Good Vibes with VIVE

Transforming Neuromeditation with Bioinformatics: Reclaiming Your Power and Taking Control of Your Mind with Healium

March 10, 2022 Season 2 Episode 4
Good Vibes with VIVE
Transforming Neuromeditation with Bioinformatics: Reclaiming Your Power and Taking Control of Your Mind with Healium
Show Notes Transcript

Season 2, Episode 4: Show Notes.

Our mental health hygiene is just as important as our physical hygiene, and it needs to be supported as such. Healium CEO and Chief Storyteller Sarah Hill joins us today to explain how neurofeedback and biomatrix meditation tools can help us manage our stress and anxiety. 

In this episode, we discover how our thoughts alter our brain patterns, and how Healium allows us to measure them using neurofeedback and biometrics. We also find out how Healium is reducing the barrier to entry, and why mental health hygiene, in general, needs to be more accessible. Tune in to find out more about this astounding neuro-meditation tool that will support you in reclaiming your power and taking control of your mind.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Sarah Hill’s journey of becoming a health tech entrepreneur after 20 years of TV journalism.
  • How her own healing process led to the creation of Healium.
  • Overview of Healium and its purpose.
  • The impetus to use neurofeedback and biometrics in meditative experiences.
  • The benefits of neuro-meditation and the importance of exercising your mind.
  • The key role of storytelling in the Healium neuro-meditation experience.
  • Sarah explains how to incrementally train your mind.
  • How the visual format of bioinformatics allows the user to learn to self-regulate.
  • The inclusive creative process of building a Healium experience.
  • The similarities and differences between AR and VR, and why AR is more difficult to design, in terms of storytelling and immersion.
  • What Healium is doing to reduce the barrier to entry and be more accessible.
  • Why mental health hygiene needs to be prioritized by employers and institutions.
  • Sarah shares her personal coping mechanisms and routines.
  • The near-term opportunities that Sarah is excited about in the digital therapy space.


“What you think about absolutely can change your brain patterns and your heart rate...Just as you’re washing your hands, so too should you be resetting your mind to flush out all of that negativity and toxicity that you had during the day. ” — @SarahMidMO [0:11:01]

“Giving the user a visual to learn to self-regulate, and having that bioinformatics from a wearable, not sequestered as a number on your wrist, but set out in a spatial computing environment that you can see it, you can interact with it and you can learn to control it. ” — @SarahMidMO [0:17:00] 

“We’re just excited about the new data sets as well, with blood pressure, skin conductance, all of those new wearables that are coming out that are going to need content solutions that allow you to do more with that data than just seeing it tracked as a flat number..” — @SarahMidMO [0:36:45]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Sarah Hill on LinkedIn
Sarah Hill on Twitter
Pearly Chen on Twitter



[00:00:04] PC: Welcome to Good Vibes with VIVE. I’m your host, Pearly Chen. I’m an executive with global technology company, HTC. As a mother of three young girls, I’ve loved building and investing in profound immersive technologies that make a positive difference in people’s lives. Each week, I speak with founders at the forefront of VR, AR, and the metaverse. All of them inspire me and some, I’ve been lucky enough to back as an investor. Tune in every week to hear some of the most inspiring closed-door conversations, and walk away informed, inspired, and full of good vibes.


[00:00:45] PC: Today, I’m joined by Sarah Hill, the CEO, co-founder, and chief storyteller of Healium, directly from the Silicon Prairie, Columbia, Missouri. I’m very excited because I’ve been thinking about Sarah quite a lot. As you know, Sarah, I have three little ones at home, and whenever I get to steal a brief moment for myself, I find myself going to these immersive meditation tools to find myself a little piece of calm during a very hectic day, juggling all of my responsibilities. What I really love about Healium is that, I get to switch between different modalities using just iPhone, in AR, pair with Apple watch, and that I was trying to train my calmness to help hatch butterflies in my room in that example. Or I’d go into my VR headset and pair with the EEG wearable, and train myself to feel positive and focused enough so that I can embrace the rainbow after the storm.

