SPS-291: Brain.fm: Helping You Focus on Your Writing – with Dan Clark
Every writer needs to find a way to spend focused time being creative. Brian.fm is a science-based app that uses sound and music to help artists and other creative people use the time they have to best effect.
- How Dan Clark was motivated by trying to help people to work for and then buy Brain.fm
- How Brain.fm technology helps you to focus
- James’ experience using Brain.fm when he writes
- How to use Brain.fm to support your writing
- Expanding the technology to help in medical areas
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page
MERCH: Are you a ligneous beetle or a yawning hippopotamus? Get your SPF hoodies and t-shirts in the brand new SPF Store.
Episode 291: Brain.fm: Helping You Focus on Your Writing - with Dan Clark
Introducer: On this edition of The Self-Publishing Show.
Dan Clark: I remember putting my headphones in and taking them out and going, whoa, what is this thing? This is the thing I've been looking for because it is a tool that can help people be their best selves on demand and it doesn't matter what language you speak, it doesn't matter the neuro diversity that you may have, it matters that we're human because it works on a very deep level and how our brains are designed.
Introducer: Publishing is changing, no more gatekeepers, no more barriers, no one standing between you and your readers. Do you want to make a living from your writing?
Join indie best seller Mark Dawson and first time author James Blatch as they shine a light on the secret of self-publishing success. This is The Self-Publishing Show, there's never been a better time to be a writer.
James Blatch: Hello, and welcome it is The Self-Publishing Show with me, James Blatch.
Mark Dawson: And me, Mark Dawson.
James Blatch: This is a special weekend edition, isn't it? It's going out on Friday as normal but we're actually recording on Saturday morning, I'm about to take the dog to the woods, what are you going to do today?
Mark Dawson: I'm parenting, solo parenting today. So I'm going to be taking-
James Blatch: Lucy finally left you.
Mark Dawson: She's left.
James Blatch: ... I knew it was was inevitable, you know.
Mark Dawson: Yeah, she's off with her horse friends, so we're going to be walking the dog ourselves in a bit and dodging showers and then we're going to go into town. My daughter wants to buy some fidget spinners for some reason, I have no idea why.
James Blatch: Are they still going are they, fidget spinners? I thought that one had been and gone.
Mark Dawson: Not the spinners, she likes poppers. Kind of like, covid, bubble wrap.
James Blatch: It's not covid.
Mark Dawson: It better not be, you're coming to my house on Monday.
James Blatch: Oh I am, to spread the covid. I'll do another lateral flow test today.
Mark Dawson: Yes please.
James Blatch: To satisfy you.
Mark Dawson: And on Monday.
James Blatch: And on Monday.
Mark Dawson: I've got some over there, you're going to have to do one before you come in.
James Blatch: Hand one to me, I'll show you my covid pass. Yes, I've got an allergy or something, I don't know, I'm just ignoring it for now. I haven't got time to deal with it. Look, shall we welcome our Patreon supporters?
Mark Dawson: Yes, let's do that. So it's Suzie Warren from New York and Scott Williams of no address and Rosie from Cape Town in South Africa, which is a lovely part of the world. Not sure how many South African Patreon supporters we have, probably a few but it's lovely to have Rosie on board. Ben Cole from WA USA which is what, James?
James Blatch: Probably Washington, I think. Washington State.
Mark Dawson: I would say that's Washington, so maybe Seattle, somewhere like that. And Jessica Genevieve who doesn't give us an address but I'm guessing they might be something Latin or french in there somewhere. So thank you.
James Blatch: Oh dear, the covid's got me.
Mark Dawson: Thank you today's supporters, as we always say, we're very grateful for everyone who supports the show and helps us to keep it going, as we... there's what, 251 episodes?
James Blatch: Yeah.
Mark Dawson: Five years basically.
James Blatch: Yeah, we have to think about our 300th, what are we going to do?
Mark Dawson: Well we said if we did 300 we'd do it naked.
James Blatch: Did we?
Mark Dawson: Yeah.
James Blatch: We are going to record one, hopefully if we get to America, we're going to record one live with an audience in Florida, I think, which should be really fun.
Mark Dawson: Yeah, we have to really hope, it looks in the balance I'd say in the moment isn't it.
James Blatch: Yeah, it is in the balance. We'll have to do the maths. No, we've got another 50, the best part of a year haven't we to 300.
