The Smart Investment Companies Aren’t Making

When Elon Musk talks about “first principles” in relation to building rockets, it sounds exciting. But what happens if you use that same style of thinking and apply it to something more terrestrial?

In a nutshell, first principles thinking is asking questions with the purpose of uncovering your assumptions. Assumptions have a way of proving themselves wrong in spectacular ways. 

James Clear describes it this way,

“In theory, first principles thinking requires you to dig deeper and deeper until you are left with only the foundational truths of a situation… In practice, you don’t have to simplify every problem down to the atomic level to get the benefits of first principles thinking. You just need to go one or two levels deeper than most people. Different solutions present themselves at different layers of abstraction.”


First principles thinking is a way to be more objective, which is why its insights are so valuable. 

Turning First Principles thinking from products to personnel 

It’s great that Elon Musk can use first principles thinking to reduce the cost of a rocket and end up creating Space X. But what could happen if we stop thinking about how to make a product and instead apply first principles thinking to the people who actually create the product. 

Now we’re really using first principles!

Here is the thought process:

  • Companies are completely dependent upon their human workforce
  • Human beings are biological life
  • Chronic stress has MANY well-understood, negative effects on biological life
  • Chronic stress has MANY well-understood, negative effects on cognitive performance 
  • Therefore, a reduction in chronic stress and/or greater resilience will positively influence both the human workforce and the company

How much better can your company perform when you implement smart practices that create an environment for productive creativity?

Where is first principles thinking for supporting your workforce? 

A core belief at garten is that aligning your company’s systems and policies with whole-person wellbeing is foundational to getting the most out of your business.

It is an impossibility to get the best out of employees who are tired, overworked, stressed, and physically declining. 

The problem is that we don’t use first principles to think about the human beings making the whole operation work. A high salary alone cannot offset growing daily stress. 

Which employee will be a better investment?

One who is working in a state of stress, overwhelm, diminishing energy, and diminishing motivation


One who is holistically supported to the level they are expected to produce 

Before, the idea was to hire high performers and motivate them with money, responsibility, promotions, etc. which add stress. What’s more, taking care of yourself was seen as becoming soft. 

What we observe is that nowhere in the natural world does this approach turn out well. 

Instead, the natural world thrives when the surrounding conditions are right. But what do we see at large in the corporate world?

  • Burnout
  • Stress
  • Long hours
  • Sacrificing your personal health 

garten is helping business leaders challenge the prevailing paradigm of productivity. We believe that your company will be more productive by addressing 3 overlapping areas of holistic wellbeing: mind, body, and environment. 

Getting started in a practical way is incredibly simple. Start with higher-quality food and drinks. 

Foundational things are simple. And simple is powerful. 

Why Invest In Workplace Wellbeing?

Investors make money by spotting trends and capitalizing on them. Can you spot the trend from these two numbers?


The data is clear, the state of whole-person health is greatly affecting the cost of doing business.

The good news is that implementing smart practices can directly combat many of these rising costs while simultaneously creating a workplace environment that attracts and retains top performers. 

From looking at the data with our own clients, we’ve seen that a $1 investment in corporate wellbeing yields an ROI of $5.81 primarily because of increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and lowered healthcare costs. 

Taking care of your people isn’t simply a conscientious thing to do, it is one of the smartest investments companies aren’t making.