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Regain Control - How Business Owners Boost Health and Business Success

Updated: Apr 9

Starting a business from the ground up is indeed no small feature. My story began in Germany, a nation celebrated for its precision and diligence - attributes that were instrumental in my entrepreneurial journey. The initial success of one of my ventures led to growth and expansion into the US, Japan, Australia, Canada, and several other countries. Among these, the US stood out as the best place to conduct business, a country where the entrepreneurial spirit is deeply ingrained in the societal fabric. After developing our US-based business from Germany for 10 years, we eventually moved to Malibu, California, to gain better access to larger resources and continue our work from there.

Malibu is amazing, truly one of a kind, with a healthy climate and many good people whom we are proud to call friends. I was convinced this was as good as it gets. And it felt that way for a couple of years. But in hindsight, pursuing and living this American dream came at a price. As I relentlessly pushed for growth, my health began to deteriorate, marked by weight gain, recurrent burnouts, and an overall decline in well-being. Despite having access to premier healthcare at UCLA, I realized that success wasn't solely measured by business achievements but also by maintaining health and personal happiness.

That is why, after 10 years in Malibu and with my Afib episodes turning permanent, I knew I had to change my lifestyle and environment. So, after my oldest daughter graduated from Malibu High, we decided to change the scenery and move to the beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, in Canada.

The Pacific Northwest offered an idyllic setting for an active, outdoor lifestyle, and Canada's distinct values promised a better work-life balance. And it worked: my health improved.

However, after contracting pneumonia on a business trip, my health deteriorated again, necessitating another heart surgery. To give credit where it's due, the entire team at Royal Jubilee Hospital, including the heart function clinic and the heart surgery team, has earned my highest gratitude. Amid the pandemic, they successfully replaced one of my heart valves and repaired another. After just a one-week stay in the hospital, I was back home and quickly on the path to recovery. My biggest thank you goes to everyone who made this possible under very difficult circumstances.

A few months down the road, as Covid restrictions relaxed, the socialized healthcare system in Canada, despite its merits, struggled to provide preventive care and timely access to medical services, largely due to the aftereffects of Covid-19. Especially on Vancouver Island, where prices for housing, food, and energy skyrocketed, healthcare workers were forced into retirement or off the island in search of more affordable living conditions in other provinces. This led to extreme doctor shortages and lengthy waits for medical procedures.

With these pain points high enough, we knew we needed to go back to the drawing board to find a new place that fit. So, we did the hard work and deeply researched and evaluated over 20 countries against a set of ten priorities we believe are crucial for our longevity:

  1. Top-quality, accessible, and affordable healthcare with exceptional outcomes.

  2. Minimal environmental toxins in food, water, and air.

  3. A warm climate with abundant sunshine.

  4. A democratically governed country with free speech, free elections, and a free press.

  5. A super low crime rate ensuring personal safety.

  6. A better work-life balance.

  7. A reasonable cost of living, affordable taxes leading to higher disposable income.

  8. A community of like-minded and culturally close individuals to socialize with.

  9. Quality educational institutions for our son.

  10. First-world living standards.

To bolster our longevity-focused decision between the Americas and Europe, we also checked against soft factors like Dietary Habits and Food Quality, Lifestyle and Physical Activity, Cultural and Systemic Factors, Social Attitudes and Behavior, and used hundreds of social media comments from people living in either or both worlds.

This is in summary what we learned: Europeans tend to consume fresher, less processed foods with fewer additives like high-fructose corn syrup, emphasizing quality over quantity. There's a cultural focus on moderate portions and a preference for whole foods and fresh ingredients over heavily processed options. Meals in Europe are often more leisurely and social, potentially contributing to slower eating and better digestion. Europe also has stricter food regulations that limit the use of certain chemicals and preservatives and higher taxes on highly processed food, contributing to healthier food options for people with lower income.

Physical activity is more integrated into daily life in Europe, supported by urban planning. Many European cities encourage walking, biking, and the use of public transportation, in contrast to the car-centric infrastructure prevalent in the US. But before I share my biggest “Aha” moment, let me take a step back and introduce what we all are trying to achieve: Longevity. Longevity is defined by increasing health and lifespan. There are myriad complex factors influencing the results, ranging from how we farm (micronutrients, chemicals), process, package, and distribute food, to environmental factors like air- or water pollution, access and quality of healthcare, healthcare policies, and individual factors like where we live, what and when we eat, which lifestyle we choose, what work we do, and so on. You might separate this into two categories:

a) the things beyond your control and b) things you can change.

