Adam Carolla (@adamcarolla) is a best-selling author, comedian, actor, and host of The Adam Carolla Show — the Guinness World Record holder for Most Downloaded Podcast.
What We Discuss with Adam Carolla:
- How Adam came up in comedy and resisted negative influences.
- Why trading time for money is a losing proposition and how we can break the cycle.
- Sometimes you don’t need a grand plan to break away from a medieval laborer’s mindset — just the motivation to do something more with your life.
- How to tell if we’re doing something for ourselves or doing something based on pressure from others.
- Why it’s important to run toward your fear.
- And much more…
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How does a construction worker without much of a plan escape the blue-collar hourly wage mindset to become a comedian, best-selling author, actor, and host of the Guinness World Record Holder for Most Downloaded Podcast?
Adam Carolla of The Adam Carolla Show joins us to share his story and explain why trading money for time is an uneven exchange, what we have to gain by running toward our fears, and how Adam was convinced to compete on Dancing with the Stars. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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More About This Show
Growing up in a family that didn’t offer much in the way of mentorship, The Adam Carolla Show’s namesake didn’t aim particularly high when he started dabbling in show business. But he still found it important to take improv classes at The Groundlings in spite of the flak he got from his earthquake rehabbing construction friends — who didn’t understand why he would pay someone else to let him make up stuff on a stage.
“I didn’t get any direction from my family, so the plan was always kind of no plan,” says Adam, “and whatever it is you do you’ll do and feel your way through this with not much of an emphasis on success. I couldn’t read or write very well, so I wasn’t having fantasies about getting a job writing scripts for sitcoms or anything…my fantasies were like, I’d get a job at some advertising firm and I would come up with funny ideas for commercials or campaigns. I’d be the brains behind the next Spuds MacKenzie for Bud Light or whatever it was!”
Trading Time for Money Is a Fool’s Errand
As it became clear that toiling his life away on construction sites for minimal reward with zero vacation time, sick days, or medical insurance was a sucker’s game, Adam looked for alternatives.
“So how is it going to work with a mortgage and maybe kids and a family and things of that nature when you have this job where you’re getting paid by the hour all the time and there is no medical or dental or days off or vacation or — there was nothing,” says Adam. “There was no time-and-a-half or golden time. There was nothing. You got paid at the end, $15 an hour straightaway. That’s it.”
No matter what job Adam got, the discussion among his coworkers always centered around how to make more money per hour. But Adam’s calculations saw this as a losing game no matter how much could be made on an hourly basis.
“Even if you’re getting $100 an hour,” says Adam, “if it was still based on you having to come in, having to be up on the roof or carry the drywall or dig ditches or whatever it is, and then you got sick — got the flu and couldn’t come in for two days — you got nothing. It’s still kind of flawed. Even at that princely sum.
“So I started to sort of think, what is it that would pay you by the job? Obviously, Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t get paid by the hour! He does a gig, he gets paid. Guys who write for sitcoms or write jingles for radio stations or something, they don’t get paid by the jingle! My plan was there’s got to be some job where you just get paid to perform a task.”
While Adam says he never really planned on chasing success, he was motivated by knowing whatever qualified someone to live a “normal” life wasn’t something he was going to find trading away his time by the hour. There had to be something more.
The Medieval Blue Collar Mindset
Adam didn’t have a grand plan beyond thinking it would be nice to have a job where he’d get paid for his ideas instead of breaking his body slowly day by day — and maybe being inside a room with air conditioning would be a nice bonus.
He was sick of subscribing to the blue collar mentality of trading physical labor for the things he wanted in life — which is ingrained in a lot of people from an early age.
“It kind of starts off when you’re young,” Adam says. “‘Hey, you want to buy a mini-bike?’ You’re 10 years old and you have no money. ‘Well, mow some lawns and if you mow a whole bunch of lawns, take that money and get a mini-bike.'”
It’s a mentality that easily becomes a lifestyle as it gets cemented into someone as the quickest, straightest path to making money — and as time goes on, a person who settles for living such a lifestyle may even forget that there are many other ways to make money in the world.
“That world never pauses and goes, ‘Well, who are you? What are your ideas? What about all these other people that are composing songs or writing the theme song to The Tonight Show and going to the mailbox and getting a royalty check? Or this guy wrote a movie, or this person’s over here and they have ideas and thoughts and they use their words to create capital!’
“That is a very foreign thought. I understood the concept of ‘You could be a schoolteacher.’ You’d have to go to a bunch of college. You’d have to pass a test or get a certificate or something. All that is very foreign…but the teacher is still kind of blue collary. You don’t get paid very much. You show up. You have to lay out your lesson plan, write on the chalkboard, and clean the erasers and clean the materials.”
So comedy was the obvious next step for Adam.
Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn about Adam’s sports ambitions that didn’t quite pan out, what translated from Adam’s construction experience into building a comedy career, the kinds of jobs sketch comedians could expect to get when Adam was starting out (and why they were still closer to the dream than construction), how Adam got involved with radio and eventually podcasting, why Adam is attracted to chasing uncertain outcomes, why Adam remembers exactly where he was when his agent asked him to do Dancing with the Stars, and lots more.
THANKS, ADAM CAROLLA!
If you enjoyed this session with Adam Carolla, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
Click here to thank Adam Carolla at Twitter!
Click here to let Jordan know about your number one takeaway from this episode!
