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Episode 7: Innovation Born from Adversity—Tom Dixon talks about his No Barriers Story

 

Erik and Jeff speak with Tom Dixon, a young man from Philadelphia and the inventor of a brilliant mobile app called ME.mory. Like most app inventors, Tom identified a need that wasn’t being met and created software to address that need. His tragic accident and unique story behind his creation is what sparked our hosts’ interest and what makes Tom a true No Barriers Pioneer.

Eight years ago, in what Tom refers to as his “old life,” he was on track to being a psychiatrist for children when he was hit by a car while out for a run. When he awoke in the hospital, he was made aware he had sustained a traumatic brain injury which caused him to have severe memory loss.

“I tell people it was a day I’ll never remember, and a date I’ll never forget.”

He kept a notepad by his hospital bed to remember details such as what he had eaten that day and names of people who visited him. Without these notes, Tom would eat multiple meals and recalled very little of his interactions.

Tom discusses memory and how most people forget the “overwhelming majority of their lives,” meaning the day-to-day tiny details that make up our everyday experiences. He notes: “It’s really great that we can forget actually, it’s very efficient.”

When asked about the trials and the blessings that have resulted from his injury, Tom mentions experiencing higher empathy for other people who have also had trauma. The flip side is convincing others of his capabilities and establishing independence all over again as a young adult.

“Other people will tell you about their own pain, their own struggling . . . You can relate to having fallen, having struggled.”

Tom Dixon holding No Barriers flag

 

Tom touches on the difficulties of having what is called “an invisible disability” and some barriers that those with “visible” disabilities might not encounter, like being questioned about using ADA resources, and having others not immediately understand parts of your experience.

As for blessings, Tom mentions that his injury occurred during a time of tech innovation and the advances in our world of technology have helped him immensely to be independent and succeed.

“I had this injury at the right time, so to speak, because we carry computers around in our pockets in the form of a phone. There are so many workarounds now with modern technology.”

Based on his experiences, Tom created an app called ME.mory that lets him record a “digital memory.” It’s searchable and accessible. He adds in event details about his life, maybe even attaches an emotion to his experience to help jog his memory and document the occasion.

He talks about searching his app to remind himself about his first experience meeting our host, Erik, at a talk he gave in Philadelphia and his thoughts on their interaction. Later, Tom recalls his time at the No Barriers Summit in Tahoe in 2017, which he attended as a Reach Award winner through Erik’s Reach Foundation.

Tom Dixon with Erik Weihenmayer

 

When talking about the concept of living in the moment that folks often see in Tom’s journey, he reflects: “Who are we but our past moments? We like to think we are carefree at any given moment but we need a sense of direction, a sense of purpose.”

Tom’s app, ME.mory, has applications to many other populations of people around the world—people who are experiencing memory loss as a result of injury or illness, and even, as he recently learned, to parents who like to use it as a tool to record memories of their kids.

Tom’s app is helping others around the globe and is full of potential for uses we might not even foresee yet. He’s also finalizing his memoir titled “I’m Sorry . . . That’s Awesome!” It covers his injury, recovery, and his journey in inventing ME.mory.

Check out the website for his app for any updates! (ME.mory is currently off the app store for updates): ME.mory

 

 

 

 

————————— EPISODE TRANSCRIPT —————————–

Erik: Hey this is Erik Weihenmayer. And this is our No Barriers podcast. And I’m hosting with my friend, Jeff Evans. I’m one of the co-founders of No Barriers and Jeff is one of the co-founders of our Warriors Program. So we’ve been doing this podcast. This is number six for us. So we have an amazing person today to speak to. He’s part of our No Barriers community. And to kick things off, how you doing Jeff?

Jeff: I’m good, just [00:00:30] doing a little research on Tom, our guest here, that got me thinking just how technology these days is really created and supposed to be a conduit to making life a little bit easier and smoother and all these things. Because that’s part of what Tom does and we’re gonna learn that throughout this interview with him. But I mean, Erik, you and I swap war notes all the time about being on the road and how just [00:01:00] challenging it is to juggle everything. To juggle family and work and just being fit and staying on top of our game and then giving time for ourselves as well.

