The Next Brand, Episode #26

Annual goals, treating COVID, and Dry January

Jan 3

Hi there, and welcome to The Next Brand - my take on health, wellness, and brand building.

In the last 4 years I’ve founded 3 health brands (Kettle & Fire, Perfect Keto, Surely), which each do tens of millions in revenue. I’ve raised ~$20mm to build Kettle & Fire, gotten into 10k+ retail stores, bootstrapped Perfect Keto, launched 80+ SKUs… and have a small portfolio of Shopify apps I run on the side. Previously, I worked in tech and had no experience in CPG, DTC, or any other 3-letter industries.

If you missed past episodes, you can catch up here (Episode 23, 24, 25). Otherwise, let’s dive in!

What’s new

I’ve been doing an annual review exercise every year since 2012 and found it tremendously helpful (I use a modified version of this one). Going through my annual review allows me to really hone in on 1-2 things I want to achieve in a given year. Most importantly, this process helps me think through tradeoffs: what am I willing to give up this year in order to achieve my top goal?

In 2015, my main goal was to start a business that would make me financially independent. *Every other* goal that was not financial independence was not a priority. Sure I wanted to become more of a beefcake, but that was just not as important as launching a business. On days where I had to work but hadn’t hit the gym yet, my top goal made it simple to figure out what to do.

2021 was a great year. In many ways, I feel like I’m starting to see the benefits of compounding in multiple areas of my life. I have many high-trust, strong relationships with colleagues and friends, things I started years ago (investing, buying, starting businesses), are paying off, and years of eating clean and focusing on my health are paying dividends.

My investment in my relationship with my fiancee has also been paying off and has been a bright spot in 2021. We’ve even begun to take steps towards a lifelong goal of building a community of friends that all live near one another, and have 6 friends now living within a few blocks of our home in Austin. I’m really, really stoked to see how this communal-living experiment evolves, especially as kids begin to enter the picture over the next few years.

I also learned to ski and play pickleball in 2021, took steps to get a bunch of my time back - like hiring an assistant and saying no to projects that didn’t align with my top priorities - and am likely in the best shape of my life.

On the downside, we had some crazy business swings at Kettle & Fire, I lost a friend, and had a few weeks where my fiancee and I got stuck in a bad conflict cycle we struggled to get out of.

Each year I set specific goals in 4 areas (based partially on Naval’s tweet that’s always resonated with me):

  1. Fit body

  2. Calm mind

  3. House full of love

  4. Business / financial

For each of these categories, I set goals (for a full review of my 2020 goals, check out my post from last year). Overall, I did pretty well!

Fit body:

  • ✅ Lift 3x/week, 300+ workouts

  • ✅ Stretch / ROMWOD 300 days of the year

  • ❌ Do 3 fasts of at least 3 days (only got 2 done)

  • ✅ Complete a Whole30

  • ✅ Learn a new sport (skiing, pickleball)

Calm Mind:

  • ❌Find a meditation practice I enjoy, do it 300x

    • I didn’t do so well here and am still struggling to find a meditation practice I enjoy and look forward to. I did, however, LOVE discovering Michael Singer and The Surrender Experiment, and had some really powerful breathwork experiences through the Othership.

  • ✅ Do 2 psychedelic journeys (I recommend Mindbloom)

  • ✅ Set and stick to boundaries around how I use email / Twitter each week

    • I got a ton off my plate, got better at saying no to things, and set rules around how often I’d use Twitter and check email.

House full of love:

  • ✅ See family 4x in 2021

  • ✅ Make strides towards building and living near and in community

  • ✅ Improve my relationship with my fiancee

  • ✅ Make hosting a regular thing and pull together more group hangouts

  • ✅ Work on being better at managing my commitments and not changing my schedule as much

Business / financial:

  • ✅ I don’t share as much here, but I will say that 2021 was a great year financially and business-wise. Maybe I’ll share more about my specific investments and income at some point in the future if readers are interested.

2022 Goals

I’m hopeful that 2022 is as good as 2021. Going into this year, I have a few high-level goals (that I’m still fleshing out):

  1. Get married - this is (obviously) a big one. My fiancee was born + raised in South Africa, so planning a wedding during COVID times has been a bit challenging. Hopefully, we’ll be able to plan the wedding this year and officially tie the knot at some point in the next 12 months. We’ll see!

  2. Continue growing the businesses - things are tracking well for Kettle & Fire, Surely, Fomo, and Perfect Keto. Specifically, I want to:

    1. Grow Surely 200% this year and probably raise a Series A.

    2. Grow Kettle & Fire 25%

    3. Grow Perfect Keto 25%

  3. Start something new - I literally have no details here, just know that at some point this year I’d like to begin working on something new. There are a lot of problems in the world and I’m convinced that entrepreneurship is one of the best ways to try and solve some of those problems, so may as well get to work!

