How to be happy with less money and more good work - Adam Nelson

Iso: Hey, this is And welcome to
another episode of how we work.

Today we have another episode with Adam.

My buddy who is very wise and
has a lot of interesting things

to say about so many subjects.

, last week we covered a lot of good
stuff and I thought it would be

cool to split it up into two parts.

So you could kind of.

Digest it all.

There's a lot there.

, today we talk about a lot of things.

Uh, one of my favorite conversations,
we talk about AI a bit.

I.

Kind of fall in the AI has
some kind of consciousness.

Camp.

And I'm not really sure what that
means, but it is just amazing when

you're interacting with this thing.

There's something there.

And who knows.

What's right.

What's not right.

There's a lot of argument
on both sides, but.

It's a conversation.

Me and Adam have a lot.

And so we talk about
that a little in here.

We talk a lot about the value
of time and how that is really

your most important resource.

And he has a lot of great
stuff to say about that.

And.

He also tells us how much money he
makes, which is an uncomfortable

question that I've been asking.

Most people that I've
interviewed for this podcast.

I think the reason I've been asking that
question is because, especially with the

kinds of people that I'm interviewing.

No one really has any sense of how
much money people make, who are living

their lives in a kind of unique way.

Even people who have more salary
jobs, never talk about it.

It's this thing we think
about all the time.

Then we never discuss.

And so I've been asking the
question, even though it feels

pretty uncomfortable to me to ask.

Um, And some of the people have
been pretty uncomfortable answering

it, or they haven't answered
at all, which is totally okay.

I think for people listening to the
podcast it's just a nice piece of

information so i'm trying to put
myself in that fairly uncomfortable

position and at the same time not come
off kind of sounding like a jerk So

me and adam have a really great talk
and i hope you enjoy it So I also

tried something new on this episode.

I put what I'm calling a
soundscape behind the audio.

So just.

Really almost sub audibly.

You can just barely, barely
hear it is a recording I did of

walking on the beach in Oakland.

So I've created this practice.

I call it sound foraging, and basically
just go out into the world with a

recorder and record some kind of sounds.

You know, it's been a lot
of nature sounds so far.

And the rules for myself
are that I can't ever use.

Uh, soundscape twice.

So once it's in this episode, it
will never be in another episode.

So that kind of forces me to get
out and do more of the stuff.

And that when I'm recording,
I have to have headphones on.

So the idea is that I'm really
focusing on the experience I'm having.

So you should try it sometime.

It's almost.

It's almost meditative.

I mean, it's not almost meditative.

It really is because you're really.

Focusing on the environment you're in
and it also forces you to get out into.

Some natural space or some
space maybe wouldn't be.

And otherwise, you know,
you've been walking on the

street, doing this in the city.

Is an interesting experience because
it makes you really focus on the

sounds and the sensations around you.

So I hope you enjoy that.

and thanks for listening

something that I've always really thought
about you is you are someone who has

been in all these situations where
like you own a company or, or you're

starting a new thing, you know, you're
in charge in some various kind of way.

but you don't have the, overbearing CEO, I
have all the answers, personality at all.

You know?

And I think that it's something that I
really struggled with when I first started

my business was, I felt like that was
what was expected of me, is like, I need

to be the person with all the answers.

Like, I need to be in
charge of this situation.

The kind of person who is in charge is the
kind of person who knows all the answers.

Um, and you don't seem to feel
pressure to, to kind of blow yourself

up into that personality, you know?

And it's something I really respect,
like you, like you're talking about.

And I'm wondering where
you think that comes from.

Do you think it's like something
you've always felt or something

you've developed over time?

And we've talked some about this,
but I kind of wanted to ask directly.

Adam: I think that I, when I'm
leading a group of people, I

lead much more intuitively.

I think that my, I think I wasn't,
I have this deficit in that when

I was young, I wasn't exposed
to a bunch of models like that.

Um, I didn't, you know, there really
wasn't a, a, a super strong, you

know, parent figure in my house.

