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Show Highlights

Graham and Ashkahn are coming at you LIVE (well, recorded live) from the Rise Float Gathering! They managed to wrangle Jake and Kevin, the organizers of Rise and the founders of Float STL in St. Louis. Check out this episode where they talk about bath robes, hosting events, and just how amazing this industry is.

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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)

Graham: All right, hey everybody out there, this Graham and Ashkahn.

Ashkahn: Yeah, Graham and Ashkahn here too.

Graham: And we’ve got a special episode for you coming out today. We are here live in St. Louis at the Rise Float Gathering and we have an especially, special episode for you guys right now.

Ashkahn: Yeah, because it’s us, again as usual, even more of us.

Graham: Unexpected. Unexpected. But a surprising delight every time I think. We’re actually here with Jake and Kevin.

Ashkahn: Not our Jake.

Graham: The very organizers. Not our Jake, Jacob we’ll call him for clarity’s sake.

Ashkahn: Jacob.

Graham: Jacob and Kevin.

Ashkahn: Not our Kevin, we have a Kevin.

Graham: Yeah, yeah so not our Kevin either.

Ashkahn: So Jacob and Kevinfer are here.

Graham: Kevinfeder.

Ashkahn: Federline. Anyway. So they’re the guys.

Graham: They’re the dudes.

Ashkahn: They’re the men of the hour right now.

Graham: They’re the dudes.

Ashkahn: They’re putting on Rise.

Graham: They’re the reason we’re here.

Ashkahn: They’re the reason we’re here, yeah.

Graham: They’re the reason I wake up in the morning.

Ashkahn: They need us to wear bathrobes.

So, do you guys have a question?

Graham: I thought we could just talk about what’s going on right now.

Ashkahn: Yeah do you want to talk a little about Rise?  Did you want to ask us anything?

Kevin: Well my first question is…

Ashkahn: First question oh. That’s not usually how this works.

Graham: Is it usually about 10 minutes long?

Kevin: It was about the bathrobes but maybe we shouldn’t.

Ashkahn: No, no go. What’s your first question?

Kevin: So the first question just really was, are these your personal bathrobes or were they specifically purchased for this event?

Graham: No, these are one of the number of bathrobes that we have.

Ashkahn: I have about a dozen bathrobes actually. No joke. I’m big into robe life, yeah.

Graham: But this is also our normal podcast attire so this feels very normal. I can show you pictures on my phone of us wearing these robes doing podcasts back at home.

Ashkahn: Because when it’s audio no one knows what we’re wearing.

Jake: Same pajamas underneath?

Graham: I put on a special matching set of pajamas for this occasion.

Ashkahn: I wear these pajama pants when podcasting. These are my podcast pajamas, yeah.

Graham: I thought this was more of a formal pajama sort of setting. I wanted to class it up. It’s got a collar, it’s very appropriate for the setting.

Ashkahn: So thanks for the question. This has been a great episode.

Graham: Great thanks so much. Very insightful.

Jake: Well I get one.

Graham: Alright you get a question.

Jake: Oh nice. Since you have very nice lapels on your robes, what kind of broach would you wear on them?

Ashkahn: What kind of broach would we wear on our robes? So usually what I like to wear.

Graham: So here’s what you do.

Ashkahn: It’s like a small kind of cup holder that can hold a beverage. And then I’ll stick a crazy straw out of that and that way I kind of have a hands-free robe drinking experience as I’m lounging about. That’s the broach of my dreams if you were talking about that.

Graham: Here’s what you do. If you want the proper robe broach what you need to do is just go over to your float tank and unplug it right now. Then come back in the morning when all the salt crystals have crystallized and just reach down there and cut off a little bit from the bottom. You’ve got this nice little Epsom salt crystal flowerized sort of thing. You put a clip on that somehow. I don’t know. How ever people put clips on normal broaches I guess. Then you have a nice Epsom salt crystal flower thing.

Ashkahn: Have you ever had salt crystals grow in your float tanks.

Kevin: Not yet.