This concept of how your thoughts have power, not just in the virtual world, which is an incredible experience really to control your virtual environment with just your thoughts, but how your thoughts would translate that power into the real world as well. I love this concept and look forward to diving deep into this topic with you on how neurofeedback and biomatrix meditation tools can help us all manage our stress and anxiety. Welcome, Sarah. 

[00:02:14] SH: Great! It’s awesome to chat with you and I’m so glad that you’ve been playing with Healium. As a mother, absolutely, we all need some drugless tools to help us cope.

[00:02:23] PC: And that I’ve been thinking about you and feeling grateful for you all these few weeks I’ve been doing it daily. Thank you so much and your team for developing a tool like this. But before we dive into all this, tell us the original story. How did a television reporter covering severe trauma like the tsunami or school shooting of 20 years, how did you make that career pivot into a health tech entrepreneur? How did you cope with such negativity during that time, and when was the breaking point that made you realize you needed to do something different?

[00:02:58] SH: Yeah, that’s a really long story, but I’ll give you the cliff notes for it. I was a TV journalist for more than 20 years. And ultimately, the media diet that I had chosen to consume made me sick. We are what we consume in our social media feeds, what we watch on television. My story is not unique. There are thousands of other journalists, first responders who go through the same thing. If you’re not putting some positive fiber in your media diet, you will break down, and mine was insomnia. I could not quiet those ruminating thoughts that I had at night, so I wanted a drugless solution. I tried medication. While it works great for some people, it didn’t work for me. I wasn’t able to handle the side effects, and I desperately needed to sleep.

My husband who was a counseling psychologist at the time, he’s still my husband, but he’s no longer a psychologist. But he said, you should try neurofeedback and his office partner at the time was experimenting with this. This was like more than a decade ago. At the time, you had to glue electrodes on your forehead, sit in front of a PC, and do these very boring games, about trying to shift your brain patterns, to raise different objects, an airplane that you saw on the screen. I was a storyteller, and a media person and I would come up with stories to make it less boring. 

To make a long story short, Healium is selfishly a product to help me try to heal myself and quiet my own ruminating thoughts, teaching me to learn to self-regulate those brain patterns and heart rate. At the time. I was 40 years old and no one had ever – until 40 years old and no one had ever told me ever that you had the ability to learn to self-regulate your brain patterns, never was taught how to do it and It worked to help me quiet those thoughts. Healium is a combination of neurofeedback, biofeedback, storytelling at its core. It’s a storytelling platform. But it’s also a digiceutical, a drug-less, wellness intervention that’s validated in a variety of peer-reviewed journals to downshift the nervous system. I formed an immersive media company called Healium, and we’re trying to allow more people to unlock the healing powers that they have inside themselves, by simply seeing their own body’s electricity and learning to self-regulate it.

[00:05:39] PC: Your signals and thoughts with the use of immersive tools like AR and VR, that was probably not obvious five or six years ago when you started.

[00:05:49] SH: It wasn’t, and I was talking about my journey as a drunken sailor walk because it had many twists and turns. At the time, we were doing virtual tours for a group of veterans. They weren’t able to physically travel to see their memorials and we were doing VR stories, that would allow them to see their World War II, Vietnam, Korea, et cetera, memorials, and that program still continues today. It’s a free program. It’s called Honor Everywhere.

In those demos, those thousands of demos that we gave to those veterans in VA homes, and nursing homes in rural communities, we noticed that VR in these experiences appeared to be having some kind of physical impact on them and that you will see their body soften. You hear them take a cleansing breath, almost like someone put them in a warm bath, or something was happening to them. Naturally a curious person, I was a journalist, and so I asked that person who turned me on to neurofeedback, Dr. Jeff Tarrant, who was my husband’s business partner at the time. I said, “Can you study what are these experiences are doing to bring patterns in heart rate? And can we discern different kinds of media that might have a different kind of impact on their alpha, beta, theta, gamma brainwaves?” I’ll never forget the photo that he sent me a before and an after screen grab of the firefighter's brain immediately before Healium and then immediately after. Significant impact and a completely drugless way. It was in that instance that we knew we had much more than a virtual tour program. We needed to figure out and develop that content that had very specific impacts on brain patterns and heart rate.