I dropped out of college, so I
didn't ever have a lot of respect for

that system or involvement in that.

I wasn't part of really any very
serious formal corporate cultures

until until a little bit later in life.

And so I don't think that that,
that dominant hierarchical model

was ever really presented to me.

And so when I started leading people,
I led very intuitively, which was

just, how do we get the, how do we get
the, how do we get the best, right?

How do, how do we get everyone
to contribute to this?

I focused a lot on.

How to get everybody it's real it's real
popular now, but it wasn't that popular

of a concept Um, in the, you know, in
the mid 90s, when I first started to

work in technology, this concept of
bringing your whole person to work,

your whole self, um, so that you're
incorporating what you think about the

world and not just your professional
opinion when you're giving opinions.

And I think, you know, I just
tried to build a strong, a base

of, again, diversity and insight
as possible and making decisions.

Um, one thing I am really good at, and
I know that you're good at too, Is I

will make decisions and I think so.

I don't have that brash top down
decision making thing, but I do think

a Something that I've come to realize
is a bit unique is that I'm actually

willing to make decisions and I'm
willing to stick with those decisions.

I don't, I don't waffle a lot once I feel
like I have all the available information.

Um, and so I'm willing to do that.

Um, whereas I think some other people
aren't willing to do that, you know,

to really make that final decision.

Um, but yeah, I just,
I've always tried to.

Incorporate all sorts of
different perspectives.

I have the other benefit in that earlier
in my career when I was doing all the

behavioral systems work, I got the
opportunity to work with, uh, essentially

a lot of, um, business thought leaders.

Peter Senge out of MIT, Ken Blanchard,
business professors from Stanford, Jim

Cotter on change design out of Harvard.

These were all mentors to me at that
stage of my life, and a lot of them

have You know, the sort of business
books that we've all become accustomed

to, um, and I think, you know, kind
of numb to in a lot of ways, but a

lot of those, those thoughts being
exposed to all these different ways to.

Manage people, manage a system of
people, manage the processes that

guide that system of people, all
those different perspectives, um,

they really, I actually kind of at the
time, um, rejected it a little bit.

But now I find myself many years later
constantly reflecting back on whatever

model from whatever book that actually
I found myself using quite a bit.

So, so that was helpful.

I've just always found that you
get better success with a very

inclusive management style.

Um, especially when you're dealing with
consumer software is a great example.

You have, if, when I was at Linden Lab,
I had hundreds of people who worked on my

team and they all had very, very different
insights into what consumers wanted, what

was happening, what the user behavior was.

And so the only real way you'd get to a
good solution was to listening to them.

And I've seen the opposite of
that, which is what happens

when you don't listen to them.

I'll say one other thing about it,
even though I know I've said a lot.

Iso: No, keep going.

Adam: Earlier I mentioned this
concept of people who, you know,

it's like people who make shit versus
what I always call strip mining.

And,

Iso: versus miners.

Adam: yeah, right, and so the, um, there's
this, group, I would even say this class

of people, this psychographic of people
that I would include myself in, where

we really just like to make things.

We like to pull something from
nothing, from just the, the nothingness

around us, create some form.

And it requires immense amount
of energy and the entire.

Kind of universe tries to pull it
back into nothingness, right, whether

you're writing a book or making a
podcast or a piece of software, if it's

not derivative of something else, if
it's true, truly new, it takes this

incredible amount of work, and we're
the people who, um, you know, we, we,

we do with the right intent, right?

We get in and we want
to create this thing.

And when you're managing a group of
people, and you're one of those people,

Um, it becomes very, very inclusive.

The type of management style, which
is generally what happens next, which

sadly is where most of the money
is generally made, um, it is, they

take something that's happened in
the world and then they, that's been

created through all this hard work
and then they mine it in some way.

And I don't mean to be
overly cynical with that.

It sounds like a terrible word, but
things have to be, and listen, I'm,

I'm a big believer in capitalism.

I think people should make money.

I'm not opposed to it.

but they tend to essentially pull
all the value out of it over time.

