Adam Coelho is the host and executive producer of the Mindful FIRE Podcast, a show about crafting a life you love and making work optional using the tools of mindfulness, envisioning, and financial independence. He is also a father, husband, entrepreneur, speaker and facilitator. For the last twelve years, Adam has worked in Sales at Google, where he has an additional role teaching mindfulness to Googlers all over the world.
Today, Adam joins the show to discuss the role mindfulness plays in our financial lives, what it means to engineer serendipity, and why he’s rethinking the ‘RE’ portion of the FIRE Movement.
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00:58 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Adam Coelho, who joins the show to discuss early lessons he learned about entrepreneurship, both the highs and lows, from his parents
05:28 – Adam expounds on his money origin story
07:58 – How Adam’s parents’ relationship with money impacted his own relationships
09:35 – Adam’s career journey and the power of envisioning
16:49 – Adam’s introduction to mindfulness and meditation
25:19 – What does mindfulness have to do with money?
28:22 – Engineering Serendipity
34:25 – How Adam was introduced to the FIRE Movement, and why he calls it Financial Independence, Reprioritize Early
40:37 – Adam dissects what he teaches in one of his typical programs
47:01 – One thing we can do to today to have better outcomes in our lives and one thing to completely avoid
50:17 – One thing Adam has recently changed his mind about and his thoughts on what matters most in life
53:46 – Jonathan thanks Adam for joining the show and lets listeners know where to connect with him
“For me, it’s really important that my wife is fully on board, understanding, educated, and able to manage [finances] independent of me. One, for our general wellbeing. But, if I get hit by a bus, she needs to know what we have, how it works, what to do so that she’s not preyed upon by someone who doesn’t have her best interests at heart.” (08:56) (Adam)
“The thing that I find funny is I almost envisioned myself out of a job. And then it was also envisioning that helped me through that difficult time and resulted in this whole new chapter of my life where I became a mindfulness facilitator, and started facilitating programs at Google, and designing my own programs. And then the podcast came about as a way to really figure out that I’m exploring and on the path to financial independence.” (10:44) (Adam)
“The best thing that I was taught is when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. That’s kinda how I try to show up now. I’m not gonna preach [mindfulness] to you. If you want to learn it, I’m happy to teach you. But I’m not gonna go preaching it because it just wasn’t effective.” (24:00) (Adam)
“Mindfulness allows us to look and pay attention to what’s going on with our money with a kind, curious awareness.” (25:56) (Adam)
“If you set aside all the limitations that you have, all the constraints and ideas of what’s possible and you think, ‘Five years from now, I’m sitting at my kitchen table, and I’m writing out how amazing my life has gone, if everything goes better than expected, what does my life look like?’ And I suggest that because it doesn’t cost anything. It just takes a willingness to be curious and to ask yourself, ‘What do I really want?’.” (29:41) (Adam)
“I love the concept of ‘F you money.’ If you’re in a situation where you don’t want to be and you have money, you have options.” (38:02) (Adam)
“The more I just relax into the experience of life – into enjoying what I have already – the happier I am and the more quickly I move towards things that I want.” (49:03) (Adam)
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Jonathan DeYoe: Welcome back. On this episode of the Mindful Money podcast, I’m chatting with Adam Coelho. Adam is the host and executive producer of the Mindful Fire podcast. It’s a show about crafting a life you love and making work optional using the tools of mindfulness, envisioning and financial independence. You can see why, uh, we’re going to get along. He’s also a father, husband, entrepreneur, uh, speaker and facilitator. And for the last twelve years he’s worked in sales at Google where he has an additional role teaching mindfulness to googlers all over the world. He’s taught about 2500 of them already. Adam, I have a lot to talk about with you. I hope we have a good time. Welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.
Adam Coelho: Thank you so much for having me, Jonathan. Um, I’m excited to be here and I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk about.
Jonathan DeYoe: So just starting off, where do you call home and where are you connecting from?
Adam Coelho: Now I am living in New Jersey now. I grew up in Florida, spent ten years out in the Bay Area where I think you are, and I moved over here during the pandemic. So basically abandoned ship on San Francisco, moved in with my in laws, then found a place here near, just south of New York City, near the beach in New Jersey.
Jonathan DeYoe: So you grew up in Florida?
Adam Coelho: I did.
Jonathan DeYoe: So the first thing I would like to get into is what did you’re an entrepreneur, know you’ve been entrepreneurial. I read some of your bio and listened to some of your other interviews. You’ve sort of pursued entrepreneurship out of the gate. Where did that come from? What did you learn about money and entrepreneurship growing up?
Adam Coelho: It’s a great question. I think I learned it from observing my parents. My parents were small business owners from an, um, early age, I guess around like, ten. When I was about ten, they weren’t ten, I was ten. And they started an assisted living facility in Florida. And they quickly grew from one small, like, six bed facility to six facilities over the course of, like, three or four years. And what I think really stood out for me is just the level of freedom that that gave them to choose how they wanted to live their life. Sure, it was stressful. It was very stressful, and it was limiting in some ways. But what I observed was, like, they could go on vacation whenever they wanted. They could go to every soccer game, every baseball game, all of those things. They were available to do that because they were the boss. And we would go away for a month in the summer. My dad’s from Portugal. We were able to go and visit his family and know, pop over to Italy or France or something and do a trip like that. I’d say every other, but we instead of know, typically people would go for, like, two weeks or a week or something, we could go for like a month and stay with family and just have this amazing experience. And that always stood out to me as kind of a side effect or a benefit of having their own business. So I think that’s kind of what started it for me, and then just dabbling in projects, and I really enjoyed making money. Making money and kind of owning my own destiny and stuff like that.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. Did any of your peers when you were ten and through that sort of growing up, middle school, high school period, were their parents working or did they have their own businesses? And did you have any friends that had a similar circumstance?
