Adam Levine Talks About Not Having Things Perfect To Start | Episode 343

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Adam builds order out of chaos. Serving as a High Performance and Agile Coach and having built a career in fast-paced, margin-tight environments from working in the advertising, public accounting, and internal audit industries; I understand the scientific decode behind ultimate human performance and using it to train up individuals and organizations. By decoding ultimate human performance and understanding what is going on in the brain and in the body when humans are performing at their best, we have the ability to open up a new space for human potential. This unique career history coupled with demonstrating a strong risk, control, agile, high performance, and scientific mindset provides me with the resourcing in building high performing teams. I encourage this boldness and mindset in coaching teams, championing their strengths and galvanizing them to challenge the status quo, unlocking innovation and high engagement. Personally, I believe there’s always a way. Relentless in my quest for excellence, I lead with courage and tenacity, often achieving the seemingly impossible at pace.

 

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Full episode transcription (AI Generated)

Rob:
Hey, engagers. And welcome back to another episode of the Professor Game podcast. And we have Adam with us today. But Adam, before we get started, we need to know, are you prepared to engage?

Adam:
Always prepared to engage. And I just want to say, roberto, thank you so much for having me on your podcast. Couldn’t be more excited.

Rob:
Cool. Cool. So we have Adam Levine. How should I say that?

Adam:
Yes. Levine.

Rob:
Levine. Cool. He builds order out of chaos. He’s been serving as a high performance and agile coach and having built a career in a fast paced, margin, tight environments, working with the advertising, public accounting and internal audit industries, he understands the scientific decode behind ultimate human performance and using it to train up individuals and organizations. By decoding the ultimate human performance and understanding what it is going on in the brain and in the body.

Rob:
When humans are performing at their best, we have the ability to open up a new space for human potential. This unique career has coupled with demonstrating a strong risk control, agile, high performance and scientific mindset which provides him with a resourcing in building high performance teams. And he is encouraging this boldness and mindset in coaching teams, championing their strengths and galvanizing them to challenge the status quo, unlocking innovation and high engagement. He believes that there’s a way. He’s relentless in the quest for excellence and leading with courage and tenacity, often achieving the seemingly impossible at pace.

Rob:
So, Adam, lots of stuff going on. We were doing the pre interview chat, talking about the people we know we have in common, how much you’ve been leaning on gamification lately. But is there anything else that I should be mentioning before we get started?

Adam:
No, I think you’ve really captured it all. Really excited to jump right in.

Rob:
Let’s do this. So, Adam, what does a day or a week or whatever you can call regular look like? If we were in your feet, in your shoes, what would that look like and feel like nowadays?

Adam:
Yes, that’s a great question. So I guess, first and foremost, currently I work in risk management, so I do have a full time job at a large bank and that’s my primary bread and butter. That’s a Monday through Friday gig, so to speak. And then outside of that full time job, I also just recently launched my coaching business called Interx Lab around three months ago. So that’s on my plate.

Adam:
And I also have my wife, who’s a therapist, and my two boys, seven and four. So definitely a lot on my plate, for sure.

Rob:
That’s almost better or even better to say, right?

Adam:
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Rob:
People were worried, especially in the pandemic and rightfully, I’m not demeaning it in any way, that people were losing their jobs. I felt that it was a time for two extremes. People either losing jobs or essentially still having a job, but not having much to do, and other people overwhelmed by the amount of work that we had during that period. I mean, depending on the industry and what you were working on, I think it was a complete extreme. But some of us and apparently others like you, have kept that high.

Rob:
Revolutions going on well after the pandemic hit. So, Adam, we always like to understand our guests with the tough questions, and one of the tough questions is always all about failure. So can you tell us, through a time when, you know, using or implementing games, gamification, all the stuff related, where things just did not go your way, you had a first attempt at learning or a fail moment. We want to be there with you. We want to live that story and perhaps take one or two takeaways that you had.

Rob:
Of course, maybe how you got out of it or what you would do different.

