Written by Christopher Kelly
Dec. 9, 2017
Christopher: Hello and welcome to the Nourish Balance Thrive podcast. My name is Christopher Kelly and today I am joined by UJ Ramdas. Hi, UJ.
UJ: Chris, really happy to be here.
Christopher: Thank you for being here. I am delighted to have you.
UJ: This is fun.
Christopher: Yeah. UJ, because we're all athletes, endurance athletes on this podcast, I want you to tell me about your first experience mountain biking.
UJ: Well, my first experience mountain biking was actually with you and if you're open to it, I would love to tell the story between the both of us.
Christopher: Oh, yes, definitely.
UJ: Because I really feel like that will be a good way to start this off.
Christopher: I think so.
UJ: So my first time mountain biking was in, I believe, May of this year where we went to an invite-only event called Mastermind Talks for Entrepreneurs where, apart from a highly curated group of decorated entrepreneurs where you get to do, meeting them and having dinner with them and seeing talks and having round tables with them. You also get to have one experience with them. It could be anything from skeet shooting to sailing to mountain biking. Chris and I and a group of a few other men decided on mountain biking. Now there was no range of skill mentioned that I was a total beginner.
The way it worked was when we started, we went around and asked each other what their level of difficulty was. Chris is just an absolute crazy good professional mountain biker. I think there was one or two more of them. One of them had, Mike Brcic, a friend of ours, we mountain biked with later, has a company called Sacred Rides. Steve has been riding for 20-plus years. Matt Bertulli, again, has been riding since he was six. There was just a lot of people that were very experienced at this. Then there was me. It's my first time riding. Chris, you want to tell them about the trail you picked?
Chris: Sure. I was just thinking, I am to entrepreneurialism as you are to mountain biking. The reason I chose mountain biking is my thing was I didn't want to feel like a small fish in a big pond the whole weekend, so I opted for the mountain biking. So Santa Cruz, if you're never been to Santa Cruz to go mountain biking, you really must put it on your list of things to do, a bucket list maybe. When you come to Santa Cruz to ride bikes, make sure that you get in touch with me so that we can go ride some trails because otherwise you're never going to find any of the trails because nearly all of them are illegal and [0:02:22] [Indiscernible].
So I'm in the shop -- that's one of the nice things when you come to Santa Cruz to go mountain biking is the Santa Cruz Factory, their brand, they have a factory right there in town, and they rent you these really, really nice mountain bikes. I think they're trying to impress people with their rental fleet. Suited up with all these really, really nice mountain bikes, of course I'd sit on one of those rather than ride in my own. I wanted to see what another bike was like, and it was fantastic.
The lady is doing the bike prep. She said to me, "I think you should just go on a little loop around Wilder." I'm looking at her, going, I live in Santa Cruz, I'm probably not going to do that. She said, "No, I'm sure that would definitely be best for this group." I thought, okay, yeah, we'll see how that goes. Of course once we get onto the trail, all the guys are having a lot of fun and they're fired up. We get to one particular point in the trail, I thought, maybe that lady in the shop was telling me something for a reason and I should be listening to. Maybe I'll hand the story back to you there, UJ.
UJ: Yeah. So basically on the bus ride there, all of the guys started to realize I was the only person that was a total virgin at mountain biking. They started to console me and assure me that we'll have a great time, don't worry, it's going to be a really simple track, it's going to be beginner's style, we'll make sure that you have a good time, all sort of stuff. So I'm feeling pretty okay. I'm feeling a little nervous, a little excited, and the bike turned out to be really nice. This is definitely, I started my first mountain bike that come out of Santa Cruz bike, so I feel like that was a pretty good start. I knew had people around me that were really good, that I could trust, so I let go and thought it would be a good time. Then the trail started and I started to see very, very difficult things that I'd never done on a bike starting to come up on the trail, things like, I don't know what you call, a U, where you -- what do you call that? Is that a thing?
Christopher: What do you call that, like a hairpin bend, you mean.
UJ: Not a hairpin bend, something where you're on an edge and you go down and you come back up again.
Christopher: Like a roller type thing.
UJ: Sure. It's like a semicircle, think of a semicircle and then you start at the left of the semicircle, you go down and the momentum brings you back up.
Christopher: Switchbacks. Everybody that listens to the podcast is shouting switchbacks.