Adam Coelho: I don’t think so. No one comes to mind. I think everyone’s parents just kind of had traditional jobs. I think it was a little bit unique.
Jonathan DeYoe: So the idea, the month off, that was unique. The ability to do that in the.
Adam Coelho: Summer was unique, for sure. Yeah, that stood out to me at the time and afterwards and still today.
Jonathan DeYoe: So you mentioned that it came with some flexibility, but some other things were costs. Can you mention the other side of that, what you experienced as a kid?
Adam Coelho: Yeah, I think just stress, right? Just like stress of the type of business, taking care of people’s lives and loved ones. There’s a lot of stress with that. And just like with the staff, I remember a lot of challenges. The staff getting good people, keeping good people, things like that. Yeah, those are the main ones that I remember.
Jonathan DeYoe: But it’s interesting that on net from ten to 18, you see this happening and you see there’s positives, there’s negatives, but on net, it’s a huge positive. The whole experience of being, running your own business and being an entrepreneur is positive.
Adam Coelho: Definitely, yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: Did you experience any. What’s your money origin story? Where do you start thinking about money?
Adam Coelho: Yeah, that’s a great question and one that I’ve explored to some degree. I mean, certainly on the podcast, I talk about it and kind of reflect on it. But a big part of my money story is around scarcity, and I’d like to think of myself as frugal. I do cross the line into cheap land sometimes. Oftentimes if you ask my wife, but I’m m working through you. Uh know, I think one of the things I’ve realized is that just a real hesitancy to invest in myself, in my projects, in my entrepreneurial endeavors, and education for myself, things like that. That’s kind of been a glaring thing in my life recently, and I’ve been working actively on kind of going against that and learning why that is. And so to get to your question of what is the origin of that, in addition to that business? My dad had a lot of failed businesses, I should say. Yeah. So some like, I don’t know if they were MLM sort of things or what they were multilevel marketing, that is, investing in real estate in foreign countries, various things like that, where I saw him taking these initiatives, investing money that they worked hard to earn in them and then them not going well, and importantly, the conflict that caused with my parents, I can m picture moments where they were fighting and yelling about that. And that, I think, is why I’m so hesitant to spend money on myself, investing in myself and my projects. And so I think that’s kind of the biggest thing for me and probably kind of affects the other, just general scarcity mindset that I’ve come up with. Uh, and I’m trying to kind of combat.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I was in my father’s Amway downline.
Adam Coelho: You’re familiar.
Jonathan DeYoe: I know, exactly. I personally have been involved with a few. My dad was involved with many similar little project kind of side businesses that seem to fail. The difference in my life is we, uh, didn’t have the one that was really successful. It wasn’t until I was like 15 that my dad got a job elsewhere where we finally had an income stream. It was pretty nuts. So you see your parents fighting about these kinds of things. Honey, why did you invest in this thing? And it failed and I totally understand that. I saw that myself many times. Did that inform your dating life, and did that inform who you married? And have you actually worked through some of that? If you haven’t, we don’t have to go into it. But I’m curious if that informs how you deal with your partner.
Adam Coelho: I wouldn’t say that it informed who I dated or ended up marrying. I would say that it’s definitely top of mind for me in how we interact about money, and certainly there’s more that we could do to improve communication and regular conversations and all that. But ultimately, at the crux of it, my mom was not involved in the finances, still isn’t involved, and I get a call from her once a year being like, your father did this, you need to talk to him. I’m like, why don’t you talk to him? I don’t know. And so, for me, it’s really important that my wife is fully on board, understanding, educated, and able to manage it independent of me. Right. One for our, uh, general well being. But if I get hit by a bus, she needs to know what we have, how it works, what to do, so that she’s not preyed upon by someone who doesn’t have her best interest at heart.
Jonathan DeYoe: Does she listen to your podcast?
Adam Coelho: Sometimes.
Jonathan DeYoe: Okay. That’s a win right there.
Adam Coelho: That’s better than sometimes. Yeah. That’s a hopeful. Yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I totally get it. I want to get into mindful fire and your work at Google, but before we get there, just give us your arc. How did you get to, uh, being a salesperson at Google, running mindful fire and sort of coaching in this space?