Adam:
Yeah. No, Roberto, thanks. That’s a great question. So I definitely think it’s in real time, talking about being in my shoes. Something that’s really fresh in my mind and something that I’m living every day is just learning how to be an entrepreneur.

Adam:
You know, I think that, as they say, learning how to play the piano or the guitar is a skill I look at. Entrepreneurial entrepreneurship is really a craft and a mastery, and you, you don’t really start understanding it until you’re on the other side of it. And for a while, I’ve always been a consumer. I love learning. I’m a lifelong learner.

Adam:
Right. So I’ve taken a lot of training, which has really built me up to the person that I am today. And it’s kind of what led me into coaching. But I would say it’s really just making mistakes. Right?

Adam:
Resiliency. And like I said, it’s the idea of making mistakes. You could say, what would be a mistake? It’s been three months, and you could say that clientship, as far as, what would be the main priorities, as far as either getting clients or just the trajectory or maybe the social post not going the way that you want it to be. So I would say that is one aspect of where I would say is a mistake.

Adam:
The other aspect I’d say in the corporate world, because I think that’s important, just because that’s a big part of me as well, is that, again, things could happen where I work in risk management internal audit. So if something doesn’t go your way, it’s a very stressed, tense environment. And when you make a mistake, you’re known for it. And many ways it’s. That’s great because you learn.

Adam:
But a lot of it, again, is just resiliency, learning to course correct, not stewing in thoughts, and really just continuing to move on. I think that’s where I really kind of grew a bit. I think that years ago, and this is what kind of got me into coaching, is that when I’d make a mistake, it really paralyzed me a lot. And especially, like, years ago, I couldn’t imagine doing what I’m doing now, having a full time job, family, and building a coaching business. And like I said, it’s really just.

Adam:
It’s. It. What I’ve learned is small wins every day, small wins, no pun intended, wins gamification. But small wins every day. Knowing that mistake is good, because if I look at it, I can tell you in my lifetime, oh, man, from college even to I’ve been in the career industry, the workforce, for over 20 years, and I could definitely tell you I made tons of mistakes.

Adam:
But it’s also built me to the person I am today. It’s also given me realizations as well.

Rob:
Totally, Adam. And I love sort of the mindset that you’re explaining here, but I would like to move you towards an example of eight time when this happened. You don’t have to name any specifics or clients if that’s something you don’t want. But we want to live that experience with you. We want to be there and learn from some of those mistakes.

Adam:
Yeah, no, absolutely. I’m trying. This is a good one. This definitely is a really good one. I would say a mistake.

Adam:
I mean, maybe I could use the. You know, I could. Again, I could talk about just again, as I’ve been a coach, I think signing on with a vendor and it was within the marketing space and it wasn’t something that I was happy with. And I invested a bit of money into it, and I think it was something that I regretted at the end of it. And it was like, well, I couldn’t get my money back because the work was already done.

Adam:
And I felt like it wasn’t even the money, per se. It was a lot of my investment in time that was lost that I knew that could have gone into something else. So that, to me, was a mistake that trusting my gut and I went into a different direction. It was just with. It had to do with, like, social media campaigns and all that stuff.

Adam:
But because I went through that, it also taught me on the other side of it. I’ve also learned a lot from that as well.

Rob:
Amazing. Thank you for sharing that story. And Adam, how about we actually go for the opposite one? Let’s think of a time where actually things did go well for you, where you say, well, you know, we did manage to achieve success. We achieved what we wanted, what we were going for.

Rob:
Especially, again, if it has something or it is related to gamification or games that were used for a different purpose.

Adam:
Yeah, no, that’s a great question. So I definitely think it’s definitely the launch of my company. I think that for a while, I was paralyzed and I had to have everything perfect before I even started developing an LLC or anything of that nature. So I definitely think a huge win was knowing to be agile. And I took a great training course through someone by the name of Marissa Murgatroyd.

