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Today my guest is Michael Crinnion  from Mind Body Goals Ltd. Michael designs and makes high quality wellbeing products that help people bring proven techniques like breathwork into their lives in a way that’s easy to maintain, enjoyable, and has a real positive impact.

Michael has created the Luma Cube, a beautifully designed zen-like cube that aids you with different breathing techniques without needing to go on your phone for an app. Taking people away from their screens has been one of the key USPs of the Luma Cube. 

Michael and I spoke a lot about the benefits of breathing and the positive impact that breathing can have on your well being. Michael is passionate about the importance of teaching these techniques to everyone, including really young children, to help them have the tools they need as they sort of navigate life. 

We discussed how Michael used his design and engineering experience, and 3d printers to create prototypes. Michael shares the importance of getting an investor early on, and his experiences selling his product on Amazon. 

If you are looking at selling on Amazon, Michael is really honest about the journey, and shares the mindset and approach he took to make it a success.

The Bring Your Product Idea to Life Podcast  – Best Business Podcast Award, Independent Podcast Awards 2023

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Transcript
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Welcome to the bring your product idea to Life podcast.

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This is the podcast for you if you're getting started selling products or if you'd

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like to create your own product to sell. I'm Vicki Weinberg, a product

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creation coach and Amazon expert. Every week I share friendly,

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practical advice as well as inspirational stories from small businesses.

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Let's get started.

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Hi. So today on the podcast, I've been speaking to Michael Crinian from Mind

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body Goals. Michael designs and makes high quality wellbeing

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products that help people bring proven techniques like breathwork into

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their lives in a way that's easy to maintain, enjoyable, and has a real

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positive impact. So the product Michael and I spoke most about today

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is the Luma Cube, which is a device that doesn't use

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phones or apps or anything like that. It's a really sleek.

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I'm trying to think how to describe it. You'll have to go to Michael's website

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to see for yourself, but it's a really sleekly designed box that

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aids you with breathing techniques. And Michael and I spoke a lot about

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the benefits of breathing and the positive impact that breathing can

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have on your well being. The importance of teaching these techniques to

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everyone, including really young children, to help them have the

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tools they need as they sort of navigate life.

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Michael spoke about how he designed and created the Luma

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cube and also spoke a little bit about his experience so far

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selling Luma Cube on Amazon. We had a really great discussion. As you

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can tell, we covered loads of topics. As always, I

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am really excited for you to listen to this episode. So I'm going to stop

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talking and introduce you to Michael.

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So hi Michael, thank you for being here. Hi Vicky. So can we start

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with you? Please give an introduction to yourself, your business and what you sell.

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Yeah. So my name's Michael Crinian. I'm the

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founder of Mind Body Goals. Our

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philosophy is wellness by design. So we make

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a range of products that are designed to

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help you bring various techniques into your life that can improve

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your wellness. So our flagship product is Luma Cube

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premium and that's a

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beautiful desk based or bedside table based

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light that uses light to guide breathing exercises

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for various reasons, but mostly reducing stress, relaxing your body,

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relaxing your body's response to stress. And we make a variety

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of other products around that, variations of Luma.

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We've got new versions of Luma in development and we're starting to make

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some journals that go alongside that as well. Amazing. Thank

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you. And what was the inspiration for creating Luma Cube?

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Did you have the business you have now and Luma Cube became part

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of that. Or was Luma Cube the inspiration for the business? Yeah. No.

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So Luma Cube came first, and the business was the

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necessity. I mean, I enjoy running a business, but I'm

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a designer first and a businessman

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in order to get those ideas out

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into the public domain. So the

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inspiration really was my own sort of experience.

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My mental health was quite poor in my twenties,

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so to go back really quickly,

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I'm from quite a big family, and my dad

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died when we were quite young. And that had an impact

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into adult life, as you'd expect. But it was the eighties, so

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there wasn't much support put in the legs. We started giving a

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week off school for Sesame street and then back into it.

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And in my twenties, that presented us as quite severe and

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debilitating anxiety and that I,

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in hindsight, put down to having not a lot of input as a kid

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and not a lot of skills in order to manage those

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feelings. And then the journey back from that

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involved learning an awful lot about what can we do

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to manage how we feel. Simple questions

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that seem like we should have straightforward answers to them. But if you

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asked most people, they wouldn't like, what is an emotion? Why

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do we have them? Where do you feel them? How do they affect your thinking?

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How do they affect how you feel? So I learned an awful lot about that

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in that period of time. And the thing that I learned most about, and

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that was most effective was breathing exercises and

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the sort of biofeedback that you can provide your brain

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by breathing in certain ways. And those were game

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changer for me. I've described them before as like a

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video game cheat code. Like, once you know how to do them, it's like getting

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extra lives or unlimited,

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like coins or something. It's just suddenly you're like, oh, this is much, much easier

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now I know how to control this.

