Adam Carroll is most comfortable when he’s delivering a rousing presentation to 3-400 people. He’s 100% entrepreneur, and on a mission to help free people from big lifestyles and small lives. Adam has been teaching the public about financial education for the past 10 years having presented on over 500 college and University campuses, hundreds of leadership symposiums, two TEDx stages, and countless local and regional events. In 2014, Adam successfully crowd-funded a documentary on student loan debt. The film, Broke, Busted & Disgusted is due out summer 2015 and is already garnering massive attention. Adam believes people can live an extraordinarily bigger life by understanding (and living by) a few core principles.
Why does the world need a work revolution? (In other words: the way we’re working isn’t working. Why not?)
During the past 10 years I’ve presented on hundreds of college campuses, met tens of thousands of students, and most of them had one major fear — how am I going to live with the amount of debt I’ve undertaken to get my degree. Our society rewards the college degree by making it mandatory for employment at most companies, yet we are now taking on massive burdens just to achieve some outdated notion of ‘The American Dream’. Creativity in the workforce is limited and hamstrung by financial woes — furthermore, we’re working longer, producing more, and still taking home less. There has to be a better way.
How are you or your organization reinventing work in some way (big or small)?
Through my TED talks, the documentary I’m working on, and my public speaking business, I’m sharing a series of philosophies that could change the way people view what they “have” to do in life. Specifically, I’m a believer that we are the architect of our own lives. We either build the life we ultimately want to live or it’s built around us while we’re not paying attention. You could say I’m making work more conscious, more fun, more passion filled, and therefore more rewarding both personally and financially.
Why do you do what you do?
I made a decision early in my twenties to live a life different than most. It involved blasting away all of my debt, pursuing things I am passionate about, and experiencing a level of freedom and flexibility that most people never get to enjoy. There are four legacies for us to leave future generations: financial freedom, time freedom, relationship freedom, and service freedom and I intend on living my life to experience all four.
What kind of art (any kind) do you like and why? Any recommendations we should know about?
Music is probably the greatest inspiration for me and I’m in awe of singer/songwriters who can take a feeling or an experience and write 3-6 minutes about it. John Mayer is probably one of my favorites — his song Walt Grace’s Submarine Test is a prime example. My college years were about Counting Crows, Cat Stevens, and Billy Joel.
What is one specific thing your company does that makes your culture unique and/or different?
I am a firm believer in three principles to make a great culture: a clear vision, transparent expectations, and appreciation. It’s a constant work in progress, but I think companies that share these three and do them well have a culture that’s created, not manifested. I see manifested culture all over the place — companies that didn’t pay attention to the culture that was being built and are mired in one that doesn’t work, but was manifested over time and lack of focus. That will NOT be us.
What is one discipline/industry totally different from your own that has inspired you? How does it impact your work?
SAAS businesses intrigue me a great deal. I appreciate lean start-ups, experimentation, copywriting. I’m always listening to podcasts with people who are doing SAAS businesses and asking myself “how could I apply this to what I’m doing or not doing and should be doing?”
What’s one tangible and concrete technique other organizations should use if they want to create a more human and/or meaningful place to work?
The simplest answer to this question is show your employees you appreciate them. It comes in different forms for different people. Some want a pat on the back. Some want to be recognized in the company meeting. Some want a $10 gas card or a dinner gift certificate. Believe it or not, some of your employees just want a hug. (Consult HR first.)
What is one surprising thing we should know about you?
I am a certified hypnotherapist (and a dime store psychologist).
What does your preferred work environment look like?
It varies immensely. I love to work in coffee shops, so Panera, Starbucks, even Dunkin Donuts works for me. I think the smell of coffee is a creative catalyst. My deck is also a favorite place to write and create content.
How do you stay productive throughout your day?
I designed a form I call the Power Priority List. On the left side of the document is my Master To-Do List which I build in the morning and throughout the day. On the right side are A, B & C categories and a place to prioritize each of the to-dos from the master list. Throughout the day I’m constantly re-evaluating what is most important as well as how long each will take to complete. I think everyone’s productivity tools are personal, and mine has taken me years to develop.
Where in the world are you?
I live in the rockin’ metropolis of Des Moines, Iowa. This fair city has been named Best Place To Live, Raise A Family, and Start A Business by Forbes, Fortune, and other great magazines.