As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing David Schmidt, CEO and Founder of LifeWave.
David Schmidt is the founder and CEO of LifeWave, a fast-growing health and wellness company with offices in San Diego, California, and Galway, Ireland. The company distributes products to almost 100 countries from 13 warehouses. With a business model that uses independent distributors to advertise, share, and sell LifeWave products, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging new element to its overall day-to-day operations. Fortunately, the pandemic has not stopped LifeWave’s ability to grow and prosper.
The greatest challenges: to meet supply demands amid manufacturing restrictions (six-foot rule, etc.), provide timely information to the field to keep distributors apprised of shipping logistics and supply schedule changes, provide additional incentives to supplement some regions that are more hard hit by “lockdowns,” and move to a virtual platform for continuous training.
The opportunities: We use a work-from-home model, and during tough times like these, the ability for LifeWave distributors to work and earn money is not as impeded as other industries; in fact, it can actually improve. Also, because we are focused on health and wellness, customers and distributors are even more attuned to our offerings. We have the right products at the right time.
Post-COVID: The company is developing contingency plans in case COVID-19 flares back up. It will be working doubly hard to ensure that it can navigate added governmental restrictions that might impact manufacturing, supply chain, communications, and training.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
When I was eight years old, my parents took me to visit the laboratory of Thomas Edison in New Jersey. While on the tour, I was selected by one of the staff — a gentleman who was a lab assistant to Edison — to operate a piece of equipment that was on display. From that moment, I was hooked and knew that I wanted to be an inventor.
I was excited to share this with my parents, but my dad responded, “You can’t be an inventor; there is no such job.” This confused me, as Edison was an inventor, so why couldn’t I be? I pursued this dream, and 50 years, 100 patents, and a successful global business later, my dad and I still laugh to this day about his early comment about being an inventor.
But an important lesson here for all entrepreneurs is that even those around you who love you can try to steal your dreams, but you should not let this happen. If you know deep inside that you are meant to do something, then do it, even if people tell you “it’s impossible,” “it won’t work,” or “you can’t do it;” use this as fuel to prove them wrong and live the life you dream of and are meant for.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I took a number of classes in sales, and one of them involved a company that sold tape. The sales trainer had me memorize this speech where I was trying to convince someone why they should buy a three-inch-wide roll of tape instead of a two-inch-wide roll of tape; it was pretty silly. But what I learned from this is that you should never “pitch” someone on buying your product. It is far better to be yourself and simply tell the person what you have to offer, how that product has benefited your life, and why you believe that it will help them as well. Sales should never be “selling;” it should really be a process where you are sharing your product in an effort to help someone solve a problem they have. This creates a win-win situation and a relationship that will outlive a simple sales/customer relationship.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Most of the books I read involve inventors or speculative physics. I also enjoy watching videos and reading journal articles on things going on in the world of nutrition and health. The bottom line is that in your career you must keep learning because information is increasing so rapidly. What we knew 20 years ago in the field of nutrition is ancient history now. Just 15 years ago, people believed that light therapy was “snake oil.”
Then, the biochemical pathways for light therapy were discovered. Now, over a period of 10 years, there have been more than 5,000 studies published in peer-reviewed journals on how light therapy affects health and how dramatic improvements in health can be achieved by simply exposing the skin to specific wavelengths of light. This is massive, as light has the potential to become the medicine of the future.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
The purpose and vision of the company has changed over time, and we have had three very distinct missions. When I started LifeWave, the purpose was simply to introduce my new light therapy invention to the public for improving quality of life, such as improving energy, relieving pain, and improving sleep. But in 2005, I made a new discovery, and our studies showed that it was possible to use this technology to cause the body to synthesize specific peptides. At this point, in 2006, we changed the identity of the company to be about anti-aging, introducing products to elevate antioxidants, improve cognitive function, improve strength and stamina, and otherwise improve the way people age.
Then, in 2008, an initiative began to see if we could make a contribution to the field of stem cells and regenerative science. Over a period of 10 years, we spent over $4 million and received about 70 patents in the field of stem cells. This all culminated in the release of a new technology that activates the stem cells in the body with light, causing them to behave like younger, healthier cells. As a result, people experience wound healing at similar levels of efficacy to those who have received stem cell injections, but at a fraction of the cost and with no safety issues. Today, our vision is directed toward stem cells and longevity, with a focus on releasing products that help people be younger, longer.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
There are two principles. The first one is from Jesus: “Love others as I have loved you.” If the business is always heart centered and looking to do the most good possible in every aspect of its operations, decisions made will be based on this philosophy. All companies should aspire to do good in the world first, and then success will follow.