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And then before I ran the business, I was a teacher for about ten years,

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and I taught those techniques to lots of students,

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lots of adults. I was a senior leader for a few years.

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So you're managing quite big teams. And I think most people would know teaching is

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quite a stressful job, so there's lots of opportunity to

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teach that as well. And so Luma was like a natural

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progression where I felt like my design engineering,

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which is what I did at university, actually wasn't really getting used

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and I was missing it. And I like making things, but the

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knowledge sharing and the skills and the tools around breathing are just so

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under utilized by people

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that I just, I sort of put the two together, really. I'd sort of done

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my time in education and was, and was ready for a new challenge.

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I was missing design. I'd had the idea for

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a physical tool to help you with breathing rather than app or something

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that gets you back on your phone. And, yeah, so I created

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it, and that's where it started. That was the inspiration.

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That's amazing. And thank you for sharing all of that and also, like,

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the personal side of it as well. Thank you for being open with us.

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I think I can totally see

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what led you to create the product that you did. And I think one of

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the things I was particularly struck by is the fact that it's not on your

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phone. I think a lot of us might use apps to

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breathe, or we might have little reminders that I have a reminder on my watch

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that pops up to tell me to breathe mindfully and things like that, but it

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relies on you having a device. Often those devices can

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be part of the reason you're so stressed in the first place. Exactly.

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Yeah, exactly. And I think, and this

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isn't to sort of bash any apps around mindfulness, because

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I use those headspace would

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be a good example of a business that I

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think's net positive effect on people's awareness of

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mind, body link, mindfulness, all those things. I think it is

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important for me personally and for a lot of

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customers, we now find our customers. We're finding

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is that, as you've just said, Vicky, like, your

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phone isn't a relax. People use them to relax,

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but they're not really relaxing

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devices. And if you really get into the neuroscience of

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what's happening when you use your phone, it's really an addictive

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device and a stress creating device.

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Sorry, when I say stress, I mean in the sort of most

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physiological sense. So it's not that you're getting stressed out using it, but it

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is heightening your body and putting your body into a mode where it's

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ready to do something. And that's sort of the opposite of what you're looking for

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in mindfulness and relaxation. So it's for me

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and for a lot of people, it's not the right place for that. And you

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mentioned your watch. Well, same thing. Our

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brains change shape

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and learn, which is what learning is,

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and learn responses to environments,

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people, situations, things. And

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our brain's response to our phone is

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expectation or

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stress or excitement, but not

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relaxation. So, yeah, that's the reason. And

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it's really one of our big, our big USP's

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and the thing that most people that own Luma really

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love about it is that they are away from

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the screens. And what's also

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another benefit is, I think, is that it can also be

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used for children, particularly young children, who you wouldn't want to

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be introducing something on a phone with as well. So

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there's that. And I. We'll talk a bit about, more about children in schools in

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a moment. But I think that's another big advantage because. And also

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I feel like another thing, and I felt, because I really do believe in the

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benefits of breathing. So I now, my watch reminds me that

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I need to breathe, but it's a reminder because I've now learned a few

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breathing techniques that I can do myself. Because the good thing about breathing

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is that you can just do it anywhere. Anywhere. So it doesn't matter

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if you're like in a cube supermarket or wherever you are, you can.

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So I control your breathing. So now I have a reminder

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to remind myself, okay, slow down, but I don't need anything

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other than the reminder. And I think that makes it,

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it makes it really nice to learn techniques where you don't feel you're

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reliant on a device to do it as well. Yeah,

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exactly. And, and it sounds, it sounds like a sort of back,

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a sort of back to front thing with me with a WHOOP up. But here's

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a device to do it. But the way I liken it is

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you can love or hate this analogy. And I have a friend who thinks it's

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not a good example. But you don't need a luma

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cube to do breathing exercises. You don't need a watch to do breathing exercises. You

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don't need an app to do mindfulness. But these things make them

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easier, more enjoyable, and more likely that you'll do it and that

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you'll get into that habit. And then hopefully, to be honest,

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ultimately the best result for me with somebody who owns a luma

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cube is that they just spontaneously start doing a breathing exercise when they feel

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stressed, when they're nowhere near a device.

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But if they are feeling a little

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overwhelmed or they just want that guidance, it's there when

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you need it. Because like you said, ultimately, it's built

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into you and you can do it any way you want. The supermarket's a great

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one because I hate the supermarket. I

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find that a really stressful environment. And I, I was there yesterday, and I

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know I did a breathing exercise just as you go along.

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It's there with you all the time. And a way of controlling how you feel,

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which is so powerful. Absolutely. And I do agree that

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there is. I do still think there's a place for a device as well, and

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particularly coming back to children, because I think it's a

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great way of explaining to children how to follow a breathing

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exercise, because it's. It's not an easy

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thing. I don't. Well, it probably is, but I feel.

