The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Jake Muise — The Relentless Pursuit of Innovation, Quality, and Meaning (#678)

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Jake Muise (@mauinuivenison), CEO of Maui Nui Venison, a company he co-founded in 2017 that works to balance invasive axis deer populations on the island of Maui, channeling that management into incredible nutrient-dense food. Maui Nui was selected for Fast Company’s “Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Agriculture of 2023,” and its venison has been served in restaurants across the country, including Alinea, The French Laundry, and Saison. Prior to Maui Nui, Jake was executive director of the Axis Deer Institute for 12 years, part of a two-decades-long project focused on axis deer and their long-term management in Hawai’i.

Transcripts may contain a few typos. With many episodes lasting 2+ hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors. Enjoy!

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#678: Jake Muise — The Relentless Pursuit of Innovation, Quality, and Meaning


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Tim Ferriss: Jake Muise. This is Tim Ferriss. Welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, where it is my job to interview friends, foes, everyone in between, but the common thread is world-class performance, and the attempt is always to dig, to excavate, to deconstruct the lessons, thought, frameworks, and so on, that you can apply or test or simply ponder in your own lives.

My guest today is a friend, Jake Muise. Jake Muise is CEO at Maui Nui Venison, a company he co-founded in 2017 that works to balance invasive axis deer populations on the island of Maui. Channeling that management into incredible nutrient dense food. Maui Nui was selected for Fast Company‘s “Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Agriculture of 2023,” and its venison has been served in top restaurants across the country, including Alinea, which featured very heavily in The 4-Hour Chef. It was a big section entirely because it’s so impressive. The French Laundry and Saison, where I just mentioned. I was one of the very first investors when it was a popup with 12 seats, something like that. Josh Skenes, everybody should check him out as well.

Prior to Maui Nui, Jake was executive director of the Axis Deer Institute for 12 years. Part of a two-decades-long project focused on axis deer in their long-term management in Hawai’i. You can find them at Maui Nui, I’ll spell that out for folks, M-A-U-I N-U-I, and you can find them on Instagram, Twitter, et cetera, @MauiNuiVenison. I’m shocked those handles were available. 

I think we will start where all good stories start, and that’s with lava.

Jake Muise: Oh, wow.

Tim Ferriss: Fast-moving lava.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: So I’m going to use that as the cue and I’m going to let you run with it, but let’s begin with that.

Jake Muise: Thank you so much for having me.

Tim Ferriss: Well, absolutely. It’s good to see you.

Jake Muise: We’re going to have a blast. Lava, so in 2018, a fissure started erupting on the East Rift Zone on the Big Island. It was an area that was a lava zone previously, but had since been built over. So lots of homes. There was this beautiful area called Kapoho, which had amazing hot pools and tide pools and, well, it’s now gone, unfortunately.

So anyway, fissure 8 starts erupting; it splits into two, and it basically cuts off a several thousand acre area homes, people, and this lava flow is moving very quickly, 20 miles an hour. So within a 24-hour period is about three miles up the coast. It’s moving slower at the front, but essentially cuts off this entire area. State and Feds arrive right away. They start helicoptering people and different people out, people, plants, pets, whatever people are holding dear.

Then a cattle rancher had been cut off, and there were still 50-plus animals left between these two flows. You can imagine it looked like Mordor on the ground. Sulfur was terrible. There was lava bombs. The fissure was constantly spewing at about 100 to 200 feet.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, my God.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So I think the math — 

Tim Ferriss: It’s not a simmer.

Jake Muise: No, I think they said it was 26,000 cubic meters of lava per minute. It was absurd. It was like one of the fastest moving flows they’d ever seen. So anyway, a rancher did his best job to get the majority of his cows out, but there are 50-plus animals trapped between these two lava flows.

Tim Ferriss: That’s when you saw the Bat Signal in the sky.

Jake Muise: Well, kind of. We had happened about a year ago to develop the first of its kind live capture net system that with a helicopter, you can essentially pick up cows live and get them out of there. So if you can imagine a cone-shaped net with a 20-foot diameter frame on the bottom, and it’s hanging from a hundred foot line below a helicopter. So a helicopter’s moving, and this net is flowing back and forth, and you place the net over the cow, and then there’s a switch at the top of the cone and there’s two lines.

Then, as the animal tries to move outside, you let the first switch go at the top of the cone and the net basically falls on top of it. Then you just pick up the frame and it’s essentially sitting in a big bag evenly distributed. Then you fly it out and you put this bag down and you put the frame over it and it just stands up and walks away.

Tim Ferriss: Got it. So the frame is basically a rectangle or a square?

Jake Muise: It’s an octagon. Yeah. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Octagon.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Okay, got it.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So federal, PETA, everybody gets ahold of us and says like, “We need to get these cows out of here.” And we were — 

Tim Ferriss: That’s because it was known, at least to some subset of folks, that you developed this live capture system.

Jake Muise: We were previously using it to try and get cows out of high elevation critical watershed areas where they were causing extensive damage. So they get ahold of us. They run us through what they want us to do. Of course, I had to sit down on the team and say like, “Do you want to try and rescue cows over a 20 mile per hour lava flow?” I think one of the guys turned over and he is like, “We would get to be a lava cowboy,” and I was like, “Oh, man. Come on, who’s going to say no to that one?” Ended up doing our due diligence. It was pretty safe to do.

But long story short. We got them all out. But the first couple of days were so intense and the very first cow, so we’re driving out there in the morning, it literally looks like Mordor, the flow is creating its own weather system. It’s raining, it’s dark. It’s a two-mile flow. So it’s lighting up the entire area in dark red, and you’re driving towards it and you’re thinking like, “Oh,” and you’re passing all these national guards and you’re just like, “This doesn’t seem a great idea,” on your way out.

We get all loaded up in the morning. The head of PETA’s there. It’s this huge thing. There had been so much loss already. They had lost that entire community, hundreds of homes gone, and there had been so much loss. The community was starting to gather around this idea of, “These things that were left behind, we could actually get them.” Get there in the morning. We get all set up, get dialed in with the pilot. He had actually never done it before, but it was the only helicopter big enough that we could pick up those particular cows. Name’s Calvin Dorn. He’s just an absolute legend.

So we fly out first thing in the morning heading towards Fissure 8. It’s fountaining, 200 feet in the air. There’s lava bombs that look like they’re going at the height of the helicopter. The cows are trapped right underneath it. There’s video. This we can put it in the show notes.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, man.

Jake Muise: — for people. It’s crazy. He goes to pick up the first cow, grabs the first cow, does it all right. Then he goes to lift and he’s like, “Oh, this might be too heavy.”

Tim Ferriss: Oh, no.

Jake Muise: I have my sulfur dioxide. I have my monitors on. We’re not supposed to get on the ground. The net is attached to the helicopter, and he is like, “What do we do?” I was like, “Well, give it another tug. See if you can get it off the ground.” So he gives it another tug and he gets it a little bit off the ground, and I’m like, “Okay, can we head downhill and you can get some elevation?” He’s like, “Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to use the heat from the lava flow to give us a boost.”

Tim Ferriss: Ride the thermals.

Jake Muise: “We’re going to ride the thermals up with this cow underneath us, and it should give us a big enough boost. We’ll have enough elevation and then we’ll be able to get down to the corral system.”

Tim Ferriss: It’s crazy enough that it just might work.

I’m thinking, I mean, you don’t really have a choice. You’re like, “Sure, let’s try that.” So he gets this cow off the ground and he’s moving at a good speed. And we’re picking up a little elevation, and I can see the lava flow coming at 500 yards, 400 yards, 300 yards, and we hit the flow and it’s like somebody kicked us in the nuts. We just went straight up in the air. There was so much heat coming off the flow. I looked down to see what was happening to the cow, because the cow was a hundred feet lower than us, and this cow swings out, and then as it passes over the top of the flow, all we see is just smoke.

Oh, no.

Jake Muise: I thought like, “The head of PETA is sitting down here.”

Tim Ferriss: Watching my cow get vaporized.

Jake Muise: “I’m going to jail. Something terrible’s going to happen to us. This thing is over.” We gain elevation and we start to come out over the flow, and I’m looking down. I’m like, “Oh, God.” I had forgotten that it was pouring rain and it was soaked and all of that water, it just instantly vaporized. It looked like the whole thing was essentially on fire for a second. So we come out and I see all of the water vapor clear, and I’m like, “Oh, thank God.” Come down, land, that animal gets out, walks away, happy as can be. Then I think we’ve got seven or eight more that day before they shut us down and got a little crazy, and we ended up getting all 50 animals out of that place. Happened to be one of the most intense moments of my life. Certainly, maybe not the most dangerous, but I thought we were in a lot of trouble for that one.

But it was just such a viscerally intense scenario. You have these lava bombs going off and these two flows, and but a really cool experience in that community. There was this celebration when everything for months had been just — a lot of loss. 

Tim Ferriss: So let’s set the stage a bit by talking about the history of Hawai’i. Maybe we could start for a second just with the name Maui Nui. What does Maui Nui mean? Because even people who live in the Lower 48 or continental US, many people have not been to Hawai’i, and certainly people overseas, many of them will not have been to Hawai’i. But what does Maui Nui refer to?

Jake Muise: So Maui Nui refers to the three islands of Maui, Molokaʻi, and Lānaʻi. And epochs ago, they used to be joined. There used to be one giant island.

Tim Ferriss: It’s like the Pangea of Hawai’i.

Jake Muise: Yeah, and you can see it when you look at topo maps or Google Earth, you can see they used to be joined. So that’s when we were deciding on a name. We didn’t know where management might take us, but axis deer are located on those three islands. So we landed at Maui Nui as kind of the name. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Nui, is it fair to say, a suffix that is used, or maybe it’s just the order of kind of noun and adjective, but big?

Jake Muise: Yes, sir. Good job.

Tim Ferriss: So you can say “Mahalo nui,” like, “Thanks a lot,” right?

Jake Muise: Yep.

Tim Ferriss: Also for people, this may be a way to get into the history also, because we were chatting a little bit about it.

Jake Muise: Yeah. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: I’ve been spending more time in New Zealand and I’m fascinated by Māori culture, and there is a very close relationship between what we’re talking about and the culture in New Zealand. Could you speak to that a bit?

Jake Muise: Sure.

Tim Ferriss: Then after that, and you can tie this in however you’d like, but speak to sort of the agriculture of pre-colonized Hawai’i.

Jake Muise: Sure.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: So I’m going to speak to this as best I can.

Tim Ferriss: Right. You’re going to have to have. Actually let’s hit pause for a quick second, and because I think it’s worth mentioning up front. So a company co-founded in 2017, who is your co-founder?

Jake Muise: My extraordinary wife, Ku’ulani.

Tim Ferriss: She’s amazing.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Can you say a little bit about Ku’u for a second, Ku’ulani?

Jake Muise: Sure. I mean, first and foremost, a mother of three amazing children. A brilliant person all around. Funny, smart, beautiful. But she is a genealogist and a bit of a historian, and she guides a lot of culture within what we do. But she has such an in-depth understanding of our place. She’d be somebody amazing to have on if you ever wanted to really dig in. But she’s just this anchor for me personally and professionally to how we should be operating in this place.

Tim Ferriss: How long has her family been in Hawai’i?

Jake Muise: Well, she’ll tell you forever.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: Exactly.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. She also, if I’m remembering correctly, looks at old microfiche newspapers and sort of excavates and translates.

Jake Muise: So post-Western contact when they didn’t have a written language prior to, but post-Western contact, they became the most literate society in a matter of 50 years. I think 93 to 94 percent of the entire population could read and write. In doing so, they created hundreds and hundreds of newspapers that she shows me newspapers where there’s a picture of a drawn picture of a zebra, like, “Oh, this thing is from Africa.” It was extraordinary, the level of information that they had. I think they were also in understanding their place post-Western contact and how quickly their populations were declining. They were using it as this historical record.

So they were just writing everything down. So what she helps to do is only two percent of those newspapers have been translated. 98 percent of what could be their culture is sitting in these newspapers ready to be discovered, and it’s just a treasure hunt for her, every time she looks. She comes out and it’s just like her eyes are giant, and she’s like, “I found a new name for this rain.” She’s going to write an amazing book one day.

Tim Ferriss: Also, I mean, she’s very much multi-hyphenate polymath because she’s also an incredible designer. Really incredibly good and gifted. I hesitate to say gifted, she is gifted, but that maybe sounds like it minimizes the hard work and dedication required to get good at it, and an incredible writer also on top of that. So I wanted to mention that because that underscores the connection that she has and that you as a family feel with the land. So I wanted to just mention that up front and then we can go back to the pre-colonial agriculture and the tie between New Zealand.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So I think you could define this culture like literal geniuses. They were able to navigate all of the Pacific Ocean with extraordinary accuracy and directly speaking about Aotearoa. So Aotearoa was settled from Hawai’i.