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- The Adam Carolla Show
- Adam and Dr.Drew Show 859: Jordan Harbinger
- Books by Adam Carolla
- Adam Carolla on Facebook
- Adam Carolla on Instagram
- Adam Carolla at Twitter
- The Groundlings
- The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Spuds MacKenzie, the Original Party Animal by Nick Greene, Mental Floss
- Adam Carolla’s 50th Appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live
- The Man Show
- Autry Museum of the American West
- Comedy Traffic School
- The Mark & Brian Show
- The Kevin & Bean Show
- 98.7 The Fan
- Adam Carolla’s Insanely Rare Vintage Lamborghini Collection Is for Sale by Freddy “Tavarish” Hernandez, Jalopink
- Adam Carolla on Dancing With The Stars, CBS News
Transcript for Adam Carolla | Why You Should Stop Trading Time for Money (Episode 69)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:00] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with my producer, Jason DeFillippo. Today, we're talking with my friend, Adam Carolla. Yes, that Adam Carolla finally had a chance to have Adam on the show. And we'll discuss coming up in comedy and resisting negative influences. Plenty of those in many of our backgrounds, especially Adam. We discussed why trading time for money is a losing proposition, how he came to that conclusion, how we can break that cycle, and what led Adam to do the same. And we'll learn how to tell if we're doing something for ourselves or doing something based on pressure from others and why it's important to run towards your fear. Adam's a great storyteller, that probably goes without saying. He's a radio legend, and there's so much covered in this episode. I really think you'll enjoy it even if you're not sure why. What Adam Carolla teach me about life? I think there's a lot here. I mean, remember this is a guy who when we were kind of kids, was doing love line and influencing a lot of the generation that's broadcasting right now that you're hearing right now, myself included.
[00:01:00] Don't forget, we have a worksheet for today's episodes. So you can make sure you solidify your understanding of all the key takeaways here from Adam Carolla. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. All right, here's Adam Carolla. So when he started off in comedy, I know you've said before your friends were making fun of you for going to Groundlings and taking opportunities like that.
Adam Carolla: [00:01:20] Well, I didn't really look at them as opportunities. They were making fun of me in the sense that they didn't understand what the notion of doing improv and paying to do improv was pretty foreign to them. Like you make stuff up and it's not even for free. You make stuff up and then you pay somebody to watch you make stuff up and that seemed like a fool's errand to them.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:45] Well, at the time for you, did that feel like a negative influence or did you just feel like, all right, I'm an alien among my contractor buddies or my construction buddies?
Adam Carolla: [00:01:54] I guess growing up not really having a dad that I confided in or took direction from or discussed or had any, my dad never did any like mentoring and no one in my family didn't eat what you would call sort of mentoring. So I guess I realize that I was going to be a sort of left to figure things out on my own, and I never really thought like I should really talk to one of my friends and then weigh their advice and really see where they're coming down on this whole doing comedy or stand up versus radio or radio versus sketch or improv or whatever it is. I didn't feel like the world was against me, I just felt like nobody cared and why should that guy know anything about improv or sketch or whatever. And then when I, you know, later on when I ran into the Jimmy Kimmel's of the world, I was like, okay, well that guy knows a lot about radio. He's been doing radio for, you know, 10 years, or by the time I met him, I don't know, maybe, maybe eight years. And I was like, okay, listen to that guy about radio, but don't listen to your buddies who are doing our earthquake rehab about comedy.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:11] Yeah. So you were able to parse that out. Because I think a lot of folks when they write me, they're like, “Oh my family doesn't understand, or my friends, they don't understand,” and they feel like they need to resist this negative influence. It sounds like you almost had an inoculation by being born into a family where nobody really gave you much direction. Is that safe to say?
Adam Carolla: [003:30] Yeah, I didn't get any direction from my family. So the plan was always kind of no plan and whatever it is you do, you'll do. And you're going to have to kind of feel your way through this with not much of an emphasis on success. My fantasy was sort of like, I couldn't read or write very well, so I wasn't having fantasies about getting a job, writing scripts for sitcoms, or anything because like physically, like couldn't write. And back then if you couldn't write, you couldn't physically write, you couldn't physically write. Like how are you going to be a writer on a sitcom if you can't actually pull out a typewriter and pound out a script, you know? And it was like, there wasn't any like, “Well you get a computer, you get your assistant to do it,” or you, you know, you pace and yell, “Take a note,” you know like, it wasn't any of that. So that was kind of off the table.
[00:04:30] My fantasies were like, I'd get a job at some advertising firm and I would come up with funny ideas for commercials or campaigns or, you know, I'd be the brains behind the neck, Spuds Mackenzie, for Bud light or whatever it was. Like, I would remember watching commercials going, “Oh, that one's kind of funny.” But I think I could've had a I -- so my fantasies, I'd be in the room with a bunch of other dudes and those dudes could type, and I'd be like, “Wouldn't it be funny if we did this for Coors commercial or a GM commercial or something?” and I would somehow be some sort of creative person at a -- but I was never like I’ll be in the commercial. I was just like, “I'll have the idea for the commercial.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:21] So this wasn't like, “All right, I'm moving to -- I'm moving here, I'm going to learn comedy and try my hand at this.” This was something that you thought would eventually maybe lead to something else, but in the meantime you were seemingly -- where you happy doing the construction thing? I mean you'd like building stuff, going to home Depot now, could you see yourself doing that long term or were you desperate for a way out at that point?
Adam Carolla: [00:05:42] I did the math on the type of construction at least I was doing, which is I worked like a day labor works, and it started to become clear to me that there were no paid vacations and there were no days off. And the way I work my entire life up until radio is if you, you know, if you had to cut out at noon, like at lunchtime on a Friday because you had a dental appointment, then when you got your paycheck, you got paid for 36 hours that week. You didn't get paid for 40, it's like you – but you took a half day on Friday, so you got paid for 36, and if you wanted to work on Saturday for four hours and make it up, you could do that. But then if it rained on Saturday, then you wouldn't get paid on Saturday.
[00:06:52] And I mean, it was like if Christmas fell on a -- on a Thursday, and I kind of remember this once, we did a half day Wednesday, we took Christmas day off, but we were back Friday because people wanted to get paid. People had to get paid, you had to get paid. So nobody could afford -- if Christmas was on a Tuesday or Wednesday, nobody could afford to work a two day week and then not work the rest of the week. You'd get your get a paycheck that had 13 hours, like couldn't do it. So true story, like you're playing on the weekend, you got into a pickup basketball game on a Sunday, on the blacktop at the school yard and you rolled your ankle hellaciously bad and it swole up like a grapefruit, then you wouldn't get paid for the three days of work of that week, or until whenever you came back to do stuff on your feet, you know, like data entry.
