This week’s episode is with Adam Greenberg. Adam is in his 30s and was most recently working with the Peace Corps along with his girlfriend, Lianne. What I really enjoyed about talking with Adam was the way that he expressed his thought process. As he shared his journey with us, Adam’s had some interesting experiences living in multiple countries and various cities in the US while doing meaningful work.

Adam’s Brief Biography

Adam has an eclectic and fascinating background. He has paved his own non traditional career path, which has included backpacking and traveling both in the US and abroad for the past 13 years, traveling with intention through work with meaning. He is a proud 2-term alum of Americorps, as well as a recently evacuated Peace Corps volunteer working in rural Zambia the past two years.

He has also lived on a vegetable oil powered school bus as part of an environmental nonprofit, helped redesign a campaign for the popular social enterprise Toms shoes and served a stint in the Obama White House. His is clearly an impressive and unique path which he credits to setting bold goals and the privilege of being debt free.

Adam is an advocate of expanding national service and increasing access to such programs by reforming the United States’ broken student loan debt issues. Welcome Adam.

Your Challenge Invitation

Challenge 1

Look into a password manager for your online account. If you’re interested in learning more about that, Adam has created a handy guide for you, which you can find here.

Challenge 2

Are you interested in listening to audio books or podcasts more quickly? If so, try this challenge. Slowly speed up your listening speed over time. Some apps will let you increase the speed in increments of 0.1 while others only allow jumps of 0.5. Start at the next speed up from 1 and once the audio sounds normal to you, increase the speed slightly once more. Keep increasing the speed over time as long as you are able to successfully adapt to the new speed.

Contact Links

Contact and follow Adam on his website, Instagram, Twitter or Linkedin.

You can connect with Damianne on the Changes BIG and small website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube. You’re also invited to join the Changes BIG and small Facebook community.

It’s about having the opportunity, the access to make your own choice. That’s freedom.

Timeline of the Chat

00:24 – Adam’s bio
06:11 – Choosing meaningful work and the relationship to purpose
08:20 – Finding and living your purpose
11:30 – Lessons learned from travelling and moving often
14:10 – Recognizing our privilege
15:01 – Higher education in the US
18:44 – The shortcomings in development work
20:03 – Working in Zambia with Peace Corps
24:37 – Social Activism in Business
26:57 – Reflecting and finding what’s next
28:22 – Editing and cybersecurity
32:35 – Two challenges from Adam
35:08 – Where to connect with Adam

Spending money on experiences is a true value.

Quick Links

Transcript of the Episode

Adam’s current location

Adam: [02:09] Currently in San Diego. and as you said I’ve been traveling for a number of years. Most recently, I am an evacuated Peace Corps volunteer, having lived in Zambia the past two years. I was serving there with my girlfriend and of course we were evacuated because of COVID. It’s affected the whole world.

Adam’s reasons for travelling

Damianne: [02:28] In the intro, I talked about how you’ve traveled a lot. You have lived in 19 different cities and in 15 states, and then you lived abroad for seven years. What took you all over the U S and then abroad as well. 

Adam: [02:44] Ninth grade, I’ll start with that. My friend’s older brother, he had encouraged us to take as many AP courses as we could in high school. He was a senior and we were going to be freshmen. He said, if you take AP courses, if you can get that out of the way as much as you can in high school, going to college, you might have more credits. It’s certainly cheaper and here in the United States, student loan debt is a big issue.

So I listened to him and I took his advice and I did that. And so when I entered college four years later, I received a very generous scholarship, which would then later help me graduate without any debt, which was tremendous. 

Damianne: [03:20] That’s a really big deal in the US, right? College is so expensive. 

Adam: [03:26] Yes, and that’s something that I’m an advocate for. We need to reform student loan debt. And for me, when I was in university, in my junior year I became involved with a union and living wage organizing campaign by our campus janitors. So getting involved in student activism was something that…. with politics, it speaks to you in a way, right?

I wasn’t particularly interested in politics at the time, but issues that happen speak to us in different ways. And that campaign really motivated me so when I graduated university, I was fortunate that I was debt free and I didn’t quite articulate it at the time but I realized in retrospect, I set three goals for myself after graduating.

