Unconventionals Podcast | Season 6 Episode 3

Data, Secrets, and Human Performance: Why Professional Athletes Love the Whoop Strap

According to Whoop founder Will Ahmed, our bodies are keeping secrets.

Those secrets hold the key to human performance, and the Whoop Strap unlocks them.  It’s a big claim, but one that LeBron James, Michael Phelps and hundreds of professional athletes are validating in their everyday use. 

In this Unconventionals interview, we discuss how Whoop’s device and their strategy upends category conventions. By helping athletes perform better vs. counting their steps, they found an opening—call it a Darwinian Gap—in the market. Whoop's focus on big data and even bigger outcomes keeps pro athletes coming, and helps the company rise above the fitness tracker fray. 

If you’re interested in performance, new ways to use data or how to stand out in a crowded market, take a listen.

Video Highlights

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Mike O'Toole:
I'm Mike O'Toole. The Unconventionals is a podcast series produced and distributed by PJA Advertising. Along with our academic partners at Columbia Business School we're proud to bring you The Unconventionals. The companies we feature aren't clients. There's no financial relationship, no promotional agenda, just the stories of companies and entrepreneurs that remind us that the biggest risk in marketing is being like everyone else.

Speaker 2:
Next on PJA Radios, The Unconventionals.

Will Ahmed:
If you have a higher recovery on WHOOP you're going to be throwing faster fast balls in Major League Baseball, you're going to have a better batting average in Major League Baseball. If you have a higher recovery on WHOOP you're going to be running faster time trials in NCAA, cross country, and track and field, you're going to be swimming faster time trials in NCA swimming, in Olympic swimming. If you have a higher recovery on WHOOP you're going to have a better free throw percentage in the NBA and NCA basketball. You're going to have a higher field goal percentage, you're going to have lower turnovers.

Mike O'Toole:
LeBron James and Michael Phelps both wear the WHOOP Strap. Major League Baseball approved its use for all of its players, and earlier this year the NFL Players Association did the same thing. 30 Olympians, hundreds of Division One athletes have used WHOOP to understand and to improve their performance.


Our conversation with WHOOP CEO and founder, Will Ahmed, in their offices overlooking Fenway Park, is not a story about breakthrough technology. It's a story of how a company has positioned itself for a new opportunity instead of being just another fitness tracker and how it uses data in a brand new way, not to track, but to optimize, to drive behavior, and as Will likes to say, to uncover secrets.


As you might expect, I went into the conversation with Will thinking of WHOOP as a fitness tracker, a high-end souped up one, but a tracker nonetheless. Well, Will wasn't having any of it and you'll hear that in just a second, but the thing I would say is sometimes corporate positioning is just bullshit. I've heard a lot of companies tell me I don't have any competition, we've created a whole new category, and it's just usually not true, but this is where the LeBron James and the NFLs of the world come in.


Speaking of bullshit, pro athletes have major BS detectors. They have every fitness company in the world coming at them dying to give away their products for free, so what does WHOOP do that is so different?

Will Ahmed:
I would say actually that the category for human performance is largely unmet, right? You're positioning things to think around wearables or activity trackers, and I think that as a category is quite crowded, but the whole notion of really understanding the human body and being able to provide actionable insights to someone to help them perform at a higher level, that I feel like is a promise that WHOOP is one of the only companies that's actually delivering on.


I got into this space personally because I was playing squash while I was at Harvard, I was captain of the team there, and I felt like I was surrounded by athletes who didn't necessarily know what they were doing to their bodies.

Mike O'Toole:
Meaning?

Will Ahmed:
Athletes overtrain, they get injured, they misinterpret fitness peaks.

Mike O'Toole:
They behave like college students and stay out too late.

Will Ahmed:
They go out binge drinking, yeah right. No, there's all sorts of things. You're also balancing the daily life of being a student athlete too where you've got classes and you're staying up late to study or you're with friends and whatnot. I just got very interested in personally how could I better understand what I was doing to my body over the course of a season or training? I was someone who used to overtrain, so you go through this period of being kind of rundown, fatigued. As it turns out, about 70% of competitive athletes overtrain at some point.