[00:07:50] So I was like, I saw which way the wind was blowing, really quick in this world, in the world I was living in, and I was very much like, so how is it going to work with a mortgage and maybe kids and a family and things of that nature, when you have this job where you're getting paid by the hour all the time, and there is no medical or dental or days off or vacation or there was nothing? And there was no like time and a half or golden time, it was nothing. It was just like you got paid at the end, 15 bucks an hour straight away. That's it. And I started kind of, you know, the first mode everyone would get into that I worked with, was how do we get more an hour? That was the thought. The thought was, when I was cleaning carpets, I was getting 6, maybe 7 bucks an hour. And then when I was working as a day laborer, I was getting 7 bucks an hour. And then my boss told me if I bought a pickup truck, he'd give me another dollar an hour. So, and then I bought a used pickup truck and I was making 8 dollars an hour.
[00:09:09] And at some point when I was doing earthquake rehab and I was working for this city, I was getting $19.50 cents an hour. And I was like, “Oh man, that's a big chunk,” because the city stupid. And they overpay and they paid a bunch of guys they could've got for 13 dollars an hour, they paid them 19.50 an hour. But anyway, then at some point, I was like back to 15 bucks an hour. But everyone I worked with the goal -- the discussions would be that guy, that plumber guy over there, he's making 28 bucks an hour and everyone just go like “Holy shit, 28 bucks an hour.” And then everyone would be like, “Oh, so let's your 10. Guys, you make like 225 bucks a day.” And I was like, “Oh shit.”
[00:09:57] And so everyone's kind of goal was, “Geez man, if I could get to 28 bucks an hour, maybe we should start learning plumbing.” I was the guy who's kind of sitting around going, and I had this thought, even though it was like a stupid fantasy, weird thought, but I was like, even if you made 100 dollars an hour, I remember thinking to myself, and that was just an insane, super attorney.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:24] Yeah, I was going to say lawyers, lawyers.
Adam Carolla: [00:10:25] Lawyers, yeah, it was the lawyer pay, but I just went, even if you're getting 100 dollars an hour, let's just say I'll set the highest amount humanly possible, 100 dollars an hour. I thought if it was still based on you having to come in, having to be up on the roof or carry the dry wall or dig ditches or whatever it is, and then if you got sick, he got the flu, and you couldn't come in for two days, you've got nothing. I said it's still kind of flawed even at that princely sum.
[00:11:03] So I started to sort of think, what is it that would pay you by the job sort of thing. Like obviously, Jerry Seinfeld doesn't get paid by the hour. He does a gig, he gets paid, you know, guys who write for sitcoms or write jingles for radio stations or something. They don't get paid by the jingle. You know, like my plan was, it's got to be some job where you just get paid to perform a task. And like at the end of my construction career, I started to kind of figure it out a little, which is like “I’ll do your kitchen cabinets for 1200 dollars. ”And I would figure out that if I could do that a week minus materials, I might average 26 bucks an hour or something. But if I screwed up or I got my tools stolen or whatever, then I then I wouldn't and it never really worked out. But I kind of figured out that instead of telling people 15 dollars an hour, I’ll tell them 500 bucks to do your back fats, you know, or whatever, and then I'd hustle my ass trying to do it. But half the time you'd get burned by like it was too cheap and you didn't end up making any money.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:20] How do you push yourself to make it in -- in the comedy or the radio when nobody's really -- the people around you, you know, you're still putting up drywall the next day. People don't really care around you at the time. You're just self-motivated the whole time? Do you have -- I mean because I'm trying to figure out what you would advise somebody who feels like, “Well shit, everyone around me is just like, why are you doing that? It's a waste of your time. Let's go get a beer.”
Adam Carolla: [00:12:43] I didn't need any motivation other than I was not living an enjoyable life at all. I'm not an anxious person, but I had sort of this numbing kind of pain of like walking around with no insurance and no medical and dental and a kind of a low grade kind of a little tinnitus in my ear of just how are you going to buy a house? You can't buy a house, you have no, -- I have no history of like really an employment. You don't have pay stubs and they use, you know --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:26] Oh! You get paid under the table?
Adam Carolla: [00:13:27] You’re getting paid -- I mean some of it was under the table, some of it was not under the table. A lot of it was like I'll come to your house and I'll build your entertainment unit for 900 bucks and you give me 900 bucks, and I either pay taxes on it or I don't, but it's still not much of a history of employment. This sort of collage of side jobs and stuff. And it wasn't like, well, I was a big, I was a foreman for big construction outfit and we're building a soccer stadium and so I had six years with the company and blah, blah, blah. I didn't have any paper trail at all. I couldn't up until the very end, like I had a credit card that was from the Bank of Hoven that was secured. Like, you know, I gave him 500 bucks, they gave me 300 bucks worth of credit on a credit card. I couldn't buy a pickup truck even if I could make the payments, I still couldn't walk into the Van Nuys Nissan dealer. Nothing would pencil out, you know, when I would go to rent an apartment and they'd be like, “Oh, we got to run a credit check.” I'd just be like --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:38] See you guys later.
Adam Carolla: [00:14:40] Can we talk for a minute? You can see I'm an honest person, I've always paid my rent. If you run this credit check, like it's not going to work. It just -- but I'm a guy, I'm an honest guy, and I always pay my rent. But you're not going to see anything good on there. Like it was just, I bought a sofa on credit just to make payments on something like have a history. I borrowed money from a bank with my grandparents, like co-signing for like 3,000 dollars just to have payments, and I missed a bunch in the bank would always contact my grandparents, and they got really pissed, and I was just like, “What's going on? Like how long is this going to go on for?” And then “What happens when you're 45?” I can still going to be trying to get people to co-sign for shit or like, what are you going to do? So I was like, you got to figure out -- I just got to figure out something. Like it's not here. That's what I figured out.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:15:45] You're listening to the Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest, Adam Carolla. Stick around and we'll get right back to the show after these important messages.
