Megan Soffer joins us on the podcast this week to talk about her position as the Digital and Content Marketing Director for True Dark, the pioneers of the Blue Light glasses, as well as her story of finding herself in Wellness. You don’t want to miss her story, and you might even find out how she turned her Huskies into doggie influencers!
Watch her Interview:
Listen to her Interview:
Read her Interview:
Alice: Can you talk about maybe a TV show? You have binged during COVID?
Megan: Oh my gosh. I have probably been contentious [?] during COVID. The one that I most recently finished that is I think my favorite is called, “Night Shift.” It is not on TV anymore, it is from like 2014-2015. It is about military people who become EMTs, paramedics in San Antonio, and I am based in Texas so it actually feels really close and my significant other is in the military. So I could relate to it on a whole different level and I was very into it.
Alice: That is really cool. I love seeing shows that kind of take place in your area. I am from New York City. So there is a lot of them, but it is always fun to be like, “I know that place!” Are you near San Antonio then?
Megan: No, so we are actually based in a city called Wylie, at Texas Northeast of Dallas. So if you are not from the area, you probably would not have heard of it other than Wiley Coyote. Which we do have [inaudible] but that is not necessarily what we are known for but we are Northeast of Dallas in the Dallas, Fort Worth area. And yeah, it is about five hours from San Antonio but that is where my partner is based so I am very familiar with it.
Alice: And what is Wylie known for then?
Megan: You know, I am actually not even from Texas myself. So I [inaudible] and we just moved here in October.
Alice: Oh my God.
Megan: I am actually from East Coast Washington DC area [inaudible] I work for True Dark, came down to Texas for him. I am figuring it out. But I know Dallas is well known for restaurants. It is downtown area, art district, it is also where JFK was assassinated. So there is a lot of history in Dallas but I am still learning the area.
Alice: Yeah, that is kind of be really tough like moving during COVID. But I guess Texas is opened up a lot more than most places.
Megan: Yeah they have but I was one of the fortunate ones in that. I transitioned before COVID happened.
Alice: Oh, okay.
Megan: Even within True Dark, just because of our situation and we move relative to military events. I was given permission to actually work from home remotely a year before COVID started. So I have been doing this for almost two years now and I have my work from home routine down.
Alice: Yeah. How did you do it? I mean, I feel like everyone has kind of figured it out now, but what are your tips for working from home?
Megan: So I am telling you the stars aligned. I would have never been able to know this had I not gone through it. But you know, True Dark based in Seattle on the West coast. I live in Texas on the Central time zone. So I am two hours ahead of them. And what I have learned to do is make my mornings all about me because I am two hours ahead. So I actually have that time to do what I need to do whether it is, walk my dogs, workout, read or whatever it is. I make my mornings about me and it puts me in a better mood most of the day but it also helps center me so I am able to focus more. I have more energy, I am more focused. I am not worrying about time constraints because I am actually given the gift of time, in a sense.
Alice: Wow. That is great. That is so ambitious too. Like working out in the morning.
Megan: It was a mind shift for me because I used to work at night but I have actually found I have more energy during the day when I workout in the morning. And that is actually a whole different conversation that we talk about at True Dark related to circadian rhythms and chronotypes. Everyone is different. Some people are more productive at night or some people are more productive in the day. You have to figure out what works best for you.
Alice: Wow. That is so interesting. And can you talk a little bit more about True Dark? What exactly is it? So our listeners can kind of understand?
Megan: Oh, yeah, so I could talk about True Dark all day. So in one sentence, True Dark is light-based technology solutions that help you leverage healthy light or block out junk light so that you can be healthier in a sense. So, you know, we are spending more time indoors. We are looking at screens more so we have eyewear that blocks out the harmful blue light that is coming back at us right now as we talk to each other through these screens or as you roll over in bed to check your email. As you watch TV, as you are doing other Zoom calls throughout the day.
That is not what the human body was designed to do. We were supposed to be living according to the distinct light-dark cycles. You know the sun ascends and descends every day, but now the lights are on all the time. Society has shifted to keeping some kind of light on which is not what the body was designed to be exposed to all the time. So our eyewear helps block out what we call “junk light.”
But then we have a subset of products called “true light.” They are labelled as True Light products and they leverage healthy light for healthier living. So that is LED light therapy devices, it is new forward-thinking light bulbs that emit red light to support melatonin production at nighttime. It is night lights and flashlights that have a similar setting where if you are out camping and you need to see your tent at night, but you do not want to disrupt your sleep or the wildlife nearby. You have a little portable flashlight that emits red light that illuminates the area around you but still supports your melatonin production.
