Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
Graham and Ashkahn take a break from all the doom and gloom of the float world to talk about the amazing things that floating has brought them. What they love, the things that surprised them, and the many ways in which they’re inspired to stick with it and pioneer in this wild and crazy industry.
If you’d like to sign up to ask a question on our two hour call in show, November 29th at 3pm PST, go to floattanksolutions.com/dsplive.
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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Ashkahn: Hey, welcome everybody.
Graham: Another day, another podcast.
Graham: We can’t say that for much longer.
Ashkahn: Soon there will not be another day, another podcast.
Graham: I am Graham.
Ashkahn: I’m Ashkahn which, at this point, I mean, you should really know.
Graham: We probably have new listeners and hundreds of new listeners every single episode. I don’t know we’ve never looked at stats or anything so it’s hard to tell. We have a special announcement, whether you’re joining us for the first time or a long time listener or you’re Ashkahn. I think this might be news but sorry buddy we’re winding things down just a few episodes. November 29th is actually it. Block that aside, we got a two hour live call in show scheduled.
Ashkahn: I think I’m busy that day.
Graham: November 29th 3-5pm pacific time, we will be answering your questions and calls
Ashkahn: Yeah, live.
Graham: It should be really cool.
Ashkahn: Yeah it’s gonna be great.
Graham: Be there.
Ashkahn: I mean I’m really looking forward to it.
Graham: Me too.
Graham: So. Okay, we do not have a question today, we do have an answer.
Ashkahn: You and me we don’t even need questions anymore. That’s how good we’ve gotten.
Graham: It’s gotten kind of loosey goosey here in the final episode.
Ashkahn: We just got answers for everything.
Graham: So that important decisions you’re thinking about?
Ashkahn: Yes, yeah you got it, yeah it’s the right decisions.
Graham: So actually yesterday we got a question, a real question coming in, about encouragement and how we talk about negative nancies.
Ashkahn: Yeah it was all about why all of these, you know our podcasts a lot of the information you hear in the industry is about the tough stuff.
Graham: All the terrible things that happen. Thinking about it more, you know that was more an episode about making a decision. This one we wanted to spend a little bit of time actually looking at the positive parts of running a float center and all the things we’ve really enjoyed about it throughout the years.
Ashkahn: We did just talk about the bad stuff
Graham: Yeah good call, you called us out and we listened.
Ashkahn: Here we go
Graham: Nothing! It’s all terrible! And then we mentioned this on the last episode, you should really just go listen to this last episode so we don’t have to repeat everything we just said there in addition to more here. The customers of course are the biggest thing that is the amazing part about running a float center.
Ashkahn: It really is, when I first went to open Float On or even got into floating, I didn’t really know that is was gonna be this genuinely useful to people. I floated and I had a really good experience, you know it was an interesting mindset to be in and kind of thought through some cool stuff. I ate some macaroni and cheese that tasted delicious afterwards. I was totally on board and I really liked the idea of floating cause it was so weird and interesting and I loved presenting kind of strange things to people. So it was super appealing to me.
Graham: Satisfied our desire quotient for our line of work.
Ashkahn: All the way up until literally opening our doors and getting our first customers, those were my expectations. I was like, “yeah man, people are gonna have these funky experiences and make their day a little bit weirder” and then we opened and people started coming out. They were hugging us and some people were coming out in tears. I was like “Whoa”, this is for some people, you know if you have chronic pain or serious anxiety or you’re in a place were all of sudden the floating is helping you with something you’ve been dealing with for a long time, Which is not what I had experienced. I didn’t go into this with a serious anxiety disorder or a car injury or something like that. There’s some people getting benefits from it that I had never even realized were a thing until I saw it happening in our float center and it was cool, it was amazing. I all of a sudden realized, hey all that construction we did and all the work we put into this, it wasn’t just to make people have weird funny experiences in their day.
Graham: I like how you were willing to put in the work in order to do that.
Ashkahn: I’m very committed to having people have strange experiences. So it was cool. It took me by surprise and it almost continues to even to this day, watching people and seeing what real benefit some people get out of floating. So its super cool, super gratifying, and it overwhelmingly outshines the difficulty of dealing with salty messes, pumps, and all the other stuff.