We all agree that the US healthcare system is broken and costs 4 times more than every other health system of developed nations with a much lower outcome quality, leading to a more than 10-year lower life expectancy in the US.

Why is that, you might ask, and why can’t we change that with research or other tech here in the US?

Short answer: Because you (the payer) don’t have any say in the matter. Corporations and shareholders decide your health- and lifespan.

Let me explain: Most European countries value human life over maximizing profits and, as a consensus in society, healthcare is a human right and not a privilege. Because they've socialized healthcare, most EU countries focus on spending money on improving preventive care and develop and enforce rules to protect the health of its residents.

Why is that? Because in a socialized system, where taxpayers fund healthcare, the healthcare experts within the government decide how to allocate these funds most effectively—ensuring each Euro generates the maximum result. You don’t need to be a health economist to understand that investing in preventive measures to avoid illness is far more cost-effective than spending four times as much on treating individuals after symptoms develop. Makes sense, right?

Compare it to the US: Everything in the US centers around optimizing profits for stakeholders and shareholders in healthcare, insurance, and pharma companies. They all need more sick people (not fewer) to grow their business. That's why they buy influence to ensure US legislators don’t change the status quo. And they frame your health and lifespan as a luxury item, applauding you when you spend a large portion of your hard-earned money to secure it.

The groundbreaking moment for me: Although I’m unable to change this system, I realized I do have a choice. It starts with understanding the systems and making the necessary shift from sick care to healthcare, or as I call it, from post-symptom care to preventive care. Not only does this approach save money, but it also rewards my loved ones, me, and my business with a longer health span. After all, who wants to suffer more sick years?

But how could you achieve this, you might ask? The answer is simple: Learn from the experts how the systems work, both in your country or region and within your body, and become your own Longevity Architect.

What does it mean to be a Longevity Architect?

It means there is no single solution that works for everyone, and like me, you have to learn to build your own Longevity blueprint. Imagine a box full of Lego bricks. There are a lot of bricks in the box, but only a few of them are fundamental. Your job is to figure out which bricks are relevant to you moving the needle, which ones are nice to have, and which ones are just decoration. I started my journey by leveraging my extensive experience in AI and healthcare, reaching out to many experts, and learning from the best. The exciting part for me is the learning, always trying to upskill, stay up to speed, and adjust my own longevity blueprint. I now even advise entrepreneurs, researchers, and investors on how to grow this longevity-focused business so that more people can benefit. And to share what I've learned and help more fellow business owners, my wife and I decided to start, so you can 'outfox your clock.' Our mission is to offer individualized and science-backed solutions to assist fellow business owners on their journey to longevity. In concluding my story, we eventually settled on the West Algarve in Portugal, aligning perfectly with our top 10 longevity priority list.

We found a house on a Golf Resort west of Lagos. This part of Portugal enjoys more than 300 sunny days a year and is known for being windy, with countless beaches and great waves for surfing. The residents here are primarily international expats, and English is the most spoken language. Nearly 2 years in, we've spent the majority of our time here.

Portugal offers a dual healthcare system with free healthcare for all residents and very affordable insurance premiums and co-pays for access to top-notch private clinics and healthcare facilities. With the EU Health Card, residents have access to free emergency care across 27 EU member states, and our private insurance covers emergency care outside the EU/worldwide for up to 3 months, including in the US and Canada. Moreover, Portugal has become one of the top 5 safest countries in the world. How? Many years ago, a visionary Portuguese health policymaker successfully lobbied for a shift in treating drug addicts as patients within the free socialized healthcare system rather than as criminals within the criminal justice system. This approach, along with the availability of safe drugs in health clinics and accompanying social support to help addicts get back on track, dramatically reduced the number of drug addicts and, consequently, the crime rate.

This safety is why we can walk our dog late at night without fear of becoming victims of a violent crime. We deeply appreciate this.

To sum it up: Portugal might not be the best option for everyone, but the key takeaway is not to let other people, corporations, or politicians dictate your future. As a business owner, similar to running your business, changing your health journey by taking control back is crucial. My wife and I wish you many additional healthy years and all the best on your journey. Take charge and become your own Longevity Architect.


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