 Number one was that I would continue to seek meaningful work, whatever that might look like. Number two, that I would try to not go into debt to do so because often working in the nonprofit and social oriented work doesn’t really pay very well. And third, I thought, well, if I can combine those first two things and also somehow travel, then that would be great. How can I do that?

And I said, Oh, I know I’ll join the Peace Corps. And, then it was in my research of the Peace Corps that I discovered a program here called AmeriCorps. And I said to myself, you know, before going abroad and working on any projects with communities and doing it so alone, I should learn about and travel and serve within my own country first and learn about the issues here so I decided to join AmeriCorps.

I know you have an, an audience which is from around the world. Your audience might be familiar with the Peace Corps, an international development service program. AmeriCorps is a domestic version of that for working on American issues. Under the umbrella of AmeriCorps, there are programs like NCCC and Teach for America where….

Damianne: [05:15] I know people who’ve done Teach for America. 

Adam: [05:18] So there’s that, and then there’s another program that I did called the National Civilian Community Corps, NCCC. This is a travel based program for young people, generally ages 18 to 24, but they’ve just increased the age.It’s a team based program where you live and work with your team for 10 months and you travel the United States, working on generally four different two month long service projects in areas that might be related to disaster relief or education, working in schools as well. After Hurricane Katrina, one of the projects we did was working with Habitat for Humanity, rebuilding homes.

So this was an incredible program and it really set me off on my path through my twenties and I’ve continued to seek work that I found meaningful in this area.

Finding meaningful work

Damianne: [06:11] So when you talk about meaningful work, what does that mean to you in particular? What are you looking for? 

Adam: [06:18] That’s the thing with meaningful work. It can look like many different things for each of us at different points in our life. I’ve been fortunate that the work that I’ve done has had a lot of variety but being able to take meaning from whatever it is, whether it even be something that you might consider mundane, If you can see the value in what you’re doing, then that’s meaning.

And so I’ve been fortunate that I’ve done a variety of things that I’ve tried to be present to and feel like I was contributing somehow. 

Damianne: [06:51] You did AmeriCorps and you’ve done Peace Corps. So does it have to look like some sort of service? Does it need to have a volunteering or social component, or have you defined that at all? Or are you just open? 

Adam: [07:05] I am open. It has in my path looked like various forms of service, working with nonprofits, working on political issues, social issues, You know, volunteering is a privilege. Being able to volunteer, you know, being debt free and then finding myself able to volunteer, that’s a tremendous privilege. So one of the things that I’m passionate about now is, as I said earlier, how do we make this more accessible for more people, people from different backgrounds and student debt is a big part of that, systemic racism in the United States is a big part of that as well.

Damianne: [07:40] I think that kind of links to finding your purpose also, for each person finding what their purpose is. I think that for each of us, part of our purpose in this world is to find some way to contribute to it. And so maybe that is defined as doing some work that we could call meaningful work.

How do you think about the relationship between life’s purpose, and I know that can change over time, right? It might be something different today than it will be 10 years from now, than it was 10 years ago. How do you think about the concept of finding your purpose, living your purpose?

Finding and living your purpose

Adam: [08:20] Yeah, for many people, I would think to connect your life’s purpose to the work that we do, I mean how we spend our time and we spend our days often is composed of work. Finding purpose through life, there’s work of course, and you hope it’s meaningful, but then there’s also other aspects of life that give us purpose and that’s the relationships that we have, that being a key one, and finding ways to enjoy our time. 

Damianne: [08:47] I sometimes hear people talk about the different buckets that you need to make sure are full, are complete in your life and that at different times you could set different priorities to different things.

So sometimes people talk about faith or family or relationships, work. Do you think it’s possible to achieve balance?

Adam: [09:10] When I think of balance, I think of everything in moderation and that includes prioritizing. As we progressed in our careers, very often I think it’s easy to think that we need to increase our lifestyle or it’s natural for people to increase their lifestyle.