Tim Ferriss: For people who don’t know the matching, so Aotearoa is the Māori word for what is also known as New Zealand.

Jake Muise: New Zealand. Yeah. They kept such amazing records of their voyages. My brother-in-law got to spend a whole bunch of time there with Māori in different communities. They have the actual boats, the canoes that were settled from Hawai’i. They know the lineage of who came on the boat, and they know where the boats are. They have them hidden, and they know where the boats are, and that’s how strongly they can connect their ties back to Hawai’i.

You just have to imagine that somebody that could navigate the Pacific with that much ease and accuracy, and it’s extraordinary to hear these stories. They’re on the most isolated land mass on the planet with the most finite resources, and so they developed, as far as I know, some of the most ingenious agricultural systems I’ve ever heard of. Great example, they’re called the Kohala Field Systems.

They had 500 miles of what looked like from the air swelled permaculture lines, and they used 273 different varieties of sweet potato to produce — oh, I just remember, they’re producing now yields 60 percent better than current sweet potato yields. You have to imagine pre-Western contact, there were up to a million people in the Hawaiian Islands.

Tim Ferriss: Wow.

Jake Muise: There’s only 1.4 million people now. So they had a million people on the most isolated land on the planet, and they were feeding an extraordinary population with extremely finite resources and somehow were able to maintain all of the biodiversity that I think they only know of a couple small species like a flightless bird that was just too easy to eat. They maintained extraordinary biodiversity, which just really points to how connected to that place where they had these amazing, they call them Loko iʻa, but they were fish ponds.

So I don’t know if you remember when you were there, but there’s these huge rock walls that come out into the ocean, near shore. Some of them are like 600 acres, and they had these amazing aquaculture systems where they were able to harvest fish constantly. They said at peak performance, there were 500-plus fish ponds across the Hawaiian Islands producing three million pounds of fish. That’s like, apart from what they were also catching outside of those ponds as well. I think actually, innovation is culture in that place, and she continues to point me back to like, “I don’t know, we’re going to figure this out. We’re a part of this place. We’re going to figure out how to find balance in these places.”

They just had some amazing, both agriculture system, but also economics and social systems. They had a particular system called an Ahupua’a system, and it was mountain-to-ocean land segregations that entire communities lived in and managed, and they were managed as these individual land segments. The entire system was built from top to bottom to protect water. So every feature of that system, how the food was grown, how it entered the water, everything was built to maintain good clean water.

Tim Ferriss: So let’s segue from that to axis deer. What on Earth are axis deer, number one, what is the history of their presence in Hawai’i? Why did they end up there? Then I have follow-up questions that relate to water.

Jake Muise: So in 1868, then, Kamehameha IV was given this gift and — 

Tim Ferriss: Who was the leader at the time.

Jake Muise: Then-ruler of the Hawaiian Islands.

Tim Ferriss: The Hawaiian Islands.

Jake Muise: Came from India down the upper Ganges to Hong Kong. She helped translate the story, my wife did, Ku’u.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: Then they were moved from O’ahu where they landed, and they were moved to the small island of Molokaʻi, only 40 miles long, 10 miles wide, and then a kapu, which is a restriction, was placed on them for about 15 to 20 years. And is — 

Tim Ferriss: What does that mean?

Jake Muise: A kapu is nobody was allowed to hunt them or touch them.

Tim Ferriss: And how many deer?

Jake Muise: Seven.

Tim Ferriss: Seven.

Jake Muise: Yeah. As early as 1898, there’s literature that says they hired sharpshooters from California — well, that was 1902. They brought sharpshooters in from California because there was already six to 7,000 of them. What’s really unique about axis deer is they’re one of the only deer species in the world that can breed year-round. So most other deer species will cast their antlers. Their antlers fall off through the year. When that happens, their testosterone levels drop significantly and their sperm is no longer valuable.

So axis deer are one of the only deer species in the world that sperm stays viable year-round. So it doesn’t matter if a doe is missed in oestrus. The current math that we have is they are like 94 to 95 percent of them are either lactating or pregnant year round. So they just introduced an extraordinarily verile species and have had profound impacts with that type of growth rate.

Tim Ferriss: So if we then flash forward to roughly 10 years ago or 12 years ago, what did the situation look like in Hawai’i with respect to axis deer, which have no natural predators on that land mass?

Jake Muise: Yeah, on Molokaʻi.

Tim Ferriss: In India, they certainly did.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So no natural predators, like the capability to breed year-round, extraordinary food sources, and being able to move up and down elevation to find what they need. So on the island of Molokaʻi where they were introduced, they’re now at a — sustainable capacity is the wrong word, but their population is only going up and down with available feed every year. What’s happening is they just have massive die-offs, and it was actually — 

Tim Ferriss: What do the numbers look like?

Jake Muise: 70,000 and there’s only 7,000 people.

Tim Ferriss: Wow.

Jake Muise: Yeah. It’s actually one of the reasons I got so interested in the subject as a whole is I think it was my second year in college and introduced this amazing family, and I was there hunting, trying to fill up my freezer for college because I was broke. I was there during a die-off. I remember coming around this corner and seeing 40 to 50 animals just lying there, lethargic, essentially dying of malnutrition, and it was an animal that was introduced to me as something to love, and it was precious. For the people of Molokaʻi, it was this amazing food source. But that’s the only way they’re currently balancing populations is just this really sad thing that happens every — 

Tim Ferriss: Overpopulation famine, and then it corrects.

Jake Muise: Yeah, and then it corrects. They lose about a third of the population every seven to 10 years.

Tim Ferriss: What is the impact on the various islands ecologically? Because I remember watching first time, this video that you guys produced in collaboration with a number of other folks and hearing voiceover, I think it was with people talking about flying over certain areas and saying, “Oh, wow, we didn’t know the wildfire reached this far,” and the answer was, “That’s not wildfire.”

Jake Muise: Yeah, because they can eat so closely to the ground, and they’re in such large numbers, there can be herds of four to 5,000. They’re able to denude landscapes in days. The real issue with that is when they do that in our watershed areas or high elevation areas, those trees developed over epochs thousands and thousands of years to capture water. What ends up happening is when we have some data from this, from a recent study, those watersheds are operating at 50 percent of their previous capacity.

Tim Ferriss: So I guess there are multiple issues at the consequences of that, right?

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: One is you’re just not capturing water, which is important if you’re in the middle of the ocean, unless you have a massive desalination program. You need the rainwater. What is the effect now that has on runoff?

Jake Muise: Yeah. So when you think about it from a — they call it Mauka to Makai, like mountain-to-ocean impact. What all of that denuded landscape is anytime we get any type of significant rain, even a decent medium rain these days, it’s pulling all of that topsoil, which took thousands of years to make, and then it’s depositing it on our reefs. What ends up happening is they’re smothering both new and old coral and the coral die. So there’s huge tracks of what used to be some of the most pristine reefs in the world that are now dead, and that also then impacts nearshore fisheries.

So we just had this amazing conversation about producing millions of pounds of fish pre-Western contact, and now a lot of those reef systems being very negatively impacted by that sediment deposit from runoff. Then when you look back up slope, mid-range, call it 1,000 to 6,000 feet, is where our food systems in are. So it’s where cattle ranchers operates, and farmers and coffee and all of these different, really important — for as a function of food security, all these amazing foods that we’re trying to grow there. You can’t grow them unless you have a 10-foot fence at $45 a foot, and even then, like — 

Tim Ferriss: $45 a foot.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: That’s not cheap.

Jake Muise: No. So they are also having a severe impact on our food system. So ecosystems, food systems, nearshore, fisheries, and reefs, it is a compounding conversation.

Tim Ferriss: So to then take a look at how seriously people in Hawai’i are taking this, let’s talk about the three-year hunt, and we’ll build from there.

Jake Muise: Okay.

Tim Ferriss: Actually, I’ll just add one sidebar. I’ll put this in the show notes as well. For people who are interested in learning more about the incredible navigational skills that you’re referring to, there’s a really beautifully written, detailed chapter in a book called The Wayfinders by Wade Davis that talks about the sort of Polynesian diaspora and their ability to navigate, and it is mind-blowing. It’s a real accident. It’s a real mistake, rather, to think of some of these ancient technologies as primitive.

They’re not always primitive. They’re just different sets of skills and technologies. But they would have the captain as one person, the head of the ship, just making everything orchestrate. The navigator would be a separate person, and they would basically sit like a Zen monk and not sleep at all, because they’re tracking multiple currents. They’re keeping track of where the boat is in space, even when it’s totally overcast, and they can’t use the stars. I mean, it’s unbelievable. So I recommend people check out The Wayfinders by Wade Davis. 

Three-year hunt.

Jake Muise: Got it. So the Axis Institute, which was what I started in college initially as a means to collect information because nobody in India would answer me. Then became very much a way to learn more and facilitate some research. Four axis deer were illegally introduced to the Big Island of Hawai’i. So we’ve talked about Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, and Maui. So four axis deer were illegally introduced to the Big Island of Hawai’i, which was just about 10 years ago.

The Big Island, it’s called the Big Island for a reason. All of the Hawaiian Islands can fit inside the Big Island, and it is also the food hub of Hawai’i. We grow all of the vast majority of food on the Big Island, and the impacts of axis here were already really well known. So it was a state emergency, when these animals were found, and the Axis Deer Institute happened to be one of the few people that knew a lot about axis deer. So we were given that responsibility and contract to try and find and remove four deer from a hundred square mile area. So they didn’t know where they were. They — 

Tim Ferriss: And these aren’t elephants?

Jake Muise: Oh, no.

Tim Ferriss: What’s the size profile? Just so people can conjure an image.

Jake Muise: 150 pounds. Think about them standing three and a half, four feet high, maybe six feet long.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: So a pretty small height.

Tim Ferriss: So what are the biggest differences for people who might be more familiar with say, whitetail?

Jake Muise: Well, the biggest difference is where they evolved. Axis deer evolved with Bengal tigers and leopards in dense jungle, and so they have this crazy sixth sense.

Tim Ferriss: Their agility is unbelievable, and they’re just vigilance, and sensory perception is incredible to observe.

Jake Muise: I think because they didn’t deal with some of the evolutionary stresses of seasons in India, they’ve also developed this amazing ability to adapt their home ranges to very safe areas. So on a typical home range, could be a mile and a half to three miles in a given day, but when they find a safe spot, they will stay in a very small area for an extended period of time.

Tim Ferriss: I see. So they move less than, say, a whitetail, is that what you’re saying?

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Therefore, they’re better able to denude a concentrated area.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So they’ll find these little cubby holes, these safe areas, and they’ll completely denude these areas and they move onto these next places. But for the project on the Big Island, which was literally a three-year hunt, we worked every single day except Sunday for three years to find these four animals.

Tim Ferriss: Did they multiply in the meantime or no?

Jake Muise: Yeah, we ended up removing five, but it was this extraordinary exercise. It took us seven months. Like you think you go on an average hunt, it’s three or four days and you’re already tired. It took us seven months to get a camera trap image of the first one. We had 50-plus camera traps all over. Every piece of water we could find in this a hundred square mile area, we hiked every day.

Tim Ferriss: Piece of water. You mean ponds or lakes?

Jake Muise: Ponds, blue rock, that water would pool in, anything we could find, water troughs.

Tim Ferriss: Any water sources.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So we finally get a camera trap image. We’re like, “Okay, we have idea of [inaudible].” It takes us another four months to get the first one.

Tim Ferriss: What do you do between? So you set up the cameras, you’re like, “We know these things. We know that all animals…” well, not all of them. “We know these animals need water,” and set up the traps and takes seven months. So you get an image.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Boo, boo, boo, boo, boo. “Oh, my God, we got our first image,” and then it takes another — how long?

Jake Muise: Three months.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. What are you doing in those three months?

Jake Muise: So two things are happening. One, we’re doing ground transects looking for sign. So you would love this. You’re tracking every single day. You’re just looking for the tiniest sign that they’re in an area trying to — 

Tim Ferriss: You used an expression “transect” something or other — 

Jake Muise: Transects.

Tim Ferriss: So you’re basically breaking it into grids so you know what you’ve covered and not covered?

Jake Muise: Yeah. So you’re gridding at — I think we were doing 10 meters, massive areas. But what we also did in the process, which we’ll move into our later story, is we had to find a way to increase detection rates. So we started, and it was such a huge emergency that the military was involved as well. So we got to work with the military and utilize some of their forward-looking infrared, both helicopter mounted and binoculars. The minute we started using that tool, we knew instantly like, “This is the tool that’s going to be able to find these animals.”

Tim Ferriss: So forward-looking infrared, FLIR?

Jake Muise: FLIR. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: FLIR is, can we think of this as sort of black and white Predator vision from the Schwarzenegger movie?

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Okay.

Jake Muise: Exactly. You put the mud on you. It’s detecting heat and turning it into a visual image for you to use. If you’re cool or not emitting heat, can’t find you.

