A touch of nerdiness

07 December 2021

Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

After two years of sitting out COVID, Adam Spencer is itching to get back out in front of a crowd as Master of Ceremonies of the 2022 FPA Professionals Congress. He speaks to Jayson Forrest about how the year ahead is shaping up for this self-professed ‘maths geek’.

 Shyness is one thing that wouldn’t strike you when talking to Adam Spencer. After all, this comedian, media personality and author, exudes natural confidence, which has seen him take on a range of high profile media gigs.

Most people know Adam best from his stints as a breakfast radio announcer on Triple J and ABC Sydney, or as a TV personality on shows ranging from comedies – Good News Week and The Glasshouse – to a weekly sports wrap on the Back Page, and as a member of the Sleek Geeks science team with Dr Karl Kruszelnicki.

“I’ll let you in on a little secret, I’m actually a lot shyer than you’d think,” Adam reveals. “While I’m very comfortable talking to complete strangers, I do have moments of introspection and shyness that might surprise some people.”

But shyness is something Adam doesn’t need to worry about when it comes to working before an audience as host of an event or conference. This is one aspect of his work he truly enjoys doing, particularly when he is able to interact with an audience and draw on its energy.

And energy is what Adam will be bringing in spades in his role as Master of Ceremonies (MC) of the 2022 FPA Professionals Congress over 7-8 April.

“I’m absolutely itching to get out in front of delegates at Congress. It’s been that long since I’ve been in front of a crowd, I’ll probably just want to stand there and touch people in the first couple of rows,” Adam jokes.

He believes the theme of Congress – ‘Reunite Reset’ – is appropriate, given the extended period of isolation and remote working that people have had to endure over the past two years.

“Congress will be a great opportunity for FPA members to get back together again and reconnect in a COVID-safe environment. I can’t wait,” he says.

As host, he promises to bring his unique style of comedy and ‘nerdiness’ to Congress, making it a fun experience to attend. But be warned, he also enjoys throwing in the odd curly question to people he is interviewing, so speakers had better know their stuff!

A passion for maths and science 

And here’s another tip: don’t get Adam started on mathematics. With a Bachelor of Science with first class honours in pure mathematics, this guy loves his maths and is happy to spread that love.

“My love of maths started pretty early for me. I was naturally good at maths and really enjoyed doing it. As a kid, it also brought out my competitive side, allowing me to top the class. My mates thought I was a ‘maths genius’, but I probably did a lot more work with maths than any of them did, because I simply loved it.”

We all have that one teacher who we can look back on fondly as having had a profound affect on helping to shape our lives. For Adam, that was his Year 2 teacher, Ms Russell, who back in 1977, encouraged and nurtured his lifelong love of mathematics.

And that nurturing paid off in 1981, with Adam winning a scholarship to attend the prestigious St Aloysius’ College in Sydney, where he eventually graduated with a score of 200 out of 200 in four-unit maths.

“I just love maths. If there were 50 questions in the chapter but there were only 10 questions set as homework, well, why wouldn’t you do the other 40 questions?”

Spoken like a true maths geek! 

Community involvement

 Adam is a prodigious author of books, where he skilfully infuses his unique style of comedy with maths and science to help educate and inspire the next generation of Aussie kids. Over the years, he has written a number of highly acclaimed books, including: Mini Book of Numbers; Top 100; World of Numbers; Big Book of Numbers; and Numberland.

Next in the range of ‘Adam Spencer’s’ books, is Maths 101 – a guide to helping parents navigate and teach primary school maths to their children. This book is scheduled for release in December.

“I was inspired to write this book by the types of questions kids often ask, like: how big is infinity; why isn’t one a prime number; and is 0.999 repeated continuously really equal to one?”

Along with his professional commitments, Adam is an ambassador for the Sydney Swans, and is particularly proud of his involvement in launching the Sydney Swans’ Diversity Action Plan in July 2017. The plan is focused on disability empowerment, LGBTIQ pride, multicultural inclusion, and the advancement of women.

 He also spends considerable time working with not-for-profits. This includes serving on the board of Redkite, working as an ambassador for the Fred Hollows Foundation, and co-founder of the Dry July Foundation, which since 2008, has raised over $75 million for people affected by cancer.

“When you see the work that some of these organisations do, it’s hard not to become involved,” Adam says. “I applaud any social enterprise, like the FPA’s Future2 Foundation, that can help improve the lives of others in need.”

The value of advice

As a professional conference MC and event host, this type of work has been off the cards for Adam during COVID-19. But despite the setbacks of the past two years, there has been a silver lining to the pandemic for Adam – meeting the love of his life, Leah.

“I’ve actually been using my time during lockdown very wisely,” Adam jokes. “I’ve met the love of my life and we’re engaged to be married on 22 January, 2022. So, the pandemic hasn’t been too bad for me!”

Engagement aside, Adam admits to having learnt a thing or two during his time in lockdown: patience and the importance of quality advice.

“I’ve learnt that the benefits of quality advice in anything you do can’t be understated,” he says.

As an example, he points to the game of chess. After having spent many years wrestling with the game, Adam reached out to a chess coach, who has helped him improve his game immeasurably. By seeking quality advice, Adam now feels in control when playing the game. And when he does lose, he is now able to look back at the game and reflect, with deeper insight, on what went wrong and why.

“The benefit of quality advice can’t be over-emphasised. If something is worth doing right, then leave your ego at the door and approach somebody who is qualified and knows more about it than you do. Soak up their wisdom,” he says.

It’s the same approach he takes with his own financial wellbeing. For many years, he has turned to qualified and experienced professionals to help him manage his finances.

“Through my work, I’ve been fortunate to meet people who really know a lot about finance and the management of money. Through my involvement with the Sydney Swans, I met the Chairman of Moelis Australia (now MA Financial Group), which specialises in asset management, corporate advisory and equities. I now work with two talented investment managers who look after my investments and provide corporate advice for my business.”

In addition, Adam also relies on his accountant for advice and help with his business planning.

“I sit down with my accountant every quarter to chart where things are at and how my business is tracking. When you exist as a company, and you’re paying yourself, it’s very important to understand your finances and have a solid financial plan in place.”

2022 and beyond

For the father of two – with both daughters wishing he wouldn’t turn every conversation into an exploration of maths – 2022 is shaping up as an exciting year for this entrepreneur. Not only does he have his impending nuptials to look forward to, the release of a new book, and the FPA Professionals Congress to MC, but he gets to do all these things with a crowd of people.

“COVID has been tough on so many, but let’s stay positive about the future. And just remember, if you’re ever feeling down, well, just do a little bit of maths to brighten your day. Hey, do you know that two is the only even prime number?”

Spoken like a true maths nerd.

For more information on the 2022 FPA Professionals Congress, click here.

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