And it’s just so hard to manage all of that. And so reading a little bit about Tom’s bio got me thinking about how tough it must be to be able to walk in his shoes. So I’m really looking forward to talking to Tom.

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Erik: Yeah, it’s so [00:01:30] hard. I mean I was, yeah, as I been preparing for this interview, same thing. I been thinking, like I’m on the road. I was just on the road for 11 days, I was in like five cities. You know, and I have a whole team that helps me organize my schedule. And get me on the right planes and get to the right event. And then I have a 45-minute window for a workout. And then I’m sprinting to some other thing. And it’s like …

And then you meet so many people, right? Throughout the day. And for me, I don’t remember [00:02:00] half the people I meet. I don’t remember their names, because I don’t have a face to remember. So it’s … Yeah, it’s just got me really thinking about this discussion today. So with that, why don’t you introduce Tom?

Jeff: Yeah, so Tom Dixon is a Philly guy and seeing as it the Superbowl just passed, off air we were talking about the excitement after the Superbowl and the Eagles beat the dynasty, and I think the majority of the country was [00:02:30] thrilled about that. So Tom’s been living in it the past week in Philly for post-Superbowl. So, being a Philly guy, the way I understand it, he was at his parents house and was out for a run. And running on those streets of Philly and then was involved in a motor vehicle accident. He was hit.

And because of that injury, he suffered a pretty significant memory loss. [00:03:00] And it’s not just a memory loss per se but it’s a loss in episodic memory. So it’s a type of amnesia. And I’m gonna let him fill in the color. But the point is that he has a hard time organically recalling things that happened just two days ago. Even it’s as simple as eating a meal. So, you know, this is a guy who has his Master’s in Education, who was living [00:03:30] his life and had the same sort of faculties as the rest of us. And then all of a sudden was hit with this event.

So, Tom’s with us today. And Tom we’re excited to have you.

Erik: Yeah, nice to talk to Tom.

Thomas: Thank you for having me on the show.

Erik: So first of all we gotta start with what you like to be called, Tom or Thomas?

Thomas: Well, I tell people that they can call me Tom or Thomas, I like the variability of the name. Tom is informal, Thomas [00:04:00] is professional. Someone wants to flirt with me they can call me Tommy. Anything but “shit head”. It’s perfectly fine.

Erik: Nice. I love it.

Thomas: Alright.

Erik: Good, so alright we’ll call you Tom then, because we’re not flirting with you.

Jeff: But we won’t call you “shit head”, I promise.

Erik: We’re working on “shit head”, all right?

Jeff: Yeah, not till the end of the interview. Okay.

Erik: Yeah exactly. So Tom, tell us about [00:04:30] what your life was like pre-injury, before that day.

Thomas: Right, so before that day, yeah, I actually want to share one of the things you mentioned that I went from my Master’s of Education, that was not my life at all before I was hit by the car. I was studying to be … I was in pre-Med for University of Pennsylvania. And I was working at Children’s Hospital of Philidelphia [00:05:00] and Psychiatry Research, and I wanted to become a psychiatrist for children. That was my “old life” as I like to call it now. And then, on November 22nd, 2010, I’ve been visiting my parents because my mom’s parents had passed away. So, I was there for there and I must have taken a break for myself going on a run, because I run half marathons before, [00:05:30] and then I was hit.

Yeah, I tell people, it’s a date I’ll always remember and a day … Yeah, yeah, it’s a day I always forget and a date I’ll never … I’m messing up, sorry. A day I’ll never remember [crosstalk 00:05:52] There we go. A day I’ll never remember, a date I’ll never forget, because I’d always tell people that was the day I was hit by the car, but [00:06:00] I have no recollection of that day.

Jeff: Do you feel like that was chronologically significant … like basically time stopped and started on that day for you when you reflect back on your whole life?

Thomas: Well, there is a distinction. You make … I call it “old life”, “new life”, because yeah, there’s just a very different feel to it and a different set of priorities, [00:06:30] a different way of interacting with the world. When I had my old life when I was neuro-typical, when I had neuro-typical memory and then now with my severe episodic memory loss, yeah, I’ve had to adjust and change everything. And I’m really glad that it’s been working.

Erik:I mean, it’s an understatment to say that it must have been a shock, right? [00:07:00] I guess, when you woke up, what was that process like in the beginning?