Tim Ferriss: I posted a video you sent me of FLIR footage from a drone, which if you want to see the scope, the magnitude of the problem in terms of just the volume of animals with respect to axis deer, you have to see this video.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: It’ll blow your mind. I put it on Instagram, we’ll link to that in the show notes as well.

Jake Muise: Yeah. And we ran out of range.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. It’s not like they stopped.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: But it looks like a veritable New York City of axis deer.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: At night.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Unbelievable.

Jake Muise: So this particular technology, which significantly increases detection rates both from the ground but from a helicopter platform as well, especially when looking straight down, you don’t have the vertical layering of vegetation, you’re able to look straight down through vegetation and pick up different heat signatures, that’s actually how we ended up finding them after the camera trap image is we started flying on a constant basis and then we figured out where they were, took a week to put a plan together, and then we were able to remove — 

Tim Ferriss: When was this? What year was this?

Jake Muise: 11 years ago.

Tim Ferriss: 11 years ago.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: So were you using quadcopters or a different type of drone?

Jake Muise: No, we were flying out of a helicopter.

Tim Ferriss: A helicopter. I was going to say, this would have been very early days — 

Jake Muise: Oh, yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Of any type of drone technology.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So we were out of a helicopter, leaning out of the helicopter with a binocular. Yeah, it was not a lot of fun. And we were doing it four or five hours a day.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. That won’t make you motion sick or anything.

Jake Muise: Yeah. Yeah, well I’ve got lots of those stories. Anyway, takes us another two years essentially, but utilizing that technology, we’re able to find and remove all of those deer including the two that had been born. And there were very few invasive species projects that are successful in Hawai’i, period. 

Really cool fact, introduction of species to Hawai’i pre-human contact was every 25 to 50,000 years. It was whatever came through wind or water, right?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: There is a new species being introduced every eight days at this point.

Tim Ferriss: God, yeah.

Jake Muise: And again, the perfect place to grow anything.

Tim Ferriss: So side note, and this might be a total useless side alley that I’m taking us down, why are there so many chickens in — 

Jake Muise: Oh, I love this story. Oh, okay, here we go.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: They bring in mongoose, okay? The powers that be decided we’re going to get rid of the rat population by bringing in mongoose, one of their predators. Well they didn’t realize that mongoose are awake during the day and rats are awake at night.

Tim Ferriss: Oops.

Jake Muise: Oops. Giant oops.

Tim Ferriss: And guess what? Mongoose are really good at killing other things.

Jake Muise: So including our native birds, which the introduction of some of these species are so absurd. Anyway, so on the Big Island, Maui, Moloka’i, I think — yeah, they have mongoose and there’s no chickens. Guess which island doesn’t have mongoose? Kaua’i.

Tim Ferriss: Why don’t they have mongoose?

Jake Muise: They came to the dock, they were introducing them to each island. They came to the dock and somebody at the dock was smart enough and he booted them off and drowned them. He booted them off the dock and drowned them.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: And it’s just this amazing contrast of you can’t find a chicken on another island on the side of the road and you can drive on Kaua’i and see a thousand chickens in 30 minutes on the side of the road.

Tim Ferriss: So wild. I mean these highly biodiverse isolated environments are so beautiful and compelling and also so fragile to disruption. True with New Zealand as well.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: I mean in terms of biosecurity, it is one of the highest priorities.

Jake Muise: Right. And they do an amazing job. Hawai’i is doing better, but they’ve done a very poor job over the years in restricting what’s coming into the island. So yeah, back to that three-year hunt. So successful in removing an invasive species that there could have been a million-plus axis deer on the Big Island. That’s how large the Big Island is. And would’ve been absolutely devastating as we talked about before, food systems, watersheds, nearshore fisheries, et cetera, et cetera.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: And then that was actually the jumping off point for what is now Maui Nui is some ranchers on Maui said, “Well, wait a second, you guys actually did that?” And you have this technology so what we also developed with that third technology is highly accurate surveys. So within 95 percent, we can tell you exactly the number of deer that are there.

Tim Ferriss: And how do you do that?

Jake Muise: So transects again at 400 meters.

Tim Ferriss: And then you take a sample.

Jake Muise: No.

Tim Ferriss: You don’t do a sample count, because a lot of people do that, right, and then they multiply it out.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So they do something called distance sampling, which is they fly a certain number of transects and then use math to basically extend what they’ve found and make a guess over a period. And so we do a complete transect of the entire area at 400 meters with a 20 percent overlap so we can have a confidence interval of the number of times we’ve detected deer twice. And we have done several projects where it’s in a large, fenced area of a couple thousand acres and we survey, we remove deer, we survey again, and we’re never off by more than five percent.

Tim Ferriss: That’s wild.

Jake Muise: So we have a tool that can accurately tell us the exact number of deer and the impact of our management. And it’s a tool, it’s just super important because otherwise I think what we do would be irresponsible without that level of data.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, without that level of precision.

Jake Muise: The folks on Maui said, “If you can do that, come over here.” And they were still calling them spotted rats. That was their relationship. They had been introduced to Maui in 1959, in 1960, so they weren’t as culturally ingrained as they are on Moloka’i.

Tim Ferriss: And just to paint a picture for folks, so the spotted, the axis deer, please fact check the shit out of this if I get anything wrong, but they’re very streamlined animals. They’re not as beefy as whitetail. Their antlers are angled more backwards. And they have, I’d say just generally speaking, very tawny, burnt orange color with white spots.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: And that’s hence the spotted rats.

Jake Muise: Yeah. And that dappled coloring was used in those jungle environments and they camouflage between there and grassland, it’s amazing how well they’ll move.

Tim Ferriss: Japanese deer are the same, it’s a very similar pattern. Yeah.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So it started the, “Oh, wait a second, if you can be successful with a project at that scale, what can you do over here on Maui?” And that was actually the first phone call to the USDA to say, “How do we use these animals?” Because they were talking about having us remove thousands and thousands of animals and they didn’t care what we did with them. They knew there wasn’t a solution. We couldn’t use them for food and we couldn’t donate them, they still needed to come under some type of food safety inspection program in order to donate them to food banks and stuff. So that was the first call to the USDA to say, “Well, wait a second, what would be the process?” Because there were no rules in place.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: What would be the process to — 

Tim Ferriss: Well, it was just considered off the table, right?

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: So there are rules that just never been applied to this type of harvesting.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So that three-year hunt was the springboard into successful project completion in that place where there’s still no deer and potentially had a massive impact. And then the springboard to Maui to try and do something more.

Tim Ferriss: So I’m going to do a little flashback, Austin Powers-style or Wayne’s World, maybe, get my Mike Meyers stuff mixed up. Did you learn about confidence intervals playing volleyball?

Jake Muise: I think actually no, it was in the worst class of my life, which was business statistics in college. But — 

Tim Ferriss: Ended up being useful.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: You can’t imagine how much of that stuff actually comes back.

Jake Muise: Yeah. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: All right. So of course I’m teasing a bit by bringing up the volleyball. Just briefly so people have a little bit more color.

Jake Muise: Sure.

Tim Ferriss: Where does volleyball fit into your life and where does free pizza fit into your life?

Jake Muise: Okay. Was a classic Canadian kid, played a lot of hockey until we were too broke to play hockey anymore.

Tim Ferriss: Wait, how do you get too — okay, too broke to play hockey, just too much gear?

Jake Muise: Yeah, too much gear, growing too fast.

Tim Ferriss: Ah, right. I forgot about that. Right, it would be replacing your ski equipment every year or two.

Jake Muise: I remember my dad sitting down and being like, “I know you love it, but you need to pick a different sport.”

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: And they’re like, “Volleyball requires knee pads, that’s all you need.”

Tim Ferriss: Your knees shouldn’t grow as much.

Jake Muise: “Here’s a great sport for you to try.”

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: Ended up falling in love with it, just an extraordinary sport, redirecting balls, moving a hundred-plus miles an hour. Luckily, got pretty good at it. Spent a lot of time with our Canadian national teams in different forms and then was recruited to play at the University of Hawai’i. I was a decent enough player. I actually think it was — I sent them a video of surfing. We started surfing on the east coast of Canada when we moved out there. And there’s six feet of snow and a tiny little ice floating around and they’re like, “Well if this kid can do this, he’ll probably turn into a good player.” Played four or five years there where I became a family member for that family on Moloka’i where, we talked about earlier, was able to travel because the east coast of Canada was so far. Really lucky to play professional volleyball for three years. Got to play throughout Europe, the Maldives, Indonesia.

Tim Ferriss: So, pause, can you frame for folks who don’t have the context, a lot of people, how popular is volleyball? It’s not something that people in the US generally watch at all.

Jake Muise: Yeah. In Canada, there was nobody.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: It was my mom and dad cheering us on.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: But Hawai’i happened to be — it’s the mecca of volleyball. They have a — 

Tim Ferriss: Wait, worldwide or just in the US?

Jake Muise: Oh, just in the US. They actually won the last two national championships over the last couple years, but they have a 20,000-seat stadium that they filled on a regular basis for men’s volleyball.

Tim Ferriss: And then you go overseas to Europe. Do people watch volleyball in Europe?

Jake Muise: Yeah, it’s huge. So volleyball is the second sport to football or soccer. So you were associated with another club.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: And you just got basically spillover of all the soccer fans or football fans. But a huge professional league there that for great players pays extraordinarily well. And for me, which was not a great player, was this amazing opportunity to go to Europe, see all of these different places. And the professional teams only ever accepted two international players. So you were embedded and immediately assimilated into whatever culture you were in, which it’s just such an amazing way to be a part of those places versus some outsider, right? So that leads into the story of free pizza. So my first week playing in Harlingen, which is in northern Holland.

Tim Ferriss: Gesundheit!

Jake Muise: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, well that plays into this story. I had a week of practice and our first game was coming up and I was still very much getting used to the language. The coach was this 6’8 Olympic legend. He was this legendary Dutch player. And I think he was happy I was there, but I was just another player. And you’re paid to be there, so you play really well.

Tim Ferriss: He’s trying to mime with you to get things done, right?

Jake Muise: He’s not giving it a lot of effort. And then we’re playing one of the best teams in the league for the very first game, we’re doing really well. He puts a play together to finish the game. I had no idea what he was saying, okay?

Tim Ferriss: What could go wrong?

Jake Muise: Completely screw it up, embarrassing level screw up, and we lose. And after the game, he comes aside in broken English and he’s just like, “You play better or we fire you.” You weren’t playing for fun anymore in college, you were getting paid to play really well. And the reason I didn’t play well is because I couldn’t understand what he was saying.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: So the very next day we were reviewing film and he was going off again and I didn’t understand what it was. And I just remember putting my hand up and saying, “Does that mean we get free pizza after the game?” And he was like, “What?” And I was like, “Does that mean we get free pizza after the game?” He was like, “No, that’s not what it means.” And then you could see his brain and he explained, “No, we’re going to be committing on this individual.” He explained it in English to me.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: Half an hour goes by, he’s getting ready to tell us the bus schedule. It’s all in Dutch, I have no idea what’s going on. And I put my hand up and was like, “Does that mean we get free pizza?” And he’s getting irritated and then I think it finally clicked and he was like, “Wait a second, we need to be a little bit more patient with this guy.”

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: And I tell it as a funny story because I used that phrase as I went to Indonesia and the Maldives and it was this amazing way for me to ask dumb questions.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: Because otherwise I was lost. And it has translated to one of — and I know you’ve talked about this in the past, it’s translated to one of these small superpowers that I have where I’m never afraid now to ask the dumbest question in front of some of the smartest people through that practice. And it really is, it’s a superpower.

Tim Ferriss: I want to highlight this because it’s really important, right? And I have another friend, Mike Maples, Jr. And oftentimes when he wants to ask a question that no one else is going to ask but it’s an important question, but people are nervous to ask it for any number of reasons, and he’ll go something along these lines. He’s from Texas. And he’ll be like, “I’m just a country boy, I move a little slow. So bear with me, let me ask you.” And he’s actually razor sharp, right? But he has that as a way to wrap a question that needs to be asked in the same way that you were able to buy yourself permission to ask these questions, which by the way, a lot of the dumb questions are on everyone else’s mind, not in this particular case with everyone else who speaks Dutch. But there’s so many circumstances where there’s some type of pink elephant question, but people are nervous to ask it because they don’t want to look stupid or A, B, C, D, or E. But in fact, it’s a really important question.

Jake Muise: And when I was playing in Indonesia, we had a Brazilian guy that spoke even less English than me. And after my third day of asking for free pizza, he came up to me and he was like, “Thank you so much. I wouldn’t know what’s going on unless you were asking these questions.”

