The Digest - April 28

Here's the latest & most interesting from the studies and articles I've read over the week:  

  • Is Bane wearing that mask to improve cardiovascular fitness??
  • Emotional Intelligence is critical for success in today’s world. Learn why and how to develop yours.
  • Entrepreneurs heed this warning: you need to be on top of the “business” aspects of your business if you want to succeed.
  • Pepsi and Coke removing harmful chemicals from their drinks? I had to read it twice to believe it!
  • And what? Chipotle removing genetically modified ingredients?? What is happening???


  • You must have seen pictures of people training and looking like Bane from Batman… This has been the result of excellent marketing by the makers of the Elevation Training Mask, which purports to boost cardiovascular abilities akin to training at altitude. To-date, there’s been little science supporting these arguments, but a new study  out of Japan revealed that sprint cycling training with severe hypoxia (restriction of oxygen) leads to a substantial increase in Growth Hormone, and obviously beneficial development in athletes. Will this translate into improved performance? It’s too early to tell and hopefully more studies on hypoxic training should be forthcoming. From personal experience, I discovered that hypoxic swim training (breathing ever 5 or 7 strokes) did have beneficial effects on lung capacity and post-swim run endurance.^


  • Self-awareness and self-management are two of the key attributes I try to instill in myself and others when seeking elevated levels of performance (whether in a work or social environment). These two qualities fall within a wider framework of “Emotional Intelligence”, which is a critical skill for success in today’s world, which relies increasingly on one’s ability to “read, understand, and react” to other human beings quickly and accurately. Developing such skills over the past decade has been crucial in my ability to develop negotiating skills which are essential in my line of work, but has also helped me develop social interaction skills as well. This well-written article reviews the key skills of Emotional Intelligence and provides tips on how to begin your training.^


  • Have you ever watched Dragon’s Den? It’s a TV show during which entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to potential investors. I’m a fan of the show and it seems to me that those who fail to garner interest from investors often do so not because of their product/service or even their ability to pitch their idea, but rather because of a weakness in their ability to articulate the numbers which make an “idea” a “viable business”. That’s a particular area of focus of mine when mentoring entrepreneurs: no matter how good your business is, if you can’t do the “business things” to make it attractive to investors and lenders, your business is destined to either remain small or die out altogether. This simple but practical and well-written article clearly articulates the “must do’s” that each entrepreneur needs to be on top of in order to make their business attractive to potential investors – there is a handy infographic as well which I thought of as very useful and something to print and hang on your wall.^


  • It’s a step in the right direction by Pepsi. Well it’s not really a step, but rather a “tip toe” move, but better than nothing I suppose: Pepsi decided to remove Aspartane from its diet soft-drinks in the US. And when I say that it’s not really a “step” in the right direction, that’s primarily because of 2 factors: (i) Pepsi did this in response to “consumer demands” and because they’re losing sales, NOT because they agree that it’s harmful to humans; and (ii) they’re replacing Aspartane with Sucralose: not as bad, but still bad… Oh and get this: Pepsi is doing this in the US but NOT in the UK, because consumers in the UK don’t seem to care and still drink Diet Pepsi, Aspartane and all… The silver lining from my perspective is this: if consumer preferences caused a company like Pepsi to change their formulation, it gives me hope that educating the consumer (a core part of my personal mission) will help drive “big food” policy and product formulation. In other “positive” news, both PepsiCo and Coca Cola bowed to public pressure and announced plans to remove Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) from all their beverages. Note that BVO is patented as a “flame retardant chemical”, so does it really belong in your body? It has been linked to skin lesions, memory loss and nerve problems. This move follows a similar move by Gatorade which faced public outcry after a girl became sick from the BVO in their products. Note that both Pepsi and Coke said they would remove BVO “in the near future”, whatever that means…^


  • Guess what, another US giant is also taking a step in the right direction: at least this time it’s really a step, even though I suspect it’s also driven by business reasons (I’m not faulting them, it’s their duty to their shareholders after all). So Chipotle, the US-based Mexican food giant has officially removed GMO (genetically modified) ingredients from their main food items, including corn (used for tortillas) and soy (used as soy-bean oil for frying). Mexican food is among my favorite cuisines but even when I was working in New York, I always walked by Chipotle outlets without much of a second glance; I did this because of my personal views on the quality of ingredients going into their food. The recent “GMO free” change improves the picture somewhat – enough to make me grab a burrito from there? Not really, not by a long shot, but it’s still an improvement…^


As usual, any questions / comments, hit reply.