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March 14, 2023

Our Stories Create Our Reality | Adam Coelho

Adam Coelho shares his powerful journey to mindfulness and entrepreneurship. He discusses the transformative power of mindfulness and the importance of being aware of the stories we tell ourselves. By becoming more mindful, Adam could recognize his inner critic and critical mindset, which helped him shift his life toward his true calling.

Adam Coelho shares his powerful journey to mindfulness and entrepreneurship. He discusses the transformative power of mindfulness and the importance of being aware of the stories we tell ourselves. By becoming more mindful, Adam could recognize his inner critic and critical mindset, which helped him shift his life toward his true calling.


"I realized I created exactly what I asked for. I said I needed to quit Google to be successful. I got what I asked for; they did it for me. They quit me. So, I got what I asked for. It turns out that's not exactly what I asked for, and if it really was, I could have done it at any moment. I could have quit any time. It turns out that wasn't really the goal."


Adam's journey toward entrepreneurship was not easy, but he persevered and found opportunities to pursue his passion. Despite facing challenges, such as trying to make his entrepreneurial mindset fit into a corporate job and being frustrated with his inability to change his role at Google, Adam overcame these obstacles. He created a life that aligned with his values and aspirations. Adam's story highlights the importance of mindfulness, envisioning, and perseverance in pursuing our passions and creating the lives we want. We can create a more fulfilling and purposeful life by becoming more mindful and aware of our inner narratives.


Adam Coelho (kway-yo) is the host and executive producer of The Mindful FIRE Podcast, a show about crafting a life you love and making work optional using the tools of mindfulness, envisioning, and financial independence. He's also a father, husband, entrepreneur, speaker, and facilitator. For the last 12 years, Adam has worked in sales at Google, where in addition to his core role, he's taught mindfulness, envisioning and emotional intelligence to over 2500 Googlers worldwide.


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Other episodes you'll enjoy:

From Youth Pastor to Professional Speaker: Achieving Success Through Hard Work and Dedication | Grant Baldwin

The Butterfly Effect: How Small Decisions Lead to Unbelievable Opportunities | Josh Painter


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Hello, my friends welcome to the life shift podcast. I am here with my friend Adam. Hey Adam, very good and we've been talking about this for a while and it was hard to kind of get you ready to do it and I'm excited that we're finally here recording and just so you know, we're kind of around the one year mark for the life shift podcast with this episode, so it's kind of a special time for me. 

Well, I'm ready to go finally and excited to be here with you matt. So Adam and I, we we know each other because we're both podcasters, I guess, you know that I'm a podcaster since we're on here, but you have your own podcast called Mindful Fire, is that correct? Yep, the Mindful Fire podcast, yep, you want to just share a little bit about that before we get into your story? 

Absolutely, yeah, so the Mindful Fire podcast really explores crafting a life you love and making work optional, Using mindfulness Envisioning and financial independence. And so this really brings together two areas of interest or passions of mind mindfulness and financial independence and as we'll talk about today, you know, envisioning as well, which is a huge been a huge realization for me, especially with regards to my life shift. And this this podcast really explores the intersection of all of those things with the goal of figuring out, you know, how do I build a life I love and so I released guided meditations on there. But I also invite inspiring guests to share their story of how they are living a life that they love, whether they've already reached financial independence or they're on the path. 

Um, so that's, that's exactly what we explore on the podcast. It's so interesting to me and, and full disclosure, I think the area that you're in is something that I struggle to kind of create or I don't want to say the word believe in, but something that I think is probably common, but something that it's a little bit harder for me. I feel like I've very much been very linear like checklist kind of person that, you know, whatever society expected of me I was going to do versus like creating my own version of that and I'm kind of leaning into that now. So I'm super interested to hear one what your life was like before this life shift and how it got you to this mindful fire world that you're in now. And I would imagine your podcast is kind of just your outward expression of what you've learned and and how you got there. So yeah, it absolutely is. And I relate a lot with what you're saying, just society says, get good grades, go to go to a good school, get a good job, get married, buy a house, blah blah blah. Yeah, I was on that path and I'm still on that path and it's not necessarily a bad thing, but I think there's a realization that all of us have at some point that's like, is this really it is this everything, is this what I really want and that's where mindfulness comes in, which I just think of as a kind curious awareness and it's been hugely powerful for me and so we can certainly talk about before when I was like, oh yeah, I'm just gonna keep doing these things, it's working, let's keep going, let's keep going on this path that everyone says is the path. Uh and then at some point it wasn't working so well. Yeah, I mean, I think that's that's I wanted to put that out there because I think there are people, there are a lot of people like me that are like what envisioning, you know, like I just have to follow the rules and kind of go down this, this guideline of whoever wrote this, this guideline that we're all following or some of us are following. So I wanted to put that out there just so that other people listening can kind of go along the journey as I am. So as we go along this journey, why don't you tell us kind of like what that you know, life was like before we get to this kind of shift in your life and what that was that caused you to kind of feed into this new version of you. Sure. Absolutely. So I grew up in florida um where you live, you know, I grew up in South florida, I went to the University of florida and I was following that path right? 

I was getting straight A's. I was getting good grades. I was following the rules and you know, that was, that was great because it was making me successful. It honestly, I think it set me up for the life that I was able to create. Um, but I was just following that path and there were probably behaviors and mindsets that I was learning during that path like that I wasn't even aware of, right? So I would say one of the things that once I started becoming aware of the inner critic in my head through mindfulness, right? 

