InterMat Reads: Carl Adams: Think It. Believe It. Do It.

Two-time NCAA champ at Iowa State. Two national freestyle titles. A college coaching career that spans more than four decades. An entrepreneur who has developed unique products to help make wrestlers -- and the sport -- better. All of these describe Carl Adams, who, until this past March, was the long-time head wrestling coach at Boston University.

Now Adams shares his life story -- and his secrets to help anyone find success in any endeavor -- in his new book "Think It, Believe It. Do It." Part memoir but mostly a guidebook for readers to achieve their own brand of success, Adams shares his inspiring stories of how he overcame the odds to achieve greatness, offering ideas and guidance that readers will find motivational and practicable.

Meet Carl Adams

Carl Adams
The son of migrant workers, Carl Adams and his family settled on Long Island when the future mat champ/coach was in second grade. After winning a New York State title in high school, Adams headed west to Iowa State, to wrestle for legendary coach Harold Nichols, and count among his teammates Dan Gable. As a Cyclone, Adams was a two-time NCAA champ (weights, years). Upon graduating from college, Adams launched his 41-year coaching career at age 22 as an assistant at Iowa State ... then became a head coach at 27. He recently completed 36 years at the helm at Boston University, which eliminated its wrestling program effective at the end of the 2013-14 season. Over the years, Adams became an author, creator of instructional videos, and developer and entrepreneur of game-changing workout equipment such as the ADAM takedown machine.

How did his latest book -- "Think It. Believe It. Do It." -- come about?

"I outlined the book about three years ago," Adams told InterMat. "When the (BU wrestling) program got cut, I had time on my hands. From April through August, I had nothing on my plate, so it seemed to be a great time to bring the book to life."

"I wanted to write a book that's motivational, about how much potential each of us has," Adams continued. "I talked about my mentors -- my parents and coaches. I had a great high school coach, and a wonderful college experience."

An entrepreneur is born

"If you stayed involved in coaching -- at least back when I got started, in the 1970s -- it was difficult to raise a family. However, belief in using my wrestling background helped me to realize the ADAM takedown machine."

"That process showed me the importance of things like solving one problem at a time, sticking with something until completion. That mindset helps individuals with any endeavor, whether it's coaching or business."

"I saw Coach Nichols put together successful wrestling camps," said Adams, who worked a number of his Iowa State coach's summer camps. "I thought I could do something similar."

"As I started to write this book, it occurred to me that there things I did in the sport of wrestling that would be applicable to readers outside wrestling," said Adams. "Take the Seven Pillars of Winning (described in the book). I put it in terms of what worked for me, yet is information that can work for others."

"We all need to do things to make ends meet, put our kids through college, purchase a home, etc." Adams continued. "I wanted to let folks know you don't need a ton of money to start a business. In fact, I did it without debt, without loans. If you believe what you want to do, and stay with your task, you can achieve great things."

Carl Adams was a two-time NCAA champ at ISU
"It's not just about the product. It's about getting it to market. And it's about having the right mindset. You have to set your mind to achieve greatness."

"People set goals but don't always think of how to achieve things," according to Adams. "Commitment is a word that's all-important. Take wrestling. It takes so much to be successful in the sport. Commitment to your goals."

"I wanted the book to be for anyone -- not just those in the wrestling community -- who wants to succeed."

"Everything starts with the mindset. Knowing that you can achieve anything with the right mindset drives everything. If people have that mindset, they can figure things out, and get things done."

"This is my fourth book," said Adams. "The other three are instructionals. All my products -- books, equipment, instructional videos -- are designed to help people do better."

"I've been so blessed. I want to share those blessings -- and what I've learned from wrestling, and as an entrepreneur -- to do what I can to help others. I feel I should pass along what I've learned."

Guided by great mentors

Carl Adams with Ben Peterson and Harold Nichols
During the course of this interview, Carl Adams cited a number of individuals who served as mentors to help him develop as a professional and as an individual, starting with his college coach, Harold Nichols.

"Nick was like a second father to me. He hired me for his equipment business, to work his (wrestling) camps. I learned the business from Nick."

"He was very much an entrepreneur -- his wrestling camps, real estate, even his pottery collection."

