Recently, I was having dinner with some close friends and they were all comparing notes on the various gadgets and websites that they used for exercise, calorie counting and sleep measurement. They were giddy over the data they were collecting. I surprised the heck out of them when I said “I think we need less data, not more.” Stunned, one of them looked at me and deadpanned “Dude, I think you’re in the wrong business.”
It’s true. As a venture capitalist, I’m supposed to be enthralled with data and the companies that are able to harness the magic that it produces to help people and businesses make better decisions, and honestly, I am. I also understand the value of data as it relates to exercise when training for a specific event or race. Collecting data on heart rate, cadence, power, elevation, distance, calories and myriad other things helps people train more effectively for specific accomplishments and I get that.
On the other hand, I think we can overwhelm ourselves with the amount of data we collect in our lives. I know plenty of people who obsess over their exercise, food and sleep data and they spend small fortunes on the gadgets that collect it. Call me a contrarian (and I know that many of you might have stronger words) but for me, exercise is my escape from all things digital. Whether I’m on my road or mountain bike, on my skis, hiking or running, it’s my time to be alone with my thoughts and it usually results in the most creative thinking I do.
I realize that there are a lot of great companies out there creating terrific products and programs that really help people who might need some more discipline in getting over the hump. For me however, unless I’m specifically training for a race, the last thing I want to be thinking about while I work out is the data accumulating as a result of my efforts, and when I’m done with my workout, I don’t want to sit down at my computer and distill it all six ways from Sunday. If I’m intellectually honest with myself, I know what type of effort I put in that day and I know if I’ve made progress. I don’t need reams of data to confirm it. I also know that if I didn’t exercise that day, it’s probably a good idea to stay away from desert that night. Calories in vs. calories out…
I can hear my friends laughing already but sometimes I think we can have too much data in our lives. Want to lose weight? Eat right and exercise more. Want to run or bike faster? Train harder and more often. Want to sleep better? Have sex more often (well, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it).
As I told my friends at dinner that night, I’m thinking about starting my own company that measures weight and helps people control their waistlines. I’m going to call it “Belt.” It’s going to wrap around your waist and have little holes an inch or so apart that help you measure your progress and we’re going to make them in all different colors, materials and widths. I’m thinking we can reserve BELT for our NASDAQ symbol…