UJ: Okay, good, good, so switchbacks. See, this is how new I am at this stuff. So there were these impossible switchbacks that I'd seen that I am doing somehow, and some of them I'm just getting off for because this is just crazy. I started thinking, this is just the first ten minutes, 15 minutes of the trail. I have no idea how I'm going to get through the rest of this. Behind me is Jeff Spencer. Jeff Spencer, he has coached several Olympic athletes, he has coached Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France multiple times, I think seven times or something like that. He has just got a really great head on his shoulders and is a fantastic coach. So I have Jeff Spencer, the top Olympic athletes and Lance Armstrong at the time, behind me, coaching me through the trail which was an unbelievable experience. I've got to say Jeff is a great coach. I really think he helped me pull through on the trail significantly. Holy shit, that was a really good time. It took us, what, how many hours to get to the end of it? Because you guys were waiting for me pretty much every 15, 20 minutes.
Christopher: We were out there for a good couple of hours which is a long time if you've never ridden a mountain bike before.
UJ: Exactly, exactly. Finally we started going downhill and that was, by far, my favorite life experience, I've got to say. It was a fantastic trail for going downhill, and we went downhill for a while. It was fantastic. I absolutely fell in love with it. There was one time when, going down the hill, it was pretty nuts and my brain was getting really exhausted because I was learning so much. My brain was more exhausted than my body because I was in so much information. Remember being on all fours because my body started to cramp in places that never felt before. My body was starting to give out. It just hit a wall and started to give out. I was talking to my body. "Listen my guy, we have another 45 minutes here. There's no way you're giving up, get back on the fucking bike, let's go." That was that. So it was a really fun ride. I'm glad you were on it.
Christopher: I'm glad all turned okay, honestly. I was really quite worried there for a while. So the trail that we're talking about, if you've ever been to Santa Cruz, is Mailboxes, and the very final part of Mailboxes is really steep and really rocky. I had some friends, they'd been asking me, "How do you do that?" So I just take the A line right down there and I probably took some falls the first time I did it, but it's just what I do now. I just have it built into my autopilot. My friends have never been able to take that line, so I walk back up to show them the line I was taking, and I could barely walk up or walk down there. It's like easy to do on a bike than it is on foot, so that gives you an idea of how rocky that terrain is.
UJ: It was a hell of an experience. I think I was walking by the bike for some of that stuff downhill. I just couldn't see the logic in killing myself.
Christopher: Yeah, exactly. We talked about the chimp, Steve Peters' Chimp Paradox, he talks about that on the podcast before. One of the things I noticed about you that it was striking, it's striking in this profile picture that I'm looking at you at the moment, is how happy you were. You were smiling and confident and positive. How do you manage to do that in the face of this kind of adversity?
UJ: Oh, I think, Chris, a huge part of it is training. It's like having good teeth. If I were to ask you, "How do you have great teeth?" It starts with obviously having a good dentist you can get in there and see if you have any problems every once in a while, but the primary practice that I'm sure you'd tell me is brushing your teeth and flossing it, having great people that you can turn to in times of when you need some work on it and then the daily consistent maintenance. Most people don't have a daily consistent maintenance for their mind or optimism or mood.
I think what I tend to do is optimize for that, so I have a daily gratitude practice that I do the Five Minute Journal, I have a meditation practice, I have a [0:08:30] [Indiscernible] practice, and this stuff really helps keep my optimism in check. It helps me -- when I'm up against obstacles, I just get really excited because I go, okay, this is just absurd, and I use that sense of humor/absurdity to fill me into figuring out, okay, how am I going to do this? How am I going to do this? How am I going to do this? I love solving problems. Essentially that day on mountain bike, I was just solving multiple problems really quickly. I loved it, and I had a great coach. Don't forget, I had a great coach. I had great tools, and I just used a lot of the tools that I had already existing mentally. Things like these daily practices, over time, really add up.
You've heard the expression neurons that fire together, wire together. The more they're fired, the more they wire so over time what happens is, let's say the first time you ever do that practice, it's like walking through a forest. You have to cut off branches. You have to make sure that you have a nice, clean path going forward, but after a few weeks and a few months, you have a nice, clean, open path that is easier to walk through. Over years, you can have a nice road. Even over a decade, you have a nice superhighway where you're able to move through real fast with no problem. Our brain works very similarly. So I've just been grateful to have practices like this that I've done for a while, and they're very useful in times of difficulties and obstacles and challenges and fun things like mountain biking a pretty crazy trail the first time, I'm telling you. It was fun. I remember we took a picture at the very end of it, and that is one of my favorite pictures of this year because it really shows what was done and what was accomplished. I've been mountain biking ever since, and it has been great.