"I showed him the drawings for ADAM, and he backed me financially."

"My dad worked the s--- out of us," Adams chuckled. "He put us to work in the businesses he started and ran. That, and my experience working with Coach Nichols, really shaped me and my entrepreneurial attitude."

Adams' list of mentors didn't stop there.

"When I was 23, I wrote my first book, because I had seen Bobby Douglas writing books."

"I was blessed to have been on the (Iowa State) team with Gable," Adams added. "To watch him was to learn how to win."

A new book ... and a new position at BU

As if writing and promoting a new book weren't enough, Adams still has a career position ... at the school where he had coached for three-and-a-half decades.

"BU offered me a new position, Coordinator of Student-Athlete Services. Coaches have me talk to their athletes, as well as to their recruits. I have the same office, the same desk, the same computer. The only thing that has really changed is that I'm no longer coaching."

"I don't feel empty at all," Adams continued. "I feel I gave all to wrestling. My angst is for the alumni, wrestlers and parents, now that BU no longer has a wrestling program."

When asked to sum up the purpose of "Think It. Believe It. Do It", Adams said, "It's a book about getting things done. Eliminating the fear of failure. Being persistent, being committed. You have to keep pecking away at a problem. In time, you will get to the solution."

Not everyone will have the opportunity to pick the brain of Carl Adams, a man who has achieved so much as a wrestler, coach and business professional who has shared his experience and expertise in the sport with the wrestling community. "Think It. Believe It. Do It" is about as close as most of us will come to that opportunity to have Adams as a mentor. Using his own life and experiences as the foundation, Adams builds on those cornerstones to share what has worked for him, in an upbeat, positive presentation that can inspire anyone who wants to achieve more. You don't have to be a wrestler or coach -- or even a fan of the sport -- to gain from "Think It. Believe It. Do It." It has practical, actionable guidance that can help any would-be entrepreneur.

Carl Adams' "Think It. Believe It. Do It" is available in e-book format for the Amazon Kindle, as well as in paperback from


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caroten (1) about 8 years ago
I'm still bitter about BU's dropping their and for Carl Adams to say he "doesn't feel empty" is troubling. Did he hold back from doing more to save the program knowing he was going to be given a cushy job as "Coordinator of Student-Athlete Services." These questions need to answered. What was the timeline of this job offer and the dropping of the program?
carl adams (1) about 8 years ago
Hi Caroten, thanks for your post and your concern. I probably shouldn't do this but I do want to help you with your question. Regarding "not feeling empty," I have not missed a year of wrestling for the last 51 years. Its been a 12 month love affair since I started coaching at the age of 22 in my first assignment at Iowa State. My whole life has been defined by the sport of wrestling and I feel I have given the sport about as much as any one can give. It's been absolutely wonderful. Wrestling fans, teammates, colleagues and the athletes who have wrestled for me have been the best. I have never been one to let events control my thought process or my life and I refuse to put my tail between my legs and my head down when negative things happen. It's not how I roll. I believe that keeping a positive attitude regardless of circumstances is a good life strategy. That's most likely where the answer to the question of whether "I feel empty" comes from. By the way, I didn't have a clue that BU was going to drop the program or that they would be offering me a position after the decision. I hope this is helpful to you. Have a great day and I wish you well with all you do.
caroten (1) about 8 years ago
I hope Mark Palmer as one of our best wrestling investigative journalists can get to the bottom of this.
Ohio_Hawk (1) about 8 years ago
I see that you did not choose to receive the graceful response from the very man you chose to denigrate. I guess there will always be those who follow the "better-living-through-blame" approach to life's problems.

As for me? Thank you, Carl, for your career, for your dedication to the sport and for your wonderful outlook on life.

Dave (ISU class of '76)
cradleman (1) about 8 years ago
Some of you think that Carl sold out. I can assure you that he did not sell out. Look back in time and try to remember how many programs have been dropped. It's a sad state of affairs but we are talking over 500 wrestling programs that have been dropped. The man still has to work and provide for his family. Why don't you do an investigation and see what you come up with.
cradleman (1) about 8 years ago
And why should he live life bitter. Life is going to go on even if you are miserable.
Cleave Carter (1) about 6 and a half years ago
Carl is a fantastic person.