Mark Dawson: You're only doing maths, it's really easy, yeah 50 episodes that's a year isn't it, so next September perhaps we might be looking at that.
James Blatch: Indeed, see if we can do that.
Okay, look we have a really fascinating interview today and it's not with somebody who's written a book. At least, I don't know, he may have written a book, we didn't mention that. But it's with somebody who thinks long and hard and spends all day occupied with productivity. Particularly a very modern approach to productivity which is how our brains function and how they move from one mode to another, enables us to write or to sleep or to relax.
He became fascinated with this when he stumbled across Brain.fm. Now, Brain.fm is something that I've been using for a few years, I find it very useful. I think it's a difference between us Mark, is you listen to some actual music when you write.
Mark Dawson: You may have forgotten this, I introduced you to Brain.fm. I've used it for a long time, I haven't used it for a little while but I do like it. It's all about binaural rhythms which I'm sure you'll get into in the interview but it's a kind of ambient, trancy kind of music which I quite like anyway. And it's kind of like white noise with a rhythm, or with a very interesting noise.
I think we may have mentioned this before, whether the science actually backs up whether it works or not, it almost doesn't matter. Even if there's a placebo affect and we think that it's working, it doesn't matter, if the result is you work better and more productively, who cares if it's scientifically proven or just a placebo. But I quite like it, I think it's a good piece of software.
James Blatch: Well, something we do know is that we don't know that much about the brain. It's one of the least properly understood functioning organs in our body and very difficult to work on, physically we know from ailments and so on and a fascinating area that has two halves to it. The physical study of how the brain physically works which is incredibly detailed and beyond really our proper measurements at the moments, and the other half is how we act and behave, kind of psychotherapy stuff.
This sits in the middle of those. It's partly based on the physicality of the brain and our behaviour afterwards. Dan is certainly convinced that there is something to this and he's very deep into it. It really is a very interesting chat, you may not think you're going to get anything from it because he's not an author. Believe me, you will get something from this.
It's going to help all of us I think in terms of understanding how we behave as humans and to get the best out of those times when we need to be productive and need to write and we all need that. So let's listen to Dan and then Mark and I will be back for a chat.
Dan Clark from Brain.fm, welcome to The Self Publishing Show. I'm excited to have you here because I stumbled across Brain.fm a long time ago and I became a user of it and I've been going on to Mark about it for a few years and I'm not sure he's really ever tried it. He listens to thrash metal when he writes, I don't know how he does it.
I am an advocate of Brain.fm so this is going to be an interesting interview for me to find out a bit of the background.
But I didn't do what you did, when you stumbled across Brain.fm, you didn't just start using it, did you?
Dan Clark: No I did a little bit more than that, do you want me to jump into the story?
James Blatch: Yeah you jump in, you tell us what happened when you stumbled across Brain.fm.
Dan Clark: I think it's important to talk maybe about my background and then I can tell you why I was so motivated to do what I did. So my background, I started as one of those tech guys that dropped out of high school, that's kind of my story. But doing so, I am a black belt in mixed martial arts and I really enjoy martial arts because it's a tool that we helped use as a vehicle to develop strong leaders from kids that were shy and not confident and not maybe coordinated even into leaders and strong, confident people.
I really loved doing that and along the way getting involved with making websites and stuff I realised, hey, I can help people get into martial arts and find that tool by creating lead generation websites. That was actually my first business and I went forward doing bigger and bigger tech problems and trying to solve those and became a digital director of a company.
I reached a point where I was really optimised maybe for financial gain but got away from helping people. So I hit this point where I wanted to change and I quit my job and I was looking on the prowl for different kinds of things. I came into Brain.fm when it just launched and I remember putting my headphones in and taking them out and going, whoa, what is this thing?
This is the thing I've been looking for because it's a tool that can help people be their best self, on demand, and it doesn't matter what language you speak, it doesn't matter the neuro diversity that you may have, it matters that we're human because it works on a very deep level and how our brains are designed, which we can go into.
From that I got so excited that I called up the company a tonne of times, I think it was like 12, ended up working for free then built out their tech team, ended up becoming CEO, now I'm the owner of the company and we've been rocketing off and preparing ourselves for growth. It's been a fun and interesting ride along the way.
James Blatch: You're like the guy with the razor, what was his name? The Remington guy, I liked it so much I bought the company, he used to say. So you're basically, that's what happened. It was similar for me, I didn't buy the company-
Dan Clark: Not yet.