Mindfulness really allowed me to see what that inner critic was saying a big story, there was, you're doing it wrong or you're not doing it right. And this was there through that whole period of time, right? As I was growing up was, you know, getting good grades is either is the answer right is the answer wrong? So I was just following that path and it wasn't detrimental to me at any during that phase. But you know, I did that. 

I went to a good school and I graduated in the top Of my class, not the valedictorian, but I was in the top 10 or so of my class in high school. I went to college. I graduated college with a 4.0 what, where'd you go to high school? I went to Coral Springs High School. I went to Plantation. So I understand where you are before you, before you jump into that. Do you feel that? Because I was the same way, like trying to get the straight A's, trying to or not trying but doing and and feeling like I had to get the next accomplishment or I was in this club because I had to. Do you think that that was, was that a pressure that was put on you by your family or people around you or anything like that? Or do you think that was more internal? I think there was the expectation from my parents that I was going to do well and they kind of had this mindset that like, we're gonna take care of Everything and you focus on school, right? 

Which I guess I don't know if that's a normal thing or not, but it was for me. Um, you know, so like I it wasn't like, Oh, you got your, your, you know, 12 years old, go get a job, you got to contribute to the family. It's like, no, your job is school. So you focus on that. And so the expectation was there. But I wouldn't say it was like an overt pressure. But I think part of me started to feel like, see the benefit of it, right? 

It's like, oh, I like feeling good. I like I like the feeling I get when I get good grades and I get that recognition from the teacher or my parents or the school or whatever. Um and so I think it was, it was a little bit of both. Yeah, Yeah. I mean I always think back to, I don't know if this was put on me, but I was afraid of getting like a b like what happens if I get to be like, where does my life end at this point? 

You know, this, this 14 year old is really worried about that be so curious. I know no one put that on me, but I know that I got rewarded when I did well. So that's where that question. I think there was, I think there was that feeling as well, right? 

Like, oh, I can't like that would be bad and like if that happens then like, yeah, everything is over. Like it was like the like, you know, you can kiss your life goodbye, like it's done. But I think people feel that a lot, man, I mean with the rising depression and anxiety and unfortunately, you know, suicides with young people, it's like, there's this pressure that they're feeling some of its social, some of its societal, certainly a lot of its academic and because that's, you know, it's like the main metric that they have in their life, um that's, you know, relatively objective. I feel like that's gotta be happening and it's a shame because it really is not as important as we make it, but when we're that age, we don't have any context. We just think like, this is what I'm supposed to do and then I do it and when, when kids are getting bad grades, you see like, oh, they're being kind of like pushed aside and I don't want that to happen to me. So there's definitely fear there, right? Well. And even to the point you were saying, you know, you graduated 4.0, like we still say that like, you know, like, you know, but it is a thing, it's like, it's like that indicator, like we want to say, like, look, we did well, not just that we graduated because that would be good to, it's interesting. So carry on. Yeah, so, you know, I'm on this path, I'm going to college, I'm, you know, doing well there and you know, that's really where I started to get interested in entrepreneurship. 

I mean, it's always kind of been, uh, An interest of mine. I, I saw my parents building a small business, they owned assisted living facilities for 30 years and I saw, you know, while it was a ton of work and it was very stressful you know, taking care of other people's lives and their family members and all that, it did give them a level of freedom that was very desirable to me, right? So normally like a family would go on vacation for like a week or two maximum. 

We would like, my parents would just like take off for a month in the summer and we'd go to Portugal where my dad is from and then like go to another country in europe to like add on to the trip and we'd just be there for a month and that was like, wow, they can do this because they are entrepreneurs, I want that. Um and so I started to have this story of, I want to be an entrepreneur and in college I started a website after studying abroad that was just like basically an adsense website to like share my experience of studying abroad. And then I created a startup called city sink that was basically like uh making plans with your friends in a more streamlined way. So if you had a group of friends you like to go disc golfing with for instance, instead of texting five different people or 10 different people and saying, hey do you want to go, where do you want to go, where do you want to do, what you wanna do? You just say, I'm going golfing at this time at this place who wants to come and that clearly didn't go very far, but I learned a lot in that process and it really gave me a taste for that entrepreneurship um and kind of solidified the fact that like, yes, I want to be an entrepreneur in my life and I'm realizing just like recently um that this story is still there, This story of, I want to be an entrepreneur? Not, I am an entrepreneur, I want to be an entrepreneur and what you'll hear in, in this life shift is that our stories create our reality, right? 

What we pay attention to literally creates our reality and I'll talk about why that is um maybe I can do it now, maybe later, but our stories create our reality and so this story might not be the most useful for me and certainly is the reason my big life shift happened. So, so yeah, so I, I build this company, I am running it. I'm not looking for a job at the end of college. 

I'm essentially just like I'm gonna keep doing this and there are really only two companies that I would consider working for Apple and google and that's because I thought, oh, I want to go out to silicon valley, I wanna build, I want to be an entrepreneur, I want to go out to Silicon Valley, work for these companies for a couple of years potentially and then go off and do my own thing, build the next unicorn, the next facebook google, whatever that's kind of the mindset I had. Um, so I'm minding my own business, not really looking for a job, working on city sink and I get a facebook message from a friend of mine from one of my classes, she had interned at google for the previous two summers and she said, hey, the team I was on is hiring, are you interested? And I was like sure, yeah, I mean let's talk about it like google. 

Absolutely, she helps me put my resume together and I apply and long story short a month later I get a job at google and I moved across the country living in California, working for google. And so in about the span of five weeks I went from getting this facebook message to moving to California and that was a bit of a life shift in itself, but not the big one that that kind of here to talk about. Yeah, it's interesting because I think, you know, I think that's part of like the dream for a lot of people though when they graduate right is like get that big job and the fact that you only had two on your list. I wonder how much that actually served you in getting one from that. 