Adam Coelho: Yeah, it’s a long and bumpy journey. That’s for, you know, ultimately, the thing that I find interesting when I reflect on my journey is this idea around envisioning has been so core to everything that I’ve done, and most of the time, I was completely unaware of it. And it’s kind of a double edged sword. So the long and short of it is that I learned about envisioning the hard way. I ultimately almost envisioned myself out of a job at Google, my dream job at Google. And that was because the story that I was telling myself was not useful. And, uh, envisioning in my mind is all about how the stories that we tell ourselves create our reality because of a couple of aspects of how our brain works. This is happening all the time, whether we’re aware of it or not. And for the longest time, I was totally unaware of it. And so the thing that I find funny is, I almost envisioned myself out of a job, and then it was also envisioning that kind of helped me through that. And we can go into that if you like, but it’s what helped me through that difficult time and, uh, resulted in this whole new chapter of my life where I became a mindfulness facilitator and started facilitating programs at Google and designing my own programs. And then the podcast came about as a way to really figure out, like, okay, I’m exploring and on the path to financial independence. Why? What am I actually building towards? What do I want my life to look like afterwards? And the podcast was a way for me to kind of have conversations and learn and try and experiment with what I might want to do afterwards. So that’s a long answer. But envisioning was kind of core to that whole thing. Going way back to even how I ended up at Google is I was working on a startup before I left, uh, in college. And after college, I was called Citysync, and it was all about making plans with your friends more easily and seeing what was going on in the college. So. But I was doing that. So I wasn’t looking for a job at the end of college. I was not even going to the career fairs or anything like that. And I had this in my to, I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to go out to San Francisco. I want to work in the tech scene. I want to start my own company. And there are really only two companies I’ll work for, Google and Apple. And then at some point, I got a Facebook message from, uh, a woman that was in one of my classes, and she had interned two summers at Google and said, hey, my team there is looking for people thought of you. Maybe you’d be interested. And long story short, like, four or five weeks later, I was living and working in California. Working for Google. Yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: There’s two threads I want to pull on there. The second one’s a little more difficult, so I’m going to start with the first one. So you envisioned yourself almost into a hole, and then you sort of envisioned yourself out of the hole. So what that makes me think is there’s a step that comes before envisioning. You have to really connect with what’s important to you before you envision. You have to really ground yourself in that. Do you think that’s accurate?
Adam Coelho: I would say that if you’re intentionally envisioning, yes, I would say that envisioning is happening all the time, whether we’re aware of it or not.
Jonathan DeYoe: Got, uh, it.
Adam Coelho: Yes. And so maybe it makes sense to explain the brain stuff now.
Jonathan DeYoe: Sure.
Adam Coelho: So, when I say that envisioning is happening all the time and that our stories create our reality, what I’m really referring to is the way that our brain works. And so there are two aspects that I teach when I teach envisioning. The first is neuroplasticity. It’s the idea that everything we think, feel, and pay attention to changes the structure and function of our brain. It’s sometimes known as thought of as neurons that fire together, wire together. And so the things that we repeat over and over again become well worn paths in our brain and are, uh, more likely to happen in the future. And so, if you think about any skill that you’ve ever learned, playing the guitar, for instance, at first, it’s completely unnatural. The finger movements make no sense. The sounds make no sense. Even holding the guitar is awkward. But as you do that, more and more, those things become much easier because the neurons associated with those, the neural networks associated with those become well worn paths. And so this is happening all the time with the stories that we’re telling ourselves. And, again, many of those are unconscious stories because we’ve been telling them for so long, we don’t even notice. Now, the second thing is that our brains are predictive. So, there’s a study by a woman named Regina Polly called the predicting brain. And she says that even before events happen, our brain makes a prediction of what is most likely to happen and sets in motion the thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and even physiological responses for what’s expected. She goes on to say, in a sense, we learn from the past what to predict for the future and then live the future we expect. And the way I think about this is, we’re telling ourselves stories about how our life is going to be, and then we’re acting out those stories. And so this is happening constantly. Our brain is predicting based on our experience all the time. And the neuroplasticity is kind of what it uses to predict, right? And so I think of thoughts and stories that we tell ourselves as seeds. Every thought is a seed that I’m planting. Every time I pay attention to it, I’m planting it and watering it, and that’s what’s going to grow. And so, for me, for the longest time, I was completely unaware of the seeds that I was planting, and they were not very nice, and they were not very useful. And that’s what got me into that scenario where I basically envisioned myself out of a job, came within 30 days to being shown the door at Google. And that’s when I realized. So back to your question. That’s when I realized I brought the awareness into it, right. That’s when I had the awareness of what I’m doing is not working. I need to choose something different. And, uh, that’s when I started intentionally choosing a new story, practicing that story, and ultimately ending that 30 days with not one, but two job offers, one internal to Google, one external. And I chose to stay at Google. And from there, it was off to the races. Once I saw, like, wow, this actually works. And I can use this in all sorts of ways.
Jonathan DeYoe: I still have this question in my pocket that I want to get to, but there’s something that I need to react to or respond to. So you use the phrasing seeds you must have run across. Bijas. Bijas. B-I-J-A-S. Bijas are the seeds of karma in the Buddhist tradition. So it makes me wonder, where were you introduced to mindfulness, and where did you start practicing meditation?
Adam Coelho: Yeah, I haven’t heard that term specifically before, surprisingly. But my introduction to mindfulness was when I was through a friend at GOogle. A company he worked for was acquired and kind of merged in with my team. And I was having a ConveRsation with him, complaining. There was a lot of complaining before I had more awareness of the stories I was telling mySelf. There was a lot of complaining. And I was complaining about how I had to commute an hour and a half to 2 hours from San Francisco to Mountain View on the very nice shuttle bus that Google provided with Internet. So even still, it was a long journey. And he’s like, okay, you don’t like that? You should try meditating. You have all this time, try meditating. And I was like, what are you talking about, dude? I’ve never heard of meditating. I don’t know what you’re talking about. And he hit me with a sales pitch. He’s like, dude, you got to try it. Makes me a better father, better husband, better at work. And I cut him off. I thought he was trying to sell me a timeshare or something. I was like, this is too much, man. But I had all this time to kill, so I gave it a shot. Three weeks in, one thing was very clear, and it wasn’t my mind. I realized that I was terrible at meditating. My mind was all over the place. I was distracted constantly, and I gave up.
Jonathan DeYoe: I stopped.
