010: Will Henshall – from Musician to Neuroscientist



This week I speak to Will Henshall – a five times entrepreneur and founder of Focus At Will Labs – a neuroscience based web tool that uses specially composed instrumental music tracks to significantly increase your attention span when working and studying.

As you can see from the sea of platinum discs behind him on the video, Will is a musician, scientist, song writer and technology inventor working with audio to find the right music at the right place at the right time. He was the founder of the British pop soul band Londonbeat and had two Billboard #1 hit records. He went on to found Rocket Network, a Paul Allen/Cisco-funded San Francisco company in 1995. Will has achieved notable global success both as a musical/visual artist and as a technical inventor.

1:21 – Background on Will and his company, Focus@Will.

2:31 – Wills old band, Londonbeat, and still being on high rotation in US Home Depot locations.

3:30 – The idea and statistics behind Focus@Will.

5:45 – Perceptions of different personalities and their expected productivity.

6:56 – Types of music and expected responses to them.

7:45 Story from some of the early tests they did with tech workers.

8:45 – Connecting the dots of ADD/ADHD medications with stimuli from music.

9:44 – The decision behind pursuing this as a business and how this music has a different mission than normal music as its aim is to not actively engage the listener.

13:04 – Reinventing certain aspects of the music industry and running a music streaming service.

14:55 – Gaining the initial traction for starting the business on a shoestring budget.

16:25 – Getting 22,000 beta testers in 6 months and partnering with research labs to test using brain scans.

17:40 – Interpreting 1TB/minute brain scan data and finding a part of the brain linked to focus.

19:39 – Learning about other parts of the science of focus and the uniqueness of the brain’s response to audio and music.

21:19 – Examining other areas of time management and productivity, new productivity tracking app in Focus@Will.

22:27 – Bringing science and data to the study of productivity.

22:58 – The link between feeling productive and being productive based on their tests.

24:28 – Sample of a Focus@Will track with the science of a signal sound.

26:04 – Why Will created Focus@Will.

27:15 – The concept of Focus@Will is proven, not just a hypothesis: 2 out of 3 users report noticeable change.

28:54 – How Focus@Will relates specifically to entrepreneurs.

31:25 – Many personal growth and business help books assume a sameness in people, Focus@Will adapts to the differences in people’s needs.

32:40 – The importance of tenacity and persistence.

33:11 – Stories about the man who turned down The Beatles and the company that turned down Londonbeat in the US: sometimes, people just don’t know.

36:15 – The importance of pivoting and being open to changing your idea with the example of Twitter’s origin.

37:28 – The pivot in Focus@Will that Will talks about in Don Schmincke’s new book.

38:22 – Jimi Hendrix and using Marshall amps in an unintended way.

39:45 – Will’s advice for entrepreneurs.

Resources and Links Mentioned:

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Don Schmincke