And part of what’s helpful in creating balance and how much free time you have for yourself, for your family, something that I’ve recognized in relation to that through traveling a lot, you know, I’ve been living the past decade with less stuff than can fit in two suitcases so I’ve become a bit of a minimalist in terms of physical things. 

And for me, I recognize, you know, there’s a Buddhist truism that one key to happiness is not to acquire more but to desire less. And so, as we advance in our careers, if you want to seek work life balance, then also being mindful of lifestyle creep and keeping your expenses low whilst continuing to save money and prioritizing where you spend money, where you spend your time, how you, who you’re spending your time with.

 If you can do those things that you find meaningful and that maybe don’t necessarily cost a lot of money, then you can find balance in maybe less physical stuff, less clutter. 

Damianne: [10:26] That’s an interesting idea. You called it increasing your lifestyle, but….

Adam: [10:32] In some ways it’s sometimes a decrease.

Damianne: [10:34] Exactly. Exactly. That’s what I’m thinking. So maybe you increase your spending, but does your happiness increase? 

Adam: [10:42] Right. Right. 

Damianne: [10:43] Do you forget what the important things are? I was taking the Happiness course by Laurie Santos on Coursera and one of the modules in there was about how the more we spend on things, that instant gratification, it very quickly diminishes for us. 

We have to keep buying more and more stuff for us to keep attaining that high. Whereas if we have experiences with people, if we don’t look for that temporary moment of excitement that you can get from spending money, we can actually create some more sustainable and some more enduring joy and happiness. So, yeah, it’s kind of the same idea. 

Adam: [11:25] Yeah, exactly. Spending money on experiences is a true value, I think.

Lessons learned from travelling and living in many places

Damianne: [11:30] What else have you learned besides minimizing how much stuff you take with you from place to place? What would you say is one of the lessons that you carry with you from all this moving around and from the work that you’ve done.

Adam: [11:42] Part of moving around and traveling a lot is the privilege of experiencing other cultures. For me, it’s been the people that I’ve been around in those experiences. And so one of the things that I’m always reminded of, and it comes up a lot in the news, like when you hear about something terrible happening, I’m always reminded of, and I believe this to my core, most people are good people at the heart of it.

I mean we’re all human. I mean certainly, at a very basic level, there are things that we are all truly the same about. There are definitely differences about the way that we treat each other and that needs to improve. But, at a human level, I think we all want some very basic things, positive relationships, I think meaningful work for many might be also in that category, a fair opportunity at having those, being able to live a life that allows that. And I think if, as a society, as a world, if we were better able to recognize the humanity in all of us, that most people are good people, then we would all be much better off.

Damianne: [12:42] I agree. I think that people at their core are good. I think that people are born with this intrinsic value, that by virtue of being human, we have this intrinsic value and that people are good for the most part. And there’s always the choice, of course, to go to the dark side.

 I was recently reading a book called Go, Gone, Went or something like that, those three words in some permutation and it is about the refugee crisis. It’s a fiction book but it really explores why people might move and the whole idea of sometimes when we consider somebody to be an economic migrant, they’re actually escaping really challenging, difficult situations. And that really got me thinking about I have been very privileged. 

Many of us have been very privileged just by virtue of where we were born or by virtue of the passports that we have. The very idea that we can not worry that we have something somebody’s going to come and take it from us on a whim and that we have no recourse. It’s just kind of amazing to me that we don’t realize often so many things that we take for granted are not the same in many places around the world. 

Adam: [14:06] Yeah. Yeah. I’m glad you said that. It’s definitely true.

Recognizing our privilege

Adam: [14:10] To be grateful for what we have, to recognize the opportunities we have, I mean that’s something that’s been a focus of my life, I will say. I recognize myself I am a straight, white, middle class male, born in the United States, college educated. These are tremendous privileges and part of the reason that I believe so strongly in our need to reform student loan debt is that this issue is one of many variables to increase access for more people to live a life as free as I felt that I’ve been able to do, because it would be better for all of us. 

The issues you brought up about immigration and refugees, it’s terrible that so many people have to leave there country for those reasons. I mean, the United States certainly even has its own issues with gun violence, and racism and debt. You know, no place is perfect, but these are the issues we need to work.