Adam Coelho: I said, this is not for me. And fortunately, I ran into him again a few months later. He doubled down on the sales pitch, and I kind of realized around that time, like, oh, wait, that’s normal. That, uh, is what the mind does. And I also went to a retreat around that same time. And this wasn’t one of those ten day silent retreats. This one was more of a groupon that I bought for my wife for Valentine’s day, if I’m being honest. But it was up in Sonoma, a place called ratnaling. It’s like a tibetan buddhist retreat center. It’s beautiful. And there I was able to learn the practice formally. And that thoughts are normal. They’re a normal part of the human experience. And so it’s not a bad thing that my mind is wandering. It is just what is. And how I react to it is more important. So from there, I’ve basically been meditating since then, about ten years ago at this point. And that’s when I started to become aware of this inner dialogue, this inner critic. That was just not very nice, to put it mildly.
Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, we all have that. I was going to interrupt when you said I was terrible at meditating. I wanted to jump in and interrupt and say, no, I’m glad that came full circle in that story, otherwise I was going to be freaking out.
Adam Coelho: I wouldn’t have a mindfulness based podcast if I had given up for good at that point. Right.
Jonathan DeYoe: I had faith.
Adam Coelho: That’s absolutely the most common thing I hear when I teach it at Google. When I teach it outside, anytime I talk to somebody about it, I tried it, I was bad at it. My mind was all over the place. I was sure I was doing it wrong. And that’s just the most common thing that I hear. And I think it’s pretty easy to explain. I’ve gotten good at explaining. That is actually just the practice. It’s not about having no thoughts, having a clear mind.
Jonathan DeYoe: It’s impossible to have a clear mind. Uh, we never have a clear mind. I am, uh, 25 years in, and that’s rare for me to have a moment of clarity.
Adam Coelho: Sure.
Jonathan DeYoe: So you’re introduced to mindfulness by a friend at work. You go to a tibetan, it sounds like a tibetan monastery, and you do a little retreat up there. Is that what you use in your teaching? Or have you also gotten some training at particular schools? Did you take MBSR teaching certifications? So what is the process you went into to actually be able to provide the service at Google and beyond?
Adam Coelho: Yeah, so my general teachings are very secular, so it’s not Tibetan Buddhism. Uh, it really comes out of the training that I had at Google. I was trained as a search inside yourself facilitator search. Inside yourself is a program that teaches emotional intelligence and leadership skills through mindfulness. And it was developed at Google and now is available kind of worldwide through an, uh, institute called silly search inside yourself leadership institute that’s right in your neck of the woods. So that’s really where I was taught how to facilitate and teach mindfulness to people. And so it’s very secular in that program because Google engineers tend to have a lot of questions about things that are a little more esoteric. So they keep it very practical, very based on the science. And that’s been my approach with everything, including envisioning. Right. I don’t talk about vibe or manifesting or anything like that. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just not the way that I resonate with the concept. And I think a lot of people are turned off by that same thing with mindfulness and meditation. So I try to keep it very practical, very applicable to their lives and things like that. And so that’s kind of where it came from there, and then just a lot of experience doing it and a lot of questions, and from there, kind of here I am.
Jonathan DeYoe: And this is not a disagreement. It’s very science based. Secular mindfulness is very science based, and I agree with it. I’m actually taking a two year program to become a meditation teacher myself, so I’m on board. But I started with studying Buddhism and studying it heavily, and I was three years, almost three and a half years in a graduate program, tibetan language, reading scripture. But the interesting thing about Buddhism to me, and people can challenge me on this, and I’m open to that, is it is very practical. When the Buddha was enlightened, he practiced and he did a thing, and he experienced a thing. And all he ever says is, try this out and see if it works for you. That’s what he says. That’s, uh, what the teaching is. So there’s something very practical, and you can hear the Dalai Lama saying, hey, if Buddhism and science disagrees, believe science. That’s from our lead teacher. Like, he’s saying, science is absolutely the way to go. So there’s definitely a basis in that. Pre science, absolutely. Buddhist philosophy.
Adam Coelho: Yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: Do you get any pushback, or do you get any thanks? Because there’s a lot of people that come from the dharma perspective that hear the secular mindfulness conversation kind of say, ugh. Uh, and there’s people that have no mindfulness background, and they’re like, mindfulness. Ugh. So you got to carve that middle space. And I’m wondering how you’ve done that and how that’s done work for you.
Adam Coelho: A lot of trial and error. A lot of people I’ve tried talking to that don’t want to hear about it. My brother, my parents, sometimes they’ve come around to it. I think the best thing that I was taught is when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. That’s kind of how I try to show up now. It’s like, I’m not going to preach it to you. If you want to learn it, I’m happy to teach you, but I’m not going to go preaching it because it just wasn’t effective. To your point about Buddhism, I totally agree. I think it’s very practical. I love the idea of practice, this being a practice. I think it really can be applied to all of our areas of life where sometimes it doesn’t feel like a practice. Right. Uh, business or work. But if we can think about everything as a practice, just showing up and trying and learning and growing, I think it’s really powerful. And so, yeah, I think Budhism is very practical. I’ve learned some about it. I did a ten day silent retreat eventually in the Sn Goenka kind of style of vipassana. So I’ve gone down that road and I’ve done another retreat with John Cabotzin. John Cabotzin is a big influence on me. I took MBSR at Google. So I’ve kind of dabbled in a lot of different worlds. For me, I just try to keep it know, straightforward. Yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: Make it digestible. And that’s when people think about you. Just let it applies to. And so I get this question all the know, Jonathan, what does mindfulness have to do with money? And I’m sure that you’ve had a similar question, so I’m going to ask you that question, Adam, what does mindfulness have to do with money?