You know, like if you were just like I'll work anywhere and do anything. I wonder how much of that would have aligned and I know we'll talk about that later of like you probably were doing a little envisioning without really intentionally doing it maybe back then to get you into that spot, but definitely moving across the country is big because you were probably what early twenties had, you only like lived in florida essentially. So I was, I was in south florida that I was in Gainesville, and yeah, florida is a different world, so California is a different world as well. So yeah, it was it was a huge change for me. It was, yeah, I had to set up a whole life there, I didn't know anybody. Um and so I really had to yeah, adjust to that and something you said there um yeah, you said I was envisioning it, right? 

I had this idea that okay, Only Apple Only google um turns out I would never have wanted to work for Apple, it's pretty intense over there. Um nothing wrong with that, it's just not my style, but I had this idea in my mind, so yeah, I was envisioning and that brings up a good point that whether we're aware of it or not, we're envisioning all the time because we have this inner dialogue, these stories that we tell ourselves and we're doing it all the time, whether we're aware of it or not. And so the important thing is to start to become aware of it. And so getting back to the story I was working for google, it was great, you know, I was eating the free lunch, playing with the ping pong, you know, playing ping pong, riding the bikes, the whole thing, it was awesome. And I was, you know, kind of getting into my career right, like, it was my first real job after the startup, but my first real job, and I was getting used to it, right? And I was doing okay, but I was really finding that I was trying to make things happen, you know, a few months in or six months or nine months in, I'm like trying to make things happen and it's just not really going as well as it could write. One thing I was trying to make happen is this idea of, basically it's a was a user experience position, right? I was helping publishers, website publishers who make money through display advertising, I was helping them grow their revenue in their business, and I had this crazy idea that if their websites were easier to use and had a better experience, people would come back more often and spend more time on those websites, it's a crazy idea, but surprisingly, no one wanted to hear that idea, and I was like, really, like, banging my head against the wall on that, and getting a bit frustrated and uh complaining a lot, right? 

That's kind of the, the energy I was in at that time was a lot of complaining, a lot of resisting what is, and it wasn't wasn't helping because it was affecting my mood and the way I showed up and all of that, do you think it was because your, your um entrepreneurial mind showed up to a corporate job and your entrepreneurial self was trying to do the corporate job, and therefore you have this little collision and and like of resistance because like this person doesn't fit like that square peg in a round hole kind of thing. Yeah, I think to some degree right, I mean it was absolutely my entrepreneurial energy coming to bear and trying to make this new thing happen and I thought and I thought that google was a place where this was welcomed and it certainly is right, don't get me wrong, it's absolutely a place where this mindset is welcomed. But I think that for whatever reason it was like just do your job, like I should have just been doing my job in this phase and I and I was resisting that and so that was kind of the landscape there. And so I was trying to make this happen for a while um couple of years and I then got an opportunity to kind of again, another example of envisioning, right, this is top of mind, I'm trying to make it happen. I pitched this to a program that was essentially an international rotation program and I got the incredible opportunity to go around Australia and Asia for three months and essentially teach this concept of user experience to The teams working with the publishers and then with the publishers directly and I even got an opportunity to speak in Shanghai to a group of 300 Chinese publishers with a translator, it was like such a cool experience, but you know, so I I got I got the opportunity to do this. And around that time I also had this inkling that was kind of always below the surface. Right back to that. 

I want to be an entrepreneur. That story that mindset was kind of bubbling up and throughout the years it's really bubbled up a number of times and I'm like I gotta get out of here, I gotta quit, gotta get out of here. I gotta go and be an entrepreneur right what am I doing? And that started to bubble up at this time and I'm on this rotation, it's great, it's awesome. But this opportunity comes up to join a program, an online uh an online education program of sorts a program called the foundation. And the idea with this program was build a saS company in six months, right go out, talk to the market, identify a need pre sale, pre sell a product and then go and build the business. And so I had a friend who had done that um and he had been very successful, turns out he was just a really smart, high achieving dude. Um But this program gave him the opportunity to make that leap. So I'm like I'm gonna do that too. And this was like towards the end of my time in Asia. So I was like sitting in my apartment in Tokyo where I was for the last month and I would get up at like four a.m. 

Five A. M. And I'd be calling the U. S. And I'd be talking to the market I was looking at which was assisted living facilities because I kind of had a rough idea of it and I was just I was grinded and I was doing it, I was excited. And so as I came back to the U. S. At the end of this rotation I had the opportunity to finally move into the position that was created to do this user experience thing full time. So once I finally gave up on trying to make it happen, got this rotation and they're like maybe he'll be fine with that. He'll leave us alone. An opportunity came up where there was a new team forming an experimental team that was looking to help publishers grow in all aspects of their business outside of the normal like advertising piece. And I applied to this job obviously and I didn't get it. They gave it to a friend of mine who was working on this user experience stuff with me and but I said I I ended up getting in this role right? So they she didn't want it. 

Long story short, she got another opportunity and she went for that. And so they came back to me and they're like hey you want this I'm like sure I'll take the scraps whatever. Sounds good let's do it. Um But and this should have been my dream job right? 