Christopher: Tell me about the Five Minute Journal. I picked up a copy at Mastermind Talks, and I really only started using it properly once I talked to you. I tell you, there was another thing as well actually that prompted me. So I'm talking to Simon Marshall, he talks about doing gratitude journaling in his book The Brave Athlete. I think it was that -- you're sometimes like that with your decision-making. You hear about something and then you need to be nudged three or four more times before you actually start doing it. I also realized that their app version on my iPhone was better for me than the paper version. But before we get into some of those details, can you talk about the Five Minute Journal and why you created it?
UJ: Yeah, so four years ago I created the Five Minute Journal with my co-founder Alex Ikonn, and good friend, and we created it because we wanted to have a gratitude practice for ourselves. I was doing this journaling practice for years before we made this, but we wanted to make something that was easy, that was beautiful that we could use that was much simpler yet it gave people a soft and simple introduction to gratitude journaling in a way that didn't have them do too much work. So it's a beautiful, bound, linen notebook, and the way I like to describe it, it's a toothbrush for your mind. So just like a toothbrush, you do it every day, you do it in the morning, you do it at night, takes you a couple of minutes and you use it.
It's based on the principles of positive psychology. So there are preset questions, three questions in the morning, two questions at night, and these questions are specifically designed and based to put you in a state of gratitude and tweak your optimism in a way that allows you to perform better, to have a better day and to sleep better. The first question is: What am I grateful for? Second question is: What would make today great? The third question is: Who do I want to be today? What's my affirmation? It's a great way to start the day and end the day. Since we started in 2013, a lot of people got behind it. Tim Ferriss got behind it in the first few months. We have Ben Greenfield and a lot of athletes that have been really excited to share our stuff. That really took off from there, and we started making more things that helped people be more productive, and we have more stuff coming up real soon.
Christopher: Tell me about how you chose the questions for the Five Minute Journal.
UJ: It was interesting because the final two questions at night, two questions are, what are three amazing things that happened today, and how could I have made today better? So let's start with the very top and I'll go through the questions because now I've explained all the five questions. The first question is an easy one. "I'm grateful for…" The first question focuses on gratitude because as soon as you wake up, that's the idea. As soon as you wake up, the idea is to train the first thought you have to be out of gratitude.
Christopher: Okay, that's interesting because I sometimes find it difficult to think of some things that I'm grateful for right at that moment, first thing, and I would always find it easy to answer those questions at the end of the day. But you say it's important to do it first thing.
UJ: First thing and at the end of the day as well, so you're book-ending the day. It's very similar to, I don't know if you're ever had the experience of going to sleep with a very specific thought and then it influencing your dreams.
Christopher: Yeah, definitely, all the time.
UJ: And how you wake up, influencing how you wake up. It's like that. What you're doing is you're influencing the final thought before going to bed, allowing that to influence your sleep and then waking up with a positive thought. So you're making sure that loop from last thought before sleep, sleep and the first thought after sleep are all positive because those are a lot of hours out of your day, and you want to make sure that you're training yourself positively.
Christopher: What's a good thing to be grateful for?
UJ: This is an interesting question because people ask me all the time about when they fill out the journal, if it's okay to repeat things that they're grateful for because over time, it just becomes a habit to have the same thing to think about. For me, it's not as much about the thinking, it's a lot more about the feeling because thinking about what are you grateful for will increase your mental resilience, but feeling what you're grateful for will improve your emotional resilience. Mental resilience tends to be a lot more common than emotional resilience mostly because emotional resilience is a lot harder to access. Just that emotion is a lot harder to access on command. Let's say I ask you, Chris, what are you grateful for right now?
Christopher: Right now? Well the chance to talk to you on Skype through this podcast of course. What else could I be grateful for?
UJ: Great, great, awesome. So now if I were to ask you, where in your body do you feel that emotion or feeling, what would you say?
Christopher: Oh, I don't know. Where I feel it? I don't know.