Graham: Its really cool, I mean the story is that we get in from our customers all the time. Even this year there’s been some amazing heartfelt letters that we’ve had coming in from people who were suffering from chronic pain, from car accidents. The first time they could move their hands and do gardening in years because they’ve been so tightened up and messed up from an accident. People talking about, again, coming out crying. I remember the first year we were in business when this really struck home was someone who came out in tears and I was just like, “is everything okay? What’s wrong?”. She was crying, she was in her 20’s, a younger woman and said that is was just the first time in her life that she hadn’t felt pain because she was born with a chronic pain condition and just didn’t really know what that was like until now in her 20’s hopping into a float tank.
To be able to provide that experience for someone is beyond the scope of most other business’ you could possibly run. It’s a better feeling than bringing home a ridiculously large paycheck in my mind is helping people have this experience that they couldn’t get at least anywhere else that they’ve tried so far. It’s amazing.
Ashkahn: A hedge fund has never changed the course of someone how they care about themselves and their family in their lives or provide its own with incredible pain relieve to make them feel,
Graham: Total direct quote from a float center on the east coast from a guy who used to be a hedge fund manager, who said that he used to bring home million dollar paychecks and that now he is basically a janitor cleaning up after people and wiping up salt and that every day he does that feels like getting a million dollar paycheck. You know and he wouldn’t go back and that other job was literally killing him.
Ashkahn: So you know there’s every float center has incredible stories. I can think of one person who called me and said that he basically cold turkey quit their heroin addiction using the float tanks at our place. The guy was floating every other day and finally called me and told me what was going on. Another person really credited the float for basically saving their life, they were feeling really suicidal and stuff like that. These are obviously like one-off cases and there’s all this stuff we say about research and stuff like that, but these are like powerful individual stories that people are telling us. So, it’s cool that part’s definitely super cool.
Graham: Yeah, I mean it gives me shivers even just talking about it and a lot of those people you’re never going to hear their stories. The fact we do hear some of these we can just infer how many more people, especially ones from anxiety and more in that vein are not talking to us and don’t want to engage afterward, but are still getting an immense amount of relief you know. If for no other reason, that alone makes it amazing. I would say also on top of that free floats. It’s really nice like the ability to actually just go float for free is really cool.
Ashkahn: Yeah it is, it is super awesome to have that available to us and it’s nice to have a business where the cost of something like that is pretty low. The fact that we can have free floats and give our friends free floats and give my family free floats when they come in and have our employees give their friends free floats. If we ran car dealership we wouldn’t be able to like “yeah man, I’ll give you a free car don’t worry about it”.
Graham: Yeah it is really nice, the sharing aspect is really cool too. I will say after the first year in business you can no longer give free floats to all of your friends every single birthday. Okay, great yeah I get it you run a float center, but for the first year its great you don’t have to do any shopping, so that’s nice too that was a really good bonus.
Ashkahn: I will say as much as the floating is seriously impactful in some peoples lives, I do also still appreciate the fact that it is kind of just that funky experience for some people. I’m not gonna downplay how much I enjoy that. It’s great that some people come in and they just have a weirder day because they hoped into a float tank. I would have just been happy leading a life doing that. So it’s cool, that should be appreciated.
Graham: You get to become the float guy in your area. There’s something cool about going out to the movies or just even going shopping being recognized, “Oh you’re the float tank guy, I was thinking about coming in there recently, you know”.
Ashkahn: Yeah you get to lead an inherently interesting life as a result of it. Anytime you’re working with anyone on any project, you’re calling a company to ask about something. You probably get to be the most interesting conversation they had that day.
Graham: It diverts pretty much everything, you’re calling just to order or something from the tile shop for construction and they’re like
“yeah, what business is this?”
“Okay, what do you guys do?”
“Well sensory deprivation tanks “
“Wait hold on a second can you tell me a little more about that?”
Then all of a sudden the next fifteen minutes the order is forgotten and you’re just explaining float tanks to this person who is gonna become a member later on. So I guess if you like talking about float tanks, I got some great news for you because almost every conversation is gonna turn to float tanks and it tends to just stick around there for a while. Be prepared to be the center of a lot of attention in conversations when you go out, just because one of the first things people ask when they meet you is, “So what do you do?”. Now your answer is so much more interesting.
Ashkahn: We’ve talked about this one as bad news before, so I’m gonna present it again in terms of the good news part of it, which is as a new industry with doing something so crazy with all this Epsom salt water, the saturated magnesium sulfate solution. We’re constantly hitting situations were we don’t have answers to things, we don’t know how materials are gonna react, we don’t know how the chemistry of certain sanitation things are gonna play out, we don’t know how certain products are gonna work, we don’t know if testing is accurate, all that sort of stuff is a lot of difficulties that come with running a float center.