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Jason DeFillippo: [00:19:01] Now this offer won't last. Order now to get this fantastic 20 percent off deal, and for full details, go to wineaccess.com/jordan. That is wine access.com/jordan. Thank you for listening and supporting the Jordan Harbinger Show. To learn more about our sponsors visit jordanharbinger.com/advertisers, and don't forget to check out our Alexa Skill. Go to jordanharbinger.com/alexa, or search for Jordan Harbinger in the Alexa app. Now let's get back to Jordan and Adam Carolla.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:31] Comedy just seemed like a natural extension of something that you might want to do. Because I guess what I'm trying to do is reverse engineer this a little because I think a lot of people go, “Oh well, Adam had this grand vision and then he went after it dot, dot, dot, follow your passion.” And I don't really believe that advice often because I think we only hear from people who made it. We don't hear from the people that followed their passion into their mom's basement. You know, we hear from people who have metaphorically, or literally a microphone in front of them who are like, “Oh well, what I did was pointed at a destination and achieve my goals.” But it seems like I can't really tell if you went, I'm going to do that, or if you went, I'm going to explore opportunities. And see what shakes out and then just work hard.
Adam Carolla: [00:20:11] I never had any path or destination or direction or goals that were specific. I had a sort of rough outline of not using my body to make money, like swinging hammers and carrying drywall and stuff like that. Like I had a goal of, it'd be nice if I could sit somewhere in a place with some air conditioning and in a bathroom and think of things and get paid to have ideas, or to contribute in some other way that didn't involve physically moving. There's a kind of a weird stigma that's not a stigma, it’s more of a, just sort of, kind of sad reality of the blue collar world and mentality, which is you get paid to physically do things. So it kind of starts off when you're young, like, “Hey, want to buy a minibike?” Yeah. And you're 10 years old. Yeah. And you have no money. Yeah.
[00:21:33] Well, mow some lawns and if you mow a whole bunch of lawns, you take that money and you get a minibike, and they're like, I got it. When I was a kid and I wanted to go cart or something, I washed everyone's car in my dad's apartment complex, and I cobbled together 40 bucks or whatever from washing 25 cars or whatever. And it's like, there's a very straight line on how to make money. It's almost sort of medieval, and it's very old and it's very assertive day labor. It's very blue collar and it's like very donkey, like thinking which is -- and so your whole life you get paid, then your first jobs -- my first jobs would be like so and so friend and my grandparents are moving, and they want someone to help them move. And it's like, all right, I'll spend entire Saturday carrying boxes full of books from this person's thing until U-Haul and back, like sweating through your shirt. And at the end of the day, you busted your hump, you got 50 bucks.
[00:22:42] Once that gets kind of like cemented in that world, that world never pauses and goes, “Well, who are you and what are your ideas, and what about all these other people that are composing songs or writing the theme song to the tonight show, and going to the mailbox and getting a royalty check? Or this guy wrote a movie or this person's over here, they work in this company and they have ideas and thoughts and they use their words to create capital, or something?” That is very foreign thought. I understood the concept of you could be a school teacher, you'd have to go to a bunch of college, you'd have to pass a test or get a certificate or something, all that is very foreign and very like college and certificates and --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:32] Supplies box.
Adam Carolla: [00:23:34] Passing tasks and filling things out. Like “Eh, that's not really going to work.” I could see like being a lifeguard and filling out an application or something, but the teacher kind of felt still or kind of blue collary which you don't get paid very much. You show up, you have to like lay out your lesson plan and write on the chalkboard and clean the erasers and put out the materials and the, you know, so it was like, “Eh.” So I, I got very deep and then going from, you know, McDonald's, the carpet cleaning to construction labor is all super based on physically flipping burgers and cleaning carpets and moving boxes and you know, all that kind of stuff. And then so at some point you just buy into that program, you don't have thoughts about maybe I could go get some training and this and that, then I could be a counselor or something. Like you don't have those things, like get to work, shut up. Like literally shut your mouth, pick up that shovel and get going.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:37] I think for most of us that's true, right? When we're kids, when you're in kindergarten or something, you think police man, you say Army man or something, nurse, doctor, teacher. Those are pretty much the only jobs, fireman, whatever. The only jobs that you know exist. And I was thinking about this when I went to college. I don't even know how much more my idea of what was possible had expanded beyond that, other than what my dad did, which was work on cars at Ford. My mom was a teacher, so that base was covered. And then you find out a few of your friend's dad's jobs and mom's jobs, and those get added to the list. But nobody's thinking like, like you said, nobody's going, well, you know, somebody's got to create the marketing from McDonald's. Somebody's got to create all these items that I see, these custom things that I see for businesses. Nobody's thinking about that unless you grow up around it, so you have to break out of that pattern. And what sort of triggered that for you? What sort of went, “You know what? Screw this. I'm not trading time for money. I have to figure something else out.” Why would you pick comedy out of all those things, out all of those ideas?
Adam Carolla: [00:25:40] I think you need to be realistic. I just had a conversation with my son this morning. He's just turned 12. He loves basketball. He loves the NBA. He loves all that is the NBA. He loves football too. He's labeled baseball and soccer is boring and a waste of time, and I concur. And we played on a father's day, Jimmy Kimmel throws a father's day a softball game. So it's fun and everyone convenes and they bring the watermelon and the beer and the waters and the kids and everyone has a good time. And my son who's never brought up baseballs is anything but boring and not interested. And he sort of mirrors my thoughts on, especially soccer and certainly baseball. He doesn't want to go to any Dodger games or anything because it's boring, and I agree. But I saw him playing, he wanted to play in the game, which I didn't kind of even expect he'd want to play, but he wanted to play. And I saw him swinging the bat and he swung it well. And even though he never really practices or played, or played musses around his friends a little bit. And he swung the bat well, and then I saw him out in the field and I could tell he kind of knew what he was doing. He took to it a little bit.