Alice: That is so interesting. I had never heard of red light before and how did you guys get into this like finding the circadian rhythm for everyone and deciding to create these glasses? It is a brand new concept.
Megan: Yeah, so well…
Alice: We are not brand-new.
Megan: It is and it is not. So the very first blue blockers came out in the 80s and-
Alice: 80s? Oh my God… Okay.
Megan: If you look at them, people who knew what they were, they would remember clunky orange big glasses, which it was part of a NASA initiative initially, but we have learned a lot since then. So those are orange lenses that blocked out basically too much blue light during the day and not enough at night time. So our founder, Dave Asprey, what he wanted to do was sort of refine the technology. He wanted to provide a solution that actually mimicked what your circadian rhythm was supposed to do.
So if you look at your hormone levels, your cortisol should be going like this and melatonin should be the exact opposite. In the morning your cortisol goes up, melatonin goes down. The inverse of that happens at night time. So more melatonin at night helps you sleep. But if you are staring at your screens, then you are actually telling your body. No, it is still daytime outside do not go to sleep yet.
So Dave wanted to create what we call a 24-hour solution. It is a true daytime and nighttime solution where we have a subset of glasses that promote better energy, better focus, arguably better mood during the day by blocking out a certain percentage of blue light only. So blue light cues circadian responses in the body. And a lot of research went into finding out which wavelengths need to be blocked because not all blue light is bad, but some blue light is bad. So before we start [?] getting into the weeds, so just tell me if I should slow down.
Alice: Oh, this is so interesting.
Megan: So the sun produces natural blue light. So we are not saying all blue light is bad, but there are specific wavelengths that are good versus bad, and the timing of the day matters. So there are certain responses during the daytime that you’ll get from up to four hundred and ninety nanometers that is ideal where you get the peak circadian responses. So that is knowing when to wake up when to eat when to exercise when to be most productive things like that.
The harmful blue light, that is shorter wavelengths that are more intense that zap your energy basically. It is more intense than what your body was designed to handle, more intense than what you would get from sunlight. And that is in conventional LEDs, fluorescence, any digital device with LED screens. Oh, here he is.
Alice: Hello! Hi, kitty. What is her name?
Megan: His name is Pittsburgh.
Alice: Pittsburgh! That is so cute.
Megan: Black with gold eyes. My boyfriend is a Steelers fan.
Megan: So the daytime glasses basically mimic what you would otherwise be exposed to during the daytime when you were outside, so we have clear and yellow lenses. Clear lenses block forty percent of blue light. The yellow lenses block seventy-five, and seventy-five is the max that you want to block during the daytime.
So, if you block too much, if you block a hundred, for example, which the orange lenses do, then you are telling your body, it is dark outside and it is nighttime. You actually need to go to sleep. So if you are wearing lenses that are too dark, you might feel more tired during the day than you should.
So then at nighttime, we have what we call, “Twilights” which our nighttime glasses, and they are darker and they actually block a broader spectrum of what we call junk light. So it is not only the intense blue light, it is also green and violet light.
Studies over the past decade have shown that this entire spectrum can actually make it harder to fall and stay asleep. So the color of the lens matters and these lenses are red. So there is no orange lenses whatsoever. It goes from clear and yellow for daytime, to red for nighttime, and they tell your body, it basically sends a cue to your brain, it is dark outside, start to wind down, start producing melatonin, relax, and get ready to sleep.
Alice: And who should be wearing these glasses? When did they start wearing them?
Megan: So we get this question a lot. It really depends on your lifestyle. And I mean, you could argue anyone can benefit. So if someone says, “Which glasses should I start out with? When do I start wearing them?” My first question is, “Well, what is a bigger issue for you right now? Do you have trouble focusing? Do you get digital eye strain during the day?” or
“Is sleep your number one issue that you are trying to fix right now?”
And a lot of people tend to focus on sleep. They feel like they have a hard time sleeping, they end up with that wired, tired feeling. and I say, “Okay, start with the Twilights. That is going to prepare your body for the next day. So if you sleep well, if you have a good bedtime routine, you are going to feel better in the morning.” And so typically we say where the Twilights thirty to ninety minutes before you want to fall asleep.
With that said, there is a lot of dependencies here. You will start to notice – you will notice that as I keep talking. That depends on how many stimulants you have had throughout the day. So if you are drinking coffee at 8 P.M. you might [inaudible] If you are staying up watching TV, you might need to wear your glasses longer, but I can tell you sometimes, I put on a show and I do not even last five minutes. I have been wearing these glasses for three years now and my body is used to it.
If I travel and I am staying in a hotel, I might need them for an hour maybe, but it depends on the variables, what stimulants you have had throughout the day.