James Blatch: ... but immediately I felt the benefit of it.
So I think what we need to do probably Dan is explain to the uninitiated what Brain.fm is and how it works and how people use it.
Dan Clark: Basically Brain.fm, we make functional music designed to help people focus, relax and sleep better. Functional music is different, that has been tried and been done before forever, so if you search on YouTube or Spotify you'll see focus music, you'll see relax music but we are making it with a different approach that we've patented called neural phase locking. And this is very unique and different than it's ever been done before.
For some of your more informed users in this space they might be familiar with binaural beats or isochronic tones. What we've developed is a new strategy to basically help your brain switch into an activity and then stay there. The way we do that is we add modulation, amplitude modulation, so these frequencies on the different bands of sound and by manipulating and putting these frequencies into actually neural patterns that we understand to be in-focus or relax or sleep that's very well documented in scientific literature we can help you basically line up the functional networks of your brain and organise to the same pattern that you're trying to get into.
It's called entrainment and basically entrainment is mirroring our surroundings and it's what our brain naturally does, even in conversation. So everyone that's listening to me right now is actually entrained to my voice. When you go into a city and you hear beep, beep, beep, it's a car backing up, right? And if it kept going for 45 minutes you'd eventually tune it out, but when it stopped, you would notice.
It's all of these things that our brains are designed to do, so what we do is we understand them, we build scientific process music to help you get into those states but we also have world music composers that work in different rock bands and video games and things like that.
We combine music that scientifically is validated and shows that it does effect your brain, music that you want to listen to. Then we develop it and put it into an app that you can use to switch into that state as fast as you want and then stay there as you're listening throughout.
James Blatch: Wow. I think I'm your perfect interviewer here because I use it and I had no idea that there was so much science behind it. As far as I could tell, I use it for writing and I use the focus mode more than anything else. Occasionally if I'm on a train sleepy I'll use meditation or I think sleep is one of the ones. But I use focus most of the time.
I put it on, these headphones are noise cancelling, and the time I spend writing I would say feels, compresses, almost to half. So I'll think I've been writing for half an hour and I've been writing for an hour. That's the physical result of me using it and as I say I'm a big advocate of it. I find myself enclosed, focused as the word says on my task, not distracted and it works great guns for me.
So that's not just ambient music, there's more to it than that is what you're saying to me.
Dan Clark: Yeah, there's a tonne of it. So we really, I think we can go into the science or we can go into the other word that I think we're kind of talking about, which is coined today as flow state. Which is this feeling of dropping into this place where things are effortless, you have a time dilation almost and really it's how do we build the habit of being able to find that flow state whenever we want to, not just when our body feels like it, do you know what I mean?
James Blatch: I like the idea of that but that's actually quite an old concept and I remember Formula One drivers in the 80s and 90s when it became a slightly more technical sport, I remember them talking about sometimes not noticing the last 10 laps because they were completely...
You do hear sportsmen at an elite level talking about being in the zone, that's a similar thing we're talking about here?
Dan Clark: 100%. I mentioned, flow state like you said, has been around for a while. But it's now I feel permeating pop culture where more and more people understand what it is and I think that there's wonderful books on the subject, like Steven Kotler and his whole team are doing really amazing things.
What's interesting is there's been a lot of study on how to achieve flow state and all the different myriad of ways of being able to activate it and it's through sports, through these different things. There's actually a formula we can go into but it's really hard to do when we are trying to be creative or trying to do it consistently or even in a place where we can't control 100% of the time.
So having it while you have your kid or your cat running around behind you, you're in a meeting or something like that, that's really our main method here of what we're trying to here, is package that switch so you can switch into it, you can control it and then you can start figuring out and optimising what flow state means for you and then how long you should do it, because maybe it's an hour or maybe it's 20 minutes. But if you can do that more often, then you're going to get more stuff done and it's going to be easier.
James Blatch: Brain.fm I think originally was sold as a productivity tool and it remains one for me but the way you're talking about it, a bit like meditation, is something that would be beneficial to use just during the day for your own mental health and not just for periods of work.
Dan Clark: It really depends on the person. We really do see ourselves as a mental state on demand company, but right now we're really focusing, pun intended or no pun intended, we're focused. And the reason why is because it's something that you can see so quickly and it's also there's not a lot of other solutions for that focus on demand product. To the extent, and especially with the science that we have.