[00:27:13] So when I was young about his age, I played football and I played baseball, and I loved football and baseball. So just like, “Eh, baseball was fun, but I didn't love it. It was just fun. It was easy compared to football, which was difficult.” At some point, I had the curse of being very good at football at a very young age and then not being my gifts ran out, and I tried to force myself into football and I had success at the high school level, but I never got past it. And went my senior year playing baseball to go start training for football at the next level at a junior college. And it became pretty clear pretty quickly that I was just not going to cut it at the next level, and then I quit. And then, you know, then it was just picking up garbage on construction sites, anyway.
[00:28:17] I said to my son, “Look, you don't like baseball that much, you like football, you like basketball. There's nothing I can do about a vertical leap with you and there's nothing you can do about it. And when it comes to speed like 40 times or a 100 times, that's that. You might be able to shave a 10th off your 40, but your, the faster, you're that fast. So you're either gifted with a vertical leap, speed and strength. I mean you can lift weights and you can work out, but you're not going to be what these guys are, and you don't like baseball, but you have a skillset that's actually lends itself to baseball. And we could practice that. I later on in life tried out for the Dodgers on a goof with a man show bet, but it was a legitimate tryout. I mean it is a bet, but we're playing the game and got ball batting practice and blah, blah, blah.
[00:29:22] And then some years later, Tommy Lasorda said, I could've made you into a big league ball player. And everybody who heard him say that yelled no, like as loud as they could, and he doubled back. He said, “Oh yes, I've seen you.” If I've got a hold of you at 18, I’ll threw you a hundred curve balls a day, I could've got you in. And I was like, “Oh, cool!” At the time, I was -- now it was 40 you know, but I was like, all I want to do is focus on football and I could have never made it to the next level in football. So I sat around and I've sat around and I went, what are you good at? And I went, “I'm good at construction.” And I was like, “All right, what else are you good at?” And the answer was comedy. Unfortunately it wasn't stand-up comedy, which would've been a sport, you could've got paid it. It was a weird thing where it's like, I was like, “I know I'm good at comedy. I don't think I'm much of a standup comedian,” so I'm going to have to figure this out. But these are realistically two things you could do, and you're already doing one of them and you're not happy with it and you're not really getting paid much, so what is the other thing and how might we explore that?
Jason DeFillippo: [00:30:45] Don't go away, we'll be right back with more from Adam Carolla after these short announcements.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:49] This episode is also sponsored by Blue Apron or a blue apes as we call it in my house here. This stuff, when they stopped sponsoring us, we just kept buying it. I'll tell you that. I don't know if that's kosher, but you know what? I don't care. Jennie loves it. She loves making it. It's fun. They send all these crazy ingredients. You make stuff you would never try. It's fresh. It's pretty proportioned. Step-by-step recipes you keep the ones you like. You can make them yourself with ingredients who actually buy yourself at Whole Foods or whatever safe way, whatever grocery store. Everything can be cooked in under 45 minutes by one person, which is great. They deliver everything to your door. They've got great recipes, great chefs create and that stuff over there.
[00:31:31] 12 new recipes each week. So you can pick two, three, or four based on what fits your schedule so you're not getting meals and then not using them. They also use high quality non-GMO ingredients, meet with no hormones in it. It's really good stuff. I'd say nine out of 10 I'm like, this is really good. And then there's one where we're like, “Eh, I'm not really into the, you know, mushroom plant based burger or something.” But we pick those, right? So it's sort of, we had options, we just chose one that was outside our comfort zone and failed. And that's part of learning what you liked from here. But everything is pretty much amazing. And I think we found probably just dozens of new things that we'd like to cook regularly.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:32:08] I think one of the great things about all these recipes that we get, you get a card that gives you all the step-by-steps and all the ingredients. So you -- I have a binder of every Blue Apron recipe I've ever gotten. And every now and again I'm like, “Oh, I want to go back and make that sauce that I found in that one meal” and I can go, you know, flip through and find the sauce and make it for whatever I'm having that night. But I've been a Blue Apron customer just like you since the beginning. And yes, it was sad when they stopped sponsoring the show for a while and I did miss my free Blue Apron, but I've never stopped my subscription because I love it so much. We have it every other week in the summer and every week in the winter. It's fantastic.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:43] Yeah. So Jason, where can they get this?
Jason DeFillippo: [00:32:45] So check out this week's menu and get your first three meals for free at blueapron.com/Jordan. That's blue apron.com/jordan to get your first three meals for free. Blue Apron, a better way to cook.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:56] This episode is sponsored in part by The Great Courses Plus. Knowledge! Knowledge! I keep hearing that guy in the YouTube video. Unlocks many doors in life, but it is so important to keep learning, that's why we do that here on the show and that's why we stream The Great Courses Plus. A lot of great ways there to build on information we already know, discover new interests, and The Great Courses Plus, it offers an unlimited all you can eat plan to learn from top experts about virtually anything. Human behavior, investing, playing the guitar, writing and grammar, wind stuff, thousands of lectures to explore. I love having the flexibility to listen or watch through The Great Courses Plus app, so I can just sort of stream this stuff. I don't have to have DVDs and all that stuff, you know, at home. I recommend--
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:41] Say what? Yeah, exactly. I'd recommend checking out their course on behavioral economics when psychology and economics collide.
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Jason DeFillippo: [00:34:19] Sign up at thegreatcoursesplus.com/jordan. Remember Thegreatcoursesplus.com/jordan. Get your free trial today. Thanks for listening and supporting the Jordan Harbinger Show. Your support keeps us on the air. For a list of all the discounts from our amazing sponsors visit jordanharbinger.com/advertisers. And if you'd be so kind, please drop us a nice rating and review in iTunes or your podcast player of choice. It really helps us out. And if you want some tips on how to do that, head on over to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe. And now for the conclusion of our interview with Adam Carolla.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:50] Did you apply any of this sort of mechanical thinking, construction type thinking to building your career in comedy? The sort of -- because you want to do to avoid trading time for money. Did you take any of the skills that you brought from one to the other?