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: And now it just translates to last week, we’re building an API, which I have no idea what the hell this thing — and I just kept saying, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” And I had a clue, but I could see the blank looks on the Zoom calls.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: Nobody knew what they were talking about. And it just gets stuff done so much faster.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: Yeah, and it’s just been this amazing thing in my life that has worked really, really well.

Tim Ferriss: Just to put a bow on the chapter of volleyball, so you mentioned that you were not the Ronaldo of volleyball.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: But you ended up taking an oblique angle and extending your career related to volleyball. How did you do that?

Jake Muise: Ended up starting or helping other players find contracts. Yeah. So I had a couple players that I knew that said, “You’re not that good. Just being honest here. You’re not that good, how did you get a contract in Europe?” And I said, “Well I just called everybody until they kept answering.” And was working with this other player agency. Anyway, I found a great way to find mediocre players, teams. And some of them were only getting a thousand euros a month, but they didn’t care.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: It was the best thing ever, and then got a small percentage of that salary. And yeah, it was an amazing way to extend that life and yeah, it was a lot of fun.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. So let’s come back to Maui Nui. And there are a whole different number of angles that I want to take to cover some of what I think are interesting features of things. And a lot of them tie into why Maui Nui became my first ever, I mean really if you look at my portfolio, food investment in — when was it? 2019. So it was a while ago. Part of it was I think there’s a myopia perhaps with many people who specialize in some form of early-stage investing, let’s just say tech, to associate innovation purely with technological advances in a certain medium or in a certain capacity. But I saw a lot that you guys were doing that reflected a level of experimentation and unorthodox thinking that was super attractive to me that made me think it would be in combination with other things like nutrient density, which we’ll talk about, attractive. And also, everything is fucking delicious and I like delicious, healthy things. Let’s talk about the seven on, seven off, because this will sound at first description to be a little odd for a lot of folks.

Jake Muise: Sure. So we have a very unique schedule for our team members. And all of our team members work seven days on, seven days off. And they get a great compensation package, great benefits. And it was originally designed to deal with flipping back and forth from the sleep schedule. All our harvesting operates at night and we wanted to give our harvesters enough space to essentially recover and feel good and be able to come back to work. And when we started to grow, we decided to keep that system for essentially almost all of our field and butcher staff, the vast majority of who we are. And it’s turned into this extraordinary benefit that we didn’t see coming. And we did a little experiment last year because we wanted to make sure we were — living in Hawai’i’s extraordinarily expensive and we were trying to be as responsible as possible. So we have two full teams, everybody that works seven days on and another team comes in, we essentially work nonstop. We have two teams switching back and forth. So we offered them unlimited overtime. And can you guess what happened?

Tim Ferriss: Tell me.

Jake Muise: Nobody took it.

Tim Ferriss: So explain for a second what that would actually mean. What is unlimited overtime?

Jake Muise: Yeah. So we said on your seven days off, you can come in and work every single one of those days you work at time and a half, at an overtime rate.

Tim Ferriss: And no one did it.

Jake Muise: Nobody did it. And it’s just this amazing mark — 

Tim Ferriss: So what do you make of that?

Jake Muise: Time — 

Tim Ferriss: They were just happy with — 

Jake Muise: A, there’s nothing more important than time.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: B, lots of them, it’s been this really interesting and amazing thing to watch them. Seven days is a long time.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: When we hire somebody, almost inevitably their first week off, they call me and they’re like, “What am I supposed to do? It’s day four.” And they’re like, “I haven’t had a seven-day vacation in three years, what am I supposed to do?” I’m like, “Well, get used to it.”

Tim Ferriss: Find some hobbies.

Jake Muise: Yeah. And it’s been amazing to watch them become a better community member or start a food truck or start their own company and they come back. We essentially have 100 percent retention of the people we want. And they come back on the start of their seven days and they are the most extraordinary person coming back to us. And then they work amazingly well for seven days. That age-old adage of one person is better than two average is 100 percent true, and we have data to support that in how we look at production and stuff now.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: And so the other thing that I think is really important for the people we hire, which are hyper local people, we’re looking for people of those places, is you’re giving them an opportunity to leverage that place and enjoy it. So half of them will just fish for six days or go hunting or enjoy surfing or something else. And it’s just this amazing schedule that really allows them to enjoy the place that they are from and live in. But more importantly, we have an extra extraordinary group of people. And it just had to roll over the hill a little bit and combine with the other things like through COVID when nobody could hire anybody, we had stacks and stacks and stacks of resumes on my desk. It just has turned into this amazing work environment and we’ve had no lack of essentially efficiency or production.

Tim Ferriss: So let’s talk about some of the processes and metrics that inform that output and efficiency.

Jake Muise: Sure.

Tim Ferriss: Because it doesn’t happen by accident.

Jake Muise: No.

Tim Ferriss: And I’ve visited your operation a few times now and I’ve always been, this won’t surprise anyone who’s followed me for a while, I’m always impressed with very finely tuned tracking. So could you speak to some of the metrics that you track and why they’re important?

Jake Muise: Sure.

Tim Ferriss: And then we’ll segue from that into let’s have you describe what a shift actually looks like.

Jake Muise: Sure.

Tim Ferriss: When you’re going out at night.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So we have two — 

Tim Ferriss: And you can feel free to switch back and forth or do one first and then the other afterwards.

Jake Muise: So the harvest side of what we do, which is really the unique aspect of what we’ve built, is these field harvesting systems that comply fully with USDA standards, i.e. everything that operates in a brick and mortar we’re able to do in the field through a combination of forward-looking infrared and these different software systems that we built. And we were only able to create those systems and levels of efficiency with what you’re pointing to is an absurd amount of data that we keep. So we keep track of every mile, every bullet, every time we stop, the moon phases, how the moon phase influences deer, we call it moon-fluence. And we have these giant KPIs and sheets that basically — 

Tim Ferriss: Key performance indicators.

Jake Muise: Yeah, that dictate where we go, what we do and then who we put in different places. Actually, I don’t think I’ve told you this, but we just submitted a grant to NASA. Harvard and MIT, these PhDs at Harvard and MIT found out about what we did, found out we keep an absurd amount of data compared to most agricultural companies and NASA has a grant available for ag companies where they’ll fly this amazing satellite, comes over Hawai’i at 10:14, we just finished putting this giant grant together, crossing my fingers.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: And it’s so detailed that these amazing people at MIT and Harvard believe they’ll be able to detect deer with the satellite and then use the information and data we collect every single night on when we’re seeing them and how and how we’re interacting with them to incorporate with the machine learning to create route planning for us. So they think a combination of satellite data and the ground data that we keep combined will be able to tell us on the next day where to go.

Tim Ferriss: Wow.

Jake Muise: I was freaking out when they were explaining all of this and lots of dumb questions that went along with it, yeah. But they were shocked at the amount of data we keep. And they even got to see we’ve run lots of different experiments of how we collect data. And I think maybe what you’re pointing to is just this constant iteration of we’re going to try this thing, we’re going to keep data. I think there’s that great saying, “Measure what matters.” If you don’t measure it, you won’t know if it’s actually worked and we are just constantly changing and measuring things. And so we’ve actually taken that philosophy into our butcher facility, which is a very well-known industry with well-known inputs and production efficiencies. And we’re crushing those numbers and we’re just doing it through constant iteration. Doesn’t matter if the angle of a table or this machine or the different knife that we use, we are constantly iterating and constantly collecting data to see are we producing a better product faster with more quality?

Tim Ferriss: So let me come back to the USDA.

Jake Muise: Sure.

Tim Ferriss: Or maybe not directly USDA, but comparables. And then we’ll go from there to a sample night, what the run of show looks like in the process. And the reason I want to talk about these two things is that in the field, things are harder to control than you would find in a facility where you’re using, say, cattle chutes and so on. What does your, and people are not going to like some of these words, so apologies to those people, but I think it’s fascinating and important to cover these things, what does your, say, kill efficiency or your measurements of humane kill look like compared to a conventional facility?

Jake Muise: Great question.

Tim Ferriss: And the reason I wanted to talk about this, there are quite a few, but one is that I know that a decent portion of your customer base is vegans or vegetarians who make a sole allowance for Maui Nui venison.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Which is maybe a head scratcher for a lot of people. So let’s talk about your field efficiency compared to what most people are indirectly experiencing when they buy something just wrapped in styrofoam at their local grocery store.

Jake Muise: Sure. Part of the systems we had to build were we had to follow the Federal Meat Inspection Act, which the USDA is present to make sure that animal is supposed to be harvested humanely and then that ultimately, after that animal is processed, make sure it’s safe to eat. That’s their two primary functions. And I know this is hard for people to hear, but if you eat meat like it’s what it is, in a typical brick and mortar facility, that animal is coming in on a trailer moving through a chute system going into a press most often. So that animal is completely stationary and then the language is called rendered, but it’s then essentially shot in the head. So we had to follow those exact same rules in the field and with no control of the animal.

Tim Ferriss: The rules meaning humane, safe to eat.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: But not following that process.

Jake Muise: But not following that process, yeah. So we don’t interact with these animals at all prior to that rendering or harvesting process. They’re entirely wild. And what we developed was a particular shooting system that allows and/or standardized our shooters to miss on purpose 30 percent of the time. And that sounds weird, but what it is is we are essentially making sure every shot that we hit that animal is perfect and there’s never any outside injuries. And to do that, if you shoot a two-inch group at 200 yards, which is difficult to do, and you aim at the very, very top or tip of a head, you are going to miss about 30 percent of the time. And so we actually operate — 

Tim Ferriss: So just to — 

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Paint a visual for people, so two inches, it’s a little bit bigger than, say, a silver dollar.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: So imagine you have something that’s slightly bigger than a silver dollar and you put it 600 feet away, you need to put every shot inside that silver dollar.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: That’s what we’re talking about.

Jake Muise: Yeah. And then you need to make sure your aim point is in a place that never can create injury, because if you miss high, nothing happens. That animal runs away.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: And so we actually operate at about a 99.9 percent rendering efficiency.

Tim Ferriss: And what is the brick and mortar average?

Jake Muise: 98 off of thousands and thousands of animals. So we were able to meet and exceed those guidelines or those rules.

Tim Ferriss: In the wild with animals moving around.

Jake Muise: Yeah, with a combination of — so you can imagine, and this maybe leads into what a night in the field looks like, but you have these Mad Max-looking UTVs with forward-looking infrared screens essentially attached. The USDA inspector is sitting right beside you the entire time. And the technology is so good that the heat, the friction the bullet makes passing through the air, the USDA inspector’s actually able to see that bullet that took the head of every single animal. And it’s just an extraordinary process where the animal is unaware that you’re there. And so it is truly, truly wild until the second harvest and then dies immediately.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: And so which comes into play for nutrient density, there is no stress.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, they’re not flooded with — 

Jake Muise: Prior to harvesting. And I think when we get about a message a week from a vegan that says, “I’m finally able to come back to eating meat,” because they understand why the animal has to be managed and why that animal’s dying, and then they agree and connect strongly with that process. It’s truly the only stress-free harvesting or slaughter of an animal within our food system.

Tim Ferriss: Could you talk for a second about why this is so rare, right? Because people might think, “Well can’t you just go hunting and sell the meat?” You cannot do that.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: So what makes you able to do this?

Jake Muise: Yeah, great question.

Tim Ferriss: For people who don’t have that background.

Jake Muise: So an elk in Montana is a native species and it is owned by the public. So it’s on public land. It’s on public land. Even on private land, that animal, the management of that animal is dictated by the state. It is still owned by the people, right? So an invasive species on private land in Hawai’i is the liability and ownership of the landowner. So it is a very unique situation in which you can actually do this process legally. And it’s only in the instance where it is an invasive species on private land. We are not allowed to operate on public land in Hawai’i.

Tim Ferriss: And I bring this up, I mean obviously, look, I love Maui Nui. I’m an investor, so of course I’m biased. But it all came down to, and I think we were initially introduced by Peter Attia.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: The quality, just this pure quality and nutrient density of the product for me, right? That’s what it came down to. But I think as means of just educating people about game meat and the sale of game meat in general, or let’s just call it atypical proteins like venison, elk, and so on. How much of the venison, elk, et cetera, that people might buy at a Whole Foods or something is farmed?

Jake Muise: 100 percent.

Tim Ferriss: 100 percent. So I bring this up just to say that people say you are what you eat. That is true, but you’re also what you eat ate. So if an animal, let’s say deer or an elk, is being fed, who knows, corn feed and all sorts of stuff, and given antibiotics, potentially, it’s very different from something that is wild-harvested. So I don’t want to skip too far ahead. Let’s talk about a night out, just what that looks like, and then we’ll talk about nutrient profile.

Jake Muise: You can imagine a bunch of hyper local Hawaiians, who I love, getting up, rolling out of bed. We all sleep on site. We’ve got all these cubby holes for them to sleep in. We all sleep on site. We’re getting up, making — 

Tim Ferriss: 10:00 p.m.

