March 2, 2021

18 : Life after Google, Private vs Public Value & Portuguese Chicken with Paul Somers


Welcome to the mindful fire podcast, where we explore living mindfully on the path to financial independence and beyond. I'm your host, Adam Coelho. And I'm so glad you're here. 

On today's episode, I'm joined by my friend, Paul Summers, Paul and I met seven years ago when I was on a work trip for Google in Australia. As you'll hear in the interview, Paul and I bonded over Portuguese chicken, one of my favorites. 

I'm really excited to bring you this conversation with Paul today because Paul has a really interesting way of looking at life. I've always found him to be just a very carefree go with the flow, takes things as they come, type of person. Always very interested in learning, growing, learning from other people's perspectives.

We cover a lot of ground including:

  • Paul’s career progression
  • How he knew it was time to leave Google
  • What Paul is now up to
  • What Public value is and why it’s important?
  • How there are actually many different types of value beside financial value
  • Paul’s thoughts about the epidemic of overstressed and overworked people


 This conversation did not disappoint and I hope that you enjoy it. 

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Transcript

Adam Coelho:

Welcome to the mindful fire podcast where we explore living mindfully on the path to financial independence and beyond. I'm your host, Adam Coelho and I'm so glad you're here. On today's episode, I'm joined by my friend, Paul Summers, Paul and I met seven years ago. I was on a work trip for Google in Australia. As you'll hear in the interview, Paul and I bonded over Portuguese chicken, one of my favorites. I'm really excited to bring you this conversation with Paul today because Paul has a really interesting way of looking at life. I've always found him to be just a very carefree go with the flow, takes things as they come type of person. Always very interested in learning, growing, learning from other people's perspectives. This conversation did not disappoint. Let's jump into today's episode. Welcome to the mindful fire podcast, Paul

Paul Somers:

Adam, thank you, a million, it's wonderful to be here and a huge shout out to everyone listening for that as well. Lovely to be here.

Adam Coelho:

I'd love to start by having you share a little bit about what you're up to with our audience.

Paul Somers:

Yeah, thanks so much. I guess at the moment, based in Sydney, having spent a couple of years in the U S recent times. Just enjoying, as best we can the predicament globally that we're in. And certainly Australia is no exception in many ways, but yeah, really just trying to, to battle through so to speak. What is a really difficult time I think for humanity in general and yeah, really just trying to keep fit, keep healthy and keep happy to keep connected with as many people as possible. And Adam, great to connect with you on that basis as well.

Adam Coelho:

Yeah, totally. I'm really excited to have you on the podcast today, Paul. For the audience Paul and I met about seven years ago now, when I was on a work rotation in Australia. I was working for Google and working with publishers and got an opportunity to go over to australia and Asia. Paul was working for Google as well in the same organization. So he and I got to chatting and we're quite aligned on our thoughts about life and entrepreneurship and side hustling and all of these things. And so we became good friends and have been keeping in touch since. So really excited to have you share your wisdom and your thoughts on life with the audience.

Paul Somers:

Upon reflection probably the main thing that brings Adam and I together is fine love of Portuguese chicken which we enjoyed certainly in Sydney and perhaps more broadly. And I did, I had the great pleasure to meet Adam whilst at Google, where I was six Years and thoroughly enjoyed all of my experiences at Google. I'm no longer at the company and have moved on. And maybe just for context, a little bit for the audience, I probably spent the first part of my career really focused on call it shareholder value and that's something Google is very comfortable with and familiar with in terms of driving. But more recently, what I've taken an interest in is much more around the concept of public value. So I spent over a year heading up the strategy and planning team at the Australia council for the arts, which was an organization, which is responsible for delivering government funds around about $200 million to Australian artists. To perform both domestically and internationally. I just thought there was such a huge race and there's so much kind of interest that people do have in the shareholder value in working for huge technology companies or financial services companies or consulting companies, or many others. But I really just thought that it was a time in my life and my career to try something a little bit new. And since then over the last three or four months, I've actually been working at one of the largest universities in Australia. And again, that's just something where the idea of public value. Of education Of really trying to create a really positive society. Really, I think comes to the fore in many ways. So I think that there's certainly positive and negatives of either pursuing private or public value. And there's many organizations, Google, no exception. That probably actually does contribute hugely in both of those domains, both publicly and privately. But for me, it was just a moment in my life and my career where I wanted to try something a little bit new and for here for now, I'm really happy with it. Having tried something very different, and we'll see where the journey might end up.

Adam Coelho:

Yeah. I'd love to hear a little bit more about how you came to that realization. I know you were doing some consulting before Google and then spent six years at Google. How did you come to identify the values or the purpose that ultimately came to the point where you decided, yeah, I want to make the move into the public value space.

Paul Somers:

Yeah. Probably find me something to be perfectly honest. Really plant was seeded for me in the U S it was actually a business school and I was doing the executive MBA program. It was a combined program between Brown university and business school. And I had just the great fortune to have been in a class. Some individuals who to me were, I don't say inspirational because maybe that oversells a little bit, but really just challenged me and my ideas around career direction and right where I might not want to go so on and so forth. And the thing that was really valuable, I think to me in that experience was that some of those folks were. Not necessarily towards the entirely back end of their career. Although there were a couple in my class who were somewhat close to retirement age, but there were some who might've been maybe 10 or 15 years away from retirement. So they're still quite a bit older than myself who were just able to provide a perspective, which in some nutshell, basically just suggested that if you want to try something, you. And given the age that I'm at was that at that time, meantime, a couple of years ago, you should just go for it. If you do have that curiosity, if maybe you're not entirely satisfied with what you're doing at the moment, even if you just think something out there might be a little bit better and you don't know whether it needs or you don't know whether it isn't. Just, if you are curious, it's much, much better to at least try and do that sometime soon, then maybe waiting until the stage that these people were at in terms of the ones who were providing me with that perspective and that guidance. And generally speaking, I guess I attest to the fact that I don't necessarily think that it's ever too late. I think you can pick up skiing when you're 80 years old, you can. You can learn how to sail when your 150, whatever the case might be. I think it's ever too late necessarily, but I guess at some level it's probably going to be easier at different moments of your life than others. And so for me, when I came back to Sydney I did say it. At Google for a year for a few different reasons, but basically as soon as I'd be getting a chance to explore something new, I was really keen to do that. I really enjoyed my time at Google learn at the time, met some wonderful people like yourself and many others I've kept in touch with a number of folks as well, which has been great. But yeah, for me, it just felt like it was time to try something new and I'm really happy having done.

Adam Coelho:

Yeah that's really interesting. And a great point. Yeah. It's never too late to try something new, if you have that seed of curiosity, explore it, whether, while you're still working at a particular company or going in and trying on a full-time basis,

Paul Somers:

I guess that's always the interesting question that I think comes up for a lot of people in their minds is. Do you do something full time? Do you try it part-time? Do you try it as a side hustle? Where does that fit in And for myself and my personal experience, I guess I have tried 1,000,001 things on the side hustle and they serve a purpose and satisfied some needs. The full-time piece, at the other end of the spectrum really pushes you to, in some ways, put your money where your mouth is metaphorically. And I don't know that there is necessarily a definitive right or wrong in which approach one could or should take. I've heard stories of both sides of that equation working out really well. And I've certainly heard both sides of that equation work out not so well. So I don't know that there's anything specifically to say, you have to go on one of those directions in terms of time, commitment and so on. But I think the important thing is just to, to have it go and you are committed to trying to change something. For most people, at least maybe career related, a lot of things, not necessarily just fall off a tree and onto your lap. And then everything is perfect. Invariably, there is some amount of work that is required in order to be able to move forward with potentially changing direction. Be that a small change, maybe you're looking at a new role or a new team or whatever the case might be within your existing organization. Or you might be looking to change country change, team changes, organization, which is potentially much more significant. And so there are so many different ways you can approach that, but. All of that to say, regardless of whichever path that you might take, there is some work involved in trying to pursue whatever that option might be for you. Yeah.