Ashkahn: So you haven’t screwed up as bad as we have.

Jake: A couple more years. Something will go wrong I promise.

Graham: Here’s the problem with the salt broach. It works very nice for the first little bit but as soon as you hit sunlight.

Ashkahn: Oh it’s indoors. It’s an indoor only broach.

Graham: Yeah.

Ashkahn: You couldn’t come to an outdoor formal conference event like this wearing your salt broach because the sunlight will actually slowly turn the salt crystal back into a powder form. This is real information.

Kevin: You really made a salt broach before.

Ashkahn: It’s hard to tell fact from fiction sometimes. But it’s true. The Epsom salt crystals will just powderize. It will totally decay in sunlight.

Graham: I’m going to go ahead and say it’s the UV of the sunlight so it sounds like I know what I’m talking about. But for some reason or another once they get exposed to sunlight they start to just degrade and fall apart. So you might want to think about that when you design your robe salt broaches.

Ashkahn: Alright so that was a great question. Thanks so much for coming on the episode.

Jake: Yay.

Ashkahn: So tell us about what’s going on here.

Graham: Tell us about rides.

Ashkahn: We have some questions for you guys.

Kevin: Wow flipping it up.

Ashkahn: Yeah we’re flipping it around here.

Graham: Like why aren’t you wearing robes right now. I thought we had agreed. I thought we had a thing going and then it’s kind of embarrassing when we show up in robes.

Kevin: I was thinking about actually wearing a robe tomorrow.

Jake: We have at least one other person whose also bringing a robe tomorrow.

Kevin: For those of you thinking about just randomly showing up tomorrow, in the future, when this is posted after the event, I might be wearing a robe.

Ashkahn: If you’re out there listening to this, hit pause on your episode right now and go put on a robe.

Kevin: We’ll wait here.

Graham: So this is your second year throwing Rise.

Kevin: This is the second year.

Graham: So you did it once and then you decided you wanted to do it again. That’s a bold one.

Kevin: We thought about it for a long time. There were definitely some heartfelt moments that said yes let’s do this again. And then there were a lot of discussions that said, do you think that’s really a good idea.

Graham: Yeah I know what that’s like. That sounds very familiar.

Kevin: There’s very high highs. The hugs, the laughs, and the connection and it’s wonderful and it’s amazing. And then it’s also a very real, serious bit of work that we’re layering on top of the whole base. Let’s put out good floats consistently on a daily base for people coming to our centers. So I think we’re always aware of what’s our capacity to do those things at the same time.

Graham: And then you blow right past that capacity.

Ashkahn: That’s the way to do it I think. That’s our strategy at least. You wake up in the middle of the night going: Why am I doing this to myself?

Kevin: And it’s like weeks after the conferences pass, the nightmares keep going.

Ashkahn: Have you guys have conference nightmares?

Kevin: Oh yeah.

Ashkahn: The two weeks leading into the float conference I would just wake up in the middle of the night going: I don’t know what’s going on. The microphones are fine. Okay it’s cool. Everything’s fine.

Jake: Particularly after the first year because we didn’t have any AV or mikes beforehand and I was running around the Friday before to different stores trying to find mikes to hook up to the system.

Kevin: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jake: I was like I’ve still got them in the back room they’re somewhere back there. They’re gonna be there. Call Dorian.

Ashkahn: It’s always kind of miraculous when everyone shows up. It’s so weird spending so much time planning something in complete isolation. You’re doing all this work and it’s all for just this one weekend. And you’re just like, is anyone going to come to this?

Kevin: Another thing that brings back my childhood memories of birthday parties. If people aren’t there 15 minutes early you’re just wondering, are the other kids coming to my party?

Ashkahn: We did the giant cowboy cake for nothing.

Kevin: It’s very rewarding when it actually gets to this point. I think the other challenging thing is just figuring out what people might want or enjoy. To get to the midway point and see people laughing, and connecting, and having fun. That’s like okay, we did something right and that’s important.

Graham: And it’s worth self torture to get that out into the world. Yeah.