Within five minutes, whether it's your first time or your 25th time, we're actually redistributing blood flow in your brain in real time in a certain pattern that we have and we've been able to measure that with fMRIs. And there are things for relax, meditation, sleep and we use the same kind of technology with different kinds of patterns, but we've done a lot of our studies and efforts in focus, simply because there's so many other things for meditation and we've really been focusing on.
James Blatch: Okay, well look, I'm slightly wary of getting into territory which I will get lost in but let's talk a bit about the science because I am fascinated that this is having a physical effect on the flow in your brain, or the blood flow or the neurons or whatever.
Can you explain how that is the case, and how you know it's the case?
Dan Clark: Yeah, sure. I'll do my best to tell you where we're going too sciencey and if you're interested, whatever neuroscientists come on the team or on this chat for a deeper conversation.
Basically what's happening in your brain when you're in different kinds, of, again, those neural patterns. You can kind of think of your brain if you put an EEG on it like a Christmas tree. It's blinking all different times, and what's happening is between neurons in your brain, it's basically there's chemical interactions which happen thousands of times and there's electrical interactions as well. What's happening to that is it makes up our brain and what we're doing. It's basically, if you change the activity, your brain will change too, which makes sense.
If you look at the brain, again it's like a Christmas tree. What we're doing is we're doing this process of entrainment which is the deeper level science of what's happening and before I go too far into science, we're actually doing things in addition to this patented technology of deep understanding of how science is understanding on music, so for example a lot of people know that they can't listen to lyrics. We've actually tested why and at what level of lyrics can we put in.
There's things like salience reduction, like making sure that there's not loud bands or the music shift's too fast and there's a lot of different things that we're applying. So let me go into both of those and then we can come out and dive into somewhere deeper.
On the science side, your brain looks like this Christmas tree, it's blinking all over the place. That's your brain as you're switching into trying to focus or trying to relax or whatever it may be, you're basically trying to get your pattern to change. So you can think of this as we're listening to this music with these rhythmic pulses, what's happening is we're helping your brain transfer, switch patterns faster because it's kind of like getting a wind on your back while you're running, it's like a booster.
Because your brain will naturally move there for focus, it's almost like having training wheels on. When you're listening to the different kinds of oscillations that we're adding to music, what's happening is we're lining up the functional networks of your brain and that Christmas tree that's blinking all over the place, it starts blinking at the same time which enables us to help switch you and stay there. You start pulsing in that activity zone, or in the phase we've been able to see in the science, that that represents focus or more specifically deep work or creativity. So there's some stuff there that we're trying to do, I'm trying to stay high level.
James Blatch: That's good.
Dan Clark: We know that this is effective because we've won awards from The National Science Foundation and others where we have been able to test with blind studies of people with fMRI, EEG and then Sartask, where they're playing really boring video games and we can measure their responsiveness that they have. What we use is we use general focus music from Spotify, we use pink, brown, all those different noises, we use binaural beats, we use our technology with our music.
What's really cool because we're applying this technology, we can remove this technology, have the same exact sounds and we know that there's a general increase in our music effectiveness because of some of the rules which I'm going to go to in a second, but consistently with that technology applied people have way better results. This is all represented on white papers that we have on our site as well.
What we're trying to do is make sure that we're science first. So everything that we're doing we've tested and we can show that this works on not just one person, this shows up in the general population and one of the things that we're doing now is now we're getting better personalization and understanding neuro diversity. Because every brain is slightly different and we're doing things that work for being human, and now the next evolution of our product is, on the spectrum of ADHD, where are you?
On the spectrum of distractibility, or sensitivity to noise, where are you? Then we can start crafting a more personalised experience. What we're trying to do, really, is add another tool that we have in our arsenal of music I want to listen to while I'm working but now additionally music that is made scientifically like glasses, it's prescribed. I guess I can't use that word, but it's kind of like a prescription for you to get-
James Blatch: For FDA legal reasons.
Dan Clark: Yeah, exactly right. Then we're doing other things as well and as I was mentioning this before, we're following rules that we've been able to understand really well in music. So there is music that exists in the world that is better than other music, for focus. Those are things that don't have lyrics, right? Which is pretty common to know.
There's also music that is really mellow and then stays the same for a really long time. So one of the biggest advantages using any kind of music that's longer is you don't have track changes every five minutes. Every time the track changes you get a pause or even a change in beat and BPM and things, and it steals a little bit of the energy you're using to stay in focus. So that's just one example, we probably have like 20 of them that we're following that is about genre and about these other kinds of things that we've been able to see helps people stay in focus and we test it, and we test it with thousands of individuals to make sure that hey, this does work.