Adam Carolla: [00:35:04] Short answer is probably no. I knew that I didn't know anything when I started construction, and that I had to be kind of a sponge to absorb everything I could and I absorbed as much as I could by hanging around with guys who were journeymen carpenters who all of that is all absorption. There's no books, there's no manuals. No one ever reads anything on building a house. Like you just sit there and learn and learn, and go to work every day. And I sort of knew inherently that if I could go somewhere where they had some experiences, there were some journey men, comedians and things like that, I could expose myself to them and be around them and mimic them and listen to them and expose myself to them and see how that worked. I didn't have a clear cut plan, but I understood the concept of find someone who kind of knows what they're doing and see if they'll let you hang out with them.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:07] How did you get that to happen? Because I think a lot of folks, they write me and they're like, “Can you mentor me?” And I'm like, “I don't know what that means.” So “No,” but if you have some idea of what you want to do, or what value you might be able to bring as a different story, did you have an idea or did you just have, did you -- were you just able to make friends in that industry?
Adam Carolla: [00:36:25] Unfortunately all the people I'd be friended, none of them were professionals. They're all struggling too, because we were doing sketch and improvisational comedy and there was no market for it. And there wasn't a million shows on Hulu and Netflix, and there wasn't places for everyone to go and write. It was it, you know, pretty much your either sitcom, network sitcom or Saturday Night Live, but that was about it. And none of us were going to Saturday Night Live and none of us were going to a network sitcom. And then there was radio, but that didn't seem like they're doing a lot of comedy. And so it didn't really --I had a bunch of likeminded smart people that we could sit around and drink coffee to at a diner, just write sketches. But we also -- we knew they weren't going anywhere, but we also knew in inherently or instinctively like we needed to keep riding and we needed to keep getting up on stage. There was no line between getting up on stage and doing sketches you wrote to getting paid. There didn't seem to be any clear line to do that, but yet we all did it night after night anyway.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:44] So was there a line where you were like, “Okay, we're doing this, it's not really relevant,” but we can't just rely on making this some -- nothing's going to fall from the sky and make this into a job for us. I got to figure this out. So what was the next step for you going like you're at this diner, you're writing a sketch and you're going, “This is never going to lead to money. What am I going to do about it?”
Adam Carolla: [00:38:06] I was like, you need to get up on stage as much as you can get up on stage and work this stuff out. So this is not directly going to lead to money. No one's going to buy this sketch or pay you to do it, or anything like that. But it's some point you're going to get your kind of sea legs under you and you'll feel comfortable on stage and you'll have some reps. And there were little bits and pieces of like one guy from the troop got hired, I remember clearly to dress up like a cowboy and go to the Gene Autry Museum and pretend he was an old gunslinger and like tell stories while an insurance group was doing their Christmas party there or something like that. And he liked my roommate, Ralph did that. And I remember like him going, they want two guys and they'll pay you 50 bucks, you know, and we've got to get you a cowboy hat, and I was like, all right. And I was like, “Okay, well maybe there's a little scratch to be made, like on the side, little bits and pieces of things, little stupid stuff.” And once in a while our improv troop would like play a party or something, maybe we'd get paid 25 bucks or something. And I remember teaching comedy traffic school and going, “Well, okay, I could teach traffic school and get paid to like kind of be up on my feet and be talking. And it was still, you know, I think I got like, I think you pay like 85 bucks a day. But in my mind, I wasn't getting paid by the hour, I was getting paid by the day, which I liked.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:52] Still an upgrade, right?
Adam Carolla: [00:39:53] Still it was an upgrade, and I was on my feet talking. I wasn't physically having to do anything, so I'm standing there, I'm talking. It's an upgrade.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:03] So you're like getting one inch closer to what you want to be doing with each little upgrade, even if it's not directly what you wanted to do.
Adam Carolla: [00:40:10] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:10] If you even knew what you wanted to do, which was just not construction at that point.
Adam Carolla: [00:40:15] I always liked radio, and I always thought I could do radio. It was very deep and dark to me. I could only imagine where these people were or how it worked, or where these unmarked buildings were. I've never passed any radio station like I wasn't -- I never thought about it traditionally, some do, but mostly radio stations don't have signs or antennas on top of their building or anything. They're just like commercial buildings. You just drive past them every day and there’s --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:49] Pipe it out somewhere.
Adam Carolla: [00:40:49] -- radio station going on up there. You'd never know. I never knew anyone in it. I never thought -- I didn't know anyone who like delivered or something. I would have hit up that guy to ask them where the place was, or if I could go with him one day and see what it looked like inside or like anything.
[00:41:09] So I thought about radio a lot. I listened to radio a lot. My thought as I listened to radio and morning radio, especially getting up early and doing construction, and just kind of having the radio on the job as your friend. I remember like listening to Mark and Brian in the morning on KLOS. And I remember going, I could for sure do that, if I was sitting there, you know, and they'd be talking, you know, and they'd say like, “What'd you do this weekend?” And I'd come up with an answer like in my head, like on the construction site, and then the guy in the air would go, “You know, this and that.” And I think, “Oh, mine was better.” My answer was better than this and that, you know, and I would -- and they be interviewing a porn star or talking to a celebrity or something, and they'd asked -- and I'd start having my own answers to the questions, or my own questions to the porn star, whatever it is.
[00:42:07] And I remember like kind of thinking like, “Man, if I were sitting in there, I could do that. I could do that better. But then my next thought would be, you'll never sit in there. Where is there? Who do you know? And far as I can tell, the guys I would listen to, they're going on year 10 of sitting there. What are you going to do? Kick them out? Start your own radio station. Like you think Mark and Brian are going to retire, when you show up to the building? Or they're just going to go 30 years, like –
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:41] Yeah.
Adam Carolla: [00:42:42] And it's true. They went 30 years, Kevin and Bean, 30 years, you're not going to go displaced these people. So now what's the plan?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:51] What did you end up doing? I mean I think we all kind of -- those of us who are fans of what you've done know this. Aside from that, I think the question behind this is how you stay relevant or how you find an opportunity in an industry? For example, radio, I don't know if radio is slowing down, I actually don't have any data on that. But podcasting is obviously on the way up. How did you spot an opportunity there and go you know what? This is safer or better or more lucrative bet because it seems like you're good at staying relevant when industries change. Not everybody's good at that. Most people are not good at that.