The high cost of college education in the US

Damianne: [15:01] I went to university in Canada and I live in Europe. To many of us who are not American, who did not go to school in America, it’s mind blowing the cost of education. 

When I was doing my Masters, I considered going to an American university. I considered it for a nanosecond. And I thought, okay, I’m a teacher. How much debts am I really go into amass and how long will it take me to pay that off when I can go to university in Canada and basically pay it off from my savings. So in the end it was a non question.

 But there are places where the degree you get, where you go to school does matter for certain professions and for certain networking opportunities. And it’s amazing that there really is that barrier for a lot of people. 

Adam: [15:51] Right. When I hear you tell that story, what I’m hearing is that we lost out. We as Americans lose out in many ways, like to have intelligent people from a diverse background. To have students from all over come to the US, that would be a value for us as well as the country to increase the diversity of people here. For a while, the United States had a program of allowing students for university but then immediately ending their visa and kicking them out.

And so you might also wonder why would we educate students and then immediately, instead of offering them jobs and encouragement to build a life in the US, we kick them out, send them back to another country, and then their great work ends up becoming competitive to the businesses of the US.

So in one way, we lose out in that regard by continuing to have high costs. And you also mentioned famous schools. Yeah, maybe the US has some famous schools but we’re both fans of Seth Godin. You’re probably familiar with his riff on the difference between a famous school and a good school.

 It’s important to acknowledge that just because the school has a name doesn’t mean it’s a good school. The internet has changed the way we can learn about anything. So the value of education in the traditional sense, it’s all changing. 

Damianne: [17:03] Well, he [Seth Godin] did recently the riff on his Akimbo podcast about there are still places where your resume won’t get past the first round if you don’t have certain of the… I mean maybe we don’t want to work there. If your goal is to work there, then that does put a certain requirement.

 That’s interesting when you bring up the whole idea of culture and diversity, because if places, if companies are choosing from such a limited pool, then that explains some of the problems that we are seeing within our society, where the conversations that need to happen are not happening and the problems persist and the structural biases persist because there’s nobody questioning in certain offices. 

Adam: [17:53] Right. Where there’s this aspect of systemic racism certainly and also gender bias, where CEOs tend to be mostly white men, a very small percentage of women and then certainly even less people of color. So yeah, we lose, we all lose out when it’s like that. 

Damianne: [18:10] I guess the one good thing. It’s kind of a funny thing to see this is a good thing because takes away people’s choice, if people did want to stay in the US. But I guess in some ways it’s good if people go to a place where they can be of value to help in building other the communities. So there are pros and cons, but it is nice when people do have choices. 

Adam: [18:33] Yeah. And to me, that sounds like you’re hitting on exactly it. It’s about having the opportunity, the access to make your own choice. That’s freedom.

The shortcomings in development work

Damianne: [18:44] You mentioned earlier about often when people choose to do development work, this is not necessarily the most lucrative job. I mean, of course there are some big organizations where it could be lucrative. It’s one of those things that’s a bit of a conundrum to me because on the one hand, if you want to be able to support having volunteers, you need a structure that volunteers can slot into.

And so that’s something that bigger organizations have the frameworks to allow this. On the other hand when you have a grassroots organization that’s more local, sometimes they can be more flexible and reactive to local needs. You’ve worked with Peace Corps, you’ve worked for AmeriCorps. How have you experienced the balance of projects that work, that are sustainable?

Adam: [19:40] People who work in international development, it’s important that we are aware of these shortcomings. These are conversations that need to be had because you can have good intentions but impact is important. One of the things that Peace Corps does well and Peace Corps is a government agency of the US so it is a big bureaucracy but volunteers, we are on the ground in very rural areas.

Working in Zambia with Peace Corps

I mean, we were a three and a half hour bike ride from the nearest town in a rural village without running water and no electrical grid so these are challenging areas.

Damianne: [20:15] And you don’t get a special generator just for you. 

Adam: [20:18] No, no. You can get a small solar light and solar panels are growing. I mean, one of the great things, sort of a side note, but, you know, solar and renewable technology is growing throughout Africa as a continent, maybe similar to how cell phones skipped over landlines because technology leapfrog.