Thomas: Well, this is one of the things I’ve found that my memory loss was more severe towards the beginning after the injury and has become less. So there’s a recovery period, I believe it’s six months to two years and then after that your recovery pretty has tapered off, you’re not going to get any better essentially. So, yeah, in the very beginning, I had a notepad next to the hospital bed and it [00:07:30] read, “You were hit by a car. You’re in recovery right now. Your parents will visit you at say, five o’clock.” And yeah, I was told all sort of things like that I ate multiple meals and people thought maybe I forgot that I ate. I must have been very hungry in the beginning. Yeah, it was just I don’t really have memories of those initial days after the accident. [inaudible 00:08:00]

Erik: [00:08:00] But that … I mean, I don’t think … [inaudible 00:08:04] Oh, I can’t imagine … Oh, hold on a second … The mic’s getting some feedback here. I can’t imagine that process, I mean in some ways all of us are forgetting lots of things that happened in our lives in the past, like I can’t remember half the things that happened to me day to day like 20 years ago. But for you, it’s just a very intense version of that, right? [00:08:30] Or how would you compare it to the way like, as you said, the proto-typical brain works.

Thomas: Well Erik, I’m going to actually say I don’t even think you could remember half of what happened 20 years ago. Because if I ask you a date, can you tell me what you ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner that day? Or the people you met and talked to that day?

Erik: No.

Thomas: We all forget the overwhelming majority of our lives. So when we talk about neuro-typical memory, we’re still talking about severely [00:09:00] forgetting the overwhelming majority of our lives like 99.9% of the things that happened to us because they don’t matter. You know what I mean? You don’t need to remember five years ago that you forgot where your shoes were for five minutes and then you found them. It doesn’t matter. It’s really great that we can forget actually, it’s very efficient. So, I tell people, we all have severe memory loss. My own is just much more severe and that’s why my solution using ME.mory for my memory [00:09:30] has really helped me. And I’m thinking you could help a lot of other people, too.

Jeff: Yeah, I know. I want to hear more about ME.mory, because that seems pretty fascinating about how you use something that’s in our hands every day to be able to create something. But I just want to ask you two-prompt question, and it’s the black and white of this event that happened to you. Can you tell us the very best things that has come from this event, and the very [00:10:00] worst things that has come from this event for you personally as you continue to walk through your life?

Thomas: I would say the blessing would be what a degree of relatability you can now be on after you’ve suffered from something, after you’ve been knocked off your horse and other people will tell about their own pain, [00:10:30] their own suffering. Although it won’t be the same as your own, it’s just it’ll be different but you can relate to having fallen, relate to having suffered and struggled for some time.

Erik: I think that empathy, Tom, is really interesting. We’ve heard other guests talked about that loss that you experienced, that hole gets filled-up with other things like empathy, like love, [00:11:00] like just connection with other people who have suffered. So I think that’s a really fascinating thought, and I can personally relate to that.

Thomas: Yes, I believe that you absolutely can, given what I’m aware of for your story, your experience.

Erik: What’s the frustrating part? What’s the hart part?

Thomas: Sure, the frustrating part … I’m glad to say it’s become less so, [00:11:30] because one of the great things about us is how we can adapt, people overall. But initially, it was … with a brain injury and I note this in the book I want to publish. You have to re-convince everybody that you can do basically anything after a brain injury that you can make yourself a can a soup. Like no one knows quite to make of you and how much independence to afford you, how [00:12:00] risky it is. I had to convince people that I could take public transportation again on my own. I had to go through courses, I went to community college classes to see if I could make it through that. So it’s a lot of re-establishing your identity, re-establishing your independence. And as a young man, I was 26 when I was hit by the car. I already had established my independence, becoming a young adult and now I had to do it all over again.

Erik: [00:12:30] That’s incredibly hard to do. Do you think that having a brain injury, traumatic brain injury, do you think that … I mean, how do you like … For instance, I’m blind, right? So, people can see I’m blind and they have … most people have a kind of connection, like they go, “Okay, the guy can’t see. I’ll be helpful.” But for you, your disability is invisible. [00:13:00] Do you think … I mean, I often think that maybe harder in certain ways. What do you think?

