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!
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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