Barry Keate

Co-Founder of Arches Natural Products, Inc.

Arches Natural Products, Inc. co-founder, Barry Keate, has lived with constant tinnitus (ringing in the ears) for over 50 years. He developed this condition on the firing range (no hearing protection provided) while serving in the US Army. The phantom noise in his right ear became extremely loud and distracting. After military service, he came home and went to work in a copper refinery while starting college. The refinery was amazingly loud, over 90 dB continuously, which can cause hearing damage in 30 minutes. Again, no hearing protection was provided and his tinnitus worsened. Barry spent years trying to find a safe treatment that would lower the imperious sound level.

Seeking a natural treatment for reducing this noise he came across clinical studies conducted in Europe that showed Ginkgo biloba extract to be effective over time in lowering the sound level for many people. After experimenting with proper dosage, he was able to reduce his tinnitus sound levels by about 60-70%. Further research led him to develop a dietary supplement that included a customized extract of Ginkgo biloba extract, designed specifically for people with tinnitus. The product also contains zinc picolinate and odor-controlled garlic. With business partner, Brent Curtis, they started Arches Natural Products, Inc. in 1998 and began offering Arches Tinnitus Formula® that year. Besides authoring over 160 articles on all aspects of tinnitus, Barry also responds to individual questions on tinnitus in his monthly e-newsletter column called Ask Barry Questions on Tinnitus.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

Every day is different. Treat it as such. But within the uniqueness of each day having a beginning routine helps me to center. I’ve learned that healthy productivity starts with a daily mind/body practice of mindfulness followed by gentle yoga or stretching.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Distraction… Ideas come when I’m not “thinking.” Often creativity or inspiration has a chance to bloom when I’m bored and just staring at the clouds (literally and metaphorically).

What’s one trend that excites you?

Science shows that getting 9 hours of sleep is vastly better than 8 hours and provides greater healthful benefits. Sleep (good or bad) can affect every aspect of my day.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

Morning meditation. Taking 15-20 minutes to breathe quietly, to let thoughts pass through — without judgment, and then go back to my breath is my single most important daily routine.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Pause when agitated. Take a breath… and always “measure” twice. Haste truly does make waste.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.

That the Utah Jazz will win an NBA championship in the next 5 years.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Mindful breathing when stressed.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

Mindful breathing.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

Empathy. Having lived with tinnitus for the majority of my adult life, and sharing my personal story of suffering and recovery has allowed me to develop a positive rapport with our clientele.

What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

We tried for years to engage with the US military whose personnel have a much higher incidence of tinnitus. They were very interested. But we hit brick wall after brick wall because we are a dietary supplement and not a prescription drug and didn’t fit regulations within their Formulary. It was like falling while water skiing and still hanging onto the rope. Sometimes you just have to let go.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

This won’t be a profit zone but it would be a mensch thing to do: We need to find ways to push back against the rise of sports betting apps on our phones. We are creating a whole new generation of gambling addicts with huge credit card debt. The sports professionals who shill for these dubious sites need to be called out for their avarice and their complicity.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

My phone calendar… I fill it with personal details I might know about individuals (family, pets, etc) with whom I’m meeting to try to make a personal connection, especially in this often distanced and “Zoomified” world.

What is the best $100 you recently spent?

Interactive puzzle toys for my 1-year-old grandson. Watching him explore, delight, and figure out the puzzles is a joy!

Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?

Be Here Now. Ram Dass’ amazing illustrated treatise on mindfulness continues to amaze me after 50 years. His words and images still ring true.

What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?

Ted Lasso for its sense of innate kindness and humanity.

Key learnings:

  • Remember that every day is different. So having a beginning routine can help you center. You can always start with a daily mind/body practice of mindfulness.
  • When overwhelmed, unfocused, and stressed… pause for a while, and practice mindful breathing. It’s a lifesaver.
  • Empathy is everything. It’s what you need to develop a positive rapport with your clients.