UJ: If you were to feel that gratitude in your body, you would feel it somewhere, right?
Christopher: Yeah. I don't know if I've ever thought that emotions can have visceral --
UJ: They are visceral. They're feelings. We feel them, and they exist in your body.
Christopher: Well, yeah, I have to think about that. I haven't any answer.
UJ: Feel into it. Just take a moment. Feel into it.
Christopher: It's somewhere in my chest, I'd say.
UJ: Somewhere in your chest, fantastic, okay, so it's somewhere in your chest. Is it a warm feeling, is it a buzzing feeling, is it a tingling feeling, what is it?
Christopher: Yeah, it's a warm feeling. I tell you, I did have some help on realizing this from Dr. Simon Marshall. You see Dr. Simon Marshall is a psychologist, and he sent me some papers showing that there can be some mixed blessings with gratitude. I recognized the problem immediately in that sometimes I feel indebted, so that's the word that has been used in the literature. You constantly feel about all the things I'm grateful for and I'm like, shit, I'm in quite a lot of debt here, not necessarily financial debt, but debt to other people in the world.
UJ: Absolutely, and that feeling you feel of indebtedness or gratitude, that is the feeling that you're aiming for. You're looking to amplify that feeling. So when you say, "What's a good thing to feel grateful for," you're aiming for something you feel grateful for that really makes you amplify that feeling, if that makes sense. So it could be anything from your family or your kids, your mountain bike, the evening, the movie, but the important thing is it actually affects you positively. When you ask that question, you think about that thing, you allow yourself to feel that feeling before you put pen on paper because that is what allows your mind and body to wire in this emotion. That's what builds in the mental and the emotional resilience, that's what gives you the bang for your buck when you're doing gratitude journaling.
Christopher: Okay. Then what happens if nothing amazing happens that day? So you bookend, top-end the evening with amazing things, but what happens if nothing amazing happened that day? Do I need to lower my scale of amazing?
UJ: Well here's the thing. This is a really interesting thing because I came to Canada when I was 17, from India. My parents still live in India, and I came from a very different background and very different things that I was used to. Having central heating and central air conditioning was an unbelievable thing. I had never had it, never experienced it before. What's interesting is, in the day-to-day life that we have in North America, we take a lot of things for granted. We take a lot of things for granted. Right now we are on Skype which is a technology that I don't quite know how it works. I don't know quite how the Internet works, and here I am talking to you in real time. You're going to be launching this podcast over the Internet which, again, we don't know how it works, to tens of thousands of people likely. They're going to be listening to this on their own time, on their devices that, again, we have no idea how it works. This is incredible.
Christopher: This is amazing.
UJ: It's a truly amazing thing, and the fact that we overlook things like that and we sometimes have a shitty day and we say nothing amazing happened today is a great opportunity to really look deeper into things that have really been amazing that we haven't been able to see. So it really comes back down to that emotional resilience to be able to notice what is great, what is awesome, what is amazing, what is truly awe-inspiring. There's a sunset that happens every night. There's a sunrise that happens every morning. If you take the time to appreciate it, it's mind-blowing. We are on a blue ball that circles a fireball and much of which we haven't really fully understood or contemplated the vastness of the universe. It's absurd how we are going about our lives not in awe of these things.
What I suggest humbly is we take a bit of time to just notice the amazing thing that is life. You have an opportunity to listen to this. You have ears. You're likely moving from point A to point B. You have some way of locomotion, your legs or a car or the ability to have money to take a bus. A majority of the planet does not have that. You likely have a smartphone. These things are pretty awesome. We live in an incredible time for mankind, humankind, a time when there is such progress and movement that we don't know what the next ten years is going to bring, likely going to bring increasing levels of artificial intelligence, self-driven cars and all kinds of interesting things that are going to happen. It's pretty amazing to live in this time. That's what I would say. I would say it's like the feeling you get when you don't want to go to the gym. Well just have to suck it up and go to the gym in order to feel better when you come back.
Christopher: How do you stave off the amazing things resistance? I feel like it's part of the human condition that what was amazing yesterday will be just okay today and then not good enough tomorrow. That's just what happens to people. You've just said that you came to the US when you were 17 and obviously your idea of amazing, it was upgraded significantly at that time. I'm just wondering how you've managed to not become resistant to the idea of what's amazing.
