Michael Netzley: On a Quest to Strengthen the Ageing Workforce through Applied Neuroscience

What is success? To some, it’s making a boatload of money or rising up the ranks in their career. Even in the entrepreneurial world, success is often associated with the bottom line. But not everyone has the same definition of what success actually looks like. For some, success is more than just earning a profit. True entrepreneurs think of success as being able to give back to the world and make a difference in peoples’ lives. Such impactful leaders desire to use the skills they’ve got and the businesses they have developed to help others. One such influential leader is Michael Netzley, the founder, and CEO of Extend My Runway Pte Ltd. 

Driven by his inherent passion to help build and be a part of something ambitious that genuinely helps people, Michael moved to Singapore in 2002. Initially, he pursued this passion as a faculty member, helping to create from scratch a new university. He loved the part about building something new, but that deeper ambition to find an innovative and meaningful path forward and create something that is genuinely impactful, and helpful to people in a big way eventually made him plunge into the entrepreneurial world. 

Michael Netzley
Michael Netzley, Founder & CEO, Extend My Runway Pte Ltd

Building Better Brains for a Longer Life and Career

Michael founded Extend My Runway (EMR) to empower people who are living longer lives and pursuing longer careers. “Today, there are over 1 billion people in the world aged 60+ and by 2050 that number will exceed 2.1 billion. This is a profound demographic shift because never before in human history has the world had aged societies and workforces. Societies have always been structured around the young simply because there were more of them. Such issues are difficult to address in a university’s political environment, and next to impossible inside a consultancy driven by billable hours,” elucidates Michael.

It is commonly believed that our mental work performance or creative abilities peak by age 50 and after that, it’s all downhill. However, science tells a very different story. Specifically, profound breakthroughs in the neurosciences reveal how business and life-critical forms of higher-order thinking actually peak in the 50s and 60s. To make these profound discoveries about the healthy aging brain accessible to and beneficial for everyday people, EMR came into existence in 2018. The pioneering company offers a rapidly scalable, affordable, and science-backed solution that can help people benefit from these breakthrough neuroscientific discoveries. Today, EMR is assisting aging populations all over the world to stay on top of their game, and in the game, for longer.

Delivering Rapidly Scalable Personalised Brain Fitness Platform

Traditionally, insights such as those from the neurosciences would require medical training and people who operate as highly paid consultants and coaches. This creates a bottleneck for growing businesses as it’s hard to find a large number of these people to support the budding business and also the cost of talent would be exorbitant. This is when technology comes to the rescue. Today, AI/ML platforms are already capable of performing diagnoses of people and predicting what intervention would best serve each unique individual, and then delivering the intervention daily. It’s a relatively straightforward idea of using technology to diagnose, adapt, and predict what’s best or next.

What EMR does differently is that the architecture of its technology is guided by neuroscience. It’s a marriage of Ai and neuroscience. So then how does this help people? It uses behavioral economics and each day it digitally nudges people to eliminate behaviors and habits that diminish their brain’s ability to function optimally and adopt new practices or habits that strengthen specific facets of their brain’s higher-order thinking capabilities. Lastly, it focuses on measurement. “I cannot underemphasize the importance of measurement. If we want to help people enjoy a longer career, then skeptical employers need to see hard data demonstrating that someone has the brainpower to do the job. This is, after all, a world of knowledge work and the brain is where the knowledge work is performed. So, we need to measure and share the hard data with employers to create more employment opportunities for older workers.  It’s a demand-side issue that we are solving. And along the way, people build up the behaviors and habits that strengthen their brain just like going to the gym and doing exercises strengthens a muscle. The two are analogous,” asserts Michael.

Touching A Billion Lives

While there are several attributes that set EMR apart from the rest, its uniqueness also comes from its ability to scale and touch a billion lives through its brain-performance platform. “Scalability is at the heart of our ambition and essentially we aspire, hopefully, to become an impact unicorn. It’s about helping as many people as we can. The size and growth of the aging population are simply massive, and bringing brain science to even a portion of this population is a big challenge. Not only must the Ai/ML scale, but it must also adapt to many diverse people. This is where our efforts are focused right now,” opines Michael.

Besides scalability, EMR also focuses on cultivating a winning culture with science at its core. “Building an approach and platform grounded in science rests at the core of what we do. In this world that has been described in different ways—post-truth, misinformation, marketing hype, and so on—we keep at least one foot firmly grounded in peer-reviewed research, the scientific method, and good design practices,” adds Michael.

EMR has a B2B2C model where the corporation invests in talent, but the end-user retains control over the data. With the EMR platform, employers can see aggregated cohort-level data and the connections to business measures and outcomes, but individual-level data stays in the hands of the end-user. The company then encourages each end-user to put that data to good use, bring it to HR, and begin a meaningful conversation about job roles, tasks, and additional talent development investments.  

Shaping a Better Tomorrow

When it comes to future endeavors, EMR has a lot of A/B testing and iterations in the pipeline. It also plans to launch an IDO as it moves data communications onto a secure blockchain. While working towards these organizational goals, the business leader also aspires to further expand his skills and complete his second master in applied neuroscience.

“What I hope for each day is to finally be a part of something that genuinely helps people, remains true to the good that we see in the science, make sure that good is what we actually deliver, and lead the way forward with regards to unlocking this longevity dividend. The world is unprepared for this massive demographic shift and too little action is begin taken, so I pray we find a way to be part of that solution, concludes Michael.