[00:07:31] PC: What was the impetus that led you to think about adding biometrics and neurofeedback to this experience?

[00:07:39] SH: Yeah, and I love all of the different meditation tools and you need all of them. You don’t just need Healium, you need a whole medicine cabinet of all of those digital drugs because they all do different things and they’re all different experiences. You could never go wrong with having them all injecting that positive fiber. But how we started integrating those experiences was from my own desire, and having been a fan of Neurofeedback in the flat world. As you’re talking, and we call the nerdy playdates here in the Silicon Prairie, where we have a neurofeedback specialist, a storyteller, a game designer, and developer all in one room. You take your different toys and put them together and you come up with something that can help people, a lot of people. It has helped a lot of people over the years. That is what happened.

The neurofeedback specialist and the storyteller got together, and so that’s why we decided to integrate those biometric informations to make it a unique value proposition from other detached meditative experiences where you don’t have the ability to see what is my brain doing, or what is my heart rate doing in near real-time. Certainly, all of these have therapeutic value, or there’s something truly powerful about seeing those brain patterns displayed to know, “Am I doing it right?” You see it in engagement rates. And in that learn to self-regulate, I mean, imagine, learning how to throw a ball or anything like that, use any kind of muscle and you had never had the ability to see your arm. The mind is similar, it’s not a muscle but it is an Oregon. It’s very powerful as a self-awareness tool, just to see those brain patterns, not being diagnostic or even a treatment in any way. These are headbands on the front of the forehead, so it’s not a clinical-grade EEG that’s going all around your head. Although we do use 24 sensor EEGs to see how different pieces of immersive content and AR content impact brain patterns. But that EEG is just as a training tool on the front of your forehead.

[00:09:54] PC: The science behind that you mentioned that alpha, beta, theta, delta, gamma waves, I’ve seen now more clearly, that Healium is trying to provide that platform of different tools to understand each of these different paths. They all do different things. They’re not all the same.

[00:10:09] SH: It’s called neuromeditation. Dr. Tarrant is the expert on that. Matter of fact, he wrote the book on neuromeditation, Meditation Interventions to Rewire the Brain. It talks about how these different meditations unlock different brainwave patterns. Healium is really not only neuro-meditation, but neuro-meditation with a twist of actually importing via wearables you would already have in your home inside that environment. You mentioned mental fitness, and absolutely, it is mental fitness. Just as you work out your body, so too should you work out your mind. Because if something that natively for some reason – I mean, they’re not teaching this in schools. They are teaching meditation, but more specifically about how your mind works and how you have power. What you think about absolutely can change your brain patterns and your heart rate. If you’re not exercising that muscle or that organ on a regular basis, it can make you sick. It’s like changing the oil in your car. It’s maintenance. It’s hygiene. Just as you’re washing your hands, so too should you be resetting your mind to flush out all of that negativity and toxicity that you had during the day or that you consumed on your social media feed, comparisons, violence through what we’re consuming in the media, that poor media diet. I’m a living testament to that, can absolutely impede your sleep, which will make you sick.

[00:11:46] PC: A lot of food for thought in what you just said and I 100% agree and love this. Switching gears a little bit, you’re talking about how the neurofeedback and biometrics of course makes Healium a very unique proposition compared to some other meditation tools. Another thing that I highlighted was how it’s a storytelling platform, it’s not necessarily always in the medium for a meditation, immersive meditation experience. Can you dive deeper into that, of course, coming from your storytelling background. But what does storytelling do to a mindful fitness, mental fitness experience? 