I got very interested in that and did a lot of physiology research while I was at Harvard, met with cardiologists, physiologists, read hundreds of medical papers, and in the process I really uncovered what I would call secrets that your body is trying to tell you. These are things that until recently you couldn't measure.

Mike O'Toole:
The companies we've met on The Unconventionals are good at finding a gap, some latent unmet need or desire in the market. Now, if you want to understand why the WHOOP Strap is different, it starts with intent. Listen to how Will articulates why he started the company. It wasn't about a device or an algorithm.

Will Ahmed:
Well, I think the most important thing is really to focus on the problems. A lot of times people focus on what, and I think you really have to focus on why. With WHOOP, why do we exist? Well, we want to prevent injuries, we want to prevent overtraining, we want to be able to predict that an athlete is going to play well, and those opportunities, mission statements, those are things that have not been fulfilled. Now, there's products out there that monitor things about the body or monitor steps, but are they necessarily going to be able to predict an injury or prevent an injury? No. That's where I think just the framework around what you're really trying to do is so important.


It would be I think challenging for Fitbit to claim that their mission was to unlock human performance. It would probably sound more like improve awareness of your daily life or daily activity. It's just different mission statements. Generally speaking, early on, I think a lot of people quickly get pulled to, "Well, what's out there? What's out there? What's out there?" Versus why are you trying to solve this lofty mission?

Mike O'Toole:
It's improving human performance.

Will Ahmed:
Yeah.

Mike O'Toole:
That's pretty lofty.

Will Ahmed:
Yeah, optimizing human performance. We even say unlocking human performance because on some level it's a mystery. You think about why does an athlete have this peak performance or is in a flow state or have an out of body game? All of those things we believe there are variables about the body that can predict this coming, and until recently they weren't being measured.

Mike O'Toole:
Let's listen to Will's comment again.

Will Ahmed:
It's because on some level it's a mystery, right?

Mike O'Toole:
This comment really stuck out to me. He says, "Because at some level it's a mystery." On the one hand we've learned so much about how the body and brain works. Training today seems so advanced, but on the other hand we have Tom Brady's TB12 system, some of which, like eating better and sleeping more, sound great. Others, like the $80 pajamas with bioceramics printed on the inside sound kind of crazy. Absent data and science, there will always be a little crazy in human performance, especially when the stakes are so high, like they are for professional or D1 athletes.

Will Ahmed:
Well, I think first and foremost we do think of WHOOP as a data company, and so if you position everything from the ground up around data acquisition, it reframes a lot of your technology stack and a lot of what you're optimizing for. One thing for example is we have five sensors that are collecting data 100 times a second. We collect about 100 megabytes on a person per day, and we knew we needed to collect that granular of information to understand some of the things we wanted about the human body, like heart rate variability in particular being a key predictor for us.


From the ground up, we focused entirely on, "Okay, how are we going to build a system that's able to collect this much data?" As a result of that singular focus, we designed hardware for example that could be charged without ever being taken off your body, because we wanted continuous data. We designed a product that didn't have a screen, didn't have notifications, didn't have emails on it. We wanted it to really focus on this data acquisition because that's the single most important thing.


If you look at what other products are doing, there's a blurred line between activity tracking, push notifications, some of this other app functionality on a smart watch or on a tracker, and for us, again, it was all about the data. What could we do to build a system from the ground up to collect that much data? And then with all that data, how do you simplify the story to an end user so that they're not overwhelmed? I think a lot of the brilliance to our platform is that you take 100 megabytes of data and you summarize it in two numbers that people can just simplify in terms of the way they understand their bodies.

Mike O'Toole:
And the two numbers are?