And that's a very different process and
probably involves, generally involves a

lot of that top down management style.

Um, and it's very operationally focused
and it's not about building things.

So, you know, it's part of this
management thing is just I'm the type

of person who likes to make stuff.

I'm not really the type of person I
like to squeeze every dollar out of

it and operationalize it and make sure
all the shareholders are super happy.

Um, and sometimes I wish I were
more of that person, but I'm just

not and I don't fight it anymore.

Um, and, and, and generally in companies,
I'd find myself between those two worlds

because I can play a convincing role.

In either one.

Um, but my, um, which
has been very helpful.

It's been a great asset for me, but
my sort of spiritual places with

the builders and it's why I left
tech because there were Um, there

was, I didn't feel like there was
as much room for builders anymore,

Iso: Yeah.

And I think that gets back
to what we were talking about

before about intention, right?

Like if your intention is to build
something that you believe in to put

out into the world, whether that's
like an Alzheimer's drug or whether

that's a piece of software and like
people around can feel that, right?

They can feel that you kind of.

People are of pure intention, um,
without knowing how to say it better,

um, and are drawn towards that.

And like having that, like I, like
I definitely feel like people are,

people want to be near people who
are excited about making something.

And if you can kind of communicate
that excitement, whether that's through

like how you promote it or how you kind
of talk to your team about it, people

are kind of drawn towards that purity.

Right.

Right.

Um, How do you decide what
project to work on next?

That's

Adam: I feel, I feel
called to certain projects.

Um, it can be a calling in different ways.

Um, sometimes it's the people, um,
who are going to be working on it.

Sometimes it's, I feel like it's
a problem I need to get engaged

with to be able to sleep at night.

Um, And lately I've had more projects
I get engaged in because I feel like

something is being missed that's important
and I have some experience to bring to

it and I just try to find a way to bring
that experience, meaning I don't own it.

I just want, I think they're
missing something and I want

them to see what they're missing.

Iso: Edited to here Jul 25th pm

Adam: I should have some systematic
way of evaluating things, um,

Iso: No, I don't think you should.

I don't think, but I don't think
that like, I don't think someone

like you, thinks like that.

You know, I think that like, I think
that what's so beautiful about what

you've done, like with this new
project, is it kind of has nothing to

do with what you've done in the past.

It's not like There's no one who
would write a career trajectory

for someone and be like, Okay, well
you go from this, to this, to this.

Like, you've just followed the things
that you're interested in, and you feel

like you have something to contribute
to, and you're excited about, and

you're focused on right now, and
that's why they're successful, I think.

You know, like, if you, if you started
some project because you felt like

it was the next logical step in
your career, but you weren't really

excited about it at that moment, it
probably wouldn't work that well.

You know?

And I think people who start projects
because they feel like they should or

they have to, or it's like, it's the right
thing to do for their, like, long term

prospects, like, they're kind of like
hollow of, they're hollow of purpose.

And

Adam: Right.

Iso: I think just finding, you know,
getting interested in something, starting

it because it feels like something
that you, that will be good for the

world and will make you feel good.

Like, I think that's reason enough.

You know, I think it's a great reason.

Adam: Yeah,

I mean, we're playing.

Uh, an omni dimensional game here, right?

I mean, wherever you
are is where you belong.

There is not, you know, where I
find myself today, there is not some

other path I'm supposed to be on and
I've got to find my way back to it.

I mean, I just, I play
from where I am, right?

So, uh, anyway, it's, it is fascinating.

Yeah.

So, I mean, I, means I've got several
things going all the time at once like

you do, um, and I enjoy it that way.

Iso: Yeah, it's more fun.

You know, and I think that, I think
the way that you were talking about it

just now too, is important, like just
believing that wherever you are is the

place that you're supposed to be, right?

Like, and it, it helps, it
helps with a lot of anxiety

of, of what I should be doing.

Am I using my skills at, in a, in a
As positive way as I possibly can.

Like, should I have been
doing something else?

