be intellectually curious because the day you stop being curious is the day you actually die.
Poonacha: Okay. You did answer my question. I know you very well now. So, let me put it in another way, what are those events or milestones, or incidents along your life which have been turning points, which really got you to kind of say, “You know what? hey! I need to do something different” or inspired you to do things differently?
Naveen: Well, I’m going to answer your question if you’re specifically looking for people that I admire the most, and obviously the people you admire the most have a significant influence on who you become. And from that perspective, I tremendously admire people who have just not been, just be financially successful but have really left a mark and created an industry, and people, I really admire the people who have just not taken one industry by the horn and won because that could be luck; but someone who has done it more than once in totally different industry are the people I really admire because that shows the conviction, that showed that they inherently had something about them that allows them to take the same idea, same concept, the tenacity, the resilience that you talked about, Poonacha. I really impact, create industries, not just one but multiple industries, right? So if you look at that perspective, it would be the people like Jeff Bezos, people like Elon Musk. It, look at the, even Bill Gates. You know, I was not honestly as much empowered, even though I worked with him very closely at Microsoft than any would at Microsoft, but the fact he's reinvented and applying the same rigor to the philanthropy side now, and fundamentally changing how we think about the thing and using that financial resources to actually disrupt yet another industry. And if you look at Elon, and whether it is, you know, electric cars, no one thought there was a market for it, and not just that! You look at this, you know, SpaceX which is fundamentally changing how we build rockets and how do we become a multiplanetary society. You know, if you look at Jeff Bezos, he’s not just about selling e-commerce. And you look at, you know, looking at AWS now going to Blue Origin, I mean, literally applying the same rigor of doing business to multiple industries, right? Richard Branson is another one that I really admire because, you know, his thought process of how you go about finding the industry that really has consumers don't love the industry where consumers are not falling all over themselves and say, “I love my supplier, I love the people I interact with". And he goes out there and gives them their service and disrupt that industry, whether it's the airline industry, and whether it's a hotel industry, whether it's a cruise industry, and you can go on and on and on. He has done multiple industries. So there you have it. If that's a question you wanted, you got that.
Poonacha: Thank you. So I want to ask you the question of “What are your habits?” because I just listened to you this morning. I want to ask you, “how do you get into the mindset of Naveen?” because when I see you, you're like this, always positive, always on-the-go, like every day is a new day and as soon as you get up in the morning, you already have a sense of purpose and there’s energy! Where, how do you get it? What do you do? Are there things which get you into the zone?
Naveen: You know, Poonacha, this is one of the dumbest questions people ask me. And because I really think this idea of understanding other people's habits and somehow believing that if you follow the same habits, you can be them or you can have a similar type of things, mindset or similar type of success. It's just so fundamentally flawed, right? You want to follow the people's thought process, not their habit. And for example, Tony Robbins takes ice bath everyday, you can take your ice baths three times a day, and you're not gonna become Tony Robbins. So the point is to become like Tony Robbins, you have to think like Tony Robbins. Think about how he looks at the problem, how he attacks every time there is an adversity, how he deals with that, and those are the thought processes. That is really what makes the person successful. So instead of following their habits, you should be asking them, how do they think about when they have a problem. And that, to me, is the right way of looking at it. So, everybody goes and poops everyday, and you can poop everyday and that’s not gonna make you any better.
Poonacha: Right. So what's your thought process?
Naveen: The thought process for me is, every day, when you wake up, you have a choice! You want to be happy or unhappy. And that choice is entirely yours. If you decide that you want to be unhappy today, you can come up with 20 reasons why your life just sucks and you need to just be depressed and unhappy, right? Even if you say “Look! I fly private Gulfstream” and then you say, “Oh, my God, but my life really sucks because Larry Page flies in personal 747, and Richard Branson has Global Express and my God, I'm just...my life sucks. I'm stuck with this Gulfstream”. Right? My point is you can always find someone who is better in every single thing you are, and that really could make you depressed. Or you could make a choice that “hey! I want to be happy.” And it doesn't matter what you have or don't have. You wake up and say, "Oh, my God, thank you! I got up and my joints don't ache today. Oh, my God! My love is right next to me, just gave me a hug. Oh, my God, what an amazing life. My children just told me last night how happy they are with what they are doing." To me, there is joy that you find in things; and if you look for that joy, you can be happy. And energy comes when you stop focusing on yourself. So the fact that people have all this negativity and all this, I would say, self-idolization is people somehow focused on the world revolves around them.