Adam Coelho:

That's a great point. And this idea of exploring something new, taking a risk. There's on the one hand, if you have a comfortable situation, as I do, maybe just sticking it out for a little bit longer. It may not be the most aligned with my values. But it certainly is lucrative and I'm pretty good at it. Yeah. Yeah. And so I guess the thinking of going and trying something different.

Paul Somers:

Yeah, no, I a hundred percent do it. And this is probably a great reflection of just some of the thought processes that have gone through my mind at different times where exactly what you say is really one of the really hard things that I found. And I suspect many people would find to say, Yeah. What do I want to be doing? And where do I want that to end up, for example, and I guess one thing that's, just one thing that's really interesting to me is that the majority of people who have retired in recent years, the majority of them have either got back out of retirement, or they're still working in some sense of the word. They're still doing by and large what they were doing before they retired after they retired, but maybe without as many of the pressures, for example, as what they had is the nine to five organization. So I hadn't dived hugely into the, to the fire world. But it's one thing that does strike me as really important in the process is to say whatever your number is or whatever your aspiration is or whatever your drive is to get to that particular point. I think that's usually commendable because I think he even just by virtue of taking a step back, you can't the society that we're living in looking at just the chaos that exists around constantly wanting more and never questioning that, and so on ends up in a state where most people are probably divorced by the time they get to 70 as slugged the way an organization that they probably didn't want to for such a long amount of time, so on and so forth. So just by virtue of people actually asking themselves. What am I doing? Where am I going? Where do I want to be? Which organization does it align? Does it not? And so on. That's a huge step. The thing that I think is certainly worthwhile considering though is what might be done or how do you want to enjoy your time? After you do get to that number or whatever the case might be, there is some learning and trying to quote it, but there is, there's a great Chinese saying that basically goes upon the lines of be careful what you wish for, because when it does come true, it may not be what you want. And so I guess my only caveat with that is to suggest. Look, there may be a great day where usually it's, a million dollars or a hundred million dollars or whatever your number, but you will be sitting there on that day when you get that number. And then the question is, what do you want to do after that? And I think that's an important one to consider. Regardless of, if you guys fire on fire or whichever approach you're looking to type, whether you're looking to retire when you're 70 or whether you're looking to retire when you're 40. I just think it's interesting to think about where are your interests? Is it in the more public domain, for example, where you're maybe working for not for profits or contributing to your small community or helping out with the local garden or local education, so on. Or is it that you are really interested in organizations and startups and so on, and you will be eager to give back in that particular way? What is it like? At some level you will have your 24 hours in a day post you're hitting your FI number just as much as what you will have. So I think just trying as best you can to be mindful of that, not letting that intimidate you in any way, but just knowing that, Hey, you might actually get to where you want to get to, which is a great thing. What's that kind of next step, I think is also an important one.

Adam Coelho:

Yeah, I totally agree. That's really what this podcast is all about. I don't really love the retire early, because as you said, most people that retire, they end up doing some sort of work. Most of them end up earning some sort of money after they retire anyways. And so it's not about not working. It's about working in alignment with your values and your purpose at a pace in a way that makes you happy. And so that's really the way that I'm looking at this podcast and yeah. And speaking with people that are approaching it similarly, and it's not like out there, it's not just when I get to. Fine, then everything will be great, although that is attempting way to think. And I'm guilty of it myself. It's, once I don't have to work then oh yeah, everything will be fine. No, there will just be different situations. The second piece of this podcast is really. An exploration for me of what I might want to do after I retire early, it, do I want to teach mindfulness? Do I want to do a podcast? What is it? Let me go talk to the people who are doing it. And let me try it. And so that's really top of mind for me as well.

Paul Somers:

I love that and I think that's a great way to approach a lot of things. Let me also just share with you, just some thoughts around the history of capitalism, which I just found so remarkable at school to learn about this and. I, I really think it's a meta kind of concepts that is worthwhile. Just sharing. Maybe give your listeners is to say the early days of people on the planet really in large part was around satisfying your most basic needs and not really spending much more time. Outside of satisfying those needs and having a shelter and so on in terms of work and building up wealth and so on. And the reality that say someone today can be worth a hundred billion dollars. If you said that to our ancestors, tens of thousands of music, they would genuinely look at you in shock. And they would say you're crazy. The idea of you needing more than what you need to cover your basics is just absurd. And if you look really, in theory that the history of capitalism really what's happening is over time, people are becoming more and more insatiable for more and more things. And so I guess at some level it's really just. Asking yourself what do you want and what will you be satisfied with? And whatever reason, if you're defining successes, owning a great Portuguese chicken restaurant, driving a Ferrari, living in a penthouse in New York, having the family home somewhere else that's all fine. But that's a lot of work to get there, to start with. And also just. It's an astonishing thing that you might have that desire to get to that particular point. So all I'm saying is it just never struck me the idea that. We've shifted so much in terms of people's thinking from just covering basics now through to this insatiable desire that, and you would know people, Adam I'm sure, and many others where they're just so unsatisfied in so many ways yet if you look at them in a somewhat what you might consider objective view, or at least of your satisfying, most basic needs, these people have more wealth than our ancestors of 10,000 years ago by magnitudes of millions. And so I think for me, that was something that really was just an interesting concept that I'd never thought about before. Like this whole idea of just wealth in general was something I'd never thought about before having a class at Brown was the philosophy of capitalism and the history associated with that. All of that, to say that, if we do try and strip it back, which I think the fire movement really tries to be very much law. If you do strip it back, you can really live a very meaningful existence in a way that doesn't keep you chasing for ever more.

Adam Coelho:

Yeah. I think it really comes down to what is enough? I don't think that's an easy question to answer, because would come up in this society that is so focused on more and more; bigger is better, more is better. At what point is it enough? I think from a financial independence retire early standpoint once you have enough to cover your annual expenses each year from the investment gains, then you technically don't need to work again. You don't need to earn any more money because your assets are producing an income that you can live off of. And so therefore the less that your life costs, the less money you need to reach that point. But then again, walking away from earning money. Or work or a job, whether you like it or not, whether it's aligned with your purpose or not is challenging. And so I guess, any thoughts on how to think about what is enough and then also, like how did you think of moving from a potentially more lucrative job at Google to maybe less lucrative financially in the public space?