Will Ahmed:
Strain and recovery. We summarize the whole world in terms of strain and recovery, so you can think of strain as the intensity of a workout or the intensity of your overall day, and you can think of recovery as how prepared your body is for strain, how prepared is your body to perform?

Mike O'Toole:
And strain captures things like I was out too late or I ate too much, or is it more about ...

Will Ahmed:
A lot of that actually ends up being encompassed in recovery.

Mike O'Toole:
Recovery.

Will Ahmed:
We'll give you a score from 0 to 100%, red, yellow, green every morning that's looking at key indicators in your physiology, and those indicators are going to react to whether you've taken a lot of strain on your body, what your nutrition was, whether you've got alcohol in your system, drugs, anything like that, how well you slept, whether your body is peaking physically or it's rundown, whether you're dehydrated. All of that gets encompassed in specific physiological variables that we measure.


Again, back to that simplification, a lot of my challenge was overtraining. If you think about overtraining, a lot of it's your body's rundown, but you take on a lot of strain. On WHOOP, if you wake up with a low recovery, we're actually the first platform to tell you to do less, like get rest. Don't necessarily train or push as hard that day. With a lot of the pro athletes that we work with, actually that ends up being more of a key differentiator than anything else is getting them to rein it in a little bit because a lot of these guys are incredibly fit and the pendulum has swung from working out a few times a week, like 30 years ago, to now you're talking about three and four a days, right?

Mike O'Toole:
By the way, this is the thing that athletes talk about. As NBA star DeAndre Jordan puts it, "WHOOP tells me what I need to do and what I don't need to do."

Will Ahmed:
And I think what you're going to see is that pendulum's actually now coming back in where it's back to a practice a day or two practices a day, but you're introducing naps in your repertoire, you're thinking more thoughtfully about when you go to bed, and those are things that WHOOP really tries to encourage in our platform.

Mike O'Toole:
Recovery and strain are the numbers WHOOP has created, but they're based on underlying biological measures. When Will talks about unlocking mystery or that the body has a secret, he's talking for the most part about heart rate variability. As an aside, I first came across heart rate variability when I was doing work with a healthcare startup many years ago. This company had done some research that showed heart rate variability was an early indicator of diabetic neuropathy, and at the time, the existing tests were pretty basic, like a doctor tickling a diabetic's feet to see if they were losing feeling.


In that case, heart rate variability was unlocking important information about the health of the autonomic nervous system. WHOOP is finding that it unlocks a whole lot more. Now, there's one other big difference too. The way to get heart rate variability was you'd go to the doctor's, you'd get strapped up for an ECG, and you'd run on a treadmill. Now, WHOOP captures all of this data with a wristband.


We've started with strain and recovery, but what are the secrets first? What did you feel like you-

Will Ahmed:
Well, the metric that I found most intriguing while I was doing medical research is a statistic called heart rate variability. Heart rate variability said differently is the amount of variance in time between successive beats of the heart. If your heart's beating at 60 beats per minute, it's not actually beating every second. It's pretty counterintuitive, but it might be 0.8 seconds, then 1.2 seconds, then 1.4 seconds. As it turns out, the more variance in the time between successive beats of the heart, the healthier your body, the healthier your heart. It's counterintuitive, right?


As I was reading about this statistic, it was touching all these different cutting-edge industries. You had Olympic power lifters measuring their heart rate variability in the morning with electrocardiograms to determine whether or not they should lift more weight that day or take a day off. You had the CIA using heart rate variability to identify lie detection. You had doctors using heart rate variability to determine mortality and prediction for heart attacks in former heart failure patients and atrial fibrillation patients.


I'm sitting there reading this in college and I'm thinking, "Oh my god, this statistic's that powerful that it touches on stress, it touches on your ability to perform athletically, it even touches on mortality. How is this not widely measured?" And as it turned out at the time, really the primary way to measure heart rate variability was an electrocardiogram, which is a $10,000 machine that you can only find at a hospital. It wasn't mainstream at all, and so I guess the number one thesis I had in founding WHOOP was that heart rate variability was this really powerful secret that your body could tell you if you could measure it.