It's like something I struggle a lot with.

Like when I hear about, honestly, like
when I hear about your career and I've

thought this the whole time we've hung
out, I'm like, man, I'm a little jealous.

Like, cause you've done all these
like really big things and you were

surrounded by all these really, really
smart people, these mentors and like.

I've really liked the things I've done,
but I've also, like, just, like, been

kind of, like, cobbling it together,
figuring it out, like, they have not

been, like, some part of me feels
like, you know, just like everyone,

that, like, oh, I could do something
so much grander than I'm doing, right?

You know, but the reality is, like,
I've really liked the things that I've

done, and they've made a lot of people
really happy, and they've made me happy,

and Like, they support me, you know,
not lavishly by any means, but like I'm

certainly not starving and I Should feel
good about them, and I do feel good about

them, but like if we if I start thinking
in this like oh Well, where should I be?

Kind of way, it's like it's a fucking
dead end You know, it's like a,

it's like a recipe for madness.

Adam: It

Iso: You know, cause who knows
what could've been, you know?

Like, yeah.

Adam: know.

So see, you could you, you could
have been doing what I'm doing and

I could have been doing what you're
doing and we're equally jealous or

envious, or whatever the right word is.

And there you go.

Iso: Yeah,

Adam: And there's always what
other people are doing, and

Iso: you

Adam: I, I don't want to make, you
can't, and it is, it is, um, an endless

hole, and I do find torment in that.

Um, I think one thing with having shifted
careers a lot and worked in a lot of

different industries and around a lot
of different people, um, there's always

a question of when you give up, right?

And, you know, the, cause
there are two ways to look at

switching things around a lot.

One is that you just can't stay
focused on anything long enough.

And the other is that you've really given.

That enough energy and it's time to
move on to a different set of problems.

And I think that that's, um, it's
very subjective and it's hard to

tell exactly when that point is.

I know that I struggle a lot with this.

I suspect that you probably struggle

Iso: a lot.

Yeah, totally, yeah.

It's like one of my core struggles, yeah.

Adam: yeah, and, and
we're both hard workers.

And so there's a question of, I put in,
if I put in enough work, like, is this.

You know, and because they're
not all going to be winners, it's

not always going to be obvious
that, Oh yeah, no, this is great.

And I just made hundreds
of millions of dollars.

And so I know it was a success.

There are lots of successes
that don't look like that.

Right.

Um, where, like you said, you've all
these people, you've changed their lives.

You've made them a lot happier.

Um, but there's no real objective
way to measure that where

you're like, yeah, I'm done.

Right.

So at some point we always have
to move on and recognize that

even really great things end.

Um, and it ending doesn't change
the value of the thing itself.

And, um, but so my, when I reflect on
my life, about half of the projects I've

worked on, I've thought, I should have
stuck with that a little bit longer.

And about half, I think I
stuck with that way too long.

don't know.

It's something that does
torment me sometimes.

So the best thing is to
just play it forward, right?

Iso: hmm.

Yeah.

Yeah, because like you're saying,
there's no, there's no objective

answer to did it go on too long?

Did I not put enough
effort into this thing?

Like, for me, like, 4 inch kitchen
is like winding down for me.

I really hope it keeps running,
but like, for me, my kind of

time is coming to an end with it.

Like, I'm ready to move
on to something else.

And like, if it does close...

I won't feel like it's a failure,
because, like, it was what it needed

to be for the time it needed to be,
and, like, helped a lot of people,

and, like, was a nice time for me.

Um, and, like you're saying, all
things will end at some point.

You

Adam: Yeah.

Iso: know?

Um.

Mm.

Mm

Adam: They will.

And so maybe that's the maybe
that's something that maybe that's

something that's different about me
and different about you is that we're

willing to let things end, right?

It's um, because I think societally
we, we tend to hang on to things and

we tend to devalue things that we lose.

And I do feel more comfortable
letting go of things, I think,

maybe than other people do.

That goes, but it also goes
back to decision making.