Jake Muise: 10:00 p.m. Making dinner and breakfast together. Some of them are diesel engines. You’ve really got to shake them to get going. And we are constantly moving, so we have mobile facilities where we’re moving from site to site to do this process. We have these primary sites on all of the different ranches that we work with. So the first thing we’re looking at each evening is moving our mobile facilities to another site to get closer to the deer. And the reason is, one of the other rules we have to follow is after that animal is rendered, it has to be back to the facility, cleaned, processed, without a single hair on it, in an hour.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. It’s pretty mind-boggling. So we’ll also link to a video that shows snippets of this that’s on YouTube. Because if people think about that, I mean, it’s pretty mind-boggling to think about it.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So we’re asking our — 

Tim Ferriss: And maybe you can walk through how that’s accomplished.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So we’re asking our team members to be snipers, rally car drivers, CrossFit athletes, butchers. The people we have on our teams just have these extraordinary skill sets. It’s the funnest thing to watch a guy in his first week.

Tim Ferriss: Access to your decathletes.

Jake Muise: Yeah. We have to pick up every single one of these animals and carry them on our backs, because you’re not allowed to drag them. You can either introduce contaminants and/or bruise the meat. And it’s actually one of my favorite parts of the night is it is the complete opposite of the rest of the meat industry. After you’ve killed this animal for food, you’re carrying this animal on your back into its next stage of life with the food. And there’s an individual connection with each one of these animals. And it’s something that every guy on our team really takes pride in, is being able to pick up these giant, 250-pound animals across razor sharp lava or all super — 

Tim Ferriss: 250. That’s a big boy.

Jake Muise: You have these giant bucks. Anyway, we’re moving mobile slaughter facilities and we’re getting all set up in stage and you’ve got these Mad Max UTVs. And everything is getting ready for what we call the performance period. And the USDA shows up and it is essentially game time. You have a finite period of time, which for a long time was only three hours. So you have all of the variability of a wild animal and you have to make it all work in a three-hour period. Your entire business comes down to — your mission business, how you operate, comes down to managing variances in a three-hour period.

So nobody walks. Everybody drives faster than they’d like to. And we’ve never had more than a cut finger, knock on wood. And we expect just extraordinary people and athletes to come work with us. We have had lots of people that have come and been with us for a week and said, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this every night. It’s impossible.” So USDA comes, we have this very defined performance period where we’re going really, really fast under control and getting as many animals as we can, getting them back and processing them. And then before you know it, the sun has come up and the night is over.

Tim Ferriss: Now, just so we understand some of the tools of the trade that go into this, so you’re using night vision scopes? How is the technology layered to make this work?

Jake Muise: So the first piece of technology that will start the night is these forward-looking infrared drones. So a drone is going in there to give us a picture of a couple thousand acres to say deer are going to be in these areas as we get started. The forward-looking infrared binocular system that we use, I can tell you the difference between a goat and a deer at seven miles. So at 150 yards, you can see every hair, any abscess. The USDA being able to say that animal is healthy is achieved through that technology. And there’s no lights on. It’s completely black. Deer has no idea what’s going on as they’re being evaluated by the USDA. And then the shooters also have forward-looking infrared scopes. So you never have to introduce light into the scenario to scare them. And that’s what allows you to harvest enough animals every night to make it work. So you come up over a hill, you see a couple deer, all of the lights go off, all of this forward-looking infrared equipment comes on instantly so the USDA is able to view it.

He’s able to look at those five animals and say, “Yep, you’re able to take those animals.” And we need to wait. He has to verbally say those things. Oftentimes you can shoot several of those animals because they don’t actually know what’s going on. It’s the middle of the night. And the minute they don’t feel safe, they just run. So you know you’re still harvesting them under stress-free conditions if they’re just standing there. Half the time, they’ll go back to feeding. Animals are rendered properly, they go down immediately. And as soon as our shooter says “Clear,” and the USDA says “Clear,” people are sprinting into the bushes to find these animals. Again, it’s the middle of the night. If the grass is four feet tall, we have laser pointer systems that come off of the UTVs to show them the right direction.

And animal gets picked up, brought back to the UTV, and then we’ll collect a couple of them. We have a roving team, they’re called. So we have a team of rovers that essentially are the Mad Max team, where they’ll collect a couple deer and then they’ll move as fast as they can back to where the mobile slaughter and processing facilities are stationed. And so they’re just cycling back and forth between the harvesting team and the processing teams. So it’s just this intricate dance. And this is all at night on — this is not paved roads, these are rough off-road scenarios. And so one of my favorite things to do is the first week we train somebody, we have a course that they have to run. And we let them run the course once, and it typically takes like seven minutes. And we’re like, “We need you to do that in three minutes.” And they’re just like, “What?” “We need you to do that in three minutes or you’re not going to get back in time.”

And so it’s always fun to sit in that seat. And we have these very specialized UTVs that are essentially impossible to tip over. But it is so fun to watch these amazing local guys develop all these incredible skill sets. And every morning the sun comes up and everybody’s just grinning ear to ear. It very much feels like a sports team. And obviously with my history, I run it kind of like a sports team and the coach. And just an amazing experience to do one of these hunts.

Tim Ferriss: So just to define terms also, if people don’t know what UTV means, it’s kind of like a super tactical Mad Max golf cart.

Jake Muise: There you go.

Tim Ferriss: That’s a bit larger. Right?

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: So people may have seen — Polaris is one brand name, there are many others. There are other terms used to refer to these things, but that’s what we’re talking about. So what are some of the other keys to selecting or building a team like you have built? Because you’re asking a lot of these people. And it’s an unusual work culture. So what are some of your frameworks, systems, criteria for hiring, but also training once people are in the position?

Jake Muise: I mean, great people already being there to train great people really, really goes a long way. And we can talk about that system we built later, if you want, but the communication and people being patient is probably the most important thing. You have to imagine, you’re doing almost everything through radios so you sound like Kermit the Frog all night long. And you only catch half of it sometimes, but you’re moving really fast and the expectation is you keep moving fast. And so somebody has to be patient enough when, “Oh, I didn’t get that message,” or, “I didn’t know what’s it like.” Communication is so key when you can’t see body language, you can’t hear properly. And everybody’s operating out of a headlamp, so you have this little 10-degree view of what you can see through light. And I’m sure it’s the most critical thing in a lot of businesses, but when you’re operating like that at night, it just becomes this amplified skill that if you don’t have, we get on it so fast.

Tim Ferriss: And communication, how do you get on it?

Jake Muise: So early on, I’ve never had a hard time talking, having hard conversations. So I would talk to people about tone and approaches and different words they could use, like reminder instead of, “Get this thing done.” We really focused on individual language. And then we basically built a language of harvesting. So we have all of these key words. So we’re rolling, we have all these key words that we use so people don’t get confused with what’s going on. So we’ve created our own harvest language that allows people not to get confused when we’re going really fast. And then ultimately we built a system called HHS, which stands for Humble, Hungry, Smart and is largely based on — 

Tim Ferriss: HPA. What was the first one?

Jake Muise: Humble, Hungry, Smart.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. Gotcha. So [inaudible] Canadian.

Jake Muise: Yeah. And it’s largely based on a book that Patrick Lencioni wrote called The Ideal Team Player. And it is a peer-to-peer evaluation system that measures humility, work ethic and emotional intelligence. And it became so important for us to have the right people. The biggest risk we have every single night is safety. And it became so critically important to have the right people and the right personalities that we had to build a system to measure those personalities.

Tim Ferriss: And that’s in the recruiting vetting process?

Jake Muise: Oh, yeah.

Tim Ferriss: How do you measure those things? Humility.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So we created essentially a scorecard. It has six questions per category, so six for humility, six for work ethic, six for emotional intelligence. Questions like do the energy they bring every night, is it consistent, as in it positive? So we talk about body language and emotional intelligence and all these different things within these questions. And I’m happy to provide this thing. And we use it in three ways. We give it to the person on the second interview when we’re hiring somebody. So we say, “Here’s the HHS system. This is the only thing you’re accountable to in your first month.” And two things happen. They read it and they go — or actually they just don’t call back.

And I’ve made a ton of hiring mistakes in the past where you get past this honeymoon phase and people turn into grouches and there’s people’s personalities involved. And I remember a guy that we were going to hire that was a brilliant electrical engineer who wanted to quit his job, come work with us, because he heard about the seven and seven schedule and thought it’d be the best thing ever. And then he read it and he didn’t call me back. And I really wanted to hire him, and I called him back and I said, “Any reason you didn’t call me back?” He’s like, “I have terrible body language and I’m not willing to quit my job and take the chance within the first month that I get fired for bad body language.” Because we score them. If you’re an A, we celebrate and figure out a way to reward you. If you’re a B, we find immediate improvements that you need to make within some of these categories. And if you are a C, we let you go on the spot, no questions asked.

Tim Ferriss: And you set that expectation up front.

Jake Muise: We set that in the interview. They have to agree to this system coming in. They’re evaluated by their entire team, including them doing a self eval, which is a part of the overall score. They get to grade themselves.

Tim Ferriss: And the team, are they sent on a test evening prior to hiring, or I guess they just know that once they start going out — 

Jake Muise: Yeah. So we call them tryouts. But when somebody comes to try out with us, which means we give them a month, we hire them on, but we call them a tryout. And at the end of that tryout, though, which is typically a one-month period, they get graded by their entire team. And they know. It’s this really tense moment where — 

Tim Ferriss: How many people are on a given team?

Jake Muise: Eight to 10.

Tim Ferriss: Got it. Yeah.

Jake Muise: So it’s a good average. So if somebody — 

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, if somebody’s got a bug up their ass about somebody — 

Jake Muise: It doesn’t matter.

Tim Ferriss: It’s just one person.

Jake Muise: It always ends up being a great average and it always ends up being a great measure of that person. And it’s been this extraordinary filter for hiring. Asshole is the wrong word, but when we figured out how to use that system, we now grade every person at their first month. We grade every single person quarterly, including me. Every single person gets graded. And there’s questions on there like, “Do they try or ask to do more than is required of them every day?” And it’s been so amazing to see the mistakes I make in when we’re hiring new people or moving people around.

A great example is I moved a couple people from a field position into a management position, and then all of a sudden their work ethic score started coming down. And it wasn’t because they weren’t working any harder, it was I didn’t do a good job defining to the team what their new responsibilities were. So they saw them sitting on a computer and doing these things, and they’re like, “Well, they’re not in the field helping us.” And so it’s just this amazing quarterly exercise that just pulls out all of the tension within your teams and creates framework for people to address those tensions. And then ultimately what’s amazing is to watch people grow.

Tim Ferriss: How do you give feedback? Let’s say they come back and they’ve got a bunch of Bs.

Jake Muise: Yep. So we — 

Tim Ferriss: What’s the big boss do?

Jake Muise: Yeah. So we sit them down and we say — 

Tim Ferriss: Is that the royal we or is it just you?

Jake Muise: No, no.

Tim Ferriss: It’s multiple people.

Jake Muise: Yeah, it’s me and the two or three other harvest managers. Great example. One of the questions we ask talks about are they genuinely happy to see their teammates succeeding? Because safety is such an important part of what we do, when we bring somebody in that’s more talented, just like a sports team, moves the best people into the best positions, we immediately move people around positions based on their skillsets. So somebody has to be genuinely happy to train somebody that may replace them in a role that they may enjoy more.

Tim Ferriss: They used to be the right striker or whatever.

Jake Muise: Exactly.

Tim Ferriss: And they just got replaced.

Jake Muise: And it’s amazing to watch somebody that really wants to be there because they find purpose and they really love the schedule and they know the impact that they’re having to our community have to make the decision to be better for their teammate every night, to be celebrating that person’s growth, even though it’s potentially coming at the cost of something that they enjoy. And so there’s these — 

Tim Ferriss: That’s hard.

Jake Muise: Oh.

Tim Ferriss: I mean, I’m not saying it’s unreasonable, but I mean, that’s asking a lot of a lot of people. I mean, I don’t know if I would — if I’m being honest with myself, I think that’d be hard.

Jake Muise: Here’s the thing. It’s been such a amazing exercise, with lots of iterations. The first three iterations I made so many grown men cry and I felt so bad.

Tim Ferriss: Was that your delivery or the measurement? Were you just like, “Hey, listen, fuckface?”

Jake Muise: It was just a mess. The measurement was wrong.

Tim Ferriss: “You can sink or swim.”

Jake Muise: No, you’re getting evaluated by your peers on your personality and the value it’s bringing to your team. And you have to sit down quarterly and be told, “Your humility is not good enough for this team.”

Tim Ferriss: I assume that the responses are all anonymized.

Jake Muise: Yeah, everything’s anonymized and then averaged.