Naveen: The minute you start to focus on someone else and others, it gives you joy, it gives you purpose and it gives you energy.
Naveen: And amazing thing is that karma is a bitch. It keeps coming back to you. So the more good you do, the more good comes to you. And then, you, people somehow feel they're lucky. They're not lucky. Their actions are the right action that gives them that luck that they need.
Poonacha: Absolutely. I think we talked about yesterday, like, service is probably the biggest cure over this depression and loneliness epidemic, how to be of service to humanity and a higher purpose. When life hits you in the gut, or when you get punched, and you really are in those moments when you're in that abyss, what are your practices? How do you kind of, how does Naveen kind of, you know, I know you always say it always goes up. So what is your, how do you think through this?
Naveen: You know, so there are a couple of thought processes I run through, and I think I talked about one, about that with you yesterday, which is that, you know, life is like a heartbeat: it goes up and down. And you should respect it. Because when the life stops going up and down, it's a smooth line, which means that you're dead. But the thing is, when you are at the bottom, like in life, like any heartbeat, you know, sooner or later that beat is going to be up. And knowing that everything in life is that temporary cycle, it doesn't matter how low if you look at the beat. It keeps going down, down, down, down, down until it hits a valley, and then it starts going up. And my point is, you know if you expect that's going to happen, so it doesn't matter if you say, “Oh, yesterday was better than today's even worse than that tomorrow is going to be worse” until you hit the bottom, and then you start to go up. So expecting that changes your perspective because you know that you haven't quite hit the bottom yet. So let it get there and then things will go back up again, right? You know, another part of that is when you are on the top of the beat, you can't get cocky because you know that winter is going to come and you want to keep your friends close. The second thing that I really find that most people just don't have very, very...very difficult time is when you are in that moment. The world to some extent is crashing around you and you can't look past it. And the way I do that is I actually close my eyes and I ask myself, if 10 years from now I'm looking back at this, would I really be wondering like, "Naveen, what were you thinking? Why did you even think that was a big deal? Oh, my God! She left you. She did this!" Or I’m going to say, “Oh, my God! Good riddance. Life is amazing!” Right? Point is everything you look at today that looks, to me, that this is the end of life, the 99.9% of those things are not the end of life! So unless really the question of life and death and you know it's going to happen, just sit back and relax, and say, "That's the bottom of the beat and I'm going to go back, right back up". And imagine along if you look back and say, "Oh really? I was worried about that girl?! There were a hundred million other girls and look who I found!"
Poonacha: Right. Absolutely. This is the topic of resiliency, which I talk about is really, resiliency is an attitude to every event and how you go into it, right? So, in your life, you go back to the how was Naveen when he was 12 years old? Do you have, I mean, take me back, you know, in time when you were growing up in India, you said your dad was in the PWD department. How, what was life like? And has this taught you who you are today?
Naveen: So the interesting thing is, I just don't like talking about myself. And you know, the thing is, because I'm gonna talk about what someone else can learn from what I learned.
Naveen: Talking about me is just not something I enjoy doing.
Poonacha: So share about what we can learn.
Naveen: So thing is, even the times when things are good, the things that I learned growing up that, you know, my dad got transferred every six or nine months from a village to village to village. The change became constant. I got comfortable with the change. And what I learned from all this as I grew up was that even if things are really, really good, if you don't let go of good things, the better things can never come together. So every one of us always thinks, "Oh things are bad, I'm going to let go." But what if you let go of the good things, and then the wonderful things happen to you. And you know to give you an example of that, when I was at Microsoft, I was the top of my game. I was in the group, and we're the MSN, like the top of the Internet; and I thought this was the time for me to actually go out and do something on my own. So I let go of the good thing for the better things to come together, to change who I am. And I became an entrepreneur, started InfoSpace and then, you know, and in the internet days, I mean, it was one of the most successful companies. And that was obviously a tremendous amount of luck! But a tremendous amount of luck comes because there was absolutely nothing that I won't do, to in a sense of that, wanting to get things done and wanting to really do things that fundamentally will change how people live. And that to me became the mantra for the rest of my life.
