Max Gotzler - On Achieving Flow & Flow State, Biohacking, Peak Performance, Cold Exposure, Brainwave Training, Emotional Wellbeing, EQ, Neuroscience, and Flowgrade

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

Episode 108

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Performance coach, detail-loving educator, big-thinking entrepreneur, podcaster, mama, passionate adventurer, and health optimization activist here to help people transform their lives, and reach their highest potential! All rolled into one.

“Routines lead to rhythm. Rhythm leads to momentum. Momentum leads into flow.” - Max Gotzler, Flowgrade

Today’s guest is Max Gotzler. Max is a professional lifestyle biohacker passionate about achieving Flow State and a former competitive basketball athlete in the US NCAA, the highest college basketball league in the USA. Max studied psychology, economics and finance and is the author of two Biohacking books - Optimize Yourself and The Daily Biohacker. Max is also the founder of Flowgrade where he offers biohacking courses and products, as well as an active blogger and podcaster on The Flowgrade Show. 

In this episode, we dig into: 
  • What is flow state and the neuroscience behind it 
  • Suppressed emotions and how it affects brainwaves
  • Red Light Therapy and Cold Water Exposure
  • EQ (emotional quotient) the level of emotional intelligence
  • How to access flow state 
  • How ADHDers connect with flow
  • Biohacking
  • And much more!

Please enjoy!


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Show Notes 

(1:33) Max starts with his favorite subject Flow State and its definition, Max also talks about his company flowGrade and about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi whos book he loves and explains the impact it had on him
(6:36) Max talks about the neuroscience behind flow state, and some of his experiences he had at Biocybernaut 
(19:06) Max talks about hidden emotions and how people pleasing effects your state
(25:02) Max shares how one can achieve flow state, and his morning routine secret
(30:10) Max explains what is ideal to get into flow, how long it can last, and the different rhythms and cycles of our body
(37:01) Max explains the four factors to optimize flow state, and shares a story on one of his friends who used a certain drug to help focus 
(42:49) Max makes some examples of being in flow state and talks about neurodivergence and how they may differ getting into flow state 
(52:13) Max shares his favorite biohacks and tools that helps optimize health
(01:01:49) Max shares his protocol when doing cold water exposure and bathing
(01:06:10) Max shares more about Flowgrade and what he offers 
(01:12:56) Max shares what excites him with the future and technologies
(01:16:28) Max shares where you can find him on social media
 (01:18:44) Parting message from Max


 “Flowstate means to be completely immersed in an activity, to be in the here and now, and to be happy about doing what you're doing.” - Max Gotzler, Flowgrade

“When you've acquired the survival mechanism of being a people pleaser, then you lose the ability to listen to a certain degree, to your own intuition, your own voice and your own emotions.” - Max Gotzler, Flowgrade

“Routines lead to rhythm. Rhythm leads to momentum. Momentum leads into flow.” - Max Gotzler, Flowgrade

“Momentum is nothing else than just compounded energy.” - Max Gotzler, Flowgrade

“The environment and certain habits are the two biggest triggers to get into a flow state.” - Max Gotzler, Flowgrade

“The body produces a little bit of adrenaline, dopamine, and acetylcholine, which are three compounds that you need to get into a focused state.” - Max Gotzler, Flowgrade

“You need between 6 to 12 minutes, usually to fall asleep. This is almost the exact time that you need to get into a deeper focused state.” - Max Gotzler, Flowgrade

“The best form of recovery is oftentimes in movement.” - Max Gotzler, Flowgrade

“As a basic rule, if you're not sick or in a state where you really have a hard time moving, you should move every day.” - Max Gotzler, Flowgrade

For me, biohacks are corrective measures to make a living in an unnatural world more natural again.” - Max Gotzler, Flowgrade

“The sun is a wonderful biohack.” - Max Gotzler, Flowgrade

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Claudia von Boeselager: Welcome to another episode of the Longevity and Lifestyle Podcast. I'm your host, Claudia von Boeselager. I'm here to uncover the groundbreaking strategies, tools, and practices from the world's pioneering experts to help you live your best and reach your fullest potential. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast to always catch the latest episodes.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note, to avoid any unnecessary headaches, Longevity & Lifestyle LLC owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as the right of publicity. You are welcome to share parts of the transcript (up to 500 words) in other media (such as press articles, blogs, social media accounts, etc.) for non-commercial use which must also include attribution to “The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast” with a link back to the URL. It is prohibited to use any portion of the podcast content, names or images for any commercial purposes in digital or non-digital outlets to promote you or another’s products or services.


Claudia von Boeselager: Welcome to another episode of the Longevity and Lifestyle Podcast. I'm your host, Claudia von Boeselager here to uncover the groundbreaking strategies, tools, and practices from the world's pioneering experts to help you live your best and reach your fullest potential. If you wanna get top tips, strategies, tools, and insights sign up from our weekly newsletter by going to

Today's guest is Max Gotzler. Max is a professional lifestyle biohacker, passionate about achieving flow state, and a former competitive basketball athlete in the US, NCAA, which is the highest college basketball league in the US. Max studied psychology, economics, and finance, and is the author of two biohacking books, Optimize Yourself and The Daily Biohacker.

Max is also the founder of Flowgrade where he offers biohacking courses and products as well as an active blogger and podcaster on the Flowgrade show. Max, such a pleasure to have you on today. Thank you for coming on. 

Max Gotzler: Thank you, Claudia. It's great to be here. Thanks for the invitation. And also, you didn't butcher my name, which is very rare for an English speaker, however, I know that you're excellent in German and that's why it shouldn't be a surprise, I guess.
Claudia von Boeselager: I definitely make my grammatical errors, but life is about learning, right? So excited to, dig in today. 

Max, I'd love to start with your passion for Flow State. So can you explain for my audience what is Flow State and what was your journey like that made you, focus on this and find this area so fascinating.

Max Gotzler: Wonderful. We are starting with my favorite topic, because everything pretty much I do is under the brand of flow. So my company is called Flowgrade. My event series is called flowFest, and so Flow is kind of dominating my life. And I came in touch with the concept of flow in the field of psychology when I was studying psychology.

Back in the US when I was playing basketball, And there is a book by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which is sort of the father of The Flow Psychology, uh, called Flow. I think it's in English it is the secret to happiness or the key to happiness. And I can only recommend everyone, to read this book. It's a game changer for me. It was a game changer back then, and it influenced me in doing what I'm doing now. Because he described the flow as being totally immersed in an activity.

So I guess everyone out there has a certain concept of flow. We know what it means to be in flow. Intrinsically, we have a feeling probably associated with that. Everyone has a memory or maybe an activity that gets you into a flow state. So flow is oftentimes very vaguely defined, but in flow psychology, there's more and more precise definition of what flow actually is.

And I go back to that original definition, which is this total immersion in the here and now in activity, being completely present and being in an so-called autotelic state, which means that the pursuit is the goal. It's not the goal, which is the goal. So you don't go for the result, but just the activity itself is so rewarding.

Just think about the last time you were maybe skiing down the mountain and you know, it just felt that you were melting, mending with time and space into the mountain and everything feels at once and time speeds up or slows down. You sometimes have this freeze frame effect and you wake up almost from like a dreamlike state afterwards, and you feel elated and flushed with endorphins and dopamine and it feels great.

This is what flow feels like. And then there's a lot of signs out there showing in literature that being in a flow state actually leads to not only peak performance, but also to a higher level of satisfaction of quality of life, better relationships, job satisfaction and health. And so for me, when I found out that there's so much signs already out there describing the flow state as sort of that key to a happy and high performing life, for me, it became that key for my business for what I do in my professional life. Also to help people, to empower people, to increase their quality of life, to achieve peak performance, to realize their dreams. Because when you set the foundation, when you have these basics in place and you feel great in your body and your mind, and you work with your limiting beliefs and you're setting the right goals and you question yourself, you define your why and so on, this all leads to a higher probability of entering flow.

And so what I do with biohacking and all these tools and techniques and methods is pretty much just setting people up to enter into more frequent flow states. And that way they'll have more satisfaction, they'll be healthier, they'll be happier. And that's why yeah, flow is so important for me and I hope I didn't go overboard with my definition right here, but maybe to summarize, it just means to be completely immersed in an activity, to be in the here and now, and to be happy about doing what you're doing. 

Claudia von Boeselager: I love that. And thank you for sharing in such a clear way. I'm so impressed that you can pronounce- is he, Hungarian? I can't pronounce his name.