[00:12:22] SH: Story is how we learn, it’s how we make sense of the world. And when it comes to doing neuro-meditation, that’s essentially what you’re doing. You’re learning how your brain works. Any stories that you can inject into that can aid the brain in that memory. For instance, there’s a story about a magic snow globe, and how your feelings of positivity, or feelings of focus, calm make those flurries fly inside that magic snow globe. Well, that’s a visual reminder, when you get out in the real world, and there is no snow globe, that you can imagine that sensation, you have that muscle memory, that visual memory. Because ultimately, the brain believes what it sees to go back to in that stressful situation and recall.

Story is king, it’s weaving all of that together. When that story is driven by a brain pattern or a heart rate, it becomes an even more interesting muscle memory, in that the user has the ability to, with their biometric data determine whether or not they’re floating up the side of a waterfall. Whether or not they’re hatching fireflies, or putting more flowers on the screen. It really puts the user in control of that story in a certain way, because they’re guiding it not just by passively watching it, but they’re guiding it by lowering their heart rate or increasing their feelings of focus, calm, changing their breath, focusing on an object or sensation in order to make that firefly in Healium go up.

[00:14:06] PC: I probably prefer the butterflies. I was just trying to hatch the butterflies and I was finding myself feeling frustrated how the butterflies are not hatching as the narration very gently says, transformation takes time, be patient. I kept going for maybe another three, four minutes, still no butterflies. And then I realized that I had to toggle the difficulty level a little bit, I was all the way to the hardest. If I bring that level down, baseline level down, I was able to start hatching butterflies one at a time and that gave me a tremendous sense of reward. Tell us about that difficulty level and how users can take advantage of benefit or train according to this tool.

[00:14:48] SH: Yeah. Metamorphosis does take time and that whole story about the butterfly is that’s very fitting your description. Mind-powered media, powering these experiences with your mind takes practice. The first time I did it, we don’t natively know how to control or self-regulate our brain patterns, so we have to learn it. It’s like riding a bike. It’s incredibly awkward at first. We always tell people to use Healium first without a wearable, just get used to the experiences without them first. Then add that wearable interaction and toggle it all the way easy. Because it’s like anything else. If you were to hop on a bike on the highest level, you would struggle and you would be more likely to fail and that’s certainly not what we want to happen. So always toggle that at first, all the way easy. Just get used to seeing your brain patterns and heart rate displayed inside the stream and then becoming familiar with what that looks like and that cadence.

Then if you want to train harder, it’s kind of like a 10-speed bike, you shift up, shift that line higher. It’s a little horizontal line. Think of that horizontal line like a high jump bar in a way. You want that firefly to be above that horizontal line. And if you’re above the line, you’re meeting the mark, the experience is playing and progressing forward, the environment is changing. If you get below that line, then, for instance, the solar system that had lit up, it will darken as gentle feedback to you that you need to use your feelings of focus, calm to reilluminate that solar system. Or if it dips below the line, the background might turn red. Inside of your experience, there’s also setting where you can make it dim if you don’t like the color red. We just released a new experience, that’s a stressed animal. You can actually control your stressed animal with your brain patterns, and you’re playing ball with this 3D jaguar and it’s chasing this ball. If your feelings of focus calm are above that horizontal line, then the colors will change on that jaguar’s fur and its movement will also change. It will start in a pounce position, and then if you soften that stress, it will sit down right next to you and start to lick its paw. 

Again, giving the user a visual to learn to self-regulate, and having that bioinformatics from either your smartwatch, or headband or whatever, not sequestered as a number on your wrist, but set out in a spatial computing environment that you can see it, you can interact with it and you can learn to control it. 

[00:17:36] PC: I was sometimes wondering whether these experiences are designed to be failsafe. So no matter what I’m feeling or thinking, how hard I’m trying to train my brain patterns, it still gives me the reward of the rainbow or the illumination, but it sounds like it’s not.