Paul Somers:

Yeah, I think in terms of what is enough? As you say, that will be very different for different people. I, in some ways, as much as I love everyone from America and I do with a huge heart, I feel for you folks, almost the most in terms of the influence of media, the influence of marketing, the culture of more and more it's just so pervasive that it's very hard to walk away from that. If nothing else. Chomsky and others talk about the manufacturing of consent and various other things may be a slight more political well. But just the, propaganda in some terms you need to do certain things by certain stages of your life. And you need to be a certain personal song. The US is probably the most difficult country in the world to try and walk away from that. But at some level as well, I think with people like yourself and probably many people listening. You do have that capacity. And you do have that that state of mind to be able to question a lot of those things and to be able to really say, look, is this really where I want to end up and what do I want to do? And and this is probably much more familiar to some of your listeners than myself, because I'm not an expert on this topic, but I think it's since around about the seventies, for example, in the U S if you look at the meterage. Of the average house in the U S today, it's three times the size as what it was back in the 70s. So we have people in the U S them have three times the stuff that they had back then many decades ago. And I think at least according to most things that I've seen and heard people even with all of this stuff are significantly less happier and so on and so forth. But the really crazy thing now on top of that as well is to say, not only do you have three times more space, but if you look at the self storage industry in the U S and globally, that has also exploded. Basically like on average, that's probably a trillion dollar industry globally. Not only do people have three, three and a half, four times more stuff more space and so on. And basically it's done nothing for them if not, had been detrimental to them. And in some ways, this question of what's enough is maybe really complicated. In other terms, maybe it's actually really simple. Maybe it's just to say, look, even if you just talk to someone who was alive in the seventies and you just said, Hey, what did you have? And what were you doing? And how are you enjoying the life back then? And even in some part at least maybe around the assets that you have, or the things in your home and possessions. Even just by virtue of listening to that person from the seventies, they could probably give you a really crisp view on what you could get rid of very quickly, because they didn't have that stuff maybe back in the seventies. And I just think moving down that direction simplicity and walking away from all those things and not having a lot of stuff, I'm sure it would be really beneficial probably for most people. Is it difficult to walk away? I think. Yeah. In some ways it might be. But also I think in other ways it's actually very simple for me in terms of my own personal journey around walking away, I guess what comes with the concept of walking away at least the way that it's put in pop culture is that your losing something. If I walk away in a relationship, there's a significant loss. But really in terms of walking away, at least for me in that situation of leaving Google, I certainly didn't think about it in terms of a loss, specific to the experience that I could potentially get into something mean. And specifically in terms of them, the opportunities that, that may open themselves up for me moving forward. And so for me it wasn't really a hard decision at all in that way. And yes, there, there are foreign against for working at an organization like Google. I think in terms of my own personal development and career development, and then the perspectives, hopefully that I can now provide, if I was to go and engage in an organization that was really eager to think much more about private value and shareholder value. I think just by virtue of having thought a lot more about public value in the last couple of years, just being out to provide that perspective, I think can be quite useful even in the private value to my team as well. So for me, yeah, I really, implore people to explore. And if one wants to decide, look, they, for whatever reason are really interested in shareholder value, private value, growing companies, growing profits and so on that's fantastic and theres absolutely nothing wrong with that in any way. But if people wanted to tackle some of the other challenges that our society faces, which are very significant. Around education around health, around arts, around which in many ways the public domain tries to influence as best they can. Then there are also some really fascinating problems and opportunities in that space. And I implore people to, to have a think about at least exploring both of those than necessarily just saying. I can't I've always done it this way, focusing on shareholder value and therefore that's where I'm going to be for the rest of my time. I think people can make that transition. If they want to, or you say, do have that desire. And as I said there's definitely for and against for both a particular types of domains, but as long as you're learning, as long as you're growing, then I think he can be very satisfied in, in both of those.

Adam Coelho:

Absolutely. When you made that move, into the public art world, did you have an interest in art in particular? Or were you just looking to get more into the public domain?

Paul Somers:

Yeah, I was definitely eager to explore art and culture. It's something that has always been a significant interest to me. I have never been an artist per se though. Unfortunately I would have loved to have been but arts and culture and all of those great things are the tapestry of the societies that we live in. The opportunity to connect with human beings over food and dance and drink and so on. Just to be a part of that sector really, was just a wonderful thing. So many organizations that I'd been a part of historically have really been focused primarily around economic value. But when you start to think about cultural value and societal value, environmental value and so on, it's just, there are so many other concepts of value out there that most people don't even think about. And that's not to critique them because oftentimes we just won't even hear about it as much in the public domain. We wouldn't necessarily be taught anything of that nature at universities and so on. And those things are to me. So for example, the concept of public value is something I'll highly recommend. People having a look at. There was a Harvard professor who coined the term. I think it was maybe early two 2000s and he's written some wonderful books and shared some great thoughts on that topic. Mark Moore is his name. He is really trying to implore governments and other types of organizations, who have a huge impact in the public domain, to maybe think about the benefits and the structures that private companies and organizations do have and do really well. And actually to think about things in a much more creative way than what might've existed historically, where historically they just think about the government bureaucrat who works really slowly. He's really inefficient, so on and so forth. At the end of the day, the impact of government organizations that are at a local level or at a national level and everything in between, is really profound. And beside this idea of creative bureaucracies and recognizing that in many cases, these organizations are really being the impact that they do have is really huge. And thinking about how to create a lead, provide. Opportunities for people and the rest of our society to engage in public life, to engage with arts and culture and song is a really interesting one. And so I just up until really looking into some of these topics in much more detail and working in these domains, I'd never really heard a huge amount about these things. They've become more and more interesting to me over time. And it's not society for me that I will never work for a private organization ever again, because I had some wonderful experiences in doing so. I would never say no to that specifically. But just being mindful that the impact of organizations big, small, or otherwise do ultimately have, or can have potentially huge impact at a community level, societal level, national level, so on and so forth. They're all really important things. And Google is obviously no exception to that, Adam and we've had some great chats around so many of the concepts that exist philosophically, ethically, practically around Google's impact and reach on the world. There's just so many interesting topics there. And if we all approach those only from an economic viewpoint or a traditional business school viewpoint, we'll never really cover a lot of the interesting nuances that do exist in many of those broader and stickier issues that exist in the world.

Adam Coelho:

Yeah, that's really interesting. This idea of different types of value beyond just economic value. Certainly you can think of that on a societal level, but also on a personal level. I'd love to hear you talk a little bit more about the different types of value that can be brought to the public space. What are these various types of value that can bear fruit in the public sphere outside of economic value?