Mike O'Toole:
I remember when I was a kid, biorhythms were a big thing and people would measure the biorhythms, whatever those were, of NFL runners to try to track whether they would gain more yards if their biorhythms were up. It was all sort of pretend science I think. Heart rate variability, are there people out there will say it's not singularly that important? Is there consensus that heart rate variability's a pretty rich measure?

Will Ahmed:
I think generally speaking people who are in the know say heart rate variability is a powerful statistic. Mind you, there's different ways to measure it. There's mathematical equations to determine what actually the reading of heart rate variability is. There's also conversations around when the best time to take a reading is. We think the best time to take a reading is during slow wave sleep because it's in a control. You do it when the person's unconscious effectively and they're not thinking about it.


Then I think you could find people who can more or less argue over the degree to which it's important. Is it he most important thing or is it just really important? But I think anyone who's in the know will say that it's a powerful statistic. What we've seen at WHOOP is it's just correlating with everything. It's incredible. It's the main metric that goes into our recovery analysis, and our recovery analysis is correlating with performance across all these different sports.

Mike O'Toole:
Yeah, so tell me. You've done research there. Can you talk about some of that?

Will Ahmed:
If you have a higher recovery on WHOOP, you're going to be throwing faster fastballs in Major League Baseball, you're going to have a better batting average in Major League Baseball. If you have a higher recovery on WHOOP, you're going to be running faster time trials in NCAA, cross country, and track and field, you're going to be swimming faster time trials in NCA swimming, in Olympic swimming. If you have a higher recovery on WHOOP, you're going to have a better free throw percentage in the NBA and the NCA basketball, you're going to have a higher field goal percentage, you're going to have lower turnovers.

Mike O'Toole:
Now, this might sound like hyperbole from an enthusiastic founder, but WHOOP has the data. In 2016, WHOOP tracked 119 athletes among eight NCAA Division One teams, and here's what they found. The athletes slept more, 42 minutes a night more, they reduced their late night caffeine consumption by 86%, reduced their alcohol consumption by 79%, and most significantly, the athletes experienced 60% fewer injuries over the course of the four-month study.

Will Ahmed:
It's incredibly powerful and I think that's why our athletes have such high engagement on the platform as well, is they see it themselves. They'll wake up with a low recovery, they'll feel fine, and they'll go out and play and they'll have kind of a lousy night, and they'll say, "Wow, I wonder what was up." And then we see the other thing where an athlete feels lousy in the morning, but WHOOP is giving them a high recovery and he goes out and has a great game.


One thing that we generally find is that feelings are largely overrated. How you feel when you wake up in the morning is practically irrelevant in terms of how you end up performing later that day. What is important is how you feel once you begin exercise or at the onset of performance. Athletes tend to be pretty good at feeling how they're going to perform once they start performing, but in terms of predicting that well in advance, we find that physiological metrics are much more important.

Mike O'Toole:
You're intrigued, right? WHOOP captures a ton of data and interprets it in a novel way that helps change behavior and improve performance and it's not just claims. WHOOP has done a lot of research to back this stuff up. Now, having said all that, it's still not easy to launch a new product like this. As we like to say, the breakthrough, and WHOOP has a bunch of them, is just the beginning.


Now, key to the company's success is getting world class athletes to use the strap from the very beginning. When LeBron wears a WHOOP Strap, you have to believe a lot of other athletes will line up, and this is a crazy strategy. You find a subset of people for whom the stakes and therefore the motivation is really high and get them on board first. For WHOOP, elite athletes are key, but their trainers were even more important.

Will Ahmed:
Well, we're offering a pretty high promise, like, "Hey, we want to optimize your performance. We want to help prevent your injuries. We want to make you recover faster," so whenever you're offering exactly what someone wants, you're going to get a reception. Really our belief from the beginning was just if we can build it, they will come. If we can fulfill this promise, people will wear it.