Thomas: Well, yes. It can be maybe a blessing and a curse. There are groups that talk about this, The Invisible Disabilities Association, for example that yeah, you get to pass as “non-disabled”, “typical”, [00:13:30] and you feel almost that you’re carrying around a secret, because nobody knows about your severe memory loss in this case. And other times they might think that how you act is unjustified because you don’t look like you have a disability. An example I like to share is how the disability bathrooms tend to be the most easy to find and to be the most easy to [00:14:00] get back to your seat from because of their location. And if someone were to see me walk into that bathroom, they would say, “What do you think you’re doing?”, without realizing that maybe I would have a harder time finding the other bathroom and then finding my seat back because I don’t remember where I was sitting just then.

Erik: Well that is a good transition into tools, because a lot of your life, right, is like developing and embracing these new ideas and tools to be able to move forward. [00:14:30] So, I’m fascinated like how that all began, you’re clearly an innovative person, like how did you get to school after this brain injury? What were the kind of things that you found that got you through?

Thomas: Sure, absolutely. I’m really glad … I tell people I had this injury at the right time so to speak. Because we carry around computers in our pockets now in the form of phones, you don’t have to stand out [00:15:00] and you can email yourself to do things, for example, if it’s non time-sensitive if it’s time-sensitive you can make calendar notes. There are so many workarounds now with modern technology. For classes, I had a Livescribe pen and I was recording. I had permission to record the lectures and that really helped. Also, it really helped that graduate school, a lot of your assignments are done on your own time, their [00:15:30] papers, their presentations that you give, but you’re not really spontaneously required to recall information, it’s not an exam that you may need to know when you learn something. That’s something I should share, too. It’s more like I can learn things, I can make new memory about something. Like for example, I could meet you with this experience.

A lot of it is the “when”, when was something … When did it I happen? That can be a huge [00:16:00] issue for me. And that could matter in other courses, but in Educational Psychology it didn’t really matter.

Erik: Are you saying that’s really fascinating. So are you saying that you can like learn something and you just know something but you’re not exactly sure how you learned it?

Thomas: Or it’s more like … I like to give people examples like you know how to do something, you don’t have to relearn it every time. You learned it once and eventually you just know it, like you know how to use a microwave [00:16:30] and you don’t need to be taught how to use a microwave when you see a new microwave. So that’s one example. And a lot of things we know them, but we don’t know when we learn them. We all know the dictionary, but if I ask you what day did you learn the word “dictionary”, you probably don’t, right, and it doesn’t matter.

Erik: And that’s probably fine, right Jeff? Jeff is a physician’s assistant, so he knows a lot about science. But like it’s probably [00:17:00] because your brain is so plastic, right? There’s like happening in different parts of your brain, right? So certain learnings and memory, like memory is in one place and learning … You know what I mean? It’s all connected.

Thomas: Yeah, there are a lot of overlap and you may learn something for one purpose but then find out that the skill applies in a different way than you could have imagined [00:17:30] at that time.

Erik: Right.

Jeff: So Tom, I’m just reflecting on how this incident, which led to your … I’m going to call it disability, but that your memories specific loss. How it’s affected your relationships with your immediate family? And then I guess the next question would be your girlfriend that we heard from a little bit ago. [00:18:00] Was she on the scene after or before the incident? And then how does it affect your relationship with her?

Thomas: She is part of my post-injury life. We met a few years ago now, so we’ve only been dating after my injury. The things that I see [inaudible 00:18:25] injury is because partly it’s an invisible disability, as Erik was sharing, people don’t have to ask [00:18:30] him, “Is he blind?”, he doesn’t have to be so open in saying, “I am blind.”, but I do, partly because with memory people get offended if you don’t remember them. They think that they didn’t matter to you enough that you would remember them, right? So when I make it clear to people that it’s not for me to remember them or not, because I don’t even know what happened yesterday maybe, then it’s also okay that I can forget them and that’s one of the reasons why it’s important to be open about it, too.

Jeff: [00:19:00] And then do you find that to be challenging sometimes simply because it is this hidden disability? Do you … it’s not like you walk around with a sign like, “Hey, I have a brain injury and even though I met you two days ago don’t be offended that I don’t remember your name/”. How do you get that out there to the network of people that you engage with every day and let them know like, “Hey, this is something that I deal with every day.”?