At the same time it’s pretty cool. That’s one of the things I love about it. The fact we are entering this field with so much unknown information and that we get to be the ones to push up against that and figure stuff out and blaze the path forward is super exciting and ever float center gets to do that. Everybody in the float industry at some point runs into this kind of barrier were that it, that’s as far as information goes. We’re all pioneers, we’re in an early stage of this industry where we all get to be these explorers and it’s super cool. It’s really cool getting to understand and you get to talk to people who otherwise probably you and would not be interested in helping you because you’re doing something this unique and interesting. We get this a lot in the sanitation world, we go to these conferences with these people who are the leading experts in the country on this one type of this or one type of that or filters or this type of sanitation.
If we were running some random kind of pool here in Portland, I don’t think they would have really any interest in talking about the specific issues we’re having, but we’re running these crazy float tanks and so they’re super interested. They really wanna talk to us about it and help us and it’s like a novel kind of problem that they haven’t faced in decades of working in this field and it’s cool. You get to talk to really cool people and have these really awesome experts help you try to solve that edge of understanding and push it a little bit further and we’ve gotten to find stuff out over the eight years we’ve been in business. We’ve gotten to see that line get pushed and more information come out and data be created and it’s cool, it’s exhilarating.
Graham: Yeah I’d expand that even further and just say even for existing knowledge that humans have. I love just the learning aspect of running a float tank center. It really encompasses a huge variety of knowledge that you get to explore and be an expert in. You know construction wise, I maybe could plaster a wall and change out an electrical outlet or you know simple things like that before getting into a float center. I could build a freaking soundproof, completely waterproof bathroom in the middle of a building if I wanted to. I just know so much more about hands-on construction work.
Ashkahn: It’d actually be really weird to build a none soundproof waterproof thing. It would feel strange to me to be like let’s just throw up a piece of wood and some drywall.
Graham: Yeah single set of studs, what the heck? From, again construction was the example, but yeah construction to marketing to customer service to almost emotional connection I guess with customers to being a good manager and understanding how to run a fundamentally sensitive space and encourage your staff to take charge of it in a way you would too, is a really fun project. The list of things you learn when you’re doing this community outreach, financial stuff that might be boring, spreadsheets, I’ve learned so much about spreadsheets, kind of fallen in love with spreadsheets over the last few years. In addition to the normal small business stuff, I do think running a float tank center just presents a wider variety of really cool skills that again, even if you stop doing this in five years you’ll come away so much better and with so much more experience for having done it.
Ashkahn: You also just meet really cool people running a float center. Your customers are super cool, the people who come work for you are super cool. People apply to float center because they think it’s interesting and they like floating, they’re interesting people themselves and they care, they end up caring about where they’re working, which is amazing and your customers wanna help you and care about your business in a way that I just don’t think they do for places that sell pants or something. It’s just great and the people who wanna come float tend to be really interesting people and so it’s just kind of a magnet to attract really awesome people in the world, that is a cool benefit of running a shop.
Graham: You know not everyone finds easy to do, but it’s totally possible to build a float tank center that doesn’t need you to run it and it’s still successful and profitable. It’s really cool that you can have a business that has so much impact on people’s lives and is so enjoyable and eventually get it to a spot where it is self-sustaining. If you’re a small business owner you know that any business is going to require a certain amount of your time, but you can get it to the point where the demands on your time aren’t bad at all, even if it starts out really heavy in terms of commitment. It’s just really nice that these can be very successful businesses in themselves as well. Despite the fact that we talk about all the scary things that can happen I guess.
Ashkahn: I mean, I could keep going on. I have one more for sure.
Graham: Yeah, what is it?
Ashkahn: It’s all of you guys out there. There just a big awesome group of people in the float industry. It’s just so great. Everyone knows that you come from other industry and people are just constantly talking about how amazing the people in this industry are. Everyone is super cool to each other and there’s just a great vibe when we all get together and everything all that you’ve experienced is not to be downplayed. It’s super cool to be doing this with a group of awesome people.
Graham: Yeah, I think that’s a great one to wind down on and I totally agree. The industry is actually one of the parts that makes it so satisfying to be part of that whole float community and to be a float center owner. Thanks, guys.
And yeah, that’s it. If you’ve got more questions…
Ashkahn: I would say just write it on a bathroom stall with a phone number, someone would probably call.
Graham: Definitely tune in November 29th 3-5pm pacific time, last episode, live calls, live Ashkahn, stupid answers. See you there.
Graham: Bye everyone.
Ashkahn: Bye. See you later.
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