We're comboing that with music that sounds good. So when I look at it, again trying to stay high level, we're making music that is interesting, that is new, we create all the music so we have copyright, it's not something you can get anywhere else. It's music that's been tested from acoustic things of being able to influence and have really great rule sets for music that is changing and things like that and then finally is we have this real great science that no one else can do because of the patented processes and has been shown in studies to actually prove this. Basically packaged it all into one button which you click to focus and then you're able to lock into that flow state. Does that all make sense?
James Blatch: Yeah it does, complete sense. I think it's fascinating. The testing you've done, I was going to say the word trial but again for FDA reasons it's probably not a medical trial.
You're using MRIs, these are like the big scanners in hospitals?
Dan Clark: Yeah, so we are doing trials but we're not doing it for medical reasons so I don't know the right frame to say that.
James Blatch: But you're using proper scanners that would be used to diagnose illnesses inside the brain, type thing?
Dan Clark: 100%, yeah the fMRI is like a quarter of a million dollars to turn on and we're working with different research centres. So we actually employ neuroscientists here because we believe that the coolest thing about spiralling up is if we invest in science, we're going to make a better product, we make a better product, we're going to get more people so we can invest in more science. So we have directors and neuroscientists, one specifically has his PhD from MIT and Harvard in auditory neuroscience, one of the smartest people I know.
But we also do different kinds of research collaborations and the one we did with the fMRI stuff is actually out of Northeastern and it's funded by the government to help us understand, can this be a treatment for ADHD? And what's really cool is that along that research we basically learn about the ADHD population, but we also learn about people that aren't ADHD as well.
As we start studying more and more and more things, we understand more. But yeah to your point, we're using the big toys that people are going to be using to diagnose very specific, and understand about the brain. We really believe that we have to invest in science because currently I believe we know more about Pluto than we know about certain sections of our brain like how memories are formed and why this functions this way.
We really believe that it's our responsibility by building a product to make sure that we are doing all of that because we can make a product that works better. Again for the responsibility that we have of this new technology, we want to make a product for us, and for everyone else.
James Blatch: And the spectrum side of things, you say different people's brains work in different ways, you say there's ADHD and autism I guess, and other places along that spectrum. Even within those diagnosed positions, I think within that we all accept that there's people who's slightly nerdy or slightly gregarious.
Does that mean that you're going to move towards a position where you'll ask some questions of people or do some tests, and then start to tailor the service that Brain.fm provides to them?
Dan Clark: Yeah so we're at a place right now where the service starts helping you take effect in your brain in about five minutes, it ranges across different people. Some people it starts in the first 30 seconds and some people it starts in the first three minutes, so we feel really comfortable with five minutes. But as we go it's not about just helping you get into focus, it's about refining what that means because what's interesting is that, you said you use it for writing, where other people may be saying, well I use creative work for art, or I use this.
Maybe there's another optimization layer that we can do specifically for James, right? So this is James' music that helps him focus, rather than this is a general population set. And you hit the nail on the head, if you look at the spectrum of ADHD or autism or other things that sound scary, it's just how our brains are wired. We have the position is that everyone has superpowers and you just have to harness how you are. There's a lot of people I think that can benefit, not by necessarily answering questions to understand where they are on the spectrum, that's not the goal.
I think about glasses a lot, having the right glasses to wear for the thing that they're doing. I have contacts in, I'm really blind. But I suspect if I tried on your glasses and you try on mine, they're completely different, we won't get the same effect. But we can do that. So we do know that we can help a lot of people see clearly in this metaphor, and now what we're trying to do is give them more details in the next evolution of our product.
But ultimately this effects that's in the brain, it is a natural effect that our brains are always doing in different environments, and what we're doing is trying to extend it even further and that's the evolution of our product and what we see as we keep moving.
James Blatch: Now in terms of the best way to use it, this podcast is primarily listened to by writers and I know quite a few of my colleagues do already use Brain.fm.
For those people thinking about using it, can you give us some advice on the best way to use Brain.fm for writing, for instance?
Dan Clark: I think the strongest thing is looking at Brain.fm as a tool. Brain.fm is kind of like a hammer or whatever; we're not going to make you a better writer, but we can create a better, sharper or faster way of doing it, or more effortless.