Tim Ferriss: For what it’s worth, I’ve done what’s called a 360 interview. And I know people who as executives or founders have had these done. And without exception, myself included, every time that I spoke to somebody who’s experienced this for the first time, they’re like, “I went and then sat in my car and I basically had a nervous breakdown crisis of meaning. What do I do?” These are names everybody would recognize, but they were just like, “Holy shit.”

Jake Muise: Yeah. The first time we did it with a large enough team that I included myself in it, because we were just so small early on. It was I think the third iteration. I was like, “I need to be a part of this.” And I got all of the feedback back. I was just like, “Oh, my God.” But if we really want to build extraordinary teams, I realized my approach to some of our conversations had to be so much better and nuanced to make them better. And it wasn’t the right approach. And you learn all of this. You end up reading this thing like braille after doing it. I’ve done it hundreds of times now.

Tim Ferriss: And with repetition, I imagine. It’s like exercise, right? It’s like, okay, if you’re going to do apply metrics once a year, you are going to be very, very, very sore. And you might even hurt yourself. But if you’re doing it routinely it changes.

Jake Muise: But it was amazing to see what happened. We built this system because we knew we had to go from like eight people to 45 in a really short period of time to hit our mission goals about a year and a half ago. And I had made poor hiring decisions in the past, and they were mostly personality-based, or that person was operating amazing when I was around, but the minute I left, they turned into a different person. And then there’s this he said, she said game that this completely erases all of that. Because it’s anonymous team scoring and the manager doesn’t have a unweighted vote whether that person stays around. And what ended up happening is that HHS program started attracting people. They started hearing about this accountability process to ensure — 

Tim Ferriss: You’re attracting better fits.

Jake Muise: Oh, yeah.

Tim Ferriss: So you’re not saying, “Hey, fuckface” in the fourth, fifth, 10th, 20th iteration. What’s the language that you use if somebody has growth opportunities, let’s call them?

Jake Muise: Great. It’s really specific to which of the 24 or which of the 18 categories they’re struggling in.

Tim Ferriss: But how does the meeting start?

Jake Muise: Okay. So we sit down and we’re going to give them paper and we say, “Okay, you’re a B-minus.”

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. “Tim, we put a 250-pound animal on your back. You crumpled into an origami crane and you couldn’t get up.”

Jake Muise: So you’re a B-minus. And then we celebrate, first, some of the categories that they’re doing really well in. Some of the categories that point to professionalism or energy or all these different things we celebrate right away because each one of the 24 segments have different scores within them that have been averaged throughout their team. And then we address the ones that they’re like a C in. And a great example, a lot of our young guys that come on board.

Tim Ferriss: Got it. So they’re not cut if they have a C in a particular — 

Jake Muise: A C average.

Tim Ferriss: — review point. It’s the average. Yeah. Got it.

Jake Muise: So the C average, and it’s been amazing to see that system work. I’ve let go several people that were Cs that I would’ve never let go — I wouldn’t have known to let them go. I wouldn’t have known that that was the impact they were having on the team at large. It just would’ve never come out.

Tim Ferriss: And I would love to — you mentioned, I think you offered to maybe share the questions.

Jake Muise: Oh, absolutely.

Tim Ferriss: So we’ll put that in the show notes as well,, because I’m incredibly curious to check it out myself. At least at face value, it seems like a very elegant solution to a lot of problems that can seem like fragmented, separate problems you have to address in different ways.

Jake Muise: And again, I’m just a system builder, and by no means is it perfect, but I’ve heard lots of people speak to how important these different personality traits are and how they reward them. And more importantly than the C are the As. Being able to say to somebody, “This incredible combination of humility, work ethic, and emotional intelligence is making your whole team better.” And your whole team is telling you you’re extraordinary at the thing. Being able to reward and compensate somebody for that and have a measure to do so.

Tim Ferriss: When you say compensate, so let’s say they have — I know this is getting in the weeds a bit, but I feel like that’s where a lot of the good stuff is hiding. So how many questions were there again?

Jake Muise: There’s 18 questions. Six on humility, six on work ethic, and six on emotional intelligence.

Tim Ferriss: And they get this A, B, or C for each of those questions.

Jake Muise: Yeah. It’s graded one through seven. We just did it because there was seven days of the week, and we talk about being excellent every day. So it’s one through seven. And then we add of all the scores, which is 126 total, and they get a percentage. So if they’re an 87, we give them a B-plus.

Tim Ferriss: Which is the average or the total?

Jake Muise: Which is the average.

Tim Ferriss: How do you reward or compensate the As?

Jake Muise: If they’re in their first six months of employment and they get two As or A-pluses in a reward, we give them a raise based on that contribution. And then we celebrate with the team like “[inaudible name] was an A this last quarter.” And we make sure the team knows the contribution that they’re having. And what’s so interesting, they already all know.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Right.

Jake Muise: But to not have framework to reward them for being amazing people has always been this fuzzy place for me where I couldn’t reward or compensate that person for being an extraordinary individual that was making their whole team better because it didn’t fit into what the classic hard skills define, as they’re a great shooter or they’re a great driver or one of these different things. And every single one of those A-plus people are our most highly skilled people as well. When you operate with a certain level of humility, you are more willing to learn. And you learn faster.

And every single person that’s come through our program that was a B-minus or a C that was highly skilled had made the choice not to get better at these, what I very much consider skills, just weeded themself out. It’s been really cool to see people grow. And you’re in this camp and you see these guys. A lot of them will tape their score up above their bed. And they’ll like look at it in the morning and say, “Okay, my job is to make — I was a B-minus on this thing. I need to bring more consistent energy every night.” We’ve got guys that go up and down and up and down and they’re like, “Okay, I’m going to be trying to be more consistent.” They know what they’re working on.

Tim Ferriss: That’s so cool. This gave me a flashback, because when I was in high school, and I wasn’t particularly — just for whatever reason, I mean, I trained my ass off, but I was not the most gifted wrestler. But I was pretty tough. And not 10 out of 10 tough, but I ended up reading this book. It’s, I’m sure, dated in a million ways, but it was called Mental Toughness Training for Sports. And there was an assessment. And it was actually, now that I think about it, pretty similar to HHS.

And I gave the assessment to five or six people and they did the assessment. And then I took my score and that became my reminder. And that is when, in a single season, I mean, I went from kind of middle of the pack to almost entirely undefeated until the very end of the season. And it’s not because I was the most gifted, but it’s in part due to having a constant reminder that is not from one person. You spot patterns and you’re like, “Okay, if it were just one person, I could maybe dismiss it. But now I’m getting this from multiple people I respect.” And it works, man. It really works.

Jake Muise: I think we’re in a unique position where — 

Tim Ferriss: And you could do this, I’m just thinking out loud, obviously. I was going to say talking out loud, but that’s a bit redundant. “I’m just talking out loud here, folks.” But you could use this outside of an employment context. You could take this HHS and give it to five to 10 people you know and just ask them to be honest. That’s the prereq. I’m not asking you to be nice, I’m asking you to be accurate.

Jake Muise: And I want to give credit where it’s due. Patrick Lencioni is an amazing — the book The Ideal Team Player, which is what a lot of — the questions aren’t based on it, but this idea that — the original name, humble, hungry, smart, is from that book. And so when somebody comes in, they have to read that book and it gives them the base principles of what we’re talking about. And then we basically design the questions. And it’s been incredible. You get young 25-year-olds that come in and their first couple of weeks they’re sitting in a meeting and they’re hunched over and they got their hood on.

And typically, that’s a hard conversation to have with somebody, to say, “I need you to sit up, take your hood off, be an active listener.” Because it’s an uncomfortable thing to talk to somebody about their body language. And you get to do that immediately because the team has framework and language to say, “Hey, listen, brother. In three weeks you’re going to get graded. One of those things is body language. And if you just sit up in the meeting, take your hood off, and make sure you are looking at the person talking, you’re going to get a better score. We like you, we want to keep you around.” If you happen to come in late — 

Tim Ferriss: It’s set up front. It’s not impromptu, improvised.

Jake Muise: It gives them the ability to have hard conversations when somebody rolls in a little bit late, which is already unacceptable. But if they don’t genuinely apologize, somebody gets to come to them and say, “One of our questions is about being genuine about your apologies if you’ve made mistakes. And we’re allowed to make mistakes here and we make a lot. But you come in and being like, ‘Oh, sorry guys.’ Don’t do that next time and it will be better.” So it’s outside of me, it’s given everybody else framework to have uncomfortable conversations and/or celebrate people.

Tim Ferriss: So The Ideal Team Player, Lencioni. This is assigned reading?

Jake Muise: Yes.

Tim Ferriss: This is an assigned reading. Do you have any other assigned reading?

Jake Muise: Not for field teams. We have them focus on that one for sure. For some of our other staff, we have Confessions of the Pricing Man. Simon, I think is the last name.

Tim Ferriss: I’ve read that book.

Jake Muise: It’s really good. Anybody that deals with any type of product strategy, I make sure they read that one.

Tim Ferriss: I haven’t thought of that book in a long time.

Jake Muise: Oh, it’s so good.

Tim Ferriss: Confessions of the Pricing Man.

Jake Muise: And then The Road Less Stupid.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. I don’t know this one.

Jake Muise: It is one of my favorite general business books. And I’m drawing a blank on the — 

Tim Ferriss: It’s okay. It’s memorable.

Jake Muise: I’ve read a lot, actually. Chris Ashenden recommended it to me.

Tim Ferriss: For those who don’t know, Chris Ashenden is the founder of AG1. Previously Athletic Greens.

Jake Muise: Yeah. And he’s been an amazing guy whose always handed me homework. He’s an amazing — 

Tim Ferriss: He’s a great operator.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So again, I’m happy to share all of the questions. And I think when people see the questions, actually, they’re tailored to our teams, but it’s actually pretty easy to tailor those questions to your specific work format. I haven’t quite found a way to move them into the virtual Zoom world because a lot of them are so tactile in how people work together in workflows. And there will be several iterations, we just changed it again. But in its current format and framework, I think it could be valuable to people. I’m happy to share that.

Tim Ferriss: Amazing. Yeah. We’ll put it in the show notes for folks to check out. I promised it earlier, so I want to not be remiss and come back to it as this conversational boomerang returns to me. Nutrient density.

Jake Muise: Got it.

Tim Ferriss: How should we tackle this? Where would you like to start?

Jake Muise: We could start at when — 

Tim Ferriss: This is true for plants.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Also true for meat. Anything you put in your mouth has a certain composition. And just because it’s called the same thing, banana, banana, banana, green bean, green bean, green bean, does not mean they are equal in nutritional value.

Jake Muise: I think, and I’ll start at maybe the end, I think nutrient density, i.e., food quality, and being able to measure that accurately and someone be able to understand it in its simplest form, i.e., on a label, is going to completely change our food system and be the lever for regenerative agriculture.

Tim Ferriss: Meaning having an indicator on a label, some type of measurement. Just like you look at calories, just like you look at fill in the blank.

Jake Muise: If you walked into a store tomorrow and you flipped it over and there was two blueberries and one said 92 and one said 76, and you knew that 92 meant that was that much better for you, measuring thousands of biochemicals that they now can through metabolomic testing, you’re going to buy the one. And what’s so amazing about the conversation of nutrient density is that is nutrition of place. And when you think of regenerative agriculture practices, which is basically just layering conservation practices, like we’re taking care of soil, we’re taking care of water, we’re doing these different things.

Tim Ferriss: Which people have done for a long time in certain cultures.

Jake Muise: And we got away for for a long time and now we’re coming back to it. And if you knew the quality of your food, not measured by the five metrics that are currently available, but measured by the thousands of biochemicals that we can now test for, both good and bad. And there’s billions of dollars going into this. The Patagonia Provisions were like, “This is coming for sure.” And what was really interesting for us is we got to be one of the first people to be fully tested. So about two years ago, we submitted our bone broth to a typical USDA FSNS lab to make our label. And I remember them, they called me and they said, “Something’s wrong with these bones.” And I was like, “We sent you the bone broth that were made from regular bones.”

They had thought we had put some form of protein powder or additional collagen in there because it tested 33 percent higher in protein per ounce than anything they’d ever seen. So they had to retest it and it came out the exact same way. And our mission was never nutrient density, our mission was to balance populations. And I always knew it was better for me because that animal had a choice to eat. But when we got that testing, we were like, “Wait a second, what is going on here?” So we sent more, we sent livers and hearts and different cuts into a conventional lab for testing. Sure enough, lab emails me in the middle of it. I remember this one. They’re like, “There’s something wrong with the hearts. They have too much choline.” I’m like, “There’s nothing wrong. We just sent you a heart” And we were working with — did you introduce us to Anthony Gustin? Who? We got to Anthony Gustin?

Tim Ferriss: I don’t think so, but I do know. I know who he is. Absolutely.

Jake Muise: Okay. So we were working with — 

Tim Ferriss: He’s helped other people I know.