Thomas: Well, I’m really glad [00:19:30] that I turned my disability situation into a perhaps an entrepreneurship and opportunity related to Me.mory, because I [inaudible 00:19:44] people perhaps feeling very sad for me being unable to remember, but then telling them how that they wanted to create this technology that is a type of memory and so it changes the conversation and that’s why the memoir I want to publish like, “I’m sorry, that’s awesome.”, [00:20:00] because of that very reason. I’m very outgoing about it and it changes the discussion, people don’t feel sad, and instead people celebrate with me how life has turned around for me.

Jeff: In fact of one of the tabs that you got on ME.mory is you can attach an emotion to that particular event.

Thomas: Ah, yes. We’ve seen that people are using that.

Jeff: So, give us just a real [00:20:30] quick rundown on what the format is like, because here I am, I’m having normal recollection of times, events, people and so forth day-to-day, as I age I realize my memories not as good as it used to be, but I think we all experience that. But what I see here from ME.mory is an opportunity to document, describe and create a sort of chronology, a bit of a biography throughout your day-to-day. [00:21:00] Is that right? Or what else would you add to describe this?

Thomas: Well, I talk to people about it as being a digital memory. I talk about it as being a fully searchable artificial memory. S I’m updating you know my day that I was just at the grocery store, I had lunch with my friend and I’m adding and as much or as little details I want to, and then later on when I wonder, hey, [00:21:30] when did I last see that friend?, I type in their name and it searches all of my ME.mory, all of my entries from the very beginning [inaudible 00:21:38] end, until today and every single mention of that person is pulled up for me. And that’s one of the ways I’m using it. Just for fun, I search for “Erik” just now. I see that I first mentioned him, February 7th 2017.

Erik: Awesome. [00:22:00] What did you say in there?

Thomas: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I wrote here and it actually grabs the location, too, so this is at 1901 Vine Street here in Philadelphia. “I’m so impressed and stunned by the talk from Erik Weihenmayer, the only blind person to have ever summited Mount Everest. Perhaps I should work with No Barriers USA, the nonprofit which he co-founded in 2004. Such [inaudible 00:22:29] how I will advocate [00:22:30] those with severe memory loss and/or TBIs.”

Erik: That’s cool. Well, thank you.

Jeff: And then boom! You went on to win the Reach Award and last your Summit in Tahoe, right?

Thomas: Oh, yeah, what great experience the summit was. And of course, I didn’t expect that to happen by going to Erik’s talk and by introducing myself with Erik, not to Erik. I thought as a person with a disability to another person with a disability and overcoming [00:23:00] circumstances that many people must talk to Erik about such and that we would related on that level. And also just how much I enjoyed coming to his talk.

Erik: And so, when you write a note like that, Tom, does it spark a memory? Like in your brain, do you remember that meeting? Because it’s funny, sometimes with me, like somebody would be like, “Yeah, you met that person two months ago.”, and even somebody telling me I met that person, I still can’t remember meeting [00:23:30] them. Or does it … which way has it worked for you or maybe both?

Thomas: I’ll say both and I’ll also admit something that when you get into psychology, when you have a memory like are you actually remembering it as it was at that moment, or are you recreating your memory in the act of remembering? So if you developed a friendship with somebody [00:24:00] later on, but they were at a party earlier in your life, you might think you had a former relationship with them during that time at the party, but they might not have been as close to you then and you might remember it differently because of your more recent experience.

Erik: That is. All right. I have to digress here, sorry, Jeff. But there’s a guy that I met a couple years ago, and he called me up, and he was like, “Hey, I want to reconnect. We were such good friends in college.” I can’t remember this guy in college. I was so embarrassed. I just [00:24:30] pretended like, “Oh yeah, yeah, of course. Yeah, we are buddies back then. That was great parties and …” I couldn’t remember a thing about this guy and now we’re really good friends. And I can’t remember a thing about him from college.

Jeff: It turns out maybe you never knew him and he just was like trying to get in inner circle and it and it worked. That’s cute. Hey, Tom have you ever seen the series “The Black Mirror” on Netflix?

Erik: Yep, and I already know what [00:25:00] you’re basically bringing up “The Entire History of You”, right?