[00:17:50] SH: If you’re not using a wearable. No, no. If you’re not using a wearable, it will automatically go. But if you are using a wearable, no, as you correctly saw. It will not hatch butterflies unless you are above that threshold. I’ve only met one person who has been able to hatch any of those butterflies on the hardest setting. He was a monk. If you were able to do it on the hardest setting, I want to meet you, I want to know you and know what your tactics are. It’s difficult to do on the hardest setting. That’s why toggle it all the way easy just as you would train with lower weights at first and then build up.

[00:18:35] PC: That makes me feel so much better now, because I was feeling frustrated. I thought I was being quite focused. That jaguar experience sounds really magical. I haven’t seen it pop up. I’m going to dive into that after our conversation. That sounds amazing. So now, I understand better about what you mean by how storytelling plays a key role in these Healium experiences and I love this.

[00:18:59] SH: Because after all, what is stress? It’s just an animal that we have to learn to control. Right? We can pet it, and it will change and it doesn’t have to be scary or anything like that, because we have the abilities to learn to control our stress.

[00:19:16] PC: How does your creative process look like then? Does a story come up in your mind and that’s the starting point of building your next Healium experience or how this works?

[00:19:25] SH: It’s really organically and sometimes even from Healium customers and users. For instance, Raj Shah is one of our customers who uses Healium. He’s a chronic pain patient. We took a lot of his paintings, he paints for part of his therapy and we put them in virtual reality and allow them to step inside his paintings in some of his stories. A lot of it is asking people what do they want to see, and we always say we take requests, and a lot of them in the early days wanted to see beaches, and waterfalls, and snow globes, floating through clouds, floating through a crystal forest, visiting a butterfly island. All of these are the more than 30 different experiences that we have on there. But it’s a story meeting with a storyteller, game designer, developer, and neurofeedback specialists. 

Then a psychologist also has a role in that, and then after we create the stories and the experiences, those are then vetted for the language by a psychologist. Because what I would write as a storyteller is not necessarily appropriate for someone who might have experienced trauma or something like that. I have blind spots in that, that I have to cover with having a psychologist read through some of those experiences. You might not want to use that word, it could be triggering or something like that. It is several hands of people with different areas of expertise creating those experiences. And also artists, we work with some really amazing artists, Nicole Azzaro, Marjon. If you’re familiar with Marjon’s work as well. And those two augmented reality experiences will be coming out very soon. So artists, storyteller, game designer, developer and then a neurofeedback specialist.

[00:21:24] PC: So I love to be a fly on the wall and one of these story creation meetings one day.

[00:21:29] SH: it is fascinating from a scripting perspective, and that using it on scripts. You have columns for audio, columns for video. But then you also have segments for brain patterns or heart rate as well. It’s kind of been fascinating to see the trajectory of adding that new input to stories.

[00:21:49] PC: The nerdy play dates. And you have very distinctively different AR story library and the VR story library. How is it different in your design process? Is one harder than the other in [inaudible 00:22:03] designing? 

[00:22:03] SH: Yes, and we’re working on adding additional AR content. We’ll have two new AR experiences coming out very soon. There are about half a dozen ones right now. VR and AR are similar. You are telling a story in the round, in an immersive landscape, which was incredibly difficult for me to learn at first as a storyteller. Because the user, the storyteller no longer has control of the frame in an immersive experience. For decades, we’ve told stories where you specifically, in television, you know exactly what the user's seeing because you are controlling that frame and showing them. Look at this, okay, now look at this.

But when you get in a VR environment, that frame is moving in the sphere. And you as a storyteller have no idea to know where the listener or the viewer what they’re looking at. So you have to rely on cues, on spatial audio to turn their attention in different directions. They are looking exactly where you want to look. It’s the same way in augmented reality as well. They might not be looking at the ceiling, or even at the ground where you want them to see. It’s incredibly challenging, way harder to tell an immersive story than it is a flat 2D story because the storyteller no longer has control over the frame.