Adam Coelho: It’s a great question. For me, it really comes down to awareness and choice. I think that money is one of those things that we ignore. Right. Just kind of like my know, negative thoughts. Right? Just like, oh, I’m just going to move on, keep looking forward, not going to pay attention to that. And money is that for a lot of us, there’s all sorts of reasons for that, but mindfulness allows us to look and pay attention to what’s going on with our money with a kind, curious awareness. Right. Can I look at how much money, uh, do I have? How much debt do I have? Can I try to come to that without judgment without ridiculing myself for past m mistakes. And then once I start to have that awareness, I can choose what I want to do about it. I can choose how I want to move forward. And ultimately, the more that we do that, we can start to choose how we want to live our life. Right? We can use money as a tool to create the life that we want. And so when I think about mindful fire as I talk about it, um, on my podcast, it’s really crafting a life you love and making work optional, using mindfulness, envisioning, and financial independence. Mindfulness helps you know yourself, awareness of self, what’s important to you, what you care about, what your money situation is, and your money beliefs. Like we talked about before, envisioning is thinking really big about your life. What do you want your life to look like? Often we have such limitations on how we think about our life. And I like to have people just set all of that aside and think really big, and then use our predicting brain to make that happen. And then financial independence essentially pays for it. All right? But to use financial independence to make that life vision happen for yourself, you need to first have awareness of what the situation is. And I think a lot of people don’t even have that. How much money do they have? Where do they spend their money? How is it invested? What kind of debt do you have, and what do you need to live the life that you want to live? That’s all. Awareness. And then choice comes in where it’s like, okay, now that I know that, maybe I can stop spending so much money on this thing that I don’t really care about and start spending more money on this thing that I love. And so that’s kind of how it comes together for me.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I think you’ve hit on the three sort of the awareness of spending, the awareness of financial status, and then the awareness of what’s really important to me so that I’m making the right decision. So those are the kind of three things that I think are really important as well. I’m going to loop this background. This is the question I’ve been holding on to in the back pocket, because I think that was a pretty the time to talk about it.
Adam Coelho: Let’s do it.
Jonathan DeYoe: It sounds very privileged from a place of. And when I say it, it sounds just as privileged. Right. You’re a google. I’m at a large wealth management firm. And to say to somebody, yeah, just develop those right beliefs and you can be successful, too. I don’t want to be disingenuous I want to be honest, and I want to say, yes. It’s hard. Yes, you got Delta, raw deal. And so talk to that person for a second. What do you say to that person? That’s like, you know what? This whole idea of work optional, uh, ridiculous.
Adam Coelho: Yeah. It is absolutely a privilege to even think about this, to even have the space to think about this, because so many people in our world and in our country are just hand to mouth, right? Like, let me make the money. And then I got to put food on the table for my family, and I got to keep moving forward, and I don’t have the privilege to even think about this. So that is very real. What I would say to them is to dream, right? To think beyond their current situation, even if it feels forced, even if it feels impossible. And this envisioning exercise that I lead and have available on my website that I teach as part of search inside yourself and elsewhere is really just like, uh, if you set aside all the limitations that you have, all the constraints, ideas of what’s possible, you set them all to the side, and you think, five years from now, I’m sitting at my kitchen table and I’m writing out how amazing my life has gone. If everything goes better than expected, what does my life look like? And I suggest that because it doesn’t cost anything, it just takes a willingness to be curious and to ask yourself, what do I really want? And it allows you to start planting those seeds, right. Once you have the idea in your mind, it already is more possible, and you can already start moving towards it. And with our predicting brain, we can’t help but move towards it. And the more we practice it, the more we water those seeds, the more we’re able to move towards it. And then you start to figure out, okay, well, I want to have this life. Okay, well, maybe that means I need to go to college or I need to go back to school, or I need to get a better job. How do I do that? Oh, well, I could take this class at the community college, or I could find this resource that helps people in this situation. Uh, the path starts to reveal itself as you start walking down it. And so this is all to say, absolutely a privilege to even think about this. But for me, I would always counsel people to start with the dream, because it’s very motivating and it’s very energizing. And, uh, the power of our brains start to make it happen little by little. And as you start to notice it more, it just accelerates.
Jonathan DeYoe: So there’s something beautiful about that. Acknowledging. Yes, I understand it sucks. And the choice is wallowing in the suck or just programming your brain with a little bit of something different and just saying, just take the first step. Just take the first step. See what happens. Try it on. Right. And I think that where we get to, though, I always get to this point where there was still a lot of luck involved. You got to be willing to be lucky as well as put the work in and create the vision and make the choices. But then also, it’s good to have a little luck when you can.
Adam Coelho: Absolutely. That is very true. And there’s a TED talk that I was introduced to recently. The guy’s name is Tony Wilkins, and it’s called engineering serendipity. Maybe you can put a link to it in the show notes. And have you seen it?
Jonathan DeYoe: No, but I have seen it. I haven’t watched it.
