Adam Carroll is a professional speaker, author, documentary filmmaker, podcast host, and owner and chief education officer at National Financial Educators. He is also the Co-Founder of Renzo Experience—architects of human capital, environments and outcomes. Carroll helps people succeed faster by Building a Bigger Life Not A Bigger Lifestyle.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in a loving household in the Midwest (Des Moines, IA) and my parents were both into personal development and training. They instilled in me a desire to continuously improve throughout my life, turning me on to books like How to Win Friends and Influence People, and 7 Habits when I was a kid. It prompted me to foster a love of growth and personal leadership, eventually focusing my efforts on financial literacy work and helping people create freedom in their lives.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

I wish I could have internalized how impactful thoughts are on what we want to create in life. Had I created a clear vision from a very young age, I think I would have accomplished even more than I have already.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

There are so many “experts” out there who profess expertise in their area, yet when you look behind the curtain, their life is a mess (often in that area). I’m always cautious about who the messenger is and what they’re delivering. If their life and the message aren’t congruent, I tune them out. It’s the difference between knowing and doing.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I’ve had a number of business ventures that didn’t thrive. Many because my focus was distributed across multiple different things. When a mortgage company I’d started was nearing the end of its run, I was completely foggy about what my life was about and what I most wanted to do. Through reading, journaling, and meditating on what my ideal life looked like, I was able to create the experiences I get to enjoy today.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

I surround myself with excellent people. People that inspire me to think bigger, to act with passion, and to execute on dreams that other folks may deem impossible or improbable. They are mastermind partners, people in my immediate network, as well as family members who aren’t afraid to tell me the truth. Success is not a solo endeavor and the sooner you realize how important other people are to your own success, the sooner you’ll achieve your own version of it.

What is your morning routine?

I wake up at 5:30 am every morning (in bed and asleep by 10p for a solid 7.5 hours of sleep). My ritual includes heading to our home gym and getting in 30-45 minutes of HIIT training, Yoga, or elliptical, followed by a 20-25 minute meditation session in our home sauna. I then shower and make coffee, hang with kids before they leave for school, and review my schedule for the day. By 7:30, I start my first 90-minute work sprint where I focus on the most important tasks needed to be completed for the day (usually revenue-generating tasks).

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Meditation and journaling my thoughts has been extremely cathartic for me. When I’m clear-headed, I can focus my energy and attention on the things that matter most. So to process emotion and to really evaluate my thoughts that are triggering those emotions is essential.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I mentioned work sprints previously — I’ve learned that I’m really good at focusing for a specific period of time, then I need a quick mental reset. 90 minutes is the perfect amount of time for me before I need to grab a cup of coffee or do pushups or take the dog for a quick walk. While I’m in the work sprint, NOTHING can distract me from the work I’m doing. To get in “the zone” for these sprints, I always have alpha wave music playing in my ears. It slows your brain waves down to an alpha level which allows for higher concentration.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

There is a very obscure book that not many people have heard about or read that has had a massive impact on my life. It’s titled A Happy Pocket Full of Money and was written by a man named David Cameron Gikandi. While the book title suggests it’s about money, it’s really about quantum physics and how we are all creating our own reality on a daily basis. Once I’d read the book a few times and started applying the principles, my life changed dramatically for the better – financially, physically, emotionally. It’s a game changer.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

One of my favorite quotes is by Marianne Williamson from A Return to Love: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frighten us.” We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.