Adam:
She’s phenomenal in the business. Definitely recommend anyone who is interested. It’s liveyourmessagelive.com. her and her husband, Marie Gray, are very much actively in a gamification, but there’s a quote that she lives by, and one of the things in the training that she talks about is earn while you learn. So in my mind, I said to myself, I can’t launch until I have my full curriculum up and running and go live.

Adam:
And I’m like, that’s not even the case. So I think the course was an opener where I could be building that out in parallel to what I’m doing as far as marketing and just getting my name out there. So I think it’s really, again, the success is really just taking a risk, knowing that it’s completely against what my normal habit or pattern would be, and really just taking a dive and seeing where I’ve really come in the last three months, which for me personally, I think has just been a big leap. So for me, I think that’s really been a huge win, at least recently.

Rob:
Sounds like a very good win for you, and it has interesting stuff from interesting people also. So, Adam, thank you for that. With the experience you’ve had, with the things that you’ve seen, the people you’ve worked with, if you were going to create something now from scratch, as probably you are at this point, what would the process be? How would you do it? How would you even come about creating an experience using gamification?

Adam:
That’s also a great question. I think for me, it’s always learning. And I would say that currently I am taking an amazing training course through a company called Sentencia Games. It’s with John Peterson and Monica Cornetti. They’re phenomenal people.

Adam:
And right now, I’ve already passed level one, and I’m currently going through my level two certification. And then they have their level three, which is their master craftsman, going through that and just coupled with also just reading a variety of books. And then also, I recently did take a gamification class through Upenn as well. And basically, what I’m essentially saying is that before getting it, and also. Sorry, I just had to add this also through Yukai Chao, who’s also great, also learning his stuff from Octalus’s pride.

Adam:
Had to obviously name drop and throw that in, of course. But I would say that the first part really is understanding the game mechanics and understanding what gamification is. So I’d say that to talk about the process, I really think it’s just learning about, essentially the design and game mechanics. And then what you essentially, or at least for me, is using that intersection with all my other knowledge. Right.

Adam:
So my passion is neuroscience, science, and biology. And I’ve been doing this now for two and a half, three years. And hopefully we’ll get a little bit. We’ll talk a little bit more on the podcast, but it really has to do with this concept of being in the zone or flow state, which essentially was founded by the godfather of flow, which is Mihaly chief sent me high, and there’s a lot of very correlations where there’s nuances that is spelled that in gamification. That is really my core specialty.

Adam:
So right now, to your point, I’m in this sort of this channel between figuring out, well, how can I combine gamification with my expertise in coaching and really just developing a powerhouse course. And I already have things that I’ve already designed, and I’m playing with things all the time. So I would say that’s really, like I said, is really the development is really the learning part, and then trying to figure out where is the intersection between what your expertise is and understanding how that can be integrated with gamification.

Rob:
Amazing. Amazing. Thank you so much. Because it’s especially refreshing to, every now and then, also have people talking about how these things are being implemented, not necessarily in just in a general, broad sense or how they do it for different people, but how you in your industry, the stuff that you are doing is how it’s actually being implemented right in there in that place. So, thank you very much for showing us the path in that sense, of course.

Rob:
So, Adam, how about we actually go now for what we like to call a best practice? Not a silver bullet necessarily, but one of those things that you would think, oh, do this and your gamification project will, instead of suffer from it, will be happy about it. You’ll have a better project just by, you know, thinking about it this way or implementing these steps or whatever your best practice, you would say is, yeah, that’s great.

Adam:
I would first say that my specialty of gamification, and this is similar to what you kind. Again, another great thought leader in the gamification industry. And the whole concept is, I call it gamification of life. That’s really a big part of my specialty and learning to use that to, for ultimate mastery. So I would say something that is part of gamification and something that’s great for gamification is really just something that I touched upon before.

Adam:
Clear steps. Right. Making small wins. Don’t do anything too big. If you think about it, going, climbing a mountain, well, you know, if you’re climbing the himalayas, which I’ve never done, I don’t think that would be something, particularly on my bucket list.