Max Gotzler: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi yeah. He's a, he's a difficult one, but I practice it over many years. And unfortunately he passed away. Well, he was already a grandpa, quite old, and had a happy and healthy life, I think most of his life. But he passed away a couple years ago and he moved to the US so he was a refugee kid actually. And I think he grew up partly in Italy and then moved to the US, and became a professor there and pretty much dedicated his whole life. And what I really admire about him, he was this Santa Claus kind of figure. When you look at photos of him, he has this big white beard and a big smile on his face and this round face and a very charismatic character, I would say.

Unfortunately, I never got to meet him in person, but he is, supposed to have been very impressive as a person. And what I really like is that he never actually made an attempt to protect the name of flow or that concept that he developed and that he furthered so much for himself.

He didn't try to capitalize on it, so he said, flow is for everyone. And I'm not building a brand around that. And this is not, what I stand for. Like I stand for the research. I'm, trying to, unravel what is happening beneath that concept of flow and how we can get more of it. And so, yeah, he's an impressive guy. He dedicated his whole life to just discovering more about how to make people happier so..

Claudia von Boeselager: That's beautiful. Max, I'd love to dig into how one achieves flow state, but before we do that, can you discuss a bit about the neuroscience around flow state? 

Max Gotzler: Yes, definitely. So to make it easy, there are several things happening in your brain when you get into flow.
Well, I interviewed also quite a few neuroscientists by now, and until now I also noticed that the opinions differ. So there are several different interpretations and some things probably still have to be covered up what really happens in the flow state. But to make it simple, there are pretty much three levels, of activity that happened in the flow state.

One is the level of neuro electricity, neuroanatomy and neurochemistry. And so let's start with the last one actually, neurochemistry, because that's usually the easiest one, especially for biohackers to follow and to understand. When you get into a state of flow, and this is also this autotelic part of it, so you, actually start enjoying the activity.

At first it is challenging and you have a rush of adrenaline and little bit of dopamine, and then later on some endorphins, but at first adrenaline, like you feel that challenge and then. While you're overcoming the challenge, the obstacle, and you notice, okay, actually my skills are enough to deal with that challenge, I could actually succeed.

So there's this sweet spot also that you need this so-called skills and challenge, balance or ratio, which means that they have to be matched. So the challenges and your skill level, they should be ideally matched, or the challenges should be slightly higher than your perceived skill level. Because that will keep you being challenged and it will help you produce adrenaline. So that energy that you need in order then to get into the next phase. And then you have adrenaline, you have dopamine, you have endorphins, and later on anandamide and or also serotonin later in the process.

So you're flushed with these very powerful neurochemicals. And they make you feel like you're on drugs pretty much because many of these chemicals are present and very powerful drugs. Because our body can, work with these external chemicals as well. We know that they also can be produced internally.

And so the flow state has this ability of flushing you with these very powerful neurochemicals. So you're, neurochemically already in a heightened state. 
And then what also happens, the next one I want to go to is the neuro electrical state. So you can't actually observe people getting into a flow state, but putting some electrodes on their brain, on their head, and then measuring the activity of the brain waves.

So there are different brain waves. I just wanna go through them very quickly. So the one we probably have right now, Claudia, is the beta wave. It's a fairly fast wave and it's also then divided up into three different speeds. There's the fast, beta wave and then the medium, the slow one. And then when the brainwaves become slower, they enter into the alpha state, and then when you start meditating, they become even slower.

And then you're in the theta state, and then the slowest one is the delta state, which happens, for example, in deep sleep. And flow happens usually in an alpha state, sometimes even a little bit of theta. So it doesn't mean that there's only the alpha wave. So it's the predominant brain wave. When you are in the flow state, there's also something called the Author Theta Training, which I would also refer to as a flow training.

And what I have actually have done, I was in a laboratory for a week and was measuring my brain waves and then figuring out how I could get easier and quicker using neurofeedback. So sounds actually to help me identify, oh, now I'm in a flow state. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Was that at the 40 years of Zen or where did you do that?
Max Gotzler: Yeah, actually it was the original one, which is the, the Biocybernaut, which kind of then was iterated into 40 years of Zen. But it was the same founder, Dr. James Hart, who came up with a whole concept. And he came to one of our events. He's also half German. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Oh, okay. 

Max Gotzler: And he's has german roots. And he has a laboratory here in Bavaria. And came to our event and then he offered me to do the training. And then I looked at the price list because it's very expensive. . 

Claudia von Boeselager: It's crazy. 

Max Gotzler: I think it starts like 20,000 euros. And then I said, oh, it's uh, It's a bit out of my price range right now. And he is like, you know what I had a great time at your event that's just, you know, you come in and you see how you like it and maybe you can work together.

And then he invited me to do the weeklong training. And it was amazing. It was really amazing. You're 13 hours in, in that space, not in the chamber, but then for several hours every day you are in this newer feedback chamber and it really is very, yeah, almost out of this world, it seems very strange because there's no clocks, there's no time in this space. So he only has one clock on the wall, which says now, so there are no, no fingers. 

Have you done 40 years of Zen? 

Claudia von Boeselager: I haven't done 40 years of Zen. I've done the SILVA Method, which is the alpha sound training, but I'm curious to hear how that's set up. So please continue. 

Max Gotzler: Yeah, no, it's, uh, the SILVA Method is also fantastic.

So, Biocybernaut works that you go in and it's almost a combination of neurofeedback training and psychotherapy. So you sit down with your instructor. In that case it was Dr. James Hart, the founder, and he's a very impressive individual and he knows also what questions to ask. And then you go in and at first you have your head measured by his assistant, Miguel.

Super nice guy. And then he measures your head and he's like, Miguel, Miguel, come here. And then measure Max's head. And then, you know, you put the electrodes at the different lobes, temporal lobes and occipital lobes and different parts of your brain to measure the activity locally at all of these spaces.

And, that already is quite an experience at first to have that done. And then you get plugged into the wall, into the chamber, and at first you do baseline tests. So at first it's not really the training, it's just, you measure your brain waves with your eyes closed, with your eyes open, and then you do almost like a lie detector like test where the computer asks you, there's one screen of you, there's just a computer in a room, pretty much, and there are these heavy, I think, iron doors.

So nothing comes in and you sit alone in this room. It's completely dark. And it's also, have you seen that movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with Jim Carey? 

Claudia von Boeselager: Oh, I haven't, but it sounds, uh, I can imagine... 

Max Gotzler: Like, it's kind of like that because there, there's a doctor's office in the movie where you have these printers running and it seems almost old fashioned, but they do these super futuristic procedures where they erase his memories. From his ex-girlfriend in the movie. And it kind of reminded me a little bit of that movie being in the Biocybernaut Institute, because you have the printers running, they print out your brain, you know, and then are pages piling up and then you sit there. At first you get some instructions by this very old, I think it's a CD player actually that plays, and by the way, the young generation CDs are these round things that we used to use to listen to music. And then you hear some crack, almost like you listen, to, to some very old records. And then the voice of Dr. Hart comes up, and instructs you. And it's like, welcome to the alpha one training. Now you will do the pipe baseline test and so on. And it goes on and it, it's already that as kind of, fascinating. And for me, you know, as a storyteller, myself, I love these things. And then you get these questions that ask you about your emotional state also. Like, do you feel happy? Do you feel sad? Do you feel aggressive? Do you feel disappointed? And then at first you just answer yes or no. And then later on it's like from one to four, like how much do you feel?

Like very little or very, or a lot. And later on he actually confronts you with the results. And it turns out that oftentimes the program detects certain emotions based on your brainwaves, but you don't feel them. And then he's very good at identifying. Oh, okay, Max, the program said you feel vexed and you said that you don't feel vexed.

So, um, Can you explain that to me? And then I said, no, I don't feel vexed. And he's like, well, the program is very accurate, and with a probability of 90% it would say that you do feel. And then at some point, I noticed later on I got almost a little bit like aggressive towards him. He's like, no, like, like, stop asking me this question.
I don't feel vexed. He's like, AHHA, we found something. Let's dig in. And then I realized, oh, okay. How smart. Like he, he was good at like trying to figure out which emotions were present. And this played a part later on in the program where then you work a lot with forgiveness and certain meditation techniques in order to kind of let go of these traumas of these injuries on an emotional level from your past.

And it's quite interesting. It's fascinating what you find out in that program. But at first, so back to the baseline test. So you do the baseline tests and after you have them done and you kind of know where your ranges are, then you practice and then you're in the chamber. And at first you just close your eyes and you meditate and you hear over five speakers.