Poonacha: So that kind of leads into our, you know, I'm fascinated by Moonshots, right? That's actually been one of my, if you ask me what is that one word which kind of has been inspirational. Looking at Moonshots, I can already start looking at things differently. What was your inspiration for Moonshots? And I'm gonna have some questions after that. How did it start?
Naveen: First of all, may I ask you, have you read the book?
Poonacha: I have read the book Moonshot. You signed it and gave it to me.
Naveen: Okay. So now the question really is, I'm going to turn around and ask you: what were the three lessons you learned if you read the book; and then I'll tell you what three lessons you could have learned.
Poonacha: The lessons I learned, I don't really remember completely, but one was having a really big dream. Right? You always tell me today, "Poonacha, let's not talk about resiliency. Let's talk about a state, a big problem you're trying to solve." Right? That is probably the one of the biggest things I took away from the book. But I would say it was probably the one big lesson.
Naveen: So the couple of other things that I thought were could have been, you know, interesting lessons, because what stops from people going out and doing these big things is because they believe they just don't have the knowledge. They don't have the expertise on how are they going to go out and solve this massive problem. And what I really find in life is when you become an expert at something, you become useless; and when I say useless, you become an incrementalist. That means you could do it 10% or 15% better than anybody in the world. And that's not bad, but that is not where the world—how world is going to change. But when you are a non-expert and you're able to challenge the foundation of everything that experts have taken it for granted, you bring it 10X or, you know, 100X change and improvement in that industry, right? And that's one reason. Now I have done seven companies that no two companies have ever been in the same industry. It's because I believe that if I continued in the same industry, I would be making incremental improvement; and the fact that it doesn't matter whether it is going to the moon, I have not, I'm not a rocket scientist! Or fundamentally challenging the healthcare to say, "Can food be a medicine? Can we actually create a world where being sick is a choice?" And that type of a Moonshot is really what allows that even if we fail as a business, can we move the humanity forward far enough that somebody could take that from them, stand on our shoulder and take it across the finish line. You don't have to be the person who necessarily takes it across the finish line. Your job is to keep pushing the humanity forward, and even if you can't, then someone else is going to complete that task for you.
Poonacha: So by the way, that is the reason, it's actually my inspiration for doing resilience. So when I started Warrior Monk, I was obsessed, and I started using the word passion to obsession with really looking at those mental health epidemic, right? This loneliness crisis, so why are people doing this to themselves? And what can, what would the world look like when people could be happy? Right? What would that world look like when people didn't kill themselves?
Poonacha: What will the world look like when their loved ones are able to have conversation and share things and not go into a downward spiral? What would a world look like when children can switch schools and feel like they could just get along with everybody else? Right? And that world is a world which I think we would thrive and flourish in.
Naveen: Let me ask you that question then. Warrior Monk. God forbid! It is actually the phenomenally successful which we both believe it is going to be. What would the world look like?
Poonacha: You know, that's something I've been thinking about last night. The world would be more joyful, happier.
Naveen: How would you describe that?
Poonacha: And you know, I've been thinking about it when I come back when people would really have this...it's an experience and a state of being. I've been lonely, right? When I went...when you're lonely, you have the sense that you don't exist, and it's almost like nobody cares, you're invisible, or what you do doesn't really matter. And if I could remove that state of loneliness away, I think we have done the job. Then it starts from there. And I think people basically go down the spiral, I want to kind of work on that.
Naveen: You need to clarify that, because to me, if you want to create a world, you want to be able to visualize that world and it has to be such a clear visualization in such vivid detail that you can describe it; and the people who are able to explain their vision very clearly in a simple way that people can visualize can recruit other people to join their mission. So now go back to the Martin Luther King.
Naveen: He didn't say, "I want a world with racial equality and where people with colors can live together and there can be joy and happiness in the world." He described the world. "I want to create a world where a black girl can hold the hand of a white man and walk in harmony." Now, you and I can clearly see that picture! That we can say, "Oh, that's the world he's talking about. That, we want to be part of." He didn't create, say, "Our mission is to create a largest market share company that” Nobody can visualize what that means. So unless you can describe that resilient world that Warrior Monk is going to create, and say, "Warrior Monk will be a world where-" and then you can describe in such a simple way that people can say, "I want to be part of that world."