I had been making this case for years, I've been fighting for it for years and I had given up on it and then just at that point it comes to be and so that should have been, you know, I should have been over the moon and I was happy, I was excited about it. But this story I had of I want to be an entrepreneur was stronger, it was more vocal in my mind and in my mindset and so what that meant is I'm coming back to the team and I'm coming back to the U. S. And I'm getting up at five AM and every day I'm doing this I'm working on this business and I'm telling myself this story that to be successful, I need to build this business and quick google success is quitting google. And so I'm telling myself the story, I take it a step further because that wasn't that wasn't enough, I take it a step further. I said if I get promoted at google again, I'm a failure. So this is not the most helpful story you could tell yourself guys, it's obvious now, it wasn't obvious that unfortunately because I was so in it because you felt like maybe you would be stuck there by getting another promotion and that equals failure because then your entrepreneurial goals are not allowed. Exactly exactly. I mean no one was offering me a promotion, let's be clear, it was was not at that time was not being offered, but yeah, if I had done that, if I had gotten promoted, that meant that I hadn't built the business and I hadn't left google, which I thought of as the ultimate success. And so what's happening, I'm doing this, I'm waking up early working on the side, hustle call, going into work and doing the job right? But it becomes very clear that this team, the way it's set up in the remit of it is not exactly set up for success, right? 

Essentially they said, do everything for everyone, go figure this problem out for every publisher of every size all over the world. It's like that's a bit of a stretch to start with. Um and also just a management structure. 

I had a, I had a guy, the guy I was reporting into who was setting the tone and strategy for this team was not my real manager, he was a dotted line manager. I had a real manager who didn't care about this project. And so that's all to say there were challenges. But my, I have to take responsibility for the way that I handle those challenges in this moment. 

My mindset was so caught up in that entrepreneurial story of I need to build this business and quick google that I had the mindset of like, oh these problems, they're not my problems, I don't need to worry about this. I'm leaving google anyways, so I just didn't show up and actually address them. Like I needed to address them to make the situation better and ultimately, you know, make the most of this opportunity so fast forward nine months I get called into my boss's office, the real boss, not the dotted line manager and he says adam, we're killing the team, we're disbanding the experimental team and you have a few months to find a new job or leave google. 

Obviously this was not welcome news and I was quite upset. Um I was, I was caught off guard and I was just really upset. Um but I had to find it, I had to start finding a new job around the same time, this entrepreneurial project that I had been working on, that ultimately I had identified a need pre sold a product. Like I got to customers to pay me a total of $5000 just on the idea and I was getting ready to build this and then realized, oh no, like someone has already built this, there's already a big company doing this and it's almost exactly what I'm looking to do. So that was like, no, this thing I put all my energy into is also failing, so everything is crashing down at the same time, my job at google is at risk. 

My startup idea is dead essentially and I am at rock bottom. I basically, it was like a month of just like, what am I gonna do, like before I knew I need to start looking for a job, but I was just like so caught off guard and I think the entrepreneurial side of it really kind of that was I was betting on everything, everything on that and it really took me down and so I found myself one day I was just like I need to get into nature, you know, I had this, I had this skill set of mindfulness at this point, I had been meditating for a year or two and so I had this to lean on but I said okay, I need to get into nature and I was in Golden Gate Park in san Francisco and I was just like meditating on a tree, you know a very California thing to do, uh meditating on a tree and I just had this realization like wow, I'm like this is this is really rock bottom, like what I'm doing is not working, I need to, I need to adjust, otherwise I'm not gonna make it make it through this and so I start looking for jobs, I start talking to people internally at google externally at google, have many good interviews, late stage interviews, But I get to 30 days before the deadline and I have a total of zero job offers none and I start freaking out right, so I go back out into nature, back to the tree and I just have this kind of like lightning bolt moment that like your mindset is not helping you right? Because around this time I had this like maybe this is like maybe I can be an entrepreneur, maybe this is it, I can go and do it and like, I don't want to be an account manager again, like I was an account manager, like I was like had this story like I'm not gonna do that right, like this is my moment, I'm not doing that and I was essentially just like cutting myself off from a bunch of potential opportunities and I was like okay that strategy has not been working, I need to try something new. And so that is when I thought back to this course I took at google called Search Inside Yourself. It's an emotional intelligence course that teaches emotional intelligence through mindfulness and envisioning was one of those envisioning was one of the skills that it taught in that course. And so I think back to that, it's like, what do I really want my life to look like, think really big set aside all the preconceptions and limitations that we always put on ourselves, what do I want my life to look like? And in that moment I was so focused on like what do I want this job to look like, I wanna have fun, I want to be challenged, I want to be working with great people. Um I don't wanna be making money, right? 

Certainly want to be making money and so I get really clear on that and I said, okay, I'm gonna, I'm gonna try this, I have nothing to lose, I'm at rock bottom, I have nothing to lose. Let me give this a shot. You were so focused on the entrepreneurial mindset there. 

You were trying to really make that work. Did that, that was probably the reason why you were not putting in the appropriate effort in that other job. And do you think back to had you, because you, because you mentioned that department was like, do everything like make it all happen. 

Do you think that had you not had that side project that creating that, that sass product you would have approached it appropriately, you know, dissecting it into markets or however you needed to do it and therefore that that snowball would have gone in a positive direction. Do you ever think back to that, Not to like dwell on the past, but do you think that because you were so focused on trying to make something out of nothing? Well, not out of nothing, but you know, something that didn't exist yet to create something that you neglected the other part, either on purpose or subconsciously. Absolutely, yes, I do, hindsight is 2020 right? So I look back to that time and I realized that the story I was telling myself created my reality right? Like I said earlier, the stories that we tell ourselves create our reality and yeah, in essence I was telling myself, I need a quick google like universe, let me lose my job. 