Mike O'Toole:
But if I can, Will, and I want to get back on this, I think sometimes you make a promise like that, it isn't like, "Great, let me see it," it's like, "I don't buy it. I don't believe you."

Will Ahmed:
Well, the opportunity to validate whether or not it works is pretty low friction. You wear a WHOOP Strap and you see the data immediately.

Mike O'Toole:
You're not going to a doctor's office and taking an ECG and that.

Will Ahmed:
Well, look, we've had clients do everything. We had a very thorough testing with Major League Baseball when we did a study with them. That ended up being the largest performance study ever conducted by a pro sports league. We've had different teams compare us to chest straps, electrocardiograms, we've had the military do rigorous testing on the product against other products, so we're totally comfortable having people put our product through the wringer, so to speak.


Really what I'm focusing on here though is that if an athlete was skeptical, they were still probably going to try it. What you find actually is the very best athletes, the most competitive people, are always still looking for an edge. As a result, like two of our first customers, we were working with Mike Mancias, who's the trainer for LeBron James, and we were working with Keenan Robinson, who's the trainer for Michael Phelps, and so two of our first users were Phelps and LeBron. That really showed us like, "Okay, if you can build this thing, you'll be able to get a lot of traction."

Mike O'Toole:
Now, how did you get those trainers to pay attention to you? Again, I imagine everybody's trying to talk-

Will Ahmed:
Well, again, it's really their job to evaluate and validate a technology with that kind of a promise, and they want it first. They want it before anyone else has it, and that's where the competitive edge comes in, because the sooner that you can start to understand this data and action off this data and then build additional models on top of this data. We now have teams that are 18 months ahead of their competitors in terms of understanding how sleep and travel affect one another.

Mike O'Toole:
That's cool.

Will Ahmed:
That feels like an advantage, right?

Mike O'Toole:
Does that change their behavior or change their schedules?

Will Ahmed:
Totally, yeah. They're now thinking about to send players at different times for travel, they'll stay in different hotels. Some hotels they didn't sleep as well in. They'll institute nap centers in their athletic centers, they'll encourage players to take naps. The whole culture of hit the weight room again versus actually maybe you should take a nap, the pendulum's really shifted I think, and I think for the player's benefit.

Mike O'Toole:
Coming up after the break, Olympic swimmer Connor Jaeger, Michael Jordan's flu game, and how WHOOP data helps drive performance but also reveal something new about the story behind the performance.

Speaker 2:
You're listening to The Unconventionals, a podcast produced and distributed by PJA Advertising. We're always on the hunt for great business stories, not about share price or scale, but the element of surprise. To find out how to apply the best practices and behaviors of companies like GE, Warby Parker, and Big Ass Fans to your business, visit our website, AgencyPJA.com. Our academic sponsor is the Center on Global Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School, which turns the research of academia's foremost thinkers on branding into practical tools and insight for real-world application. Learn more at globalbrands.org.

Mike O'Toole:
Welcome back to The Unconventionals. We talked before the break about WHOOP changing habits and behaviors, like sleeping more or training less. I asked Will if he could talk about any individual athletes.

Will Ahmed:
We did some really interesting things with Olympians. We had I believe about 30 Olympians who were headed into Rio and I can tell you a story about Connor Jaeger. Connor loves talking about this. He would originally travel to time trials three days before a time trial, so this is the events leading up to the Olympics to solidify your times, and what he found on WHOOP is that after three days of landing in a new timezone, his recovery was actually the lowest. As a result, his time trials weren't as good as he wanted them to be.


For the next time trials, he traveled five days out, and what he saw again was that dip on the third day, but by the fourth and the fifth the recovery came back up and so he had a great time trials performance. That story I think amplifies what we're doing at WHOOP around understanding sleep, recovery, travel, how do these things interact? We've got another athlete who just spends 15 minutes on the bike whenever he's traveling over two timezones. It's a very precise thing, but 15 minutes, that's it, helps him recover the next day when he lands in a new timezone.