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Like, yeah, it's easy. It's

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like, what's the game, Othello, where they say it takes like three minutes to

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learn and a lifetime to master? It's that really. It's about

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practice, but we say it's easy to do.

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But actually, for it to be really effective, you

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need to be breathing for certain durations of time. So box breathing is the one

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a lot of people know about. So you breathing in for 4 seconds,

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holding that breath for 4 seconds, breathing out slowly for four, and

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then waiting for four. So you go, well, it's just counting to four,

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but when you're doing it and you're

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trying to sort of still your mind whilst you're doing it, it's very easy

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to become distracted. Anyone who's tried to practice meditation or

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mindfulness or breathing will know how quickly your

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thoughts get in the way and your brain goes, yeah, but

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here's 25 other things that I'd like to think about instead of keeping track

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of this. So what it does is it helps you or a

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young person to have that visual guide so that if you do get distracted

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by, oh, I've got to do this later, or this thing happened

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yesterday, or whatever it is, which your brain inevitably is going to

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do, Luma's not going to lose track. It's

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not going to lose count. And you just go straight back into wherever it was

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that you lost track. And it takes that cognitive

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load of keeping track of the. Of seconds in your head and then to speak

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to your point. For young people, depending on how young you

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want to start them learning these exercises, they might not be able to

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count to four and reset back to one each time

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and know that there's a sequence and they've got to go in hold.

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Like, it's simple to us, but to a young person

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or somebody with learning difficulties, special needs,

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it might be beyond their capability, which then could rule them out of a really

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useful technique. So again, it helps in that way. And

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with it being a physical device rather than something on a screen,

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it is easier to do it communally. If we're sat together in a room

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and we have it on the table in front of us, it

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could be a dad and his daughter. They do a breathing exercise together

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and then you've got the modeling aspect of it as well. Like this is what

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we do if we're feeling a little bit wound up or a little bit stressed,

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and this is how we'll feel afterwards. So it really is a good device

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for learning and habit forming for

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breathing. And does it have different,

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different breathing techniques built into the luma cube? Yeah, it does. So, I

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mean, box breathing is the one that I often refer to because it's a, the

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one most people have heard of if they've heard anything about breathing exercises,

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but it does, it does have others. So it has four built into it. It

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has box breathing, coherent breathing, which is

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easier to pattern to follow because it is just breathing in and out, five

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and a half seconds in and five and a half seconds out. There's some

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really solid science behind the, the reason it's called coherent is the

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coherence that builds between your pattern of your breath and

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your heart. So it just brings, brings those two

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systems into coherence. There's 478. A lot of people have

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heard of 478 as well, where you breathe in for four, hold for seven,

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and then breathe out for eight. Some people find that quite difficult

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because you're holding your breath for 7 seconds, but that's like

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knockout drops that can make you really sleepy and is perfect

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for end of the day or really, if you're feeling really

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wound up, it can really create a relaxing

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effect. And then there's triangle as well. So there's

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four most common breathing exercises.

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And then it does have extra modes as well. So it has

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one for just before bed.

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So slight sleep ritual, we call it. So it's an extended breathing

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exercise. And then it has a sunset lamp fade so you can get

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off your phone. And it

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has hourglass mode, which is meant for when you're working. So

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you mentioned you watch giving you reminders, which is a good feature, but not

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everybody has a smartwatch, although most people do now. But not everybody wants to be

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buzzed or beeped on their wrist.

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Some people would describe it as being pestered. So luma has

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an hourglass, I call it nudge, not a reminder. So it'll

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light up once an hour and just kind of indicate that an hour's gone

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by. But if you're in deep focus and you're working, then

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maybe you should work through if you're towards the end of a

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task. But taking a quick break is going to help you

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focus. So it has quite a few modes in, they're all centered around doing

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breathing exercises. Thank you so much for talking

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through those, because I was about to ask a little bit about the benefits of

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intentional breathing, and you've covered off loads of those there without

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even asking. So that was great. But is there anything else before? Because I am

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going to ask a lot more questions about sort of designing of luma cube because

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it is so clever. And now I realize you have a design background,

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that some of this is making more sense for me. Is there anything else

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you wanted to talk about around breathing and the benefits of breathing? So if someone's

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listening and going, well, this is all very good, but you know, I'm breathing right

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now. Yeah, yeah. I mean,

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I had a pound for every time I heard that. Like, I mean,

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yes, you are breathing now, hopefully otherwise you were going to struggle to listen to

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the podcast. But

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so, not to get to sort of surface level on the science of it, I

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think the first thing to say is that breathing exercises are scientifically

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validated. There's multiple, multiple studies that

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have been done by multiple different people that aren't biased by

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their funding, you know, that show the

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efficacy of breathing exercises and the effect it has on our nervous

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system. So I think

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the best way and the most relatable way to talk about the science is

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most people have heard of the fight or flight response.