Adam:
But I call it as a. I call the term that I use is called acclimatization. And it’s the idea that if you go too quickly up the mountain, high altitudes, you’re going to get sick and potentially death. Right. That’s how I look at steps as far as developing something for games is that what is games is step by step.

Adam:
So part of that and something that I think is an easy win, so to speak, is really just developing small wins here and there. Nothing has to be solved in a day. I can’t speak for everyone, but at least for me, I think a biggest turning point was slowing down and taking it step by step. I think the biggest thing that I found was it’s like, I want it now. I want it now.

Adam:
A lot of people do. And I think that’s what leads, leaves a lot of people who have that mindset doing nothing. So I think that, like I said, a big practice or something that could, someone can implement is what I call within agility, the definition of done. What is the end of your day? And knowing that at the end of your day, you really felt good.

Adam:
And I think there’s definitely a lot of biochemistry and neurochemical chemistry under that. And if you could do that and really plop that out into a goal, it could really make some major transformation, for sure.

Rob:
Amazing. Amazing. Sounds like a very good way of approaching this whole thing. Adam, how about after listening to these questions, knowing the people that you know, the experience that you have, is there perhaps somebody you would say, hmm, I would think that this person would make an interesting new guest, future guest for the professor game podcast. Any ideas on who that person could potentially be?

Adam:
Yes. So I definitely think that I can name two people. But again, if we’re going on the game of rules, I should probably only use one. So if I gave you two, I would lose, right? I’m just kidding.

Adam:
But as far as the person that I would recommend, I would definitely say is Murray Gray. He’s really up and coming in the business. He has a phenomenal learning platform called experientify, and he’s just a plethora of knowledge. He’s very much, he’s also very passionate in gamification, someone that I follow. He has a great newsletter.

Adam:
So I would say that would be a phenomenal guest just to hear him talk and hear his perspective very much. He’s built a learning platform that has to do with using various types of game mechanics to increase learner engagement.

Rob:
Sounds awesome. Sounds like a very good guest. I have heard of his wife, actually, through Yukai Chao before, so that would be definitely an interesting one. And talking about recommendations, let’s keep it up. How about you recommend us a book, and, of course, tell us why that book you would recommend to these engagers, these people who are looking at gamification, gamified strategies and whatnot?

Adam:
Yeah. So I think a book that I’m currently reading now, it’s by will Tor, and it’s called the status Game. And that book is really interesting because it really talks about the concept of status. What does status mean? How is it embedded in our society?

Adam:
It really goes into the underpinnings of just, it could go anywhere from leaders to wealth to what goes on in a minute by minute notice. And it really kind of really drills down. What I like about it is that it really talks about it from both a neuroscience and evolutionary biology perspective. And in the fact that’s how we were built. Right.

Adam:
And it’s the whole idea that status, basically talking about status and competition, how is it affected in our society and what drives us? And he really does a great job breaking it down and explaining how status is, depending upon how you look at it, could be anywhere, right? You could be at work and you’re competing with someone for that promotion, that status. But he talks about it from present day, and like I said, builds it back to understand that we need that drive, as far as Darwin’s theory of evolution, right. That’s part of how we evolved, is that we need that as far as competing for resources and all that stuff.

Adam:
So that’s really a big kind of topic, is really breaking down this concept of status and really somewhat spinning it into a game just to explain that life’s a competition and that depending upon how you look at it, how do people define it and what are the core drivers of what really drives that?

Rob:
Amazing. Amazing. Thank you for that recommendation as well. And talking about recommendations, how about we talk about yourself instead? Adam, what would you say is your superpower, that thing that makes you at least better than most other people in this world of gamification?

Adam:
Interesting. So I would definitely say, you know, using that word in general, I’m always very humble because my mindset is always, I try to be in a room, and if I’m in a room, the first thing people think about is who’s the top dog. And it’s important for me to convey this first because I always think of it as me being, and I’ll explain why I always, whenever I’m in a room, try to sound like being the stupidest person in the room, because by having that mindset, I’ll learn more. So as far as something I think the term or how I use it as I want to call it, more of what is my superpower that’s made me more successful? I, you know, as far as, like, I, you know, there’s a lot of great people that I learned from.