Your brainwaves, you pretty much hear them make some sort of concert. So there are different instruments even tied to different lobes, different parts of your brain. And then for example, when you, have a high activity in your frontal lobes and you, you hear the speakers in front of you very loudly. And then I had very strong occipital alpha waves.

And so, and he has different kinds of training. I did the alpha training alpha wave, which is associated with the flow state. And so alpha, is associated with good feelings with being in love, with daydreaming, with having, emotions such as gratitude or acceptance. So it's associated with positive emotions.

And whenever I had them, then I heard the music become louder and that was fascinating. But the moment you realize, oh, it's becoming louder, it becomes again less loud. So, you have to play with it because whenever your ego kind of switches in and you almost feel like, oh, cool, I'm on the right track, then that doesn't work because it's an egoless state as well. The flow state is, and the alpha state.

Claudia von Boeselager: A question on that. Could you interpret it that you jump into the prefrontal cortex when you try to sort of analyze it? Is that, what's happening versus the more surrendering and just being? Could you correlate those two? 

Max Gotzler: Exactly. Because what you just mentioned, this is a perfect bridge now to mention the third part, so we were just talking about the neuro electrical part. So remember the neurochemistry, the neuro electricity, and now the neuro anatomy. So what also happens in the flow state is that the prefrontal cortex, the activity in the prefrontal cortex shuts down or shifts its attention to certain spots maybe.

But there's a concept called transient hypofrontality, which just means transient is for a certain period of time, and hypo means less and frontality, first to the activity in the prefrontal cortex. In the flow state, you have less activity in parts of your prefrontal cortex that are associated with thinking about yourself, your ego, your self perception, wondering how your hair looks today, what other people think of you.

So all of this is shutting down in a flow state, and by the way, Claudia, I found that out over the course of my studies. It makes complete sense to me because what the brain is doing when you are challenged and when you get into a flow state and you enjoy it so much. The brain gets the signal that it is pretty much pulling all of the energy from unnecessary parts and putting it into the activity.

And that's why also when you are in a flow state, you have up to 500% higher performance rates. So they study that. Actually, there's, uh, McKinsey has done studies on that, Harvard, University of Sydney, DARPA, several other institutions that have studied and found that creativity skyrockets performance skyrockets in flow state.

And now I understand that more why certain parts are shutting down because the brain is really redirecting its energy to the rewarding part, which is, oh, cool, you're doing something that's super rewarding to me. Let's put all of our energy there and shut down the rest. And that's how you can think about it, when you get into a flow. 

Claudia von Boeselager: It's super fascinating. And I wanna touch on one point you mentioned before because I'm curious you mentioned about the emotions and that you weren't even conscious of certain emotions, but because the brainwaves have picked up on that.

So does that mean that if people have suppressed emotions? That it's going to impact their brainwaves, their ability to function and to access different brain states as well? 

Max Gotzler: Excellent question. And I'm convinced that yes, there's definitely, um, emotions that are hidden or also like ties together.

I would say with limiting beliefs, and certain things you learned and also survival mechanisms you acquired over your life, which are often tied to emotional states. And what Dr. Hart then introduces to you is the concept of the, which we all know, emotional intelligence. And you're doing an emotional intelligence test in the beginning as well.

And I, for example, I went in there and I was convinced because I'm a people's person, I would say I'm quite gregarious. I like to be around people. And I would then have judged myself back then as someone with a fairly high EQ, so emotional quotient, which is, uh, the level of emotional intelligence. And then I did the test and I actually did quite badly. What I understood then, it's not necessarily about detecting emotion in other people because what emotional intelligence mostly refers to is the ability to detect your own emotions and the ability to manage your own emotions.

And there are people, and I'm sure out there, and among your listeners, there are many people that would probably define themselves as empathetic and good in reading others' emotions and being people pleasers. And I'm definitely a pleaser, for example, it doesn't necessarily mean oftentimes this actually then leads.

When you acquired the survival mechanism of being a pleaser, like you wanna please other people, then you lose the ability to listen to a certain degree, to your own intuition and to your own voice and your own emotions, and you neglect them. But that balance is very important here. That you're not only able to detect emotions in other people, but also within yourself.

And this is often hidden. And this is also what the program then uncovered and showed me that by being able to identify certain emotions and owning them also, then okay, maybe he's right, maybe I do few vexed. Let's look at that. Why is And then oftentimes there is this moment could be also in a, in a normal meditation session that an image pops up or a memory, and that you are all of a sudden aware, this is why I feel that way.

Ah, okay. Because this happened because this ex-girlfriend cheated on me. Or because, uh, my father yelled at me, could be anything. And then once you discovered that, then you can own it. And then you can let it go by sort of this process of forgiveness. And um, maybe as a side note, forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean to forget or to excuse. It just means to let the emotional baggage go and to then be freer on an emotional level. 

Claudia von Boeselager: It's so powerful. Yeah. And I, I think just to make a side note on that as well, that you don't even need to let the other person know. You can actually decide to forgive them independently of actually reaching out and being in touch.

But it removes that negative charge that actually affects us by forgiving. So it really frees up, and clears out that negative energy, which is so beautiful. So thank you for mentioning that. 

Max Gotzler: I have a great image also for you, Claudia, which was given to me a while ago, which is just this, this balloon, you know, this, hot air balloon and you're flying in it.

And most people are trying to put more gas in to fly higher. But oftentimes it's much easier to just let go of the baggage first. And this is where forgiveness comes in. It's a great method to just cut off the baggage and then you don't need to give as much gas. You will fly higher instantly.

Claudia von Boeselager: Oh, I love it. That's beautiful. Thank you, Max. I'm gonna hold onto that one. Teach my clients. So you were talking about the emotions and the different, brainwave states from there that he was picking up on. And I think that this is part of the beauty in this training. I used to be a huge people pleaser, definitely ignored my own emotions, thought I was very high EQ because I was very good at reflecting others and picking up on nuances, et cetera, but to the detriment of myself.

And I think the more self-work one does and sits with the emotions, it actually lets you free them and let 'em go. Even just by naming them and being like, oh, curious. Like, oh, this has come up. Okay, why is that? And then solving it. And then as you're saying it's like forgiveness it -just releases you and frees you up to actually be who you're here to be and step into your best state. I think that that's really, really beautiful as well. 

Max Gotzler: It's really super hard because I noticed also after the week of training, and I was warned before he told me, he's like, you gotta feel great now. And you feel like you have everything figured out and you light up every room and you have this alpha tan, he calls it actually, where you do feel like you're tanned.

You look even more tanned, which is, I would say the circulation. Your face just increases in around your head area, but then, yeah, it fades away. You have to practice, so you have to really remind yourself. And, and he gave me that quote of Thomas Jefferson, which goes like that, like the, the price for freedom, like emotional freedom is a lifetime of mindfulness.

Something like that. I think he iterated a little bit, but then I took to heart now because it really needs practice. It's like an athlete practices to, to stay in shape. You need to practice in order to stay in charge of your emotions. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah. And that's why I think, starting with the morning routine, and I'm gonna ask you about your one as well, but just having certain routines in place. I'm a huge fan of think once and automate from there. You don't need to always think every day, just have a schedule in place, to ensure that you stay in that optimal state. And I know myself life gets in the way sometimes and the difference, the delta in between my well started day versus if I have to be reactive, it's just like, it's not worth it. So yeah, I think that's super important. 

Max, how does one hack flow state? How does one achieve it? What do people listening need to do in order to start accessing this flow state? 

Max Gotzler: Well by understanding now what it takes to get into a flow state? So you need certain emotions, you need certain brain waves, and you need your anatomy also to change to the activity in certain brain areas.

So once you understand that, then you can kind of, extrapolate that to your surroundings and to your habits and behaviors. And so there two categories, pretty much. They're the flow helpers I call them, and then they're the flow killers. And so a flow killer, for example, is definitely something that stresses you too much or that distracts you also from the what you actually want to do.

And so, there's several ways now to go about that. So there's the internal approach or the external approach. So you can change your things within yourself. For example, also you adapt your habits and your routines and also listen to your biological needs and realizing that we are planetary beings and we are, for example, rhythmic beings that go along with, you know, sunrises and sunsets and then taking in these natural rhythms.

So going with them is a great flow trigger and actually to have a very simple concept for people to follow, how to hack the flow step. For me, that's one thing I always say to my clients and on my podcast and everything, and it goes like, this is super simple, but it's - Routines lead to rhythm. Rhythm leads to momentum. Momentum leads into flow. And that's why for me it's very important to develop habits and also when I work with clients to figure out what habits, they're different habits working for different people, but to have habits and routines in place that help you establish rhythm.