I think of it as a smart tool. I think the best way to use tools is learning, again like we're talking about how to use them, but then making sure you're using them right way, and then figuring out how to play with them inside of whatever makes sense for you. So if I have five different carpenters, they probably all have a hammer, but they may use a hammer slightly different ways for different kinds of things. They may use it more or less, and that's up to everyone to discOver.
The best way to get started is actually building smart habits with the tool or with Brain.fm and it's about how do you approach work? How do you approach writing?
One of the best ways to do that is to create writing blocks or sections of time to do active writing and I don't know about how you use personally, but it would be the best way to start is saying, hey I'm going to use this for a 60 minute block and then start writing. Then have a check in point of, at the end of 60 minutes, do I want to keep going? Am I in the zone? Or am I kind of running out of ideas and I need to think about this a little bit and then hit another sprint?
Personally, I do a little bit less writing than you I'm sure, but what I do is I start my mornings and I do a lot of to dos and ideation and vision setting as CEO here, so what I'm doing is I'm putting on creative focus for like, 15 minutes. I'm saying, okay well what is everything on my mind? I do a brain dump, I write down everything I need to do today and then I switch into deep work and I start dividing off those things I'm going to do and I start taking action on them.
I'm trying to build this habit of, it's not just when I feel like writing, it's every single Monday through Friday I'm jumping in, I have a specific agenda that I'm following and then I'm doing it. Then we can go deeper into how I would set up those agendas if you want or we can talk about other habits to combo in. But it's really about how can you use this hammer in the most effective way, and figuring out how to do that.
James Blatch: On a practical sense I know you recommend headphones to use it, it says that on the app.
Dan Clark: Yes. So practical, for sure. Headphones we know are most effective because that's all of our studies. For higher modulations which are the focus, so if you think of your brain as kind of moving faster. Things are bouncing off things in a room if you're in speakers, so the highest fidelity is the best headphones you can find and if you can find noise cancelling headphones, even better. So the headphones you're using, the what, Bose QC somethings?
James Blatch: Yeah, 35s I think yeah.
Dan Clark: Those are excellent. But any kind of sound cancelling headphone technology that we have today is amazing, I think that's another reason why Brain.fm is really starting to gain precedence because now we have the technology that allows you to have better effects, so I definitely recommend that.
On the practical level it's also really important that you're hydrated, which sounds kind of weird, but you have to think, you're putting your brain into a sprint mode of deep focus. We actually have some reports of some people getting headaches because they don't have enough water in their brain, so it's really important that you're hydrated and either have a glass of water or whatever that may be, and again, the habit. I start every day at the same time, I have a nice coffee, I have a notebook, I write down everything I have to do or want to do, I put a timer on, and I go. I think that's really, really important.
There's general things about your writing environment or where you are. So are you secluded in a part of your house, do you have good lighting, is your desk clean? All those things matter which I think a lot of people are aware of already, but for you to have the best experience you really need to be a 10 out of 10 on all these different levels, to get 10 out of 10 results.
James Blatch: So what you put into it, like everything I guess.
Dan, tell us a bit about the company. The original founders, are they still there? Or you've taken over completely?
Dan Clark: Yeah great questions, so we had the original founders like you said, one was an inventor and the other one was on the business side. They are not involved anymore, just merely because I think as you build and grow a company, there's different phases of development. There's the people that start, the people that grow, the people that continue growing and there's different phases of that.
Where we are today generally is we really put a lot of energy into exploration of what this technology can do. So we see the company actually in three core parts, so we have a consumer product, we actually have an enterprise product as well where we sell to Fortune 1000 and up companies where we share how to have focus cultures with 360 wellness.
Then there's this whole other thing that you've heard me chatting about before which is the R&D side. We're really trying to figure out okay, well part of this is this technology, what are other other technologies or how do we extend this technology, make it even better. Then, what things can we help?
We're doing different medical trials right now with actually pre and post operations, helping people fall asleep before surgery, a little bit less stressed out, lower blood pressure then helping them wake up. Helping people with ADHD, autism. We're doing a lot of Alzheimer's work as well. We're really trying to figure out, how can we use this technology for good? And propose and create the business for good as well.
James Blatch: And from a commercial side of the business, what drives the best revenue? Is it the consumer use of Brain.fm?