Jeff: Yeah. The Entire History of You. All right, so for our listeners, The Black Mirror by the way, is a mind-bending, it’s like sort of the new version of The Twilight Zone, every episode is different. And there’s this one, Season 1 Episode three, it’s called “The Entire History of You.” And it’s set in the future, people use this memory implant that records, everything they do and see and hear. And part of that sounds pretty cool, but [00:25:30] there’s obviously, this being a sci-fi thriller, there’s obviously a downside to it, too. So, now I’ve framed it up, tell me what you thought about when you watched that episode?

Thomas: Well, I’ll say that a lot of people have brought up that episode to me. If they knew Black Mirror, the new series, once they learned about my situation. I [00:26:00] tell people that my memory can be a lot more mundane than some of the things are within that episode. I just noted that I went shopping for groceries. So there wasn’t too much of that in that episode. Yeah, I tell people that my memory is as good as I make it, because it is based on what I record, it’s based on what I choose to enter. And I still live in this moment [00:26:30] obviously, but I might need the past and so I might need to search for information just to have it at that time. So yeah, obviously it’s a different situation.

Erik: But I think it’s fascinating a little bit what you just touched on, the idea that you are forced to live more in the moment, because you can’t rely on the past quite as much as a lot of people, though you just are able to call [00:27:00] up the past when you need to, when it matters, but that’s a really interesting thought, that it kind of forces you to live in the forward.

Jeff: Yeah, that’s the Power of Now, the Eckhart Tolle, right? Like, “You are the living testimony to living at this very moment.”, instead of sort of living in the past and allowing that to be the fabric of you.

Thomas: All right. But at the same time who are we but our past [00:27:30] moments, so it is pretty important for me to have that information on command.

Jeff: Right.

Thomas: We might think we like to be carefree at any given moment, and if we don’t … We also need a sense of direction, a sense of purpose for ourselves and I’m just glad modern technology can help me live a full-enough life, help me earn my Master’s and help me resume my trips internationally, [00:28:00] even though I don’t know things from yesterday.

Erik: Hey, so tell us more about ME.mory and how people can use it, how many people are using it today. That’s a really cool part about your story because I mean you created this innovation, right? It has potential to help a lot of people, right?

Thomas: Yeah, I believe so. I mean, it can help many people such as myself with more severe episodic memory loss. [00:28:30] As I say, we all have episodic memory loss. We don’t know what happened every day of our Lives. My own is just more severe. So, we can definitely help people like that. And also we’re seeing many patients and people with Alzheimer’s. We know chemotherapy causes memory loss. So, yeah, there’s a huge segment, a huge population of this could be helping. And yeah, we’re just curious to see how many people are picking this up now. We have available ME.mory available [00:29:00] internationally, so I get a map of the countries where Me.mories are being saved. And that’s interesting to see if people are using ME.mory in Africa, even people that I’m likely never going to meet.

Yeah, some of the unattended consequences releasing ME.mory Two, I might have heard a few people before that parents are recording their children’s lives rather than their own lies, and the lives of say, elderly and such, so it’s interesting that it’s being used as a peer- [00:29:30] taker type of app, too. It was not something I imagined before.

Erik: Oh, that is really interesting. So you could almost use it beyond, like just any person could use it to record important things that we’re going to forget even as “normal memory people”

Thomas: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I like to tell people that it’s as good as you make it essentially, because you are generating the date, you’re generating the information, and then [00:30:00] it’s retrievable through the application, but you’re the one who’s putting it in. And it’s convenient, it’s talk to text, you can type as well. I used Twitter as my memory before inventing memory. I used Twitter privately. And I was able to import my Twitter feed into ME.mory, so I didn’t start from zero.

Erik: And I love … Go ahead, Jeff.

Jeff: Do you basically [00:30:30] have a set point of memories that until from that point where you started on your private Twitter feed, is anything prior to that recognizable for you? Are you able to retrieve anything from that, like from your childhood as you were growing up and so forth? Or is that gone?

Thomas: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. No, absolutely. The type of memory loss that I have is prospective episodic memory loss. So, retrospective would be [00:31:00] before the injury. So prospective is things like after the injury. Basically, my disability, the ability to recall life after my injury. So, all of the things that happened before my accident, yes, I was aware of who I am, where I went to high school, what I care about usually, yes, all those sort of things. So they are still there. They’ve been there.