[00:23:31] PC: Do you say that AR experiences are even harder to design than VR? We have so many more VR stories than AR.

[00:23:37] SH: Yeah. I would say AR is more difficult, because not only do you not have control of the frame, you don’t have control over what the viewer is seeing in their own room. They might be inside, I don’t know something that has really wild wallpaper, or they might be on a beach somewhere. That has to be taken into account when you’re creating that story, that yes, there’s an asset in AR in their environment. But you have no control on what’s going on around them. If there’s a child wanting their attention in the room, what the lighting is like, or any of that. There are so many more opportunities for failure inside those experiences than in the controlled environment through the filter of a fixed rectangle on your phone or laptop.

[00:24:33] PC: It’s a magic portal, how you try to combine the elements of AR with VR. You can put up a portal in your room and you can walk through it, then you’re kind of immersed in a VR environment, although of course, in the rectangle of your phone. I thought that design philosophy is quite interesting, because when I once heard you talk about being immersed in AR, I don’t understand what that means. How do you be immersed in AR? But through the magic portal design, it kind of brings that to life. You step through portals, you transport, you’re flying above the clouds, you’re going to different places, you go back into your room, all through this little rectangle. I think that inspires a lot of the imagination for what is possible.

[00:25:13] SH: It certainly reduces the need to have a virtual reality headset. That’s what we were trying to do with our stories. We originally developed the portal idea for our veterans. We didn’t have enough funds to provide them all virtual reality headsets. We had a couple hundred on a waiting list. So we had to develop a solution that would allow them to be immersed inside these experiences without having a VR headset. We crafted this plane door. You can walk through it if you wanted. Or if you didn’t have mobility, you could teleport through it. Then you’d can move your phone side to side and you were inside the USS Nimitz or inside the memorials. Then we ported that same idea to Healium with these walks that come to life in your room and you walk through it. Now granted that AR/VR experience is not as immersive or shifting of the brain patterns as being inside the goggles. But it does give you a portable solution that, if you don’t have access to the goggles, or even as a training tool where you want to remember what you experienced inside the goggles and you only have your mobile device. We’re just trying to reduce that barrier to entry and make it more accessible to people.

[00:26:29] PC: A thought that the anxiety and stress at the workplace can cost the US economy $300 billion a year. Do you think that employers are doing enough to take care of the employees’ mental health and stress management?

[00:26:44] SH: I think they’re doing the best they can. We don’t know what we don’t know. I dream of a world where workplaces, right by hand washing stations have mental hygiene stations. Because they recognize that stress unchecked, and without a way to downshift that nervous system after traumatic or stressful events, will also make you sick. I think we’re getting there, not just in enterprises, but in the overall culture. There are hospitals in Colorado right now that are not just doing physical child checkups. They’re doing mental health child checkups. That’s the kind of mindset that needs to happen that you’re pairing not just your physical hygiene with that mental health hygiene.

As you know, employers are going back to work, they’re looking for those solutions to help their employees through what has been an incredibly stressful year. This is the stress Olympics, not everyone is trained for it. And not just with workplaces, but with schools. A quarter of youth, the young adults, what we call the Yaya generation have suicidal ideation. To provide them not just one product, but a whole medicine cabinet of tools for them to discover what works for them seems like a reasonable ask in light of the huge benefit of that stress, is a $300 billion profit and people killer as you said. It’s responsible for 90%, up to 90% of doctor’s visits, 90%. And yet, you know, there’s no such thing as just a little stress.

[00:28:33] PC: Do you find Healium resonating better with direct to consumer or through institutions like workplaces, and schools, and others?

[00:28:42] SH: What is enterprise now? Enterprise is a collection of people in their homes post-pandemic. That line between enterprise and consumer is so blurry now, but it’s kind of difficult to have that established area. We sell to both entities, not only the military, sports enterprises, Major League Baseball, and NFL teams. But yet, where are they using these experiences? Well, they’re using them for a lot of them in their homes. Because either their entities are working from home, or they’re deployed and you’re out on a submarine or an aircraft carrier, then have access to nature for months and months. Healium is that only access to nature. That line has really been blurred and I think it will continue to be blurred.