Mike O'Toole:
For athletes like Connor, the difference between a gold medal and not even making the team can come down to hundredths of a second, so WHOOP making this connection between sleep and travel and performance is incredibly valuable. He's not alone in finding this connection. Major League Baseball did a league-wide study with WHOOP and found that the away team was getting an hour less sleep than the home team on average. Conventional wisdom is that the home field advantage is because of the crowd, but maybe it's really because players are more rested.


The Major League Baseball study is interesting to me. It's one thing for Connor to make the connection between travel and performance for him to change his behavior. It's all about agency and choice and control. In the Major League Baseball case, imagine if the teams used data to impose new sleep schedules on the athletes. That would feel Big Brotherish, so data and who owns it and what it's used for is a big societal story right now and it's central to WHOOP.


We finish our conversation on this topic. I'd say a couple of things. WHOOP's founding story, its brand, is really important here. Will is an athlete and he's making the product for athletes, for performers. I think athletes and their agents get this intuitively, and his policies on data privacy and ownership reflect this. To me, the most intriguing proof of this is the new deal WHOOP has with the NFL. Will talks about this in a bit, but the deal is actually with the Players Association, not the league. The players will own the data and only the players can choose to share the data and monetize it.

Will Ahmed:
Well, let's focus on that for a second because I generally think that the case against data is largely overstated. The whole notion that this data can be used in a negative way against professional athletes I think is also grossly overstated. First of all, let's keep in mind that these professional athletes from a physiological standpoint also look like professional athletes. They have much better data than you or me. Their heart rate variabilities are much higher, their resting heart rates are much lower, they generally recover in a freakish rate from what the strain is that they're putting on their body, so just as a baseline, professional athletes look amazing through the lens of WHOOP.


Then on top of that, actually play out in your mind how this data could be used negatively. First of all, having a low recovery in that of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. That's part of the education that goes into using WHOOP, but everyone's going to have low recoveries on WHOOP at one point or another, right? And even if you're going through a period where you have low recoveries for a number of days, that may just suggest that you've been pushing your body. Mind you, at the end of the day what's going to matter still is performance on the field or on the court.


Think about the Jordan flu game. One of my all-time favorite performances is Jordan against the Jazz, I think his NBA finals, right? On WHOOP he would've had like a 3% recovery, and I can say that from personal experience because the lowest score I've ever gotten on WHOOP was when I had the flu. WHOOP would've said this guy's toast, and yet he had this incredible performance. If you ever were going to think about a metric for understanding heart or hustle, like commentators love talking about, "Oh, this guy's got heart," right? Well, what is that? I think a lot of that is actually being able to push through when your body's rundown.


If you think about someone who's got a low recovery and then has a great performance, that's kind of incredible, right? So it increases I think the story around sports.

Mike O'Toole:
It doesn't take the intangible or magic out, it in a way puts it in sharper leaf.

Will Ahmed:
Yeah. I think it also just amplifies how interesting a story can be. On the flip side of that, LeBron James has a remarkable rate of recovery. He can put ... I ran the Boston Marathon. I had a 20 strain. The score's out of 21, so I was I think at a 19.9, right? Lot of strain for me. I had a red recovery for three days after that. LeBron in the off season on WHOOP will do training where he'll be at like 20.2, 20.5, 20.0 three days in a row, and then on the fourth day wake up with a green recovery.


What to me was a marathon and it took me three days to ... And I'm reasonably fit. It took me three days to recover from. He's doing the equivalent of that three days in a row and still waking up peak recovery. That also I think's a pretty fascinating lens to understand an athlete. In general, I think that this data has huge potential to become part of the larger story around sports.

Mike O'Toole:
I totally agree. I take your point that it's mostly upside, but I suppose from the athlete's perspective it's, "Well, who's looking at my data and who owns it?" Become important questions, right? It's one thing if it's data that I get to use to understand and maybe in concert with my trainer my own performance, but maybe you feel a little differently about it if the data's for anybody to use or look at. Let's talk about that because I know that's part of your relationship with some of the sports leagues, right, is who owns the data?