Erik: So, that stuff’s locked. Interesting. Yeah. Tell us about your book. So, “I’m [00:31:30] sorry. That’s awesome.” I love that title. There is this book from this guy …

Thomas: It’s much better than the title I had before which was [inaudible 00:31:41] on a TBI, so the title before was “Traumatic Brain Injury? Technologically Beyond It.”

Erik: Oh yeah. No. This blows that book away.

Thomas: It’s just, yeah. So, “I’m sorry. That’s Awesome.” is just so much more snappy and I think it’s going to make people curious enough to say, “Wait. What?”, and [00:32:00] to pick up the book and be curious to say, “Yeah, I could understand why everybody says to this guy, I’m sorry, that’s awesome.”

Jeff: You know when I read the title, though, that’s interesting because it’s someone else saying that to you in a way with knowing your history. I almost interpreted it as you saying to them, “I’m sorry. I don’t remember us meeting.” Or “I don’t remember you telling me that.”, but that’s awesome.

Erik: That’s what I think of that. Honestly, I did. I interpreted it [00:32:30] the same way.

Jeff: In a way, you’re turning it on, its you and it actually could be either person and it’s basically you and the person you’re with both acknowledging that either way like, oh, I didn’t … Okay, we skipped over that part but that was still pretty damn awesome. I mean that’s cool.

Thomas: Yeah, well. I have to admit I like that take on it, I will say. I have to admit if I was going to say “I’m sorry.” for not remembering, it would be that I’m saying, ” [00:33:00] I’m sorry.” every single day of my life.

Erik: Right.

Thomas: The choice. So, when you make it clear to people that you don’t have a choice about remembering, they tend not to feel upset that you don’t remember, because it’s impossible.

Erik: Yeah, it’d be like me saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t see you.” every-

Thomas: Exactly. Exactly. If you said that every single day, you couldn’t say it every single day.

Erik: Right. My voice, I’d lose my voice saying that, so we got to let that go.

Jeff: So Tom, other than the [00:33:30] book, you’re getting it published and getting it out there and continuing to spread the platform of ME.mory, what else is on your agenda in the foreseable future?

Thomas: Well, I’m actually looking at getting back into the workforce. Yeah, I’m now meeting with potential employers and seeing if that will help me as well, being able to put more out my money into ME.mory’s continued development, [00:34:00] because we have features that we’re still looking to refine to get out there a bit more fully. I told [inaudible 00:34:08], I believe that it grabs location. I want to be able to search my ME.mory by location. I type an address and see all the entries around that address, see the last time I was in the neighborhood, for example. We do have a basic version of that where you’re able to pull up a map, and you’re able to see where your entries are. But I want to be able to type in an address and just the way I [00:34:30] would search for say, a restaurant in that area, I want to be able to search my ME.mory in that area.

Erik: So, you create a space around that which the brain probably does as well?

Thomas: I’m sorry, what was-

Erik: I said, so you create a sense of space around that ME.mory as well as the time, which is really cool, because that’s what the brain does, too, it remembers when something happen or maybe the more prior memories where it happened.

Thomas: [00:35:00] Oh yeah, yeah, no. In general, you think if you were out with friends at a restaurant, you tend to remember when it was, who was there, where the restaurant is, … it’s [inaudible 00:35:12], the components. And that’s one of the things I want for ME.mory, too. It grabs location currently, it automatically stamps the date and time on it, and then because I’m recording who’s there with me, it has all those components together in an entry. And I didn’t see anything else that was letting me do that in the [00:35:30] same way. I was using Twitter as my memory before inventing ME.mory. And that’s why I went ahead inventing ME.mory, because I said I need more and also the ability to search all of it on demand and get information and statistics as well.

Erik: Well, it’s not, best of luck.

Jeff: Next level. Well, next, next level. This is the next upgrade, ME.mory 2.0 is going to be biometrics where you’ve got a [crosstalk 00:35:54] and emotional quotient.

Erik: Shh. That’s a secret. I’m not supposed to let them know that.