Poonacha: So let me, listen, I'm gonna put this podcast the way it is unedited, so this is going to be my way of vulnerability, sharing the journey. And when we talk about that, I mean, what comes to my mind, I want to see a world where no person ever thinks killing themselves is an option they want to take, right? I want to see a world where no one, no father, no mother, no child, no marine—ever thinks they have reached a point where taking their life is the only resort they have.
Naveen: But that is such an extreme part of solving. I mean, one has to solve the problem before someone talks about killing themselves. My point is the people are not living up to their fullest potential. They have killed themselves even before they have killed themselves, right? So the day, to me, if people are no longer curious about the world around them, or curious or wonder about how they can be part of making the world better, they have already died.
Naveen: Right. So my point is, to me, the world is not about killing themselves. The world is about making yourself to the service to the world where someone says, "I wonder, I wonder what would I do if this was possible? I wonder if this can be done. I imagine a world where this is possible. I want to learn more about this." And when that is happening, there is no way people will even think or dream about killing themselves. So it's about giving people the hope that tomorrow is going to be better than today. And tomorrow doesn't mean literally tomorrow. That means the future is brighter than the past and the present. And if you can do that, then that is the world that Warrior Monk creates. Killing themselves is, you know, I'm a, please don't even take the wrong way. That is a problem. But that's it! Less than 1% problem. I want to solve the 99% problem where people are service to the world. They're not a parasite to the world.
Poonacha: So that's, let me—rephrasing it then, there's a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, right?
Naveen: Yes. Yes.
Poonacha: I think of a world where people will not feel helpless and hopeless, 'cause I think that's a trigger-
Naveen: Now we are talking.
Poonacha: Right. So that's a trigger. And obviously, that the last manifestation of that is taking your own life. But I think if you give up what you're doing...you're giving up that's death in its own way.
Naveen: That's right.
Poonacha: Right. So the world, let's reframe it. I would like to see a world where no one feels they're helpless or hopeless.
Naveen: That's a vision you can get behind to some extent. It is not about that physical moment of death, because you symbolically die when you stop learning.
Poonacha: And probably that's even worse, right? Because you do it death by 1,000 cuts, right?
Naveen: That's right.
Poonacha: Every moment you basically hope it's like, it kind of just adds up. And that's a downward spiral, which in the end leads to it. So I think then, that's it. See, that's the reason why I believe people like you have to be able to share in this conversation. I've been able to now start from a kind of a cloudy zone to then it's kind of calibrated itself into this kind of more of a Katana, right? Okay. I want to imagine a world where no one ever feels they're helpless or hopeless.
Naveen: That warms my heart. I mean, you know, now anybody who's listening to this can see the thought process of how anything they're doing, they have to ask themselves that question. When it is successful, what would that world look like and then describe the world and say, "what is that a problem that could help a billion people?" Right? And then you start to move to say, "Ah! My God, I now have a better clarity. Now I have a better clarity." And when you can get to that clarity, just God, Warrior Monk creating a world where no one ever feels helpless or hopeless. That's an amazing world that one can create! And that's the way. Everyone wants to be part of that world.
Poonacha: And this is such an important aspect of life, right? So I think I'm very lucky today to be surrounded by amazing friends and family, where the journey of life is never not alone. You are surrounded by people and you have help and asking for help. Because we are social animals. We need this; otherwise, you cannot do it alone. And that's only arrogance, right?
Poonacha: You, you do certain things as a leader, but in the journey of getting started and I have to, this is my, I would say, pivot, where I'm now entering a zone where it's completely a whole new domain. And this is where you said like, you know, sometimes working with experts, they only have 10% incremental contribution. I am now challenging the status quo.
Poonacha: Right. What, how are we looking at this problem differently?