Paul Somers:

Beautiful examples are being seen around the world at the moment. There's a gentleman who coined the term creative bureaucracy, Charles Landry, who has just done some wonderful work in this area. If even you take the restaurants and the situation that we're in at the moment with COVID as an example, and the idea that we now need to maybe be slightly more socially distanced in some parts of the world. And then thinking about some of the beautiful responses, globally, that I've seen and heard, where for example, we will have restaurants historically that were very contained in terms of the space. So they would have all of their tables in their own restaurant. But for example, now, with some of these restaurants working with local councils, for example, To expand their title space out into more public spaces. So that does at least two things. It gives people the opportunity to still go to the restaurants, which is wonderful and still connect with human beings, which is really important at this moment in time. But it also creates. Just the space then within the broader construct of the area around the restaurant, which is warm, which is inviting, which does give people a real sense of valuing their community. And at a time where everyone is, largely decimated thinking in terms of their head space or just what they thought might've happened to the year and so on. Just this ability to not only connect literally directly with the people across the table from you that you're having dinner with, but just to be able to see society coming back and other people being able to enjoy public spaces. And being able to enjoy the community again, as we start to rebuild that more significantly, that's just one really important values. That one example of which there are many that will hopefully get the societies that we're all part of them, that we all value so much back up and running again. Maybe it will never be the same, but at least this idea that people are being very mindful of the public spaces and their own space in reference to other people and so on. You could easily think that's a really bad thing. I have to be two meters away from Adam, and that's terrible, but with the mindset that a lot of people have and a lot of councils have, for example, at the moment, it's just wonderful to see people are getting up and being able to try and recreate this new society of whatever that might look like. Yeah, that's a really interesting

Adam Coelho:

example. As you started talking about restaurants, the value that restaurants create on their own, right? Like it's of sure there's an economic value, right? You're buying food. They need to make money to provide the service, but also just the community that is created there, the sharing of culture through food and you and I have had several dinners in, well in Australia and in, in New York, you know what I call my legends dinners, where I basically just invite everyone I've ever met in New York, whoever wants to come comes. And we have an amazing time where we share some delicious food and some wine and we talk and people meet each other. There's a huge value in that. That has nothing to do with money.

Paul Somers:

To give you a great other example, when some people ask the question of what does Apple sell and Apple, the organization, it actually doesn't sell phones. It doesn't sell laptops. It doesn't sell iPads, whatever the case might be, what it actually sells is a lifestyle. And really, if someone has an Apple phone, I have an iPhone. What connects us really? Isn't the phone. It's the fact that we're willing to blow 2000 bucks on that phone and whatever that might entail. And so you're exactly right. Like with the restaurant, a restaurant really easy in a restaurant in many ways it's not actually selling the food or maybe some of them all, but. But some of the opportunities that would exist within that restaurant experience are hugely deep and meaningful engagement that you're having with your friends, with your neighbors next to you, maybe at a different table or bar we've with the wait staff. And then fellow folks in that space. It's much more than food. So I think there was a really funny something that I read where basically it said the way that you can irritate your partner, is to spend time eating food with someone else. Because the chance to sit down and share food with someone is in many ways, such an intimate experience or potentially an intimate experience at so many levels that it's really something that is so impactful and potentially so meaningful, depending on your circumstance. This idea of things not being exactly what they seem in terms of your action, not buying the iPhone you're buying a liftstyle. So you're actually maybe not sitting at a restaurant. You're actually sitting there. It's when he's doing experience with people and connect. That's something that I think really did that historically get undervalued, but I think we COVID, people are now becoming much more aware of that importance, particularly of human connection and so on.

Adam Coelho:

That's really interesting. To cover off on this topic of public value, is there any practical advice that you could give someone to start thinking more about how they might create some of these different types of value for their community, for the people in their life, where they live or are just more generally.

Paul Somers:

Yeah. I think most people listening to this probably are doing a great job of it already. They maybe more or less mindful of it. I think the best place to start is always starting local, so to speak and start with just being comfortable with who you are. Comfortable your own head space. Comfortable in the relationships that you have with friends and family and so on. And I think once, once you're at that point, being very comfortable in that domain. Then you might consider potentially expanding out into others that are at a broader level, broader community, broader country type items and so on. Becasue if you run too early, if your life is a little bit of a mess and your relationships are a mess, in the direct world that you're operating in, and then you go and try and do the national thing or international thing or whatever else, invariably, that's probably going to fall apart reasonably quickly. So I guess in terms of just. Value and meaning and relationships and so on. I would say, just make sure you're starting really local and really just building that space and that community around you as the first instance. And then I think it's the, world's your oyster in terms of where you might want to go and what you want to do. And I guess in some thought largely that would probably be driven by your interests as well and what you get excited by and where you get energy from and where you can then give other people energy and so on. But yeah, I'd say just as a general generalization, too. Just make sure you've got your own ship in order before wanting wanting to go out and save the planet. That would probably be my general counsel.

Adam Coelho:

Yeah. That's really interesting. As you're talking about this, I'm realizing that this podcast is an effort in creating public value. This is not a lucrative endeavor at this point. It's more of a passion, right? And as I'm doing this, I'm getting to connect with interesting people like yourself, explore these topics that I'm not, thinking about on a day to day basis. Like we didn't know we were going to go down this road a and talk about this so there's a lot of different types of value that I'm getting from this, but also just having this conversation, putting it out there, it might spark an idea in somebody that will enable them to, do something different in their life that will enable them to create more value in different ways in their life. And so it's, yeah, it's just really interesting to think about these various types of value that can be created and how focusing only on the financial aspect of things, the number in the bank account right on this pursuit to financial independence is very short-sighted. And there's a lot of ways that we can look to take our passions and our skills and contribute them in productive ways to the community too. Also this idea of starting local and getting your house in order. Makes a ton of sense. Back to the idea of more is better, I get myself in these situations where I commit to publishing every week with the podcast and now I'm just like, Trying to keep up, trying to keep up and then, working at Google. It's just basically a nonstop sprint, sometimes. And so maybe there's a little bit of getting the routines, the behaviors, the habits that are very supportive, focusing on how do I enrich my relationship with my wife, with my son, with my parents and brother first and foremost How do I create that value? How can I examine how I'm showing up in these spaces before I go out and, try to make the next big mindfulness podcast, for instance?

Paul Somers:

Yeah. To me that direction makes a lot of sense. And I think we were just probably both seen so many examples of people who, if you look at them, they've created a wonderful position for themselves or whatever else, but then. You really don't need to scratch behind the surface too much to realize that pack of cards is just going to pull down very quickly. Just looking at the horse race in various self is reasonable proxies, maybe for people in certain positions, but then that everything just disappears very quickly or actually they want to spend more time in the office. Not actually because they want to work harder and because they want to do better in terms of work, but maybe because they've also just done such a poor job at home and by virtue of going home they just see everything fall apart or that it's not what they want it to be and so on. Invariably people working there 20 hours a day, that's just screaming alarm bells at me for so many different reasons and you just want to say to them, can we just check in with your folks at home? Because they're probably much more important than this report might be, or the fact that you're having eight coffees a day to keep away. Just, maybe we need to take that break and you just need to. To take that time to have that space in your own way to build up those things again, because yeah, the story of working 20 hours a day not doing what you need to at home with your friends and your family and so on, you can almost guarantee you, that's not going to add well, invariably for many people, it doesn't have to be candid. So I think, yeah. Just keeping it real with those folks who are around you. And that means the most to you is just hugely important for your own kind of sanity. And also there's too, to be perfectly honest, because if you will not going to be a good dad or if you're not going to be a good husband and all those things, Yeah, I can almost guarantee that it would have a hit on you individually, but chances are, it's also going to have a huge hit on those people who you're not having a great relationship with as well. So yeah, I think keeping it local is great. I think everyone can do a wonderful job there. It does probably take some time and I'm by no means perfect myself, honestly by many stretches but yeah, I think just keeping it real local is really important. And then. The expansion or whatever people might want to do after that. That's secondary to me. Anyway, just get that base local right first. And then I think back and then see we'll use in whichever way you might want to go. Yeah.