Jake: The idea of being so serious for the past two weeks and then finally it’s here. We don’t have to be serious anymore. It feels so good.

Kevin: It is really funny to very seriously plan completely ridiculous things.

Ashkahn: There was a year at the float conference we built a half scale float tank cake and it was like a full operation. I had to have stressed out phone conversation like: No, no the jello has to be clear so it looks like float tank water.

Graham: We had to really seriously plan logistics to ship our robes out here because they weren’t going to fit on our luggage. You know what I mean?

Ashkahn: We had to find a print shop to print those animal portraits before coming out here. Get them in on time and go pick them up. It’s all for these absurd things.

Graham: The animal portraits were key.

Ashkahn: For those of you listening, our presentation didn’t have actual power points it just had 2 by 3 foot prints that were mounted of animals lounging around. Which by the way, the print shop did not even crack a smile at when we went to pick them up. We’re like yeah we’re here for our presentation slides and they’re like here they are.

Graham: Very serious.

Ashkahn: Five silly animals.

Jake: It happens once a week.

Ashkahn: Another animal print, alright.

Graham: Usually in the sun.

Ashkahn: But it’s great. It’s super fun to be here. And there really is, despite modern technology, there still is really nothing that comes close to in person, face-to-face human interaction.

Jake: Yeah, you hear that podcast audience. Nothing. You should have been here.

Ashkahn: You can listen to people on your phones.

Jake: All day long. Nothing is the same as being with someone in real life.

Kevin: What’s the address that you do the podcast at?

Graham: The physical location?

Kevin: Yeah.

Ashkahn: We don’t release that sort of information.

Jake: That way people can show up and actually be there with you.

Ashkahn: It’s just at Jordan’s house. I don’t know the address.

Jake: So google Jordan’s house. Portland, Oregon.

Ashkahn: Meet us there. It’ll be great. We wear robes so bring your robes.

Jake: That’s the price of admission. Just show up in a robe.

Ashkahn: Yeah if you don’t show up with a robe we’re going to turn you away.

Jake: And make an intro track.

Ashkahn: Bring an instrument. Perhaps a kazoo or something.

Jake: So you guys have another day left.

Ashkahn: We have a question. We have a one-man audience right now, Greg Griffin. Let me go ahead and let him.

Greg: So I’ve got a question. You guys are really interesting and I’m wondering. People have asked me.

Ashkahn: First time caller.

Greg: I’m just a fan of you guys. I’ve had people ask me what’s the difference between the Rise Gathering and the Float Conference in Portland. Which one should I go to? What’s the difference.

Ashkahn: The Rise Conference has their shit together a lot more than Portland does.

Jake: Those guys go on stage not wearing robes. So if you’re looking for something a little more official.

Greg: I would say that’s a masterful illusion, you know? Not in any way right.

Ashkahn: The amazing thing is just gathering float tank people into a room is an incredible experience. Almost regardless of any other context or details. It’s just kind of whatever people plan on top to about just adds fuel to the whole experience.

In terms of the differences between the event, the Float Conference is bigger it has a lot more people and that’s cool in a lot of ways. You get to meet people from other countries and really get a sense of a global scale of what’s going on in the industry. But there’s also something lost with having that many people in an event. When we’re here at Rise with 100-something people right now.

Kevin: Yeah 130.

Ashkahn: I get to actually interact with people on a one-on-one basis.

Kevin: Like almost everyone.

Ashkahn: Yeah I get to see everyone. We get to have actual conversations in a group setting. There’s a certain benefit to having a small group like that. At the point where we’re at with the Float Conference, we just can’t do that anymore. It is beyond the scope of what we can do logistically.

Graham: You guys can correct me if I’m wrong, I’m pointing at the Rise guys right now, but I feel like Rise is almost like a family reunion or something. It’s all these centers who I’ve talked to you before it’s almost like more center owners than it is just people getting involved in the industry. And the Float Conference is a lot more of a split. Ours is more like the gathering of the clans. It’s pulling everyone together from very distant places and putting them all in this.