UJ: There are a couple of things. One, I came to Canada, not United States.
Christopher: Sorry. I feel like the concept of North America is just being one great big mass. I don't really see a difference, sorry.
UJ: It's all good. It's all good. In terms of keeping that bar of amazing at a place where I'm able to hit it every day, one of the tricks is comparison. A lot of people compare in the opposite direction. If you take the time to really look at someone's situation that's very unfortunate and you compare it to yours, your life seems pretty amazing compared to theirs. If you look objectively at the world's situation, we are in a very small percentage that allows us to do things that are truly, truly unbelievable, truly incredible, and a lot of it comes because of how we were born and the decisions we made and the environment we had, a lot of which we didn't have control over.
So what I like to do is constantly think of things and to know of things that have been very fortunate in my life. I just came back from India from seeing my family, and that's an easy way of doing it. Traveling to a developing country is a fantastic way of doing it. Opening yourself up to extremes and constantly doing work on yourself is a great way of doing it because it allows you to see people at their edge and it allows you to notice the things you have that are really great. Having happy friends is probably the most significant thing you can do to upgrade your happiness because emotions are contagious. If they're someone who is just prompt and happy and excited and optimistic, they're going to really pull your mood and your energy up. Athletes tend to be fairly optimistic which is awesome because they have a good orientation to obstacles.
Another way I like to think about optimism and how to feel like life is truly amazing is tackle obstacles pretty ruthlessly with the attitude of gratitude. What I mean by that is even, let's say on that mountain bike trip, that trail that we all did together, a lot of what I was focusing on is just getting to the next bend, just getting to the next, next bend.
Christopher: I just want to say, again, I've been listening to Simon talk about this in his book is, what do I need to be doing in the next five minutes in order to make this a flawless performance?
UJ: Yeah, just getting to the next bend and just feeling great about getting to the next bend. There was no way I could have finished that trail if I really, at the beginning of the trail, I was thinking about how many more hours I was going to be on that bike. There's was no way I would have done it. I would have just said, okay, I'm out, there's no way I could do this. But just because I said, just pace yourself, just breathe and just get to the next bend, just get to the next pit stop, just get to the next minute; it really helped. I was really grateful I didn't have to make time so I could go at my pace. That was gratifying because there was no pressure of getting injured. Because that's likely what would have happened if there was time pressure, I would have started doing things really fast and things that I wasn't very comfortable with and there was a higher likelihood of getting injured. So I would use every new checkpoint as a new thing that allowed me to feel emotionally more resilient. I would actually feel dopamine when I got to the next thing that I was wanting to get to. Over time it just really helped build it up.
Christopher: Talk about positivity and optimism. I'm a bit worried, as a grumpy old man, I'm a bit worried about this idea of everybody being -- this is another Simon joke, every cloud has a silver lining and it has got mercury in it. That describes me to a T. So I worry about the optimism and constant positivity as being something that may detract from objectivity, so irrational exuberance is a phrase that maybe is a fit to what I'm trying to describe.
UJ: For sure.
Christopher: Or maybe another one is seeing the glass as half full when it lies shattered on the floor. Do you not worry that this constant state of optimism is somewhat dangerous?
UJ: Well, a couple of things, one, you can have a very sharp objective eye at something and still get things done and still be a happy person. So the assumption that you are making in that question or the semi-assumption you're making in that question is, how is it possible to be objective and be happy at the same time? I believe it is possible. It has been done before.
Christopher: I do too. Well I like to be someone who disagrees with people at the podcast because it makes it more interesting.
UJ: It has been done before, and it can be done again. That's the way I would start off with that. The other thing is typically, it tends to be objective and positive people that have a better relationship to obstacles because if you're objective about the obstacle or positive about the obstacle, typically you're likely going to be doing better, all things equal, versus if you're objectively negative. Very similar to mountain biking, let's take that for a ride, because I noticed that when I started to look towards where I wanted to go, not where I didn't want to go, I started to do better. Initially when I started to look at where I didn't want to go, my body froze up and I braked.
Christopher: Right. Oh, I've definitely experienced this on the snowboard. Try snowboarding into trees and focusing just on the things that you shouldn't hear, like, what's wrong with that, it's a disaster, ends in about ten seconds.