There is a saying in German, I think it's probably the same in in English. It's like rhythm and energy will have bridges break down. Like that's how powerful this is. That's how much energy can be created and you can like picture this bridge that is just trying to rhythmically like shake, build up momentum.

And with that energy, eventually it crumbles down. Like this is how powerful this is. And that's why I think this rhythm and momentum part is very important. You need certain rhythms that you adhere to, that you follow. And that will increase your likelihood to get into the flow by a lot.

For example, I do that is, I try to maintain a sleep schedule where I go to bed around the same time within an hour, sometimes two. But I try to maintain that and I wake up, I always wake up without an alarm clock. And then I know about myself that within three and four hours after waking up, I am at my mental top.

Like, this would be the excellent time to do something where I would like to have flow and get into flow. And the more often I do that, the more often I follow this routine and this rhythm, the more energy then I will create. This is compounding over time and it will become easier and then you lose it again.

It's kinda like the surfer, you know, you paddle, you paddle, you paddle, you try a couple waves, all of a sudden you're standing and then you just go, you're in flow and then you fall down and then you have to like arrange yourself again and wait for the right wave and so on. So you cannot always plan it perfectly, but that's why I always say it increases your likelihood.

This is now referring to the internal part. This is what you have under control internally, creating your habits and rhythms. And then there are a couple of compounds and supplements. 

We can go all into that also Claudia, but like to just make it as simple as possible for the beginning. So what I want listeners to remember right now is, routines lead to rhythm - rhythm to momentum - momentum leads into flow.

And momentum is nothing else than just compounded energy. And the other part now is your environment. So things that you can establish around yourself or that you can look for and you oftentimes only have to do once. But that will lead to also compounding effects in the future.

And that could be an environment that will lead to positive emotions from the outset, that is filled with people that make you smile when they see you coming, for example, I think that was Sidney Poitier who said that. And to have as little distractions as possible. And then also to combine that with certain other routines, for example, to switch off your phone or put it into at least airplane mode and to maybe inform people around you to leave your alone for 90 minutes.

And to establish that. So I think that environment and certain habits are the two biggest triggers to get into a flow state. So you want a stress-free, distraction-free environment, and you want healthy and rhythmic habits and routines in order to create that energy that you need then to overcome and flow state. So this is to make it very simple. And obviously we can go now deep into the details if you want. 

Claudia von Boeselager: I love details and I love to go deep. Is this something that people can achieve on a daily basis, on a weekly basis? How often and what periods of time does the brain function, obviously appreciate everyone will be a bit different, but you said an hour and a half. 

Is that like the timeframe to block out or is it up to four hours? What are you seeing, what are you, yourself able to do? Obviously you're the expert in this versus somebody starting out.

Max Gotzler: That's a great question and there are multiple levels to my answer here, because yes, there are certain biological frameworks, and findings that will lead you to certain ideas of what is, what is ideal or how often you can get into a flow. However also throughout my multiple podcast interviews with artists and athletes, I know that there are individual differences and they are artists.

For example, they get into a flow state. They stay in a state of flow for days, sometimes even almost weeks. And they can then really just spend all their time and energy on their creative project in front of them. However, now everyone listening who wants to get started, I think the best is really to focus on the neuroscientific findings as of now.

And I also do that and I follow basic biological concepts such as the ultradian rhythms. So we have the circadian rhythm, which is the 24 hour rhythm. Then there are so-called ultradian rhythms, which are rhythms less than an hour. And for example, the 90 minute sleep cycle is an ultradian rhythm.

However, more than just during sleep, where we go through like the different sleep stages within 90 minutes. There's also the so-called basic rest and activity cycle, which is pretty much the same thing. But that's a wider concept that also refers to cycles within a waking day. So when you're awake during the day.

So we also have these 90 minute cycles. And what literature has shown is that right now, for most people, these 90 minutes is the maximum time that they could intensely focus on one activity, until they need a break. So 90 minutes is the maximum. It doesn't necessarily mean that you always need to do exactly 90 minutes.

You can do less than that. But after 90 minutes for most people, they should take a break. And so these 90 minutes also, they cannot be done subsequently for multiple times. Sometimes yes. But ideally you do a 90 minute, let's say, deep work session, and I relate it to flow in the moment. And then you take almost several hours of break.

Of course you can do some mundane work and some everyday tasks such as responding to emails or doing phone calls and then you enter another one of those sessions. And so the maximum number I have found that people are able to do in the day is 270 minutes, of this intense mental work that's already a lot. Most people don't even get 90 minutes. So this is what you can then use sort of as your baseline or your rule of thumb to identify the ideal time you spend in flow. So if you get 90 minutes already, that's good. That's a lot. And you can prepare yourself. And the cool thing is, Claudia, is that these 90 minutes, they don't start at a particular time, but you can decide when you want to start with that.

So whenever you start to focus, and for example, you sit down, you take a couple deep breaths, you set the intention and you eliminate distractions and you visually focus. This is also, by the way, a great flow trigger because visual focus leads to mental focus. So what happens is that you pupils, you just narrow them a little bit and you focus on a particular salient point, either in your work or even I have a little flow helper.

I thought I have it around here, but it's like a little piggy and, and I have it. And sometimes I just really visually focus on that for about one to two minutes. And that already helps the body produce a little bit of adrenaline, dopamine, and acetylcholine, which are three compounds that you need to get into a focused state.
And then focus leads to flow. There's one thing that flow researchers always says flow follows focus. So you need to be focused on something and the focus then will lead to certain processes in the body to release certain neuromodulators and compounds, and that will help you get into the state and then the 90 minute start.

Claudia von Boeselager: Okay. Just a quick question on that. So you're focusing on something that's not specifically your work. So you were saying your little piggy would get into the state and then you would start your work. Is that correct? 

Max Gotzler: Yes. You can translate that actually, so you can focus on something non-related to your work, produce neurochemicals that you need, and then go back or go to your work and then focus. And then it takes usually like falling asleep for example, when you're really tired and then you fall asleep. So let's say the foundation is prepared and you're, ready to start working.

And the other example would be ready to fall asleep. Then you need in between 6 to 12 minutes, let's say, usually to fall asleep. And this is almost the exact time that you also need to get into a deeper focused state. So you start to concentrate. You might start with like an easy task of your project, or you write something down or you make a game plan and so on.

And then usually after 6 to 11 minutes, that's what works for me, like around this time period. Then you feel you become more focused and it's almost like non-conscious then by that time, you only noticed that you were in flow later on, by the way. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Are you dropping into an alpha brainwave state?

Max Gotzler: That's it. You drop in and then when you're uninterrupted, you can go, like, I can go even longer than 90 minutes. I realized, like, when you really let me go, and, uh, there's a great quote by Rick Rubin. He wrote this fantastic book that just came out, and in that there's a quote, it's called the Creative Act, the book by the way, I recommend it to everyone. It's really great, because I think it addresses the creative artist in all of us. And here's a quote where it's when you flow, then go. So then don't necessarily stop yourself, which is, I would say, coming from an artist, probably possible in the creative world when you're an artist, when you're a musician, but when you're an office worker or you work on a business concept and maybe makes sense to time yourself because you might not be able to then skip a meeting later on. Or you might have to, you know, still adhere to your time schedule. So I would say the 90 minutes is a good point to maybe reflect a little bit and see, okay, cool. Um, now I've done the 90 minutes, take a break and then maybe come back to the project or do something else.

But for me, that's a really good setup already. When you plan for that, these 90 minutes, they pretty much are just basic biology. So these are ultradian rhythms and they're scientifically proven. And so these 90 minutes are just not some vague concept that someone invented. So they actually go back to science. And that's what I like about it. 

Claudia von Boeselager: What are factors people need to make sure that are in place, to optimize for flow state?

Max Gotzler: To make it simple for me, there are four important factors and for thousands of years people have actually looked at these four. And for me to be in place for your body to have the ability to generate that energy, that power, because flow in the end, it is energy. Directed, focused energy, which flows and which adjusts and which is dynamic and lively and it's great.