I was, I was absolutely, I was phoning it in. Yeah, I mean I was trying, I was giving it a good go, but I didn't have the mindset of like if I had the mindset of instead I can figure anything out, right, That is a much more useful mindset and I could have used that mindset to then go into that problem, the problem statements and say, hey look, the scope is too broad, You're asking too much, let's start with this, here's the plan for this and I could figure it out and and kind of carve out a project that we could use as like a proof of concept and absolutely started to make progress, but I was just not interested, so focused on this other story that I just, I couldn't see you also, you didn't want to do a good job because you didn't want to get promoted And in your earlier, you know, leading up to this, your, your life growing up is like you do good things so that the next good thing happens and if you're, I don't want to get promoted because that is the ultimate failure in your mind in your story that you're telling yourself a story, I can't do, I can't do that great of a job because I don't want to be considered to be promoted because probably the other part of your brain is like promotion good, but the other ones like no. And so I can see how that that that relates probably to so many people that are listening, you know, in their own workspace, they do just enough right? Or they do just enough to get by. They don't allow themselves to dream or to create a, I would say a positive envisioning because I think as americans, a lot of americans have do envision, but in a negative way, right? And in the sense of, you know, like, oh, I cannot do that, that's out of the realm of possibilities for me whether they know or not. But I feel like I know a lot of people that, that is the go to, it's not the right, That's definitely the go to versus like anything is possible. Like I can, I can be specific and create that and I feel like I'm just coming into that season of my life where I'm trying to like use more of the positive thing than, oh no, that's not possible. So yeah, I think we have like, it's interesting, right? Because if you ask like Europeans for instance, they'll be like americans are like overly overly optimistic and I think we are as like a society, like anything is possible in America right? Like everyone, you know, you'll see 1000 bumper stickers like that walmart, you know the american dream, but at the same time on an individual level. I think that we We all have just like self doubt to varying degrees and we have, I mean it's worth noting that we have a negativity bias like as a biological evolutionary reality, right? If you think about you know, protection 200,000 years ago on the, you know the plains of Africa, right? If we if our ancestors heard uh rustling in the bushes, right? 

11 person thought it was a lion and the other person thought it was a bunny. Who do you think we evolved from? We evolved from the person who thought it was a lion and got out of there. The person who thought it was a bunny was lying lunch essentially. And so this is still in our body, in our D. N. A. And so we air towards the negative by default. 

That's why we worry. That's why we, you know agonize over the future, right? Um so we need to consciously bring um the positive up to the forefront and we need to consciously think about what we want and envision the life that we want. 

Otherwise we're just going to be caught in this negative loop. What part of that experience do you feel triggered your life more the the call into the office being like look we're disbanding this, this doesn't exist the 30 days out, I have no job or this this lightning type moment that was like look, you need to reframe your thinking, you need to flip that around and and create something that is worthwhile for you. That will bring you what you need in your life. Which do you feel like one is more impactful than the other in your journey? Yes and no, because they're they're clearly related, right? Like one precipitated the other, but I think yeah, in terms of like the shift and the direction out of the shift, it was very much like my mindset is creating my reality right? And looking back, like I said before, like with a little bit of distance from the situation, I realized I created exactly what I asked for. 

I said I needed quick google to be successful. I got what I asked for, they did it for me, They allowed, you know, they acquitted me, right? So uh they quit me. So I got what I asked for. It turns out that's not exactly what I asked for and if it really was, I could have done it at any moment, I could have quit any time, turns out that wasn't really the goal, right? 

Yeah, you were just telling yourself a story that that maybe wasn't fully aligned or thought through completely in in the direction that you want to go. I asked that question because I, I find in these conversations now that I'm 50 plus into it. It's very interesting to identify like, like a single moment, you know when I first did my, when I first kind of came up with the show and, and then 11 episodes and I did my own personal story and you know, I was like, you know, my mom died, that's a shift, that's a shift and now this far into it, I'm like that wasn't my shift and you know, my shift was the moment my dad sat down in front of me and told me the words, it wasn't the fact that she died five hours before that or however many hours before that. It was that specific moment when the words came out of his mouth. And so to think back to like before I walked in that office, my life was one way and when I walked out of that office, it was, it was quite different. And so that's why I think it's just so fascinating, you know, like picturing you sitting at that tree and having that lightbulb moment of like, oh I did this, I created whoops, you know, and so it's always interesting to kind of pick apart and see, see how or why that came about? Yeah, that's a good point and it's a good thought exercise. Like I really had to think about it, like where what was it, was it, was that, was it getting the news or was it me realizing that I created this problem for myself and at the same time that I can use the same mechanism envisioning the stories that I'm telling myself to get me out of it. Yeah. So I mean, how did you get out of it? So we're 30 days right before you have no job. What did you do when this shift happened to kind of create what you have now? 

Yeah, so I remembered envisioning, I thought, okay, well I got nothing to lose. I might as well, you know, paint the picture of what exactly I would like to do. And then I I thought back to another practice, like an actual meditation practice that I had learned through this foundation program. Actually, it was a guy who's like an executive coach, he led this session or he taught me this practice um of affirmations, the way that this practice works is you think about a belief or a mindset that would be useful to help you move towards your vision, right? And so in this case my vision is I want to find a job that I love with people I respect and and inspired by and all of those things. 