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And that's that feeling you get when something startles you, or frightens you, or

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worries you, and you feel that jolt in your body,

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or you feel that rush of sort of fear,

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or anger or anxiety. And that is a very,

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very, very old part of the brain, detecting something

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dangerous and getting your body ready for what is a very, very

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outdated response to danger, which is to fight or run

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away. Now, back when we were evolving,

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that was super useful because the threat was more than likely someone who was trying

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to take your things, or an animal that was trying to eat you. So you

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needed to fight or run away. Now, it's more than likely an

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email from your boss or an unpaid bill

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reminder, you can't fight a bill and you can't run away from

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your boss. So having a physiological effect that puts

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more muscle blood into your muscles and slows down your

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digestive system and turns off the thinking

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parts of your brain in order for you to be able to run away quicker

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is not useful. And what breathing exercises

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do is reverse that response in the

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body, because one of the effects is for our breathing to change.

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If we consciously force it to breathe the way we would

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if we were relaxed in our rest and digest

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state, it's often called, then that

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biofeedback goes back to the brain and helps shut

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down that fear response and that panic response.

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So some people call it biohacking. I think that's a

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bit of a faddy term, but at the end of the day,

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we as humans, have this unique ability

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to manually override our breathing that no other animal

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has. We're the only mammal that can go, I'm

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going to hold my breath now, or I'm going to breathe at a different speed

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and so we can use it. And it goes back up to the brain, up

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to the amygdala, the ancient part of the brain that looks

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after the emotions and sets off these alarm

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signals and it closes. I mean, it doesn't shut it down, but it

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reverses the effect. And

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anyone who is listening that hasn't tried breathing exercises,

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I mean, the proofs in the pudding, it just

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works. You don't need to buy a luma, although you should

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go find just a YouTube video that guides you through it, or just read a

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little bit and try it the next time you're feeling heightened. And,

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you know, I promise you it'll have an effect, it's

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a biological response that's really

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useful. Thank you. And just so you know, Michael, I wasn't asking a really facetious

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question. I just wanted to make sure that we explained to everyone. Yeah,

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yeah, 100%, absolutely. Yeah, I know. I

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mean, I've had people say.

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I've had people say, well, breathing is just breathing. Don't need.

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What can that possibly do? And it's surprising how many people,

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and including myself when I was younger, don't know that and don't know that

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they've got that power to change how their body's responding.

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And it's interesting you saying about not knowing it when you were younger, because something

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I've definitely noticed having children of my own now, is they are teaching these

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tools in school, whereas you, I'm sure you

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think you look younger than me, but I know when I was at school, we

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definitely weren't taught any of these tools, so nobody spoke about breathing,

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meditation, mindfulness. But I think having these tools from

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a young age hopefully means that more people

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will know about them and sort of understand

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them and know how to use them as they get older as well. Whereas I

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know for a lot of us, I think it's been, like, for me, it's definitely

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been later in life where I've been looking for what

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works for anxiety and things like that. And

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I think I can really see benefits. And I really hope that children now,

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as they go into adulthood or teenagers, they kind of have these skills

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already so they're not having to like reach around for,

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okay, what can I do here? Yeah. Or have a crisis in order to

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look for that information, which is what happened with me, you know, like,

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absolutely. I mean, my wife's a primary school teacher

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and she's obviously probably a little biased in this sense because

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mindfulness and wellness are a big topic obviously in our

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household and not just because of me, because it interests her as well. But

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yes, they are. They are teaching those things for

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me, it still needs to go further in education.

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It needs to become, it needs to achieve a level of

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importance that's akin to numeracy and literacy in my

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eyes. You know, like, obviously learning to read and write

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well is a key skill and super important and the same with

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numeracy. But if you go into adult life, as you've just said,

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without the right tools to live in the

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increasingly stressful world that we live in

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because it is different now to, you know, 50 years ago, 100 years

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ago, particularly in terms of information that we have to

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process constantly, if we spat out into

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that world without those tools, then it doesn't matter how good you are at reading

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and writing because your brain isn't going to be able to do it because

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you're going to feel too stressed. So, yeah,

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for me, I would like,

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the really big picture for me is that

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it would become a topic within the curriculum in

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school, you know, wellness as opposed to PE.

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For example, I've got lots of friends who PE teachers that if they listen to

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this, they're going to think I'm trying to get rid of their jobs, but I'm

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not like, I do think sports are important, but I would make

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sports its own section of the curriculum because that's got about teamwork

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and competition and winning and loss and all this. And then

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I would have wellness and that would teach nutrition,

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mindfulness, all of the

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things about our body that you and I didn't learn at school. What our emotions,

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where do we feel them? Why do we have them? How do they affect our

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thinking? What is a good decision? How do you make a good decision? How do

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you know when not like, those are things that you probably

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do every day but you were never taught them. You just figured it

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out probably through trial and error. And

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those sorts of skills really do need to be taught.