Jeff: Right, well. The [00:36:00] Biometric Marker is like, “Tom, I was extraordinarily excited about this encounter that you just had with X, Y, Z.” And then you could actually reflect on that. A matter of fact, you see that person called you “Tommy”, and then you’re like, “Oh, now, it all makes sense.”

Erik: This is the next, right?

Jeff: See, that’s next level. Yeah, I can’t wait until you reveal that at the next No Barriers Summit.

Thomas: Well, I guess I got to have more of those experiences [00:36:30] then, don’t I?

Jeff: Yeah. Well, you’ve been awesome Tom. Thanks for sharing some of your day with us. You’re fascinating guy. Your experiences, although very unique, I feel like all of us can sort of consider what it would be like or you know as we try to reflect back on these things in our lives, usually it’s big events, yours is just is profound at the point where it’s just two days ago, a day [00:37:00] ago. So I think that all of us can distill a lot from your experience and what you share with us today. So thank you very much.

Erik: Yeah, Tom, I’m really impressed because you’re really a real authentic representation of this No Barriers life, their struggle, and there are certain things that you’re never going to “overcome”, but you just keep pushing forward in this really honest way and good things come out of it. And so, I’m really proud to know [00:37:30] you and have you as part of our community, so thank you.

Thomas: Wow, Erik, that means a lot coming from your team and you. And I’m glad to be a part of this community. Thank you so much.

Erik: Awesome. So Jeff, let’s reflect here. Do you want me to start? Because I mean, gosh, I got a lot out of this discussion.

Jeff: Yeah, tell me what you … tell me some of your bullet points from our conversation, Tom.

Erik: Well, I’m really excited and interested in this whole idea [00:38:00] of … living in the moment, sure, but Tom made this really good point that your past is so important to where you’re going, right? It defines who you are, it’s like a … When he was talking, I was thinking about like a chain that’s connecting your past with your present, with your future, and when you lose that, how disconcerting that would be. And so, he creates this ME.mory app that is the ability to create [00:38:30] the chain of that memory, and that’s really cool continuing to innovate that. And it’s interesting how those innovations we find time and time again, come … not out of like happiness and joy, they come out of hardship, they come out of necessity, right? So, it’s just one of these amazing stories of innovation being born from adversity.

Jeff: Yeah, yeah. Innovation comes from adversity. Well, [00:39:00] I consider myself Eckhart Tolle scholar, right? I love the Power of Now. I think it was a game changer for me and that whole book just talks about being right here, not yesterday, not tomorrow, but right here in this moment, because it’s truly all you have. So I’ve been a big subscriber to that. Now, today, hearing from Tom, it really makes me reflect on how critical it is to be able to understand and acknowledge [00:39:30] and value all these pieces, these threads that come together to create this big large fabric of where we are now, and it comes from the mouth of a guy who has lost the nearsighted version of that and that makes him value it. It more precious to him than it is to anybody. And so, that’s what I really got. I think those who has their parents as Tom alluded to, like capturing our kids as they grow up, I [00:40:00] look at my son as the marker of your time.

Every once in a while, you go back and open up a photo album and see photos of your kid. And when he was a little baby boy and growing up to be a teenager, and I’m so glad I have those moments, but I rely on those photos. Those photos tell me what that history in that memory was. It’s not because I can remember that day. That day is gone. So, what Tom is doing [00:40:30] is helping anyone, but specifically his community that he’s touching with this app, it’s to be able to reflect on these critical pieces of our history to be able to add to who we are at this very moment. So, fascinating stuff.

Erik: I love it. So, well thank you everyone. Yeah, if you wanna learn more about No Barriers, look us up, NoBarrierUSA.org. We have all kinds of events. What’s Your Everest event [00:41:00] in Colorado, our Summit, which is coming up in October, in New York City, we’re going to be on the Intrepid, which is this amazing aircraft carrier. We’re going to be in Central Park. We’re going to be featuring amazing innovations like ME.mory, those kinds of innovations that are helping people break through barriers. And there’s a lot going on, so check it out. We have Youth experiences, we have programs for Veterans, for all kinds of people within our community. So, [00:41:30] learn more about us. Jeff, thanks man.

Jeff: Thanks, Erik. That was good.

Erik: No Barriers.