For daytime glasses, you want blue light during the day, but if you are sitting under artificial light or you are staring at a screen from 7 A.M. to 5 P.M. or whatever it is. Use your judgment, you know, if you know that you are going to start having eye strain at 10 A.M. you can wear your glasses in the daytime because you are not blocking out all the blue. You are just preventing overexposure essentially. And then… Oh, sorry go ahead.
Alice: Oh I am sorry. So how did you hook up with True Dark, to begin with? You said you started wearing these three years ago. You have been in marketing for them for a while now, and I know you have been in marketing before this. Can you talk a little bit about your journey?
Megan: Yes, it feels like so long ago now but it is a long and short story. So I kind of fell into it by having a passion project that snowballed. So when I was in college, I was in a new place. I did not know anybody and I was looking for a creative outlet.
I have always been very intense in the sense that, I was a straight-A student. I played sports. I was an only child. So I always felt like I needed to reach a certain bar and then push it but I did not have a lot of creative outlets or things that I just enjoyed for the sake of enjoying. So when I was in college, I got a camera, I had two dogs. They are both huskies. Perfect subjects to take photos of, right?
Megan: And I just started taking pictures and Instagram had just come out at that time or not. [inaudible] I started sharing their photos. I kind of use the platform as my diary in a way and it just a few followers turned into hundreds then thousands and then I started having companies approach me to work with them. So we started working with a lot of pet and outdoor lifestyle brands showing off collars, tents, clothing, dog food, you name it. Outdoor lifestyle was kind of our thing. And we bounced around a little bit because I went to college in Austin, Texas, but I was from the East Coast and then I knew I wanted to move to the Pacific Northwest. And it was around that time, too, that I had seen the movie, “Wild”. I do not know if you are familiar with it, but…
Alice: I know of it. I have not seen it. I know like the Pacific Trail, Pacific Coast Trail, right?
Megan: Yes. So it is a story by Cheryl Strayed and she had Reese Witherspoon playing her in the movie. My story is not identical to hers, but I kind of had my wild moment where I just kind of wanted to leave what I was comfortable with and just try something different, be alone with my thoughts and figure out what I wanted my next chapter of life to look like. [inaudible]
So I had saved up, I had accrued a lot of time from the job that I was working out. I accrued vacation and I am like, I need to take a break. I am going to get in my car for the next month with my dogs and drive cross-country and figure out what I want.
Megan: And so that is what I did. I do not even know if I could do that right now. I feel like I honestly used to being a homebody now. At the time, it was just what I needed. I continue taking photos with the dogs, working with brands along the way. So I was on vacation, but I was kind of milking the opportunities as [inaudible] And yeah, I learned a lot from that and as I started applying to jobs, more jobs out of college. I just…
So it was interesting. I asked my first boss why he hired me because I was so young at the time and he actually told me the person I was competing with had seven years of experience whereas I had basically not and I was coming right out of college and yes, I was cheaper, but at the same time, he said you are going to bring something different, something that we have not done before. Social media was still growing, and the platforms were still emerging and I had already kind of shown success on a platform with the dogs and they were a non-profit and they were like we need someone to market us because we are a non-profit and it is really hard.
And so I learned a lot from the dogs. I brought that to my first job and then at that point I kind of realized I do not want to be on the East Coast anymore. I want to be in an environment where I have a little bit more creative freedom and I am trying not to give too many details there, in the sense I wanted to grow and I knew that I had outgrown that position but I did not know where to go next and it was kind of like, something was pulling me to the West Coast. I did not know what it was…
Megan: After I did my cross-country trip. I made the decision to move there and I initially worked for a SAS company, a software company, right in downtown Seattle. And I very quickly figured out that that was not who I was, a lot of people moved to Seattle and work for software companies. That is what the downtown area is.
I knew I wanted to be in health and wellness because what kind of spurred that cross-country trip before I went was that I had had shingles at eighteen, which is almost unheard of. And like my anxiety level was just crazy, so part of using the platform with the dogs and sharing both photos and writing, not only was it brand marketing from the public standpoint, but it was catharsis for me. To me, it made sense to find something that made me feel like I could be myself.
So when I showed up to work, I wanted to be myself and contribute what I am good at, without having to I do not know. Lay down values or morals or fit into a box and wellness looks different for everyone. But to me, I knew that that was kind of the path I wanted to go because having grown up in Washington DC, it is you know, politics, government, software engineering. It just was not me. I wanted to do something a little bit more creative. I liked the idea of moving into health and wellness. That made me feel calmer. Just moving into that industry. So applied when I saw an application for True Dark and it seemed kind of mysterious.