 So we were living in this village. Our work primarily was about fish farming agriculture, small scale fish farming. And we were there because the president of Zambia had declared protein deficiency to be a national emergency and fish farming is a priority. And so Peace Corps ideally, one of the principles is that Peace Corps only goes to countries in which it’s asked to serve, in which there’s a need that the community has said they would like assistance with.

And when you think about sustainable development, it should be the community saying this is what we need, not us coming in as Americans and saying this is what we think you need. And in that regard further, we should be working ourselves out of a job. One of our focuses was to teach small scale farmers who are interested in fish farming about fish farming, encouraging them and empowering them to do it and teaching them to teach each other.

 The farmers that we worked with, I’m fully confident, like we still talk to them every month. And they are continuing right now, their ponds are doing well and they’ve learned a lot that their ponds have improved, their yields have improved, their business practices are better methods of keeping records and so on. And they’re teaching each other so that’s still going on. 

Damianne: [21:57] That’s great. Cause it sounds like there is ownership on the local level. 

Adam: [22:01] Right. And there needs to be for that sustainability, yeah. 

What were you doing in India? 

Damianne: [22:07] I was teaching. I was a teacher at the Canadian school there, but then I did a bunch of volunteering with some local organizations. I was teaching computers and so some schools had computer donations, for example, that were in a locked room that the kids were there allowed to use because they might break it. So I would volunteer at some schools on a Saturday and help the kids get access to those computers.

 Sometimes for a small organization, you would try to arrange volunteering, but there was nobody in charge of volunteering and then it would just never happen unless one person took it upon themselves. But then in a large organization, that was all of this stuff that you had to do to get access, but it was very streamlined.

Adam: [22:52] It comes down to what we prioritize. And sometimes in a lot of organizations, volunteering and volunteers is something that gets left behind, or it’s like if somebody wants to pick it up because as a society, we value money and so, that drives a lot of the decisions. So when you talk about volunteering, yeah there’s the good intentions and social impact or the interest in social impact, but very often we’re a capitalist world and money drives a lot of those factors that allocate where we prioritize our resources and that’s how communities that have good intentions get left behind.

Damianne: [23:29] Well, one of the most recent volunteer activities I did in India was actually through my previous school here in Czech Republic. We worked with Teach for India. And one of the conversations that we had was about, we want to make sure that it’s not, we’re not in a position of imbalance in the power dynamic. It’s not, we’re bringing all of this knowledge to you because we have everything to offer and finding ways so that there could be some reciprocity within this process. And I imagine that this is a big component of volunteer work as well.

 How do you make sure that it’s not just a giver/taker role or the white savior role or even more conscious dynamics to consider? There’s been some criticisms even of some social companies, because for example, maybe by providing resources to a local community, some of the local businesses might be put out of business, like their repair services aren’t needed anymore.

So how do you think about this, this activism and the power dynamics that can play out in volunteering? How have you seen them play out?

Social Activism in business

Adam: [24:37] I was involved with Toms shoes for awhile and Toms is a company that it gets a lot of positive press for, you know, giving a pair of shoes with every pair that’s sold. And that’s great if you look at the effects of protocol diagnosis, a disease of the limbs caused by ash in the soil that prevents students from going to school because they don’t often have shoes, but an important effect of that, which Toms had to recognize it’s role in is is that putting shoemakers out of business, or how can Toms support shoemakers in a community that like, if you give a lot of shoes to an area, well, now people aren’t buying shoes, right? 

So one of the ways that Toms has tried to address that has been hiring and making shoes in the country where they’re given. But it’s an important conversation to be had, and those are the effects that need to be considered when you have a well intentioned company.

 It seems sort of like a transitional… There was traditional capitalism, which might’ve ignored these social issues and then now there are companies that are trying to find a way to be sustainable. I mean, the thing with Toms being a company, a for profit company, as the founder, Blake, describes it is that so that it would be sustainable. Because if it was a business, then he could continue to provide shoes, right?