Adam Coelho:

Yeah. It's almost this overworking or this over striving is just the, in some cases could be like a running away. From something else, or a neglecting of something else, it's hard to show up all the time, especially with the people that mean the most to you. Cause like the stakes are almost higher, right? Like I have this experience where I'll go to conferences and the fact that I'm talking to somebody in this space and I'm never going to see them again. It's you can share things that might be scary to share even with your best friend. The idea of really working on yourself or working on your health or your relationships or whatever is almost scary. And then, so we go run to striving or working or podcasting or whatever it might be. I'm not speaking from, I'm not speaking from my situation per se. Although there are certainly elements of it.

Paul Somers:

Just one perspective, maybe on that. For me in many ways, I'm very lucky given my background, where I was the first person to be educated in terms of my family. And so that one before me had done that. And so I came from, perfectly acceptable backgrounds, but I never really had any pressure like today I don't have any pressure in terms of Paul you need to be working at an investment bank earning $500,000 a year for me to consider you successful. I've never had that from my parents. Like for me, from my parents, as long as I can cook up some Italian cuisine, as long as I can put a roof over my head, as long as I can go and have a coffee and enjoy the company of my parents, family, and friends. That's actually all that matters. So maybe it's because, I don't come from a background of kazillionaire parents and kazillionaire pressures. And so on. That makes it somewhat easier for me maybe than some other folks, but it's also potentially worth asking some of those other folks I was to work in a job that I got paid in half, but I was super happy with what I was doing. Would you be okay with that? I guess most people wouldn't care less about your work that much. You know what I mean? Like I think the tag that many folks put on it in terms of importance, it's almost like you're saving the world every day. It's like the image that people make it out to be their work for so many people is so serious. And so almost too meaningful in some ways that it becomes ridiculous. Whereas, if you just ask if you would ask your son, Adam, Roy, if you would ask your brother, you would ask your wife you really think that this thing that I'm doing is that important? Or do I really need to be working an extra five hours in the office a day to make sure I do this thing? They're probably just going to say just do what you need to do. Don't kill yourself in there. Just. Just do great work for your nine to five and then try and walk away, at 5 and call it a day and be happy with that. Be confident with that. That is enough value that you're providing to the organization. And then you can provide the value back then soon, your friends, family relationships, and so song. Like I just defining the ironic thing to me is that people who I know who are metaphorically saving the world, but between saving lives. So like doctors and various other friends in surgery, or very small places, they don't take their career as seriously as probably 90% of people who I've met in the corporate world. And that's insane to me because they're literally putting people's legs back together. They're literally dealing with like blood. Everywhere and gore, and stressful situations and things that are objectively the real deal. They're more chilled. Then 90% of people who I talked to in the corporate domain, who would typically largely not doing that, like not doing that much just objectively, but really not doing that much when you think about the broader context of say Google or where there's. 250,000 employees, for example, like it's just so interesting to see how much weight, so many people put on so much of their activities, during the nine to five, and then necessarily disregard a lot that sits outside of that. So I've just found that to be quite an interesting thing where like the people who are saving the world or the people who are more literally saving lives, invariably, they're actually a lot more relaxed. And a lot of the people who I seen in the corporate domain, that's like a really ironic situation that we find ourselves.

Adam Coelho:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I totally, I can totally relate to that. Just as I was saying before, the pace at Google, for instance, and the pace that some people try to keep up is just unsustainable. You would think that we're on a battlefield putting legs back together. Like we're not. We're keeping ads running and to some degree it's important, right. And people want to do a good job. There's some point at which it's just becomes too much. It becomes too much of your identity, too much of your purpose and the value that you place on your life. It's an interesting perspective to hear that, people that are literally sewing legs back on or are more relaxed than the pressures that people put on. And I honestly, I think it has to do with just trying to keep up. Yeah. Especially at a place like Google where, like they hire people from the best schools, like everyone around me is from Harvard and MIT and Stanford and Cambridge, it's I'm like, I went to university of Florida. But everyone's just go and go. And it's do you feel like you got to keep up and keep progressing and it's easy to get caught up.

Paul Somers:

Yeah. I was thinking about this the other day a little bit, just to give you a quick example. One of the things that strikes me with technology companies and many other fields as well is that there's always a release. There's always an update. There's always a new product. There's always something you have to sell. There's always all of these crazy pieces and that's fine. That, that's just, that is what it is. But then I was thinking about a bus driver the other day, and I was thinking like, do you think that a bus driver would get as excited about a new boss as what someone may be at a tech company would get about a new product? And I just think about maybe the differences between those people at some level. Yeah. And you shiny widget or a new piece of functionality or whatever the case is. Yeah. Maybe it is good and maybe it's great. But when you say something's great, a hundred times that kind of loses then the value of what great is. And so that's one thing I found in tech was just, everyone's always talking these languages. This is great. This is the next big thing. This is really going to change your life. This is going to change the world so on and so forth. But invariably there's only maybe a small number of things that comes out in many of these products or many of these competencies that are actually objectively huge or really being seen. And so I do feel that. Some part of it is maybe around the types of people who you're around. And if you're only around tech people who are only ever talking about the latest launch, the latest functionality, the latest startup, the latest fundraising rounds, the latest IPO so on and so forth, that becomes your kind of zygote. That kind of becomes a Headspace. Whereas if you're hanging out with bus drivers and they might be slightly excited once every 10 years, because they get a new bus, but then just chill like that, just. They're doing that thing that providing great value to the public, that they're really providing a wonderful service. And I think that's great. Like I think both of those things can be great, but it just, it struck me as weird in the tech world where there's just so much noise and there was so much this is the great, and I don't know, man, was it really that great? Or is it that great? Maybe yes, maybe. No, but it just feels if you're in an environment where everything's. This is great. This is the best, this isn't the next big thing. So on and so forth. It just, at some level, I think it just becomes repetitive or it just becomes a bit dry or it just becomes a bit inauthentic because not everything can be the biggest, not the best or the latest every single time you go through something.

Adam Coelho:

Yeah, that's a great point. And I think also this kind of gets back to what you were saying before about work in general. The bus driver drives the bus all day and then goes home to their family and they stopped driving the bus. They're not driving the bus at home. They understand what value they're providing. They do it. And then they go home and live the rest of their life. I feel like in the tech world, I dunno, maybe it's American thing or whatever, but it just becomes who you are. It becomes everything, and I think that's why I'm so attracted to the idea of financial independence as a concept where you can get to a point where you can do whatever you want and you don't need to worry about money. And as I'm saying that I'm realizing that you don't need money to do whatever you want. You can just do it. You can go in and get a job and yeah, you might make less money or more money or whatever, but you, there's nothing stopping you. It's like the advice of your classmates. There's nothing stopping you from going and trying something right now.