The mindset that will help me get there is the world is abundant with opportunity. I wanted to see opportunities coming towards me all, all from every direction. And the second one is, I don't worry about doing things right or wrong, I just take action which leads to learning progress and growth. And so if you think back to the early part of my story when I was a kid doing things right, was always kind of under the surface, like there's some right way to do things and I'm certainly not doing it that way, even though I couldn't describe what that standard is to you, what the right way of doing things is, but it was there that that story was there, so I was trying to flip that story on its head with this affirmation and so I would sit down, I would meditate, I would let my mind settle a little bit and then I would say the first belief the world is abundant with opportunity and I would think I would visualize how is this true in the past, How is this true in the present and then how is this true in the future and I would, you know, just visualize and feel as much as I could in my body what that felt like. And so I would be doing this every day with both of these beliefs and I'll explain in a little bit why this works and why this actually helps. But amazing things started to happen in my experience, I started to see opportunity everywhere. 

I started to have friends reaching out to me internally at google externally saying, hey my team as head count or you should look at this company and I started to take action that I wouldn't normally take, I noticed that one of those companies that are friends that I should go and apply to, I noticed that I was connected to the ceo of that company through a ceo that I have worked with at a previous client of mine and I said oh I don't worry about doing things right or wrong, I just take action. So I reached out to him and I said hey would you mind introducing me to this Ceo? I would never have done that in the past and he introduced me, next thing, you know the Ceo and I are meeting, he's recommending me to the C. 00. And the C. E. O. Is recommending me to the hiring manager, definitely a different experience than submitting a resume online and I end that 30 days with not one but two job offers one at that company and one internal to Google and obviously been at Google 12 years. So I took that internal job and that was a start of this huge aspect of my life which is all things, mindfulness, envisioning financial independence, all of these things and it all came out of this really dark and almost desperate. So two questions. One simple question is when you got this newer job and did you approach it differently than the last time? Okay. The other question is and this I, I think I know a lot of people that would have this question to when you started with the envisioning or the affirmations, did any of that feel like you were like faking or lying to yourself or did I don't know how to phrase it? 

Like, hocus pocus, kinda did any of that feel uncomfortable in a way that you felt like you were just kind of, I don't know what the words I'm looking for are, but like, kind of just like creating something in the hopes that this will work just like wishful thinking. Yeah, like how do you, I, I know a lot of people that I know a lot of people that talk about affirmations, it's not something that I've put into practice yet and I know that people, you know, that's just something that works for them. Did you feel, was it weird at first? Like, was it something that you had to get used to? Definitely. Yeah, definitely, definitely. No, I mean, I think that's the challenge with a lot of this stuff is like, people think, oh, this is woo woo stuff, so I think this is as good of a time as any to explain, this is not magic, right? Like what was happening in my experience there, right? Like, it wasn't like suddenly there was just more opportunity, right? I was just more ready to see it. And so let me take a pause here to explain two aspects of your brain that make this actually work. 

The first is the idea of neural plasticity, neural plasticity is this phenomenon that everything we think feel and pay attention to, changes the structure and function of our brain. Our brain is constantly changing based on our experience and you know, for the longest time they thought like science, the scientists, the neuroscientists thought that after a certain age our brain was essentially set. But the reality that we've come to learn in the last 10 years is our brains are constantly changing based on our experience and we can influence that. Right? And so if you think about any skill you've ever learned, right? 

Say playing the guitar for instance. At first everything is completely unnatural. The sounds are foreign. The finger movements are completely, you know, awkward and fumbling and you certainly can't read music right? 

All these things are completely foreign to us as you practice more and more. Every one of those things becomes easier and easier and that is happening through neural plasticity. The second aspect of your brain is that our brains are predictive in nature. Um A researcher named Regina Polly wrote an article called the predicting brain based on her research at UC riverside. And she said that even before events happen, our brain makes a prediction of what is most likely to happen and sets in motion. 

The thoughts, perceptions, emotions and even physiological responses for what is expected. She goes on to say in a sense, we learn from the past what to predict for the future and then we live the future. We expect the way I think about this is we're telling ourselves stories about how our life is going to be and then we're acting out those stories. And so these two things are happening all the time. So when I say we're envisioning all the time, we are predicting what is going to happen based on our past experience, which is encoded in our brain through neural plasticity. And so what I was essentially doing was negative, envisioning the way another way to think about this is through the analogy of planting seeds. 

I like to say that thoughts are seeds and so every thought that you think or story that you tell yourself each time you repeat it, it's like you're watering that seed and that plant and the ones that we pay attention to are the ones that grow. And so that brings us back to attention creates our reality. And yeah, so there's a lot there. But this is not magic. 

This is based on hard science and essentially what was happening in that moment where I was seeing opportunity everywhere and I was seeing opportunities to take action. It's not like those things just appeared out of nowhere, right? I was just more ready to see them. And you know, one more analogy, um, you know, if you've ever gotten a new car or when my wife was pregnant, suddenly there are, there's that car everywhere. There's pregnant women everywhere, right? Like I just had a baby about six months ago and I was seeing babies everywhere. And pregnant women everywhere. 

It's not like all of a sudden there's more pregnant women, I'm just more ready to see it because it's top of mind for me. And so that's really the mechanism that is how envisioning works and why it works. Yeah, I mean the way you explain it, it makes sense. 

