What Is “Superhuman”?
The definition of “superhuman” depends on who you ask. Ask a comic book nerd and they’ll probably talk to you about the X-Men. Ask a religious person and they might start talking about God. But ask the people behind of the Superhuman Summit—a one-day self-improvement extravaganza that’s a blend of TED talks, science fair, and networking—and they’ll show you this graph:
For those of you who don’t have the superhuman ability to read graphs, what they’re saying is that a “superhuman” is someone who never stops improving throughout their life.
And to discover how to get on the green of this graph, Kim and I were fortunate to have the chance to join 250 other attendees at Vancouver’s third edition of the Superhuman Summit this October.
Lessons From the Superhuman Summit Stage
The Superhuman Summit centered around performances and talks given by about twenty different experts who hail from a range of science, art, tech, and fitness-related backgrounds. Coming from all over North America, they each took to the stage to take their shot at inspiring us to get on that green, superhuman curve.
Topics varied widely. They included why you’d be irrational not to freeze yourself when you die, smart yoga pants that guide you into the perfect position, and surgical methods that let our bodies repair like lizards. Each presentation was enlightening, but these were Kim and my favorite takeaways:
1. Keep it Simple, Superhuman
Kim’s favorite speaker was Quantified Bob, who uses himself as a test dummy for every conceivable type of self-measurement. His advice (or warning?) was surprisingly simple: Don’t overdo it. Don’t get too lost in the endless sea of data and gadgets and instead focus on three key measurements: heart rate variability, air quality, and glucose levels. With mushroom (and mold) season literally in the air, Bob’s air quality point hit home. And, thanks to a free Mio Slice fitness tracker given to all attendees, Kim and I plan to start tracking our heartbeats too.
2. Do Sweat the Small Stuff
As in genes and microbes.
Taylor MacIsaac from Gene Blueprint explained that when it comes to diet and exercise the days of trial and error are over. They are to be replaced by gene sequencing and AI. We can now determine what type of exercise, and what mix of carbs, fats, and protein works best for each individual.
Helen Messier from Viome took this concept a step further. She revealed that genetic analysis no longer needs to stop with ourselves, but that we can now analyze the genetic makeup of the microbiome in our guts as well. This can, for example, tell us whether whether we have the specific bacteria that allows us to benefit from the antioxidants of a “superfood” like pomegranate. If not, it’s just super expensive.
Speaking of expensive, these tests are understandably not cheap. But Kim and I are eager to try, so we’ve put them on top of our Christmas lists.
3. Sleep Smart, Stupid
Not surprisingly, the most engaging talk of the day came from the most prominent speaker on the docket, #1 iTunes podcast host and bestselling author Shawn Stevenson.
Combining readings from a children’s book with hard science, he thoroughly convinced Kim and I that the best path towards superhuman strength, fat-loss, well-being, intelligence—basically everything—isn’t anything sexy, new-age, futuristic, or expensive. It’s sleep. Not more sleep, smarter sleep. He then gave us all a copy of his book, Sleep Smarter, for bedtime reading.
Lessons From the Superhuman Summit Lab
While the talks were fantastic, Kim and my favorite part of the Superhuman Summit was “The Lab.”
The Lab consisted of a couple different rooms where the speakers’ organizations and event sponsors shared interactive super-human related tips and experiences. With ultrasounds, IVs, brain tests, heart rate scores, and more, it was a self-improvement playground.
Here are our top highlights from The Lab:
1. Facing the Facts
At the Finlandia booth, Kim and I planted our faces into a “facial skin imaging device” to analyze our skin’s health. While we were happy to discover we both had the skin of someone three years younger than ourselves (maybe from all the chaga?), we also had to face one area of concern: higher than average UV damage. We plan to slow this rate of damage down by
staying in rainy Vancouver all winter using zinc-based sun screens while traveling through Africa and Latin America this winter.
2. Crawl Before You Walk
In personal consultations with Jeff Almon, sports performance expert and owner of MVMTLAB, Kim and I learned we might want to focus less on fitness activities like throwing rocks and more on being babies. Moving like babies, that is. By holding specific positions that babies find easy but make us adults squeal with pain, we can reset our movement patters to prevent injury and improve athletic performance.
3. Taking It All In
We jumpstarted our day with copious amounts of Bulletproof Coffee and delicious but healthy breakfast from Vital Supply Co. Our brains and bodies were then boosted by slurping superfood smoothies, drinking exogenous ketones, smoking and swallowing CBD from Nu Plant Medicine, and eating a lunch fit for a superhuman. And to cap off the day, we enjoyed a mojito cocktail from… Red Bull. Maybe this last part wasn’t going to put on us on the superhuman curve in the long run, but, hey, it was tasty.
Kim and I left the Superhuman Summit with our brains humming with knowledge and inspiration (and various other stimulants). We sure felt superhuman.
The event had opened our minds towards taking the risk to explore new things that might unlock our full potential. As the final speaker of the day, Dr. Jeff Spencer, said, instead of asking ourselves, “What do I have to lose?” like normal humans are wired to do, we should ask, “What do I have to gain?” That’s the superhuman mentality. Continuing to ask ourselves that question and explore new ideas is how we plan to get on that perpetually upward-sloping green line.
See you there. Or, if not, hopefully at least we’ll see you at the next Superhuman Summit.