"We Can Be The Bands We Want To Hear"
I first heard those lyrics on the opening track to “New Wave” by Against Me! over 13 years ago and they have been drumming away in my head ever since.
It was a revelation. A call to arms that our generation can build the world we want to live in. We can make the art, companies and lifestyles that we see in our heads.
The song goes further. ‘Come on and wash these shores away. I’m looking for the crest of a new wave’. Every day I think about these lyrics.
2020 is a flaming dumpster fire yet I’m seeing people who are starting companies, learning new skills, picking up and moving during pandemics and shaping their lives by washing away what came before.
The song beats harder than ever. We are defining our own generation and there is definitely a ‘new wave’ of change in the air. So today I’m finally putting into action what I first heard all those years ago.
Today, I’m starting my own company.
NooWave is a company that makes products for optimal mental health.
Our mission is to lower anxiety and stress, improve brain function and support creativity and productivity.
The first product we’re launching is our Flow State Coffee.
I plan on working on this for the next 10 years and beyond but we should probably talk about the last 10 first.
It’s how Flow State Coffee was born.
The Last 10 Years
I’ve been really fortunate over the last decade. I’ve helped build sales teams at companies like Yext, Twitter, and Stack Overflow. Really shocking resume for a suburban punk who once defiantly told a college professor that he would never, ever use Excel a day in his life.
“Not me. Not this guy.”
To that very patient and correct Professor, if you’re reading this, my bad.
Working in those high pressure companies and living in New York City in my 20s meant long days and longer nights. An interesting phenomenon in the city is that bars are open until 4am but the happy hours, and need to enjoy every bit of the city we all pay exorbitant rent for, mean we all start drinking much earlier. This is an alluring siren song for casual alcoholics like myself who get trapped in hours of conversations which means getting home at no earlier than 2am.
Like most New Yorkers, I overcompensated for my poor work/life balance with coffee and energy drinks. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have a 5-Hour Energy, two Red Bulls and a couple coffees. The anxiety, stress, copious caffeine and sleep deprivation meant I was averaging about 4-5 hours of sleep a night.
I aged like a president over two terms.
After realizing this wasn’t sustainable, I went down the rabbit hole of various supplements, nootropics and biohacks. I experimented with basically everything from Bulletproof & Mushroom coffees, alpha brains, Modafinil….yet nothing worked for me.
I had a Goldilocks problem. I would either lack the energy and motivation or feel too wired and anxious.
I wanted the edge and drive of these smart drugs, but I also wanted to feel creative and free and not like I had to be chained to whatever I was doing.
I always found my way back to coffee because even though it gave me anxiety and high blood pressure, it was the devil I knew.
And then I found L-theanine.
L-theanine is a miracle. It’s a godsend, really. If you get nothing else from this article, put some damn L-theanine in your coffee.
L-theanine is a calming amino acid found in green tea. It activates alpha waves in your brain, which are present when you’re in a state of wakeful relaxation. Your mind isn’t totally at rest but you’re not processing a lot of information or tackling any big problems. (Think meditation, right before bed or in the shower) Alpha waves are essential for creativity.
The cool thing about L-theanine is that it relaxes you but it doesn’t sedate you. Mix with caffeine and you get the “zen-like” focus AND the caffeinated motivation.
Increased creativity, better task switching, no jitters. The benefits are endless. Seriously, do some Googling. It’s an incredible combination.
So for years I’ve been drinking that combination content in its ability to keep me focused and relaxed, until one fateful day, I read about the benefits of adding raw cacao to your coffee. Cacao is a superfood that is massively underrated despite it literally being named “food of the gods.”
Cacao is not Cocoa. The difference is in how processed they are. Unlike Cocoa, Cacao is processed with less heat to preserve nutrients and it contains no dairy or sugar. So cacao isn't simply “chocolate” or 'mocha" the way you and I think of it. .
But why add it to your coffee?
Daily caffeine usage can cause blood vessel constriction. Less blood flow limits caffeines effect on brain activation. This is what leads to chronic tolerance and dependency out of fear of the dreaded “crash” from withdrawal.
Cacao, meanwhile, INCREASES the elasticity of blood vessels and facilitates more blood flow to the brain, which results in more efficient thinking. Crazy, right?
In addition to stopping you from feeling less stressed from the magnesium and potassium inside Cacao, the mix of beneficial natural compounds like serotonin, endorphins and phenylethylamine (a compound humans produce when in love) combine to create mild feelings of euphoria and happiness.
It’s the most natural (legal) way to feel good! Seriously. There are thousands of studies on Cacao’s mood-boosting properties saying people who consumed it daily are 70% less likely to report feelings of depression.
Adding this to my Coffee/L-Theanine concoction gave me an elated buzz to add to the focus and drive. It was now a PURPOSEFUL type of energy.
The Creative Triforce
Those familiar with The Legend of Zelda video game know ‘The Triforce’. It’s the ultimate source of power in the game and serves as the balance that weighs the three forces: Power, Wisdom and Courage.
I think of these three ingredients as the ultimate source of creativity that perfectly balances Energy, Focus and Mood. All the things you want to be feeling as you sit down to create or accomplish something. A Creative Triforce, if you will.
The best way I can describe the feeling after drinking this coffee is: it puts me ‘in the zone.’ I feel fully immersed in this feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and mild euphoria. It primes me for a flow state.
After a few years of drinking this creative cognitive coffee (alliteration!), I started sharing with friends and received great feedback from people saying they felt: “pleasantly wired” “switched on” “a caffeinated calm” and my favorite: “Fuck... I feel GOOD!”
I knew I had to share it. And so, that brings me back to that fateful album I listened to over a decade ago.
NooWave is exactly the company that I've had in my mind for years. Making products to help others the way they've helped me. Something I can be proud of. I want to do this for the next decade and it all starts today. It's the band I always wanted to hear.
If the goal of NooWave is to empower the next generation of creativity and productivity then our first product needs to represent that.
Flow State Coffee
Flow State Coffee is specialty grade coffee with L-Theanine and Raw Cacao.
Better energy, focus and mood than a regular cup of coffee and less negative side effects, like jitters and high blood pressure.
Flow State Coffee helps lower anxiety and stress, improve brain function and support creativity and productivity.
We’re partnering with a great coffee roaster in Upstate NY that deals with small batch, artisan roasted, specialty grade coffee. The prime pick of the entire world coffee stock- it comprises precisely 3% of the global yield. It goes through a rigorous classification process, meeting strict standards before it earns the label: “speciality grade”
It’s more expensive, but it’s worth doing right. If this coffee tastes like shit you won’t want to drink it, regardless of the benefits.
It took me months to get the formula correct, find the right manufacturer and get it to taste great but it was totally worth it. I’m insanely proud of what we ended up with.
This is the perfect fucking cup of coffee.
(this blog was written pre-launch. now you can buy here!) *
Soon I hope you'll brew a cup and make something of your own.
After all, we can be the bands we want to hear.