And it goes back to, you know, am
I a builder versus a miner, right?

So, you know, if I've built something
and there's no one to step in to extract

all this value from it, um, does that
really diminish the building itself?

And the answer is no.

But, you know, I'm, I'm bringing all
this up because I think that the, This

idea that you can take a circuitous
route through life and have all these

different careers, um, it has, it's
very hard in a lot of ways, right?

It's not, it's not always perfect and it's
not just following what the next thing is.

There are still, just like anything
else, there are regrets and hopes

and difficulties, but we trudge on.

Iso: Well said.

Okay, I'm gonna ask you the rest of
these questions and this time I really

won't have a conversation with you.

Like, I'm really gonna be, I'm
gonna be disciplined with myself.

Okay?

Um, can you take me step by step through
starting your most recent project?

Like, what are the steps you
really took in the beginning?

Not all of them, but some of them.

know?

How did you think about it?

Adam: Um, so the project I'm working
on now came about kind of organically,

I suppose, and this gets to how do
I choose which project work on next?

The choice isn't, you know, it
doesn't quite work like that.

And so this one arrived organically.

I talked about with my
father getting sick.

And, um, it really just was,
it was born of wanting to help

this one particular person.

once I was able to help him,
because his Parkinson's disease,

um, he, he did get better.

Um, then it became an obligation at
that point to, to be able to expand.

Mostly I don't look at, um, generally
I would have a lot more opportunity

to think about scale, not scale.

And I'd be more disciplined, I suppose,
with how I think about a project.

But when you have something that
fundamentally changes someone's life, it

get into this, I found myself in this.

More with this ethical obligation
to help others and so the way I

thought about it, uh, was what group
of people do I need in order to, to

really advance this and scale this up?

Um, thankfully I'd already been working
with, uh, a long term colleague on

some other projects and, he was the
type of person who, who is also willing

to put themselves in a room full of
biotech executives or PhD scientists

or whatever it might be, and take, take
whatever consequences arrive from that.

So, for me, it's always important
to work with other people.

It's, it's always a question
of who I can collaborate with.

and because I don't like working alone.

I like working with other people.

I like to have people to work ideas.

And I don't think about that very
strategically beyond, like who,

who will I do the best work with?

Like at that stage, it's who is
a good creative partner in this.

You know, who's not going to slow down
the work, diminish the work, put up the

types of barriers that are, like, I don't
need anyone to tell me that it's going to

be very difficult as a non biotech person
to create a new pharmaceutical, right?

Like, I don't, I don't need a business
partner who's going to remind me of that.

I need someone who is.

understands the risks and
challenges but is game for it.

And so I had that.

And then I think about what other types of
people we need, how we're going to finance

it, what the next steps are going to be.

Um, you know, so it's just standard
sort of business planning, I suppose.

Iso: What do you think of the
idea of work life balance?

Adam: It's meant different
things to me throughout my life.

It used to mean, when I started working,
that, when I first started working,

that you would go to work, and then
you would have time at home, and you

wouldn't spend 20 hours a day at work.

Then I, I quickly became, very dead set
on integrating all parts of my life.

So I didn't really feel
a lot of separation.

between say home life and work life
and all that because I felt like

my home person was at work and my
work person was at home and the

separation became kind of negligible.

and now I am a, just a, a huge
believer in, in not working, not

working for large chunks of the day.

And it's not because I'm lazy.

It's because I think better that way.

I used to read the studies and
whatnot when I was younger and

say, well, that's bullshit.

Um, that's just not true.

Um, I don't know if it's now because
I'm older and I needed more or what,

but I, um, every moment I take away
from doing a productive task, I'm twice

as productive when I come back to it.

So, I spend a lot of time, hiking,
driving, showering, doing all

the things where we have creative
thoughts that pour in, right?

Um, you know, just anything
outside of the work itself.

I also I've made a career out of, thinking
about problems in abstract ways, and so

if I'm trying to come up with a, a problem
around software, a problem around biotech.