But these four, almost elements in everyone's life, I think you can look at. And these refer to as always start with mindset. So you need to be clear what you're doing. There are also a lot of people out there that use, let's say, substances or even some sort of simulation to get them into a flow state, but then they don't use it actually to create something valuable in their lives or to increase their quality of life, but this one story, a friend of mine, experimented with a smart drug called modafinil, I'm sure you heard of it. It's a compound. It's fairly well studied and some biohackers also use it in order to get some work done. But I had one friend and he, he was taking this in order to prepare for an exam for university, but because he was not focused enough, or he didn't set the intention up front. He took the thing and in the end, ended up studying the coordinates of oil tankers, like big ships, like some something super random that had nothing to do with what he wanted to study and for the whole night. And he's like, ah, max, like, I woke up like in the morning and I thought, what have, I've spent like four or five hours just studying these coordinates?

So he kind of created this artificial curiosity and interest and motivation to do that, and then forgot the task. So I would say when you start with mindset, you kind of start with asking yourself, why is that actually important to me? what is an ideal outcome? And then you break it down maybe in some milestones.

So you already have some sort of game plan and you getting yourself into that mindset, okay, this is, what I really want to do, what resonates with me? What helps me grow, what might be challenging. But by overcoming it, I actually become a better version of myself. So mindset is number one. And then the three other ones are usually the ones that you hear from the fitness world, which is nutrition, movement, and sleep.

And so I think when you have those four in place, then this is a great foundation for you, like a launchpad that you can launch from in order to get into a flow state. And let's look at each of them quickly. So with nutrition, I mean anything that, your body requires in terms of food or water that will help you create these compounds more efficiently, more effectively. And also the amount that you need. 

There are obviously some recommendations, but that would probably be a complete different podcast. But my recommendation is always like, look at your individual profile. Like do the tests. Figure out what your body needs because someone who is in the highest stress phase in life needs different micronutrients, macronutrients, fats than someone who's completely relaxed and who starts his day just drinking several cups of, you know, cappuccinos in the sunlight, talking to friends.

So you need different things, but that you need to make sure of. So that you're well hydrated and you have all the nutrients in order to create these powerful compounds. And usually what, works for most people, by the way, is something with, you need good fats definitely, some good protein, and also some carbs for most people.

Usually in that order, like fats and proteins first and then carbs in the end, because we are usually over carbed and under fated. The next one would be movement. And that's also something where many people, like years ago, you know, when, when you talked about recovery or rest, it usually meant someone like lying down or resting.

But the best form of recovery is oftentimes in movement. When you think about also how our body works. It never really rests. Our heart is always beating, and we have certain processes and chemicals being transported all around our body. And so things are happening and we can support our body by doing recovering activities, like going for a walk, um, sometimes obviously also like relaxing, laying down, reading a book, but, but also just by making sure that every day you get some sort of movement.

And the alternation between more intense movements and less intense movements. And to challenge your body that way, also because that will make sure that your mitochondria work more efficiently, which are the power cells in your body that produce ATP which is pretty much energy, which in the end you need for flow.

And so by making sure that you move your muscles, you make them work for you and to work efficiently, you'll increase also your energy output. Let's also leave it at that, because then you can also go into all kinds of details. But I would recommend just maybe as a basic rule, if you're not sick or in a state where you really have a hard time moving, you should move every day. 

Claudia von Boeselager: And that spectrum can be big, right? So it can be, you know, a brisk walk for somebody might be super effective, whereas somebody else, might want to have a HIIT workout or something. Right. So I think, for people listening, it's just getting moving.

The body's made to move. Lymph drainage, brain function, BDNF production. There's so many benefits. So I think this is the beauty of it, that that's actually the baseline for so many things to live well, to perform well. So it overlaps with each other.

Max, I have a question around neurodivergence and flow state. So you were talking about some artists being able to access flow state for over prolonged periods of time. I know some people who have bipolar for example, and they have that bliss state that they're able to be super creative at certain times.

People with ADHD, searching for that dopamine. Have you seen any research around flow state, and different types of neurodivergence.

Max Gotzler: Good question. Um, well, I've seen certain research showing that people are much more creative in flow states. The Harvard University has done some research on that and also the University of Sydney, they found that people are much more creative in a flow state. I mean, it, it makes complete sense for me because you process.

A lot more information when you're in flow. And so you get a lot more feedback. Feedback is actually also one of those flow triggers. I mean, there's this list that the Flow Genome Project came up several years ago, which with these 17 flow triggers and, creativity is actually one of them, was mentioned back then, but without making it too complicated.
So when you're in flow, you are able to implicitly process a lot more information. So a lot more information is available to you and you are making rapid split second decisions all the time. Let's think about the snowboarder because like, I think athletics and also in the military, they have, they have done the most work with it.
But the easiest image I think is an athlete who has to make really quick decision. And the snowboarder going down the mountain. He cannot consciously now think about which turn to make, or when he spots a rock in the snow or a tree, all of a sudden coming up behind a hill, he has to quickly react and there's all this information coming in, and all of a sudden he's, oh, I'm turning left on the, he's, oh no, there's another rock. Oh, uh, there's a tree to the left side. So I'm, maybe I should just jump over. So this would be the conscious process. So this takes way too long. So all of this information is being processed subconsciously in this state, in this flow state. And you have the power, you have the chemicals and the activity in your brain in order to do that.    

And then all of a sudden he makes this rapid, super genius decision from the outside. Which seems to be like highly creative and which it is as well. But it happens on a subconscious level, and this is definitely what can be observed in flow state. They have done studies on that. So, there's one compound also on the chemical level that apparently plays a role in that, which is anandamide, which is an endocannabinoid. Which it is related to the plant of cannabis, but it's comes from the inside of the body, and it helps us with lateral thinking.

So accessing different parts, making connections that we might not be aware of before or have not been aware of before, and to process this information differently. This definitely happens. And then when you look at artists and with artists and musicians, as far as I have seen. There was a study I recently came across with athletes and musicians about flow, and it was also, the results were quite positive, but I have to go back to the study in order to really tell you what happened there. But there are more studies now being done. But in the past, like the most information that at least I have seen were either from sports or from actually the military.

And the military also, they have worked with transcranial stimulation where they shut down and the anatomic part, the prefrontal cortex with electrical impulses. And then had, and in fact remember correctly, was snipers, shooters. And then knocked out their prefrontal cortex electrically and then had them practice and noticed that their skills would improve, I think by 300% or something like that.

They learned much quicker. And that is another effect that might tie to neurodivergence, which is this increased impact on your neuroplasticity because you learn quicker, which means your brain changes quicker. So, there are neurons connecting with each other. So the process of neuroplasticity, which is pretty much just describing that your brain changes according to certain stimuli and acquires new knowledge and new abilities.

This is also increased in a flow state. And this is, I think that can be tied to also creativity and neurodivergence that, all of a sudden you were able to do things you were not able to do before. And yeah, I think there, there's a lot more work to be done, certainly in that area.

And maybe I have not also seen so much, but this is actually a nice term. I, I want to look into more neurodivergence. 

Claudia von Boeselager: I've been uncovering it more and more. My daughter was recently diagnosed with some traits of ASC autism spectrum condition and ADHD and looking into it more it's actually phenomenal how many people have certain traits of it without even knowing. So one of the experts I spoke to said a researcher came to her and said that 70, 7 0% of workplace will have some sort of neurodivergence. And so we're all trying to squeeze into being neurotypical, whereas that's actually a minority, and I thought that was super, super interesting.
It's just about embracing it and being like, okay, what are the different superpowers that we have and focusing on getting better at our strengths versus trying to improve our, our weaknesses. Right. 

 And so that was just to understand if flow state is possible, a) for certain types of neurodivergence. But, b) if there's an impact or an even stronger benefit of flow states for neuro divergent people. But again, this is probably a new research field that hasn't been done.

Max Gotzler: I could imagine that they probably have an easier time getting into these states and therefore they probably might have more benefits. But I don't necessarily would think that they would have greater benefits from a single episode of flow than maybe another person if it's deep enough, they might have just an easier time getting into these very deep flow states.

And by the way, because I recently also came across a study that, there was a smaller sample, but they notice that the number of kids diagnosed with autism is increasing significantly and there's certain theories obviously is for now just correlation. It could also be that they just look for it a bit more as well, or they have better tools in order to diagnose it.

But my theory also is that we are in such a dynamic, super fast, high speed world with so many stimuli and information that needs to be processed by our brain, that it's almost like a survival mechanism for a young brain confronted with this extreme amount of information to look for ways to shut this off.

