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SXSW: Onnit founder Aubrey Marcus offers tips on owning your day

Matthew Odam
Aubrey Marcus is the founder and CEO of Onnit, a supplement and nutrition company dedicated to "total human optimization." 02/10/16 Tom McCarthy Jr. FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

I imagine many people who could use the encouragement and wisdom of psychonaut, wellness guru and entrepreneur Aubrey Marcus were still in the dragging themselves out of bed on a drizzly and gray Monday morning as the Onnit founder and CEO took the stage at South by Southwest.

Most panelists rely on a moderators rely on moderators to set them up and navigate them through discussions. Not Marcus. The Westlake High graduate grabbed the mic a few minutes before the announced start time and immediately engaged on a personal and casual level with those in the audience. Having spent some months talking about his NYT best-seller “Own the Day, Own Your Life” the popular podcast and speaker proved himself adept at explaining the mission of his Austin-based company.

Marcus knows there is “no magic pill” to achieving “total human optimization” (his company’s stated goal). Instead, Onnit and its CEO take a wholistic approach, focusing on what we ingest, how we interact with the elements around us, how we move our bodies and how we can engage with mindset practices.

“How to create optimal conditions to love and enjoy life,” Marcus explained it to the 50 or so attendees, all of whom stayed for the duration of Marcus’ talk.

Marcus framed the majority of his hour-long conversation around his book. Without getting too deep into the weeds on the science of each claim, here are a few tips from Marcus about owning your day and achieving optimal performance:

  1. Start each day with 12-16 ounces of water blended with three grams of sea salt and a spritz of lemon. Marcus says this is the tip that has most resonated during his promotion of the book. Wait until after breakfast if you can before drinking coffee, which Marcus admits to loving.
  2. Get sunlight and get moving in the morning. Exercise has positive effects on every aspect of our life.
  3. Take a cold shower. And don’t be timid. Not only does the cold raise norepinephrine levels, which helps fight inflammation, stress and cortisol, the way we confront the cold can help tackle fear and anxiety, a lesson that can permeate our lives.
  4. You are what you eat. So stay away from sugar and fast carbs and focus on a diet with higher fat, fiber, protein and carbs from veggies.
  5. “Napping is one of the most effective techniques we can layer into our lives.” Can’t get eight uninterrupted hours of sleep each night? Join the club. The key is finding other windows for sleep. Marcus referenced Nick Littlehale’s book, “Sleep,” saying that we should focus on getting 35 “sleepy cycles” (read: 90 minutes) each week, using naps to pad those stats.

Marcus didn’t have time to touch on each segment of the book, and I imagine the chapter on sex could have made for some awkward Monday morning group chat, but he left the audience with some salient points that can give them direction in helping each of them own their day.


2016 Statesman profile: Peak performance: Onnit strives for total human optimization