I did not really know a lot about Dave at the time. I did not know where the company was going, but they said they were new and they were like if you like avocados, you are probably going to like it here.
Alice: What a great line.
Megan: Their application description was very memorable to me and I showed up. My interview was supposed to be an hour ended up being three. I felt like I found my people. I just felt like they were giving me room to be myself but grow into myself, in a way. And I just jumped in and that is really all it was. That is how it started. It was by chance, the stars aligned.
Alice: Wow, that is amazing. And when you went cross-country, did you make it to Seattle? So you knew like I want to be here.
Megan: So I try to hit as many landmarks for Parks [?] as I could so we went from Northern Virginia through Midwest up to Canada all the way to Tofino, on Vancouver Islands and then all the way down the West Coast and then back East-
Alice: That is not easy
Megan: We covered good ground, and I also liked the idea with Seattle. You can be near the city for work, but then you are only an hour away from Parks. So I liked having that balance at the time but now my dogs are seniors and they like to just be couch potatoes with me. So we have kind of evolved since then too. But yeah, at the time Seattle just felt like a place, and like I said, it was stars aligned I could not have prescribed it for myself ten years ago or told anyone do this because now I like where I lived too but felt like everything happened for a reason.
Alice: Wow. That is great. What an interesting story of just, really the stars aligned that you found this company that was perfect for you.
Alice: And perfect in wellness and like ready to bring that anxiety down just like with these glasses that you wear which is amazing.
Megan: Yes. Exactly. And that is the thing too. I really wanted to be in a place where there was going to be room to grow because I think it is important to contribute and learn at the same time. So since I had never worked in health and wellness before this. I had worked in Telecom, a non-profit. I had worked in government before, I wanted something different and I feel like every day is different. I am learning. I am growing and you cannot really ask for much more than that, you know.
Alice: Yeah, that is amazing Megan. What a cool story. And then something that we always ask on the podcast is, what is your definition of womanhood?
Megan: So it is funny that you ask this because I am thirty. So I am at a point where I am really actually asking myself what that means because I look around and I see people having kids, getting married and following kind of traditional ways of being, and I kind of move solo in a way. I mean, I have my partner and I – we are together we have our animals and work is a huge part of both of our identities and I enjoy that. So I do not think that there is one definition but what I have been learning myself and what I think is happening for a lot of women is that they are learning how to not put themselves into one bucket.
So it is kind of this art of being strong and soft showing up and being kind and compassionate but knowing how to set boundaries and stand up for themselves and going after what they want but still being understanding and I mean even from day to day, I catch myself and I am like, “Oh I rushed into that thought or why did I assume that they thought that about me?” or kind of I am being more mindful about how I want to show up in the world as opposed to necessarily the things that I have if that makes sense.
Alice: Yeah, I think that is really interesting that you are saying like about putting yourself in like different buckets and how like we are this thing and we are this thing, we are this thing and we are this thing. But I think that is like something that we do need to be mindful of like understanding ourselves as women, but also not compromising on that.
Megan: Exactly and I think, you know, because I am at this age we all go to the dog park and someone will say, “So when are you having kids?” And I am thinking, “Well, I do not know.”
Alice: Who needs to answer to that?
Megan: Well, like you clearly thought about it, but I do not know, I am living day to day and I love it. And I am just trying to show up and be kind but that also be kind of myself. So yeah, I am working on practicing that but it has become more prominent in my life just being mindful of it. I would say within the past couple years.
Alice: I think that is great. Like being kind to yourself, showing up, and being kind to yourself. I think that is something our listeners can really take away from this.
Megan: I am good. I wish I had done that sooner.
Alice: Yeah, really? I am turning thirty next week actually and I am a little scared about it.
Megan: Happy early birthday.
Alice: Thank you. And Megan, how can listeners find out more about True Dark?
Megan: Just go to truedark.com. It is T-R-U-E-D-A-R-K dot com.
Alice: Amazing. And do you still have your Instagram with your doggies, your Huskies?
Megan: I do. It is funny, we just posted today about a pet portrait that they received where they look like Renaissance animals. It is so cool.
Alice: Like that is amazing.
Megan: So their names are Maya and Ava. And their account is M-A-Y-A and A-V-A.
Alice: Oh my gosh. Okay, Maya and Ava, incredible. I will be looking that up right now.
Megan: Thank you.
Alice: Well, thank you so much for being on today, it was such a pleasure to get to talk to you.
Megan: I really appreciate the time. It is not often people want to know about me, my story really starts with the dogs. So I end up talking about them most of the time, but I really appreciate it.