Paul Somers:

Yeah. And maybe just a couple of, kind of final thoughts on the work piece. There's some HBR articles that have been written around the topic of what happens when basically work becomes your life? And you say anyone who's interesting that I highly recommend is just going and checking it out on the basis that I think, and I probably should be included in this category where at some point. I just put work on the greatest pedestal ever in terms of this is who I am. This is what I do. This is where I go. This is the conference. So on and so forth. And I guess I'm at a point in my life and career at the moment where that is not something that I'm willing to do. I'm not wanting to have that as my guiding light. I don't want that to be my North star, so to speak. Do I want to do really well at what I do. In terms of work, I really do, but do I want that to define my entire existence? I unequivocally not. And so the other thing that's also interesting, I read recently something around peaks in your career. So for example, if you think about athletes, Invariably, they hit that peak very early in their career. A lot of people in the professional domain corporate or government not-for-profits whatever. I think there's this assumption that for most people, they just want to keep going up and up, open up an office. However, it does find, and this article was just a really interesting one. I'll send it across to you, but it was basically saying that your peak may actually come much earlier than what you expect. Your peak might not be when you're 70 amount will be when you're 50. Maybe your peak for Adam is when you're 45, however,defined. But that, that might change. And you may come off your peak or your peak may not be the peak that you wanted it to be. And you might go for a new peak or whatever the case might be. But actually just trying to reach out of this concept of it always has to go up and up and to the right and promotion in same company or same company, same industry or different company, same industry, like just trying to break out of that modus operandi. I think it's a really interesting one, regardless of whether one ends up doing the promotion becoming CEO or whatever. Whether they just take stock and say maybe I've just reached the peak that I wanted to in what I was doing in my certain space or field or in shareholder value world. And now I want to try and have a look at a new page in the public value world. Yeah. Might be a different peak, but it's also a really interesting one to consider. So yeah, that would just be just a couple of my thoughts towards the back. And if some of the things I've been reading of recent times is to say, Yeah, it doesn't have to be linear. It doesn't have to be the new peak. And you're constantly working up to your peak. Maybe you say, look my peak in any capacity for me, maybe it was when I was at Google maybe I'll never see that number again, but you know what that's a fantastic thing. That can still be absolutely fine because there's a whole heap of other things that they're happening around me. Or, it may be the fact that my peak earning capacity is 10 years away and it may be in the public world or the private world, or some variant there. Maybe that's not the peak that I'm trying to change, or maybe that's not the peak that people do want to follow. So yeah, that's all that to say that. This idea the peek is one that I think might be applicable to athletes, certainly, and many other people who peak earlier in their careers. But it's interesting to think about in maybe some other contexts.

Adam Coelho:

Yeah. And I think the peak doesn't need to be financial either. It could be a lifestyle. It could be a feeling, could be an environment that you're working in with people. It doesn't have to be just peak earning potential. Because if you get caught up in that, then it's very hard to leave and go do something else where you might not earn as much. I feel like that is a challenge a lot of people that are successful in the corporate world get caught up in, it's like the golden handcuffs, right? It's I'm earning well now do I want to leave and go start over somewhere else. But I think it's because we put so much value on the financial aspect of things that we neglect the other aspects and the other potential ways of measuring value.

Paul Somers:

Yeah. No, I usually, tight time is all we have. Yeah. The value of being able to pack up your bags at five o'clock. Go home, have great relationships with friends, family, and so on. That, that should just never be underestimated in capacity. Maybe I should close out in suggesting I think there's a Ricky quote that basically goes something along the lines of the best piece of advice you can ever give anyone is that no one has any idea what they're doing either. And so I shouldn't say I have. As a little idea is anyone else people should follow my guidance or thoughts with the most casual. of head spaces because I think it's something that we're all battling through, so to speak, we're all learning about we're all growing on a daily basis in different ways. So I would say definitely don't listen to myself. Definitely not listen to anyone else. Listen, maybe to yourself, if you can. But really objectively and quite seriously. Like I do think most people have no idea what they're doing out there, including myself. So take that with a grain of salt and just have fun be mindful, enjoy your community, do what you can with your friends and family. Like if, for nothing else just following some part of that direction. Hopefully it will be of assistance to people as they continue to build. Yeah, I just can't thank everyone for taking the time and Adams for being invited once of the show. It's been a blast as always. And yeah, I just, I hope it goes well and certainly happy to keep in touch with anyone has any other questions afterwards.

Adam Coelho:

One thing I'm curious about is as you look forward in your life in terms of maybe your vision for where you want to take your life, Yeah. How do you think about that? And do you have any values that you're trying to live in alignment with? That's something that's been really top of mind for me recently, but just would love to get your thoughts on your approach to life as you look forward and in the future.

Paul Somers:

Yeah. I guess the alignment pieces is really interesting. I probably haven't thought about it in terms of. Maybe as maybe structured as what you might have, but I think at some level, just. Being happy with who you are and what you're doing, and those around you. I just really see that, if and when when you have those things set up in a way that is comfortable and you you're not critical often you don't get up angry in the morning and those things. Yeah. And I just think the ability to be able to create that. And I guess at some that will be really honest with yourself around what that means and that satisfaction. Is hugely important. And I wouldn't say for myself individually that I have lined everything up at the moment, precisely the way that I would like to is it a work in progress for me? A hundred percent. Is it much better than what it used to be for me, for example, when I was working at Google and so on, I would say much more aligned now than what it was before. But there's still probably some way to go. The other point is that at least in the worlds that we live in, I guess nothing is ever going to be perfect. Like nothing is ever going to be. Absolutely intentionally exactly how you want it to be. Be that politically be that community wide, like nothing is ever going to be posting according to anyone probably. And so I think in the meantime, just acknowledging that and that the perfect for you, the perfect for me, the perfect for others around us, who we care for. It may actually never be perfect, but as long as it's enough then that's probably okay as well. Maybe that links back to your earlier point, what is ever enough? What does that spot look like in terms of satisfaction? Yeah, maybe it is just a really subjective thing but also knowing that it's never going to be perfect. There's never going to be a right time. Maybe as a lot of people suggest having children, for example, there's never the perfect time. When was the perfect time to get married for you? There was probably never a perfect time. When was the best times for, you to do certain things in your career? Probably never the perfect time, but you make the time for the things that mean something to you. And I think it's what you've touched on before is that sometimes it is maybe taking a risk, however, defined. It's being comfortable with that. It's might be just even talking through a lot of that we, those that you care for your partner or those that are impacted by certain decisions. I think a lot of the time we don't need to go solo. A lot of these scenes, we can ensure discuss males properly, barely a very bad at doing that. You should almost have a for and against list for certain things, because. There will always be that for and against list. There will always be some costs to whatever you do and that's fine, but I think it's just actually outlining at least some of them understanding what that means. Talking through that with certain people who might value that perspective will provide you a different perspective or those who maybe are impacted by those decisions. I think that can all be really useful. And the general thought is to suggest there's a great book that's written where basically they, the suggestion is that human beings are terrible at making decisions. And so I think it was Charles Darwin who actually did a for and against for getting married. And it's hilarious list. Like it's absolutely ridiculous. But the suggestion in the book was that it is actually really a worthwhile endeavor, particularly for important things to actually just be able to stand. There will be some benefits maybe to moving to New Jersey. They're made in some costs to move into New Jersey. Being aware of those and then understanding what that means in terms of them when you're processing, it is much better than probably just saying, I'm just going to quit my job tomorrow, or I'm just going to go and do something that I just feel like, but it might actually have some huge consequences, I think sometimes it can be really good just to sit down and try and process or trying to figure out before for and against. And then be confident that you've made the right decision and kind of being. Somewhat full awareness of what the ramifications might be as well.