Problem around whatever, I, I have a much
better chance of solving it if I'm looking

at models that don't directly apply.

So I try to find models from other walks
of life, like if I'm, dealing with the

human body, I could be inspired by a
mathematical model or, you know, leaves

on a tree or like I, I look for models
outside of the problem space and it just

helps me approach it in different ways.

and, and honestly, that's
what I've built my career on.

It's just trying to apply models
from one place in a different place.

So it's very important for me to
get away from the work itself.

Iso: Do you think ChatGPT is conscious?

Adam: No,

Iso: Why not?

Adam: um, I don't think, okay, so that's
not a fair question because we have to

get into the nature of consciousness.

Um,

Iso: It's true, this is not a short
question, but it's something we kind

of talk about a lot, you know, um,

Adam: It is.

No, I, I, I don't think it's conscious.

I think it's very good.

Um, but I would say it's, it's,
it, it, it's appearance, it,

it appears as conscious as any
reasonable human being does.

So, I suppose that leads to the
question of what is consciousness.

Iso: Yeah,

Adam: I mean, it seems to have,

Iso: Suspicious, you
know, like, how well it

Adam: it is, I mean, I suppose I don't
think it's conscious just because I've

played around with it enough to see
some, to I suppose expose the way the

learning model has some, some gaps in it.

So it's not conscious quite in the way
that I think of consciousness, but it

is very convincing as a consciousness.

Iso: yeah, we could talk about
that for a long time as we have

but we can move on Well, you

Adam: we could.

I mean, we can get going on it.

We could do a whole other thing, man.

Iso: I know, we should do a
whole episode on, we should

just have a chat GPT discussion.

Yeah, because I think it's because I think
that I mean what you're saying and I won't

go on too long But yeah, but the nature
of consciousness like what we believe is

conscious what I See in you that makes me
believe that you are conscious even though

I have no insight into actually what's
going on in your brain What different

kinds of consciousness are right?

Like my dog is conscious in a way
that I'm not and vice versa You

know, there are different kinds of
consciousness and how do we kind of

think about that and anyway, it's just
There's something I'm I'm suspicious.

I'm getting more and more
suspicious of chat GPT

Adam: It's mostly,

Iso: fucking something going on there.

It really like yeah.

Yeah

Adam: I mostly pick on GPT because I
don't want to lose you as a friend.

And I think you're spending more
time with an AI than you are with me.

Iso: You know what I I'm not like
I'm not getting obsessive about it.

I really am just like Asking
for feedback on things, and it's

just very insightful feedback.

You know, not as insightful as you,
but you know, you're very busy, so...

I gotta go somewhere else.

Um, okay, I know you gotta go
soon, so I'll speed through this.

Um...

What do you do after something
that feels like a failure to

get yourself back on track?

Adam: Well, on the practical side, I'll
just let me just begin by saying that

the one trick that I recommend everybody
do is before the project ends, whether

it's going to be a success or failure,
start a project of a similar size.

And the reason.

I've seen this all throughout my
career where people do a big project

and there's this big valley It's easy
when you when you finish something

that's big and important you get
stuck in this this valley this It's

it's you feel despair and emptiness.

It was this important thing and now
it's gone And people lose months,

people lose years of productivity
and work on future projects.

And the solution for that is totally
counterintuitive and feels awful at the

time, but you'll thank yourself later.

Which is, you start another project
months before that one is expected to

end, so that you're even more busy.

When you come off of that
project, there's no downtime.

So just start doing something.

Um, and it will ease you through that.

It will transition you
into this other project.

So what I mostly do is whether it's
a success or a failure, as you've

asked, is I just keep myself busy.

I do try to learn from it.

It generally takes me years to
really get all the lessons from it.

Um, I'm, I don't let go, you know,
I'm, I can let go of things, but the

change of letting go of something versus
the transition of understanding what

it meant to me, what my relationship
to that thing is and why it failed.

Takes a lot of time.

So I just start working.

And again, I start working before it
fails, because once it fails, that's

a much harder point to start working.

