Datarella People – Michael Ricks, Self-Tracker, Investment Banker, Inventor

Here’s the transcript of this Datarella (DR) interview with Michael Ricks, self-tracker, investment banker and inventor.

DR
Michael, you are an American living in Munich, Germany. Could you tell us a little about you?

Michael
Ok – so, what am I? A guy who is trying to get the most out of life. I’m a father of four kids who are pretty active. I work as an investment banker and inventor, and otherwise I’m just enjoying life.

DR
How do you track yourself?

Michael
Probably like everyone does. I get up in the morning and think about what my day is going to bring. Every day I do a thousand repetitions of something or a combination of those thousand things. So, most days I start with a hundred stit-ups in bed! And that’s the beginning of tracking what I’m doing there in the course of the day. Then I figure out how many hours I’ve slept, and then I decide how to spend my day: I look at my calendar, divide up my time, dibide up my activity… and start!

DR
What reason would there be to stop tracking yourself?

Michael
If tracking became something which consumed more time and energy than it delivered in terms of benefit, I’d stop.

DR
That’s easy! Should more people track themselves?

Michael
Well, I think that people who don’t track are missing out. Usually you can see the symptoms of people’s failings to track their own bodies and activities. You see it on simple things: people being obese, you see it on more difficult things, e.g. people not being successful in their business activities simply because they’re not using their time sensibly.

DR
In which situations does tracking make especially sense?

Michael
I think it especially makes sense in terms of things that are life or death. So, I want to know whether I’m getting the right nutrition I need, I want to know if I’ve got some sort of dread disease that can be cured. I also want to keep up with my body’s development over time, if my organs are all doing their job. Finally, I want to keep myself on track, keep myself honest.

DR
Do you share your data?

Michael
That depends on what you mean with „sharing my data“: do I post it on Facebook for everyone ego read? No. But do I make my data available anonymously? We all do that probably a lot more than we think – so my blood tests is certainly information being compared in the lab I have my blood tests done in. Thats the same with some other things we do – it simply becomes public information.

DR
Sharing data can help people. It can save lives. Is sharing data there fore a social obligation?

Michael
Hm. An example of that would be the case of someone who has leukemia and a transfer of bone marrow from an appropriate donor could save their lives. But in order to find out who the appropriate donor is you have to know many more details than you see from looking from the outside. So people do have to get tested.

And I think it makes sense. I’m also a blood donor, and there you would got to have information that’s relevant for both parties in order to make sure that someone would get what they need.

DR
How has tracking changed your behavior?

Michael
I guess, I try to be purposeful in my life. And by tracking I’m able to better understand whether I’m really being purposeful. I then can think about what I’m doing with my time, what I’m doing with my body, and – in the end – have a better idea whether I’m delivering on my life mission.

DR
Cool – now the last one: what is your favorite tracking app and/or what must a tracking app offer?

Michael
Hm. I would honestly say I don’t have a favorite, yet, because I have to use different ways of tracking information in order to achieve all of my objectives. Right now, I’m using a wristband, the Jawbone Up, and – with all of its pitfalls, the device is able to keep me up and moving, not sitting around during the course of the day. It let’s me know whether or not I had a good, restful sleep, and how much of it. So that’s the one I use the most for right now.

DR
Great! Thank you very much!

Michael
Thank you!

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