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It's not by accident. Well, it can be by trial and

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error, but really there's ways to do those things, isn't

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there? You know, and there's we've all made. I mean, I

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won't ask, I won't call you out and ask you to say it on a

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podcast, but I'll bet you could pick out at least five occasions

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where you've made a bad decision because you were feeling upset. You know, I

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know I can. If we can

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learn at an early age. Wait a second. I'm starting to get upset

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here. I can feel myself starting to

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feel upset or fearful or whatever it is, now

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might not be the time to respond, or now might not be the time to

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reply to that email, or now might not be the time to make that decision.

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That's life changing for so many people, for everyone, really.

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And obviously, as an ex teacher,

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it's a something that I feel really important, feel

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really strongly about and think is really important.

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Because without those skills, without those skills, life is just harder.

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You're right. It is. And I can definitely think of those occasions. I won't share

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them here, but yes, you're right. And I think everyone listening can as

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well. I think we can all think of times where we've acted irrationally because we've

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been acting off emotion, and it's. It's much easier said than

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done. And obviously, hindsight's a wonderful thing, but you're right.

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And I think as we get older and wiser, perhaps

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we can sort of learn from that. Yeah. But, yeah, I do

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agree with you that it'd be if we had those skills

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earlier, because no one tells you that's going to happen. No one tells you

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that sometimes you're going to feel upset. And when you feel upset, you might make

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a bad decision. Unfortunately, I think most of us find this out

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the hard way. Yeah. Yeah. Or we pick it up, most likely

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from our parents, and

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there's going to be a spectrum of how well that information is conveyed.

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And that sounds like you point your fingers at parents, but you're not because the

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parents probably were never taught it either, and they've picked it up by osmosis.

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So it is definitely something that's teachable, and it is

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definitely something that's pretty much the same for everybody

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we took. I learned as a young person that,

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well, I certainly came away with the impression that my emotions were mine and they

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were very unique to me, but it's just not true. It's just not

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true. Like, we all have very similar

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responses to situations, and they have very, very similar effects on our

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bodies and our thinking. And so you can teach people,

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you know what? If someone says this to you, it's going to feel like this.

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And that's going to mean that it's harder to think in this way. And so

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the way to manage that is this, and

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that's massive. It's definitely more useful than learning

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how glaciers form mountains. Don't get me

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wrong, geography, my mom was a geography teacher, so I always pick that

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example because I feel like I'm allowed to, but which is going to be

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more. Which is going to have a bigger effect on your life.

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That's fair. And, you know, I am going to talk to you about the design

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of looting the pube soon, I promise. While we're talking about schools and

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education, do you mind just sharing a little bit about your ten to one initiative?

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Because I think that ties in really nicely. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. So

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I think, I mean,

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from my experience in education, so I was a teacher

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and then I was ahead of year, which is a pastoral side. You know, you're

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looking after young people's sort of more

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holistically, their kind of emotional side of life.

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And then I was an assistant head in a mainstream school and

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in a special needs school. And

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what became apparent was that there's no shortage of teachers that

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care about these things and that goes all the way up to

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leadership. But there is a shortage

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of time and money in education and that's only

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becoming more and more squeezed with the current

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government, shall we say. And so

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what the ten to one initiative does is try to help with that.

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So for every ten products that we sell, so for every

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ten lumas we sell, as an example, one of those

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is then donated to a school for free along with all

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of the resources that they need to teach. Essentially, what we've

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just been talking about, help the teacher learn it and

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then help the teacher disseminate that information to the classes.

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And the reason that it's the resources as well is

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because even if it's free, if you don't make it

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basically time inexpensive, then

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teachers won't have time to implement that either. And then

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obviously the idea is that that means that what we've just

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talked about can happen in an easy way in

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schools, primary schools, high schools, but all the way up to

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college. I mean, I learned these skills when I was

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like 23, so it's not, you know, and you could learn them at any

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age, but obviously, the earlier you learn them,

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the more divergent that effect is going to be,

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you know, in a positive way on your life.

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The best way to look at it is if you think about all of the

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bad choices you made because you were upset and you compound them and then you

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go, well, actually, maybe I could have made a better choice and a better choice

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and a better choice because I'd learned to manage my emotions. That that's. That's sort

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of what I'm looking for. Sounds quite profound, but I really think

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that learning some of these skills early on, it would

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be dramatic, have a dramatically positive

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effect on people's lives. And that's not a

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charitable thing that we're doing as a business that is built into

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the cost of the products. I'm not waiting

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till there's this amount of profit, and then using that amount to

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every sale from the first unit, we sold, like

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half, you know, sometime year before last.

