In Silicon Valley if you're smart and work hard you can become a billionaire.
One problem is that people need to sleep and they die. But Silicon Valley is working on those little problems too.
One denizen of Silicon Valley says he's running three startups thanks to remedies for those annoying quirks of human existence. He works 18 hours a day by embracing "positive stress" -- a routine that includes "fasting, cold showers, hot yoga and restrictive dieting," according to CNBC.
That positive stress practitioner is Zachary Rapp -- co-founder of digital health start-up PhenoMx; CEO of SigmaGenetics, manufacturer of a device that uses magnetic fields to deliver DNA into cells; and the head of business development at medical device maker Altoida, according to CNBC.
To keep going for 18 hours a day, Rapp "wakes up most mornings at the crack of dawn, goes for a run, sips black coffee while ripping through emails, and then steps into a freezing cold shower."
Rapp is not alone. According to CNBC. there is a growing trend among technology workers to get ahead of the competition by embracing positive stress -- a "combination of extreme temperatures, restrictive diets, punishing exercise routines and general discomfort. There's also whole body cryotherapy -- electric walk-in cold chambers -- popping up at spas across the country."
Rapp's restrictive diet -- which he intends to start in April --is called the Whole30 diet which will required him to ax grains, legumes, dairy, sugar and alcohol.
The cold self-brewing trend came to Silicon Valley by way of the Netherlands. In 2017, Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof -- dubbed "ice man" due to his ability to use deep breathing to survive extreme cold -- made a speaking tour there and turned cold showers into a hot trend.
Positive stress gurus are growing like kudzu. Joel Runyon, a triathlete who's given TED talks, has turned his passion for cold showers into a mobile app. Ryan Holiday is trying to revive the 2,000-year-old self-control doctrine of stoicism. And Joon Yun, managing partner of hedge fund Palo Alto Investors, won $1 million to find ways to extend "functional longevity" by adding stressors like taking a cool shower or finding a new way to walk to work, according to CNBC.
Will all this weirdness make you more successful? A review of Rapp's ventures suggests that he is spinning a lot of wheels without getting anywhere.
For example, a crowdfunding platform. MedStartr, profile for PhenoMx suggests that the Manhattan-based company has "5-10" employees and has raised $0 of its $250,000 goal with 13 days left.
The LinkedIn profile from that MedStartr delivered me to a "Zachary R." which excluded the SigmaGenetics CEO position he mentioned to CNBC. A visit to the SigmaGenetics link provided by Crunchbase yields the following information about the company: "Oops! Internet Explorer could not find www.sigmagenetics.com Did you mean: www.signalgenetics.com"
Finally, there is a company called Altoida which makes the "Altoida Medical Device (AMD) -- a class II medical device to screen and monitor cognitive outcomes. It supports neurologists to classify patients healthy, at risk, and with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) as a digital biomarker." Sadly for Rapp, Altoida's website makes no mention of him.
In short, if Rapp is the poster child for the benefits of fasting, cold showers, hot yoga and restrictive dieting, count me as even more skeptical.
To be fair, Joon Yun, has achieved phenomenal success in his career. He's a radiologist and Managing Partner of $2.4 billion assets under management Palo Alto Investors who was on the faculty at Stanford from 2000 to 2006.
Joon and his wife "launched the $1 million Palo Alto Longevity Prize in 2013 to reverse the aging process and recently donated $2 million to launch the National Academy of Medicine Aging and Longevity Grand Challenge," according to his website.
But as I noted above, Joon takes a more moderate approach to extending longevity -- an occasional cool shower instead of a daily ice bath.
Is "positive stress" something that really makes people more effective and happy or is it snake oil being sold to aspiring billionaires struggling to keep up?