Adam:
That being said, I really think a superpower for myself is really the coaching that I’ve gotten into, and it’s really this whole concept of flow and neuroscience in understanding. Again, my passion, my superpower is really understanding, getting into the bowels of the science behind gamification. I do think that area is a bit light, but I think that is an area that is still a very light area. And it’s been a huge passion of mine to always equate science to that. And I think that for just within the whole realm of that area, I think that it’s really served me quite well.

Adam:
I think that it’s really improved a lot of my life. I think the reason I’m a coach, first and foremost, I want to be of service to other people. And as I said, I make mistakes all the time and I learned from it. It’s also made me the person I am today. But I also think that I also coach because I also self coach.

Adam:
So a lot of the skills that I learn, I’m using for myself. But again, within gamification itself, there are a lot of great people out there, thought leaders. But I do think the whole concept of the science of gamification is a bit light. And that’s the extent of my work in my research, is really delving into the biology and the inherent evolutionary psychology and biology of gamification. So I would say that’s really my superpower, is to really equate it to science and really kind of essentially building up from there.

Rob:
Amazing. Amazing. It sounds like you’re in a very sweet spot. At least that’s what I would definitely say, where you’re able to do all these things, do interesting new stuff, for sure. So, Adam, how about we get to the really difficult question now, please.

Rob:
What would you say is your favorite game?

Adam:
That is a great question. I would definitely say my favorite game, offhand is Monopoly. Anytime I just see pictures of it, I definitely get those dopamine hits, right? I get very excited. My eyes let it.

Adam:
I think Monopoly is a cool game. I used to play it all the time with my friends in high school. We lived in the city, so in full transparency, we used to game out, so to speak. So when people would, like, party and do that on weekends, literally, me and my friends would bet, like, ten to $20 per game. And there was incentive, and it was really fun.

Adam:
So those are, like, some of the great memories I had. But I definitely would have to say that monopoly, hands down, is definitely my favorite game just because it has to do. There’s so much that goes on in the game, right? It’s property, it’s negotiation, communication. There’s so many skills, and there’s so many things that you need to do that.

Adam:
And it’s just a rush, right? When you’re about to land on that, either that chance card, you don’t want to land in jail, or boom, am I landing on park place or boardwalk? Do I buy it? I don’t know. How much money do I have?

Adam:
It’s just the fact that your brain’s constantly running, and I just think that’s how I’m built, and I think it’s just a great, cool game.

Rob:
Ha. Very cool. Love it. I have to say, it’s not my favorite game. I’ve found a way in which I am more attracted to the Monopoly concept, and it’s the Monopoly card game.

Rob:
I don’t know if you’ve played it.

Adam:
I’ve. It’s funny. I actually do want to buy that. And please tell me more. About that, because I’ve seen it.

Adam:
I’ve wanted to get it. I think I even. So, I even bought Monopoly junior for my seven year old, so him and I play it. He loves talking about wealth and understanding about business and wanting to know how things work. But please indulge me a bit because I don’t really know too much about the card game, but it sounds pretty fun.

Rob:
It definitely is. And one of the things that people don’t enjoy much, and it’s my case, is the length of a regular monopoly game. It tends to be a bit too long for many of us, and this one is fast paced, and you finish soon. I think the name is Monopoly deal, but I am not 100% sure I can confirm that offline and send it back to you for sure.

Adam:
Oh, nice. Okay, great. Yeah, I’ll definitely look into that.

Rob:
Cool. Cool. It’s a very cool card game. Again, it revived my love for Monopoly, at least, which was waning quite a bit. Adam.

Rob:
Adam, we have loved having you on the show. There’s plenty of insights, lots of stuff to think through, especially from, again, your perspective, which is slightly different from the typical gamification expert that we tend to have on the podcast. You’ve given us plenty of insights, your experience. Before we finish, before we wrap up, we would like to, of course, give you the microphone and leave you with anything you want to say, where we can find out more about you. If you have any calls to action.