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That was contributing straight away, right from the beginning, because

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it's important and it's where I want to be able to drive change.

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That's brilliant. Thank you. And for any educators listening who are

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interested in that, I'm assuming we're going to link to your website in the show

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notes that will tell them all about it and how they can get involved if

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they want to. Yeah, absolutely. There's a page on the

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website, or you can just google ten to one initiative and it brings it up

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and you can sign up your school. There is a waiting

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list, as you'd imagine. But, yeah, you can just

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put your details in there and you'll get a confirmation email, and then when

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it's ready, the code will come out and you can get your free one. Amazing.

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Thank you. So, let's talk a little bit more about Luma Cube and how you

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actually had the idea.

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Let's talk a bit about the design process, because, I mean, it's really

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effective and it looks great and it's very

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simple. How. Because I'm really fascinated by creative people,

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I have to be honest. How did you go from the idea to

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the Luma cube as it is today? Yeah, so, I mean,

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I do have formal training in design, so I

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did product design engineering at the

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University of Huddersfield. So,

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again, I do think creativity is one of those tricky things,

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because I do think there's a brain shape thing going

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on. I think certain people are more naturally creative and I feel blessed

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to be in that group, but there's also a

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trained element to it, like a process. So, yeah, I have got a

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degree in product design engineering, and I think

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that partly comes from me always wanting to be an inventor and always having

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ideas just sort of took me down that path in

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my own education. But truthfully, how the product

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came about is that I'm just.

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I'm a maker. Like, I'm always making stuff, like. And what

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that, I suppose is as a hobby, before the business, I

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had a blog, because who didn't have a blog in the two thousands?

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But I had a blog called Crin makes

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stuff. And I just used to make stuff and put how to's on there.

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So over a period of years, it meant that at home, I have

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a ridiculous amount of tools and

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workbenches and all of the things that you need to do

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most things in design. So when I do have an

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idea, I'm blessed to have the space and

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tools around me to kind of go. And then

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a few hours or a couple of days later, there can be a working version

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of whatever it is I thought of. And so that's really what happened

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with Luma over. It started during the pandemic,

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right? Because you couldn't leave our houses. So anytime I

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wasn't working, I was tinkering around with

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ideas, and Luma was one of them.

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And I think once I reached the end of my time in

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education, where I realized it wasn't something that I was

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wanting to do any more, it was

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just sort of sat there waiting for me, like, well, you've got this,

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and a few people have told you it's a really good idea, so maybe you

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should put some time into it. So I did. I

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put a couple of solid weeks into, like,

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building a proper prototype. And

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there I was with my working very. Didn't look how it does

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now, but working prototype, I mean, it looked similar,

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but again, because I'd worked in design,

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I was blessed to have some people in my phone who I

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knew I could ring and get an honest

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appraisal of. Is this a product or is this just

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something I've made? And the first person I called was a gentleman

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called Richard hall, whom I used to work with in Leeds, like, many,

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many years back. And he runs a product design consultancy called

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PDM. And he absolutely loved it.

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And so then the journey of actually bringing it to market

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began. And Richard was a

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big part of that. But largely the design,

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the electronic engineering, the firmware,

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like, the software development, packaging design, the logo, the first

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website, not the one we've got now, because that's been redesigned since,

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was all me. Because as you'll know, when you're an entrepreneur,

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it usually is. So it just came about from,

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like, a love of design. The passion for

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what the product was designed to help people with,

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and the fortunate position of having too many tools.

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Uh, I guess I think that's great.

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And I think it's amazing and I think, you know, you are, as you say,

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you are really blessed to have those skills, but then if you've got them, use

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them. I mean, I think, yeah.

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Yes, it's very fortunate you could do all of that. But then equally, you don't

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just, you weren't born with those skills, you learnt those skills and

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practice the skills. And I think that's amazing that

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you were then had, you know, when you said you did the electrical, electrical

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engineering, couldn't get the words out there and yourself, I was like, wow, that's

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because, I mean, I. For me, it looks like such a. It's

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a simple product, but I can imagine what's going on inside that little box

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is quite complex. So. Yeah, very impressed. Thank

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you. Yeah, well, I'm glad you. So the design intent was

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that from the user's perspective, this is quite a Zen like object.

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It's quite simple, clean, no screens, no visible

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buttons, just a beautiful object that's going to help you.