You have to keep momentum up in life.

Right?

It's very, very hard to start
moving a stationary object.

Right?

So if you have momentum, the idea is
to just shift it and not worry about

like, Oh, is this the wrong way to go?

Right?

You can worry about that later.

Right?

You can, you can shift it again later.

But getting that momentum
back is much, much harder.

So just do something.

Do anything.

Decide later it's the wrong
thing and do something different.

But don't stop.

Iso: That is really good advice.

That is, I really, that's, that's a
really good answer to that question.

Yeah.

Um, because, and again, we could
talk about this for an hour,

but I won't let myself, because
I'm going to be disciplined.

Um, do you feel successful?

Adam: No, but I feel happy.

Right, so, and as much as happiness
is a kind of success, I don't feel

successful as it's largely defined.

You know, I've, I've never made
oodles of money, like you said

that some projects fail, um, so
I don't have a hundred percent.

success rate.

but I feel successful in that I have,
I get to work on projects that I very

much enjoy, that I think are really
meaningful for myself and the people

around me and people who need them.

I'm very resilient and I, I can see
how all of the ups and downs and

whatever else, that I've had in life
and working on all these different

things, it creates this resiliency
where, you know, you asked, you

know, how you deal with failure.

Because I don't have this one definition
of what success looks like, it's very

hard to take it away from me, right?

And it creates a resilience in the
way that I look at the world, the way

that I think about money, the, um, the
concepts of success and of failure.

I just feel like I'm more elastic person
than many of the people around me.

And so whatever kind of success I
have is a it's very hard for the,

for people to take away from me.

Iso: answer.

Um, and these ones you
answer very quickly.

Finish these, sent,
finish these sentences.

No, no.

Adam: Oh, that's easy.

Iso: finish these sentences.

I love

Adam: Food?

Iso: food.

I wish I

Adam: are hard.

I

Iso: Yeah, there are.

Well, then maybe that, maybe that means
that they're actually good questions.

Adam: wish I had a little more time.

Iso: I wish I hadn't.

Adam: um, well, okay, I'll
just, I'll just be honest.

I wish I hadn't, um, been so hard on
myself at various times of my life.

Iso: That's a great answer.

Um, and this is a question
that I am going to ask.

I have asked everyone so far, and
we'll really want to ask people.

Um, and it's a very uncomfortable
question that a lot of people don't

like to answer, and there's no pressure
to answer it if you don't want to.

But, how much money
did you make last year?

Adam: Zero dollars.

Iso: That's a good answer!

Yeah.

Adam: Yeah.

Iso: Yeah, awesome.

Yeah, because I think, so the reason I
want to ask you, you know, this kind of

podcast is all about like work, but life,
and how you kind of make it in the world

as someone who's doing unique stuff, and I
think how much money we make is something

that people think about all the time,
but no one ever talks about, and like

no one has any sense of how much other
people are making, especially people who

are kind of like doing things uniquely,
and so actually I think it would be

really interesting for people to know.

Like, what do you think

Adam: Do you want me?

Iso: that ques question?

What's

Adam: think it's fine.

I mean, you might want to look, I
could have elaborated and said, I

made 0 and some years are like that.

And some years are incredibly lucrative.

I think if you want to be a builder,
you're going to have years where

you don't make money, right?

Where it's just about, it's
just about making the thing.

And if this gets back to intent,
if you're focused on money and how

do I make sure that there's, yeah.

Just enough for things.

um, you know, sometimes you lose
your intent because then you're in

the room and you're selling, right?

And, you know, I can be in
the room later and sell.

Um, the trick is you just have to,
I think, for me to do the things

that I need to do, I've come up
with ways to live in a leaner way.

I have a, I have a comfortable life.

Um, but, I can go without some things.

Iso: Yeah.

Yeah.

No, I think it's a good
way to live, right?

Yeah, cause like, if you're always
living, you know, if you're always

living right at your means, you have no
flexibility for anything to ever change,

and like, you lose so much freedom, right?