Adam Carolla: [00:43:20] I had about three or four things sort of happen, which was when I was doing morning radio, they kept coming in to the station. Like that tech guy, like the program director would go, “We need to get our ratings up in L.A. We're fifth in L.A. or whatever,” and we'd be number one in Seattle, number one in Vegas. But like I was always like, they'd always find the market. You weren't doing well enough in[indiscernible] [00:43:50]. We need to get it up. And I'd say, all right. And then some other guy would come in and he'd go, “You guys had 16 million minutes of streaming last month,” and everyone kind of go, “Where or how?” And I remember them saying, “You're number one in the country and streaming this show,” Oh sorry, number two, number one is the fan in New York. But they do like Mattson, Yankees games, and people just watch on the computer for three hours or whatever.
[00:44:22] But he said, “You guys are number two.” And I remember going 16 million minutes a month of streaming or whatever the number was. It was a big number. That's got to be worth something. And then the program director would like come back in and he'd go, “You guys got to get your shit together.” And I'd go, “Hey, we have 16 million minutes of streaming.” And he'd go like, “So who cares?” You're fifth in L.A. And I just walk out of the studio and I remember kind of, this was way back in 2008 to 2009 we were just sort of looking around going, I don't know --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:02] It seems good.
Adam Carolla: [00:45:03] It seems good. And they'd be like, “Well, how are you going to make a nickel on that?” Or like, “What are you going to do with that?” And I'd be like, “I don't know. I guess there's people who are listening in places that were not on the radio and they want to listen on their computer and I'm happy that they're seeking us out,” so it's got to be something. And every one’s like “Yeah, no, it's nothing.” There is nothing because you can't sell it .
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:27] And you don't know how to use the Internet and get it yourself. So it's not important.
Adam Carolla: [00:45:30] You don't know how to monetize it. That's not -- we're not in that business, we're in the radio business, not the computer business. So then I got fired, or the whole format flipped. They just flipped the whole station, so everyone got fired. And then I had like 10 months of getting paid to stay at home.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:52] Oh, they just gave you your contracts.
Adam Carolla: [00:45:55] They just want -- contracts up at the end of the year. It's February, you're out. And I was like, “Okay, well this has been my dream to get paid to stay at home.” It's come to fruition, although I don't know what my next job is. I'd been doing a Bill Simmons podcast a few times. I'd been a guest like back in the very beginning, like when just sitting in his garage where you only had like one microphone and stupid stuff. And I thought, “Huh, we're already doing all this stuff.” And my buddy said, “Do a podcast, do a podcast.” And I was like, “Yeah, I guess we're already streaming. We're already kind of doing it.” I mean we are doing a podcast because the people in Chicago – we’re not on in Chicago, but people are listening in Chicago and Hawaii and we're not on in Chicago. And they’re listening on their computer. So I guess this is what we're doing, and since I'm getting paid for the next 10 months, let's just do it. I had no idea what the -- there'd been a revenue stream, or nothing existed in terms of getting paid or anything like that. I was just like, I want to stay connected to the audience.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:09]An experiment that ended up working, and obviously had really good timing as well, especially when you have a preexisting audience that you were able to bring over. What I noticed is that, you don't really compartmentalize your life seemingly into the blue collar versus the white collar stuff. And I noticed a lot of people do this, especially people that write into me on the Jordan Harbinger Show. They'll say something like, “Well, you know, my parents, they never really did this, or I grew up doing that, or my parents grew up doing this.” I don't know if you advocate for this deliberately, but you like to turn your brain on and figure things out, right? You could've just gone, “No, I need another radio job instead.” And you could have panicked, and when I got laid off from my law firm and everything. That was the same thing. It was like, “Well, should I get another law job?” And everyone's like, “Yeah, of course.” So are you insane? Of course, you should get another law job. But instead started to do the podcast, and you like to tell people to kind of work on their game by figuring things out. Do you find that you go after things that you don't understand or things that you may be are scared of? Is that been an element of your personality that you've noticed? Because I feel like I picked that up throughout our conversations, through the shows I listened to that you're on, and you just do a whole bunch of diverse things that are -- it's kind of an unusual combination.
Adam Carolla: [00:48:25] Yeah. I think doing things you're scared of is always been an important exercise for me. I didn't know, I'm trying to think of it scared of versus, I don't know, sort of challenging. You have no idea what the results will be. You have no --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:43] The outcome is uncertain.
Adam Carolla: [00:48:45] Very uncertain outcome. And I do a lot of stuff with uncertain outcomes. Most of the stuff I do is uncertain outcome. If you do enough things and in a wide enough variety of things that have an uncertain outcome, and it turns out to be good or okay, or you're still in one piece or you didn't lose your house, or whatever it is. Sometimes there's a physical element like doing a Trans-Am car race or something where it's like, I'm not sure there's an element where you could be injured or something, but you'd just do it anyway and it turns out okay. Then you get to then take that experience, of course, to the next unknown. And pretty much for the last decade, all I've been doing is stuff with unknown outcomes for the most part. And they've mostly work some, nothing has plenty of stuff has never --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:57] Fizzles out.
Adam Carolla: [00:49:57] Yeah, just idea you pitch in a few times, that people said they weren't interested in and you moved on. Other things turned into big paydays, other things are in between. Other things are, well, you made a bunch of documentaries now, and that's a good thing. And you may not have gotten paid overly handsomely for those things, but you're starting to create a library and a body of work and you have some books and some DVDs and some movies and some things that you can call your own. And I spent $4.8 million on a car that I didn't have the money for. I didn't -- I literally bought this car and then had to go home and borrow $2 million, and sell a bunch of stuff because I thought this $5 million car would be a $10 million car in seven years. But I didn't know anything, if no way to tell if a car –
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:06 ] Yeah, dangerous, risky investment. It's like up there with Bitcoin, I think. Maybe not quite as bad.