Will Ahmed:
First and foremost, we believe privacy is really important and it's also not binary. Whenever you talk about a new category, I feel like people just go back into this old clumsy way of thinking about data as binary, where it's like you get all or nothing. I'm going to know everything about you or nothing about you. If there's anything we've learned from social networks, it's that there's so many gradations of what you're sharing. For WHOOP, we've built a platform with by far the most privacy settings of anything out there. We have 27 different layers of privacy for what a coach can share with an athlete or vice versa, teammates can share with one another, different administrators can see.


It's a very flexible system from that standpoint. Then on top of that, we also believe in athlete empowerment first and foremost. Our athletes themselves always have access to their data, they're always able to look at their data and engage with it. Then beyond that, we generally view it's the role of the leagues, the teams, and the players to agree on data ownership and data access. We don't view that that's necessarily our role as a technology company. Our role as a technology company is to make sure it's super transparent and it's very easy to understand and we're going to enable all sorts of different privacy levels and that's what we've done to date.


Now, beyond that we have done some really interesting deals around data ownership, so for example, we just did this deal recently with the NFL Players Association where WHOOP partnered with the NFL Players Association, we've become the official recovery wearable of the NFLPA, and as part of the deal, WHOOP will be distributed to every player in the NFL for the next five years. It's pretty fascinating. Beyond that, what's first of its kind is that WHOOP and the NFLPA will actually co-own the value of this health data. It's the first time that athletes can commercialize their health data. They own it, we help sell it. That's a pretty powerful moment because that's how one day you're going to have a commentator talking about how athletes slept or recovered before a game, and the fans watching are going to find that fascinating. It's going to affect gambling, it's going to affect the way you understand the story of who wins and who loses.

Mike O'Toole:
Fantasy sports maybe.

Will Ahmed:
Fantasy's going to love it. And then great content for the broadcasters and everyone else, and beyond that, the players are going to generate meaningful revenue from the value of that data.

Mike O'Toole:
That's a great story. Where else can that go? If you imagine people telling stories about data, what else do you come up with?

Will Ahmed:
Well, I think just at a high level, it's amazing just what a religion sports is. It's one of those things that it just completely permeates across society and it also dramatically affects society. What these athletes do changes how society behaves. Weightlifting I think's a really simple example because literally no one weightlifted 40 years ago and now there's a gym in every hotel in America. That was a story that was just told directly through professional sports.


I think the next story that's going to get told is around rest and recovery. WHOOP recently launched a consumer product and it's primarily targeting athletes, but what we've seen is that a much wider adoption than we were initially expecting. We've got professional musicians on it, we've got pilots, we've got doctors, we've got executives, we've got Fortune 500 CEOs, construction workers. Literally people who need to perform in their daily lives. What that tells us is that recovery obviously is a critical component for anyone's daily life. What am I going to do to perform well in what I need to do today?

Mike O'Toole:
Let's leave it on this aspirational note. There's a side to this where we are all performers, where all of us could use to understand our bodies better. That data used properly doesn't drain the magic. In the larger conversation about big data, people like to pit the data and human judgment against each other. WHOOP shows us a different way. The data, by revealing the biology behind the great stories of achievement, actually give us new insight into the performance. They actually make the stories better.


Coming up next time we'll be talking to Ancestry.com's CMO Vineet Mehra. This will be another conversation about secrets, data, and amazing stories.

Speaker 2:
The Unconventionals is written and produced by Mike O'Toole and Reid Mangan with Graham Spector. Production and technical direction by Reid Mangan. Additional media by Anthony Gentles. Our executive producer is Phil Johnson with PJA Advertising and Marketing. I'm Jafia Lahey. To listen to more episodes of The Unconventionals, visit agencyPJA.com/theunconventionals.

Mike O'Toole:
This is PJA Radio.
 

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