Damianne: [25:58] Right. And people have to make a living. 

Adam: [26:00] Sure. 

Damianne: [26:02] I’m mean I’m not completely opposed to the capitalist way. I mean, I don’t think that people need to make necessarily billions and billions of dollars, but at the same time, people need to make a living. And there is no, like, I’m not going to shame anybody for making a living.

Adam: [26:19] Definitely. And, and that’s where, what we were talking about earlier before with balance. Yeah, capitalism works, providing resources and being able to move money. Money is an incredible tool for being able to value two different types of goods. It’s useful but as you mentioned with the difference of making billions and billions of dollars, okay, well then maybe we’re getting into an extreme that disadvantages a lot of other people. 

Damianne: [26:44] You mentioned in one of your posts or before the interview when we were discussing having the interview that right now is rather challenging for you. What makes it challenging?

Reflecting on what’s next

Adam: [26:56] This is a time of reflection for me. I think it’s a time of reflection for many people. I’m fortunate I’m healthy, my family is healthy, I have some savings so I don’t feel a lot of pressure and hardship that a lot of people are going through.

 In the reflection I’m doing, what’s next for me is what I’m figuring out and what that looks like.

Damianne: [27:17] And what’s your process for figuring that out? 

Adam: [27:21] Well, so as you might’ve gathered, I have a lot of hobbies and projects and things that I’m often working on. I’ve been working as a freelance editor for authors for a while and so that’s something that I enjoy. One of my superpowers, I guess I would say, is being able to find typos.

Damianne: [27:39] That’s one of the questions I was actually going to ask you is what is your super power? And you have preempted it and answered that question. 

Adam: [27:48] Grammatical errors and typos, I see them everywhere since I was very young and I love reading. So I work as an editor, and I also am exploring other business models. Just to share a little bit about what’s been going on for me, my father recently had some heart issues and he went to the hospital.

Damianne: [28:07] How is he doing now? 

Adam: [28:08] He’s good, thank you.

And I’ve been interested for a while in cryptocurrency and Bitcoin, and so off of that conversation comes cybersecurity. And so when I came home from Peace Corps, one of the things that I did with my parents, you know, I’m lucky to come back here with them for this time. It’s nice as they’re getting older, it’s good to spend times together.

But I also went through and helped them organize their online accounts and make sure that their passwords were good; they were not so getting set up with a password manager and organizing that stuff. That gave me the idea that, you know, there’s a potential business here for working with people. A lot of people don’t have good internet security, might have passwords on a post it note or in a book. And so there’s a consulting business that I’m considering right now expanding. 

Editing and cybersecurity

Damianne: [29:00] I’m always curious about how people find these ideas. Is it that you identify a need and you’re like, Oh, I can do that. Is it that you feel some sort of calling to help people in this way? Where do these ideas come from, for example editing and cybersecurity, they are very different as well? 

Adam: [29:25] Well, so editing is something, as I said, as a superpower, that’s come naturally to me my whole life, just immediately spotting typos, which is a strange superpower, but the cybersecurity, you know, the connection there with meaningful work is that, as I said before, when my dad was hospitalized, my family felt fortunate that if something were to happen, at least in the two months before, I had done this.

Now, one of the biggest stresses when people are grieving the loss of somebody is that now you also have to manage accounts and that’s a burden that you don’t want to deal with when you’re also grieving. So to get all that stuff in order ahead of time is important. So to me, consulting with perhaps older people who could benefit from security and making sure that their things are in order for their family…

Damianne: [30:17] It’s not just all the people who have this problem. 

Adam: [30:19] Exactly. So I see that as a meaningful business. Like you asked about meaning before, like cybersecurity is sort of a weird business to take meaning from, but if you consider that it’s helping people organize their lives at a time when perhaps they might be very stressed if something terrible were to happen to a loved one, knowing that those accounts are secure and accessible to family members, that’s meaningful. 