Adam Coelho:

You're talking about this. I think what's really coming through for me is that you're really focused on self-awareness Looking within and focusing on your immediate environment. How does it feel in the way that you're showing up for others in your life? I get caught up a lot in the external world. I think I'm finding more and more than I am trying to prove myself or impress people or show people that I'm doing things right. Or whatever. I'm still working through what exactly that means. But, I often feel like there's some right way of doing things and if I'm not doing it that way, then someone's going to disapprove. So I think with work at Google, that constant like feeling Oh my God, I'm falling behind and falling behind. Gotta keep going, gotta keep going. It relates to that as well. Even the podcast and looking at how many people are downloading the podcast and all of that. I get very motivated by that, but I think also perhaps, I need to balance it out a little bit more with what am I doing for my family How am I showing up? Looking at the podcast stats instead of playing with my son, that's not a worthwhile trade off. And I feel like that's what you're talking about. You're very tuned into simplicity. Finding a sense of simplicity in your life and cutting out all of the other noise. Is that going up on that or am I making that up?

Paul Somers:

Yeah. As best I can say same with a podcast as an example. And I only came across this yesterday, but there's a there's a really interesting website called I think it's called pudding. Pudding.cool got cool is the URL. And what they do is they do essays so slightly longer form content, and they do it in a very visual way. The interesting thing that I found for them was two things. One was the content. I just came across one article fantastic content like really great content. It was a beautiful combination of copy and then also visual aesthetics through it as well. And the thing that I really liked about what they did, and the second thing that really impressed me was that they basically just said, we do not put any pressure on ourselves to publish. On a frequent basis. So they basically just say, we don't want to be bound by the news cycle. We don't want to be bound by the hype cycle. We don't want to be bound by pressurizing certain activities that happen in certain ways, by a certain time. And I really dig that concept in terms of. Think, we've worked with thousands of publishers. I guess that's almost like the cliche rule is publish often publish frequent, either AIDS, so on and so forth. But I also really respect the idea of just saying, you know what, if it's not there, the cake's only half bang. Let's just wait, let's just wait until the cake just for you there. I've done a little bit of writing recently and I guess I'm also just trying to play a little bit with that idea is don't pressure yourself. Just keep going if you want to. And only if you want to, until it's at a point where you really feel like this thing's really great before getting into that cycle of I need to publish something maybe once a month. And then I'll do that and send it off. So maybe it's not that good and so on and so forth. So I dunno, I guess that's maybe like the classic, maybe that's the tech culture, pop culture view is ship offered and ship early iterate de LA. But I think there is something for the other view to say, you know what? Wait until this thing is the Picasso painting. Don't release the Picasso painting half down. Wait until you've done your job, then ship that thing. And then the world gets to enjoy a fully baked Picasso rather than just some half baked thing that he did because he was on a cadence to get through things and so on. I know the world, particularly of techies is very different to that. But yeah, man, if you came out with a podcast once every, I don't know, month, that just completely doubled down on the quality and you could completely not publish these podcasts as an example for the average quality that I provided. Maybe it is that you see four people and one of them really shines or maybe you package four different people in the one piece once a month, that can work beautiful well as well. So obviously there's millions of different ways you can copy scenes, but yeah, for me, if you can not be as pressured, but the quality's higher. I feel like that would potentially be a great outcome. There's many ways to do that. I definitely never want you to feel pressure in terms of what you're doing or how you're doing it, at least to the extent that you can potentially influence that anyway.

Adam Coelho:

That's really interesting. And there's a tension, right? Because on the one hand, I'm really trying to cultivate a habit of just taking action and moving forward; trying not to be a perfectionist. But then on the same token, I'm also putting pressure on myself to hit deadlines that I myself set. And of course, to some degree, because people are waiting for it potentially. To some degree, I just want to keep my numbers going up. There's definitely something to that, but yeah. So it's like a balancing act, I think, and really. What I'm taking away from this conversation is, look inward, look at the basics. Am I taking care of the basics? Because if I'm not, and I'm not right. Do I work out regularly? No, sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't. Most of the time I don't. Am I eating healthy? I find myself more recently just like chasing like dopamine hits, right? Whether it be just like scrolling through Facebook posting podcast on Facebook has gotten me back on Facebook and they really hook you back in. And so it's it's there's a little dopamine there. And eating unhealthy food and things like that. That aren't really where I want it, how I want to be showing up. It's I'm going back to that. Because I'm getting stressed out by other things, not necessarily the podcast. I really enjoy doing the podcast, but just keeping up at work parenting and working full time and then trying to do the podcast is just it's a lot. And so I'm like finding that I'm like chasing dopamine in certain ways and maybe I'm not taking care of the basics.

Paul Somers:

I just read something recently that suggested that it's okay to be an optimist and the pessimist. I like, I think a lot of times people say you have to be one thing or the other, or you sit in the middle and you're a realist, whatever that might mean. But I think it is okay too, to say that. Yeah. Maybe you're doing some things and you're just doing a great job of that. Maybe on the other hand, you're doing some things where you're doing a terrible job. And that's totally fine. And I think the constructs that we're so often brought up to, to understand it's this either or piece, but I think it's okay to say look, you're doing great on certain things. Maybe you're doing a Bismark on us. That's totally fine. But as long as you are aware of those and then moving forward, if you do want to move forward with some of those. Then that's fine. So for example, where I read this gentleman, he was a prisoner of war. This gets a little bit serious, but he traced in quickly. So he was a prisoner of war. And what he said was that the optimists would invariably pass away because their mindset was every Christmas I'm going to get out of here by Christmas. I'm going to get out of here by Christmas. I'm going to get out of here by Christmas. So when they didn't get out of there by Christmas, That really broke some part of their heart. And invariably, those people really suffered. So he was saying he was an optimist to the extent of knowing that somewhere along the line, maybe not by this Christmas, maybe not by next Christmas, maybe not by the Christmas thing, 10 years, but he had faith that he was going to get out of that thing somehow. But then he was a pessimist in the sense of the situation when he was in was just horrendous, so he was saying for him the way he got through that, Situation was just to say that in some part, who was optimistic, not the same optimistic as a lot of other people, but he was optimistic. And then he was pessimistic in some ways, and that was totally fine to be both of those. It wasn't that he had to be the optimist or he had to be the pessimist. And I just found that a very liberating idea as well, where some things I'm doing similarly great, really happy with it, crushing it. Others abysmal. How do you try and be aware of those if you want to change it and then if you don't, that's fine as well. But I think it's just not being too critical to say all has to be perfect or it's all terrible. The reality is it's probably some part of both of that for all of us on almost a daily basis. And then it's just trying to navigate that in the direction that we may want to go. Found that idea quite liberating just in and of itself as well.

Adam Coelho:

Yeah. I think that's a really good way of thinking about it, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. And I often very much go with that all or nothing approach, either I'm going to get up and I'm going to work out and then I'm going to meditate or I'm going to go to McDonald's for lunch and have three beers in the afternoon. Like it doesn't have to be like that. That's not the most productive way of thinking. So let's switch gears now to what I call the mindful fire final four. The first question is what is something or someone that you're incredibly grateful for?