It's it's just opening your awareness to more to the options that are already there. It goes back to that original story. I think in the sense of when you were in college, it was like google or apple and that was all you were going to accept and that was, you know, in your awareness of like, you know, you weren't even going to think about those other things because it wasn't something that's in your brain, it all, you know, on paper, it all makes sense. And I think the perfect word was woo is like, I think there's that connotation with it, but I don't, I've seen in the last maybe about in the last couple of years, which is weird to say because we've been through this pandemic, but in the last couple of years it's actually when I've been more aware or more open to things that could happen in a good way versus like you said that kind of program to that negative. These are all the things that could go wrong. And so I haven't put in affirmations or meditation really into my practice, not to say that I haven't listened to meditation or things, you know, because you know what it does do for me at this point in my journey meditation like podcasts and things like that. What it does do is it at least it comes whatever is happening in me and it settles me um not to say that I follow through with anything yet, but how how is your life now? Like what does your life look like in this world of mindfulness Envisioning google? Do you still have that story of entrepreneurship as well? Playing? Yeah, it's a good question. And before I answer that, just want to say one more thing on affirmations. So I just wanted to share, you know, kind of close the loop on your question about affirmations being a little too woo woo right. Essentially, the way I think about affirmations is planting seeds and because it's not just like the future piece, right? 

If you're just thinking about the future and like hoping that things are gonna turn out this way, that's just wishful thinking right to a large degree. But when you take the time to say, you know, I don't worry about doing things right or wrong, I just take action which leads to learning progress and growth. If I see how I used how I've done that in the past with real examples of when I did that and real examples of how I'm doing that in my life now, big or small, I am planting those seeds. 

I am giving my brain evidence that this is true because it is true. I've just not been paying attention to it, so now that I'm bringing it into awareness and paying attention to it, I'm planting and watering those seeds and then as I just move that into the future, I'm giving my brain essentially evidence of how it's true in the future and also kind of like priming my mind to be ready to see those things in the future, and so you know, it may feel awkward at first and woo woo, but I would suggest you know doing like a guided version of this, sitting down and doing it on your own if you've never done it before, it's certainly gonna feel weird, but just know that it's not just like you know, hippies in California doing this, it's definitely it's changed my life in a very profound way. Yeah, I mean I think it goes back on paper, it all makes sense of the way you explain it, I understand it, it is the act of it, that is where my blockage is not blockage, I think that just why I haven't really pursued it too much, but I'm interested in it and I'm interested in and that's why I wanted to have you on here because I feel like we have similar thoughts about different things, but this part of you is so interesting to me this how you create what's around you and creating that awareness. So maybe you can just share a little bit about that. So get a little understanding of like how that version of you is now, this version of you by what you do. Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, getting to that of like what my life looks like now and kind of what came out of that, you know, I moved into this new role into your question, like I did not approach it the same way, right? 

I was all in, I had a great manager who was very supportive and very into this type of stuff. And so he, I really kind of came to life in this in this role. I became a facilitator of that search inside yourself program where I learned envisioning, I had been leading meditations at google four teams and for anyone who wants to show up, we have a program called G pause um like google pause for people to come and practice. I started creating my own programs, one about mindfulness and resilience one about envisioning, you know, I like envisioned wanting to create an envisioning workshop. It gets very company. Yeah, exactly. Um but so it's really just grown into this huge area for me, culminating with the podcast, right? 

The podcast brings that plus financial independence, another area that I got interested in over the years. And I really see financial independence is essentially a way to pay for the life that you envision right and by getting your money situation sorted out, You create options and freedom in your life to go and live that life that you want to live, not in the future, but now right? You don't need to put off the life that you want to live. You can start envisioning and bringing into your life what you want now. And that's really been a huge realization for me this last year, over the last year. 

It's like everything I say I want or need to be happy. I already have right, I used to say, if only I could teach mindfulness and get paid for it. I do, I work at google, I get to teach mindfulness and get paid for it. It's not my full time job, but I certainly get paid quite well for my job and I get to do this as well. Um if only I was an entrepreneur right to your question is that still in my mind? It is, but even just in the last two weeks, I'm realizing like I am an entrepreneur. Like I it's not out there, it's here. 

I'm already an entrepreneur and I can step into that and take ownership of that identity right now. I don't need to wait, I don't need anyone's permission. I don't need to quit my job to be an entrepreneur and you can get a promotion and I could even get a promotion, not in my current role because I'm at the top, but I could get a new job and get a promotion, but I I have the freedom to move in any direction I want to create the life I want and mindfulness and envisioning and financial independence are the tools that I can use that I have seen success with to actually make that happen. Yeah, I really like that second affirmation that you have about the taking action because what after you started using that in your daily practice or however often you did it, you can see that in, in what you just said, you know, you started creating this and you started creating this and you didn't know if they were going to be successful or not, you just took action and I'm sure not everything worked out exactly the way you wanted it to, but you learned from it and you grew from it and I think that's true of a lot of us, we do take action and we try different things, but we don't have that awareness to attach like what did we learn from that? What do we do? It's either like, oh, that was a success, but that was a failure and then put it down, you know, versus like what can we learn from this by taking that action and trying things and I feel like I'm doing it a little bit and like the podcasting space of just like just do it? It might not work, but that's okay because now I know it doesn't work and now I can do something else in that space. So it's really like, you can see how your life after starting using at least that affirmation, you can clearly see how all the directions that you've gone were facilitated by by creating that in your mindset and the story that you're telling yourself. Absolutely. And yeah, I mean, just shout out to you, I see you doing this every day, right? Like you're doing this so much with podcasting, you're trying this, you're trying that you're trying Patreon, you're trying shirts, you're trying this way of editing this background, like there's your shirt right there, Like it's so it's inspiring to see man and that's that's really what it's all about. 

It's about taking action and moving forward and just putting one ft in front of the other. Um and just keeping moving right, and I still get in my own way all the time, right? Just because I'm a human. And but like the podcast, I like I wanted to start it for like a year before and then I was like over complicating it something I tend to do because I'm a human and I, My friends just like, which one? I was like, Oh, is it a blog is a podcast, what is it? He's like, which one is more excited about podcast? 

