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Show Highlights

It’s easy to listen to this podcast, day in and day out, and think to yourself “why would ANYONE put up with all these issues?” Graham and Ashkahn describe what keeps them, and probably everybody in the industry, in the difficult business of putting strangers in salty boxes and the wonderful life changing experiences that come with it.

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

Graham: Hey everyone. I’m Graham.


Ashkahn: And I’m Ashkahn.


Graham: And today’s question is “how does running this business make you feel fulfilled? What part of the work is the most enjoyable? P.S., do a samba music introduction.” So we got that covered.


Ashkahn: Check. I think the most obviously is-


Graham: Money.


Ashkahn: I was going to say the gratification of sweeping salt every single day. It’s just very fulfilling.


Graham: Yeah, I like sweeping up. Just throw your cash register on the ground, kind of sweep that up when the day’s over.


Ashkahn: I think Scrooge McDuck-style.


Graham: Dump it into your empty float tank.


Ashkahn: So, yeah, probably second to money is …


Graham: So you’re going to get the same answer from everybody, which is it’s the customers.


Ashkahn: Yes.


Graham: Is the best part.


Ashkahn: Yeah, watching people come out of their floats.


Graham: Watching your customers-


Ashkahn: Watching people while they’re floating. It’s just great.


Graham: Hidden cameras.


Ashkahn: Just tiny holes cut into the wall. No, really though, it’s cool. It’s cool. It’s like-


Graham: There’s one part of this entire thing that has not been a joke, which is the customer actually are people’s favorite part.


Ashkahn: It really is extremely gratifying to watch people come out of float tanks, feeling better, smiling, in less pain, happier, figuring things out about their life that they needed to figure out.


Graham: And sometimes more confused, but also happier which is slightly pleasant.


Ashkahn: People who come out and they give us hugs. People will come out with just looks of relief on their faces. People have come out and told us that they’ve been in chronic pain for years and all of a sudden they had a small respite from that then coming out of the float tank. People have walked by and given us cookies. I literally had a customer once come in, no appointment, just literally came in and dropped off a batch of cookies because she was at home baking cookies and was like, “I should make some for Float On, too,” and made a whole second batch just to bring to us for no reason.


Graham: We have customers who have sent us flowers because they live in another state now and they were thinking about how much they missed the shop and just send us Valentine’s Day flowers and a card and stuff like that.


Ashkahn: Everybody giving us cool salt lamps because they just think they’d be awesome in our shop. It’s just great. It’s both really nice to feel like you’re really helping people and those people you’re helping are super cool. They’re really great people and it’s just really nice, heartwarming experience to be able to feel like that’s the business that you run.


Graham: And you meet amazing people, most are customers, but also the people you end up working with, often are just the biggest float enthusiasts out there. Very often the first few employees you hire are kind of like your best customers who want to float so much and just be around the tanks all the time that they get a job. Yeah. They’re incredibly nice, too. Still, some of our best friends that we have in the Portland area come just as a direct result of them coming in and floating at our shop.


Ashkahn: It’s a really cool way to interact with people. You get to hang out with people after their floats and you get to hear really interesting stories. You’re meeting people who are essentially strangers and you’re not talking about the weather, or their work, or what they do for a living or any of that stuff, you’re talking about dreams of them that they had while they were children. These weird sides of people that probably people who have been friends with them for years have never heard and it’s great. It’s such a cool, interesting way of interacting with the public.


Graham: Yeah, and feeling like you’re actually making an impact on people’s lives. Plus, I don’t know. I’ve always taken a lot of joy out of trying to expand people’s horizons or making them think about things maybe a little bit differently. Through theater is a great example of that, or tutoring, is another good example. But float tanks, you just kind of toss people into this salt water box and trust that they’re going to come out with their minds blown, and it’s really just that process of introduction or especially if people seem stuck, and they’re daily routines and habits, being able to break that up and see the responses is incredibly satisfying.

Especially when people walk in and they’re so just in their heads and they’re really frustrated and they obviously have a problem or just a chip on their shoulder in general and you throw them in a float tank and they come out and they’re just smiling and relaxed and chatting. You’re like, “Oh, didn’t you want a partial refund from a float before or something?” and they’re just like, “Oh, don’t worry about it.” That transformation is so awesome.


Ashkahn: I remember we had two customers once that started a game of chess before they went into their floats and they came out of their floats and their chessboard was still there. I’m like, “Hey, we still have your chessboard, do you guys want to finish your game?” They’re like, “Nah, I don’t think we want to play chess anymore. We don’t want to fight anymore.”


Graham: Yeah, it’s too confrontational. You need to make the pieces move in unison. We declared peace.


Ashkahn: Get all the pieces on one side. But it’s cool, it’s true. There’s something personally satisfying to me, at the very least, that just being responsible for the weirdest thing someone did that day. I really just enjoy just that, getting people to realize that there’s a little bit more to life than their day in, day out sort of thing that they’re used to.


Graham: And I would say my other most satisfying part of running a float center is just being able to say that I run a float tank center. It’s a really fun thing to be able to sit down on an airplane next to someone and they’re talking about whatever it is they do and they’re like, “Oh, what do you do?” You’re like, “Sensory deprivation tanks.”


Ashkahn: Yeah, I’ve actually had to lie before because I was so tired and running a float center is just too interesting and I didn’t want to get into it. But I had to just pretend like I didn’t run a float center because I was too tired to even have the conversation. I was like I can’t even tell this person, honestly, what I do right now because it’s too exciting of a job.


Graham: Didn’t that go horribly, too?


Ashkahn: It didn’t go very well. He started asking me all that. I said I run a spa and the person was like, “Oh, what type of spa?” And I was like, “Just like massage and stuff.” And he’s like, “My wife is a massage therapist. What type of massage?” And I was like I’m way in over my head here. I made a huge mistake.


Graham: Good lesson there, never lie about owning a float tank center. Can’t fake it. But it is. There’s just something really enjoyable about that and even outside of the center, outside of people who are actually floating, I’ve ended up in such cool conversations as a result of just having that as the thing that I do, which is a question you always get asked. But if you open that up and you’re like, “Yeah, I basically do nothing professionally.” That’s a really fun conversation to have with total strangers.


Ashkahn: We talk a lot about, I think, the hard parts of running a float center on this podcast-


Graham: Which are numerous. Which are numerous.


Ashkahn: So this is good to keep in mind. You gotta remember this stuff. All of it is worth it because of this, fixing those pumps at three in the morning and dealing with everything else. It’s hard to remember in the moment and especially while you’re in construction when you don’t even get to see people come out of float tanks. And that happens. You watch someone come out of a float tank and they just thank you because it’s seriously been helping them and significantly changing what they’re doing with their life. Then you’re like, okay, that’s right. That’s why I was doing all this. So it’s good. It’s a good thing to remember.


Graham: Yep. We change lives and sometimes for the better.


Ashkahn: Cool. All right. Good. Well-


Graham: Yeah, thanks for the upbeat question.


Ashkahn: Yeah, that’s nice.


Graham: You can ask more of those anytime, too. Send them along and if you want to do that, you go to floattanksolutions.com/podcast. Yeah.

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