Poonacha: Right. And listening and taking almost a beginner's mind. Like, I don't know, but I'm just trying to solve. I have two boys, 15 and 19. So I have some experience. You know, I worked with people. So I think it's important to have this beginner's mind. So I want to kind of, so thank you. This has been really...this process of flushing through the ideas for Warrior Monk has been personally very beneficial. I think everybody listening to it can also look at the rationale of how we went through-
Naveen: And also, I mean, I just want to give you another, asking a different question. So it is about, I think you and I have talked about that in the past. As an entrepreneur, we have this idea that we need to be know-it-all, we need to have the answers. And what I really find is, as a non-expert, when I entered the industry, I focused on asking the right questions rather than having the right answers; because if I asked the right questions, answers, I can get them from many, many experts. But it is what question you're asking because the answer you're going to get is question you ask, right? And let me give you a couple of examples so that—because I think once you get or understand that, and they have a second concept and we'll talk about it in a second here, it is in my previous company, in Moon Express, and when we say, "if we want to create a world where we are no longer confined to a single spacecraft, because if our spacecraft gets damaged, the whole humanity race will get wiped out just like dinosaurs." Right? And people say I'm worried about our planet, and I keep saying, "Don't worry! That is such an egotistical thing to say! Our planet would do just fine even if a massive asteroid were to hit us. Humanity may get wiped out just like dinosaurs. They were substantially bigger than us. But planet would do better, in a sense that, look, after asteroid cast millions of years ago, it created humans, right?
Poonacha: Yeah. And it hit the reset.
Naveen: And reset, and it could be that the super humans are the next in line, right? But the point is, so when we'd say we're going to go to the moon, everybody kept asking, "but how are you going to grow the food on the moon? If you're gonna live on the moon, how are you going to grow the food on the moon?" And I say that's just a wrong question. Because the right question to ask is not how to grow the food on the moon, because if you ask that question, the only solution is to grow the food on the moon. But what if you ask and say, "Why do we eat food?" And then people, first of all, look at you like you're crazy. "What do you mean 'why do people eat food' "? And then say, "Oh, of course, they need food for energy and they need food for nutrition. And it's, oh, what if you can get energy through radiation? What if you get energy through photosynthesis? What if you can get nutrition from hydrogen? Oxygen, nitrogen? Isn't hydrogen, oxygen already there in the water?" Right? And now suddenly you say, "Oh! The nitrogen is the only problem I need to deal with now." Right? My point is simply asking that question changed the way we look, and the solutions were many and different. And that would have never come if you kept asking how to grow the food, right? And the same type of things like we did with healthcare. So when I started Viome, I was pretty clear that your gut, microbiome in your gut, is responsible for all these chronic diseases, and it's no longer a myth here, right? You can Google and say obesity and microbiome, diabetes and microbiome and heart diseases and depression and anxiety. And you know, you talk about PTSD and Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and autoimmune diseases and various types of cancer, right? They're all connected to microbiome, but here's the very interesting part. When you see that, and I saw that literature is very clear, the scientific papers are very clear. And then I said, "Wow! There are tons of microbiome companies. Why is this problem not getting solved? Because either I'm a complete moron if this problem is so clear that either I don't understand it, or people are asking the wrong question. And it turned out that every microbiome company was asking the same question. They wanted to know what organisms are in the gut, because they believe that if they can find out every organism that's out there, they can find what to do for different diseases. I looked at the thing, I think that just has to be the wrong question. The right question has to be, "what are they doing?" Because to me not knowing what these microorganisms are like, I kept thinking, these organisms got to be like human beings, right? They could be millions of different people named Poonacha or Naveen or Ted and Todd. They could be doing exactly the same thing. So knowing the names of the organisms is not gonna get you anywhere, because you have to know, are they an entrepreneur, the plumber, are they the electrician? Right? And---but here was the breakthrough. I said, "what if the same organism is doing completely different things in different people's gut." And I say, "Oh! That just explains it. Look at me. When I'm at work, I'm an entrepreneur. I go home, I'm a dishwasher." What changed? It's the environment! And it turns out that the organisms behave the same way. In one person's gut, depending on what is around them, they change, they produce completely different things than in one person's gut. So that is the reason the problem wasn't getting solved. Just by asking the question, "What if we can understand what they are doing?" led me down this path. Gut—the technology came out of the biodefense work and we launched the company. And today, years later, we can now help hundreds of thousands of people. We can predict the diseases, and the thousands of people are telling us every day that their diseases are being reversed. That is how we can help a billion people live a disease-free life. So at Viome, our mission is—just like in our Moonshot, it's very simple. What if we can create a world where being sick is his choice, not bad luck?