Jake Muise: We were trying to figure out and compare after we got that information to a typical comparison to beef. What he pointed us to, which was crazy and scary, is the vast majority of the USDA databases from the 1930s.

Tim Ferriss: I wonder if I made that intro. It’s possible.

Jake Muise: You’ve made a lot of them, my friend.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, it’s possible.

Jake Muise: I appreciate it. But what we found out is that the nutritional comparison to beef weren’t even actually able to do it because the data was so dated and you’re able to be off within 20 percent on a label, which is a whole other story. 

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. People who are packaging things have more wiggle room than a lot of consumers realize.

Jake Muise: 20 percent wiggle room.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, it’s wild.

Jake Muise: Up or down, whichever one favors them.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Jake Muise: Yeah. So Dr. Gustin introduced us to somebody, Dr. van Vliet at Utah State University, who has probably one of the most advanced food labs in North America. And he was doing the largest beef study ever done, and the most in-depth, measuring a thousand-plus biochemicals through disadvanced metabolomic testing. We just happened to get tossed in at the end of it. So there’s 200-plus beef — 

Tim Ferriss: Little spritz of axis deer.

Jake Muise: There’s 200-plus beef samples. And then they threw us at the end and he thought like, “Oh, this will be really cool to see an animal that has a choice to what it eats.” What that might look like in what we understood as a fairly fertile area, right? Okay. Comes out, two to four X the phytochemicals, so all of the good stuff from plants that gets transferred into meat were two to  four X. Were eight to 64 X the omega-3s, so like DHA was 20 times — it was just, every single category was absurd. And then probably the most exciting for me is they measured oxidative stress. The stress in animal goes through during that process, you can measure that oxidative stress and its impact on — there’s a whole bunch of chemicals I still don’t understand.

I’m not a nutritionist, but they were able to measure the negative impacts of stress. And of course ours was essentially zero and the cattle, the beef stuff, was all over the place. It was pretty scary. But what was most, when I saw it, the most exciting thing, honestly, wasn’t Maui Nui. It was, A, this is nutrition of place. This is a direct reflection of how well and how fertile a place is because all of that nutrient density is coming from the plants that they’re eating in, i.e., the soil — 

Tim Ferriss: The soil, exactly. And the water.

Jake Muise: Yeah. And the water moving through the soil and instantly realized if every consumer had this level of insight into the nutritional quality of their food, it’ll completely change the way people look at that food system. And then we got to — 

Tim Ferriss: And then it’ll change the entire sort of supply chain production side.

Jake Muise: Well, it’s not a race to the bottom anymore of producing commodities, which is the most you can at the cheapest price. I mean, this is my favorite saying. Every time Peter Attia says we’re over-nourished, I’m just like, “Yes.” We’re producing an absurd amount of calories that aren’t good for us. It’s coming and we’re going to understand the nutritional quality of our food and it will be graded and easy to know. And that will create these direct relationships with these, what will probably be regenerative agri-practices that are fostering the health of these places. Then so when we dug even further, we found out that the leeward slopes of volcanic — 

Tim Ferriss: What does leeward mean?

Jake Muise: It is the windward side of a slope.

Tim Ferriss: Got it.

Jake Muise: Yeah. Hawai’i Haleakalā has a very particular soil called andisols, and then there are three types of andisols. Andisols are some of the most fertile soils in the world. They hold water better and hold more nutrients from those waters better. And then of the three andisol soil types, we have one called ustand, and it’s the most fertile of the three. So, the slopes we’re harvesting these deer on are actually, I think the ustands make up 0.05 percent of the world’s soils.

Tim Ferriss: That’s wild.

Jake Muise: We happened to be — 

Tim Ferriss: Luck of the draw.

Jake Muise: Yeah. And that’s the thing. Again, this was never our mission. The mission was just to balance populations, but we happened to have one of the most virile animals in the world that has a choice to eat exactly what it wants, moving through the most fertile slopes maybe on the planet. I think that’s what Dr. van Vliet got so excited about is he now has a marker to say when there’s an extremely fertile place that’s like for most part well taken care of in a lot of the areas because they’re able to go to the very best areas, this is what nutrient density could look like. And it’s, vitamin A was 800 times in the liver versus some of these beef livers.

Tim Ferriss: To come back to one point, the DHA, I don’t know if there’s EPA in axis deer. I have no idea. I’m not a lipidologist, if that’s the right term.

Jake Muise: I think there is, yeah.

Tim Ferriss: On the omega-3, side is eating axis deer in terms of levels of omega-3s, I guess we’d have to think about the sort of concentration per ounce, but is it comparable to eating some types of fish or would it still be significantly lower than fish?

Jake Muise: Well, we don’t know the answer to that yet because the study measured it in comparison to beef.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, right. I see. So the percentages and so on were benchmarked to beef.

Jake Muise: The new piece of equipment that Dr. van Vliet has coming in will be able to give us measures in milligrams, micrograms. We’ll know that in the near future here, and this is what ultimately, there’s several companies working on this. Audacious is one of them, this amazing company. They’re going to be able to measure these thousands of biochemicals to the form that you need to turn them into a label. But we know, to answer your question, we know even in comparison to beef, it is about halfway to salmon. So it’s actually a significant source of omega-3s that, for some people that don’t eat fish, it goes a long way. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. Little inside joke, because before we pressed record, we were talking about some very, very well known professional sports teams who are using Maui Nui to feed their players. And some of these players, for whatever reason, just won’t eat fish, but they will eat Maui Nui.

Jake Muise: Well, and blood test every week, these extraordinary athletes. And we’ve just started working with a lot of these sports nutritionists, and they’re going to be able to measure for us if it’s having an impact on these athletes.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, that’s cool. That’s so cool.

Jake Muise: Just really, again, never part of the mission for us, but an understanding of place. And this is what gets cool. My wife’s so excited and she’s like, this comes back to that conversation of innovation is a culture. Hawaiians were able to produce extraordinary nutrient rich foods with finite resources for a million people. And Hawai’i now imports 95 percent of its food and half of it’s Twinkie-level nutritional value. It really points back to, I think our place is informing what we’re doing. And it’s really fun to have such a strong connection to place and it helped to inform your solution.

Tim Ferriss: Connection to place, you have Kuʻulani, you have the little ones. Oh, yeah.

Jake Muise: Right?

Tim Ferriss: You live in Hawai’i. Let’s talk about the family for a second. Uh, oh. Clawback allowances.

Jake Muise: Man, I get to give you credit for this.

Tim Ferriss: This is — 

Jake Muise: Wait till you hear this one.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Okay. Fire away.

Jake Muise: John List.

Tim Ferriss: I was just thinking about John List.

Jake Muise: John List, the economist you had on the show, and he was talking about using clawback allowances in a professional format, but I remember him talking about using it to potty-train his kids. And this idea of loss aversion, like I already have it and you’re going to take it away from me being much stronger than the opposite.

Tim Ferriss: Right. How hard will you work to make $50 versus how hard will you work if you feel like $50 has been taken away from you?

Jake Muise: Exactly.

Tim Ferriss: The latter.

Jake Muise: We had been struggling with — 

Tim Ferriss: Equals a lot more.

Jake Muise: — allowances for the kids. And we make lots of mistakes as parents. And what the allowances were accidentally doing were they were training them — they had jobs and they did their jobs and then they earned their money if they did their jobs. But what it was doing is when we asked them to do extra stuff and be helpful, it was like, “Well, am I going to make more money?” And we had taught them this system that was the opposite of what we were trying to teach them, which was to try and be helpful. And me and Ku’ula, I remember her listening to it six hours later than I did. And she’s like, “Did you hear about the clawback allowances? Did you hear about clawback?”

I was like, “Yes.” And we both thought of it instantly. “Let’s do it for allowances.” And so what we do now, and we changed two things. We put $20 in ones on the fridge at the beginning of the month and we say, “This is yours. And what we do now is we claw back those dollar bills for attitude instead of jobs.” What we do is when we say, “Palikū, can you go feed the dogs?” And he’s like, “Ugh.” We just walk to the fridge and we pull off a dollar and it was this amazing exercise over a period of three months to, it was straight revolt, “What are you talking about?”

Tim Ferriss: Mutiny on the ship.

Jake Muise: And revolt turned into a little bit of sarcasm. Like, “Yeah, fine. I’ll do that.” Because they didn’t want to lose their money. One step back. We don’t buy them anything. We’re kind of strict when it comes to, they get stuff at birthdays and they get stuff at Christmas, but other than that, they need to be useful people and earn their money. And so they really value the dollars they get at the end of the month. And it went from mutiny to sarcasm. I remember it happening, and I remember asking Leiʻohu to grab the laundry, and she’s like, “Sure.” And I was like, “Wait a second.” And I looked at Ku’ula, I was like, “That actually just worked.” Don’t get me wrong, don’t get me wrong. They’re amazing kids. They’re 99 percent of the time — 

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, but they’re kids, they’re little humans.

Jake Muise: And now, just a couple weeks ago I came home and Palikū was like, “Oh, I cleaned the car.” And I was like, “What? What’s wrong with you?” It was this odd thing that a combination of the clawback allowance and training for attitude instead of them earning for a task. If it helps anybody, again, we’re not amazing parents by any means, but — 

Tim Ferriss: I think you’re pretty good parents, from what I can tell.

Jake Muise: That small trick, oh, boy. It’s been a big one for us for sure.

Tim Ferriss: I’m going to toggle around a little bit here. I have some notes in front of me. We’re talking about the kids.

Jake Muise: Yep.

Tim Ferriss: Secret Pinterest boards.

Jake Muise: Oh, man. This is another one.

Tim Ferriss: For the relationship between you and your wife.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: All right. I know you’re not allowed to talk about it, but it’s just me and you.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Just us sitting at this table.

Jake Muise: Well, I’ve actually — 

Tim Ferriss: Not millions of people.

Jake Muise: I’ve actually tried to talk about this with a couple of our friends, and this is Fight Club level, “You don’t talk about this.”

Tim Ferriss: Exclusive here first, folks, Tim Ferriss Show.

Jake Muise: All of the credit, much of my credit goes to my amazing wife, but all of the credit for this one goes to her. And there’s like, this has to happen in a very, you have to follow the rules of this one or it doesn’t work. Early on in our relationship, I think I’m two years in, she’s an extraordinary person, have no idea what to buy for her. I’ve failed several, several times, and she’s not like, this is not — she barely will spend a hundred dollars on herself a couple times a year. She’s that type of person. She thrifts 99 percent of her clothes, et cetera, et cetera. So it’s just the worst person ever to try and buy stuff for. She’s so picky.

And she sits me down, I give her a birthday gift, I get it all wrong. She sits me down the next day and she’s like, “This is what we’re going to do. A, we’re never going to talk about this conversation again. And B, I’ve created a secret Pinterest board that I’ve invited you to. Every item on there is something that I want. It’s exactly what I want. The link goes exactly to it. But here’s how this works. You are never allowed to talk about this, and you’re never allowed to give it to me for a birthday or something.” And we’re not big on birthdays anyways. And she’s like, “I will pretend that you did it in every single instance.” No, this is the most important part, okay?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Right.

Jake Muise: My children think I’m a genius. They’ll come home and they’ll just be like this random box on the table that has these beautiful earrings in them and Kuʻula will come in and she’ll just be like, “Oh, my God. How did you know? This is exactly what I wanted. I can’t believe you found them. I’ve been looking for them forever.” And my girls will look at me like, “That’s amazing, dad. How did you know?” She does it so well, half the time I think, “Oh, my God. I’m amazing.” She has fake cried several times. She does it in front of her mom.

The only way this works is I believe half the time that I’ve done this amazing thing for her. That’s how important it is. And it has been the greatest. I never ever think about buying her anything. Anytime I even have the slightest inclination, I go straight to the Pinterest board and I just grab one thing off of it and it shows up. And she does this amazing job of, “It’s the biggest deal. Your dad’s the most amazing person for be able to figure this thing out.” And they all believe it. And we’re never allowed to tell anybody about it.

Tim Ferriss: What a great secret.

Jake Muise: Oh, it is so — she’s done it in front of couples and the guys are just, “How the hell, how did you know?” I’m like, “I just pay attention, man. I just figure it out.” She just makes me look so good. And she gets exactly what she wants. I tried to bring it up once when her mom was around and she looked at me like she was going to kill me. She’s just like, “We don’t talk about it or else it goes away and it doesn’t work.”

Tim Ferriss: You know the rules.

Jake Muise: Oh, man.

Tim Ferriss: Bite your tongue.

Jake Muise: It’s so good. It is. She has to pretend it’s real, and I feel amazing.

Tim Ferriss: Win, win. Oh, win, win, win, win, win, win, on so many levels. All right. I’m going to let you choose where we go next.

Jake Muise: Okay.

Tim Ferriss: Old lady crying on the couch game, or tug of war?