Adam Coelho: Okay. It was like a lightning bolt for me. It was like, oh, my God, this explains my whole life success. All the success that I’ve had has been from just, like, putting myself out there, putting myself in a situation where something good could happen. And he uses an example of, like, he was going somewhere, and he had, uh, used miles, and he got upgraded to first class, right? And his two kids were still back in coach, so he was going to give it to one of them, and his kid basically was like, oh, I really want to sit up with you. And he went up and he said, uh oh, tell them what you told me. And said, oh, I’d really like to sit with my dad up in first class. I don’t know if there are any extra seats. And they were basically like, yeah, I think we could do that. And they just upgraded both of the kids, and they all flew to wherever they were going in first class. And it’s just because they asked. I think so many people are afraid to think of a possibility or put themselves in a situation where they could just, or just ask for what they want. And I think people would be amazed at how often people just say, sure, yeah, I joke when I teach envisioning that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten free late night pizza by just, like, going up and being like, is this pizza? Buy one, get one free. And they’re like, uh, sure, why not? Here you go. It’s like, one time they were closing up, and they’re like, hey, you want this whole pie? I’m like, sure, yeah. So there’s bigger examples than free pizza, but it’s big in small ways. I would highly recommend that Ted talk. It was fantastic. And actually, he’s going to be on my podcast because I put myself in a situation. I shared the video and a, uh, workshop, uh, that I’m in now, or a mastermind that I’m in now, where I’m back to investing in myself. I’m putting myself out there investing in myself. The person running that mastermind tagged someone who knows him, and I asked for an introduction, and now he’s going to be on my podcast.
Jonathan DeYoe: There you go.
Adam Coelho: It’s amazing together.
Jonathan DeYoe: How were you introduced to fire?
Adam Coelho: Another good one. This was a situation where I was five years into my career at Google, where I’ve been for going on 13 now, and I was making money, I was saving money. Luckily, I wasn’t spending all my money, but I really, beyond my, had no idea what I wanted to do with it. I was afraid to make the wrong decision. I was afraid of the complexity, like so many people are, and I just did nothing. I just kind of kept moving forward. Unfortunately, I didn’t spend all my money, but a friend of mine shout out, uh, to David Moltz. He and I started the same day at Google. And he came to me, said, hey, I want to start a side hustle. I want to do something with side hustling. I don’t want to do anything with ads. We do ads all day. I don’t want to do anything with ads. And I said, why don’t you go learn about investing? That’s going to be very good for you to do that. So he went and learned all about investing. Found the financial independence, retire early movement, found choose fi, a show which I was, uh, actually lucky enough to be on, thanks to envisioning. That was episode 420 on there. But he came back and taught me everything about it, and I just started making little changes. I started automating my investing into index funds. I learned about what’s called the mega backdoor Roth Ira. I didn’t realize that beyond the 20,000 now that you can put in your pretax four hundred and one k, you can actually put like 60 grand total in those type of accounts. And so I just started doing that. And my net worth just started going up and up and up because it was growing tax free during a very good last ten years. But I just started opening my, uh, mind to like, wow, there’s this whole world and possibility. Before I had learned of, I think what really clicked for me was that I don’t need $10 million to retire in quotes. Uh, honestly, $10 million. Infinity. It kind of felt like infinity, right? Like, it felt like there’s never enough money to retire, so I just guess I’ll keep working. But once I realized the 4% rule, which basically is that once you have 25 times your annual expenses, you can live off of your investments as long as your lifestyle stays kind of costing the same amount. That was a lightning bolt moment for me as well. I realized, wait, if I want $100,000 a year to live on, I need $2.5 million. That’s a lot of money, but it’s not infinity, and it’s not even $10 million. It seemed much more possible to me, and that really was like, wow. Then I dove down the rabbit hole and eventually kind of brought mindfulness together with it. And that’s why I have the Mindful fire podcast.
Jonathan DeYoe: What do you think of the re part of the fire? I mean, ah, I sort of take issue with it. I like fi. I’m all about fi. But re.
Adam Coelho: Yeah, you know what? I agree completely. It turns people off. They’re like, oh, what would I do all day? I don’t want to sit around doing nothing. Me either. So what I like to kind of came. I don’t know if I came up with this. I think I did, but I like to think of it as fire, financial independence, reprioritize early. That’s the way I think about it. Know some know J. L. Collins, who wrote the simple path to wealth, talks about Fu money. I love the concept of fu money. Right? If you’re in a situation where you don’t want to be and you have money, you have options. I like to think of it more as, you know, for instance, for me, it’s like, I don’t need to quit my job to start living the life that, you know, uh, for me, I started building these facilitation skills. I started teaching workshops. I started designing workshops about envisioning and testing them at Google. Now I’m starting to do that same thing with envisioning for teams in kind of kicking off offsite meetings with envisioning type things to get people energized and talking and getting creative. And because I have the space and I know, like, oh, maybe they don’t want me to do this a lot of time, but I have this flexibility and this cash pile reserve that it’s like, uh, oh, I’m going to try that. And I don’t need to quit my job to start living this life. I can just start doing what I call my on the job side hustle, which is the mindfulness stuff, and I can start facilitating these programs and start living in to that post phi life. I think the problem for most people is they just don’t know what they want. Like we talked about before, they don’t have a vision. I think we said, before we started recording, I was at like a happy hour with six of my Google colleagues the other day, smart, intelligent, interesting people. I said, what’s your vision? What’s your vision for your life? Nobody had a vision and they thought I was crazy for asking. And ah, I don’t know if they just didn’t want to say, but I got the sense that they didn’t actually have a vision and that’s really the first step, right? So I’m all about getting clear on what you actually want. If you’re already on the path to fi. I think there’s a lot of people, five years or less from Phi financial independence, and they are like, what am I going to do? Like I’ve been pursuing this goal for so long, what do I actually want on the other side of it? And so I actually am kind of starting to develop a program for people like that where I help them get clear on what they want and use the power of their predicting brain to start planting those seeds and to start bringing that post Phi life into their day to day now, so they can start trying things and ah, living that life. So when they get there, as one of my guests said, let Phi just be a stone you pass on the path of life. Right?