Dan Clark: Currently it's consumer, we've had the most progress and development in the consumer. We just launched enterprise and we're working with a Fortune 100 client to develop a thing for them, now we're actually starting that whole process. So we work with some really big global firms creating products for that. So we'll see how that goes over the next year as we start rolling it out.
But generally a lot of people use this for focus, mentioned as before, where people are like, this is my focus switch. I click it, I get in, I do my stuff and I jump out. But we also have a lot of people that use this for relax and sleep as well because if you're a meditator like you explained earlier, we do have a lot of people that reach different levels of meditation or different levels of relaxation and they combo that in.
Generally the business right now is from a consumer angle, we're positioning ourselves to hit this magic space of focus on demand and you'll see some of our branding and stuff moving forward into that space. Then really expanding that category. As we expand focus we'll be able to even learn more about these neural patterns and put more efforts into expanding relax, meditation, sleep, napping. We have a few things in the work that I can't discuss just yet.
James Blatch: Do you know, it occurs to me what a serendipitous time this is as people move from the office environment to home working and we're yet to know how this shakes down and how many people will remain at home for the foreseeable, people may not go back to the offices. I guess part of your clicking into work mode for people who commuted in and got into an office building was the physical process of going into the office, sitting down at the desk in their cubicle, that slots them into work mode before.
Whereas now, they're faced with this, we're hearing this from people, coming downstairs, opening their laptop, starting to do emails, having their breakfast, maybe going to have a shower and actually this is a really ideal tool isn't it? At 8:45 in the morning, whatever, put your headphones on, start it, click into that.
Give your brain a headstart into getting you into a focus mode.
Dan Clark: 100%, yeah we're really finding an interesting uptick in how people are using our product. We've gotten a lot of people that have explained on how this is a lifesaver because they also have a spouse or partner at home who is trying to focus or their kids or cats running around.
One of the things that actually came out, and I mentioned this before, but was kind of comboing both. So we've had, predominantly, everyone always coming to us for focus and then exploring relax and sleep. But now we have a lot more people that are coming to us for sleep, because their friend says, hey you're in front of your screens all day, you can't escape it, you're working more. They don't have that downtime of driving home, let's say.
But we also have a lot of people that are comboing it so they're using focus for two hours a day but before they switch they do a quick 10 minute relax session. What's cool about that is especially today, it's really hard to be like, James, relax, go. It's really hard to do it.
James Blatch: I order you to relax.
Dan Clark: Yeah, you can't do that, right? It stresses people out more. Then by allowing people to have this five minute or 10 minute switch to relax and resetting the physiological state of the brain and the body it's having a really great effect I think of transferring out of work mode. So we talk, I really think about it in two states.
You basically plug in and you plug out. Our brains and bodies are designed to do that and now because we don't have the hour commute to the office or 20 minute commute to the office we don't really have the same switch in. So with this it's a five minute switch in and it allows you to get right back in in a short amount of time and then still preserve you to still be on your best self.
James Blatch: Dan, it's gripping. We've explored a lot and I'm buzzing about it because it's a product I know works, well it works for me is all I can say and I know some other authors use it.
You better tell people where they can find you and how much it costs.
Dan Clark: Yeah great questions over all, so Brain.fm, you can just go to Brain.fm, you can search Google for it that's our direct URL. Or you can go on the app store, Brain.fm, iPhone or android. We are $7 a month or $49 a year currently.
Really our main method of getting people is referrals. So it's through podcasts, but it's also through friends. We have this experience where you don't have to put a credit card or anything up front, we give you three days free to try out the platform, to really try and experience this for yourself. We know that people that are using this, if they give it a shot and listen for 60 minutes they end up using us. So I really encourage people to give it a shot, if you have any feedback, if you want to email me directly it's [email protected], I reply to all my emails. It's something that we're excited to offer and give people to try.
James Blatch: Great, Dan, it's been brilliant talking to you, lots of food for thought. Really thank you for the work you're doing in this area as well, I think it's such an important area for us, particularly your focus, not just on work but on relaxing and looking after ourselves and coming out of work which I think is something a lot of us are very keen on understanding and doing better. So, appreciate the time and effort and the science that you're putting into this and thank you for a great product.
Dan Clark: Thank you so much for having me. I loved talking about it and maybe we'll do a follow up later when we've figured out even more science.
James Blatch: For sure, there's more science coming.
Dan Clark: Yeah, definitely.