UJ: It's hard. So it's the same thing. It's the practice of objectivity. It's just asking you what is true, what is real, what is important, and that question is a critical question to ask consistently. I think there are tons of people that are irrationally exuberant, and their optimism clouds their objectivity. That's just sad because they're not going to be effective. That leads into denial and that's definitely not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is equal parts objectivity and positivity. Objectivity keeps you in touch with the reality, in what the situation is. Positivity allows you to put a positive spin on it so you can have a positive emotion as you're dealing with the obstacle. Having a positive emotion as you're dealing with the obstacle is definitely going to be better than having a negative emotion when you're dealing with the obstacle because it improves resilience.
Christopher: It is quite cathartic to complain though. I kind of wish the app had a space for me to complain about things. Don't you feel that like it's sometimes helpful to criticize, to complain?
UJ: For sure, I absolutely agree. That is not what the product is for, that is not what the journal is for, but I agree with you.
Christopher: I can't put in a feature request.
UJ: I think that's a different thing altogether. A lot of people talk about morning journal, morning pages or freehand writing or freehand journaling that allows people to really uncensor their thoughts on paper or on screen for three pages or 30 minutes or something like that, that allows them to vent and complain and bitch and moan, and it feels better. It feels better because it allows you to express yourself in a way that isn't judgmental, in a space that is safe that allows you to feel these emotions and put them out into the world. So, absolutely, it's very useful. Some people find it very therapeutic. That's something you can actually do, but that's not what Five Minute Journal is about. We might just create something in the future that allows people to do that but this is a very different product.
Christopher: It's a very common theme. Mastermind Talks, many of the people there are interested in their kids' upbringing and education and other topics in that area. Honestly so am I. I look back at how I've gotten to where I am today. Many of the problems that I've overcome in the last five years, they really started as a child, maybe when I should have been breastfeeding. I was drinking formula. Then you pick it from there, and you realize this whole thing has been -- it's not something that happened to me suddenly four years ago but something that started many, many years ago and so of course I'm interested like at this gratitude journaling is helping me now. Could it help my daughter who is four, and obviously she's not quite old enough to write yet but she'll be getting there in the near future. So tell me about how kids can make use of some of the techniques that we've been talking about.
UJ: You'll be glad to know that we actually have a Five Minute Journal for Kids that is live on Kickstarter right now. It's something that you can look into. The really interesting thing, as I look back on my life, Chris, I think about, how would my life be if I started doing something like the Five Minute Journal when I was six or seven or eight? The truth is it would have made a huge difference. It would really help me even be more resilient and calm and focused. It's like a toothbrush. What if you didn't have a toothbrush between the ages of five and 16? That would have sucked. That would have led to a lot of complications. In the same way, we decided to create something that was a bit simpler, using very similar questions but very kid-friendly and using illustrations and simpler words and simpler challenges, something that helps parents do the Five Minute Journal for Kids with their children every night. I'm very excited about it because I'm very excited about bringing this to the world, bringing this to schools, bringing this to organizations, bringing this to families so they can all do it together.
Christopher: Is it a real paper thing?
Christopher: To tell you, I've had really great results with the app because I need reminding so the app has this really nice feature where it will notify you. I know lots of apps on iOS do that now and I've turned all of them off but the Five Minute Journal is one of the very few that I allow to give me notifications on my locked screen. If it didn't do that, I just wouldn't do the journal. I just might forget. At the same time, I'm really not that excited about my four-year-old daughter having access to electronic devices, so please tell me that this is going to be a real paper thing.
UJ: This is definitely going to be a real paper thing. I think there's something really nice when the parent sits down with their son, daughter by their bedside and ask them what one amazing thing that happened today and what they learned about today, which is the last question. It leads to a really great conversation. It leads to a wonderful time between the parent and a child before they go to sleep. I'm very excited about it.
Christopher: It's the same questions then as in the adult version.
UJ: It's similar questions. The last question is different. The first question is the same. The second question is the same. But there's only one line, there's only one thing they could fill out, so it's much easier to fill out, and because children probably need time to think and talk to their parents about it, it still ends up being about five minutes.
Christopher: What's the youngest that you target for kids?
UJ: On there it says between six and 11, but we've had kids as small as four-and-a-half or four do the journal.