And this is also one of the symptoms then that in the end of ADHD or of certain behaviors or autism, to actually be able to manage and deal with all these stimuli. And this is my personal theory. It's not based on any science, but that when I saw this study, I think I thought it actually makes sense because we need tools, we need methods and techniques in order to deal with this, I certainly do. But I'm an adult and I have the ability to look at things and learn and acquire these things. And my body will also tell me, because I grew up in a different world and I'm sure you too, where we needed to dial into a modem in order to access the internet.

And now it's all around us. And I do think that we do see a change in the development of young brains because of the world we live in. 

Claudia von Boeselager: I definitely think there is a correlation as well. I also think exposure to things like pesticides, to stress factors. I think stress levels are obviously much higher as well.

So even like with a pregnant mother, let's say that what I think also impacts the children, but they do say, genetics obviously plays a role too, which means that it's actually multi-generational. But that would go more to people didn't understand, didn't pick up on it, there wasn't as much awareness, but also expectation for certain performance levels.

I think that those have gone up even in schools. I mean, my kids are pretty young and like what they're expected to know and to do. I mean, my six-year-old has to be able to read chapter books at this stage. It's like, it's a bit.. 

Max Gotzler: That's, that's why it's such an exciting field and that's why it's so great.

Maybe at this point, thank you also for your work, Claudia, because I think it's so important what our field does and, to, to give people tools and techniques and methods and ideas and the newest scientific findings in order to deal with this crazy world, because it's not getting any slower.

It's not like, uh, like, okay, we have to just get through next year and then we'll be calming down. It's just speeding up more and more. 

Claudia von Boeselager: I think mental health is just exploding. I mean, obviously all the research points in that direction, and I remember my father, like even growing up back in the day, he used to travel a lot for work, to South America.

He would say that, you know, once upon a time you'd make a phone call that you may or may not reach the person, you'd write a letter and say, okay, I'm confirming in like three weeks time we're gonna have a letter, right? in your, your office in Rio de Janeiro at 11:30 in the morning.

And then you get a letter reply confirming it, and then you book a ticket and you go, I mean, nowadays I feel like most people would have a panic attack thinking like, are they really gonna be there? Like, how am I gonna get in touch with them, et cetera. How much more relaxing the world was, you know?

And then if you showed up and they weren't there, well then, hey, you could take the day off and enjoy being in Rio, right? But, times have changed and I think like one is that self-care and then two is the filter mechanism. I mean, I pretty much avoid the news. I filter in a few things at times, but, you know, there's different triggers for different people that it's just having that awareness and then setting up those filters to not get fed into the system of being bombarded in all directions, with information over load and really taking care of yourself as well.

And on that note, I wanna touch on biohacking Max. You're into biohacking, and I love what you said at the beginning that in part it's to support accessing flow state, right? So what are some of your favorite biohacks that you do to optimize your life and your health. 

Max Gotzler: Wow. Yeah, there are, there are quite a few I've tried out obviously, and for me, by the way, biohacks oftentimes are corrective measures to make a living in an unnatural world more natural again. For example, I'm a big fan of the blue blocker at night. When I have to be in an environment with artificial lights, which is, a pair of glasses that filters out blue wave, length light, and that way allows your body to produce more of your falling asleep hormone, which is melatonin. And for me, that's a perfect example for a biohack because it's something that actually makes you live more naturally in an unnatural environment.
So you, you block out something artificial in order to be in a natural environment. So this is, one of my all-time grades, I would say. I always like to have a blue blocker around and I really notice also when I sit in front of the TV after a long work day and I almost feel like my mind is being taken for a walk by some sort of series and the more stupid, the better.

But then when I have my blue blockers on, I become tired super quickly. So the blue light, even from the TV or the screen, is not affecting me so much. And then I have a good night of sleep, even after that. 

Claudia von Boeselager: You have a favorite brand or favorite one to share? We love specifics. 

Max Gotzler: Yeah. You know the, there's a German company now, and he actually studied in London. Uh, so they have an English website up. He, he started the company as a bilingual, company. It's called Lichtblock. They make really stylish blue blockers and he's really done his homework. They have supported us for one of our past events. A fairly young company, but a young bunch of super motivated guys that are eager to enter the space. And what they also do, and I really like that they have these magnets, these are red lights. With a package, you also get these like little magnets you can just, tape on your wall, for example, in your bathroom.

And they're made of plastic. They're super simple and you can put them pretty much everywhere around the bathroom and they have motion detection. So pretty much when you wanna go to the bathroom, you go, and then these little red lights turn on and show you the way, and they specifically look for wavelengths that won't wake you up. They don't get your cortisol up. So this is a super easy and cheap way. They're also super cheap, by the way, to adjust to, the light during the night so you don't, you know, have put on the big lights. I mean, we biohackers oftentimes we already care for that. But if someone's out there and you don't want to go to the bathroom and you're put on the headlamp and then to stress yourself out with the bright blue wavelength light, then this would be a great option. But they mostly do blue blockers. This is just one of their site. 

Claudia von Boeselager: I'm gonna try those red lights. I like the fact that they're portable, and helpful, to have in a place like a bathroom or even like, you know, in the evening time, shutting down because obviously around my desk and things like that, I make sure everything is in yellow light. 

But there's a bathroom light that's very bright, so we put candles on, but with my kids sometimes having a bath, it's not the most effective. So I think I'm gonna red light thing. So thank you for that tip. 

Max Gotzler: You're welcome. 

Claudia von Boeselager: So the blue light, what else are some of your favorite biohacks?

Max Gotzler: In general, I would say light, by the way, Claudia always have this concept where people ask me, I said I always try to, that's, that helps me actually go through the different biohacks to, to think about the elements. So, fire, I think about the sun. So also light. And the sun is also a wonderful biohack.

I know people think, okay, well, going out into the sun, people have done that for thousands of years. Most cultures had gods which refer to the sun, or the sun was a God. And, but for good reason because you can really think of the sun almost like a God because it sends us information every day.

Very powerful information that will help us maintain our hormonal rhythms. And again, rhythms very important. So I make it a habit for me to really get sunlight as much as possible. Also, when I feel down, when I work, sometimes I do have to work inside for the whole day. But then I noticed not in a good mood, I don't know, feel like I'm being productive, but I don't feel like it.

And the easiest way for me is just to go outside. And ideally, uh, I have my favorite lake here around, outside of Munich. And not many people know about it. That's why I never share where it is. But , I, I go there, take off my shoes, um, and then get some just natural light. Doesn't have to be direct sunlight, but that's a wonderful one.

And then also when, I think about fire, I think about the sauna. I'm a big fan of sauna. I actually have a red light sauna here on my terrace. I use it quite often. I would say probably four or five times a week, even, like either in my gym or actually today, this morning I was already at a workout in then a little, like a short sauna session.

But I like that a lot. There's a lot of literature out there around the health benefits and longevity about saunas. So sauna's great. And also the newer version, which is more energy efficient is the red light or the infrared, sauna, which is not really comparable to the finished sauna, it's a very different kind of heat, but the heat comes from the infrared rays and goes inside of your body.

And what I've heard, I haven't seen any signs on that, but is that the, the amount of toxins in your sweat is higher after an infrared sauna session than in a finished sauna. The reason for that is because these infrared light rays, they go like deeper into the tissue and then press out the toxins from the inside.

Claudia von Boeselager: Also, the benefit is you're not sweating for people who haven't tried it before. Some people suffer from a Finnish sauna the heat and the nose starts burning, et cetera, and you don't have that same temperature effect in the red light. Do you have a favorite brand? 

Max Gotzler: I like Clearlight. Clearlight is my go-to because also they have low, EMFs. Electromagnetic fields around the sauna and they've tested that. And, I haven't tried many of the others because, Clearlight was one of our long-term partners already for our first events.

And then when they, when they brought a sauna to Flowfest, they actually then gave me a sauna sort of as our package. And ever since then, I'm using the sauna, but it's been outside on my terrace, like a, I live in this little penthouse here and it's outside and it's been there, I think for the last five years.

And it's working as well as on day one. And I'm super happy with it. And it has a great sound system as well inside. So, you can connect your favorite playlist or meditation sounds, and they sit in there and look out. And so I'm very happy with it so.. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Beautiful. 

Max Gotzler: Let's move on to the next one, which would be water. And so this would be for me also then cold.

Like I'm a big fan of cold. I'm a Nordic guy, to be honest. Like I think have genetically an easier time being in the cold than, let's say with Sullivan, like my partner, she's, Brazilian, Portuguese. So for her it's much harder to be in, in the cold. And she's freezing much easier. And I do see because she's trying, but it's not easy for her and for me.