Even post-pandemic as more entities recognize the value of allowing their employees to work from home, but also the value of having collective experiences inside the office. Providing those solutions at the call center or in their healthcare workplace in a break room, or the ability to check out these kits, these mental hygiene kits for them to take home to use before they go to bed at night or during the day. Because ultimately, when you’re using these experiences, where is the best place to use it if you’re in a highly stressful environment like a call center, for instance, using a virtual reality experience in the middle of that stressful environment is kind of like meditating in a rainstorm, right? You want to remove yourself from that chaos. Then that’s where you want to have that experience. That onus really is on those enterprises to create those spaces that aren’t so far down the hallway that nobody ever goes to, but that are right there in the middle of the chaos that have the option to give people some of those spaces to downshift their nervous system.

Because ultimately, it’s like a handwashing station. Would you put a handwashing station at a hospital for a nurse or something that is like down the hallway that makes it inconvenient to use? Well, no. So trying to educate these enterprises of what are some areas or even if you don’t have an area, maybe it’s a broom closet, that people can go and have a space to downshift their nervous system.

[00:31:27] PC: A startup is really hard as you of all people know. That building a startup as a woman in the Midwest makes everything harder. I would like to know what your daily meditation mindfulness routine looks like, and how you take what you get from Healium? How you translate that towards your personal life every day in managing your own anxiety and stress?

[00:31:49] SH: Yeah, absolutely. You are correct. Being a She-EO in the middle of the Silicon Prairie that lacks access to traditional venture capital is difficult. But it’s a double-edged sword because our cost of goods is lower here, investment dollars go further. People in the Midwest are just very passionate, friendly, and highly talented. We’re located in Columbia, Missouri, which is near the University of Missouri, which allows us to pull from some great development, storytelling, and technology skills here. But as a founder, I had to develop some healthy coping mechanisms. Those include a variety of things, not just my own product. Like I said, I have a digitceutical whole medicine cabinet full of different things that do different things for me.

Part of my own practice, and it is a matrix of different things. I do a lot of hot yoga, usually at least an hour every day. So I’m exercising my body and exercising my mind. One of the other things that I surround myself with people who are willing to call me out, and on all the things that are important in your life, it’s like table legs, whether that be your family, your faith, your work, your relationships. There are always people that you need to pull around you, and call you out when one of those table legs is out of balance. My husband, who your family, by the way, they are your first founders, even whether or not they are on your payroll. They helped you found the company. But to this day, when I’m putting too much weight on that work leg, all he has to do is put his arms out, lean to the side, like he’s a wobbly table and I know exactly what he means, which is you’re spending too much time there and we need some more time on this leg. That’s been incredibly important. 

And also, giving yourself your own atta girls or atta boys. As a founder, you do not get a lot of positive feedback and so you have to invent that for yourself. You’ll get – we’ve gotten hundreds of no's from investment and you have to look at yourself in the mirror every day and tell yourself one thing that you did good that day. You also have to celebrate the no's, because not only does it trick your brain into thinking that it doesn’t sting as much, but it crystallizes the fact that no's are data that will ultimately get you to a yes. Every no we’ve gotten from an investor has improved our product, or a client pitch improved our product in a way that has made it better and has made it a future yes.

At Healium, we get a lot of no's, specifically being in our location and we have what are called couch announcements. We just had fun today where we stand up on the couch and we read our no's out loud and we celebrate them, as much as you might celebrate a huge win. Like I mean, we’re whooping and hollering about these no's. It’s data, it normalizes a failure, or normalizes the fact that we all come across those particular no's. I save all my no's, I have a whole folder for them. Because going forward, we’ll be sending out a lot of checks to people who didn’t invest that say, “It does not apply to you. This check does not apply to you.” But we have a lot of fun celebrating our no's. But again, that’s another coping mechanism that you have to develop as a founder or as an entrepreneur. Because it’s hard, it’s way harder than any job that you’ve ever had. And if you’re not properly supported with your first founders, whether it be your family, or your partner, or whatever, your tables are going to get wobbly, and you’re going to get sick, physically or sick from a mental wellness perspective.