Poonacha: Love it. Where do you see Viome going next? Obviously, I'm a big fan of Viome. I've been following the journey over the years. So what, after you finish analysis, what's your vision? What's your roadmap?
Naveen: So, Poonacha, as you see, this is a problem that's worth solving. I mean, this is epidemic. Today we have done a great job of getting rid of infectious diseases, right? And, you know, every so often we get this Coronavirus and, you know, Ebola virus and Zika virus. And, you know, no one ever ever sees that problem has been solved. But largely, we don't have millions of people dying from the plague like we did. Today, we suffer from these chronic diseases. And the interesting thing is, these chronic diseases are essentially 99% of people suffer during their lifetime.
Poonacha: Lifestyle disease.
Naveen: What I believe is that humans haven't really evolved. So it's not like our DNA had changed in the last 50 years and suddenly we have these chronic diseases. What I really found fascinating is that your DNA doesn't change when you develop a chronic disease, right? So in a sense, like, suddenly you have diabetes. You don't say, "Honey, I think I was out with the boys last night. I think I might have caught diabetes. I think I caught obesity two days ago. I think I might be catching this autoimmune disease. I think I caught depression last night." So my point is, you, if you look at your DNA before the disease and after disease, your DNA is still the same.
Naveen: What is really changing is the gene expression. And once we start to monitor that, we can now see the diseases and what's causing them. And now we can use the food and the dietary supplement as a way to change the biochemical activities to reverse these chronic diseases. So to me what we have done is now able to predict the diseases. In fact, just last month, we are able to show that we can predict oral cancer with 91% accuracy just by looking at your gene expression in your saliva.
Naveen: We can now predict depression, obesity, diabetes, IBS. We're doing 15 plus clinical trials. We announced with Mayo Clinic on insomnia and obesity. We are, in fact, now starting to develop, working with GlaxoSmithKline, the vaccines for chronic diseases. So imagine when you're born, you get a vaccine against obesity, you get a vaccine against autoimmune diseases, you get a vaccine against diabetes. And we're starting to see how many of these viruses and bacteria in our gut are actually releasing the pro inflammatory compounds that are getting our immune system to be chronically inflamed, because chronic inflammation is the root cause of chronic diseases. And we believe if we can get rid of these chronic inflammation, we could fundamentally change the chronic diseases. So anyway, I'm just so excited. And if I were to make a bet, I would say within a decade, we would solve cancer and most of the chronic diseases. So it's not that far off. We are living in the most amazing times in the human history. But I think, in the next decade, it's going to have more innovation than the last century. So I'm hopeful that in a decade, we would have solved this problem; and it doesn't mean that our children won't have any other problems to solve. They will not be talking about, they will be saying, "Dad, in your days, people just suffered and you just didn't do anything. And you just simply kept giving them these drugs. Isn't that like leeches? The people are bleeding with leeches and thought that could work. Didn't you mean you didn't have people analyzing their body and adjusting their diet based on that?"
Naveen: And, but they will be thinking about a different set of problems because this problem would have been solved by our generation. They'll be talking about why do people talk? Why can't they just-
Poonacha: Brain interfere—
Naveen: No. Just brain to brain interface. Why can't they just be seeing my pod? Why do I have to use such a low bandwidth modem of three hundred bytes trying to communicate through oral which is so slow? Why can't I just upload my brain and all the, my knowledge of my brain, of all the things I know, I can just simply upload. And better yet, what if I can subscribe to Poonacha's brain? So as Poonacha is learning new things, my brain is constantly updated; so I can subscribe to these brilliant people's brains and I keep updating my brain as they are continuing to improve. I don't-
Poonacha: I can definitely see that, but thousands of years ago, apparently, in ancient Hindu literature, Vedic literature, people had that kind of mental connection. So it's kind of interesting to see the world coming back full circle, but I want to definitely follow up with you separately on some of the work we are doing with the City of Phoenix, with the Fire Department and the Kansas screening-
Naveen: Yup. Yup.