Damianne: [30:45] I don’t think it’s weird at all. I have a password manager but before I had a password manager, I was trying to remember all of these different passwords when I didn’t have that many accounts and trying to make good passwords. I was constantly having to reset my password because I could not remember the password. And that’s what prompts people to write them down because you can’t hold a limitless number of passwords in your brain. I try to convince everybody that I know to have a password manager. There seems to be a barrier for a lot of people. They’re like, Oh, that seems complicated. 

Adam: [31:20] It’s funny. It might sound complicated, but it actually…

Damianne: [31:23] it simplifies things 

Adam: [31:25]… it makes things so much easier

Damianne: [31:26] I’m convinced. You don’t have to convince me.

 Actually, you know what, this connects to, I’m going to ask you do you have a challenge or an invitation for listeners.

Two Challenges from Adam

Adam: [31:37] Okay. Well, I would jump on that train of saying I encouraged them to look into a password manager for their account services. And if they’re interested in learning more about that, on my website, I’ve created a free guide to walk people through how to do so. And I’m also happy to talk with them about it.

Damianne: [31:55] Excellent. We’ll add that to the show notes. 

Adam: [31:57] Thank you. 

So one challenge that I’ve actually been noodling on myself recently is we were talking earlier about books before the call and audio books for me has been something that I’ve really gotten into. And I’ve also been speeding them up. And, as you say, you also speed up some podcasts.

Damianne: [32:17] I do. I tend to use one and a half to double time.

Adam: [32:21] I love it. And I think, you know, if somebody is interested in the efficiency of reading, reading more quickly, I would encourage somebody to challenge themselves to slowly speed up their podcasts and audio books and try it out. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the brain can process audio over reading.

 When you’re reading traditionally, your eyes are moving left to right. And the scanning takes time. There are some great apps. You might be familiar with the browser extension?? In which it flashes the words in front of you, allows you to read quicker. 

 Damianne: [32:58] People always ask me doesn’t that impede your understanding of the material when it’s fast?

I don’t think so. I guess I could do some testing on n=1 but I do slow things down if I want to take notes sometimes, especially if I’m trying to write down a quote verbatim, because one of my side passion things is to write down quotes that I find to be inspiring and see how I can share those with people and apply them to my life. 

Adam: [33:27] Yeah, that’s a useful way when you can stop it, pause it, slow it down, take notes, that’s using the information. With the question you brought up just a moment ago about does that impede your ability to retain information or your focus, I’ve found in my own experience that by speeding them up, I’m paying more attention. 

I’ve been doing this for two years now and I initially started maybe 1.2 X, 1.5, then double. And then I kept pushing up 2.5X. I plateaued there for like six months at 2.5 and then I kept going up towards three. And now I listen at about 3.2 often but it depends on the narrator. It depends on, you know, if it’s nonfiction I can listen more to nonfiction and fact based stuff quicker. If it’s a fiction story, maybe you want to slow it down and pay more attention to the narration.

 Damianne: [34:18] Yeah. I’ve noticed there are some people, I don’t know if it’s accent or if it’s the pace or the intonation of the voice or what it is, but there are some people that I have trouble following when it’s double time. One of the things I’m trying to do right now is listen to more podcasts that is not North American centric because there are too many podcasts in my app that are only North American. And so I have a few British podcasts and I find that my ears are not yet sharp enough to go at double time 

Adam: [34:52] BBC has some great documentary podcasts too. 

They do. Yeah.

Where to connect with Adam

Damianne: [34:57] Adam our time is coming to a close. As we finish our chat today, is there anything else that you would like to share with listeners? Where can they find you, anything else that’s on your mind? 

Adam: [35:08] Thanks for chatting with me today. I’ve enjoyed talking with you. People can find me at and if you’re interested in editing or cybersecurity, you can also find me there for that work. Thank you.

Damianne: [35:23] And all of those links will be in the show notes, along with Adam’s social media links as well.

Thank you so much. 

Adam: [35:30] No, thank you. 

I’ve been living the past decade with less stuff than can fit in two suitcases so I’ve become a bit of a minimalist in terms of physical things. – Adam Greenberg


If you can do those things that you find meaningful and that maybe don’t necessarily cost a lot of money, then you can find balance in maybe less physical stuff, less clutter.

About the Author
I'm a curious problem solver.

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