Paul Somers:

I'm incredibly grateful for my partner. Amanda, couldn't be more grateful for her. I'm probably talking 90% of the things that she's taught me since we've been together over the last 10 years. In many ways she is been a huge influence on my thinking. So hugely thankful to her. That's like I, in my very local community. More broadly, hugely thankful for everyone who's working day and night on COVID more broadly the healthcare professionals, the scientists, and many others who are really tested at this moment in history and who are just giving 180000% of themselves to, to help us all through this piece. Yeah. I just cannot thank those folks enough. For their efforts and I couldn't be more grateful for each and every one of them from medical professionals, even through to supporting staff and people assisting them, feeding those various folks and family members supporting them. And so on. I'm hugely grateful at this very delicate moment in that history.

Adam Coelho:

The second question is what piece of advice would you give to someone pursuing financial independence?

Paul Somers:

I would suggest to think about the spend. I think the reality is that it's very easy to always get caught up in the mindset of the earning capacity and earnings growth and everything that sits around that. I think the spend part is the big one. Then just at a very basic level, but one that even for me, I've come to think a little bit more about recently the impact of compounding interests. I guess that's the bread and butter really of the finance world. And to understand that and hopefully to understand how to best maximize that, but also doing so in a way that you're not necessarily hopefully trading off many meaningful experiences that you could have in your life today. EG the Portuguese chicken that Adam and I enjoyed in Sydney. would literally costs no more than 20 bucks in total, but they're just some of the best memories of the time that I could have had with anyone at Google and then saw. All that to say, yeah, definitely look at the spend save things that could be really meaningful, but definitely dont worry about the latest iPhone. Don't worry about the $3,000 Chanel sneak is probably not that much to worry about.

Adam Coelho:

That's a great point. So the third question is what's the best piece of advice about life you've ever been given?

Paul Somers:

Yeah, I think for me it would definitely be the quote to say that no one has any idea what they're doing either. So when I heard that and when I understood that it just made me feel a lot better because I remember when I was a kid, I always looked up to adults or people older than me and always thought, they must know what they're doing, but then now that I'm slightly older, I realized that most of them have no idea what they're doing. And it just became a very liberating idea to me. And one that I clued them off that a lot. And it just in the context of the worlds that we've even, I mean in COVID is a great example of that. Yeah. If it was me as a kid, I would have just looked at adults and I would have thought off that amount they're doing. But I know now as an adult COVID is largely unprecedented and almost in some ways people don't have much of an idea of what they're doing.Now is it following similar paths to other pandemics that we may have had globally, historically? Yes it is. And he's following very similar parts to that. But do most people have any idea what they're doing on a daily basis? I would say no. I think there is something very liberated in that idea of knowing that people don't have the perfect answer. Doesn't matter if they went to Harvard. Doesn't matter if they worked at Mackenzie. No one has the perfect answer. Everyone's trying to figure things out. As long as you're there with an open mind and hopefully adding the value that you can to try and solve some of those themes, then your part of that building process and understanding how to fix things or change things or whatever the case might be. Yeah, for me, I just found that a very liberating thing idea to know that not knowing necessarily has that silver bullet, no one has the perfect answer for everything. Some people are maybe slightly more informed than others. But ultimately there's not a single person on the planet who has the bullet proof answer for 99% of topics.

Adam Coelho:

Yeah. And even if they do on one topic, they don't on the other topic. I think that is very liberating. To remember that everyone is just another human being, trying to do the best they can, with the resources that they have and that they don't really know what they're doing. They're just trying to figure it out. I definitely find that very liberating.

Paul Somers:

Just a brief example. I saw recently was to say that there's a legend around at one point in history, a library where you could understand every single thing in the world by reading this library in your lifetime, because the number of books that was in this particular library was finite in the sense that it was actually possible. It might take you 40 or 50 years to read it. It was actually possible. If you want to do that now, I think the estimate would be that you would need to be at least 300,000 years old for you to actually read everything. Every single piece of material on the planet. At least in the Western world anymore. And yeah just to know that there's so much knowledge out there and there's so many different people out there, there are so many perspectives out there. That's a great thing. But it's totally fine that you were able to cross, the president who was in the U S white house in 1973 it's okay. If you don't know that

Adam Coelho:

and I don't. I could probably tell you, but I don't know. The last question is just how can people find you online and see a little bit more about what you're doing or connect with you?

Paul Somers:

I feel slightly old school in that I'm actually still really enjoy the old email. LinkedIn to me just seems like a little puffery. I'm not on Facebook. I would say probably the best way is to send me an email. I'm happy for my email. So it could be linked Adam, if you want it to, to this to these podcasts. So yeah, I'd say I'm pretty old school and I'm happy to jump on a zoom or a hangout or whatever is easy for folks, but yeah, generally speaking, email's the best way to get me.

Adam Coelho:

Sounds good. We'll we'll link that up in the show notes. Paul I've really enjoyed our conversation. Thank you so much for joining me today on the mindful fire podcast.

Paul Somers:

My pleasure. Thank you so much for being patient and I hope everyone's well out there. And hopefully can continue to learn from this conversation and I'm sure many others that Adam will be part of in the future Thanks a ton Adam. And thanks everyone for the time.

Adam Coelho:

Thank you so much for joining me on the mindful fire podcast. If you got value from today's episode, please hit subscribe. This just lets the platforms know you're getting value from the episodes and you'd like to be here when I produce additional content. And if you're getting value from the show, please share it with a friend who could benefit from the content. My goal with this is to help as many people as I can discover the benefits of mindfulness and financial independence.

Paul Somers

Change advocate connecting entity and individual aspiration. Message

Rather than lavishly describe my experience, I thought I’d provide 6 reflections - 3 work and 3 non-work:

Work
1.) Strategy isn’t all about creating shareholder value, which was a primary focus at Google and Groupon. Macquarie University and The Australia Council for the Arts have opened my eyes to the insurmountable importance of public value in our complex global ecology. I’ve worked extensively alongside Boards, Executives and teams to identify where they might best invest their limited resources.

2.) The amount of data is exploding; in the last 2 years alone, 90% of the world’s data was generated. At Google, I recognised data’s importance in negotiation, decision making and process design, but that data in isolation only goes so far. An understanding of incentives, history and individual preferences - combined with data - can explain much behaviour.

3.) A former Director of Google once advised that the best career advice he received was to ‘go where the growth is’. I’ve sought to enable this simple but sage guidance for all teams and organisations I’ve contributed to. I’ve found it to be much more satisfying to be around growing people and organisations than those wilting away. It’s fun taking a seat on a rocket ship.

Non-Work
1.) My parents have an unwavering commitment to standing up for those less fortunate. Mum’s career has spanned 40 years on the retail floor, with Dad’s of a similar time period in retail management. They’ve met folks from all walks of life and they taught me to never forget that ‘it’s all about the people’. In my interactions, I seek to place people firmly front and centre.

2.) The older I’ve got, the more I’ve come to value the communities around me. One community I’ve been luckily involved in is the Brown IE community. Not only did I achieve a lifelong goal in obtaining an MBA, publish my 1st academic paper with 2 classmates and scale 1 of the world’s 7 Summit’s in Russia with another, but I’ve 250 colleagues globally from whom I learn every day.

3.) I’m passionate about many causes, but those striking closest to home for me are education, disability and mental health. I’ll do whatever I can to move mountains for those doing great work in those, and other, critical spaces. I’m also an avid Barcelona FC fan, lover of nature and have an unhealthy addiction to Sydney’s best chicken burgers.

That’s a snippet of my story. Over to you. Over and out.