Jake Muise: Okay. I’m going to stick with my wife’s a genius one here, and we’ll give her the old lady on the couch game. She, for years — and I didn’t ask about it until recently. She, for years, has done this thing and I didn’t know what it was. And when she was frustrated or something was going on, she would close her eyes and instantly turn into the happiest person in the world and be loving our kids, even if they were monsters. And I didn’t know what was happening. And so I finally asked her, I was like, “Okay, what is that thing you’re doing?”

And she’s like, “That’s my old lady crying on the couch game.” And I’m like, “What is that?” And she said, “When I’m feeling frustrated with my kids, I pretend I’m 80 years old.” And she’s amazing. She really closes her eyes and she pretends she’s 80 years old and she says, “I’m given the opportunity, it’s my birthday, or it’s something, and I’m given the opportunity to use a time machine, but I am only allowed to go back to this exact moment.” And she really does it. She closes her eyes and she opens her eyes and she’s 80 and she has five minutes to be this 80-year-old lady looking at her nine-year-old daughter again after she’s been grown up. And she can open her eyes and she just stands up and she’s like, “Oh, she’s so cute.” And she kisses their face and the kids know what the game is. And they’re just like, “Oh, Mom. You’re doing that thing again.”

But she genuinely can put herself in the place of gratitude to be back in that moment, seeing her kids again after 30 or 40 years of them being grown and old. And it’s just watching her do it is amazing. And then I have tried it several times since she told me. If you really put yourself in that situation, I’ve done it with my son. He’s turning 14 and he’s got hair under his arm. It’s happening, puberty’s happening, it’s happening. And I only have four more years with him until he graduates. And a couple times I found myself frustrated with him. I close my eyes and I think when I’m 80 and my knees are sore, what would I feel to be able to go back and see him at 14 when he’s in this place?

Tim Ferriss: Your self-care at 80 is amazing. If you’re just like, “When I’m 80 and my knees start hurting,” but yeah, I get it.

Jake Muise: Well, no. I’ve got big plans, and I’ve got Peter Attia as my friend. But it’s this, she’s a genius. In some of the most frustrating moments where you’ve like — kids are your greatest joy and they will frustrate you more than anybody on the planet can. And she’s just found this way to have gratitude for that time because it’s gone. And she calls it old lady crying on the couch game because she cries. She’ll be tearing up and the kids will be like, “Oh, God. Here we go again.” Because they get kissed all over the face and, “Oh, you’re so small and cute and it’s amazing.” And yeah, she’s amazing at finding ways to be grateful for sure.

Tim Ferriss: This, I’m really grateful you brought this up ’cause it reminded me of something that I found super valuable for a couple of years, and then as often happens, I just kind of forgot about it, which was for Tribe of Mentors, so my last book, there were many people featured and one of the questions I asked almost everybody was, “When you were feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, what do you do?”

And one of the answers was, “When I’m feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, I look at whatever this mundane situation is,” and I’ll give a personal example. If I’m laying in a hammock, and not necessarily — I could be frustrated or preoccupied by something, but my dog Molly’s playing with a stick and I’m just kind of chilling. I ask myself, “50 years from now, how much would I pay to come back to this moment for just 10 minutes?” Similar trick, right?

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: But I haven’t used it.

Jake Muise: It’s so good, man.

Tim Ferriss: And this is the perfect reboot. So, thank you, Ku’u.

Jake Muise: Oh, yeah. Again, she gets the vast majority of the credit for anything that’s smart that comes out of my mouth.

Tim Ferriss: Tug of war.

Jake Muise: Okay, this one, Ric Elias, founder of Red Ventures, introduced to me through Peter gets all of the credit, but it was so good. I just, it’s something that I started doing that I have to share. And he described — this is the last parenting one, I promise. He described parenting as a tug of war you have to lose.

Tim Ferriss: Okay?

Jake Muise: It’s really interesting when you have kids and you hold onto them. I’ve heard lots of different parenting advice, and the reason it stuck with me so well is it’s such a great visual of your kids pulling a line across from you and that line moving through your hands. When they’re two and three years old, you don’t even have to hold it. You’re just like, “Whatever. You can’t pull that thing.” And then they get six or seven and they give it a little tug and you’re like, “Oh, well, I’ve got to hold onto this thing.”

And then the best part about that advice is knowing you have to lose. So knowing when they’re 18 or 19, you have to have fully let go of that rope. The visual that comes to my mind all the time is just this really slow, steady release of that rope instead of these giant jumps or these parenting mistakes that you’re not letting them become independent and responsible and useful. You’re trying to teach them all of these things so that you can let go of the rope at the end of it, and they’re okay. You’re trying to spare them the feeling of being useless.

Tim Ferriss: How does that impact that metaphor or analogy? How did that affect how you parent or make decisions?

Jake Muise: Good example. Leiʻohu asked for her first sleepover, which we’ve been pretty stringent about because she wants to go an hour away and sleep in a house. My immediate reaction was, “No.” And then the thought in my head was like, “Wait a second, she’s 12, and if you’re going to let go of the rope a little bit, you’re going to have to let it all the way go. This is probably the right situation to let it go a little bit.” Make sure it’s safe and you call the parents and you figure out what it is. But it reminds me, the best actionable use of it is knowing you have to let it go, knowing it has to be gone.

Tim Ferriss: You have to do it eventually, so do you want to let go of 20 feet at once? Probably not.

Jake Muise: Yeah. And they fall flat on their ass. Or do you want to gradually let it go, so it’s okay? And just the idea of seeing it moving through your hands and knowing you don’t want it to be this sudden jerk has made it easier for me to make those small decisions knowing at 18, 19, hopefully, we’ll see they’re gone, right? And they’ll always be mine, or ours, but it’s one of the few parenting advice I’ve ever heard that made me, that created an actionable thing where I said, “Okay, I need to make this slow and smooth and the right transition for them.” So thank you, Ric. It was a good one.

Tim Ferriss: Amazing. I want to ask just as we start coming to a close, a few questions. One is, what are your hopes and dreams for the next few years? I want you to also answer something, which is one of the questions, you may not remember this, but it was a very important question for me to ask very early on, which was I asked something along the lines of how do you ensure that you do not overharvest or end up doing more damage than good? Because people respond to incentives.

If this economic model works, if the product is very, very high quality, which it is, if there is a lot of demand, how do you ensure that you’re not seduced by the sirens of capitalism and end up becoming something antithetical to your current ethos? So maybe that ties in just in terms of rules, objectives that you’ve set for yourselves as a company, but broadly speaking, also hopes and goals over the next few years.

Jake Muise: Okay. I’ll answer the second first in that our mission is to achieve balance and defining balance, we don’t actually get to do that, which is probably really important. We have the tools to make sure we can measure, like we talked about during surveys, we have the tools to make sure we measure really accurately how many we’re harvesting and the impact it’s having. But the individual landowners ultimately make that decision. And then the community at large gets to weigh in as well through public lands.

If we’ve done our job really well, deer will find a place within our food systems, not within our critical ecosystems that collect water and not at densities that impact our reefs. They will find a way into our food systems in these mid-elevations. And the ranches are already pointing to that. They get to decide what densities they want, and they can only have densities that are healthy, i.e., they grow enough grass that those animals are healthy and sustainable. So we get to be the tool to help find balance. We actually don’t get to answer the question, which is the guarding agent between us doing more harm than good. They get to make that decision, which is awesome. The community gets to make that decision.

And there’ll be some ranchers that decide — ranchers are grass farmers, right? There’ll be some ranchers that decide, “I’m not doing cattle anymore, I want more deer in this area.” But we have the tool to manage them the same way they would a cattle herd. And that’s really my hope for what we’re doing at Maui Nui is, we find the balance that’s best for all of our communities: ecosystem communities, food system communities, our human communities, nearshore fisheries. And the great part about what we’ve talked about today is where there’s just so much iteration to what we do, and it’s so variable that it’s the infinite game for us. That we’re just going to keep doing it every single year trying to find balance. Because some years you’ll have more rain, some years you won’t, and we’ll constantly be able to go back to our community and say, “How is this working? What does this look like?”

And I think maybe balance is maybe my hope for life as a whole and personal goals. I don’t have, this is not a multi-billion dollar business for us. I’m so content. We already love the place that we’re in. I don’t need bigger, brighter, shinier things. If I’ve done a great job letting go of that rope really slowly and collectively, like we’ve talked about today, growing incredible people. I never realized how much value I’d find in growing teams. I didn’t know I was going to come back to that like I did with sports and seeing the extraordinary group of people that are now at Maui Nui and being the shield that ensures there’s only ever great people there, ourselves included in that process, man, that is hope enough and mission enough. If I can do those two things really well, that’ll be more than enough. I think that’ll go a long way in serving community and hopefully my kids and — 

Tim Ferriss: The whole shebang.

Jake Muise: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Dig it. Last question is the billboard question. This is sometimes a dead end, so I’ll take the blame if it goes sideways, but if it goes well, I’ll give you all the credit. Simple question. There is a billboard, metaphorically speaking. You can get a message out to hundreds of millions, billions of people. Could be an image, could be a quote, could be a word, could be a question, could be anything. Could also be something you want to remind yourself of. Could be any of those things. What might you put on that billboard?

Jake Muise: I remember thinking about this, listening to your podcast for years, and it may not make perfect sense when you read it, but the first business book I ever read was called The Little Red Book of Selling. It was this tiny little thing that I got.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I know the book.

Jake Muise: And a quote in there stuck with me for years, and it was, “Pick up the phone.” And early in my career that meant pick up the phone, take any opportunity, do everything, just always, always pick up the phone. And later, as I’ve grown, it’s turned into less of “Pick up the phone and take those opportunities,” but “Address the thing that is in front of you that you don’t want to. Have the uncomfortable conversation, pick up the phone, just do it.” And what it’s resulted in is a very rapid iteration of taking action constantly and not being a lot of downtime in between it. And now it means today just addressing all of those hard things that are in front of growth or with my family.

And it’s just been like, so if that billboard said, “Pick up the phone,” that could mean something to somebody really different. Maybe that’s your mom that’s calling that you don’t want to pick up the phone. But for me, it has constantly iterated and it’s been this crazy thing that has stuck with me for — I mean, I read that book 20 years ago and it’s just this thing that plays in my head all the time. When I see something that I don’t want to do or I know that has to get done immediately I say, “Pick up the phone.” And I just like, I’m able to just do it immediately. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: “Pick up the phone.” Good reminder. What a good reminder. Jake Muise. Français. So nice to see you, man.

Jake Muise: Always so good to see you, my friend.

Tim Ferriss: And people can check out Maui Nui at on all the socials, at Maui Nui Venison. I love this company. I love the ethos. I love your family. I love the impact that it’s having. And this is not because we’re meeting today, but if you look at my backpack right now, I have three of the — what’s the right way to describe them? Peppered sticks.

Jake Muise: Yep.

Tim Ferriss: Is that fair enough?

Jake Muise: Yeah. Peppered sticks.

Tim Ferriss: The peppered sticks, which are, I guess now I know what 10 to 11 grams of protein per stick, something like that. If I need to be on the run and I need some quick pick-me-up for breakfast or snack or quick lunch, just 30 grams-ish of protein. I just throw three of those in. And a lot of my protein for the last several years has been Maui Nui. And I feel good about it. I feel really good about it, and I feel good overall. So what an adventure.

Jake Muise: Well, can’t tell you how much we’ve appreciated the support and insight and advice. It’s been highly impactful as well.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. What a gift it’s been to get to know you and to realize, like you said, well, I mean, your family’s very down-to-earth, but connected with the Earth in a way that is very aspirational for me. I really think very fondly, I still have photos on my phone, of just us sitting around a fire and whether it’s having a fire at night and just decompressing or having the most delicious/shitty instant coffee in the morning, which is just fantastic though.

Jake Muise: It is when you’re out there.

Tim Ferriss: It really makes a difference when you get up at five in the morning and it’s just fucking — you’ve been freezing your nuts off, which surprise, surprise, can happen in Hawai’i at elevation. And you have that coffee and you’re with people you really care about and you feel close to. It puts in stark relief how much nonsense and garbage we fill our lives with when, in fact, when you just sit with close bonds in close proximity and connection to nature, how much something very deep is nourished, that alleviates much of the hunger for a lot of these trappings.

Jake Muise: A true connection to place, whether personally or professionally, can essentially solve for anything.

Tim Ferriss: Connection to place. Jake Muise, so great to see you, man. Thank you for being here.

Jake Muise: Thank you so much, my friend.

Tim Ferriss: And to everybody listening, we will link to all sorts of stuff. All the books, HHS, video clips, everything you can imagine that we’ve covered in this conversation. Probably not the secret Pinterest board. You have to make that for yourself. We’ll put those in the show notes at You can just search Jake and it will pop right up. As always, my recommendation is be just a little bit kinder than is necessary, not only to others, but to yourself. And till next time, thanks for tuning in. Mahalo nui.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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