James Blatch: There we go, Dan Clark, I really enjoyed that chat, I think he enjoyed it as well, he asked for a copy of the interview as well because he said that's a really good interview. Thank you Dan, and I will send you a clean copy of that you can use as you wish.
Mark Dawson: I have to say, I haven't listened to the interview yet, I'll listen to it when it goes out but didn't he buy the company?
James Blatch: Yes, it was a Victor Kiam.
Mark Dawson: I was going to say Victor Kiam and what was it, Remington shaves wasn't it, I liked it so much I bought the company.
James Blatch: I did reference that in the interview and I'm not sure if he remembered Victor Kiam adverts, he's younger than us.
Mark Dawson: Everybody's younger than us.
James Blatch: Yeah, it was started by two other people and he invested in it, took it over and is now running it with great gusto and I think he wants to take, he does, he wants to take Brain.fm to the next level. He mentioned a competitor of theirs briefly in the interview and I had never heard of them, you may have done.
But it's a bit like a few other spaces where I think there's not a lot of market penetration, even from the biggest guys in the market so most people don't use productivity tools like that, so there's a lot of scope for movement. Especially working from home now which is increasingly a thing for both here in the UK and certainly around the world as a result of covid. Yeah, really enjoyed it, we'll keep in touch with Dan.
I think they do affiliate stuff so they've sent me a link and I will try and make sure we add that to our page, there may be a deal, I'm not sure, I haven't looked into it yet as usual, but it's on my list and we'll sort that out if you do want to sign up to Brain.fm but I think I was a very early adopter, as you put me onto it quite early and we got grandfathered into a good deal so I still use it to this day.
I think that's it, it's been a busy week this week, we've had quite a lot of stuff going on in the background with our various companies. We're thinking about Self-Publishing Formula courses for the autumn, starting to put some ideas into practise. We have had a set of books into the Fuse Books dashboard, the DCI Jones mystery series, we're looking to breathe life into them and Stuart Bache is already doing some fantastic covers for those.
My own book, I noticed, stopped making money in the last few days of July or the first few days of August and I have not had time to fix that. I think it's because I went in and made some changes to the Facebook campaign, always fatal, so I need to go and fix that. I want to continue to see if I can turn a little profit on that through August. Maybe I've saturated that particular target. It was interest targeting which funnily enough I very rarely do on Fuse Books, nearly all of it is remarketing, but my book was working on interest targeting Tom Clancy and a couple of other cold war, and Kindle. Trying to get those to overlap together, it seemed to be working quite well.
Mark Dawson: Remarketing, how do you mean remarketing?
James Blatch: By remarketing I mean a customer email list and a similar, look alike version of that. So targeting based on our own-
Mark Dawson: Yeah I hate to pick you up, I'm going to anyway. Remarketing is based on engagement. So a remarketing campaign would be if you click on a website, then you get cookied, then you get an ad, that's typically what remarketing is. What you're using there is custom audiences so even look alikes would be described as custom audiences.
James Blatch: I think in the Google AdWords world, anything like that comes under the banner of remarketing, any email lists you use. But anyway, it doesn't matter.
Mark Dawson: Yeah, I can see that.
James Blatch: It's language, but yes, so customer lists. But there's lots to explore and I think the slightly rambling point I'm going to make that I've noticed with my own campaign here is that it's a living, breathing animal, a social media campaign. It's fire and forget to an extent, you can put a lot of time and effort in at the beginning and then get it working and then monitor it, but a bit like an animal you can't just neglect it.
Samuel: The iPhone isn't working.
James Blatch: Or a child. You can neglect a child.
Mark Dawson: Hold on, hold on. Yes, my son Samuel, you want to come on and say hello to James?
James Blatch: Say hello Samuel. Oh.
Mark Dawson: Samuel's iPhone's not working so I need to go and parent.
James Blatch: Well it better be working by Monday when I arrive, I'm going to be in Salisbury on Monday and I'm looking forward to dinner at the Dawson's and a round of golf still on Tuesday morning?
Mark Dawson: Yeah that's still on, so we'll do that.
James Blatch: Excellent, looking forward to it. Okay look, you go and do your childcare stuff and I'll go and walk the dog. Have a great weekend, thank you very much indeed to Dan Clark and well done for everything you're doing at Brain.fm, we will stay in touch with you for sure and we will be back next week. All that remains for me to say is it's a goodbye from him.
Mark Dawson: And a goodbye from me. Goodbye.
James Blatch: Goodbye.
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