Adam Carolla: [00:51:10] Yeah, well at least this thing you can sit in.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:13] That's true.
Adam Carolla: [00:51:15] So once you do enough of that stuff, you go, “Well, really what's the next one?” And then the next way of thinking is not only do I want to bet on myself, I don't want to miss it -- I don't want to miss any opportunities, not to bet on myself. And then the other thing is, is people have this like what if? Like what if? Like what if? And it's like, “I don't know what if?” What if he got cancer? I don't know. What if, what if there's an earthquake building land on you? I don't know. I just go do it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:50] Where does Dancing with the Stars figure into this? Because when I heard about that, I was like, “Wait, no!” How is this possible? Is that a fear thing? Because I don't see -- I mean maybe there's an element of your personality that I didn't see before, but I don't envision you as like, I just want to dance.
Adam Carolla: [00:52:06] Well, it's the only time I feel like I'm alive. There was a pure, it was a 100 percent fear based decision. I don't remember a lot of dates or times or like where I was, I don't remember. I'm not one of these people I like, I have almost no rear view mirror in terms of like, I remember right where I was when, whatever. but in this particular case, I remember right where I was, I was finishing my radio show and I was walking out to my car in the parking structure, and the phone rang and it was my agent and he just said, “Hey, I got a call from Dancing with the Stars. They want to know if you want to do this upcoming season? And a shock, like an electrical sort of shock of a fear, just coursed through me real quick. Like it was like somebody saying Billy Finnegan wants to meet you under the bridge after the school to fight.
[00:53:06] Like that moment of like, you know, I got like moment of like, “What do you do?” Do you say, “Oh, you know, tell Billy I'd love to take them apart, but lucky my shoulder sore from beating another dude so bad.” Or do you go like that? “I think I could beat Billy Finnegan.” Or like what would he do? And like my first impulse, like “You can't dance, you don't know how to dance.” You're no good at this. You watch a show and like, but you're not -- you'd be horrible at this. But this crazy wave of fear that I hadn't felt a long time, I was in my 40s, I'd done a lot. Boxed, and gotten in street fights and race cars and look, I have a big fear mode gene setting, but I was like, I felt that come over my body.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:54] Yeah.
Adam Carolla: [00:53:56] And I may have said to him, I'm like, “Ah, let me hold on, let me call you back or let me check my schedule or something.” And I just went, I just hung up the phone and I went, if you're that scared, and what are you going to do? Call him back and go, that shows the lame, dude. I'm not going to make an ass of myself with some C list, whatever. I was like, “I had to sort of sit with myself for a second.” I was like, “You were legitimately scared when he just said Dancing with the Stars.” You got scared like you put yourself right in the middle of that parquet, right in the middle of that floor, not knowing what the fuck you're doing. And I remember just going, “Well, now you have to do it.” Because again, I cut a call back and said it's lame, I'm a comedian, screw that. But I was like, that would be a lie. You would not be doing it because you were scared. And people say to me, “How much did you get paid? Or how much would you get paid? Or what did you get paid? Or what season where you're in? Or anything? And I'm just like, “I have no idea.” I never -- we never discussed money, we never discussed anything other than when do I have to start this, whatever. And I was like, three weeks, and I was like, okay.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:11] Why do you think you got to move into that fear? Like, why was it so important to you to dive into that? You knew would not you if you didn't?
Adam Carolla: [00:55:18] I knew I'd never be able to avoid it really in myself. Like I just know you -- you would tell everybody that you didn't do it cause it was lame. But the reality is, is you didn't do it because you were scared. Even if it is lame, that's not the reason you didn't do it. You didn't do it because you're a fucking chicken of putting yourself out and making an ass of yourself because you weren't -- that's not your comfort zone. It wasn't boxing with the stars or construction with the stars. It was Dancing with the Stars, and you're not good. And I just remember thinking that would be the reason. And I might be the only person that knew it, but I'm the worst person to know it, and I'd just have to kind of deal with that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:04] Thanks Adam. I appreciate it. Before we leave, tell me about the new logo. I noticed this the first day. Brand new logo. Kind of exciting.
Adam Carolla: [00:56:11]Yeah. All praise Lynette for saying, my wife for saying the old website looks like shit, we need to update and get some pictures and logos and some merch and whatever. Again, it's not my world, I may complain into the microphone guy and then go fix a car guy like, so she got involved and got some really good web designers and photographers and everything, and here we are.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:36] So adamcarolla.com, you can buy a beach towel with your wife on it apparently.
Adam Carolla: [00:56:41] Evidently, there's everything now and it's a whole new world.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:46] Yeah. I don't know how she -- you could tell that the logo, it's got a nice touch, but the beach towel, I was just thinking, ”Well, those are going to be flying off the shelves for sure.”
Adam Carolla: [00:56:55] Yeah, just don't put a hole in it yet.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:59] Thanks Adam. Appreciate it, man.
Adam Carolla: [00:57:00] Thanks Jordan.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:03] Great big thank you to Adam Carolla. Really, really enjoyed this interview. Just the whole process was pretty enlightening. I'm on Adam's shows regularly, every single month at least once. So you've probably heard me on there if you listened to those, and I'm looking forward to doing more with him and Drew in the very near future as well. I'm a regular on Adam Drew, and a couple of their other shows, which is a huge honor as you might imagine. If you enjoyed this one, don't forget to thank Adam on Twitter. Tweet at me as well, your number one takeaway here from Adam Carolla. I'm @jordanharbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. Don't forget if you want to learn how to apply everything you've learned here today from Adam Carolla, make sure you go grab the worksheets also in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast.
[00:57:47] This episode was produced and edited by Jason DeFillippo. Show notes are by Robert Fogarty. Booking back office and last minute miracles are by Jen Harbinger, and I'm your host, Jordan harbinger. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful, which should be in every episode. So please share the show with those you love and even those you don't. We've got lots more in the pipeline and we're excited to bring it to you. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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