I think I'm almost attracted to the cold, and I do that a lot. So this is actually something I almost do every morning. I have a little bath here outside as well. And in the winter right now, the temperature's still cool enough. In the summer, obviously the water becomes warmer, but also I'm based in Munich, and Munich has the so-called, Eisbach.

Icy river or icy stream. And it's even in the summer, super cold, like it gets maybe to 12 degrees Celsius, something like that. So it's quite cold. And I almost, I'd say not every day, but like every second day I go down there, even in the winter and I take a cold bath. And there's also more and more science coming out that, that is, wonderful.

I mean, in Germany we actually have a history with cold bathing. So 200 years ago there was Pfarrer Kneipp. This was, a famous pastor back then. He was one of the most famous Germans in the world. And this is almost like a Hollywood story. At the age of 27 became diagnosed with tuberculosis and then somehow found a book which was telling him about water therapy.

And then he started treating himself with jumping into a cold river. And all of a sudden he became better. And then he became, well, part of the church, he was a priest. And then the cholera started and he was known as sort of the, the cholera chaplain because he started under the protection of the church.

Because back then, already the pharma industry didn't like that at all. The, all the pharmacies, he was even in court defending himself because they thought he was doing some nonsense work. But he was treating people with cold water therapy and they became better. And the story goes on that even the pope back then, which was one of the most powerful figures in the whole world, invited him secretly to bathe him.

Because he heard about him. And this character was almost like a Wim Hof 200 years ago. I think, and the trend comes and goes and, and right now again, we are in the cold water therapy trend. And what I really like about our scene is that, that more and more studies are coming out, how beneficial it actually is.

And what it does, just to give you an idea, is it, and this is science-based. So it raises your mood, it increases your level of adrenaline over longer periods of time, up to several hours. It increases your level of dopamine. So motivation over several hours, it strengthens your immune system. It produces a so-called brown adipose tissue, which is the metabolically active fat.

It gets rid of annoying white fat. It actually transforms it. So there's so many different benefits to cold therapy. And so it, it is a biohack even though it's also one of those that is super old. And one person actually accused me once, he said like, you take old wine and you put it through like new barrels or something like that.
And I said, yeah, but sometimes you need to replace the bottle. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Exactly. Or to spice it up a bit as well. What's your cold exposure protocol? What do you like to do? 

Max Gotzler: So ideally I really listen to my body. Sometimes I time myself, but I think I have a fairly good idea. The interesting thing is because of the dopamine reaction, your perception of time actually slows down. So you think that you're, oh, I'm in here already for several minutes. And then you look and it's only been 30 seconds. And I sometimes test that.

So I, I have the time running. I don't set a timer, and then I try to guess how much time has passed and I try to stay in. I mean, the benefits start after already 20 seconds in cold water. And what is cold, by the way? I always say everything less than 15 degrees Celsius is cold, but well, the colder the less time you need in the bath.

So let's say if it's really cold, almost freezing and almost there's some ice on top, then I'd say 20 seconds is already pretty good. Then up to three minutes longer, I don't think is very beneficial, to be honest. Some people like to stay in longer and if you have time, if you have nothing to do, but what happens to me is actually I then shut down.

It might have some positive effects on my immune system or even my metabolism and my fat burning. But I notice I'm not as mentally productive anymore if I stay in too long. So for me, the sweet spot is around a minute and a half between a minute and three minutes. And then according also to a protocol that is out there, it's based on some sort of study, 11 minutes per week is apparently a very good time to aim at. So let's say you go into less cold water for like three minutes the first day, and then two minutes the next day, and then one minute the next day, and then repeat that all of again. You come up to maybe, let's say around 11 minutes, that's a pretty good time to be in the cold over the period of a week.

And then what I do, and this is actually something I have from, uh, Andrew Huberman's podcast, and I like that a lot, and I'm trying, this is called Counting Walls and it's a method. Have you heard about that? It's pretty cool. So how he describes it, and I do it exactly the same. So you go into the cold and then you have the first reaction, like, I want to get out.

Like, you're hyperventilating and you're pupils dilate, and you, you feel like, oh no, this is too cold. And this is the first wall. And so you try to break through the first wall, and this is the first one. So you count the first wall and then you stay in until the next one comes, the next impulse. Okay, now it's, it's been too much.

I have to go out. And then this is the second wall. And then for example, when you hit the third wall, then you go out, and this is called the counting walls approach. So you, you set a goal, you can example, say I'm aiming for two walls today, or three or four. I wouldn't do more than four or five, but, um, I'd say that's, that's a pretty good way of subjectively challenging yourself with the cold, and then also the feeling into your body, like, okay, is it really, really too much? Okay, now it feels like, let's, let's go a bit longer. And then you just, you know, take a, a bit more seconds and you will notice that your body all of a sudden produces, again, a bit more adrenaline, and then all of a sudden you, you can take it and it's not as bad anymore.

So you, you get through these walls. Just one, one word of warning. Just have one person watch you please. I do it by myself but I'm a practiced ice bather and practitioner and biohacker. But when you do that for yourself, like, don't please count like five walls and have no one watching you because it can then be dangerous.

Claudia von Boeselager: I think definite word of caution, word of warning, especially if you're going so cold, that there's ice, in there as well, for sure. And for any consolidation for your girlfriend I used to suffer the cold. I'm more a tropical, I don't really sweat much. I don't feel heat. I love heat, right. And thanks to cold water therapy and cold water exposure, I don't feel the cold anymore. And it was really miraculous when I was standing with some other people, like, oh, it's so cold. And I was like, really? I was like, no, it's not. Then I realized like, Hey, I'm cured.

Takes a bit of practice, but after a bit of time you just don't feel cold as well, which is hugely beneficial. Obviously circulation improves, as well. 

Max Gotzler: I will let her know that for sure. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah, there, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Before we finish up today, Max, I'd love if you could share a bit more about Flowgrade, what you're doing, and your events that you have as well with my audience. 

Max Gotzler: I'd love to thank you for the opportunity. Well, right now we are mostly active in the German speaking world I have to say. So Germany, Austria, Switzerland.

We do now our events particularly, that target a more international audience. So we do have speakers from different countries and we've started that already a couple years ago, but it becomes more and more international. So what I do with Flowgrade, Flowgrade is, as you mentioned, my, brand and under that roof, sort of have several projects going.

So it actually started as a diagnostic company, but we don't do that anymore. We did send home diagnostics in the beginning, but that was already 10 years ago. I am getting old. But then we iterated to functional... 

Claudia von Boeselager: We're growing younger Max, wer'e growing younger. 

Max Gotzler: Growing younger. I like that. Definitely in the right business for that. Especially I'm on the right podcast for that. And, and so we iterated a little bit to functional nutrition, we still do that today. We have a little shop. We sell lab tested products, mostly actually nutrition, like coffee, golden milk. We have coconut oil and, like different products around that range.

Olive oil, actually a really good one. And that was the concept. But by now, Flowgrade is much more a transformation business. So we are offering online courses. Around sleep, around stress reduction or stress management. I have one program I'm really excited about. We started this year, it's called Flow X, which is a peak performance biohacking training.

And this one actually exists in German and English. But for that I open around in a work very intensively, for eight weeks with a group of high performance. We just actually finished the first round and they were partners of big investment banks, of big corporates, executives and founders. 

And, to be honest, Claudia, I was quite scared before I started the project. But now, after the first round, I have to say, there was one of the best decisions. Sometimes the fear leads you. 

Claudia von Boeselager: The fear always leads you. 

Max Gotzler: The fear always leads you. And this one was, I'm so happy I've done it because first of all, the group kind of grew together and there was so much of synergy and of potential that was generated throughout this program.

So this is one of the new ones. And then we have our event series. So I was divided up into, we have products, we have content, which I count to online courses also, and my podcast and books. And then we have events. And I've been doing events since 2017, and the most famous one is the Flowfest event, which kind of became the ultimate biohacking conference in the German speaking world.

And it's, kind of our yearly gathering of German, but also international biohackers nowadays. And it takes place actually this year from July 7th till 9th. I pretty much have these three different hats. So I do sell products, I do coach and train, and I do create events. I think what people can understand also under the roof of elevating human potential, transforming ourselves to kind of go along with you, like to make the world just happier and better and more successful that way. 

Claudia von Boeselager: And let people live into their fullest potential right? Which is great. Max, what are some of the biggest learnings or insights your clients have found most valuable?

Max Gotzler: You know, what they have found is that, there's a saying in the marketing world, which goes like that sometimes you, you sell people what they want and you give them what they need, right? And that's what I really then discovered also because I come from a background of psychology and I like that field a lot.