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But in order to achieve that look, it

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becomes technically quite challenging. You know, like it has

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leds inside it. That's how it changes color and how the light intensity

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changes. But making it so that you can't see that there's

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leds in there and that it appears that the whole shell is just really evenly

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lit and that the light moves around when you move it and

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changes shape as opposed to just changing brightness,

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was technically challenging. And like I say, I've

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got too many tools, so I've got 3d printers in my house

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so I can design a shape and try it and. Oh,

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well, that worked, but that didn't. So,

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yeah, it was a challenge, but a challenge

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that I love. I love that sort of stuff and solving those sorts of

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problems. And once you had something that worked, how

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easy is it to then get. Find somebody to mass produce

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it? Because even though I guess you've got a working prototype,

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you've got designs, you've got something that works. Yeah, I'm

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just really curious about that. Was, does it make it easier, do you think, or

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were there still some challenges? No, it's having the

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skills and the knowledge that I have made it easier and it was

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still very hard. So, you

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know, I mean, you've got to find money,

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right? Like, if you're launching a product, you've got to develop

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it, like beyond your work, your own workbench, you know

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that all the development I was able to do was still just a

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prototype. You know, it was handmade base and it was 3d printed

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shells and it was, you know,

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circuit boards that are sort of not quite final design or wouldn't be production

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ready. So in order to get it to the market, you've got to find

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the money. And I was an ex teacher, so I didn't have seed

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money. You know, I was just,

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again, I mean, you make your own look is what. Is what

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my friends say to me. But I do feel fortunate

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to have found an investor quite early who really bought into the mission

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of what I was doing. And they actually found me because I was on a

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podcast. I was sort of telling

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the story up until that point, and they reached out and were like, we

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want to help you get this. We want to help you get this onto the

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market now. So they funded that final stage where you've got to,

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you know, have plastic injection molding tools made

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and get final design drawings for

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electronics produced and buy in the components and build the

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boards and all that. So it

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was still a tricky process, but because I had the.

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The background in design and engineering,

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it certainly made it easier and more

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enjoyable. I think if you didn't know what was going on, it would feel quite

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overwhelming quite quickly.

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But, yeah, it's a process. It's a process. Yeah, I can see that.

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I mean, words on, by the way, on getting the investment as well, and also

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without having to sort of go out and. And look for investment. That

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is luck. But then, like you say, you do create. I do. I believe there

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is an element of creating luck. And, you know, you put yourself out there,

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you're on the podcast, the right person heard. But arguably, if you hadn't got on

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the podcast, they wouldn't have heard your story. So, you know, you did have a

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part to play in that. And I totally agree that having that

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engineering background must have really helped you because I think if you're

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suddenly talking about electrical components and circuit boards and that's not

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your world, I think that would be

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a really tricky thing to achieve, actually. Yeah. And it would end

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up costing more money because you would make not bad

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decisions, but slower decisions, or you'd have to seek

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advice, which would cost money and time, whereas I was able

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to respond to the inevitable. Right. We can't do that that way now

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because those chips aren't available, or we're not able to do

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that now because you won't be able to get that plastic part out of a

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tool without that. I was able to make decisions on that quickly because I understood

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the process and I enjoyed it. Like I say, I really enjoy product

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design. So, yeah,

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it was fun. But it was hard. Yeah, I can

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totally see that. Yeah. So let's just shift topic a little bit, if

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that's okay, Michael, because I'm keeping an eye on your time and I would love

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to talk a little bit, shifting gears completely about how you

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found selling your products on Amazon. Because I know you're on Amazon,

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you have been for a while. It would just be great. And we don't need

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to go into tons of detail, but it would just be great to find out

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a little bit about your experience so far and particularly

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anything you've learned. Because unless, you know, lots of businesses are interested in

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being on Amazon. And I think it's really good for people to get an understanding

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of what it's actually like versus what you might

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expect. Yeah, I mean, what you might expect is a

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tricky one because I don't know what I was expecting, but I can tell you

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it was harder than that.

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If you compare Amazon to sort of any other two sided

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marketplace, it is definitely the hardest one.

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There's lots of reasons for that. I think

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one of them is that the back end of

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Amazon is labyrinthine.

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And that's coming from a bit of a nerd. You know, like, I love settings,

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menus. If I get a new product or an app, I'm straight into the settings.

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What can I change? What can I. You know, but there are a whole lot

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of settings in Amazon sells. There's like

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20 sub menus with like five options in each

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one. So I think. I think that was

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a bit of a surprise, if I'm honest. And then they've

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got some pretty robust, which is good, but they've got some pretty

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robust stuff around your brand and registering your brand, which obviously

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takes time. You have to have your trademarks, which I did, but you have to

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have your trademarks in place and registered and that all has to be validated.

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So I was surprised by how much

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upfront work there is to even list something on Amazon.

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But I got through that. But

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then I suppose the next thing that I found most surprising,

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and I've talked to you about this before, is that the buyer mentality

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on Amazon is quite different to the other places

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that we sell, my experience of it. So when we sell direct through the

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website, we don't really get any returns.