Jonathan DeYoe: I love it. That’s nice. There’s just so much, and I want to get to a little something. I want to give you a chance as well. So just in a nutshell, you mentioned a couple of the things that you’re teaching, but just walk us through like a program a company hires you to do the launch of their annual meeting. What does that look like?
Adam Coelho: Yeah, this is very much developing right now. I had done one in the past and it’s been in the back of my mind, but I’m actually operationalizing it, having conversations about it. Funny envisioning story there, but I feel like you ask me a question and then I come up with like five stories and then I eventually get back to the point. But uh, quick story. So I been playing with this idea in my mind and in my journals and stuff like that. What might this look like? And I was like, okay, I have this idea. I need to talk to people who plan these type of meetings. So at Google, those are administrative business partners, executive assistant type people. And I was like, okay, I got to talk with one. So I know a few. And I was standing in the cafeteria at Google and up walks this woman who I had known from California, Ashley. Haven’t seen Ashley in five years. The, uh, last time I saw her, we were both living in California. Now we’re both working and living in New York, New Jersey area. So she walks up to me and she says, hey, how you doing? I was like, oh, wow, great. Nice to see you. And she’s like, I’m like, what are you doing? She’s like, oh, I’m still an admin. So she was an admin when I knew her. She took a stint on a team that plans executive summits and events and then is back being an assistant. And she said, oh, yeah. I was like, oh, I’d love to talk with you about this thing whenever you have time. She’s like, oh, that’s great. I’d love to talk with you. I actually got to go. I’m at an off site right now. So it’s like, this is exactly. Couldn’t be more aligned with what I envisioned. So I speak with her. She says, give me an elevator pitch. Okay, great. She introduces me to another person with that elevator pitch who basically leads meetings with high level teams that, like, the CEO comes to these meetings sometimes. And she says, okay, give me a one pager and focus on why would they take time out of their busy schedule to invest time in this when they have so many pressing things? And so this week, I created that for the first time, and then I sent it to Ashley. And this other woman, jackie, wasn’t going to send it to Ashley because she didn’t ask me, but I did. 5 minutes later, she emails me back and says, adam, can I book you for the June 20 for this session for an off site boom?
Jonathan DeYoe: Um, boom.
Adam Coelho: It’s the engineering serendipity, right? Like, I just put myself out there. I had the vision. And so that is a long way of saying this stuff. It works. Uh, and it seems like magic, but it’s not. It’s the fact that I’m planting the seeds in my mind and I’m ready to see.
Jonathan DeYoe: So I want to be clear. You’re in Google and you’re doing this to groups and teams in Google at this point, yes. The idea beyond that, eventually.
Adam Coelho: Yeah, exactly. The vision. So I’m, uh, at the point now where I’m testing this and refining it. And so I’ll do that session. I might do another one for a client in a couple of weeks. And so it’s very much like, let me do this same thing I did with the envisioning workshop, which is more like envisioning the life that you want, which is growing into kind of like a multi week program coaching program that I’m kind of creating right now. But to your question of what does that program look like, uh, what does that workshop look like for teams? And so imagine a team, to your question, has their annual planning meeting, right? Normally they would just be working, everyone be like, on their laptop. They’d be like, okay, we’re going to start in 5 minutes, finish up what you’re doing. Okay, we’re going to start, close the laptop. Then they just get straight to it. They just go right into it. Someone’s, uh, talking at you for the next 8 hours, and everyone’s wondering, when’s happy hour? I can’t wait to happy hour. So what this looks to do is instead of that, start with kind of an expansive space where we do a little arrival meditation. And I wouldn’t even call it that for most people, right. I would just say we’re just going to breathe, we’re going to fully arrive here, transition into the space, and then I introduce the concepts we’ve been talking about, thoughts as seeds, our predictive brain, why envisioning works, and kind of giving them permission to trust me to try it. Right. And then let’s envision personally, right, what is your vision for your life? Then apply that to the team setting. What’s your vision, your three year, five year vision for the team, the business, the partnership with the client or whatever it may be, and then bringing it back, uh, facilitating some discussion about that, and then bringing it back to how do you fit into making that happen, and how does that help you move towards your vision? And so the idea is, instead of starting with just like, someone talking at you, it really brings up the energy, because talking about your vision is very exciting, or thinking about your own vision is very exciting. And, uh, it gets conversation, creativity, curiosity, and connection through the roof right away. And so to the question she had me answer of, like, why would they invest in this? It’s because it’s going to up level the entire conversation. The ROI and effectiveness of the entire event is going to be higher because that energy, that conversation and connection and creativity is going to flow right into the planning and right into the breaks and the meals and the happy hour. So that’s what I think. I’m a little revved up about it. I’m excited.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, it’s good to be revved up about it. I do this in every episode. I want to provide for listeners a, uh, simple to do and a simple not to do. So if you have a new coaching client, they want a quick start. I think I know what you’re going to say, but surprise me. What is one thing they can do today that will give them better outcomes?
Adam Coelho: I’m glad you asked because I actually created a, uh, resource for your audience. Is it okay if I share that?
Jonathan DeYoe: Please, this is the time.
Adam Coelho: Okay, so we’ll edit that. I’m glad you asked because I actually created a resource for your audience. I mentioned before I have like, an envisioning guide on my website. But I wanted to simplify that down even further to one question. One question that I would start with if I was trying to get clear on my post phi life or the life that I want to create and start, uh, living now. And so it’s one question. And so I created this guide for that and people can get email@example.com. Mindfulmoney.