Rob:
I don’t know. Whatever it is, your time, you have it, you know, a couple of minutes to get into that, and then before we finish, we’ll say that it’s game over.

Adam:
That’s great. I love it. Yeah. So I think one of the things, too, that I just want to add that’s really great about gamification is when setting it up, it’s something that I call the challenge skills ratio balance. And it’s the idea that when creating a game or even a new habit or new task, you want to make sure that if you think about a coordinate grid and there’s the X and Y axis, you have one side of the axis that talks about the level of challenge, and then you have the other side of the axis that the X axis that talks about the level of skill.

Adam:
And what happens is that if the challenge doesn’t equate to the skill, that’s why a lot of people give up. So what happens is that when, ideally, when the two are aligned and the skill matches the challenge, it could go two ways. Either one leads to anxiety, which goes really on the right side of the spectrum or on the real, the x and y, which is like the zero, zero point, it’ll lead to boredom. Right. So I think having.

Adam:
That’s really a huge mental model. So want to share it with anyone? If just google challenge skills ratio, mihai cheek set. Mihaly, he came up with it. That is really, honestly, I’m gonna be honest, that’s a huge secret that I use in my playbook.

Adam:
And like I said, you, to establish mastery, you want to go, they generally say you want to go stretch 1% higher. And that’s what I mean by establishing wins every day. And what happens is when you’re really matching that, you’re in what we call this flow channel. So the other superpower, I say, is accessing flow states on demand. And what happens in flow, which you probably know as being in the zone or runner’s high, is generally, it’s an optimal state of consciousness where really you’re performing at your best, you’re feeling at your best.

Adam:
Sometimes you say to yourself, wow, time is completely elapsed. What happens, though, is that during that process, that is literally probability, is that that’s when innovation and creativity on a very biological scale really do mesh together. And I would say that if you could really research that and go into it and understand a bit more, and if you’re interested and your viewers are interested, definitely would like to send more info on that. I would tell you right there that from the neurobiology and the neurochemistry there, a lot of genius will happen. So if you’re creating a gamification, you’re like, where to start with what?

Adam:
I said, start with books and then try to stay in that flow channel. Because when you do that, you’ll literally wake up one day, you’re like, whoa, where’s that success? So really challenge skills ratio, stay in the flow channel. Like I said, that’s really my big secret to success. I would say that right now I’m just finalizing my website.

Adam:
It just currently in development right now. It should be done soon. But I would say that if you want to find me, you definitely can find me. Searching through LinkedIn under Adam Levine, definitely very common with maroon five. But my profile pictures with the tuxedo, I do have a bald head, so you can’t miss me.

Adam:
But I also, if you want to reach me on Facebook or Instagram, it’s www.facebook.com. i think it’s forward slash inner x Lab. So, literally, if you search Interx lab, you will definitely find me. I actually just won an award recently that’s been featured in the Associated Press on just being a pioneer on science and performance. That’s something I was really excited about.

Adam:
But yeah, feel free if there’s anything you want to talk about, definitely here. Love to talk to everyone about gamification and things that have to just talk about leveling up your game, so to speak. So those are, I would say those are definitely the sites that you can find me on.

Rob:
Amazing. Thanks again for all those insights, all that cool stuff that you’ve been sending our way. However, Adam and engagers, as you know, at least for now and for today, it is time to say that it’s game over. Hey engagers, thank you for listening to the Professor Game podcast and I hope you really enjoyed this interview. By the way, do you have any questions that you would like to ask in future interviews to future guests?

Rob:
If you do, please go to professorgame.com question and ask your question or questions. You can do this several times. If and when it is selected, it’ll come up in a feature episode and you will receive your answer by one of our featured guest experts. And remember, as I always like to remind you, because this is really important, this helps helps us reach more amazing engagers like yourself. Remember, before you go on to your next mission, please go ahead and subscribe or follow.

Rob:
Again, this is totally for free using your favorite podcast app and listen to the next episode of Professor Game. See you there.

End of transcription

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