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We've had a couple of units that have had a fault and they send it

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back and we send them a new one. That's normal. It's an electronic product,

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but we've never had somebody return one because they just changed their mind.

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But we do on Amazon. And I think

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that's something to do with how people buy on Amazon. And I

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am not getting lofty and saying I'm not like this, but I

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think when I open the Amazon app, I'm in a different buyer mindset than when

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I am with some other stores and want

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something quickly. I want it cheaply and I want everything to be on my

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terms and I want everything to be as convenient as possible. So that

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was a bit of a surprise as well.

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So it's a tricky place. It's very different and unique. I think it would be

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the best way to put it to stuff that you might have learned selling in

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other places, either through your own store or in person or

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on other places. Etsy, for example, or

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we sell through lots of workplace platforms.

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Amazon's its own sort of special experience,

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I think is the best way to put it. Thank you. I mean, I

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totally agree. And actually, I'll be very honest, I think part of the reason I

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like to ask about people's experiences on Amazon is because this is stuff I talk

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about all the time, the fact that it's hard. There's a lot of work

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upfront, but I think people almost expect me to say that

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because that's what I do. Of course I'm going to say that it's

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hard to sell on Amazon because it's in my interest too. But genuinely, no,

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the reason I say it's hard to sell on Amazon is. Because it's because it

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is proper hard to sell on Amazon. Yeah. And you need

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somebody. Like I say, I am nerdy and I don't like being beaten

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by anything. Anything really, but certainly not

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a software platform. But I will vouch for you

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on that. I have no vested interest in saying that it's difficult to sell on

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Amazon, but it is difficult to sell on Amazon. Just the

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sheer level of competition that you've got from

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sellers that are all racing to the bottom on every

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product. So you really have to do the work to stand

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out. And that's not a small amount of work and that's coming from someone

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who took a project from their head to the market in

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under a year. Amazon's

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tough. It's a tough cookie. Yeah, it definitely is.

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And I'm definitely not trying to put anyone off either. I just think it's

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something you need to go in with your eyes open because a lot of people

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will come to me and they're coming to me because

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they weren't expecting it to be as hard as it was.

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So I think it's just something you need to go and with your eyes open.

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And I would always say to people, if you're going to do it, be prepared

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to invest time, effort, money, be prepared

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to be frustrated for everything to take twice as long as it should.

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And again, not to put anyone off, but I just feel like it is a

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real commitment. Whereas I sell the odd thing on

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eBay and you can get a listing on eBay, a half decent one in less

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than ten minutes, can't you, to do it on Amazon, you might be looking

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at ten weeks. Realistically, it's honestly no

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different. You know, a few more gray hairs or a wider

Speaker:

bald spot. Like it's, it's not an easy process.

Speaker:

So, yeah, again, you won't want to put people off, but

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it's going with your eyes open is the right way to put it.

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Yeah. And I think for some products as well, and I will say, and I

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do include yours within this, Michael, I totally think it's a great marketplace for your

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product. And I think that's the final thing I'll say about Amazon, is if it's

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the right place for you to be, it is worth doing all the work and

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pushing through. I think the only reason I would ever

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say don't do it is if you don't want to spend the time, money and

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effort, or if you just don't, you know, if you're

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selling something where actually you'd be better off, maybe I'm thinking about a

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different marketplace because, yeah, you just

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need to be realistic, I think. But luckily your product is

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a really good fit for Amazon. I totally think it should be there and will

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do well. It will just take some time. Yeah, yeah, yeah,

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yeah. So thank you so much for everything you've shared,

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Michael. And I've got one final question before we finish, which I asked to

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everybody, which is what would your number one piece of advice be

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for other product creators?

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Find a team, even if it's you on your own. And by that I

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mean people who you can bounce your ideas off or can

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seek advice and get lots of advice

Speaker:

and accept that it's probably going to be conflicting

Speaker:

because there'll be things that come through from everybody and then you'll

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be like that. I know that that's the answer because all three people said the

Speaker:

same thing. And

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I suppose lastly, it's similar to Amazon.

Speaker:

Go in with your eyes open because like

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anything entrepreneurship based, there's going to be some big ups and

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downs and launching, bringing a product

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to market. It's a phenomenal amount of work. It's been

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around three years in total for me to get from

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deciding to do it to the point that I'm at now.

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So be prepared for that to be

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guess how long you think it'll take? Double it and then double it again.

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That's really good advice. Thank you. Thank you so much.

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Michael, thank you for everything you've shared. Yep, no worries. Thanks for having me on.

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Vicky, thank you so much for listening. Right to the end

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of this episode, do remember that you can get the full back catalogue and lots

Speaker:

of free resources on my website, vickywineberg.com. Please do

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remember to rate and review this episode if you've enjoyed it, and also

Speaker:

share it with a friend who you think might find it useful. Thank you again

Speaker:

and see you next week.