[00:35:58] PC: That was a super helpful tip of celebrating those, keeping a photo of your no's treating no's as data for future yeses. Those are all your gamma waves at work. All positivity, that’s amazing.

[00:36:11] SH: That’s a stand on the couch. We have a dedicated couch when this couch is announced, and we even got a new microphone for those couch announcements. 

[00:36:19] PC: That’s really great. With wearable technologies, EEG sensors, and of course VR technologies evolving quickly, what are some of the near-term, exciting opportunities that you see for Healium?

[00:36:33] SH: I’m excited about every new wearable technology, because we’re hardware agnostic. And eventually, all those wearables are going to go away. Whether it be wearable fabrics, where the sensors are baked into the cloth, or the biometric gathered data that you’re just able to gather from your phone’s camera, like from the cheek heart rate, pulsing from the cheek, and there are some fascinating companies that are doing some pioneering work in that space. We’re just excited about the new data sets as well, with blood pressure, skin conductance, all of those new wearables that are coming out that are going to need content solutions that allow you to do more with that data than just seeing it tracked as a flat number. 

Also, excited about the rise of 5G, and what that will enable for real-time data capture for our products and the other products out there. The rise of digital therapeutics and the pioneering work that companies like Akili Interactive is doing. They just got FDA approval for a game, a video game for ADHD. Pear Therapeutics, Click Therapeutics, and there are a lot of companies really blazing a trail, and they’re the canaries in the mine of sorts that we’re watching to see how we do it.

We’re on the wellness sector, even though we have clinical validation for the products. We see our products as fitness and self-regulation, certainly not a replacement for psychotropic medication, or professional counseling, which we all know are wonderful things that – one of the best things that you can do for yourself. But yeah, very excited how the industry moves forward with the metaverse and multi-user experiences and all of that.

[00:38:20] PC: What would you say to those users who might be a little bit uncomfortable about the idea of their bio-data being collected, privacy issues? What are your thoughts for this as soon as wellness sector intersects with the metaverse and immersive experiences?

[00:38:36] SH: Yeah, it’s a very important question that all of us need to be taking very seriously. We take it seriously at our company. Not only do we have a DPO, Data Protection Officer, we have weekly data meetings, monthly data summits, and everyone in our company is aware how they are tasked with being good stewards of data. And because Healium collects biometric data that allows you to control these experiences, that data is still owned by the user. and we don’t sell it to third parties. They have the ability to download their own data and track their own progress over time. They can see it explored in a data dashboard.

But we spent a lot of time and delayed the release of the ability of our users to track their scores for that very reason, in that we needed more information on not just the proper laws, but laws aside, proper ethical policies in place to ensure that it’s best that we can that that data is safe. Healium is served behind a HIPAA compliant, GDPR ready, which is the highest threshold, GDPR ready, NIST aligned, it’s an ISO certified backend and medical-grade backend. Even though we’re not operating in the medical environments with patients. We certainly take that very seriously. And you can see our privacy journey on our blog, and you can read more about it, what we’re doing in those areas. Ultimately, we believe that that data belongs to you, and so that’s why we’ve given our users the ability to download their own data. They can delete their data, if they want to, that ball’s in their court.

[00:40:28] PC: See how you’re very mindful in designing every aspect of how you operate Healium, not just from the product perspective, but also how you look at privacy and data. Thank you so much, Sarah, for joining us today and showing me and everyone listening and the world who’s tried Healium how our thoughts have power, not just in the virtual world, but also in the real world. Thank you, Sarah. 


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