Jonathan DeYoe: Cool. I’ll put that in the show notes for sure. What’s, uh, one thing that they’re likely doing that they should stop?
Adam Coelho: One thing that they should do to stop doing?
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. This always catches people off guard.
Adam Coelho: It does, yeah. What’s coming to mind for me, one thing that they should stop doing is being so hard on themselves. I don’t know why that’s coming up, but especially when it comes to money, it’s just bring a mindful, kind, curious attitude towards yourself and whatever’s going on in your life. Right. We’re going through tough times. We’ve been going through tough times. Not likely to get any easier. Cut yourself some slack. You’re doing great. You’re doing great as what? Tom Papa, the comedian, he had a whole show called you’re doing great. And, uh, this is advice for me as much for everybody. I I’m all about envisioning, right? So my mind races forward to the next thing know. I get overwhelmed by all the things I need to figure out to make these programs a reality and everything. And I tend to overlook all the progress that I’m making, all the great things in my life, all the great things that I’m doing. But the more I just relax into the experience of life, into enjoying what I have already, the happier I am and the more quickly I move towards things that I want. The big realization for me, and this is maybe another good one for people to try doing, is like, once you’re clear on the vision that you have for your life. Start real, like, take a look, shift your attention. How do you already have that thing that you want? That’s been the big realization for me over the last years, really is like all those things that I say I want, I already have. I want to be an entrepreneur, right. Sometimes call this the if only mindset. If only I could be an entrepreneur, if only I could retire early, if only I could teach mindfulness and get paid for it. But when I shift my attention slightly, ever so slightly, I can realize, wait a second, I already have that. I teach mindfulness at google and I get paid for it. I am an entrepreneur, right? And I can live, uh, my post phi life right now by getting clear on it, planting the seeds in my mind, and starting to take action little by little to create that life.
Jonathan DeYoe: Now, just before we wrap, uh, up, what is one thing that you have recently changed your mind about?
Adam Coelho: One thing that I have recently changed my mind about?
Jonathan DeYoe: We’re talking about neuroplasticity here. This should be.
Adam Coelho: Ah, yeah, I know. Oh, my God, this is stumping me. One thing that I’ve recently changed my mind about is just coming back to the idea around what got me into the problem with envisioning myself out of a job in the first place. The idea that I need to leave Google and be an entrepreneur full time. Right? This is a thing that I have to change my mind on again and again. And my wife, uh, continually reminds me of this, gently and kindly, thankfully. But what I’ve realized is, like, I have everything I want, right? I’ve gotten my work in a situation where I can do these things that I want on the side. I can have the security of the job, and, uh, I can go into these beautiful offices and hang out with smart people and interesting people and have these opportunities to learn and grow. I don’t have to run into this world where I’m an entrepreneur. It’s like, no, I can be an entrepreneur and have a job. And so I change my mind on this again and again. I get caught up in this future, I got to do this, I got to do that. And my wife reminds me, one, you’re already doing it, and two, you don’t need to do anything different right now.
Jonathan DeYoe: I see a lot of a similar energy that you carry that I have. I’m doing something I love, but I start doing something else at the same time and I grow that thing and then I start doing something else at the same time. And I work on grow that thing, and I start doing something else at the same time. I know that you listen to episode zero, right? And so you know that a lot of this whole podcast and the purpose of this is to honor my brother, right? I think that one thing I would hope that you figure out is that you matter without all the stuff that you do and accomplish. Because I think that I have to remind myself of that and to let myself slow down. And I think you’re doing great work, and I think you should keep doing it. And I think that it’s okay to not always attack the next thing. Like, you know what I mean? I don’t know if you have thoughts in that path or not. It’s just the loss of my brother changed a lot of that for me. A lot of that. I got to do a new thing. Got a new thing. Got to do a new thing.
Adam Coelho: Yeah. No, I’m getting goosebumps just hearing you talk about this, because it resonates so much with how I live my life. And even with all the mindfulness, even with all of this knowledge and practice, it’s still that energy, just like, never enough. Keep going. And, yeah, there’s been a lot of moments. I just found out this week that, uh, someone I used to work with when I first started at Google passed away suddenly in just these. It’s not all about striving and achievement. And I appreciate you saying that I’m valuable without all of that. And I need to constantly remind myself of that because very achievement oriented, very, like, get good grades, get the teachers praise type of stuff. And it’s like, it’s not what it’s all about. The achievement is not what it’s all about. Just relaxing into life. And I know that the more I do that, the better things go anyways, but the striving is always there. I appreciate the reminder. Yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: How do people connect with you so we can make sure that they can find you?
Adam Coelho: Yeah. So first off, if anyone is interested in starting to live their post financial independence life, I would invite you to download that guide with the one question I would start with. And you can get firstname.lastname@example.org mindfulmoney and I’d, uh, say the best place to connect with me is on LinkedIn. I post semi regularly there, trying to stay consistent with that, but love having conversations with people, share content about my mindful fire approach, mindfulness, envisioning financial independence, crafting a life. You love that kind of stuff. So I would love to have you check me out on LinkedIn and then of course you can find the Mindful fire podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, and we explore all of this stuff through teachings, guided meditations and inspiring interviews with people actually living this on a day to day basis.
Jonathan DeYoe: Adam, thanks for coming on. I appreciate the time you spent with us and I look forward to listening to this again.
Adam Coelho: It was my pleasure. I really enjoyed the conversation you got me thinking Jonathan, especially there at the end. So thank you for having me and look forward to staying in touch.