So, in my programs I do have like the basic biohacks and we, we talk about nutrition and sleep and the different also technology. But what it always comes down to, and this really is from, could be an artist I'm working with to, uh, like a very powerful executive of a big company, always comes also down to, how important, the emotional wellbeing is, and that they all have things that kind of bother them, trigger them that they want to look at more. And we end up talking much more even in the group settings about emotional stressors, which, when you think about a peak performance program, and we want to get out as much as possible, but these things are so important and they hinder people so much and present so many stressors that dealing with them became very important in my trainings.

Maybe I can share, for example, uh, a very simple story from an executive who really struggled with, he was promoted to a different position and then he struggled with telling his team because he felt like they think that he's leaving them and he's not living up to his standards. And throughout the process of talking about this, we figured out that really, that there were certain principles he held, like being accountable. Being someone with integrity and believable and not leaving his team behind. So we, we questioned that belief. Maybe there's some situations where it makes sense, maybe change is also good.

And so he reframed his mindset and his limiting beliefs in that way. And at the end, what turned out was that he, he reframed it positively. So he made it a change and he was actually leaving the team, having created amazing connections and staying in touch with them and to a better position.

But he took something that he was very afraid of, on an emotional level also, and turned it into something good. And that was eye-opening for me that. These small seeming things, oftentimes like, okay, you have to tell your team you're getting promoted. Big deal. Right? But this is something where he grew as a leader and as a communicator and, and as a creative person also, being able to reframe that and becoming even more intelligent in the process. I feel like, and this was a big breakthrough, and yeah happy to share that. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Thank you for sharing that as well. And I think it goes back to the whole like power of the brain, right? And reframing things and getting to the bottom. I mean, you even mentioned before with the brain waves and the subconscious emotion that might be blocking oneself. So it's correlated that starting with the basics and that emotional state is so important. And I love the power of reframing, you know, like switching. A little hack that I love is, changing from something I have to do. Like I have to get up, I have to go to work to, I get to. I get to get up, I get to go to work.

Max Gotzler: Mm. I like that Uhhuh. 

Claudia von Boeselager: And it really just as a super simple little hack or trick because it's when we start reframing things and actually finding the pleasure in them and the gratitude and the benefits, like you were saying with him. Like, what is the benefit of him actually leaving the team? What does that give the team?
It gives them a new leader also they can grow, et cetera. 

Max Gotzler: That's a great one actually. I've gotta tell him that. That's so wonderful add-on. 

Claudia von Boeselager: What excites you most about the future of health, wellbeing, peak performance, biohacking in the coming years and beyond?

Max Gotzler: What excites me most I think it's something that also scares me a little bit. Not necessarily scare, I think it's the wrong word. It's more, it makes me a bit anxious or, yeah, I'm, I'm excited about it, but not necessarily only in a positive way, which is the whole emergence now of intelligent machines and AI, and I think we have to look at it and integrate it into our work. And I'm definitely already doing that. And I'm already, have some thought leaders in the German speaking world that are now interviewed, and then we bring them even to our events now we discuss that heavily. But I think this is something that is, you have no idea how this is gonna change everything in the coming years.

And, I, I like to work with it and I like to like dive in, but at the same time I also find myself sometimes being unsure or confused. I don't really know exactly, am I missing something? Is this now going in this direction or in this direction? And how should I maybe also as a, as an entrepreneur and business leader, think about that also, how will that relate to health and wellbeing?

For example, sometimes I find myself, I was just introduced to founder of a company, they created an AI voice that can talk to people when they have psychotic breakdowns. Which sounds super cool and I'm interested in that and it makes me excited, but at the same time I question and there's probably also some certain beliefs like is it really possible then to replace this human interaction?

Is that the world in the end that will end up like being in the, in the movie Her, where you have someone in your ear who talks to you all the time, but it's not a human, but it's just your systems and who's, uh, kind of being trained by your thoughts and likes and behaviors and, and and, and so yeah, I'm excited to see how this will develop and also how quickly things will change.

Because I think with some things they come and we, we think, oh, this will change everything. And it kind of like slides in underneath almost and all of a sudden it's always let like the internet in a way. But now it's so much quicker and so many more iterations and much quicker time. That this is something like, I would say to break it down and to answer your question, in one phrase, the combination of this emergence of intelligent machines and health and wellbeing.

Like how, we will position ourselves and work with these different tools in order to make the world better. This is what excites me. 

Claudia von Boeselager: I completely hear you with, you know, what is to come. Somebody told me the other day, there was an article a journalist was trying out chatgpt and it's sort of making marriage proposals and then they wrote back, I'm married, thanks. And they're like, get divorced . So there can be malfunctions with the system as well. I had a conversation with somebody about this, like, well, humans make mistakes as well. So I think it's finding that frontier of merging, as a very useful tool to support humans and human ability, versus sort of taking over and replacing humans depending on what type of space that is as well.

I'm sure you're familiar with Cal Newport's book, Deep Work. Where he talks also about, humans need to become more human. We need to focus on what we're good at. That creativity, creating that flow state, being brilliant in that way because other things in AI will essentially be able to do better.

It's not about memorizing things, right, but having the understanding and then producing these beautiful, creative products, good services or whatever that might be as well. 

Max, where can people find out what you are up to? Um, can you share your website, your social media handles? And we'll link everything in the show notes. 

Max Gotzler: Yes, for sure. So or I think it leads actually to de right now, so this is German speaking, but nowadays you can at least look at what I'm doing and use Google translator, whatever, to get an idea. But where I do post mostly English and sometimes German is my Instagram, which is just @max_gotzler.

For no known reason, I have still a blue check mark who knows how long. But like I got it for, for some time when I was really little. It's super, super funny. And then, people always ask me, why do you have a blue check mark? Well now, you know, in Germany, at least in our space, because there's I think one other person, but I'm the one with the blue check mark. And then, my podcast, The Flowgrade Show is pretty much on every channel. Claudia, at some point I would love to have you on. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Thank you. I would love to 

Max Gotzler: Because we do, I do have German guests, I do have English guests though, and from all over the world. And I've been doing podcasting ever since I think 2015. My first ever guest was actually Dave Asprey. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Wow, amazing. 

Max Gotzler: That was in the early days. And so that you can find at is where you find more about our event series if you would like to come. And I would say even I'm gonna end with that because this is actually the best touchpoint.

If you want to maybe come to Germany, just, make a trip to Munich and discover Bavarian landscapes and nature and have just a grand weekend with us in a beautiful city in the Bavarian capital around crazy people that love to ice bath and all kinds of light therapies and injections of different compounds and whatever, and come play.

And Claudia obviously as well. I would like to invite you as well to, to come over and this is always a lot of fun. Like this is really Flow is somehow special for me. And I always think if, um, let's say I might get married one day. If, if my marriage is just half as good as Flowfest, I'm already very happy.

Claudia von Boeselager: I wouldn't compare apples and oranges, Max. 

Max Gotzler: Yeah, I know, but oh, my girlfriend would right now, she would not like what I just said, but, 

Claudia von Boeselager: and its just between us and the rest of the biohacking community, so don't worry. Amazing. Max, do you have any parting message? Recommendation? Any advice for my audience? 

Max Gotzler: I do, I have one thing that I always like to say. It's actually my, I'm paraphrasing something that I've learned, actually from Dr. James Hart, which is the concept of engaged indifference. And it's a story that goes back to Buddhist philosophy and it goes like that, that, and I want to say that to you and to all of the listeners. Like, go and get up every morning and try to make the world a better place and put as much effort in as you can and believe in yourself and be ambitious and get into flow and change your life and the lives of the people around you for the better.

And then go to bed at night laughing at the fact that you didn't succeed another time. And this is the concept of engaged difference. Just don't take it too seriously, like try your best, but that's the best you can do. And then take it with a bit of humor. That's what I would like to tell people. So be engaged, but different. 

Claudia von Boeselager: And find the humor in things as well, because humor is the best medicine, right? So with that, I will say goodbye. Thank you so much, Max, for coming on today, sharing all your amazing insights. It's been such a pleasure to have everyone. 

Max Gotzler: Thank you Claudia.

And thanks to everyone listening. Go for flow. 

I’m Claudia von Boeselager

Longevity Coach, detail-loving educator, big-thinking entrepreneur, podcaster, mama, passionate adventurer, and health optimization activist here to help people transform their lives, and reach their highest potential! All rolled into one.

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