  4. Investing - I’ve been angel investing since 2018 and have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it’s an amazing way to stay tapped into the new and interesting stuff happening in the startup world. And, if you do it right, returns can be life-changing.
    On the other hand, it can also require a tremendous amount of time and energy. I think I’d like to get more active here, either by starting to syndicate some deals of my own (which you can join here if you want to look at stuff I invest in), starting a rolling fund, or working more closely with an existing fund. That said, I really have some thinking to do on whether or not this is something I should focus on.

Smaller goals for 2022 are:

  1. Hire another assistant specifically to manage my inbox and schedule regular salon dinners (both virtual and in-person) to meet interesting people and discuss meaty topics.

  2. Grow my newsletter to 10k readers and find a new angle (outside of starting DTC brands) that I’m fired up to write about.

  3. Tweet more often, mostly as a way to practice sharing my opinions. Something in me is still really scared of sharing my thoughts online, and I wonder if tweeting more could be a good way to practice finding my voice.

  4. Systemize and run another cohort of Inflection Grants.

  5. Schedule my first extended meditation retreat, likely with IMS.

  6. Pull together a "friends of Justin" mini-conference… maybe around my birthday?

As I move into the new year, there are also some major questions I’m reflecting on.

Questions for 2022:

  • What do I do with my money? How do I manage and use it to make my life maximally fun and interesting?

  • What do I do with my life and career?

  • What organizations or people do I want to support and take a bet on?

  • How can I improve my relationship with my partner?

  • How do we do an even better job of living in community?

Those are some high-level areas I’m thinking about for the upcoming year. Hopefully the above is helpful as you think about what the next 12 months have in store for you - now let’s get it!

Health stuff

Like pretty much everyone else I know, I recently got COVID - again. Despite vaccination, despite having it last October, still got Omicron.

It was incredibly mild: basically a light cold that lasted for 5 days. But, as I was quarantined inside, I was thinking just how insane the policy response to COVID has been. The day after Christmas nearly 200,000 people tested positive. Hundreds of thousands are getting this virus every day, yet public discussion doesn’t go beyond the tired, partisan, "masks and vax" debate.

This is absurd. I agree with Anthony here: the fact that we are years into this pandemic with NO discussion of effective COVID treatment is borderline criminal and has certainly killed people.

Well, let’s change that in some small way. A nameless doctor in my network was kind enough to share his COVID treatment protocol, which I’ll publish in full below. Please note, I am not a doctor and take no responsibility for any of the treatment suggestions below.

Though it’s hard to say how helpful it was in my recovery (I’m young and healthy after all), I’m sharing below in the hopes that it may help you or a loved one who gets COVID over the next few months. At the rate this thing is spreading, you’re nearly certain to get it (regardless of vaccination status). Hopefully, this protocol (or some version of it) helps!

Treatment protocol below:

4 Pillars of Response

  1. Control the spread of the virus

  2. Early home-based treatment

  3. Late state hospital treatment

  4. Vaccination

Risk of Death

  • < 50 years old risk is 0.05%

  • < 18 years old close to 0%

  • 7x more children die from flu than COVID-19

Immediately after diagnosis or suspected COVID infection:

Nasal and Mouth Care

This is important to do after diagnosis immediately to reduce viral load and prevent worsening (study). This can be done preventively after being out in crowds or after exposure. This may be the most important way to prevent infection after potential exposure:

  • Mix Betadine (povidone-iodine) 2 tsp in 6 ounces of water, then gargle for 30 seconds and spit out every 4 hours.

    • You can use these pre-made sprays (may only be available in Canada)



  • Use a bulb syringe to rinse out both nostrils with a 0.6% PVP-I solution in oro-nasal spray device

Fluids and Hydration

  • Water with electrolytes

  • Drink half your weight in ounces of water or more a day - urine should be clear


  • Whole foods, anti-inflammatory diet

  • Avoid all sugar, starch and processed foods

  • Increase intake of fruits and vegetables

  • Bone broth (Justin note - I know a brand I like…)

  • Adequate protein for immune function

Supplements (bold are most important)

  • Quercetin 500 mg twice a day by Pure Encapsulations (1000 mg 2 x a day if sick)

  • Vitamin D3 5000 IU day by Pure Encapsulations (50,000 IU a day if sick for 10 days)

  • Zinc citrate 30 mg twice a day by Pure Encapsulations

  • Vitamin C 1000 mg 2 twice a day (liposomal) by Quicksilver or just regular vitamin C (4000 twice a day if sick)

  • NAC 600 mg twice a day (or Liposomal Glutathione by Quicksilver 4 pumps twice a day)

  • Curcumin 1000 mg twice a day (Meriva by Thorne)

  • NAD+ Gold 4 pumps twice a day by Quicksilver

  • Vitamin A 5000 U a day or more 10,000 or 20,000 IU for a week by Pure Encapsulations

  • ECG 500 mg twice a day by Pure Encapsulations

  • Selenium 200 mcg a day by Pure Encapsulations

  • Melatonin 3 mg at night by Pure Encapsulations

  • Omega 3 fats 1 gram twice a day (Omegagenics 720 1 twice a day by Metagenics)

Medications (off label use)

NOTE: These therapies are not very effective once the disease has progressed and patients are in the hospital but are effective as early intervention in outpatient settings.