Christopher: That's amazing. I'm sure my daughter, she can't write but she's very articulate and very good at articulating her thoughts actually, so I'm sure she could do it. That's amazing. How do you make it compelling for kids? Obviously as a parent of a four-year-old, you can make your kid do quite a lot of things that maybe they wouldn't on their own. Have you tried to do that? Have you tried to make it compelling to the kids without having adult supervision?
UJ: Well it's colorful. It's beautiful. It's something that kids can read and follow. It's very simple. Also the cover is such that the children want to mess it up. They totally can. It's robust in a certain way. It's a smaller form factor so it's easy for the kids to hold and to turn the pages. It's fun. It looks really lively and happy. It has been designed for kids to use it every day. Once they get a sense of how to use it, a couple of pages, they can do it every day themselves.
Christopher: What does the product development cycle look like? Do you have some kids that have been beta testing this?
UJ: Yes, actually we recently had kids look at it and write into it and also get a sense of how they reacted to it. We moved things around and we changed a bit about design and how they interact with it over time, but I'm really excited about when thousands of kids start to use it because we're always updating and tweaking our designs and our format. We'll see what happens in the next few months, but we're pretty happy about what we have right now.
Christopher: Will you be collecting feedback from the users?
UJ: Absolutely, we always do.
Christopher: I wish there was some way you could do an experiment and then write it up and publish it. That will be fantastic.
UJ: I'm glad you brought this up because this is something we've been thinking about for the Five Minute Journal and the Five Minute Journal for Kids. If there's anybody listening that is interested in doing this for their thesis, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram @ujramdas or on Twitter @ujramdas because this is something we want to do. We really want to see and measure people's differences in optimism, in happiness, in their social behavior, so very interested in hearing from people who might be interested in doing this because I really believe we have a huge opportunity there.
Christopher: I honestly just found out about this, so tell us about the deal on Kickstarter.
UJ: It's very simple. You go on Kickstarter.com or you just Google, Kickstarter Five Minute Journal for Kids, and you get to see the page. There are a bunch of tiers. There's a video. You can do that. There are a bunch of tiers that you can see what works best for you and then you can back us if you like. There's a PDF version. There's an early bird version. As you go down the list, you see more and more journals. You can figure out how many journals you want, you like, how many journals you want to give to other people's kids, and you back us hopefully. I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of people who are listening, coming by and taking a look at least.
Christopher: Congratulations, I think you're doing something amazing.
UJ: Thank you.
Christopher: There you go, that's one of my amazing things for tonight.
UJ: See, it's not that hard.
Christopher: It's amazing for me.
UJ: It's not that hard.
Christopher: What's the best place to get the adult versions of your product? I've got your app in, I just found it in the iTunes store. Is that the best place for people to go?
UJ: So, to get the Five Minute Journal, the product, you can go on intelligentchange.com, the physical product which is similar to the physical product for kids so they're both notebooks, hardbound, beautiful notebooks. If you want the Five Minute Journal iOS app, absolutely the iOS store is the place for you. If you want the android app, the Play Store is the place for you. We also have another product called the Productivity Planner that you can get at intelligentchange.com.
Christopher: I hate to open up a can of worms since we're reaching the end here, but can you quickly give us the sales pitch for the Productivity Planner? I haven't tried that properly yet.
UJ: Sure. The Productivity Planner is just a great way to prioritize your day and make sure you do the most important task of the day first.
Christopher: Okay, that's good. Yeah, so it's not directly applicable to me right now because much of my day is scheduled using a calendar.
UJ: Yeah, we did talk about that.
Christopher: That was how I got into the Five Minute Journal. I was like, we talk about this like it's absolutely brilliant, and it's not really working for me. I talked to you. "Yeah, that's because you're using the wrong book."
UJ: That was why.
Christopher: Well this has been awesome, UJ. Is there anything else that you'd want people to know about?
UJ: That's it. I think we're good. The Kickstarter is on, you just search for Five Minute Journal for Kids, Kickstarter should come up. You can find me @ujramdas on Instagram, on Twitter, our site is intelligentchange.com. That's pretty much it. It's fairly straightforward.
Christopher: I will of course link to everything you said in the show notes for this episode.
Christopher: Well, UJ, thank you, I really appreciate you.
UJ: Chris, it's always a pleasure.
Christopher: Thank you.
[0:36:10] End of Audio