Greg: Yeah.

Graham: Maybe it’s a little more impersonal, you still have the personal side of it. But it feels more homey coming here. More from the heart or something like that too.

Ashkahn: That’s true. I think there’s a difference in focus.

Graham: I was gonna let them talk next.

Ashkahn: No this is our podcast.

Graham: We have a lot of talks about research, we have a lot of talks about technical, tangible hands on stuff in the float industry. I feel like you guys put a little more emphasis on me. The coming from the heart float facilitator. What you’re trying to do in terms of the emotional experience of running the float center in more of a philosophical kind of approach to the idea of running the float center and the idea of floating in general.

Ashkahn: Even Justin Feinstein is not really going to be reporting on his research. You dragged him out to do more of the emotional side of things.

Kevin: Yeah. We were curious more.

Graham: Well calm down there don’t hog the mike there Kevin.

Ashkahn: As I was saying.

Kevin: No I think we were curious to hear Justin give the person. This person who is engaged in this process of doing all this research and providing us with all the data and what is his story and what is it like for him to operate in that capacity. What I really enjoy about the float conference is the whole pulse of the industry. I get the whole wide view and there’s every aspect of it. And going there, there’s all that energy. It’s just like, yes. You can really feel the adoption and you can see the growth and it feels really exciting to just be in that room and it’s filled with people. And the noise. It’s just so wonderful.

I think here with Rise, for Jake and myself, first of all it was a gift that the Float Conference was already operating because for us, we just want to focus on that little sliver. It wouldn’t even make sense to do that if it wasn’t the Float Conference that was servicing the whole industry. They just come up with this sliver but people are like yeah what about the rest of this stuff. You have to be touching on all of those aspects and that’s such a gift.

But one of those things, I think we have been with this little family of centers that maybe are familiar. I think it would be interesting to get some of those opening centers which are harder to reach but starting, to shape some minds and some philosophy earlier on about what that culture is life would be interesting going forward. But I don’t know how to do that. That’s part of it.

This is enough. This feels great and if this happens the same way for the next 15 years, that’s awesome.

Ashkahn: It’s cool. As soon as you start running some event or you’re choosing out speakers for some float event, you’re realize that you can have about ten days of presentation. This would be a cool talk and that would be a cool talk and then you’re like, I definitely can’t fit all this in.

Kevin: No.

Ashkahn: And so it’s really nice to see other events and things like that going on to be able to have venues. There’s so much nuance to floating it’s such a deep topic with so many different aspects from the hard science to the business and marketing practices of running it. To just the journey that people go on, both floating and running a float tank center. Being able to approach the different angles of what life is like to be in the float industry. It’s great to have a venue to see those different sides of it.

Kevin: And now we get to see each other twice as often as we would have, maybe even more so.

Ashkahn: We’re creeping towards a conference every weekend. I think it’s the ultimate goal here.

Jake: Float conference Fridays!

Graham: That’d be great. Just road tripping.

Ashkahn: Well this is great. We love coming here.

Graham: Yeah it’s a blast.

Ashkahn: Seriously you guys do an amazing job.

Graham: It’s an honor.

Ashkahn: We definitely encourage everyone listening right now to totally come check out Rise.

Graham: Yeah hop on a bus right now. Just drive out to St. Louis.

Ashkahn: Yeah you’ve got a few hours.

Graham: Camp out. The line for tickets for next year starts today.

Ashkahn: Bring your tent.

Greg: I’m a random fan I have no bias. I drove down here, it’s amazing. You should definitely come if you already run a float center.

Graham: That was Dr. Greg Griffin over there.

Ashkahn: Our one-man audience for this episode.

Kevin: Bring your robe.

Ashkahn: Bring your robes you heard it straight from the organizers everyone. Next year, come with robes. And for those of you who have your own questions, come upstairs right now if you’re at Rise and whisper into someone else’s mike, that worked really well for Greg Griffin.

Jake: Alright, have a good one. We’ll talk to you guys tomorrow.

Ashkahn: Bye everyone.

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