  1. Ivermectin 18-36 mg (0.4 to 0.6 mg/kg) daily x 5 doses

    1. Justin note - Scott Alexander has a good writeup here on Ivermectin and whether or not it works. Personally, I lean towards Fluvoxamine being more effective

  2. Azithromycin 500 mg a day for 5 days

  3. Fluvoxamine (Luvox) 100 mg twice a day for 10 days (an anti-depressant that may have antiviral effects, study link).

Anti-inflammatory therapies to start day 3-14 after symptoms

  • Nebulized budesonide 1 mg/2ml nebulized twice a day

    • Or Budesonide inhaler (Pulmicort Flexhaler 2 puffs twice a day)

  • Oral prednisone 1 mg/kg daily with taper over 10 days, or dexamethasone 6 mg a day taper over 10 days

  • Monoclonal antibodies - these are the most potent and safe treatments for early treatment of COVID-19 and ideally should be given as soon as possible after you get sick. Can find a location that offers them on this page. Though good luck getting them after the latest political insanity. Antibodies:

    • Regeneron REGEN-COV2 (Casirvimab/Imdevimab) 600mg/600 mg x 1 dose IV or SC within 10 days of onset of symptoms or ASAP after + test

    • Sotrovimab 500 mg IV x 1 dose (the only one really effective against Omicron)

    • Bamlanivimab 700 mg IV x 1 dose

    • Etesevimab 1400 mg IV x 1 dose

Oxidative and Supportive Therapies for Treatment and Post COVID-19 Syndrome

  • IV NAD 500 mg 1-2 x weekly

  • IV GSH 2 grams IV 3-5 x a week, +/- inhaled GSH or NAC

  • IV vitamin C 25 grams 3 -5 a week

  • IV lysine 2-3 grams 3-5 x a week

  • Ozone (DIV 20 gamma up to 55 cc 3 x a week) or 10 pass 1-3 x a week

Immune Modulating Therapies

  • Exosomes 15 billion from Kimera Labs every 90 Days or more often

  • Peptides TB4 and TA1 daily


I hope that’s a helpful jumping-off point for those of you looking for treatment, not just prevention and politically charged discussions. Personally, since my case was very mild I stuck with the supplement, diet, nasal + oral, and off-label medication recommendations… but if you have a more serious case (or struggle to get back to normal), the post-symptom stuff may be helpful.

Stay safe out there!

Dope stuff on the internet

Some of my favorite things since the last newsletter (note: I don’t get paid to recommend anything here):

  • Article - If you’re at all interested in China-US relations or what it’s like to live in China as told from the perspective of a truly excellent, thoughtful individual… Dan Wang’s letter is just about as good as it gets. His is one of the few pieces I read every year as I find pretty much everything China-related really compelling.

  • Book rec - I recently re-read The Three Body Problem and it’s just so, so good. One of my favorite series ever: if you haven’t read it and are looking for a spectacular sci-fi book, I cannot recommend it enough.

  • Cool product - One of the most transformative things I’ve done for my health is lower my alcohol consumption (as I’ve previously tweeted about). To kick off 2022 right, I’m doing a dry January challenge with my fiancee and the Surely team. I pretty firmly believe that 50 years from now, we’ll look back at how much people drink - and the attendant impact on health and wellnesss - and wonder why it was such a regular part of our lives. 30-day challenges are a really useful way to understand just how your body and health are impacted by drinking and can be a fun thing to do with friends, a partner, or your favorite newsletter writer

  • Music - Ash has been one of my favorite musical discoveries this year, and this set is one of my favorites. I suspect you’ll enjoy it if you’re looking for a light, almost tropical house set by a supremely talented musician with a touch of middle eastern flair.

  • Random - If you’re at all interested in doing your own annual review process, I’ve suggested this annual review to a few friends who have gotten a lot of value out of it. Half of the value of doing an annual review is just doing something, and this site is a great place to start if you’re just doing your first one.


That’s all I got for you this month - hope your 2022 is off to an excellent start and the year ahead is one where you’ll achieve everything you ever wanted. Cheers!

  • ❤️ Justin

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By Justin Mares · Launched 2 years ago

Health, DTC and creating brands worth building

Jan 3Liked by Justin Mares

Fantastic content once again that is effortless to follow along. Your layout for the New Years focus is one I am adopting for this year with a primary focus to bet on myself.

In this I plan to create value that will eventually get me an internship working with you as I transition out of the military.

Thanks again for the great content.


Jan 3Liked by Justin Mares

Agee with regarding alcohol consumption. Check out an app called, Reframe. It is an interesting aide for those looking to go alcohol free or just cut back, who have struggled unsuccessfully to achieve that objective.

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