I mean, not, if you're always
living at the exact amount that

you're making at that moment.

You have no flexibility.

You have to do the things that you're
doing right now, or you have to do them

bigger, or you have to make more money.

You never have the freedom to
move in a direction that might

feel right to you, and might feel
like it's close to your intention.

Because, like, you have
this lifestyle to support.

You know, like, keeping yourself
lean, I think, is, like,

really, it's very important.

Adam: it is, and there's
another side to it.

I've worked with a lot of people
over the years and small startups and

whatnot who, um, they, even if they
don't need the money, they get really

fixated on the money early on, and it
prevents them from doing things that

are really, really meaningful and
would add a lot of value in other ways.

and a lot of many people, I think, feel
cheated in a way, like we're always on the

lookout, again, it's this sort of world
of scarcity we live on, like, am I being

cheated because I'm not making money?

And the truth is, no,
you're not being cheated.

There are times where there's money and
there's times where there's not money.

And the trick is to keep your
head down and do the work and

the money will come later.

Um, it always kind of makes me feel a
little sad for those people, actually.

Um, the, the only, the only common
denominator we all have is time, right?

A lot of people have different money
or whatever else might have, but we

all have the same amount of time.

We have different amounts of
time, but it's fixed in each case.

Right.

And so even if I pay you for your
time, I'm not paying you enough for it.

Right.

Because it's, it's fixed.

You can't make more of it.

Um, you're going to run out of it.

It's a immeasurable value
to every human being.

And so, uh, I need to have agency over
what I do with my time, which is in my

case now, it's creating these therapeutics
for very sick people that thought

that somebody else wouldn't do that.

Because they feel like their time
needs to be valued in this certain way.

It actually diminishes
the value of their time.

Because the value of their time should
be measured in doing this productive,

good work, not in dollars per hour, which
is a ridiculous value to put on this

immeasurable asset we all have, right?

So, I don't know.

It's tricky.

Money's fucked,

Iso: Yeah, no, it's confusing, right?

Especially in this moment, in this culture
we're in, in this area we're in, right?

Where you look at, you look at some
people and they have a billion dollars.

Like one person can
have a billion dollars.

Like the fact they're even allowed to
have that much money boggles my mind, but

like, it does make you feel like, fuck.

Um, I don't have a billion
dollars or anywhere close to that.

Like maybe I'm not doing the right thing,
even if you're not focused on money.

Right.

Cause you're like, Oh, there's some
opportunity that I could have taken where

I could have also made a billion dollars.

Um, but yeah, it's like,
it's a dark road to go down,

you know, like enough money to survive is.

important,

I think it would also be very stressful.

You couldn't really trust
anybody, you know, , everybody

always wants something from you.

Adam: Well, I'll say
this I know I know a lot.

I know a lot of people
who are billionaires.

None of them are happier than me or you

Iso: Mmm, yeah.

Yeah, the one billionaire I've
ever met didn't seem very happy.

cool.

Adam, thank you so much
for being on my podcast.

Amazing

Adam: for having me.

Iso: amazing conversation as always.

And, um, I will reach out to you soon
so we can hang out and have a lunch.

Sound

Adam: great.

I love that.

Yeah, it was great talking.

I'll talk to you soon

Iso: Yeah, you too.

Bye.

Adam: Bye,

Iso: It's me again.

I hope you enjoyed the episode.

He's a really smart guy.

Isn't he?

There's so many things.

It's always really fun talking to him.

So next week we will have
something a little bit different,

which is this reminder post it's
kind of like an essay I did.

And I'll explain more about that next
time, but I hope you check it out.

It's something that is very
personal and something, I felt

a little bit embarrassed about.

Putting out into the world.

I wasn't really sure it's very
personal, but it's something that

I really think could help folks.

So I thought I'd try to overcome that and.

Send it out into the world.

And I'm going to now
play you a little bit.

Uh, Audio so you can hear it

How to be happy with less money and more good work - Adam Nelson
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