Like, Alright, just invite a guest, just get going. Just do it right? And like that step has led to the next step and the next step. And now like I have a podcast that you know, I've had almost 13,000 downloads and I've had like 100 episodes and I've made new friends like you, it's like none of this would have happened had I not just invited one person to join me on the show and hit record on a zoom call. 

Yeah, that over complicating thing. I think that probably I relate to that and I think it stems from our earlier versions of us being successful students and seeing that and like I got to do it all, you have to create, It has to be perfect and it doesn't because not everything is gonna be perfect and most things are not perfect and that's okay. You know what I always think in these conversations that hindsight is like, it's a wonderful thing. But it also sucks because you're like, damn, I wish I would have done all this stuff way back when if you could go back to when you, when you came back from Japan and you got into that actual role even though it was you know, you were second choice, that's okay. Uh is there anything that you could tell that version of adam from this, this perspective now that you think would actually be a seed that you could plant. Yeah. What's coming to mind for me is just like embrace this opportunity, right? 

This is what you asked for and embrace this opportunity and have fun with it, see how it goes. Yeah. You know when you were telling that story and I know that that was supposed to be my last question, but when you were telling that story it made me think of myself uh and I don't know if you can relate to this because it I mean it kind of seems like you did it but where you have this goal in mind, like you wanted that position to exist and you fought you bang your head against the wall and anyone that would listen, you were telling them about it but then when it was actually a thing you were like got there, you know, I did it check mark, what's next kind of thing and I had a conversation with someone episodes ago about this pandemic Masters degree that I did and I wasn't gonna walk, I wasn't gonna do anything with it because I was just like, it's just another check mark, It's just another graduate degree, Like who cares? And that was my mentality of like I did it done next thing. Did you did you feel that way? Do you think that's why maybe you approached it that way? 

Maybe I mean that's a that's a very that story or that mindset is present in my life a lot. It's always what's next? It's always, you know, and that gets back to what we're talking about of the societal path and the schooling and getting the good grades to go to the good school and going to a good school and getting a good job and getting a good job, getting the nice house and the so on and so forth. It's it's always that, right? And it's like you get there and it's like, okay, well, what's next? It's always something bigger. And so, like, a big question for me is like, what is enough? What is enough? Like that was like an early exploration on my podcast. It's an ever present question in my life and podcast. What does it mean to have and be enough? And I'm still figuring it out. And I think it's probably gonna be maybe a lifelong practice of just remembering to come back to like, this is enough. 

I don't need to do 10 different things. I don't need to do all these podcasting things and projects and work streams and workshops and this, and that's like you can just, I'm enough as I am and the person, whoever you're listening to this, you're enough as you are, you don't need to do anything else to be enough. And we just need to remember that because it's so easy to lose sight of it and I lose sight of it all the time. Yeah, no, I think that's a perfect question to leave listeners with is remind yourself to ask yourself what is enough because I think we're always chasing that carrot, right? We're even though I can't eat carrots because I'm allergic to them, but we're always chasing what's next. And if we stand still in our own awareness and ask ourselves what is enough, I think a lot of us would find that we're probably very close to what we feel is truly enough. Yeah. And don't just think about it in terms of money, but there's think about a time relationships, self esteem, right? Like work, right? What is enough work? What is enough work at your job? And on the side if you're doing things on the side, right? Like you need to be able to say this is enough or you'll just be constantly chasing forever. And I think that it's impossible to find contentment if you don't, if you don't find enough. Um I'm still working on it. 

I'll be completely honest, I'm still working on it because I'm, you know, recovering type a, you know, so I'm but it's just a good reminder to to take stock of that and ask the question like you said, Yeah, It's, it's I think it's a great way. I think, you know, you you've done a lot since that moment where you kind of have that like, Oh, I did this to myself and we will include in the show notes, links to your envisioning guide, which I think is really helpful for someone that is just kind of being introduced to it. It's a pretty like 15 minute kind of thing, right? It's not it's not too long. And they can they can see some of the resources that you've put together and definitely check out your podcast. So we'll include all those links in the show notes. Is there anything else you would want to say if they need to reach out to you or want to connect with you? Yeah, I would say take the opportunity to create space in your life to think really big about what you actually want, right? And this envisioning guide that I've created and it's available for free on my website. Um and you can you can go to you can go to mindful Fire dot org slash shift and I'll have it there as well. And I'll give you the link matt. But you can go there and take some time to put aside all of the limitations that you normally put on your life, All the constraints, all the reasons why it won't work All the financial considerations and just ask yourself, what do I really want? If I could have the dream life that I want, what would it look like, What would it feel like and then start to walk that path and bring that life to you, right? Not through magic, but through action. And by making noticing things that you have in your life already that are aligned with that vision, appreciating them. And then making little tweaks to give yourself more of what you want. And you'll before you know it, you'll be living that dream life. And so would love for you to check that out. And then you can always reach out to me on linkedin. Um we'll put a link to my linkedin in the show notes as well. We'd love to connect with you. Would love to hear your questions and your feedback and your own stories of how this has come to come to life in your life. But thank you matt for the opportunity. Well and thank you for coming on here. I'm glad we finally made it happen and we get to see each other face to face or virtually face to face. This might not be my face, it could be a I but I thought it was your face, but I appreciate you and if you are listening to this podcast and you are enjoying it as Adam knows those five star ratings and reviews are if nothing else, a nice little ego boost. So please take the time to do that on apple podcasts or rate the show on Spotify and we will be, we will be back next week with a brand new episode of the life shift podcast