Blake Mycoskie found himself adrift a few years ago after selling a 50% stake in Toms, the shoe brand he founded that matches every pair sold with a pair donated to a person in need. Goal-oriented by nature, Mycoskie had been working 80 hours a week since the age of 19—he launched his first company, a dry cleaning service, not long after leaving college—and he was having a hard time slowing down. He picked up mountain climbing and even got into racing cars. “It was typical midlife guy shit: fun and gratifying, and I got in the best shape of my life,” he says now. “But I didn’t have the sense of purpose I had at Toms.” For the record, Mycoskie did stay busy with his philanthropy; last year he gave $2 million to Johns Hopkins University to help fund the launch of the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. Still, he says, “I started to not be as intentional with everything, and it was having an effect on my mental health.”
Intentionality is the operating principle behind his new endeavor. Madefor is a wellness program that delivers 10 monthly kits to your door, each one devoted to a different practice, from hydration and breath work to gratitude. “A lot of entrepreneurial ventures are the result of having an experience you’re dissatisfied with,” Mycoskie explains. “I saw children without shoes and thought, Let’s create a model that would help kids and create a good business.” Toms was born in 2006. This time around, he continues, “I saw a lot of people who were flourishing, but I wasn’t. The question for me became what is the key to well-being? The genesis of Madefor was in that.”
The Madefor kits come equipped with a tool (for hydration, it’s a water bottle that keeps track of how much you’re drinking), a bracelet to remind yourself of your new goals, and a book that explains the science behind each practice. Mycoskie and his business partner Pat Dossett, a former Navy Seal just as driven as he is, assembled a team of advisers—a Harvard psychiatrist and Stanford neuroscientist among them—to share the learnings from their research. “Our goal,” Mycoskie explains, “was to find very specific things you could learn that would transform your daily life.” As for the thinking behind taking on just one practice at a time and really digging into it over the course of a month? Habits don’t form overnight, especially challenging ones like expressing gratitude.
“None of this is rocket science—it’s not biohacking or way-out-there thinking,” adds Mycoskie. “It’s everything you’ve heard of but for some reason don’t do.” Take sleep. “We’ve all heard that high performers are getting good night sleeps,” he says. “Do most people optimize their sleep? No. Digital devices get in the way or how they prepare for bed gets in the way. We’re not giving you anything that’s radical, but we are giving you a radical way to learn something and adopt it. And that is what lets real change happen.”
It hasn’t escaped Mycoskie that Madefor is a new entrant in the already crowded wellness space, but he and Dossett have designed the program to be different. For starters, it’s analog. “All the apps, I’m not shitting on those,” Mycoskie says, “but I don’t think science has shown they’re as effective in changing your life as they are at selling you another thing to put on your phone.” And while you could hypothesize that Johns Hopkins’s research into psychedelics will prove interesting for wellness companies down the line, for the moment, Mycoskie says, you shouldn’t expect any Madefor pills or potions. “We are not interested in continuing to sell you more things after you complete the program, unlike most wellness companies,” he says. In any case, “there is no magic powder to achieve wellness. The closest thing is exercise.”
Naturally, movement is part of the Madefor program. Mycoskie is a devoted surfer, and he spent a lot of time in the water in Cabo San Lucas riding out the early part of the lockdown at his home there, with his two young kids and ex-wife, Heather. They recently divorced, consciously uncoupling with the personal guidance of Katherine Woodward Thomas, who wrote the book on the subject. Madefor officially launched on March 4, just as the coronavirus began impacting North America in a major way. Depending on your perspective, the timing was either all wrong or uniquely fortuitous. Mycoskie sees serendipity in it. “In the midst of this crisis, I hope people realize that life is about more than work or your material possessions or having the right bag,” he says. “Life is about your essence, your wellness, your ability to connect to people. People are getting deeper in that regard.”
For more information on Blake Mycoskie’s Madefor program, visit this website.
Originally Appeared on Vogue