The second principle is from Tim Allen: “Never give up, never surrender.” All businesses will face challenges, so entrepreneurs need to get comfortable with that. LifeWave went through two incidents that made me think the company would go out of business. After we experienced credit card fraud in 2006, it took 16 months before the company fully recovered. During that time, I was unable to draw a salary and survived by living off of my credit cards. That was a really tough experience, but it is during times like that when you find out what you are made of and realize that patience and persistence will always help you overcome any challenge.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
My father is 90, and he came to visit me in Florida so he could spend time with my two kids. He came here to spend a week and stayed for three months so I could look after him. It was a blessing that we had this time together, and I was glad that I could put him on a schedule of exercise, nutrition, and patches to support his health.
One of the things to come out of the pandemic is that health officials at the CDC, NIH, and WHO promote a dialogue of “stay inside” and “wait until there is a vaccine.” Why don’t these health officials tell us what we can do now to improve our immune response? For example, those at risk have pre-existing health conditions, such as being overweight. This would be a good time to remind people that going on a weight loss program might improve their odds of protecting their health. In addition, the numbers coming out show that 94 percent of those dying from COVID-19 are severely deficient in Vitamin D. While no one is saying that Vitamin D cures COVID-19, why not recommend that people take a Vitamin D supplement?
One thing that we have learned from this is that our health authorities are not perfect, and they tend not to recommend those natural remedies that might offer people some level of protection. For this reason, it is becoming the responsibility of those in the natural health industry to provide this level of education so that each person can be armed with the information they need to protect themselves as best as possible.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
One big surprise has been that the work hours of the executive team have dramatically increased since the pandemic started. A typical work day for me starts at 7:00 a.m. and finishes at 10:00 p.m., with a two-hour break at 5:00 p.m. for exercise and dinner. We are one of those fortunate companies whose business has increased during the pandemic, so we have had the luxury of being able to hire new staff to key positions to help out.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the corona virus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
The first step is to arm people with information and reassure them that this is not the end of the world and everything will be fine. Why? The first fear that people have is that they will get sick and die. The incident of death is much less than one percent, perhaps as low as 0.02 percent. So the odds of dying from heart disease are many times higher than those of dying from COVID-19.
Secondly, there are many things that people can do beyond the standard shelter-in-place orders given to us. LifeWave gave a one-hour presentation on this subject as a public service and covered a number of things that people can do to help bolster their immune systems or create a safer environment. The more that people learn and know, the more they are empowered, and that can help dispel fear.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
Yes, there are many opportunities. With more people staying at home, it becomes easier than ever for someone to start a business from home. They can use the extra time by not having to drive to work. And with resources today like Skype and Zoom, it is easier than before to connect with people. The pandemic also drew attention to the need to support our immune systems. This gives people the opportunity to evaluate whether they are doing everything they can to have optimum health. An objective evaluation of diet, exercise, sleep, hydration, and supplementation and then improving on those areas could make someone better prepared the next time we are faced with a similar situation.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
One positive thing that might come out of this is the realization that companies can survive with people working from home. This could end up being an amazing benefit for our environment as the use of fossil fuels decreases and the levels of air pollution decrease with it.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
Lifewave experienced a threefold increase in business in 2019 compared to 2018. So we headed into 2020 with that same rate of growth. As of May 2020, we are still on track to have the biggest year ever, and I would attribute this success to having a company focused on bringing people optimum health with light. For us, it is not a case of rebuilding but rather maintaining the momentum that we already have and staying with the principles that got us here.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
Love. Persevere. Be strong. Focus on solutions. Focus on positives. At the end of each day, say a prayer of thanks for everything that you have, and be grateful. There are people who are in worse situations than yours.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
There will always be challenges, struggles, hard times, and difficulties of all sorts. God provides us with everything we need to overcome these challenges. The question is, will we embrace it?
How can our readers further follow your work? www.davidschmidtlifewave.com