Poonacha: I really think Viome, with the work you're doing, could be really beneficial because our first responders are prone to cancer. Right?
Naveen: By the way, we have done many, many research, we are working on pancreatic cancer, esophagus cancer. We are looking at breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer. And I really believe that we now understand many of the mechanisms of what is going on and how the microbial world is involved in that. You know, somehow we think of these microbes, "who are these?" I mean, people forget we live in their world. There are 40 trillion of them living inside us, right? We live in their world. They started life three and how billion years before we did. Think about it. So we live in their world. In fact, one would argue they may have created us for their own benefit, so we can be a portable container for them. So every time we poop, we're spreading them. But the fact is, we are parasites on the microbial world, they are not parasites; but if, you know, if you look at it in more, you know, in a non-cynical way, you will say we really live in a symbiotic world, where them and us depend on each other. When we don't take care of them, they don't take care of us, we get sick. And when we create this symbiotic relationship, that means, as humans, as we evolved, we gave up a lot of our capabilities to produce the nutrients for our body, because we outsource those functions to these microbes. And if these microbes are not giving those functions because we're not feeding them, well, then our body is suffering.
Poonacha: I'll ask you now more of a fun question.
Poonacha: This topic we talk about—in the world we live in today, people stress about work-life balance, actually get stressed about it. What are your thoughts on that?
Naveen: Well, I believe this concept, the fact the question you asked is a work-life balance. The only reason one has to balance two things are because you have decided they cannot live together, they are completely exclusive of one another. That's how you balance two things, right? Now, what if instead of saying that, "Hey, how do I create the work-life continuum?" In that continuum, there are days there is more of one thing and there are days there's more of other things, but there's never a balance. If my family needs me, at that time, I'm going to devote my time to my family, and work just has to wait. And when work needs me, and it's sick, I got to take care of my work, and the family just has to wait. So my point is we create this idea of mutual exclusivity where this really is-
Poonacha: I feel like it's the start of war.
Naveen: It's just a continuum and a continuation, and you are the human being, and [that] really lives in this continuum, and that if we look at that way, then there's really no balance.
Poonacha: That's an important aspect because a lot of people when it comes to a startup-
Poonacha: A lot of people come and say, "Okay, but I'm looking for a work-life balance. It's really important." And they sometimes don't take the job because they feel they're not going to get it. But being an entrepreneur, like you said, it's about tenacity, resilience, perseverance, a marathon. Right? And it's about prioritization.
Poonacha: Like you said, there are days when you have to be 24 hours on-
Poonacha: There are days you can be 24 hours off!
Poonacha: So, anyway, so that brings me to the last thing I want to ask you, more of a personal side. What does Naveen do just to be Naveen? What are the things about you, that you just do, just to kind of go back and find your recharge?
Naveen: I love, love learning! So I get up every day at 4 AM. And I love understanding what is happening in the world. I read a lot of research papers in all different fields, not just one field, because that allows me to see what technologies are currently the cutting edge. And then I see, if this is what they're doing in the nanotechnology, how it can be applied to the problem that I'm trying to solve in agriculture or health or water. And so I look at these when I'm reading—these dots, and my job is to really take these dots and connect them to say, now is there enough dots, and was that the missing dot that allows me to complete this picture that can help me solve this problem that I have been thinking about solving. And that's literally, so I recharge by learning because the more I learn, I feel the better as a family member, and also I feel that allows me to solve problems that were unsolvable. That gives me a tremendous amount of joy.
Poonacha: Thank you, Naveen. So I really am grateful for today and for really helping me just to know the world where the Warrior Monk can enable a world or envision a world where no one ever feels they're helpless or hopeless.
Naveen: That is the world we want to create that world and let's call that a Warrior Monk world.
Poonacha: Thank you so much.
Naveen: Looking forward to it.
Poonacha: Such a pleasure. Thank you, Sir.
Imagine a world where no one ever feels helpless or hopeless. Join me on the Warrior Monk mission to create a positive shift through the compassionate transformation of humankind.
001: Creating a World Where Chronic Illness is a Matter of Choice, Not Luck with Naveen Jain